Motorcycle Lock Buying Guide
Motorcycle thieves are cunning criminals, and the sad truth is that there’s no such thing as completely infallible security system for your motorcycle. A determined thief will stop at nothing to steal your motorcycle, and they know every single trick and method to get past even the most sophisticated security systems. It’s a sad reality. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to make life easy for these thieves. A good motorcycle lock will help to stall a thief, cost them time, and make them weigh up the risk versus reward ratio for stealing your motorcycle. A troublesome looking motorcycle lock will give them pause, and should convince any opportunists to give your motorcycle a miss and seek out easier pickings. But why do you need a motorcycle lock in the first place?
Why Do You Need A Motorcycle Lock?
Motorcycles are easy to steal. It’s a simple as that. Unlike cars, motorcycles are light, easy to lift, and easy to transport. An experienced thief can overcome a basic safety device, and have your motorcycle loaded into the back of a van in seconds. In fact, that same thief can steal your motorcycle, have it disassembled and have those parts sold to buyers in less than 24 hours. Stealing a motorcycle can be easier than stealing a watch or a wallet. And that’s the main reason why you need to ramp up your security measures. Apart from the main reason that motorcycles are easy to steal, here are some extra reasons why you need to invest in the best motorcycle lock you can afford:
Some Brands Are More Attractive To Thieves
You might think that your generic, stock motorcycle isn’t worth stealing because models like it are ten a penny, but that’s not true. Models from Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Harley Davidson are the most likely to get stolen. Since they’re so common, it’s easier for a thief to sell on a more popular and common brand than a rarer one. The actual stealing part of a motorcycle thievery is only half of the job. Popular brands are easier to sell on. Whole or in pieces. If you want to keep hold of your motorcycle, you’d better invest in a serious motorcycle lock.
Special Models & Parts Are Desirable
Believe it or not, these motorcycle thieves do their homework. There is a very high chance that your motorcycle has been specifically targeted. While it would seem obvious that a special edition or a limited production model should be more desirable, sometimes a regular, standard motorcycle might be targeted because it has a specific part needed, or a nice aftermarket full exhaust system, for example. Many thefts aren’t opportunistic but clearly planned with a specific model targeted. If a thief has taken the time to do their homework, the least you can do is put the same amount of effort into keeping your bike safe and well-protected.
High Theft Areas
Naturally, if you live in an area with a high-crime rate that’s notorious for motorcycle theft, then it should go without saying that you should invest in your motorcycle’s security. Even if you’re not parking your motorcycle in a place with a bad reputation for motorcycle thefts, you should still take precautions because when opportunity knocks…a thief will answer. For those interested, the states with the highest statistics of motorcycle theft are California, Florida, Texas, and both North and South Carolina.
You Could Get Better Insurance Premiums
There are some insurance companies that will adjust your premiums if you take the time to install a proper motorcycle lock and let them know about it. Most insurers are willing to help you keep your costs down if you can prove that you’re doing all within your power to keep your motorcycle as safe as possible. Storing your motorcycle off of the road and in a secure garage will help lower your premium, and fitting your motorcycle with a serious lock will also go a long way.
Stock Security Measures Aren’t Enough
A simple key and a steering lock won’t deter a professional thief. In fact, these days a key ignition and a steering lock wouldn’t even deter an amateur thief. Steering locks are easily smashed, and they won’t protect your motorcycle from anything. You need an aftermarket motorcycle lock system if you want to keep your motorcycle safe. It shouldn’t have to be this way, but that’s the way it is.
What To Look For In A Motorcycle Lock
All the locks we’ve suggested in the list above are excellent choices, but none of them are 100% guaranteed to protect your motorcycle. A combination of a number of security devices working in tandem is one of the best ways to protect your bike. But which locks are the best? Which ones suit your lifestyle more? And what other factors do you need to consider before pulling the trigger on a new purchase? Here’s everything you need to think about.
Always check to see what your desired lock is actually made out of. Since these locks need to be strong enough to withstand saw blades, angle grinders, bolt cutters and the elements, strong steel or other strong metals that can resist corrosion and rust are what you need. Make sure that exposed elements don’t have obvious weak points. If you can find a weak point, you can bet a professional thief can too.
The best motorcycle locks are the ones that deter thieves from even attempting a theft. Highly visible, obvious looking locks are the best way to ward off potential thieves. Many motorcycle locks are given incredibly bright color finishes to attract the eyes of any thieves who have been looking at your bike. Deterrence is the best defense, so look for a lock that looks big, obvious, and difficult to remove.
If a motorcycle lock is going to have a chance of protecting your bike, it needs to fit correctly. Different locks have different characteristics and you need to take their specifications into account before you part with your hard earned cash. For example, most handlebar mounted locks have a maximum and a minimum effective diameter. Similarly, some disc brake locks only work on brake discs with holes in them. It’s worth checking that your lock of choice will fit your motorcycle before making a purchase.
Also, it’s worth paying attention to how a device fits too. If you’re buying a heavy chain that looks like it could end up scratching your paintwork, or it might have sharp parts that could cause damage to your rims of tires if you’re running the chain through your wheels. While scratched paintwork isn’t the end of the world, it’s not something you want either.
Ease Of Use
Another important thing to consider is the actual time it takes to attach a lock, and how difficult or fiddly it is to activate. A handlebar lock takes seconds to lock into place and activate. A disc brake bike lock can snap on in no time, but the alarm system could be awkward to arm. Chains are only as good as what you’ve secured them to, so if you’re wasting time riding around looking for a useful anchor, it’s not that useful to you. Consider where you’re parking, and how much time you have to secure a lock before making a decision on a product.
This is arguably one of the most important factors that you need to consider before purchasing a lock. Ground anchors are some of the best motorcycle locks out there, but you can’t take one of those to and from work with you every day. Chain are excellent too, but carrying a heavy and bulky chain across your back is uncomfortable, impractical, and dangerous. It’s not impossible, but it’s not recommended. Smaller locks like disc brake locks and handlebar locks are great because they can fit in a pocket or under the seat. It all depends on your own circumstances; the right lock for one rider might be totally useless to another.
The best motorcycle lock for you will largely depend on the kind of environment that you’re parking your motorcycle in. At home, a heavy chain with a strong ground anchor is going to be the best you can hope for. If you’re parking on the street in front of your workplace, a smaller lock might work better, and rather than relying on heavy-duty locking, a loud alarm might be of more use.
A lock with an alarm is a great option, especially if you’re relying scaring off a thief and deterrence rather than relying on heavy chains instead. But an alarm can be annoying if it’s on a product that isn’t well made. If it has a super sensitive motion sensor that triggers the alarm when a cat walks past at 3am…that could get real annoying real quick. Make sure you buy an alarm-equipped device that suits your needs. And that you can disarm easily. Or remove the batteries from in a hurry.
Like how an alarm-equipped lock could ruin your night’s sleep, you don’t want a lock that could ruin your day either. If you’re thinking of a shackle-type lock, or a disc brake lock, make sure you buy one that comes fitted with a brightly colored and highly obvious reminded cable attached. A reminder cable attaches to your throttle grip, reminding you to disengage your locks before riding off…and having an embarrassing accident.
Types Of Locks Available
Now that you know what to look for in a motorcycle lock, what kind of locks are even available? From the locks available, they all have strengths and weaknesses. They offer differing levels of protection, have different features, and come with various price tags. None of these locks will outwit a determined and experienced motorcycle thief, but anyone of these lock types will help to keep your motorcycle safer. Here are the different types of motorcycle locks on sale:
Motorcycle chain locks are the most obvious type of security measure available. Generally, these chains are made from toughened steel links and are secured with a heavy duty padlock around a solid structure that is firmly attached to a wall or the floor. In theory, these chains are strong enough to resist bolt cutters and saw blades – and the vast majority of security chains on sale will require some industrial tooling to get through them. Unfortunately, these chains are often weakest at the lock, which is where thieves often target. Modern chain locks have advanced anti-drill and tamperproof lock faces, so as long as you buy a quality product, you should get excellent security in return.
Heavy chains aren’t particularly portable though. Chains work best at home where they can safely be attached to a permanent ground anchor. Since they’re so heavy, they’re not ideal to carry with you to and from work, and since they rely on permanent fixtures to be effective, you also need to ensure that something strong and sturdy will be available for you to attach your chain to.
Brake Disc Locks
Brake disc locks are an excellent lock for those who need a security device that they can store under their motorcycle seat or in their pocket. These highly portable locks simple clamp onto a motorcycle’s front brake, usually with a locking pin that goes through one of the pre-drilled holes on a brake disc. The lock makes it impossible for the wheel to turn, successfully immobilizing the motorcycle and making it difficult for any would-be thieves to roll away. These locks are lightweight, easy to use, and easy to transport. Many of them even come with loud alarms too.
There are downsides though. These locks can be dangerous if they’re left armed and you try and ride away. Most of the locks come with reminder cables that are specifically designed to prevent accidents like that from happening though. Also, while the wheels might be prevented from turning, there’s absolutely nothing stopping a determined thief with an accomplice or two from simply lifting your motorcycle into a van and driving away with it, giving them time to disable the brake lock later.
U Shackle Locks
U-Shackle locks are also popular lock types. These locks feature two parts, a base plate and a U-shaped steel shackle. The U-shaped shackle can be routed through a motorcycle’s wheel or frame, and also secured to a permanent fixture, which is then locked in place with the base plate. It’s a great type of utility lock that can be attached in a variety of ways, and when attached correctly it can prevent your motorcycle from being rolled away, or from being lifted. Plus, they’re lightweight locks that can easily be placed in a backpack when you’re riding.
The negative points for these locks include the rigid U-shaped shackle. While it’s versatile, it can also be difficult to find something that it will fit round. A chain has flexibility. These locks don’t. Also, the actual bar of the shackle can be thin, and thieves with the right tools can make short work of them.
Handlebar locks are one of the most popular types of motorcycle lock out there. They are small, lightweight, and incredibly useful. These locks clamp over the top of your motorcycle’s throttle, and grip the front brake lever. This stops the motorcycle from being ridden away or pushed. The lock can also be used on the other side of the handlebar, gripping the clutch lever instead. These locks are an effective deterrent, at an affordable price point. Cheap, easy to use, and difficult for thieves to remove.
Despite being effective, compact and highly portable, these locks suffer from the same problem as disc brake locks: they’re not going to stop a thief from simply lifting your motorcycle into a van and driving away with it. However, that’s a risk that any motorcycle will have to take 90% of the time.
There’s no replacement for a properly secured ground anchored security device. Specialist stands that lock around your front wheel, with a strong base plate that is bolted to the floor, are the best defense against theft. Unfortunately, these devices are not at all portable and are only good for parking at home. Even with a solid ground anchored stand, using other motorcycle locks like a heavy chain and a handlebar lock is still recommended. Even then, a thief that really wants to steal your motorcycle will find a way. But having one of these, in tandem with a few other security measures, will seriously frustrate their efforts!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How To Lock Up A Motorcycle?
A: There are a variety of ways to lock your motorcycle: using the steering lock; locking with a chain; attaching a disc brake lock; using a throttle lock; or a combination of different locks. The most important thing about locking a motorcycle is to lock it in the right location. It should be somewhere clearly visible in a well-lit area, ideally somewhere under the protection of CCTV, in a place where a van couldn’t easily pull up beside it. Ideal places to safely park your motorcycle are few and far between, but having the best security devices and motorcycle locks that you can afford will help to deter any potential thieves and protect your bike from theft.
Q: How To Chain Lock A Motorcycle?
A: When locking your motorcycle with a chain, it’s important to remember to attach the chain to the frame of your bike, and not to something easily removable like the back wheel. Wheels can be removed in seconds. After routing your chain through the frame of your motorcycle, it’s important to lock it to something immovable. Secure your chain with a strong padlock, because a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, which is usually the actual locking mechanism. Some motorcyclists use two locks, a padlock and a U-shackle bolt to doubly secure the chain. There’s no such thing as overkill when it comes to keeping your bike safe, right?
Q: How To Theft Proof Your Motorcycle?
A: Let’s be honest, one security measure isn’t enough. Nothing will prevent a thief from stealing your motorcycle is they really want to. This sounds bleak, but realizing that is the first step to winning the battle against them. Don’t think of a motorcycle lock as an infallible device that will stop a thief from stealing your bike. Instead, see it as a device that costs the thief precious time instead. One security measure will only cost a thief so much time, so another is always necessary. A sturdy chain might take minutes for a thief to deal with, a disc brake lock another 2 minutes, a handlebar lock another 1 minute, and a steering lock 30 seconds. In total, a thief might see your motorcycle and think that a 5 minutes and 30 seconds is too much of a risk, and will move on in search of easier pickings.
The only way to protect your motorcycle is to go the extra mile, using a combination of sophisticated motorcycle locks and security measures to frustrate any potential thieves.
Q: How Effective Is A Motorcycle Disc Lock?
A: A motorcycle disc lock is a very effective way of deterring thieves, but alone it won’t completely protect your motorcycle from being stolen by a determined thief. It will take a minutes for a skilled thief to disarm a brake lock. Luckily, most modern disc brake locks also come equipped with an alarm that should attract attention if it’s being tampered with. This should deter a lot of potential thieves for even attempting to steal your motorcycle. As we said above, the best way to protect your motorcycle is to use a disc lock in tandem with other security measures for the best results.
Q: How Do You Lock Saddlebags?
A: While hard top boxes and lockable side luggage are becoming more popular, those who still use soft saddlebags are always going to be easier targets for thieves. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of special locks and cables that can be used to help keep your goods secure. Nowadays, you can buy special saddlebag locks that firmly secure your luggage to your motorcycle’s frame, with individual locks that deny entry to anyone wanting to go through your belongings. These aren’t infallible though, and if you must carry luggage, it’s better to opt for hard cases that are securely attached to the frame, or invest in baggage that can easily be removed and taken with you.