Motorcycle security

Motorcycle theft is a common occurrence in the UK. It is estimated that between 35,000 and 50,000 are stolen every year. Often these are broken down into their individual components which are harder to trace.

Criminal markets in the UK, Europe and beyond all provide the demand and profit for bike thieves. Motorcycle thieves are often highly organised and well equipped so it is important that your security is up to the job.

This advice applies to mopeds and scooters too.

Motorcycle security advice

  • Invest in good quality security.
  • Lock your motorcycle TO something.  Just using a chain and lock around the frames and wheels means a thief could just carry the bike away.  Loop a chain and lock around a sturdy, fixed object.  Avoid locking to street signage – some are not very high and lighter bikes could be lifted over the top of the post. 
  • Disc locks and D-locks are not ideal.  They do offer a temporary means of locking your bike but won’t stop it being lifted or dragged into the back of van.
  • Avoid cable locks – few offer any deterrent it is easy to cut them with basic cable cutters, hacksaws and even wire-cutters.
  • Most bikes are stolen from home, so consider installing a high security ground anchor at home.
  • Property marked and registered bikes are not so easy to dispose of. Advanced property marking makes the disposal of individual components difficult to. A bike that is clearly marked is much less attractive to thieves.
  • D-locks are often used to prevent the wheel of a bike from turning but are not ideal.
  • 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.

Chains, locks and D-shackles

If you regularly ride from one address to another (to work for example), we recommend that you have a good quality lock and chain (preferably with a ground anchor) at each location.  Perhaps carry a Motorcycle Gold rated D-shackle in case you need to stop on the way.

Where such facilities are not available, the combination of a professionally fitted alarm, good quality physical locks and leaving the bike is an area where it is conspicuous and not hidden from view will help.

D-shackles looped around wheels are vulnerable to being attacked and will not stop lighter bikes being carried or dragged off. 

  • Keep the free space within the loop to a minimum.  The greater the space, the easier it will be to force the lock.
  • A D-shackle looped around the wheel, but nothing else, may not stop your bike from being carried or dragged away.  We do not recommend that these are used as your sole means of security.
  • Choose a high quality chain at least 16mm thick as they are almost impossible to cut with bolt croppers.  Quality chains of this size are also much harden to cut using power tools.
  • To work out what length chain you need, use piece of rope through the intended route then measure the length of rope used.  It is often surprising how much chain you need.
  • Do not buy a chain longer than you need.  Leaving any length of a chain, especially one with longer links, lying on the floor makes it vulnerable to attack.
  • A ground-mounted anchor locking a single bike is likely need a 1.5-2.0m long chain.
  • Allow for a couple of extra links in the length to allow for the cross over at the lock.


  • Security chains are designed so that the secure link at one end of the chain fits through either another link or a secure link at the other end. The links are not intended to be placed side by side or end to end.
  • Loop the chain through the frame if you can.  This will help to prevent other parts of the bike being stolen.
  • When using ground anchors, adjust the locked loop of the chain so that it doesn’t trail in the floor. Always use the correct length of chain. Consider a secondary fixing on an adjacent wall to keep the bike upright


We only recommend Secured by Design motorcycle gold rated closed shackle lock designs.

They protect the most vulnerable part of the lock (the shackle) by ensuring that it is fully enclosed within the link of the chain itself.

Security Standards

We only recommend Sold Secure products.  Sold Secure is an independent testing body affiliated to the Master Locksmiths Association.  They are used by the insurance industry and the police to give comparative ratings to a wide range of products for a wide range of situations. 

  • For motorbikes there is only one standard. Motorcycle Gold.
  • For Motor Scooters there is Silver and Gold. We recommend Gold if you can afford it.
  • Avoid products simply branded “Gold” or “Sold Secure”. Neither of these descriptions actually tells you anything about what standard it has been tested against
  • Check or before you buy and check with your insurance company to see what security standards they require for your insurance cover to be valid.

Portable security

Security that works is generally heavy. Even a 1 metre length of 16mm chain can weigh over 4.5kg plus the weight of the lock and is really going to need to be carried in a tail box or pannier.

Lighter chains may not offer you the security that you require full time but could offer a compromise. But be aware, they could also compromise your insurance.

Alarms with tilt switches and disk locks are a good compromise for bikes being left for short periods of time and in plain sight.

We do not recommend the chains and locks are carried on your person. In the event of an accident they are likely to do you a good deal of damage.


If you only intend to leave your bike unattended for a short period of time, lighter physical security (such as a D-Shackle) and a motorbike alarm can be a good alternative.  It can alert you and public that your bike is being tampered with, making it much more difficult for a thief to work unobserved.

Whatever alarm you choose, remember on its own an alarm may not prevent your bike being lifted or dragged away and that physical security (locks and chains) is still important.

Modern motorcycle electrics are complex so we always recommend that you have any alarm fitted by a professional.  In addition to ending up with an alarm system that is next to useless doing it yourself could invalidate your warranty and, more reduce your bike’s safety.

We always recommend that all retro-fitted devices are installed by qualified auto electricians who are also accredited by Thatcham and, ideally, the manufacturer of the product you are having fitted.

Thatcham categories

Thatcham Research is an independent testing organisation funded by the Insurance Industry. Thatcham’s vehicle security team was established in 1992 with the aim of improving the security of vehicles in the UK. 

There are several different Thatcham categories.

  • Motorbike security alarms fall into Category 1.
  • Devices that only immobile the motorbikes fall into category 2.
  • If you already have Category 2 immobilisation, you can have it upgraded to an alarm with immobilisation (Category 2-1).

More information can be found at

We recommend that you use a Category 1 system or have your Category 2 immobiliser upgraded to category 2-1.

Whilst an immobiliser only system (Cat2) improves your security please remember that motorcycles and motor-scooters are relatively light and can be lifted or dragged into a vehicle. 

Thatcham categories are not a guide to the effectiveness of a particular system and it is important that you do your own research before choosing a product.

Motorcycle Tracking

Vehicle tracking has seen a huge growth in recent years and can be a valuable aid to recovering items.  They are though, not always reliable and can be defeated by professional thieves. 

They are not cheap either as they rely on having trained operators available 24/7.  We would only normally recommend their use for bikes that are rare or very expensive.

If you do invest in a tracking device, here are our recommendations:

  • We only recommend fitting a tracking device once your physical security is in place and your bike is fitted with a Cat1 alarm.
  • Fit one that complies with Thatcham Categories 6 and 7 and that is installed by an accredited professional company.
  • Check its monitoring arrangements and do your own research to make sure that the response promised is the level you expect.

Security marking and registration

You should consider marking your bike and register it with a property marking database.

Displaying stickers on your bike stating that it is marked is an effective way to stop your bike being of any interest to a thief in the first place.

Databased Property Marking

If you are concerned about ruining the paintwork of your bike by marking it, look for etching products that are specifically designed for use on fairings.

There are a number of police approved products on the market. We recommend that you only have your bike professionally treated with a Secured by Design accredited marking product and registered on a Secured by Design accredited database.

For more information about accredited manufacturers go to

The MASTER Security Scheme

The majority of major motorcycle manufacturers now participate in the MASTER motorcycle security scheme.

For more information about this police and insurance industry approved scheme visit

This scheme specifically relates to new machines, but if you have an older bike you can have many aspects of the security marking system fitted retrospectively.  There will a fee for database registration. 

More help and support

For further advice on how to avoid being a victim of bicycle theft, contact our Crime Prevention Advisers.



Secured by Design

MASTER Security Scheme

Master Locksmiths Association
The Master Locksmiths Association can help with vehicle keys & locks

29 Jun 21 10:56 AM

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