WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

Bike Locks and when to Lock your Motorcycle

By James - 1/13/2005

I saw this post about how the Parisians are changing the way motorcycle parking is designed. It is the details that count. Until they start making spaces like that here in San Francisco, I have to make sure my bike is safe while I am away having fun.

Just about all bikes can be picked up and stolen with minimal effort. The technology of stealing bikes hasn’t changed since their invention. A few guys and a van will have your bike on its way to a chop shop in a short minute. But there are some things you can do to make it as hard as possible for the crooks.

Most bikes come with fork locks, which act like locking a steering wheel on a car. If someone wanted to steal it, they could only push it in circles. The downside to this method of securing your motorcycle is that the bike can be picked up and moved.

The next level in motorcycle security is a bike lock. These can be attached to different parts of the bike and prevent the bike from moving. There are two kinds of bike locks. Disc Brake LockThe first, and smallest are disc locks. They attach to your disc brake rotor and prevent the bike from being rolled away. But you are still at risk of someone lifting the bike and putting it in a truck or van. A simple padlock from a hardware store will work, although they can be cut, hacked or hammered off, so a specially designed disk lock is recommended.

Kryptonite Fahgettaboutit Hex ChainThe second kind of lock is a chain lock. Not all of these locks are made of chains, some are woven steel, and some are quite unconventional, but they all are a long flexible metal “rope” that you can put around a signpost, parking meter, drainage grate or other fixed object. Thread the other end through the bike’s frame, it is the strongest piece of the bike and therefore hardest to cut through. Get one with fabric around the metal so you protect your paint, chrome and powdercoat. The downside to these is that they are heavier, take up more space and are less “portable".

One note: There are a few documented cases of people opening Disc and U- Locks with a Bic pen. I have not been able to reproduce these results with my locks.

The third level of protection for your motorcycle is an alarm. These active systems are triggered by movement and wake up the dead with the noise they make. Insurance companies give you a discount if you have an alarm installed and after 3-5 years can pay for themselves.

Use common sense when parking your bike. Park in well lit areas, the more foot traffic the better. You can usually park a motorcycle pretty close to your destination, so take advantage of this to keep an eye on your scooter. Parking garages are cheap and can be worth the peace of mind they give you when out on the town. Covering your bike also reduces the likelihood it will be stolen. Always use the fork locks and try to lock your bike to another bike at the very least, if not a fixed object. Just make sure you are leaving at the same time as the bike you lock it to!

Reccommended Locks and Alarms



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