About bicycle theft protection in a nutshell
- A bike lock is indispensable when you’re on the road with your bike or e-bike. However, some locks are significantly more secure than others. We recommend a high-quality U-lock or folding lock. Also, be sure to lock your bike to a fixed object.
- The perfect complement to a good bike lock is a GPS tracker like the PowUnity BikeTrax, which tracks your bike in real time and is mounted inside the bike. This allows the police to locate your stolen bike anywhere in Europe with an accuracy of up to five meters. BikeTrax is specially designed for e-bikes.
- Additional insurance is worthwhile, especially for an expensive new bike or e-bike. Compare different rates thoroughly before making a decision.
Most people secure their bikes against bike thefts, but often the measures taken are not enough to make the worst happen. According to the Office for National Statistics, an average of 77,313 bicycles are reported stolen in the UK every year. That means that a bike is being stolen every 7 minutes. In most cases, the bike is lost forever because the detection rate for bicycle thefts is low.
This begs the question: what can you do to effectively prevent bicycle theft? In this article, we will introduce you to common anti-theft methods and compare their advantages and disadvantages. We also give you tips on how to ensure maximum security.
Classic anti theft protection – the bike lock
Bike locks come in a variety of designs and can be found in your local bike shop. Some offer only a minimum of protection, others are a real obstacle for thieves.
Frame lock: Frame locks that block the rear wheel are at best suitable as an immobilizer. They offer no protection against determined thieves.
Textile locks: Even locks made of fiber woven together in layers can rarely prevent bicycle theft. More secure are models with a metal chain inside.
Cable lock: If you decide to use a cable lock, choose an armored cable lock. Anything else offers token security at best.
Chain lock: a chain lock is not a bad choice, provided it is a high-quality model with thick chain links.
U-lock: Now we come to one of our favorites. High-quality U-locks offer little attack surface for tools and are not impressed by a cold spray. Their only drawback is their rigid shape.
Folding lock: The best alternative to the U-lock is a folding lock. To cut through a good model, a lot of strength is required, in addition to the necessary equipment. This is especially true if the lock is attached to the bike perpendicular to the ground.
We advise you to use a U-lock or folding lock to reduce the likelihood of bike theft. Alternatively, you can use a high-quality chain lock. All other locks are only suitable as an add-on.
Locking your bike properly – tips
Speaking of locking, here’s a sneak peek: Once you’ve decided on a lock, keep the following points in mind:
- Lock your bike to a fixed object: One of the most important anti-theft measures for bikes is to always lock your bike to fixed street furniture , such as a bike stand, a fence post or a lamppost. Otherwise, there is a risk that thieves will simply move it to a van, U-lock or not.
- Use multiple locks: Multiple locks are better than one. Better use a primary lock and at least another secondary lock. At the very least, they increase the time it takes for a theft to occur. Plus, you can secure accessories with additional locks. Alternatively, for the wheel or the saddle, a special security like the HexLox system is a good choice.
- Choose the right place: Make sure to park your bike in a safe place wherever possible, preferably in a locked room.
Additional tip: Bicycle with alarm system
Bike locks are also available with an alarm system.
The principle behind this is simple:
- If bicycle thieves try to steal your bike, motion sensors trigger an alarm.
- Ideally, this will scare the thief away or cause passersby to intervene.
This calculation can work, but it doesn’t have to. Crafty thieves can quickly disarm an alarm. In addition, passers-by in larger cities are often so numb to signal tones that they do not react.
In any case, make sure that the alarm system is on a secure lock and that its sensitivity can be adjusted. Systems that distinguish between vibrations of different types will prevent your neighbors from standing upright in bed every time the wind blows. Inform yourself thoroughly before making a purchase. A test is in all reel hardly possible.
In our article on bicycle alarm systems you will find more tips for a purchase.
Up to date – GPS tracking for bicycles
Until now bike theft meant: Bike stolen, bike gone. To get stolen bikes back, more and more people are turning to GPS trackers.
These are attached to a bicycle and, depending on the model, allow the location of the bike to be tracked in real time. Models with motion sensors alert bike owners as soon as a bike thief tampers with their bike.
GPS trackers against bike thieves in comparison
The extent to which GPS trackers for bicycles differ can be seen in well-known representatives.
- Apple AirTag: The AirTag from Apple is an inexpensive and hip gadget that is often advertised as an all-purpose weapon. However, it is a Bluetooth tracker that works via crowd GPS, not real GPS. It rarely shows you the current location of a moving object for a short period of time at best. This makes this form of GPS tracking completely unsuitable for recovering stolen bikes. In the article “AirTag: Bike tracking solution to rely on?” we explain all the details.
- I LOCK IT: The GPS tracker from the company I LOCK IT is integrated into a frame lock that can be opened and closed without a key. Unlike the Apple AirTag, it is a real GPS tracker. In the event of a theft attempt, a 110 decibel loud alarm sounds. Additionally, you will receive a notification on your smartphone. A disadvantage of I LOCK IT is that the system no longer works as soon as a thief removes the lock completely or destroys it extensively.
- BikeTrax: The GPS tracker BikeTrax from PowUnity is aimed specifically at e-bike owners. It combines an alarm on the smartphone with real-time GPS tracking throughout Europe. The PowUnity app includes numerous additional features such as a bike passport and theft notification that you can send to a local police station. You can also use the app for route planning. Compared to trackers like the model from I LOCK IT, BikeTrax has the advantage that it is integrated invisibly for thieves inside your e-bike.
With the BikeTrax GPS tracker, your e-bike is protected against theft even abroad. This is shown by the experience of our customer Ralf, who had his 8,000 Euro e-bike stolen from the bike rack at a French rest stop. Let him explain in the video how the subsequent chase went and how the gendarmerie caught the thief with the help of BikeTrax.
A good GPS tracker provides a new level of security
Because professional thieves can handle any bike lock, a good GPS tracker is the perfect bike theft prevention. You won’t be able to prevent every theft. But you have the best chance to get the stolen bike or e-bike back.
However, this does not apply to every tracker.
When selecting a tracker, pay particular attention to the following factors:
- The tracker can be mounted hidden in the bike.
- It allows you to track your bike in real time.
- You can connect to the device via an app on your smartphone.
- The battery life is sufficient.
For more tips on what to look for when choosing a GPS tracker for bikes, check out our article “GPS Tracker Bike: Test Check 2023”.
Stolen bike: Does a bike insurance help?
Finally, you can take out bicycle insurance. Depending on the tariff, this covers theft, wear and tear, accidental damage and much more. Even theft of parts can be insured. However, we recommend that you read the insurance conditions carefully and compare them. Because the devil is in the details.
The price of insurance and whether insurance is possible at all depends on many factors, starting with the age and value of your e-bike. As a rule, you only get reimbursed after a theft if your bike was locked.
All bicycle insurance policies have one thing in common: You will only be reimbursed for the value of your bicycle or e-bike. The stolen bike will not be returned to you.
By the way, you can often also insure your bike via household insurance. However, this option is associated with various restrictions. These may include that the bike is only insured at certain times and/or in certain places.
Conclusion: Effective theft protection for bicycles consists of several components
Lock, alarm systems or GPS tracker?
Protecting an expensive bike from thieves is no easy task, and it makes little sense to entrust its security to locks alone. The best way is to combine several high-quality locks with a GPS tracker. You can add bicycle insurance on top of that. It may not be cheap at first, but it’s worth it in the long run. The prerequisite is that you choose the individual components carefully. After all, a tracking device like the AirTag is not comparable with the BikeTrax GPS tracker, and a frame lock is not comparable with a U-lock.
If you choose a combination of high-quality security systems with an alarm system and GPS tracking, you can park your bike or e-bike without worrying. Because even if a thief picks your lock and removes the bike, chances are good that you will get it back.