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Motorbike theft continues to increase and currently there are approximately twice as many motorbikes stolen than cars – it’s probably understandable given their portability. It is not only opportunistic thieves who target motorbikes, they can also be stolen to order by professional gangs which makes security more important than ever. Apparently it takes only 20 seconds to steal a motorbike, if you know what you’re doing. So what can be done?

Where a bike is parked influences its attractiveness to a thief. It might be thought that a secluded spot away from sight is the best option but it isn’t as it makes it easier for someone up to no good to carry out their work. Far better to park a bike in a well-lit area, preferably with plenty of passing traffic and within the range of a cctv camera. Apparently, simply covering the bike with a protective cover will deter an opportunistic thief – although we’ve no evidence to back that up, so recommend that additional steps are taken to prevent theft.

Parking out of sight in a garage is ideal, but even a garage is only as good as the security it provides. If it is easy to break into then it is little better than parking a machine in a secluded alleyway as the garage can provide cover for a criminal. Nothing is ever completely secure, so even if the garage is locked, the bike should also be secured inside.

Security systems for motorbikes

There are various methods to secure a motorbike and keep it locked up. Some of course have inbuilt systems provided by the manufacturer such as locking the front forks when the ignition key is removed. There are also disc locks which prevent the wheel rotating and therefore prevents the machine from being driven away.

Physically chaining your motorbike up is a low tech but robust solution and there are many types of chains and locking systems available. As a rule of thumb it is advisable to get the best you can afford. The chain should be threaded through the frame of the bike if possible, not through the wheels as wheels can be removed, rendering the chain useless. The chain should always be attached to an immovable object like a lamppost if outside or to something like a parking anchor if inside. A parking anchor is fitted to the floor or the garage for instance and has to be securely fastened. The parking anchor should be secured using something like a shear bolt which ensures the bolts cannot be removed and the anchor remains in place.

GPS tracking systems are becoming more popular and these can be set up to activate whenever the motorbike ignition is switched off, sending a message to the owner if the bike is moved and in some cases alerting the police as well, so that the bike can be found quickly.

It’s a sad fact that, although a complete bike is of most interest to thieves, parts are also enormously valuable, so you might want to use additional methods to protect individual bike parts. For example, you can also permanent security markers or something like Smartwater security marking to mark motorbikes and their major parts with the vehicle VIN number, to prevent parts from being sold.

Unfortunately, the things that make motorbikes so attractive, e.g. their appearance, speed, manoeuvrability and the freedom of the open road, also make them very attractive to thieves so security is worth spending some time and money on as only 25-30% of stolen motorbikes are recovered, compared to 60-65% of cars – a sobering thought.