Bicycles are no longer stolen as frequently as they were 25 years ago. However, around 700 bikes still disappear every day in Germany. The frontrunner in 2020 was the city of Leipzig with around 10,000 stolen bikes, followed by Münster and Halle an der Saale. This shows how important bicycle theft protection is.
Secure your bike - but not with these locks
Always you park your bike with a good lock. The range of bicycle locks is large. Simple spoke locks that screw onto the rear wheel frame are still available. To lock them, you simply press a light metal tab between the rims. These models, which were widely used in earlier times, offer no real protection against theft. Thieves simply bend them to the side and ride off.
Other locks that are firmly attached to the bike are called frame locks. They are firmly bolted to the frame. When the bike is locked, a bolt slides between the spokes and engages on the other side of the lock. This means that it is no longer possible to drive away with the bike. With the rear wheel raised, however, it can be easily pushed away. In the garage or cellar, thieves then cut the lock open with bolt cutters. They are, therefore, not sufficient on their own to protect against theft.
Similarly insecure are simple wire rope locks encased in plastic. These bicycle locks are light and handy. While riding, you simply attach them to the luggage rack or the seat post. Since the locks are relatively short, you can also just push them through the spokes and lock them. Thieves pinch these locks with the right tools in seconds.
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Proper bicycle theft protection - lock and connect
In any case, you should not just lock your bike, but also connect it somewhere. For example, you can lock the front wheel to the bike stand and the rear wheel to a lamppost or tree. This way it can't just be pushed away with the rear wheel raised. To this to be possible, the bicycle lock must be sufficiently long.
The stability of the lock is key to how effective it is as an anti-theft device. It should be made in such a way that it cannot be bent open or cut easily. The safest protection for your bike is still deterrence. If it takes a long time or requires conspicuous tools to pick the lock, thieves usually shy away from it. Passersby might notice them, so it's risky for them to try. Although there is no guarantee against bicycle theft, you should at least make it as difficult as possible.
Ideally, you'll lock your bike multiple times. Of course, it's inconvenient to carry around two bike locks at once, but you can carry them on your bike. If you lock your bike with the front and rear wheel somewhere, you make it twice as difficult for thieves.
Which lock models are available?
Widely used, in addition to the frame lock often already installed at the factory on the bike, are the following models:
- Chain lock
- Cable lock
- Textile lock
- Folding lock
- Armored cable lock
- Lock with alarm function
U-locks regularly emerge from tests as good anti-theft devices. Nevertheless, there are different quality and two disadvantages of this type of lock. Firstly, U-locks are inflexible. Therefore, it is often difficult to lock the bike somewhere. U-locks works best on bike racks and the metal bars of bike parking spaces. You usually can't put a U-lock around a tree or a lamppost because it's too narrow. The other disadvantage is the weight of a good U-lock. U-locks with a solid metal shackle are especially robust. However, it is precisely this that causes the high weight. They are also bulky and, therefore, not always easy to transport. Some models are available with a bracket for the bicycle frame. You screw the bracket to the frame and can hang the U-lock while riding in it.
The disadvantages of the U-lock are offset by folding locks. They are foldable, consisting of rigid metal elements connected with joints. When folded, you can even carry a folding lock in your pocket. However, most models are equipped with a bracket for the bicycle frame or the seat post. You can simply click them into place. If a folding lock is long enough, it is also suitable for connecting the bike to a tree. Weak points of some folding locks are the joints. If the quality is not good enough, they can be bent apart. So if you decide to buy a folding lock, you should pay attention to the stability of the joints. The metal elements should be made of hardened steel.
Chain locks combine the security of U-locks with high flexibility. Since they consist of individual chain links, you can wrap them very well around trees, lampposts, or bicycle racks. Models with especially heavy chain links are difficult to break. To protect the bike, high-quality chain locks are equipped with a textile or plastic sheath. A serious disadvantage of chain locks is their weight. A long and sturdy chain lock can weigh several kilos. In addition, it is not exactly handy. Many bikers wrap the chain lock around the seat post, others stow it in the pannier.
Cable locks are less suitable for effective anti-theft protection. They are light and handy as a spiral cable lock. In addition, they can be very long, so you can wrap the bike several times together with a tree. But they are thin and can be easily cut with a side cutter. Skilled bike thieves can do this in a matter of seconds. They may cut the cable lock faster than you can unlock it. No one will pay attention and they will simply ride away with your bike. Armoured cable locks are somewhat more stable, but they also only stop thieves for a limited time.
A textile lock for bike theft protection combines various advantages. It is light, sufficiently long, and, if of good quality, difficult to break. It is, therefore, not surprising that the textile lock from tex-lock came off as the best in Luko's bicycle lock test. It consists of a chain in the core, surrounded by several layers of robust textile fibres. They are fire resistant and are difficult for bolt cutters or saws to cut open. The lock is long enough to safely connect your bike somewhere. The two ends of the textile-sheathed chain are connected with a small U-lock. Therefore, the lock is also difficult to open for thieves. Despite the sturdy textile jacket, the lock is flexible enough for good security. The only drawback: this lock is also not very light due to the chain. You need a little creativity to find the best way to ride along with this lock.
A good alternative is also bicycle locks with an alarm function. When you try to open them without a key, an alarm sounds. This attracts attention and scares off thieves.
Secure bike with numeric code or key
Have you ever lost your bike key? Hopefully it only happened when the bike was not locked. Otherwise, you'll have to break your lock yourself. You can avoid this by using a combination lock. However, you should keep the numerical code just as safe as your credit card PIN. If you forget it, you will have no choice but to break the lock. A good combination lock has a six-digits. Models with only three digits are not sufficiently against bicycle theft.
For real security: Bicycle Theft Insurance
Since no lock can offer absolute security, you should take out Bicycle Insurance, especially for an expensive bike. It replaces the new or current value of your bike so that you can buy an equivalent one. With Luko, you can insure a bike worth 2,000 euros for less than seven euros a month.