How to Prevent Bike Theft?

Each year, the bike community sees billions in combined losses due to bike theft. But it happens one bike at a time, each theft a personal loss. 

Learn how to prevent bike theft so you don’t end up on the wrong side of a crime statistic.

How common is bike theft?

Garage 529 reports that over 2 million bikes are stolen annually in America, equating to one theft every 30 seconds. The impact of this is massive, costing communities over one billion dollars annually.

There is difficulty in knowing the exact number of annual bike thefts because stolen bicycles often go unreported. Some estimates suggest that only about 20% of bike thefts get reported to police. We’ll never know with certainty.

Most of us know someone who has had a bike stolen, or perhaps we’ve been victims of bike theft ourselves, and sometimes more than once. Premium brand bikes and class 1-3 eBikes, in particular, make attractive targets for bike thieves due to their higher value.

Fortunately, you can reduce your risk by exercising caution when storing your bike or eBike and using a well-chosen bike lock.

How to store your bike

Higher-value bikes bring more risk because of their cost, but bike thieves steal bicycles at all levels of the price spectrum. Many times, bike thefts occur simply because we give thieves the opportunity; an unlocked bike or a flimsy lock can be a strong temptation. 

Whether your bike is worth $50, $500, or $5,000, it makes sense to protect your ride.

You’ll want to choose a sturdy bike lock, but how you lock your bike and where you park your bike can play a big role in reducing your risk of bike theft.

  • Choose well-lit areas. Bike thieves don’t want witnesses. Try to park in a publicly visible area that’s well-lit.
  • Lock your bike to an immovable object. If possible, lock both wheels and the frame itself, but be sure to lock to a post or bike rack that can’t be moved. If not locked to a fixed object like a pole cemented to the ground, thieves might just carry your bike (and lock) away or toss it in the back of a vehicle to remove the lock later. 
  • Take valuables and easily removable items with you. A fancy saddle with a quick-release seat post can disappear in seconds. Similarly, other easily removable items like racks or lights can be difficult for thieves to resist.
  • Change your routine. If you park your valuable bike in the same place every day, you can bet someone will notice and may be planning a bike heist. If possible, change your parking place to make stealing your bike more difficult. Better yet, see if you can bring your bike indoors if you’re traveling to the same location each day.
  • Secure your bike at home. Many bike thefts happen at home, stolen right off the porch or pedaled right out of the driveway when left unattended. At home, keep your bike out of sight if possible and use a quality lock as appropriate.

How to choose a bike lock

Unfortunately, a determined thief can often break into even the strongest locks, so there is unlikely to ever be a 100% theft-proof bike lock. But investing in a good quality lock can make a significant difference in reducing the likelihood of bike theft. 

A high-quality U-Lock or quality tested lock and chain can make all of the difference. It is recommended to avoid cable locks as your primary way to secure your bike. In one study, two-thirds of bike thefts occurred to bikes secured with just a cable lock, which are notoriously easy to break or cut. Cable locks can serve a purpose though. For those who are extra cautious, using a classic U-lock for the bike frame, and a cable lock to thread between both wheels, is a common approach.

What locks do you recommend?

When choosing a bike lock, you’re really looking at how effective the lock may be at deterring theft and whether the lock can resist attacks with common hand tools, such as bolt cutters. In other words, a lock that thieves can cut or break easily won’t be the best choice to protect a valuable bike. 

According to The Best Bike Lock, a website dedicated to bike locks, a chain or U-lock that’s 16mm or thicker can’t be cut with manual bolt cutters. Most bike thefts involve bikes secured with cable locks, so it’s best to avoid cable locks.

Many bike locks also use a security rating of 1 to 10, with one being the least secure and 10 offering the highest level of security. A lock with a rating of 7 or higher provides the best security for higher value bikes or when parking your bike for an extended duration. Sold Secure, an independent testing group, also rates many locks, assigning locks they test a bronze, silver, gold, or diamond rating. In this case, bronze represents minimal protection while diamond-rated locks give bike owners more protection.

You can find a more extensive list of locks to consider at The Best Bike Lock.

What does bike insurance cover?

Bike and eBike insurance can cover a wide range of risks and offers several ways to customize your coverage. A dedicated bike insurance policy protects bikes or eBikes (class 1, 2, and 3) against theft and other common risks, including theft, crash damage, spare parts, and medical payments.

A bike insurance policy provides coverage both at home and away from home. Optionally, your policy can also protect your bike when you travel with it internationally. By comparison, a home or renters policy provides limited protection, often excluding coverage for many risks or reducing coverage amounts and leaving your bike less protected.

Dedicated bike insurance can be more affordable than you might expect. Get a customized quote to protect your bike or eBike today.

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Join Oyster today to learn how you can be properly protected from the unexpected things in life.

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