Motorbike security

Protecting your motorbike when it’s parked on the street

Leaving a motorbike on the street isn’t ideal, but if you have to do it there are a few motorbike security options to choose from that can deter an attack from thieves.

The number one rule of all motorbike security is that the more time a thief has to spend defeating security, the less likely they are to attempt a theft.

Hardened chains and closed shackle locks

If you are leaving the bike near your home, then we seriously recommend the Almax Immobiliser or Pragmasis chains. Case hardened 16mm+ chains are pretty much the only chains that can’t be cropped using bolt cutters and they are also very resistant to portable angle grinders (yes, bike thieves are increasingly carrying and using battery powered grinders).

The downside to these chains is that they are seriously heavy and pretty expensive. Although, as we constantly write, you can’t expect to protect thousands of pound’s worth of easily moveable motorbike with a £30 chain.

Many lighter chains are covered by the Sold Secure guarantee which means they should last against an attack for at least 5 minutes. However, if they aren’t hardened steel they are likely to be made of composite and will shatter easily if frozen and hit with a bolster. And now that portable grinders have arrived on the scene we wonder if the Sold Secure mark actually means anything anymore.

Hardened steel chains, attacked using liquid nitrogen.

If they are solid steel, not composite, then to keep the weight down they inevitably made of thinner steel. Anything less than 16mm can be cropped.

If you can carry a heavy chain in your top box great. If you can’t and you have to use a lighter weight chain, follow these rules.

– Put the chain through the frame and a wheel, not just a wheel.

– If you can’t go through the frame then use the chain on the rear wheel, not the front, as the front can be removed in 30 seconds.

– Keep the chain off the floor, so that there is nothing solid that a bolt-cropper can be leveraged against or a bolster forced against. Chain it over the seat if you can.

– Don’t leave any slack in the chain, keep it tight against the bike. If the chain has a cover, you may need to cut a slot in it so you can thread your links through the middle of the chain.

– If you can, chain it to something that isn’t going anywhere, preferably without compromising the previous points.

Motorcycle with front wheel locked using a chain

We came across this bike in a leafy Central London square and had to admire the common-sense approach.

Motorcycle parked with heavy chain on the rear wheel

It wasn’t an expensive bike and neither were the chains, but at least they were applied in a way that would deter the opportunist thief.


Disc locks

Disc locks are by no means perfect, especially if they are applied to the front wheel, where the bike can be lifted and rolled away:

Thieves using a sack trolley to wheel away a bike from an underground garage.

On street, or in a motorcycle parking bay though, a bike is less likely to be lifted. Thieves prefer a bike that can be wheeled away.

There are three types of disc lock:

– Sub £50 models
– Quality models
– Quality models with very loud alarms

Unless your budget will simply not stretch, we would seriously avoid option 1. They can be kicked or hammered off your disc brake in seconds, rendering them pretty much useless.

Option 2 really starts at £50 plus and each pound you spend will result in a potentially longer attack time.

Our preference is for an alarmed disc lock, although they still aren’t a perfect deterrent – that said, the video below is an extreme example of thieves really not caring about being approached.

Thieves use a portable, battery powered angle grinder to cut through a disc lock.

For most thieves though, disc lock alarms that signal their presence with a piercing 100DB+ siren are pretty much well worth avoiding, and as such well worth investing in by the bike owner.

Disc alarms also have a major advantage for the owner. They also go off when you have forgotten to remove the lock from the wheel, meaning you have an audible reminder not to drop the bike on its side by moving off with the lock still attached. Yes, I have done it…

As well as an alarmed disc lock you should consider a second disc lock for the rear wheel. This will seriously increase the amount of time a thief needs to attack the bike and therefore also reduces the chances they’ll go for it in the first place.

The second lock doesn’t have to be alarmed if you don’t want the expense. Always remember to measure the disc to see what size lock you’ll need – it won’t be the same as the front as rear discs are smaller than those on the front wheel.



Generally speaking, D-locks (AKA U-locks) aren’t really suitable as motorbike security as they can be easily attacked, some even with a simple biro pen inserted into the lock cylinder. See why here.


We would recommend never leaving a bike on the street without some visible, very attack resistant motorbike security hardware on it.

However, if Datatag’s claims are to be taken at face value, simply having Datatag marker stickers on display are enough to deter many thieves. Non-datatagged bikes are 4 times more likely to be stolen, simply because criminals know the Crown Prosecution Service has never lost a case where Datatag evidence has been presented.

When we looked into the Datatag system we’ll be honest, the order was placed with minutes and the bike was tagged by the weekend. Once you have got the got the previous hardware sorted, we think you’d be crazy not to Datatag once funds allow.


Trackers aren’t part of being a visible security deterrent on a bike parked in the street. Generally speaking, it’s unwise to display stickers saying the bike is protected by a tracker as professional thieves will then target the wiring to disable the bike. By the time your tracking service has picked up the tamper warning, the bike will already be on its way.

Absolutely fit one, though, as it hugely increases the chances of you getting your bike back.

If all else fails, go for the stubborn approach

Having out on Facebook groups a lot, as we do, we had to admire the sheer tenacity of one member’s approach.

Multiple locks on a motorcycle front wheel

©️Tony Bailey 2016

Working on the principle that even the most time-rich thief would probably stroll on, there are at least 11 locks that we can spot, each of which would take between 2 to 30 seconds to defeat. Mind you, we can’t help thinking it would take a wee bit longer to apply them to the bike every time you parked up too.

Multiple locks on a motorcycle rear wheel

©️Tony Bailey 2016

Get yourself sorted:

Take motorbike security seriously. For overnight parking at your home address, go for a hardened chain in the £200-£250 range. Where you can’t carry a chain, go for an alarmed disc lock, preferably two. Data tag your bike as soon as you can after laying out for the first two items.


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