We often have customers visiting us who are reluctant to invest in another bike after having the previous one stolen. However, there are a number of things you can do to deter potential thieves! It may sound obvious, but the longer your bike spends locked-up outside, the more likely it is to be stolen - and if possible, always keep your bike indoors overnight. Sadly I know from experience that bikes get stolen more often when left overnight. If you're unable to keep your bike indoors then you'll need to secure it as much as possible - and by following some of our simple tips you can help keep your bike safe!
1. Invest in a decent lock
“Invest 10% of the value of the bike in a lock.”
The lock (or locks) you choose should reflect the value of the bike – monetary or sentimental. The Sold Secure Quality Mark gives an indication as to which lock might be appropriate. It’s classified into three main categories: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. If your bike is insured, the policy wording will specify the minimum Sold Secure rating your lock should have. The list below gives a general recommendation, whether your bike is insured or not.
Bronze: for bikes worth up to £250
Silver: for bikes worth up to £500
Gold: for bikes worth more than £500
From left to right: Abus 7210 Iven Chain Lock (Bronze), Abus Ultra 410 D Lock 230mm + cable (Silver, £34.99), Abus 430 170Hb Ultimate D Lock 230mm (Gold, £49.99), Abus uGrip Plus 501 230mm (Gold, £79.99)
2. Securing the wheels and other removable parts
Your back wheel is generally worth more than the front, so make sure you put your D-lock through the back wheel and the frame, before locking it to an immovable object. Don’t allow the lock to rest on the ground and try to have as little space between the bike and the object which you are locking it to (this makes it harder to get bolt cutters or an angle grinder onto the lock). It should look something like this:
The front wheel
If you have a quick-release skewer on your front wheel and don't want to replace it, you must secure it with an extra lock or cable. If you do want to replace it, you can do so with either an allen key skewer or a security skewer with a unique key.
Below are pictures of three main options for your front wheel. (from left to right: wheel nuts, Pinhead security skewer, and quick release skewer). For the wheel nuts, you usually need a 17mm spanner to remove the wheel. The Pinhead skewer requires a unique key. The quick release skewer requires no tools at all and is designed for the easiest removal of the wheel. This is great if you have a puncture and need to fix it immediately, but not so good if you are leaving your bike unattended. Quick release skewers can also be used to secure the seat post, so it's a good idea to replace them because they are so easy and quick for a thief to remove.
Removable parts (i.e. pretty much ALL parts)
If there's one thing I recommend for securing removable parts, it's a set of Pinhead locks! I use them on my bike and am never without them. They replace quick-release skewers and standard bolts with those that can only be loosened with a unique key. They aren't completely theft-proof, but the most we can hope for is to make it as difficult as possible to remove parts. The harder you make it for a potential thief, the less likely they are to even try.
3. Don't forget the saddle
Saddles are easily forgotten about and often get stolen. Even if you have the Pinhead seatpost clamp, the saddle itself can still be removed. However, there are still a couple of things you can do to lower the chances of theft:
- Use an old piece of bike chain round the saddle rails and seat stays.
- Buy a thin cable lock to perform the same job as the chain (see above).
- Superglue a ball bearing into the bolt that secures the saddle to the seatpost.
Finally, a few extra tips!
- If there is CCTV around, lock-up your bike in the area and give a wave to the camera (this makes it easier when going through the CCTV at a later date).
- Mark your bike. Use BikeRegister, the police-approved marking scheme. The Met often set-up stalls at events to provide this service for free. The visible security mark itself will act as a deterrent to bike thieves.
- If you return to your bike and both tyres are flat when they were fine before, do not leave your bike and come back for it the next day! This is a classic tactic used by thieves to buy more time when trying to steal your bike. Similarly, be wary if someone “accidentally” locks their bike to yours. Call the police immediately and don’t abandon your bike!
It's never nice having your bike stolen, but by following these suggestions you are more likely to disappoint those thieves!