Is it truly possible to theft proof your bike? In the United States, there are around 14 million regular cyclists and over 200,000 reported bicycle thefts annually. There are approximately 190 million regular drivers, and just 773 thousand automobile thefts. If cars were stolen at the rate that bikes are stolen, motorists would be up in arms. Bike theft occurs at the levels that it does because people are resigned to it: theft is seen as one of the costs of admission, alongside neglect and endangerment from other road users. However, you don’t have to settle for a significant chance of your expensive bike being stolen or ransacked for parts. Alpen Storage offers a guide to theft proofing your beloved bicycle.
The Gear You Need to Prevent Your Bike Being Stolen
While this may seem obvious: buy a lock. When it comes to bike locks, though, you get what you pay for. Prioritize materials and performance over brand and aesthetics. You should be looking for high-quality, well-made options. Top locks are made from substances such as double-heated hardened steel. Weighty, but very difficult for a thief to saw or cut through. U-locks are typically solid choices, both literally and figuratively. Their high integrity backed by reinforced metal means that opportunistic thieves will struggle to crack them. However, simply buying a heavy duty lock is only half the battle. Using it properly is another matter entirely. Securing a bike correctly means following these guidelines:
Find a solid object. Your bike needs to be anchored to something that isn’t easy to shift: a piece of street furniture that isn’t going to be easily shifted. Most bike racks are made to be immovable, and many benches are held fast by concrete, so they are good candidates.
Lock it low, lock it tight. The closer to the bottom bracket you can secure your lock, the better. If you can, pass the lock through or around multiple parts of your bike: the wheels, the frame, etc. This will reduce the leverage a potential thief can bring to bear, making it harder for them to steal it.
Double your luck. A U-lock in combination with a reinforced cable lock for the rear wheel, for example, will make many bike thieves look elsewhere.
Lock down. More enterprising bike thieves carry glue or other substances that can gum up a lock meaning that the bike’s owner can’t unlock their bike. Then they’ll return when the area is less trafficked and steal the bike under cover of darkness. If your bike’s lock mechanism is facing downwards, it makes this tactic harder to implement.
The Best Ways to Protect Your Bike from Theft
As important as the gear you fit your bike with are these methods of improving its security. It never hurts, when you’re in a new area, to ask a local bike shop or business owner if there are any streets that are hot spots for stolen bikes. Knowing to avoid those areas can be half the battle. Bikes can also be stolen out of garages, sheds, or communal lock-ups, so it’s important to avoid assuming that just because you leave your bike on your property, it’s safe. You can invest in home storage solutions, like a bike locker or the weatherproof Alpen Bike Capsule. When you are leaving your bike in public, visibility is the biggest factor. It should be in a well-lit, high-traffic area, preferably covered by security cameras. Bear in mind, though— if it’s near a spot where people loiter, the mass of static bodies may create a blind spot where thieves can get the better of your lock, out of sight.
Another effective approach to the issue of thieves stealing bike parts is to invest in security bolts. Similar to lock-nuts on car wheels, anti-theft bolts require a key to loosen and can keep your wheels, or bike seat and seat post attached to your bike frame. For parts you’re less able to secure, especially compact but expensive goods such as cycle computers, you should ensure that you’re removing them when you leave your bike, lest a thief do it for you. Remember that for a lot of thieves, the goal is to resell the bike, or the parts. If you are prepared to doctor the appearance of your bicycle in an unusual way, you can make this task harder. Covering the bike’s branding, or otherwise making it unappealing to thieves with electrical tape or distinctive marks that will impact its resale value can be a strong defense against theft.
Bike Security in the Worst-Case Scenario
Unless you have a completely secure bike storage solution, you can’t be entirely confident that your bike won’t get stolen overnight or while you’re at work. Given how few stolen bikes are recovered, it’s an excellent idea to invest in a system that’s practically theft proof. To improve your chances of your bike getting recovered, we also recommend that everyone, regardless of the investment you have made in security, register their bike with their serial numbers on an online service such as Bike Index. There is another method that can potentially reunite you with a stolen bike but requires next to no expenditure. You stow a tape-sealed piece of paper on which your name and number is written in a handlebar or seat post or inside the tire. When a mechanic is working on the bike, it’s likely that they’ll come across the hidden message and be able to reunite you with your lost bicycle.
Alpen Storage produces the Alpen Bike Capsule, a nigh-indestructible locking bicycle storage unit. Waterproof and frost-resistant, this elegant circular design shields your beloved bike from UV radiation and, when bolted to the surface beneath it, is essentially impossible to steal. There is plenty of space for practically any variety of bicycle, plus safety equipment. If you are interested in protecting your bicycle from theft, you can purchase an Alpen Bike Capsule for your home or workplace.