The game is stacked against riders when it comes to motorcycle security. Motorcycles are easier to steal than cars, easier to turn a profit on, and thefts rates are increasing. OEM motorcycle anthi-theft devices are easy to overcome and our bikes are light enough to push or even carry into a van. Against these odds, you need to know the best motorcycle anti-theft devices so you can keep your beloved ride safe.
Essential Motorcycle Security Tips
Before you can pick the right motorcycle security device for you, you have to understand the threat. If you know how your motorcycle could be stolen, you’ll know how to secure it.
Most motorcycles have a key that locks the ignition and the steering wheel. Unfortunately, neither of these are much of a deterrent.
- Steering locks can be broken, but they don’t have to be, as even a locked fork will allow the bike to roll forward;
- Electronic immobilizers are great, but the name can be a bit misleading. They render your bike incapable of moving itself in the absence of your key fob, but they don’t prevent it from being rolled or carried. That may deter some thieves, but not by much.
- Ignition can be hotwired, but some thieves may not actually want to do so. A running bike will evade police easier, but it can be quicker and quieter to wheel the bike onto a waiting van and drive away.
- Parking the bike in gear, at best, protects your bike against being ridden (but not tipped) by children.
- Most bikes can be carried. Even if all of these measures are in place and your bike won’t roll, most bikes can simply be picked up and carried by 1-4 co-conspirators.
Your bike’s built-in defenses amount to nothing at all. If you want to keep it safe and enjoy peace of mind when it’s parked, you need to invest in the best motorcycle security device that works for you. But how should you choose? Here are some tips:
- Ask your local police force: There are two things your local police can do for you. First, they’re probably the best source for local theft data. You want to know what types of bikes are popular among local thieves and how often thefts occur in your area. This will help determine much you ought to invest to sleep safely at night. Second, departments or individual officers may have recommendations based on the foiled robbery attempts they’ve seen in your area. They are a valuable source of knowledge.
- Consider where you store your motorcycle: If you park your motorcycle under your window, you’ll need something that will make enough noise to get you out of bed. If it’s stored more remotely, you may not hear the alarm, so consider heavy-duty equipment that will immobilize your bike and seriously delay thieves with tools.
- You may just need to be safer than the next guy: Thieves are likely to go for low-hanging fruit. What logically follows isn’t pretty but it’s true. Unless your bike is exceptionally rare and valuable, it may just be enough to be more secure than the other bikes in your neighborhood. Conversely, if everybody in your neighborhood locks up tight, don’t be the one easy score.
- Mix visible and invisible devices: Build a multi-layered security process for your bike. A chain through the wheel is good, but for overnight parking, a chain, a disk lock, and a motorcycle tracker are even better. Make it visually apparent that stealing your bike will be a hassle, and then keep an invisible failsafe inplace to catch determined thieves who might go through with it.
There’s a famous Reddit Ask Me Anything thread with great practical tips from a motorcycle thief who’d had a change of heart. The whole thing is worth reading, but here are some of the most valuable and interesting highlights:
- Chains: Keep them tight and off the ground to make freezing or sledgehammer attacks more difficult. Front wheels are easy to remove and replace, rear wheels are a bit tough, but if your chain goes through the bike’s frame, removing it will be difficult. In addition, the large bolt cutters required to remove a heavy-duty chain will be highly obvious and, in most areas, will rule out daytime theft.
- Aesthetics: Visual defects – scuffed plastic, dents, etc. – may dissuade thieves looking for their next bike to steal.
- Parts demand: Selling a stolen bike whole can be difficult, so most thieves will break them down and sell them for parts. If parts for your bike are expensive and/or hard to get, you may need to be extra careful.
- Get theft insurance but be careful: Some thieves know that after stealing a bike, the previous owner may get an insurance payout and buy a new one. They’ll keep an eye out and if it isn’t immediately secured, they may have just scored a 2-for-1 deal.
Ensuring Maximum Security For Your Bike
Now that you’ve got some idea about how to choose the right motorcycle anti-theft device for you, let’s see some of the best the market has to offer. We’ve tried to take one best pick from each of the best and most common types of motorcycle security devices, so even if one of these isn’t right for you, you may find something else in that category that you like.
The Kryptonite New York Legend Chain 1515
Because of how they can be attached to almost anything, a good heavy-duty chain is probably one of the most important and versatile anti-theft devices you can use on your bike. You can lock up your front or rear wheel, or you can run it through a wheel or your frame and lock yourself to something like a lamp post. They aren’t totally thief-proof (nothing is), but chain links 12mm or thicker are going to require either industrial-grade bolt cutters (and a lot of elbow grease) or an angle grinder. Either way, that’s bad news for thieves.
Kryptonite is one of the most trusted bike lock brands out there, and among their entire catalog, there’s almost nothing heavier than the New York Legend 1515. The links are a truly massive 15mm thick of hardened steel, and the chain is 90cm long, which is enough to lock your bike to something stationary without touching the ground to make the chain vulnerable. This is an absolute beast of a chain lock. The only drawback is its weight – if you want to use it on the go, you’ll need to figure out how to carry this 7.2kg beast around.
- Heavy-duty links ill require extensive toolset and effort to break;
- Secure, shrouded lock;
- Heavy, hard to transport;
The Squire Behemoth chain lock
If the Kryptonite chain we just shared tiptoes at the upper limit of what is portable, then the Squire blows past that limit like a superbike on the run from the police. The aptly-named Behemoth weighs 22.4kg, so it’s hard to imagine taking it anywhere other than home. In fact, Squire even advises against it!
There are two parts to this kit, and both of them are outstanding. The chain is 1.5m of 22mm links, so there are enough of them to fully secure your bike and they’re big enough to shrug off almost anything thieves will throw at them. The massive lock is hard, heavy, and shrouded, so it’ll be highly resistant to the attacks many other locks are susceptible to.
- 22mm-diameter links make this one of the heaviest consumer chain and lock systems on the market;
- Massive dual-key shrouded lock is difficult to pick or break;
- Extreme weight practically limits this to use as a home or office security device;
The Dowco WeatherAll Plus Cover Alarm
A motorcycle cover on its own isn’t much of a security device, but it does have its uses. Thieves like to spot juicy targets before actually stealing them, and a cover means they’ll have to make an obvious approach to determine whether a bike is worth stealing. It’s not much, but it can make a difference in an area with lots of bikes.
This cover alarm takes it one step further by turning your cover into an actual deterrent or delay. It won’t physically stop someone from stealing your bike, but it will blast them with a deafening 130-decibel alarm if they mess with your cover. They’ll need to detect and deactivate this alarm if they want to take your bike without waking you and the whole neighborhood.
- Light and easy to use;
- Occupies unique niche in security systems, doesn’t overlap with other quality tools;
- Purely a deterrent alarm, offers no physical security to speak of.
The Monimoto Motorcycle GPS Tracker
Motorcycle GPS trackers do what it says in the name – they track your motorcycle via GPS. The beauty of these systems is the fact that they can be used in unison with any of the other tools on this list.
They act as a failsafe – a final net of safety in the event that a determined thief chooses to steal your motorcycle. A tracker will allow you to recover your bike or even catch the thief red-handed. If you mark your bike with a sticker indicating that it contains a tracker, this may delay amateir thieves while delaying experienced ones as they search the bike for your tracker’s hiding spot.
- Works when all other security tools may have failed;
- Powerful failsafe tool that very few thieves have any answer for;
- Is not a direct deterrent or security tool, requires owner or police action.
The ABUS GRANIT Detecto Xplus 8077 disk lock
Disk locks are a great piece of security kit that’s definitely worth having. They’re not foolproof but the weight-to-security ratio is great, making them very easy and worthwhile to use. And one of the best disk locks out there comes from ABUS, a German security device manufacturer with a solid reputation.
The GRANIT Detecto Xplus 8077 (even the mouthful of a name was evidently designed to scare off thieves) has all the features of a leading disk brake – a powerful alarm to alert owners and dissuade thieves, hardened steel to make physical attacks difficult, and a close-fitting design to make it difficult to pry off. With locks of this quality, thieves will usually need to cut through the brake disk with an angle grinder to get it off, and they’re likely to set off the alarm at least a few times as well.
- Robust lock requires time-consuming attack to remove;
- Combines moderate security and deterrence in a single lightweight tool;
- Does not prevent movement of motorcycle, needs to work in unison with other tools.
The Kryptonite Hardwire cable lock
Strictly speaking, cable locks aren’t very good security devices, so to say that this or any other cable lock is the best cable lock isn’t saying much. However, at a lower threat level, a cable lock could be an easy-to-use and good lower-budget option that is good enough to prevent low-effort theft attempts.
At the head of this weaker class of lock, the Kryptonite Hardwire series is a good choice. The cable is 20mm thick, meaning that thieves will need a large cutting tool to get around the cable. The lock is no exception to Kryptonite’s strong lock-making pedigree – in addition to the high-security barrel, it has a spring-loaded dust guard that doubles as an obstacle for amateur lockpickers. If you’re sure a cable lock is good enough (and most of the security community would disagree), then so is this.
- Light, convenient, and easy to use;
- Offers little physical security or deterrence against professional thieves.
The Pragmasis Roundlock
This neat little tool isn’t necessarily the most secure lock on this list, but its unique versatility puts it quite literally in a class all its own. The Pragmasis Roundlock is a small lock with a 21mm shackle that, depending on your bike’s brake disk and/or the diameter of your security chain links, you can use as a chain lock or a disk lock. This versatility is by design – if you order multiple units, you can have them all fitted for the same key, so they understand that one user may use several of these locks on their bike.
In either use case, the lock is quite secure. The build quality is good, and the small size happens to be an advantage, as this can make the lock itself difficult to attack with anything other than a lockpick. While this type of attack is possible, the skills required to pick a high-security lock are usually quite rare. Pair that with its low price and it becomes quite a good piece of kit to have, although we certainly don’t recommend it as your only security device.
- Multi-functional lock is a great addition to any security toolset;
- Small, lightweight, easy to use;
- May not be suitable for all chains or all brake disks, requiring research on the buyer’s part.
Kryptonite Stronghold ground anchor
If you have the opportunity to modify your motorcycle parking space, you can install a ground anchor – a heavy-duty installation that will take your motorcycle security to the next level. Removing an anchor is extremely difficult, meaning most thieves will try to target whatever’s connecting your bike to the anchor. If both elements are adequately secure, your bike’s security is virtually guaranteed (again, nothing is 100% thief-proof). The biggest drawback are, obviously, that the anchors are not portable and that they may require some masonry skill to install.
Kryptonite’s Stronghold anchor is one of the best anchors you can get. The shape is easy to roll over, so you’re free to install it on the ground or on the wall (although wall installations will make chains much harder to cut). The Stronghold features two anchor points and even comes with the masonry bits required to drill it into the floor or wall.
- Provides immobile locking contact where none exists;
- Most difficult-to-remove device on this list;
- Requires permission to perform permanent installation;
- Requires installation skills or installation costs;
- Offers no security on its own;
- Only secures bike at one location.
The Bully Lock grip lock
Grip locks aren’t the most high-security device, but their ease of use can make them a good addition to any security arsenal. A grip lock does two things – it locks up your front brake lever so your bike doesn’t roll, and its bright color tells would-be casual thieves at a glance that your bike is probably not worth the effort. For a small piece of metal that fits in your pocket and that can be installed without fidgeting around your frame or wheels, that’s a good deal.
The bully Lock might be a bit pricey for a grip lock, but it also has some of the best specs in this category. The hardened steel won’t be the most trivial material to cut, and the nylon sheath will keep it working for years to come. It’s a great addition to any security setup, or if you’re never away from your bike for long while on the road, then it might be all you need when on the move.
- Visual deterrent;
- Easiest use and installation of any device on this list, highly portable;
- Cannot be recommended as your sole security device;
- Offers little physical security against determined thieves.
The Datatool S4 Red immobilizer
We mentioned at the beginning of this article that immobilizers aren’t enough to keep your bike secure, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have their uses. Together with other tools, they can make stealing your bike a major headache. Many modern bikes come with immobilizers stock, but where we can see this third-party immobilizer really shining is in bikes where thieves won’t expect it.
Not all immobilizers are equal, and not all OEM immoblizers come with leading security ratings (this doesn’t necessarily mean they are low-quality – only that they haven’t been submitted). This is why the Datatool S4 Red is one of the best-in-class options. This immobilizer and alarm combo comes with the Thatcham Category 1 rating, which is the best that a device like this can receive.
- Difficult to detect and remove once fully installed;
- Offers both deterrence and moderate security;
- Requires installation skills or installation costs.
Bonus: Motorcycle covers
The primary function of a motorcycle cover isn’t security – it won’t stop anyone who has an even passing interest in stealing your bike. But it can reduce the chance that your bike is targeted. Without a cover, it can be enough for a thief to walk or drive by to evaluate your bike’s value. If your bike is covered up, they need to approach and tamper it to figure out whether it’seven worth the trouble. If there are plenty of other bikes in your area, this might be enough to dissuade them.
Q: How do you secure a motorcycle on the street?
A: The best thing you can do is to build a set of multiple security tools depending on your location and your bike. Start with a chain lock running through the back wheel that is secured to an immovable object like a lamp post or concrete barrier. The back wheel is harder to remove, so that’s the best spot for both chains and disk locks. If you can, running your chain through your frame is even better. Make sure the chain and lock don’t touch the ground, as this will make attacking them much more difficult. The goal here is to prevent your bike from being rolled or carried away.
The next step is to dissuade thieves from tampering with your security tools, which can be done either by using very heavy-duty tools or by using an alarm that will alert you or passersby to their efforts.
Lastly, add a failsafe that will help stop a theft or recover your bike if it is stolen. In many cases, motorcycle GPS trackers’ silent alarms combined with a sturdy chain lock have helped owners stop thefts in progress. But even if the theft does occur, trackers can help many riders quickly retrieve their bikes.
Most motorcycle thieves lack the tools or expertise to deal with trackers, forcing them to store stolen motorcycles in intermediate locations before breaking them down. In fact, we’ve heard plenty of reports from both the police and Monimoto GPS tracker users who recover bikes that the thieves have left quite close to the scene of the crime – sometimes just a few blocks away. The reason they do this is to see if the bike has trackers. If nobody comes to recover it in a few days, they then know that it’s safe to bring back to their workshop to sell or to chop up for parts.
Q: Do motorcycles get stolen often?
A: Unfortunately, motorcycles get stolen more often than we like to think. Here’s why:
– They are easier to steal;
– Many areas have stronger markets for stolen motorcycles;
– Motorcycles can also easily be broken down and sold for parts;
All of this also means that in most locations, stolen motorcycles are not recovered as often as stolen automobiles are.
Q: How easy is it to steal a motorcycle?
A: The stock security features on most motorcycles won’t deter anything more than the casual passerby thief. If you aren’t utilizing a multi-tiered motorcycle security system, any determined thief will have an easy time stealing your motorcycle. Though popular, disk locks only prevent rolling, and motorcycles can be carried. This is why multi-component motorcycle security systems are crucial if you want to keep your bike safe at all times.
You know what they say about motorcycle rider safety gear? Dress for the slide, not the ride. Well, the same concept goes for your bike. We can only hope you’ll never need any of your motorcycle security gear, but given how easy and prevalent motorcycle theft is, you probably will. The question is, how likely are the thieves to succeed when your bike’s time comes? How will you meet their challenge? If you always park it in a safe spot and use a number or heavy-duty motorcycle anti-theft devices, then you’ll probably never even need to find out. They’ll just go for that other bike whose owner didn’t take the time to lock it up right.