Lock it or lose it

Lock it or lose it

A spate of motorcycle thefts in Wellington has riders scratching their heads because bike theft in NZ hasn’t been as rife as in some other countries. If you want to keep your bike secure, here’s what you need to know.

Lock it or lose it

Anyone who has had their motorcycle stolen will know that sick feeling as you stare in disbelief at where your ‘bike had been parked. Nervousness about security hasn’t been a major concern for us here in New Zealand, at least not at the level riders in Europe and America have endured. But a number of recent thefts in the capital, including from parking bays and car parks in the central city, has raised anxiety for Wellington riders.

Taking motorcycle security seriously is, of course, never a bad thing, because bad things can happen anywhere, right? So, on a scale of One to London, what can you do to protect your pride and joy from nefarious crims?

Starter level

Parking somewhere that’s in open view, engaging the steering lock and removing the key are the most basic precautions. But they obviously weren’t enough for many victims in Wellington. Still, always remember these basics.

Parking in a car park can be a lottery, dependent on the security measures employed. On the one hand, bike spaces can be a bit out of the way so a criminal might not be overlooked. On the other, they might have CCTV which can act as a deterrent or even help identify the culprit. So long as they’ve forgotten to wear the ubiquitous hoodie…

Lock it or lose it

Second tier

A very basic extra precaution is a disc lock, preferably with alarm. On the plus side, they are relatively light and compact so they’re easy to stow–sometimes even on the bike. On the down side, your average London bike thief would LOL at a disc lock. For approximately 1.5 seconds, as that’s how long it would take a practiced hand to remove it with the sledgehammer he always keeps in the Transit. Mind you, should the crim not be that adept a disc lock with alarm can make quite a din if they make a hash of trying to remove it or move the bike. Top tip learned from an ex-bike thief? Put the disc lock on the rear. It’s harder to get off.

Bike alarms and immobilisers are of similar worth, even factory-fitted items. Alarms can usually be silenced in seconds if you know what to do and defeating the immobiliser on a bike you’ve shoved into the van can be conducted at your leisure with help from the internet.

Still, if the local crims are not as brazen or experienced as overseas, this level of security might stop you being a victim. Just make sure you always affix the tell-tale cord that comes with a disc lock. Attempting to ride off with the lock in place can range from embarrassing to expensive to injurious.

DefCon 3

Now we’re talking. About chains, mostly. And there’s a huge difference between the right chain, correctly deployed, and any old chain shoved through your front wheel.

First, the chain itself needs to be 15mm or 16mm hardened steel, preferably with a braided cover. You’ll need top-spec bolt cutters to get through this sort of stuff.

The lock is just as important. Some cheap sets are easily picked. You’ll pay more for a less pickable lock but why would you want this to be a weak ‘link’? Abloy claim their top lockset is un-pickable. They haven’t been slaughtered by advertising watchdogs so draw your own conclusions.

Next up is how you deploy it. Through the wheel? Maybe round the forks? Not much good. Lying on the floor? You’re just made it easy to freeze, grind, cut, split or smash it.

The best way to deploy the chain is to put it through the frame somewhere, attach it to an immovable object and ensure it is fairly taut, off the ground.

That immovable object can be a bit of street furniture if you’re away from home. If you’re at home and crave real security you’ll want a decent ground anchor to chain the bike to. The best are concreted in but you’re only likely to do that as part of laying a floor. Bolt-in ones can still do a good job.

Passive security

It’s not always about the hardware. One key aspect of security is where you park it. Parking in the same spot where the bike can be noticed and scoped out is not good. Somewhere out of eyes’ way can be just as bad if you always park there and it affords a thief privacy. So, ideally, change up your routine.

Security lights, motion-detection alarms, garage door and window sensors: they all add extra layers of security.

Finally, a joke. Two guys walking across the African Savanna are suddenly confronted by a massive lion. One of them whips out a pair of running shoes from his backpack and starts lacing them. The other guy says “You don’t seriously think you’re going to outrun a lion with those do you?” To which the first says “I don’t need to. I only need to outrun you.”

The lesson is that the security you add to your bike doesn’t always need to be impossible to defeat. It just has to look like a hassle, encouraging a potential thief to look for easier pickings.