Motorcycle Security Advice
This page provides some advice on how to secure motocycles, both at home and away from home. Other pages have more detailed information about specific products, but this page gives an idea which product(s) may be relevant to your situation.
Motorbikes are a target for thieves! Don't make it easy for them!
Motorbikes are very commonly not secured properly so they can be easy for thieves. By taking some appropriate precautions and using good quality security products, and using them well, should help you to keep your property safe.
Lock your bike *to* something! Use a Ground Anchor or equivalent!
This most important principle for motorcycle security is that it is critical to lock your bike to something solid whenever possible. Simply putting a chain & lock around the bike and not locking the combination to anything else means that the thief can easily lift the bike and chain & lock and steal the whole lot in one go! This happens very frequently! Motorbikes are frequently stolen by e.g. four blokes that simply lift the bike into the back of a van. Many people will unwittingly put a chain around the wheel and frame and this provides almost no deterrent at all. Disc locks alone are no better as the bike can still be lifted easily. Using a chain & lock or a D-lock and looping it around or through a fixed object rapidly makes a big difference to your bike's security. Security ground anchors are designed to provide this permanent fixing point, but they are only appropriate when you are at home or an employer providing storage for your staff or a car park operator improving security for your customers. If you are taking your bike to the shops, try to chain it to a large and tough object. If you are riding with someone else, locking bikes together allows one bike to be a ground anchor for another.
Most bikes are stolen from homes so home security is the priority. Using a good ground anchor or a good anchor for a metal shed, can give a sound foundation for a good chain around the bike(s). As motorbikes are so frequently stolen, a properly fitted ground anchor on solid concrete is preferred over anything in a shed or anything that is exposed outdoors.
Use a good-quality chain and lock or D-lock!
Use the best security you can afford. Don't secure a £6,000 bike with a £50 lock!
Police guidelines are to spend 10-15% of the value of the item on its security. This is a simple statement that can become inappropriate at the extremes, but it gives you an idea of what might be appropriate if you know the value of your bike. If you have more than one bike, look at the total value when assessing your security provisions.
Try to avoid using cable locks altogether as virtually all of them are very poor as deterrents and not appropriate for motorbikes. Even the supposedly armoured cable locks invariably have weaknesses that can be exploited by thieves. We do not recommend a cable lock of any kind for securing motorbikes.
How does a D-lock compare with a Chain and Padlock?
A chain and lock generally provides a better deterrent than a D-lock, but a motorbike-standard chain & lock can be heavier than a motorbike-standard D-lock. Anything other than top-end D-locks tend to be too vulnerable to attack for them to be recommended for motorbikes. Even the best D-locks can be attacked in several ways that are not applicable to chains so although D-locks can offer a useful compromise in terms of cost and weight, against security level, it is important to follow the guidance on how to use a D-lock of you do use one.
How do you tell a good quality chain and lock/D-lock?
Security products are available at a wide range of prices and a wide range of qualities. The worst are almost useless! The easiest way to check the quality of a security product is to look for a Sold Secure certification. Sold Secure is an independent testing body that are used by the insurance industry and the police to give comparative ratings to a wide range of products for a wide range of situations. Not all Sold Secure ratings are equivalent! Beware that Sold Secure test such a wide range of products and of such a wide range that there are several categories and gradings within each category. Bicycle Gold is *not* the same as Motorcycle Gold! Motorcycle security generally needs to be a higher standard as motorcycles are generally more valuable and they are often stolen by more organised thieves; Caravan Gold is the next level above Motorcycle Gold. Beware of any product that says it is "Gold Rated" without saying which Gold! Similarly, be wary of anything that just says it is Sold Secure approved - it could be just Bicycle Bronze and very limited as a deterrent.
In general, anything below Motorcycle Gold is better avoided if possible.
Check with your insurance company to see what security standards they require for your insurance cover to be valid.
Use a chain properly! Secure the frame of the bike - Wheels are almost no good at all!
Leaving a chain lying on the floor leaves it open to numerous types of attack. Looping the chain through a higher part of the bike and onto a higher anchoring point makes it easier to keep the chain clear of the floor.
Looping the chain through the frame is critical! Just looping a chain through a wheel leaves the bike vulnerable to the wheel being removed and the rest of the bike stolen. This does happen!
See below if you can't fit the chain through the frame as there is not enough space.
Secure the building as well as the bike, if possible!
If you are keeping your bike in a metal bike store, you may find our advice on metal shed security is helpful. These metal sheds are often very poor in terms of security and easy targets for a thief. Conversely, if you are keeping bike(s) in a garage, you are often more able to use higher-grade security products as a concrete floor or brick wall are more likely to be available to fix a proper ground anchor. If you can use a motion-sensing alarm, it could encourage a thief to leave quickly, but do not rely on an alarm alone!
In summary, try to use the best security option for your situation; look for the easy option for a thief as that is surely going to be his favourite means of attack!
Which chain should I choose?
Motorbikes should be secured with a 16mm chain as a minimum as anything less than a 16mm chain either can be cut with bolt-croppers, or is borderline as a deterrent against them. There are some 14mm chains on the market but these are almost as heavy as our 16mm chains but they frequently fail security tests if a batch has not been produced quite right. How can you be confident that your chain came from a good batch, when security products are generally only given independent tests once per year?
We recommend the Protector 16mm and 19mm chains for motorcycle security because we can be confident that they can stop bolt-croppers and we do a laboratory test on every batch to ensure consistent quality throughout the year.
However, these 16mm and 19mm chains are heavy!
Which length of chain is required?
We can supply chains in a wide range of lengths. It is difficult to give absolute guidance on lengths required as there are so many variables, so we always encourage people to position all items appropriately and to lace a piece of rope through the intended route, and to then measure the length of rope used. It is often surprising how much chain is required!
As a rough approximation only, we would expect a ground-mounted anchor locking a single bike to likely need a 1.5m-2.0m long chain, depending heavily upon the size of the bike and accessibility of the frame. There is a lot of variability in the length required so please measure for yourself to be sure! Beware that locking the chain usually uses up a chain link in itself, so allowing a little extra length is usually a good idea. We have more general advice on chain lengths.
I can't put a decent chain through my bike's frame. What can I do?
This is a common problem with modern bikes as the fairings are often very tight-fitting. Manufacturers often give little thought to the needs of their customers when it comes to security. We developed the Anti-Pinch Pin to help in these situations, but it does not fit all bikes with this problem. It can help to improve the security of several types of bike, however, and it can often allow a shorter length of chain to be used, and sometimes it results in a combination that is easier to use.
What about portable security?
Security that works is generally heavy, and often too heavy to carry on a bike. There are no easy answers to this problem. The best compromise is either a short length of chain such as the Protector 16mm, but even a 1.0 metre length of our 16mm chain weighs 4.5kg plus the weight of the lock. This can be awkward to carry and a pannier or top box can leave the bike unbalanced or top-heavy. Even though it is definitely not ideal and may not satisfy insurance requirements, something like a Protector 13mm chain and lock can be a useful compromise as it can be more realistic to carry on a bike.