Motorbike security

How much should you spend on motorbike security?

Is spending £60 on motorbike security enough to protect your £6,000 pride and joy?

We get asked all the time how much should you spend on securing your bike from thieves. The answer isn’t simple I’m afraid. But there are a few truths you should consider when working out what to spend and on what security.

If they want it, they’ll take it

The truth is, if motorcycle thieves really want your bike, they take it, no matter what lengths they have to go to.

In the video below, thieves in a highly visible shopping centre motorcycle bay use an angle grinder to cut through both a 16mm hardened steel chain and through the brake discs of an R1 to steal the bike. They also sprayed acid at another biker who tried to intervene.

Thieves use an angle grinder and acid during the theft of a Yamaha R1

Extremely determined thieves, probably because they have an order waiting for either the whole bike or a significant amount of its parts, will stop at nothing. Stolen bikes are rapidly broken down for parts, often the same day, sometimes in the back of the very van that has been used to steal the bike.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to stop them. In fact, you should do everything you can. The more layers you can add – like layers of an onion – the more chances there will be to either defeat them or for someone to hear the attack and disrupt it. This means buying security as much security as you can afford and taking the time – every time – to deploy it.

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There’s no magic formula for motorbike security

We can’t say you should spend a minimum of 10% on securing your bike. It just doesn’t work like that as you need to secure your bike in different ways at different times – and frankly, you’d struggle to spend nearly £2,500 on security for a 1299 Panigale S Anniverserio.

On the other hand, don’t expect to protect your £19,000 Yamaha R1M with a £30 disc lock.

Your budget should be based on as much as you can reasonably afford. And we’d say that if you don’t have the cash when you buy the bike, you should consider loading your finance deal a bit to get the security you need. Or, if you are considering more security because of a rise in bike crime in your area, consider taking out a loan to protect your bike. It’s that important.

The minimum security for your bike

Given that there will be few people reading this who have an unlimited budget, what should be the minimum you should do to protect your bike?

Highly desirable bikes – normally new ‘must-haves’ like Speed Triples, GS’s, MT’s and so on, plus practically any sports bike, really should have a tracker – a properly installed tracker at that.

A tracker doesn’t stop the bike being stolen but it gives you a greater chance of getting it back, no doubt with hundreds of pounds’ worth of steering lock damage – but that’s better than a hike in premiums (BTW, if you ever get your bike stolen, spend an hour walking around the local area before reporting it to your insurers – thieves often dump a bike locally to see if it’s being tracked. If you have already reported the bike stolen, you next premium will be loaded as a risk, even if it was recovered.).

If you don’t have a high-end bike, trackers are still a good idea, but, obviously, they can be expensive to buy and have fitted, and many have ongoing subscription costs too. Expect to pay in the region of £300 in the first year. There are cheaper options on the market but you do take your chances…

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Beyond the tracker

At home, where 80% of motorcycle theft occurs, you should use a minimum 16mm case-hardened steel chain, secured to a ground anchor with a shackle lock – even if the bike is in a secure garage. Ideally, this should be done through the frame of the motorbike and not the rear wheel, which can be quickly removed. This set up well cost in the region of £200 – £250 depending on the length of chain and quality of ground anchor you go for.

On the road, where you don’t always have the capacity to lug around a 15kg heavy-duty chain, you should carry the highest-quality disc-lock you can afford. Some disc-locks come with alarms, although there are many reports of alarms setting off falsely. You should be spending at least £80-90 on a good quality, non-alarmed product.Ideally, you should use at least two locks on the bike, for this reason.

If you can, using the rule that the more security you fit the less inclined a thief will be to have a crack, also carry a lighter weight chain and attach it to something.

We have more advice on securing your bike away from the home here.

Adding more security to your bike

So that is the minimum you should be looking at. What about having lots of cheaper locks fitted, I hear you say. ‘Won’t that slow them down/put them off too?’

Motorcycle wheel with locks
Most of these locks can be dealt with in under 5 seconds

In a word, no. A cheap padlock can be broken open with two spanners in under 2 seconds. There’s absolutely no deterrent there.

Likewise, a cable lock can be cut with bolt croppers in under a second. A D-lock can be frozen and smashed in 5-10 seconds. You can see examples in the article on portable security.

We also have to say that buying Sold Secure seems to offer no better protection. The idea with Sold Secure is that a product should be able to withstand a certain level of attack, normally 5 minutes. However, many of those tests were performed before portable hydraulic cutters, as used by emergency services, bot into thieve’s hands. And then there are battery-powered angle grinders – noisy, but like a knife through butter when used on most chains, including the expensive branded ones.

Unfortunately, we don’t feel Sold Secure is as reliable an indicator as it once was. And it is possible to pick up old-stock products, still marked Sold Secure, where there is no possibility they would stand up to today’s cutting devices.

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Is tagging a deterrent?

Datatag themselves make some big claims about the drop in thefts since their products were introduced on many new bikes. We have to take their word on this, but a properly data-tagged bike, with visible warning stickers, indicates to a thief that if the bike is stolen, individual parts could be traced.

For the £60 or so, we think it’s worth tagging a bike up and it should be a priority like a disc lock and a chain. On my bike, I sorted out the main security first, then tagged the bike a month later once the next pay cheque had arrived.

10 ways to protect your bike

Once you have got your protection bought, take a look at our tips on the best ways to actually secure the motorbike.

Get yourself sorted:

Take your motorbike security seriously. Around £300-£350 should get you started on the minimum security you’ll need for any bike. If the bike only cost a grand in the first place, it’s still worth paying out to avoid the stress and increased premiums that follow a theft.

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The Author

Paul Vennard

Paul Vennard

Paul is actually a chartered accountant so he knows a thing or two about saving money - and that's one of his roles at Biker and Bike: how to save bikers money.

Like everyone else here he's a full-on biker. He's a year-round rider and never happier than when he's on a track, screaming the nuts of his 675 Daytona.

Paul also loves a trip. Just don't share a tent with him. He snores like a bastard.