Top Tips For Preventing Motorcycle Theft

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A little extra attention now will help secure your two-wheel pride and joy from would-be thieves. If you feel like your motorcycle is more vulnerable to prying hands than other vehicles, it’s probably because there’s no physical layer over the engine and ignition for would-be thieves to surmount—your precious two-wheeler is just sitting there like an open invitation. Frankly, it’s a lower-risk, higher-reward target than a car. And you northerners, take note: the motorcycle parts market is especially lucrative in colder-weather climates where a shorter riding season feeds the stolen parts trade, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

But there are dozens of ways to lower the odds of your motorcycle being stolen. No single one is completely foolproof, but if you follow these strategies, you stand a better chance of ensuring your ignition key doesn’t get lonely. A little paranoia, it turns out, goes a long way.

We’ve spoken with pros in the security field—the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), lock company reps, and the folks at Cycle Trader—to glean their advice, and if it sounds similar, that’s because much of it is common sense. So take heed the nine tips here will get you started on your resolution of stopping bike thieves cold in their tracks.

Keep it covered.

The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” has never been more true. Your bike will be a lot less tempting if criminals can’t see what they might want. Cycle Trader’s people suggest using your garage—if you have one—to stash your bike, and if you don’t, invest in a bike cover. “Storing and covering your bike will not only keep thieves at bay, but it’s a good way to keep your bike in top shape too.”

Add a security alarm.

“An alarm alone won’t do the trick, but they can deter thieves,” Cycle Trader adds. Lots of motorcycle manufacturers are developing sophisticated electronic motorcycle security alarms similar to high-end automotive units. For an add-on option, check out Gorilla’s Automotive 9100 motorcycle alarm with two-way paging system.

Lock your ignition and remove the key.

This gem from the MSF sounds obvious, right? But a good chunk of thefts happen when the bike’s ignition is turned off but not locked—so take the extra minute to lock it. And be sure to use your kill switch; this simple step adds another layer to the engine-starting process, which can spook criminals in search of an easy ride. Another no-brainer: Use the steering lock if you have one. Go even further and install a hidden kill switch to really enhance your motorcycle’s security.

Bolt your bike to a stationary object.

Securing the motorcycle to an immovable object will instantly make it less vulnerable. We’ve had good results with hardened chain locks like Kryptonite’s NY Fahgettaboudit Chain. Thieves won’t likely want to spend the time cutting through an asymmetrical chain, and will search out easier targets instead. For even better security, Kryptonite recommends you lock the frame and the wheels to the object (its website has a great section on proper motorcycle locking techniques). If riding with friends, lock all your bikes together, for the same reason.

Invest in a stout disc lock.

Everyone we spoke to recommends a disc lock at the minimum because they’re fairly inexpensive and portable. These widely used anti-theft devices attach to your bike’s brake disc, locking it so the bike can’t be moved in either direction. The MysBiker Disc Brake Lock is a good well-rounded starter option, or you can go hard-core with the spendier but super-beefy Abus Granit Detecto X + 8077, a hardened-steel brick that features a 3-D motion sensor and a 100-decibel built-in alarm. If your bike doesn’t have easy access to an exposed rotor, use a shackle disc lock to capture the rear wheel’s chain sprocket.

Use Big Brother.

It’s a good idea to park within sight of a security camera, if possible. CCTV is everywhere these days, and if your bike is stolen, the footage might provide the authorities a clear description of the punk who stole your baby. Choose your location carefully, balancing protection with visibility.

Get a GPS tracker.

Cycle Trader offers that, “although a GPS tracker can’t prevent your bike from being stolen, it can come in handy” when you want to see where it went. It’ll help law enforcement to locate your bike and get it returned quickly. The Spy Tec STI GL300 gets high marks on Amazon.

Park defensively.

When parking in a garage—or even on the street—try to block your motorcycle in with a car or other physical barrier, at least on one side. That simple step alone will make it harder for thieves to make an easy score.

Secure your paperwork.

Keep all your papers (registration, insurance card) on you, rather than with the bike. Also stash a record of your bike and the serial number somewhere.

The MSF also advises you to stay vigilant when it’s time to sell your bike too:

  • Don’t hand over the title until you can verify the check’s valid and has cleared the bank. Then you can mail the title to the new owner. Same thing goes for consignment shop sales.
  • Get the buyer’s name, address, date of birth, and driver’s license number. Then physically check the license against the info you were given, and make sure there’s a motorcycle endorsement. Out-of-state IDs should be a red flag.