From the J&P Cycles Blog Archive

Using locks is a smart way to go when securing your motorcycle, but there are other ways to keep your bike safe. In this article, we talk about how to keep your bike from becoming a thief's target and other tips on protecting your best friend... your motorcycle.

We spoke with peace officers in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Connecticut about Harley theft. We asked them what riders could do to better secure their machines. They were kind enough to give us some useful info. Here is what they had to say:

Use common sense. Park your bike in a well-lit public place.

Thieves often target bikes in advance and watch riders to learn their daily routine. Vary your travel route between home and work to throw off a thief’s timing. Be aware of people that seem to be following you. Thieves often use spotters at rallies to find specific bikes that they want to steal. In one instance, a thief in New York was caught and was carrying a Christmas list of American and Japanese bikes in the area that he just hadn’t gotten around to stealing.

Although thieves will steal bikes from a variety of places, certain places are preferred targets over others. Parking your bike in a home garage is best because the bike is nowhere to be seen, locked up indoors. Subterranean parking garages such as those in apartment complexes seem to attract thieves because most underground parking is easy to break into and people frequently don’t lock their bikes when they’re home.

Secure your garage as well as your bike. Motion sensor alarms and lights can protect not only your bike but the small fortune in tools you have surrounding it. It’s also a good idea to lock up any tools in the garage that a thief could use to steal the bike (such as power saws). According to the Los Angeles Police Department, there have been burglaries where the thieves avoided the secured house and robbed the alarm-free garage attached to it.

Use Motorcycle Locks

Appropriate to the task, that $5 combination lock may protect your kid’s locker at school but it won’t work nearly so well on your $30,000 bike. A decent disc lock sells for about $35, large U-locks start at $70 and Cobralinks start at $159. Scooter and bicycle locks are too small to stop a determined thief. Cheap little locks are cheap for a reason. View our collection of the Best Locks for Your Motorcycle - for more on the right lock for your bike.

Understand what a lock is and what it will do. A bike lock is a deterrent, not a guarantee. Proper bike security is as much about where you park a bike as how you lock it up.

Use multiple locks on your bike. The more locked-up a bike is, the longer it takes to steal. Time is valuable currency to a thief. Make him spend a lot of it if he wants to steal your baby.

When using a floor anchor, park your bike directly over it and lock the anchor to the frame of the bike. This makes the anchor harder for the thief to reach and therefore harder to defeat.

Don’t leave excess cable or chain on the ground when locking your bike. This robs thieves of the cutting surface and leverage they need to break the chain.

An alarm by itself will not stop a thief from taking your bike. An alarm in conjunction with a lock is better because while the thief is breaking the lock the alarm is alerting everyone within earshot as to what the thief is doing.

Don’t depend on your ignition lock to protect your bike. Breaking the ignition and stealing the bike is extremely common.

Security Systems

Traceable security systems allow law enforcement officials to track stolen vehicles by tracing a signal from a device installed on the machine. The owner has the trace emitter installed on the vehicle, and if it’s stolen calls the installation company which, in turn, notifies authorities who then retrieve it. Teletrac makes a security tracking system available to riders in Miami and Los Angeles. Detective Samaiego of the Los Angeles Police Department Auto Theft Division said that they have had some success in recovering stolen bikes with such systems installed.

Lo Jack is expected to have a motorcycle version of its car tracking system available to the public, too. This should be of special interest to New York riders since the New York Police Department has Lo Jack tracers in its air units as well as in 60% of its patrol cars.

Where Do Stolen Bikes Go?

According to Detective Brendan Mulvey of the New York Police Department Auto Theft Division, 75% of the Harley-Davidson motorcycles stolen in New York City are exported out of the country with many bikes going to Italy, Greece, Romania or the Dominican Republic. Most of the rest are parted out. Because the demand for Harleys in Europe and other parts of the world outweighs the supply so much, some H-D's sell for two to three times their retail price.


Bike covers are great. They keep rain, dirt and bird crap off your bike while making it difficult for a thief to determine what kind of bike he’s looking at and how it’s secured. Covers come in a variety of types for both outdoor and indoor use, but the best ones are those that have an inner heat shield to protect the cover from hot bike parts. Some motorcycle covers also feature a soft fabric inner lining to protect a bike’s paint and fairing.

Run your lock through the bike frame to the immobile object whenever possible. Greed and a few tools are all a thief needs to remove your front wheel and toss your bike into a truck, so using the wheel as the sole locking point isn’t the best approach.

Know The Enemy

Thieves use a variety of ways to break locks. Hacksaws and bolt cutters are commonly used for small locks, but require time and effort to break open good locks. Power tools are also used, but while they are more efficient, they’re noisy and conspicuous. Deep freezing a lock happens but is rare due to the difficulty and expense involved with obtaining the chemicals. Also, some locks are tested to withstand cold temperatures well below the freezing point of the chemicals used to freeze them. Lock picking is another method, but it requires skill; and if the lock is hard to reach, picking it becomes even more difficult.

Unsecuring Your Bike

It’s generally a good idea to unlock your bike before you ride off into the sunset. It will save you from being the sad and very embarrassed victim of a disk lock and a short memory.