How Secure Is Your Motorcycle and Gear From Theft?

motorcycle-lockLOSING A MOTORCYCLE TO THEFT DOES NOT MAKE A PLEASANT MEMORY. I’ve had one bike stolen. It was about 1985 and it was locked to a street-light pole with a heavy chain outside my apartment in Boston. In fact, it was secured with a really heavy chain and a big lock. However, it was no match against a determined thief, or team of thieves. I say “team” because there was an earlier time that the same bike was almost stolen. A neighbor told me he observed two guys who had backed up to my bike and were apparently getting ready to attempt to break the chain or lock. From what he could figure, they were going to load the bike into their panel truck, shut the door and drive off with my motorbike.

Which is when he walked over and inquired about their activity.

That time they left.

If I was smarter, I would have made other arrangements about where to park the bike after I was offered that observation. Because, shortly thereafter, when it actually was stolen, and I was left with a broken chain instead of my motorcycle, I learned that the likelihood of getting any missing bike returned was pretty close to nil.

Lucky Motorcycle Rider

And yet, I was lucky.

A week or so later, I did get it back – although with some damage.

And it wasn’t the police who located it.

In this case, it was through the efforts of a helpful citizen, in a neighborhood several miles away, on a street I had never previously visited.

My stolen bike had been left by the curb on a residential street and someone who lived nearby observed its ripped-apart ignition and a jimmied fairing pocket and figured it was stolen and abandoned.

My owners manual was sticking out of the jimmied side pocket and he opened it up in search of identification. He found my phone number from an earlier residence in upstate New York. He called the phone number, got my old roommate, who provided my new phone in Boston. When he called me, I was instantly jubilant (and incredulous) and made my way over to the address he gave me. I found the bike, inspected the damage, and rode it away.

The motorcycle spent a few days in the shop getting a new ignition and having some cosmetic damage repaired. The bike, which I had purchased brand-new a year before, had never been down. But its temporary caretaker had introduced it to the ground in some kind of minor mishap.

Motorcycle Garages

In the mean time, I went into high gear networking with friends and neighbors and posting fliers around the community in search of a garage with some space I could rent. As a result, my repaired bike was returned to a rented portion of a garage about 1/2 mile away from where I lived. Although it was not nearly as convenient as having it parked outside the front door, the peace of mind in terms of motorcycle security was greatly appreciated.

Nowadays, I understand motorcycle security options have improved. Not only are there stronger and lighter locks, there are different kinds of locks (for example, I don’t recall disc brake locks being in existence back then). Regardless, I don’t know if any locks are really able to deter a motivated thief. And back then, LoJack’s Stolen Vehicle Recovery System for motorcycles had not been developed, or at least I wasn’t aware of it yet.

Although I’ve had a few items stolen from motorcycles over the years, I’ve never had any bikes, themselves, stolen since that incident. However, since then my bikes have always been garage kept at night, except when I’m out on the road, whether that be for a weekend, a week, a month, or longer. I’m not concerned about my bike when I’m camping, but when I’m staying at hotels or motels, I park it where I can see it outside my window, or right by the lobby and ask the night desk clerk to keep an eye on it.

Even though garages have been good to my bikes since then, I’m aware that some owners take extra care to lock their bikes inside their garage as a greater precaution.

What Are Your Motorcycle Security Suggestions?

So, what are the best options for motorcycle security nowadays? I don’t actually know. But I figured some of the readers here would have some experiences that could be helpful to others.

What types of motorcycle security problems have you had?

And even if you have never had motorbike security issues, what equipment or procedures do you advise to keep your bike and gear safe?

Add your recommendations below.

33 thoughts on “How Secure Is Your Motorcycle and Gear From Theft?

  • #1…OUT OF SIGHT… OUT OF MIND. Keep your bike with a cover in a garage out of tempted eyes.
    In public, however, locking it in a dark or ” unseen” area is NOT a good idea.
    #2…An experienced thief (or team of thieves) can rip you off no matter what security you think is best!
    So, the only choice you actually have is ADDING AS MANY DETERRENTS AS POSSIBLE so
    hopefully they’ll move on to easier targets. Make sure you have theft insurance.


    ENTIRE BIKE COVER with alarm in cover. (Cover helps hide the bike’s value to a thief)
    Alarm disc locks at least on BACK wheel for heavier bikes….the thieves will lift & put entire wheel &
    tires on roller carts under the tire(s) & roll bike away. That’s how they get around wheel locks & cars
    sandwiching your bike for your perceived added security.
    Bolt resistant hardened chains (Marine Store large boat chains) & be sure to lock your bike to
    FIXED STATIONARY objects (light poles, fixed objects). Keep chains off the ground to prevent bolt
    cutter leverage,
    House cameras and window stickers, house warning signs.
    Motion detector lights outside garage.
    Front fork locks are easily broken with leg force on handle bars (videos), but is an added deterrent.
    Neighborhood dogs bark easily at everybody passing by.
    Lo jacks, disabling ignition alarms are expensive but it’s up to you if you think your bike is worth it.
    Tell trusted neighbors when you’re on vacation, gone, etc..

    For most of you who do not have home garages & live in apartments, etc., and probably can’t afford
    self-storage, invest what you can according to your level of love of your bike and have theft
    insurance. Game cameras seem like a great idea to give pics to cops but that’s AFTER your bike
    gone & if recovered, maybe damaged. “Hidden” game camera(s) get stolen too.

  • It’s like camping, you feel your stuff is safe at the campground. An unwritten code, if you know what I mean. Same thing with bikes. You don’t mess with other riders stuff or bikes.
    Beyond that i don,t trust anyone. I carry my helmet into the store, bring in the jacket, etc.
    Stuff is too expensive to leave it unattended. There’s always an idiot somewhere who just wants to mess with you.

  • hy guts, just buy a good game camera and set it up to take pictures of the ones that take ya bike, than you can trun the pic’ers over to the police..i have two set up around my place, mostly to get pic’ers of the bears that visit me…daa

  • I own a Honda NC700XDC and I live in an apartment complex with no garage. I always lock the fork and keep a bicycle U lock on the front wheel. There is a security guard that patrols the area at night on some nights. I added theft insurance to my insurance package which was less than $100/mo extra for piece of mind. I’ve had the bike for a year and so far have been fortunate.

  • I recently had a bike stolen from my back yard while my family were watching the tv.not a happy experience and although they only got about a mile away they trashed the bike. They managed to get over the 6 foot gates, undo the bolts and get away while it was still light and no one saw them.
    I now have a new bike with an alarm. More bolts and padlocks but still think if they want it they will get it. You just have to make it as hard as you can for them to get away.

  • I also live in a city (Sao Paulo- Brazil) where thousands of motorcycles are stolen on a monthly basis. Most stolen bikes end up in some outskirts junk yard to be broken down in pieces and sold back to stupid bikers looking for a cheap source of replacement used parts for their motorcycles. Not a single one of these bikers, realize they are feeding the system and most likely will become victims. Domino Effect.

    Insurance is widely offered at a rocket high cost, for obvious reasons… Some pay premium $$$ for peace of mind … On the other hand, considering the facts, tons of fancy electronic gadgets are developed and constantly presented to bikers for tracking, ignition shutoff and recover purposes. Brazil is the place to come for such technology.

  • A determined thief can steal anything. Locks, etc. are just a short time deterence. However, out of sight is out of mindset. Stop worriying, carry insurance. I Do lock the ignition and fork lock and use the built-in Harley security system.
    I have had an entire ‘immobilized’ car stolen and hauled away from a public parking structure. Eventually recovered, detailed and clean, with console full of pot. Never know!

  • Now that I’m in Seattle, I always lock my forks. Also, I installed a helmet lock on my left engine guard which I LOVE.

    The guy around the block had his big bike stolen by 2 guys a few years ago in Kent, Washington. The police found it. Of course it was damaged but he had insurance. Since he doesn’t have a garage, he now locks it up with a HUGE chain, I think the biggest one he could find at the hardware store. It’s funny…but he’s never had any problem since then.

  • I am the co president of cycle safety locks llc. I just want to let all the riders out there know that we have created a way to not only lock up your bike but also all the gear you carry in your bags that can be easily salvaged through. If anyone is interested please feel free to email us with any questions you may have or just simply to check out our brochure. Thank you all for your time

  • Hello,

    Just saw this and gave it a read. I keep both of my bikes in a shared garage. I went to the gym yesterday and when I got back I noticed my fairings were taken off my Honda CBR. I filed a police report and I’m going to file a claim with my insurance. To sort of protect my other bike I bought a cover and cable lock. I know a determined thief will get what they want. But hopefully it’s enough that one of my neighbors will notice. Just weird that they would only take the fairings and not the whole bike.

  • I had a bike stolen a few years ago. Apparently, somebody just ran a sling under it and picked it up with a lift. They were there and gone in just a few seconds and nobody noticed. I have a Gorilla alarm on my bike now. I have left my gear on the bike with a cover over the entire bike and it’s been safe. Nobody can see what is on the bike and you can’t remove the cover without setting off the alarm. It’s annoyingly loud and scares me half to death when I forget to turn it off and touch the bike.

    I also had a friend whose bike was stolen by two guys who were driving a step van that said “Ralph’s Bike Shop” on the side. They stopped and just loaded his bike into the van and it was never seen again. They had some problem picking it up, so his room mate helped the guys lift it into the van. He said he figured it was broken down so often that he thought my friend had called a shop and asked them to pick it up and fix it.

  • My bike got stolen last year which really ticked me off. So on the new one, I packed the handlebars with C-4 plastique explosive mixed with hundredsof BB’s, and rigged a half a stick of dynomite under the seat, all connected to a very sensitive motion detector. Anyone messing with my bike now will enjoy the sensation of turning into pink mist and leave a crater in the pavement the size of a school bus. Gotcha! I just need to remember to turn the durn system off before I take a ride…

  • Years ago a friend of mine had his 1966 Harley XLCH stolen from his garage. The bike was parked and locked sideways at the back of the garage and to cars were parked up close to the bike. Somehow the thief’s picked the bike up and lifted it over the cars and out the over head door without moving the cars.

  • There are new systems coming online now that use covert installation of GPS/GSM devices that provide location of the bike, pretty much in real time. In Hong Kong, a company called tracker have just launched this service, it also gives info such as low bike battery voltage directly to the owners mobile phone, pretty cool I think…

  • Hi all. I’m new here and really enjoy all the advice on this website. I’m wondering if anyone has any recommendations for bike alarms. I’m not sure where to begin looking. Again, great article and responses!

  • Keep it inside a locked garage, inside a gated property. Alarm system set which will disable ignition if triggered. Fork locks when on the road, along with a cable. and of course a Glock for any up close and personal conversations we may get to have. Welcome to Texas ya’ll !

  • i live in FLA where pistol carry permits are given out and bikes are treated like car jacking and that means your on your home ground so you can blast away to defend your self with the LAW on your side. and theres nothing any one can do about it except say your free to go sir and thank you for helping out the law…have a good day..

  • When group riding, a chain with a heavy-duty padlock at least slows the would-be thieves down.

    Most thieves just pick up the bike or use a tow truck to haul it away, so disc locks or immobilizers won’t do much good except to the opportunistic thief looking for a quick score.

    Lojack devices will at least help you locate your bike. Thieves will sometimes park the bike in an out-of-the-way location in the event that a lojack device is on the unit, before stripping it.

    Common sense prevails. Park the bike outside your motel window; remove all valuables items from the bike; be tuned in to your surroundings; use a motion alarm; keep a ‘deterent’ handy to ‘discourage’ any would-be thieves. cover the bike when it is parked outside; choose a well-lit area to park; check if being followed home and try to lose them or find an escape route; lock it down with quality chains and disc locks with two or more locks of different types and chain it to a metal post where possible. Most important of all…pay your insurance premium, then relax…

  • I’m from a country, were most of us leave our car keys in the car at night or all the time, at least the reserves somewhere in the car in case we forget to bring the main keys from the house 😉
    Sooo I’m not really scared of getting my bike stolen at home, but since I moved to Hong Kong, I think more and more about parking it somewhere safe, and locked up real good. with all kind of locking systems. I guess a big chain, and disc locks with security alarm systems are good enough for Hong Kong. But then again Hong Kong is extreamly crowded, so if you park somewhere, that people would walk, or be able to see it, it’s likely it’s not gonna get stolen, while u are gone shopping, or looking around on foot.

  • I am fortunate to have a two car garage which is deep enough to park my bike in the back and then park my car in front of it. Outside the garage is a motion detecting spotlight. Of course I’m also insured. It’s a Kawasaki Nomad, which is heavy enough to make it difficult to lift and if I had the need to park it on the street or at a hotel, I’d get a good disc lock and if at a hotel, make arrangements to park it where it would be visible from the front desk if I couldn’t park it near enough to my room.

  • I avoid parking in places where I would stress about theft. Who needs the worry? At home I park in a locked garage within another locked gate. Anyone trying to take the bike would have to get past both locking systems and then drive it (or push it) a considerable distance and past my bedroom window to a place it could be loaded into another vehicle. Of course, no place is absolutely secure. I rely on my insurance company for theft problems. If the bike is stolen, I get a brand new motorcycle!

  • In live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
    Here, if you have to leave your bike at the street at night, the greatest danger are guys who have vans already prepared with matresses (so the bike won’t get scratched). They get the bike, throw it in the van and simply drive away (sometimes, with the bike’s alarm blasting and everything).
    During the day, the danger is robbery. Usually, a biker is at a traffic light, when comes a bike with two guys. One of them comes down, points a gun at the biker and takes it. It is a pain in the ass to check mirrors all the time, even when you are already stopped.

  • I live in a country where we all feel threatened by bike (and car) thieves, even though I don’t think our actual statistics are much worse than anywhere else in the western world.
    I personally always use the steering lock, I add a disk lock (on the chain) if I am going to be away for longer than a few minutes. If longer than that , I look for covered (and to be paid for) parking. I figure the random thief won’t pay money to get at my bike. At night the bike is always in the garage, the hotel’s if I’m on a trip. As far as I’m concerned, the ultimate device is the immobilizer (like Honda’s, to be clearer). Unfoirtunately a 500 pounds bikd can be easily lifted and moved into a van by two normal (youngish) males, even a “hog” can disappear that way. My advice:
    1) Thieves won’t decide to steal a bike they can’t see: keep it indoors as much as possible.
    2) Tests by bike magazines proved the best systems last up to 5 minutes. Imagine the worst ones… Put two or three on. It will act as better deterrence.
    3) Consider that a bikers’ meeting is just a showroom for thieves: no real biker will touch your thiings, but a thieve will. Consider them as high-risk venues.
    4) Ride an old “worthless” bike, as I do: it gives me the extra satisfaction of keeping on tHe road an old glory, witness to human genious. And nobodY will even think of stealing it, especially if parked right next to an R1 or a CBR.
    Happy rIding, everybody!

  • Don’t have a garage. so I park my bike facing the wall of my house at the top of the driveway. I lock the built-in fork lock, use a disc lock, and most importantly, park my car directly behind and within 6-12 inches of the bike’s back tire — nobody’s moving that bike anywhere. To top it off, I use my understated black and grey bike cover, so I’m not showing off my chrome, etc. and adding to a thief’s temptations… And finally, the bike also sits under a motion-sensored spotlight (lucky I already had one in that spot!). On the road, it’s lock the fork, disc lock + cable lock and the cover.

  • Have you ever considered getting your bike insured against theft? That’s the best solution. You can also install an alarm system that will deter would be thieves.

  • I use 2 disc locks on my ZR-7S, one front and one rear, when staying at motels, and park the bike in a highly visible location. If a light pole, parking barrier, etc is available, I also lock the bike to it with a heavy cable lock.
    No problems so far, other than a cover being stolen off the bike.

  • On that matter do anybody sell immobilizers over there? my Yamaha is equipped with a immobilizer-alarm set the size of a cig box more or less, last time someone try to take it, the engine won’t ignite even though it looked like it was hot-wired by the would be thief, of course the downside is that the alarm system drains the battery dry in an hour or two.

  • I had a scooter (Honda Reflex) and a Honda Rebel stolen.The Reflex was located and returned, the Rebel never turned up. Now I ride a Yamaha Royal Star. at 840 lbs it is not an easy bike to steal. I think that the best deterrent to bike theft is a big bike, a good fork lock and a disc lock so that the bike cannot be rolled.

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