Four of the best mountain bike locks and several practical ways to beat bike thieves (no, not with a big stick)
We’ve probably all suffered from scallywags stealing bikes, or know someone who has. Here’s how to prevent it. Plus: four of the best mountain bike locks.
A surge in cycling during lockdown hasn’t escaped the attention of criminals, with claims up by half, according to the latest data from insurance company Urban Jungle (yes, we know… insurance companies etc but stay with us here!)
Urban Jungle’s data for June revealed claims for bike theft having risen 50 percent month on month. Urban Jungle: “Thieves have a great knowledge for which brands and models are expensive. We rarely see bikes worth less than £500 being stolen.
“The vast majority of claims we see are away from the home, though thieves are not averse to jumping into back gardens, or breaking into sheds. More recently, criminals also seem to have worked out how to get into the council-owned bike hangers.
“Bike-related insurance claims are nearly all for theft, which is particularly common across big cities … Most insurers will cover for theft but make sure you include ‘Out Of Home cover’ on your policy.”
Here are some tips to help ward off the thieves…
1. Think like a thief
Unpleasant, but necessary. Spend some time looking at your shed or garage in a new light, and think about the weak points. “They don’t care about collateral damage,” says Steve Briggs, who designs top end bike locks for engineering firm Pragmasis. “We know of a case where thieves attacked six bikes that were chained together and the owner thought he didn’t need a ground anchor — the thieves hacked through five frames to get one bike out, with the chain still attached.”
Do you leave a spade next to the shed that could be a handy crowbar? Are there windows so thieves can see what’s inside? Is your garden gate old and falling off its hinges? Grab your virtual swag bag and probe your property for weak points.
Watch: Are you cycling naked?
2. Do the simple stuff
Security screws with rounded ends that secure hinges, bolts and padlocks to sheds — they don’t work. “Thieves don’t muck about with screwdrivers, they use a crowbar and rip it all out,” Steve says. Replace them with long, round-headed coach bolts that secure on the inside to a bolt with a washer, with one bolt on each side of the hinge and one bolt on each side of any lock. “It doesn’t cost much to do that, but all of a sudden the thief has to work hard,” Steve says. “In terms of overall cost effectiveness things like this are the best.” Think gravel, spiky plants and lights too.
3. New locks and bolts
Simple sliding bolts with a padlock are vulnerable, replace them with a hasp and staple — that’s the thing with a flap of metal that shuts over a ring bolt. “Get a good one, sometimes the staple is so slim it can be cut with bolt cutters, Steve says. “And make sure the staple is vertical, not horizontal, because it lets the padlock hang downwards and not stick up, inviting attack.”
Up and over garage doors are pretty puny, but if you’ve got another way in to the garage it’s easy to just put sliding bolts on the inside. If not, buy some garage locking door bolts from pjbsecurity.co.uk.
What about a Garage Defender? “It’s tricky,” Steve says. “If you’re a row of six lockups and everyone has one, get one. If you’re the only one who’ll have one, then don’t get one because it’ll advertise you have something in there. Then again, if you’ve already had a theft then get one, because they know you have valuable stuff and there’s a pretty good chance they’ll come back.”
4. Inside job
If the thief gets inside your garage or shed you need level two security. “You’re always looking to tie the bikes down, get a ground anchor and chain,” Steve says. Locks are heavy though so make sure you invest in something you can handle, and actually use it, rather than something huge and clunky that gathers dust. “The idea is for the thief to take one look and walk away.” Ideally use more than one type of lock (chain, D-lock etc) and secure your bikes through the frame and wheels too.
5. Don’t advertise
“Don’t advertise what you’ve got,” Steve says. So no stickers on the windows of your shed, car, van and so on, and don’t work on your bike on the front drive. Do anything you can to make your stuff look uninteresting too.
“If people are careless on social media thieves can tell where you live, and see what bikes you’ve got too,” Steve says.
So should you shout about how much security you have? Yes and no, Steve says. You don’t want it to draw people in so it needs to be unobtrusive from a distance. “But it needs to be bloody secure and obviously so if someone’s close up and in your garden looking around.”
6. Join Bike Register
The UK’s national, police approved registration scheme is free to join and has close to one millions registrations. You’ll receive a free sticker to add to your bike to deter thieves. If your bike is stolen, you can report it online and share details via social media.
7. Remove accessories
Remove any lights, bags or other easily removed attachments as thieves can sell them. Designer saddles and front wheels are also prime targets, especially if they are high quality.
Four of the best mountain bike locks
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1. Ground anchor: Kryptonite Stronghold Anchor, £84.99
Great for tying your bikes to, the Kryptonite Stronghold Anchor has a 16mm hardened carbon alloy steel shackle. Set it into concrete, but make sure it’s in the right spot because there’s no getting it out again.
2. Chain and lock: Kryptonite Evolution Series Integrated Chain, £115.99
Goes perfectly with the ground anchor, Kryptonite’s Evolution Series Integrated Chain hides the padlock away in the end of the chain so there’s less to attack. Comes in a range of lengths.
3. Alternative anchor: Pragmasis Shed Shackle, £49.95
What about if you’ve got no concrete floor for an anchor… The Shed Shackle from Pragmasis reinforces a large area of shed wall, meaning a thief has to cut or smash out a huge section if they want the Shackle out.
4. Metal shed: Asgard Access E Plus, £575
Investing in a shed? Asgard makes some of the best, like the Access E Plus that features charging points for e-bikes (or your lights or Di2 if you’re not into e-bikes). It’s made from weatherproof steel and weighs 19 stone so there’s be no shifting it when it’s anchored to the ground.