Bicycles are one of the most commonly stolen items. Failing to secure them makes them an easy target for thieves.
Take some appropriate precautions by using good quality security products (and using them well).
- Invest in good quality security. Spend between 10-15% of the value of the bike on its security.
- Lock your bike frame AND wheels TO something with two different types of lock! Just using a chain and lock around a bike frame and wheels without locking to something sturdy leaves your bike vulnerable to being carried away. But locking only the frame or the wheels to something could result in unsecured parts being stolen.
- Use a Chain and D-lock combination - avoid cable locks. Cable locks offer little deterrent to thieves as they are easy to cut with basic cable cutters, hacksaws and even wire-cutters. See our advice and recommendations below on locks.
- Lock your bike to something secure. Where possible secure your bike to a bike rack, pedestrian railings or some other large and tough object. Avoid locking to street signage – some are not very high and makes it easy to lift bikes over the top of the post. Thieves may also un-bolt the sign to do this.
- Natural surveillance. Lock your bike where you can see it. If this is not possible, find a busy, well-lit area.
- Security at home. Most bicycles are stolen from home so ensure your sheds, outbuildings and garages are secure. Consider installing ground anchors if you have a concrete floor. If not, look for security rated products specifically for wooden and metal sheds.
- Bike registration. Register your bike on Immobilise, or The Bike Register. These are national, police approved databases.
Chains, locks and D-locks
Always secure your bike with two types of lock, for example a D-lock and a chain. This means a thief needs a variety of tools to steal your bike.
D-locks are not recommended for use on their own as they can be compromised even without specialist tools. How you fit them can make a difference. Use alongside a chain for increased security.
- Low-end D-locks tend to be vulnerable in several ways that are not applicable to chains. The lighter (and cheapest) D-locks can be almost as vulnerable as cable locks.
- A mid-range D-lock will not offer the same deterrent and protection as a chain and lock costing the same price. They are lighter to carry so they do offer a compromise for cost and weight, against security level.
- High-end D-locks can be expensive and heavy. Considering the security vulnerabilities of all D-locks, a good quality lock and chain might be a better option.
How to use
- Keep the free space within the loop to a minimum. You can fill the space by looping the lock around the rear bicycle wheel as well as the seat tube. Or you can thread it around two or three railings rather than one.
- If you have quick-release wheels, it is advisable to remove the front wheel and to lock it onto the D-lock as well. Do this by placing it next to the seat tube and passing the shackle of the lock through it. The front wheel then helps to fill space inside the 'D' as well as protecting it.
- Compact and Mini-D locks reduce vulnerability by only having a small opening within the 'D'. But this may restrict your ability to lock the cycle in certain situations. It may also prevent you from securing your quick release front wheel at the same time.
A well manufactured chain and lock would need bolt croppers as a minimum to break through it. Although thinner security rated 11mm and 13mm chains can be cut with a large bolt cropper, they offer better security than D-locks. Thicker chains offer greater security - 16mm chains are almost impossible to break with anything portable.
- In general terms, for bicycles below £1,000, an 11mm Sold Secure Bicycle Gold Standard chain is a good choice.
- For £1,000-£1,500 in value (or total value if securing multiple bikes), we recommend a similar specification 13mm chain and lock.
- Higher-value bikes (£3,000 plus) are as desirable to specialist thieves as motorbikes. Use a Sold Secure Motorbike Gold Standard chain and lock (16mm on average).
- A ground-mounted anchor locking a single bike is likely to need a 1.5m long chain. Whilst a 1.5m chain used with a wall-mounted anchor or shed shackle at crossbar/top-tube height could do a reasonable job on two bikes, a 2m chain could lock two bikes and all four wheels.
- Allow for a couple of extra links in the length to allow for the cross over at the lock.
How to use
- Loop the chain through the main triangle of the frame and the rear triangle of the frame and through the rear wheel. Doing this means a thief would have to not only cut the rear wheel and tyre, as well as the frame, which is much harder.
- Loop it through a higher part of the bike and onto a higher anchoring point to keep the chain clear of the floor.
- When using ground anchors, always use the correct length of chain. Consider a secondary fixing to keep the bike upright.
- Some of the heavy duty chains may not fit through the spokes. You could use a smaller chain on your wheels and a larger one on the frame
We only recommend Secured by Design and Sold Secure rated closed shackle lock designs. They protect the most vulnerable part of the lock (the shackle), by ensuring that it is enclosed within the link of the chain itself. When selecting a lock, pick one that matches the security rating and width of your chain.
How to use
- Pass the link at one end of the chain through the link at the other end of the chain. Fix the lock to the link that pokes through.
When buying bicycle security products, look for a Sold Secure certification. Sold Secure is an independent testing body affiliated to the Master Locksmiths Association. The insurance industry and the police use them to give comparative ratings to a wide range of products for a wide range of situations.
- Buy Bicycle Silver rated products as a minimum. These may not be appropriate for bicycles worth £1,000 plus, or if stored out of normal sight.
- Look for Sold Secure Bicycle Gold wherever you can. It is a much better rating and is our preferred minimum.
- For higher-value bicycles (£1,000 plus) Motorcycle Gold security products will better guard against a determined thief but are not likely to be convenient to transport.
- Be vigilant to misleading product packaging. There are lots of “Gold” rated products out there that have never been near a testing laboratory.
- Check Sold Secure or Secured By Design before you buy. Check with your insurance company to see what security standards they need for your insurance cover to be valid.
Property registration and marking
Also consider signage or stickers for your bike to let thieves know your bicycle is property marked. This will act as an extra deterrent.
See our Property Registration and Marking page for more details.
If you have been a victim of bicycle theft, call 101 or report it online.
More help and support
For further advice on how to avoid being a victim of bicycle theft, contact our crime prevention advisors
Secured By Design
Related Documents & Further Reading
16 Nov 18 9:24 AM