Of all the motorcycles stolen in the U.S. last year, it’s safe to say more than a few of them weren’t locked or secured in any way. It’s also a good bet that some of them were, and were stolen anyway. The scary truth is that hardcore professional thieves will get your motorcycle if they want it badly enough—locks, alarms and garages won’t stop them. But most bike thieves are opportunists looking for a quick score, and the harder your bike is to rip off the more likely they’ll pass it by in favor of an easier target.
1. Disc Locks
In addition to immobilizing one wheel to prevent roll-off thefts, disc locks provide a visual deterrent, practically announcing, “You’re gonna have to work to get me off this bike, so you might as well keep on walking and find another victim.” Some disc locks are available in bright colors and with motion alarms that not only alert thieves from a distance, but also make it less likely you’ll forget the lock is on and try to ride off before removing it.
2. Chains & Cable Locks
A bike with just a disc lock can still be picked up by three or four burly ne’er-do-wells and tossed into a waiting van. Chains and cable locks are long enough to loop around something solid like a lamppost, or another motorcycle. Cables are lighter and less bulky than chains but both are susceptible to deftly wielded bolt cutters. Fortunately, walking around with bolt cutters tends to attract attention, something thieves traditionally shun.
Alarms take theft-prevention into the electronic age. Some sound off with bike-mounted sirens while others signal you remotely through a key fob or a small receiver. But the alarm’s alert isn’t enough—you have to investigate in person every time it goes off. Bad guys deliberately trigger alarms and wait to see if anyone comes; if no one does, they’re free to take your bike and your alarm.
4. Pick Your Parking Spot
Where you park isn’t always up to you, but if you have a choice, pick a well-traveled, brightly lit spot, like in front of the restaurant where you’re eating, or by the lobby of the motel where you’re staying. You might think nobody will see your bike down at the end of a dark alley, and you might be right. But an out-of-the-way spot also gives thieves a place to work in privacy.
5. Make It Difficult
Your bike isn’t even necessarily safe at home in your garage. If you get a creepy feeling some shifty-looking dudes in a van have been following you, you might be right—they’re trying to find out where you live and park your bike every night. Locking the garage door is a no-brainer, but locks can be picked. Position your bike so your car has to be moved to get at it, and use all the locks and cables you’d use on the street. Feeling extra paranoid? Sink a metal anchor into the garage floor and secure your bike with a cable or chain each night.