How to prevent your bike from being stolen

Four tips to help prevent your bike from being stolen.

It is widely reported that bike theft is on the rise, and unfortunately the many lonely bike frames and locks left attached to bike railings are the proof of the problem. 

With such a low recovery rate and increasing numbers of people beginning to take to the pedals, it is becoming even more important that cyclists old and new are made aware of how to prevent their bikes from being stolen. In order to help you keep your bicycle as safe as possible we have put together some advice on preventative measures that you can put into place to keep your bike safe from thieves. 

One of the best ways to deter thieves from taking your bike is registering it with a secure online database like Bike Register. These databases are used by the police when they recover bicycles and can be used by owners to flag stolen bikes. All you need to register is the frame number, manufacturer, model and colour of your bike. You will also be able to upload photos to your bike’s profile to ensure that any distinguishing features are highlighted, which may help your bike to be recognised should it be taken. 
Bike Register will also provide you with a unique security marking for your bike. This links your bike to you, ensuring that your bike is returned to the rightful owner should it be found. These security markings also act as a deterrent, as thieves are less likely to take a bike which has a security tag. 

Never leave your bike unattended and unlocked 

Bike thieves are everywhere and an unlocked bike is an easy target. Even if you are just popping inside for two minutes, never leave your bike unlocked and unattended as you may find that the time you saved not locking your bike becomes incredibly expensive. If you cannot find a suitable spot to leave your bicycle try asking the cafe, pub or shop or that place you are stopping at if you can bring it in with you - once you have explained why (and if your bike is reasonably clean), most businesses will understand and try to accommodate your needs.
When you are locking up your bike make sure that you fix it to a secure object which is heavy and most importantly, bolted down. 

Always avoid fixing your frame to railings and sign posts as these can be easily broken in order to remove your bike. It is important that you change the place you leave your bike on a regular basis and make sure that you always pick a busy area covered by CCTV. 

Properly lock up your bike

Even when your bike is locked up it can still be a target for thieves, who often carry tools to help them break through bike locks. While this is a worry, there are several things you can make sure you do that will reduce the risk of your bike being taken. 

  • Make sure you spend at least 20% of your bike’s value on locks 
  • Always use two or more different types of lock – thieves tend to only carry tools suitable to break one system 
  • Take any removable components from your bike away with you, including, baskets, lights and seats
  • Invest in Pinhead Headset locks to keep any removable components of your bike safe

It is important to remember that no lock is unbreakable. Given the right tools and enough time any lock can be broken. Whilst this is a daunting thought, locking your bike properly will help to deter thieves who are looking for an easy steal. 

When locking your bike make sure that:

  • U Locks are tightly fastened, far from the floor with the keyway facing down
  • Your rear wheel hub and frame is locked to an object with a U Lock 
  • Your front wheel is secured with a cable lock or second U Lock

Over half of stolen bikes are taken from home, so it is important that you remain vigilant even when you are not using your bicycle. If possible keep your bike out of view and store it in a locked storage unit such as a garage or a shed. In the instance that this is not possible, make sure you lock your bike to an immovable object and follow the above advice in order to secure it properly. 

Extra precautions 

There are a few tricks you can use to save your bike from opportunistic thieves, which will make it difficult for them to ride away. 

  • If you have a quick release seat post you could remove your saddle or turn it sideways or backwards
  • If you carry a small bike multi-tool turn your stem/handlebars sideways
  • If you have a bike pump with you try deflating one of your tyres when you leave your bike * Once your bike is parked flick your gear levers up or down a few clicks - this will cause the chain to jam or derail if someone tries to ride away.

Take out bike insurance 

Unfortunately you cannot always guarantee your bikes safety; no matter how careful you have been about registering and securing it. Taking out bicycle insurance can help to ease the expense and stress that having your bike stolen can cause. Policies cover most types of bikes and some will even insure your accessories such as helmet cameras, bike boxes and locks. Whilst bike theft is a major problem in the UK, putting into place the right measures can help to keep your bike safe and ensure that you can continue to enjoy cycling without the fear and expense of having to replace a stolen bike. 

Ashleigh Harman is a digital content writer for cycleplan, who provide specialist bike insurance to the cycling community. Their insurance options cover a range of bikes and cover can even be extended to include cycling accessories.