Bikes get stolen all the time, sadly. Currently a bicycle is stolen every 71 seconds, that’s nearly 440,000 a year. Most of these thefts – about 90%, in fact – take place in public places, the places you park your bike when you’re in town or popping into the shops. We don’t want to scaremonger here, just point out that theft is an issue with owning a bike. Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to make sure you’re not the next victim.
The main thing you need to do is lock the bike: properly, with a good lock, in the right place. Not all thieves will be walking around with three-foot bolt croppers; most will be opportunists, making off with bikes that are badly locked. Or not locked at all.
A well-locked bike
Use the best quality lock you can afford. Look for a Sold Secure rating (Gold is best). Solid shackle locks tend to be the most secure. One of the more vulnerable parts of a lock is the barrel, so make it difficult to get at if you can. Lock the bike in plain view somewhere it won’t be an obstruction. Sometimes thieves pretend to be removing ‘problem’ bikes for the council. If you can take your front wheel off, then do so and use it to fill the shackle of your lock. The more there is in there, the harder it is to attack. Lock the bike to something that’s as sturdy as the lock, otherwise the thief could cut that instead!
Don't do this! This bike is locked to a pole that a thief can reasonably reach the top of, with a lock long enough to fit over the sign. A quick lift is all it takes to free the bike and because the lock isn’t through the wheel the thief can just wheel or ride it away.
Don't do this either... This bike is locked with a cable lock and cheap padlock – the lock is the weakest link. It takes about 10 seconds to snip the lock, and before you know it, the thief can make off with the wheels.
Kryptonite New York M18 £89.99
Kryptonite’s New York locks have built up an enviable reputation over the years for being among the safest out there and the M18, with its 18mm hardened steel shackle and armoured barrel, is about as indesructible as they come.
Abus Granit CityChain
It’s an expensive bit of kit but the CityChain is a very, very sturdy security device. We’ve been at it with the bolt croppers, the persuader and the cold chisel and barely marked the thing. You’d need to be a thief packing some serious tools to get through this thing.
Abus Cobra cable
Not a good way to keep your bike secure but a good option if you want to attach things – wheels, saddle, helmet – to your main lock.
As we’ve explained the best way to protect a bike is to lock it properly with a good lock, but is it worth having a second line of defence – some insurance in case the worst should happen?
If you get a bike through Cyclescheme the answer is definitely yes. That’s because while you are paying for the bike through the scheme it is effectively on hire, so if you lose it you will have to pay off the remaining balance from your net pay (ie at full retail value with no tax savings), and that would be no fun at all.
So what are the insurance options?
For most people there are two choices: invest in a standalone cycle insurance policy or add the cover to your home contents insurance. Recent research by Moneysupermarket.com found that you can add a bike to your home contents insurance policy for as little as £14 per year, but also found that it paid to shop around with the amount and cost of cover varying quite widely. If you do have a bike stolen, insist on replacing it via your local shop and not via an insurer’s ‘preferred’ supplier.
Standalone cycle cover is offered by companies like Cycleguard (www.cycleguard.co.uk/cs - Cyclescheme participants receive a 15% discount!). Depending on where you live expect to pay between £40 and £60 per year for a bike costing £500, or £80 - £120 for a £1,000 machine.
Whoever you insure the bike with, it’s also worth checking the small print for what insurers will and will not pay out for. Some won’t pay out if you leave your bike in the garden overnight and if your bike is stolen away from your home most will require that you have taken the precaution of locking it, in many cases this means to an immovable object as described in our locking guide.
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