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Bicycle Security Advice

Home > Security Tips > Bicycle Security Tips

This page provides some advice on how to secure bicycles, both at home and out and about. Other pages have more detailed information about specific products, but this page gives an idea which product(s) may be relevant to your situation.

Bicycles are some of the most commonly-stolen items! Security is important!

Bicycles are very commonly not secured properly and this makes it 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 cycle 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! Many people will unwittingly put a chain around the wheel and frame and this provides almost no deterrent at all. Using a chain & lock or a D-lock and looping it around or through a fixed object rapidly makes a big difference to your cycle'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 cycle storage for your staff. If you are a cyclist stopping at the shops, try to chain your bike to a bike rack or to some other large and tough object.

Most bicycles are stolen from homes so home security is the priority. Using a good ground anchor or a good anchor for a wooden shed, or a good anchor for a metal shed, can give a sound foundation for a good chain around the bike(s).

Avoid locking a bike to street signage! Typical 'No Waiting' signs etc are not very high and a thief can often easily lift a bike so the chain comes off the top of the post, allowing the bicycle to be stolen. Thieves sometimes even un-bolt the sign at the top of the post to make it easier to unloop the chain! Full-size streetlights are normally OK as locking points.

Use a good-quality chain and lock or D-lock!

Use the best security you can afford. Don't secure a ?2,000 bicycle with a ?20 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.

Try to avoid using cable locks altogether as virtually all of them are very poor as deterrents. There are several ways these can be attacked, not least with cable cutters(!), but hacksaws and wire-cutters etc will often only take just seconds to get through cables.

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 chain & lock can be heavier than a mid-range D-lock. Low-end D-locks tend to be very vulnerable to thieves as D-locks can be attacked in several ways that are not applicable to chains and the lighter D-locks can be almost as bad as cable locks. Mid-range D-locks do offer a useful compromise in terms of cost and weight, against security level. High-end D-locks can be very expensive and heavy when considered with the security vulnerabilities all D-locks can suffer. If you do use a D-lock, please try to follow the guidance on how to use a D-lock.

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; the majority of bicycle thefts are by opportunists that are using no tools at all or just simple hand tools. Higher-value bicycles are targeted by more serious thieves, however, so some motorcycle-standard security products are very appropriate for better bicycles. 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 Bicycle Silver is better avoided if possible, and even Bicycle Silver is inappropriate for bicycles worth ?1,000+; Bicycle Gold is a much better rating and to be prefered as a minimum whenever possible for bicycle security. Higher-value bicycles are often better protected with Motorcycle Gold security products.

Check with your insurance company to see what security standards they require for your insurance cover to be valid.

Use a chain properly!

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! We generally prefer to put the chain through the main triangle of the frame and the rear triangle of the frame, through the rear wheel as well. Just looping a chain through the main triangle of the frame can allow a thief to cut the frame, twist it to disconnect the chain and then to ride the bike away! A thief doesn't want to wreck the frame, but high-value bikes often have a lot of valuable components that can be very attractive to specialist thieves. Putting the chain through the frame and through the rear wheel means a thief would have to not only cut the frame but also the rear wheel and tyre, which is much harder than simply cutting a lightweight frame! Putting the chain through the rear wheel means the chain must fit between the spokes!

Secure the building as well as the bicycle, if possible!

If you are keeping your bicycle in a wooden shed, you may find our advice on shed security is helpful. Locking the bike within the shed is entirely sensible, but securing the shed itself, and especially the shed door, gives another level of protection and often without costing very much. Similarly, we have another page giving advice that may help if you are keeping your bicycle in a metal bike store/bike hut. 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. In summary, try to use the best security option for your situation; don't be reluctant to use a concrete-mounted ground anchor if your wooden shed has a good concrete floor!

Which chain should I choose?

Our general guidelines are that for bicycles below ?1,000, something like our Protector 11mm chain and lock are sensible. Much above ?1,000-?1,500 in value (or in total value if securing multiple bikes), we tend to recommend the Protector 13mm chain and lock instead. Higher-value bikes, e.g. ?5,000, come into the range of our motorcycle products such as the Protector 16mm chain and lock. However, the bigger chains are very heavy! The Protector 16mm chain can be very awkward to carry and to route through a valuable bicycle frame. It can also be too thick to fit between spokes, but the 16mm is the gauge required to be sure that a thief will not be able to cut it with even the huge 42" bolt croppers! If it helps you to sleep at night, using a short 16mm chain may be an option, with a secondary chain that is not so heavy or bulky providing security for the wheels.

We have more information on the Protector range of security chains, including some videos on how to fit the lock as well as guidance on selecting the right chain.

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 long chain. A 1.5m chain used with a wall-mounted anchor or Shed Shackle at crossbar/top-tube height, could do a reasonable job on two bikes, and a 2.0m chain could lock two bikes an all four wheels in a similar situation. 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.

What about portable security?

Security that works is generally heavy, and often too heavy to carry on a bicycle. There are no easy answers to this problem. The best compromise is either a short length of chain such as the Protector 11mm, but even a 1.0 metre length of our 11mm chain weighs 2.1kg plus the weight of the lock. This can be awkward to carry so a lock bag can help, but a 1.0 metre length of 11mm chain is generally about the limit for lock bag capacity. This is where a mid-range D-lock has a useful role to play as it can provide a useful, although basic and restrictive deterrent, without being too heavy or too difficult to carry on a bike. Most D-locks are supplied with integrated carrying brackets that fit to the bicycle frame to help carry them. As mentioned before, D-locks can be vulnerable so it is import to use D-locks properly.

What if your bike is stolen?

If your bicycle has been stolen, you should report it to the Police. Many bicycle thefts go unreported and that reduces the budget and resources that the Police are able to allocate to the problem.

You may find the Stolen Bikes register is useful as a way of publicising the details of the bike, and hopefully helping it to be identified and recovered.

If you were unfortunate enough to have a bike stolen when using any of our product range, we will do our best to support you in communication with your insurance company etc. We can provide copies of your proof of purchase if you are able to give us confirmation of your identity. Contact us and we will try to help.


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