Bicycle locks cannot only keep your bike secure – but they are also typically mandatory as part of your bicycle insurance. And with the theft of bicycles on the rise – in 2013, over 462,000 were reported as stolen – it has never been so important to keep your bike as safe and sound as you can.
There are a number of things you can do, such as where you leave and store your bike etc, that may help deter thieves. The most important place to start, however, is when locking up your bike.
With a chain you can weave it in and out of the frame as well as the wheels, making it is easy to attach it to things, plus stopping an opportunist stealing the wheels/frame only.
Chains can also be easier to store, as the links just fold on top of each when dropped in to a pile.
The D-Lock (also known as the U-Lock) is basically a chain encased in a heat-treated tubing for extra security. While they are less flexible than a traditional chain (so you may not be able to weave it in and out of all your vital bike parts) they can be tough enough to make a thief think twice as they are harder to cut through.
The actual lock itself is also an important part of the security of your bike. Some have digital combination barrel type locks, others have keys.
What method of security you choose is up to you but if you take a policy with Assetsure, you must make sure it meets our minimum standards for theft cover to apply. For more information, please refer to our Assetsure cycle lock guide.
Most locks will have their own ratings from the manufacturer. However, look out for their Sold Secure ratings. This is an independent organisation that rates the locks on their strength and ability to be broken by thieves. (The ratings are Bronze, Silver & Gold.
Most bicycle insurance policies will require your bike to be secured with a Sold Secure-rated product. Some may even offer a discount if you have a Gold standard lock, so check with your insurer.
When buying your lock, do keep the receipt – this will be needed if your bike is stolen and you want to make a claim on your insurance.
Pay as much as you can afford for your bike security – the stronger the security, the more opportunists will be deterred! If an extended warranty on the lock is offered, you may want to take advantage of it. So, should your lock seize up for example, and a squirt of WD40 doesn’t unfreeze it, then you will get a replacement.
Also, don’t forget to keep spare sets of keys apart from the set on you. Keep a spare set in the office and one at home.
There are some bicycle lock providers who also offer, for an additional cost, an anti-theft guarantee. This will reimburse you up to a specified amount in the event your bike is stolen when you are using their lock (as long as you have used it properly).
This may be something you wish to consider if you don’t have bicycle insurance.
Leaving your bike
When you leave your bike, the most important thing to remember is to lock it to an immovable object. If your bike is stolen and it wasn’t secured to an immovable object, then technically, your bike insurer could refuse to pay your claim.
There are also some other pointers you need to be aware of under the terms of most bicycle insurance policies:
• unless your bike is used to commute to the station where you can leave it securely unattended for up to 24 hours, if more than 12 hours elapse between the time you left your bike and the time of any claim, the insurer may refuse to pay out;
• when at home, if you leave your bike in communal areas (such as outbuildings or a hallway), not only must it be secured to an immovable object, it must be kept out of sight. So, if your bike is easily visible through a window or other opening, your claim could be rejected.
Do note that while the above does relate to your ability to make a claim if your bike is insured, nevertheless, these are good ways to help deter thieves anyway.
So, what else can you do to keep your bike safe and secure?
Register your bike
Register your bike at www.bikeregister.com.While this won’t prevent your bike being stolen, this is a Police approved cycle database that aims to reduce bicycle theft, identify stolen bikes, and assist in owner recovery. This means that if your bike does unfortunately get stolen, you may stand a better chance of getting it recovered.
Bear these following tips in mind too:
• always make a habit of locking your bike up no matter how long you are going to be away from it. Even popping in to the shops for a few minutes is easily long enough for your bike to be stolen;
• use the highest standard, best quality, lock you can afford;
• never secure your bike to a tree, wooden fence or something else that may be immovable but also easy to break;
• similarly, if you secure your bike to a bollard, a thief may simply be able to lift your bike off;
• for extra security, use two different types of locks – maybe use a D-lock plus a chain;
• always ensure that any chains / locks go through both sets of wheels. Otherwise you could come back to half a bike when you return to collect it;
• if you have any accessories that are attractive and could be easily stolen, if realistic, take them with you when you leave your bicycle;
• ensure the lock is as close to the stand as possible, so that there is less room for a thief to manoeuvre the bike. While this may be a bit fiddly for you when unlocking your bike, it will also make it make much harder for a thief to break the lock and steal it;
• make sure your bike is properly insured. You may already have (limited) cover under your home insurance contents. Check that it covers you for theft outside of the home – most won’t. Or look at specialist bicycle insurance which typically offers cover for accidental damage as well and is aimed at owners with higher value bikes.
Don’t forget to keep all the details of your bike somewhere safe, such as the colour, make and model etc, as well as any receipts. Take a photo of your bike, as well.
Mark your bike – either do this yourself, or, if you have signed up to BikeRegister, take advantage of their security marking service. Security markings should be very visible, as they act as a deterrent to a would-be thief as well as helping identify a bike if it stolen.
There are plenty of further useful resources online that have more tips, such as the British Transport Police and this Government Guide.
For more information of insuring your bicycle, contact us at Assetsure.