Since about 20% of UK bicycle users have their bicycles stolen, it’s well worth your time and effort to protect your investment. Many people give up cycling after theft, and we want to keep you biking with less worry. Use these top tips to keep your bike safe and set your mind at ease.
Use multiple locks
One lock is not enough to deter a persistent thief. Use different kinds of locks in different placements to secure your bike to a heavy object such as a lamppost or a metal railing. Use locks from both wheels to the frame, from the saddle to the frame, and from the frame to a post. Invest in several different locks at the highest quality you can afford.
Cable locks are the least effective choice. They are best used when you’re away from your bike for five minutes or less, such as when you make a quick café stop. Cable locks prevent easy lifts but won’t stop experienced thieves, who often use strong cable cutters.
U-locks are a solid choice for cyclists. They are easily portable because they attach to the frame. Most U-locks will protect your bike sufficiently in lower-risk areas. If you bike in riskier metro areas, invest in a higher-end version like this Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit U-lock.
Consider using a frame-lock or wheel-lock, which prevents a thief from riding away. Even saddles are frequently stolen, so lock yours up or take it with you. Maintain your locks by periodically using oil to lubricate the mechanism, and keep a can of antifreeze handy for cold mornings when locks can be tight. Replace locks if they begin to show signs of wear.
Secure at home
Over half of bicycle thefts occur at home, so you must take security measures even on your own property. If you don’t have a garage, carry your bike inside. Yes, this is a hassle if you’re an apartment dweller, but the risk is too high to simply lock it up outside.
Just because your bike is in your garage doesn’t mean it’s safe. At home, use heavy chains and a padlock to secure your bike to a sturdy, immovable part of the house, like a pipe or post. It may be best to carry your bike inside your house instead of leaving it in the garage, provided you have the space.
Don’t leave your bike on your vehicle rack for an extended period either. Towbar cycle carriers do a great job of securing your bike in town for short periods, but thieves may target you if they see you park in your garage day after day without removing your bike.
Your bike is equipped with a serial number under the bottom bracket. Take a photo of the number and several other photos of your bike, making notes about its unique features.
Engraving your postcode and house number in several places is a smart idea, since thieves often strip bikes and sell them in pieces. If you aren’t willing to etch markings into your bike’s frame, at least use indelible ink to write your information on your bike. Upload your bike’s serial number and other details to registration sites like Bike Register and Immobilise. If your bike is stolen, these websites help police track down thieves more efficiently.
Most stolen bikes were never locked up in the first place or were locked up with cheap, faulty locks. Develop the habit of locking up every single time you stop, whether for three minutes or thirty minutes.
Keep your bike in a high-visibility area, not in an isolated or dimly lit location. Secure your bike to a metal bike rack or a metal park bench rather than a tree. If you use your bike to commute, try to vary your lock-up location so you’re less likely to be targeted.
If possible, stay within viewing range of your bike. Even if your bike is secured on sturdy towbars, don’t stray too far away. Thieves will target bikes in high-risk areas and lift them even from vehicles.
Consider riding a cheaper bike in high-risk big city areas like London, Birmingham, or Leeds. If it’s stolen you won’t be as heartbroken.
If you are still a victim of bicycle theft after all these precautions, report your theft to the police immediately and share your bike photos on social media. Many people never report their loss, and thieves become bolder due to lack of reporting. Use these security methods to protect your investment and spread the word to other cyclists.