Motorcycle Security
January 25, 2007 10:43 AM   Subscribe

What’s the best way to secure a parked motorcycle?

I’m planning on buying my first motorcycle within a few days. At my home, there is a small garage/shed building, where I plan to store it. Securing the doors to this building is not an option.

I have my lawn mower also stored in this building, secured by a long steel cable looped through the mower’s frame and around one of the building’s supporting posts, locked with a Master combination lock.

While this may be a viable solution for immobilizing the bike at home, it would be a little unwieldy for use elsewhere. Are motorcycle-specific locks worth the money? The ones I've seen cost in the range of $50 and up.
posted by ijoshua to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If the bike is small enough to be picked up by two men and thrown in the back of a truck, then I would say yes, $50 is worth it. Every bike I've ever owned has been too heavy to toss around like that, though, so the fork lock has always been sufficient for my peace of mind.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:51 AM on January 25, 2007

Response by poster: I should rephrase the last part of my question… Of course it’s worth $50 to protect a bike that costs 100× that. What I’m interested in knowing is if there’s any advantage to the locks that are marketed specifically for motorcycles, when they seem to be just standard chains or cables sold at a premium.

I’m also interested in knowing if anyone has an opinion on comparative differences between chain/cable locks, U-bar locks, and disc locks.
posted by ijoshua at 11:05 AM on January 25, 2007

I have a smaller, older BMW and have not used a lock on it, even in larger US metro areas. It is one of the lighter bikes, so if someone really wants it I suppose they will take it somehow.

A diehard rider in my neighborhood (+700k miles on his one bike!) uses a motion detector alarm. I've heard it in the middle of the night before, and I'm sure it has prevented some thefts. This would be the type of alarm I'd go for if I was really concerned.

I toyed with the idea of a disc lock, but the downside of that lock is that you can easily forget it's on and do some serious damage to the bike when you try to drive away. If you're not the forgetful type like me, you could try it. People often use a visual reminder in the ignition that the lock is on (I think they even sell small cords that run down to the lock itself).

To my mind, anything that slows a thief down or discourages them from trying in the first place is worth it. I have simply consoled myself with the fact that my bike it probably not the one in the lineup that they're going to be attracted to.
posted by cocoagirl at 11:19 AM on January 25, 2007

you can get a pager alarm for it if you'll be close enough to it (not sure about the range). Mine had me running out of the movie theater when a bus went by... Could never get the sensitivity right, so I just stopped using it. They might be better now though. Other than that, disc locks and other non-lock-to-something only discourage the casual thief, and I dont think there's many of those. Usually it's the 'back of the truck' deal which there's not a hell of a lot you can do about. Just get theft insurance, disc lock, and cross your fingers.
And no advantage to bike-specific chains that I know of, besides maybe the slip cover to avoid scratches.
posted by imaswinger at 11:36 AM on January 25, 2007

As the owner of a larger, older BMW (hello fellow female BMW owner!) I always say if they can figure out how to kick start it, then can have it.

But I have seen alarm systems that are like pagers - something like this looks like a good way to keep your bike secure when you're parking it on the street or in the storage shed. And it won't annoy the neighbors.

I'd be leery of using some sort of lock or cord on the bike, as you could perhaps forget about it and do some damage to your bike and to yourself.
posted by suki at 11:37 AM on January 25, 2007

I use a disc lock mostly because it's small enough to easily carry around. I do use a bright cord that attracts attention to the lock so thieves know it's there and I remember to remove it. The locks are fairly cheap and hopefully annoying enough to get a thief to look for an easier target.

But, my bike is nothing fancy so I don't have to worry about a determined thief. If you're riding a Harley or nice BMW then spend the extra money necessary to protect it.
posted by spork at 11:59 AM on January 25, 2007

At home, get yourself a dishpan or old bucket and a bag of cement. Find an old kryptonite U lock or some hardened steel loop and embed that in the cement. Lock the bike with a NEWYORKER OR A FUGGEDABOUDIT by Kryptonite.
On the road a front disc lock and the above mentioned chain and lock sets. the idea is to present a real and visual deterrent. There are a lot of bikes on the road. Make it easier to steal someone else's.
posted by Gungho at 11:59 AM on January 25, 2007

I used a bright red U-lock through the rear wheel. Never actually connected it to anything else, like other posters I figured if someone really wanted it that bad, they'd figure out a way around any protective gear.

Bike (as in bicycle) shops sell very, very heavy cable locks now that they say are pretty much indestructible, but they are insanely heavy.

That might work for you, though, if you have to lock up your lawnmower!
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 12:03 PM on January 25, 2007

I use a kryptonite NY Disc Lock with a NY Chain to secure my scoot to whatever I can. Sometimes, the chain won't go to anything, so I just use the lock through the disc brake.

"Motorcycle" chains are usually hardened steel and more resistant to cutting or sawing. That said, they can still be cut given enough time.

Also, most bikes (even the heavy ones) can be picked up with four guys and two poles and a truck or van, so try to park it in such a way that they can't maneuver in to pick it up or roll it away.

Oh, and if you use the disc brake lock every time, then it becomes routine and easier to remember to take it off before you ride away.
posted by toomanyplugs at 12:44 PM on January 25, 2007

I have an older BMW and I chain it to one of my deck posts. Obviously someone could just saw through the post, but so far it hasn't happened yet. I think the ideal is this setup. You drill a couple holes in the concrete, epoxy a ring into the floor, lock the bike frame to the floor using a high strength chain. Also, keep any cutting implements like bolt cutters and grinders locked up. No matter what you lock it up with, nothing is going to stand up to an angle grinder.
posted by electroboy at 12:50 PM on January 25, 2007

Sorry, you wanted something more portable. Disc lock and a heavy duty chain. Some disc locks come with a reminder tag, which is probably a good idea. Deterrence is probably your best bet. Any jackass with a pickup and a ramp can steal your bike without a lot of help.
posted by electroboy at 12:52 PM on January 25, 2007

I use a bicycle U-lock on the front tire mainly because I already had one. I also only use it at home because it is the least secure place I ever keep it. A cover helps to keep it away from casual prying eyes.
posted by JJ86 at 12:54 PM on January 25, 2007

Best answer: If you are only worried about securing it in the small shed you have, I'd second the suggestion of a reinforced cable/chain for motorcycles. A disc lock is also useful but be sure to have a reminder that it's on there or you can seriously tear up your brakes etc. Always chain through the rear wheel AND the frame.

It also depends on the bike you get I suppose - for how much you want to invest in securing it.

If your shed has a concrete slab floor, I would consider embedding a U bolt into the concrete and then you can chain to that right on the floor - you can cold chisel a reverse wedge and then pour new concrete around the U bolt so it's embedded and you can even make it even with the floor so its not a tripping hazard etc. you can park right on top of it and then run the chain thru.

If thats not an option and you really want to chain it, I suppose you could find an old engine block cheaply? at a salvage yard and chain it to that in the shed- it would be a couple hundred extra pounds for theives to try to manage while carrying a bike - theyd probably just look for easier pickings.

If you want something to secure it wherever you go, get an alarm and also use the disc lock.
I garage my bike and got a scorpio alarm with the two way fm pager (distance on it is about 1/4 mile give or take) - I got it with motion sensor and the anti-hijack engine kill (it has tilt,shock, tamper, etc) and installed it myself. SR-i500 , used to have a discount with a supplier (aritronix) that included all the add-ons for the price of the base unit (plus the wire harness kit specific to your bike). It's nice since it has tons of options for activating it (with or without audible, disable proximity, etc) - the pager part is small and works well.

If you live in a high population area I would highly recommend you get full coverage insurance also.
Keep receipts for all your gear etc too. insurance covers loss of gear but you need your receipts.
Since this is your first bike, take the MSF course and dont skimp on gear! Good luck and keep the shiny side up!
posted by clanger at 1:25 PM on January 25, 2007

posted by maloon at 8:47 AM on January 26, 2007

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