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5 Motorcycle Theft Prevention Tips & How to Help Prevent Motorcycle Theft

July 19, 2023
Most riders appreciate the freedom that comes with riding, but the smaller size and open nature of a motorcycle mean that it’s much easier for thieves to swipe your motorcycle than your car. Preventing motorcycle theft is an unfortunate necessity for bike owners. Any vehicle can be stolen if the thief wants it badly enough, but by adding a few layers of motorcycle security you can make your bike a less-desirable target to a thief. Some security measures may also earn you a discount on your motorcycle insurance. Use these five motorcycle theft prevention tips to help keep your bike safe.

How to Help Prevent Motorcycle Theft – Tips for your Bike

1. Invest in Anti-theft Accessories

Motorcycle locks, alarms, and chains can all be defeated, but they also make your bike less convenient to steal. A thief will often prefer a softer target that they can steal quickly while making minimal noise or using obvious tools. There are a number of different anti-theft devices that can discourage a thief.

Motorcycle Alarms and Security Systems

Many late-model motorcycles, including most Harley-Davidson® models, come equipped with a security system that electronically immobilizes the ignition when the owner’s key fob is away from the bike. This helps prevent a thief from starting the bike to ride it away. In some cases, security systems that defeat the ignition can be added to motorcycles not so equipped by the manufacturer.

The owner of an older motorcycle can often add a hidden switch to disable or disconnect the ignition system. The thief may be able to jimmy or hot wire the main ignition switch to try to start the bike but will not know how to activate the second switch.

For an added layer of protection, a siren or alarm can be added to many security systems. These alarms often have a motion detector that triggers the armed alarm if the bike is moved, or if the bike is lifted off its side stand. Harley-Davidson offers a Security Siren Kit that easily plugs into the Harley-Davidson® Factory Security System on most late-model bikes. A loud alarm is not a sound a thief wants to hear.

Motorcycle Locks

A very visible lock can help secure a motorcycle, and also act as a theft deterrent. A thief would prefer to try and steal an unlocked bike.

  • Almost every motorcycle is equipped with a fork lock that secures the fork in a turned position so that a stolen motorcycle cannot be ridden in a straight line. Always locking the fork when parking the bike is a very basic theft protection practice.
  • A disc lock is designed to slot through the holes of a disc brake and makes it impossible for a thief to roll or ride the bike without destroying the wheel and braking system. Disc locks are compact and easy to carry when riding the motorcycle, and some are equipped with a motion detector and a loud alarm. A large U-style lock can also be placed through the brake disc, or sometimes through the rear wheel chain or belt sprocket on an older bike not equipped with disc brakes.
  • A brake lever lock clamps over the front brake lever and the right-hand grip, locking the front wheel and making it hard to move the bike. This is also a compact style of lock that’s very visible and easy to carry around.
  • Heavy-duty security chains and cables are harder to carry than a disc or brake lock, but they can be used to secure the bike to an immovable object or a ground anchor. A chain or cable can also be used to lock two motorcycles together, which will make it very challenging for thieves to pick up the bikes and place them in a van or truck. Security chains are made with special metal alloys that are much harder to cut than standard hardware store chain, and often have a soft cover that protects the motorcycle finish and makes it more challenging to use some cutting tools. A quality lock will have a high-security double deadbolt design and tough-defeat lock cylinder. Some security cables have an integrated lock system and are designed to be challenging to cut. A cable may be easier to carry down the road than a chain.

2. If you Can, Keep the Motorcycle Indoors

Garage-kept motorcycles are stolen at a much lower rate than those parked on the street or in a driveway. You can keep your garage secure with quality locks and covering windows to prevent prying eyes. Consider adding a security device or back-up lock to an automatic garage door opener, which can be defeated by clever and determined thieves. Disconnecting the power to a garage door opener with also make it disabled. An obvious security camera will discourage a thief. Don’t leave the keys or security fob with the motorcycle.

Consider adding an extra layer of protection by locking up the motorcycle inside the garage. A security anchor that is permanently mounted in the floor is a great addition in a private garage. Covering the motorcycle while it’s in the garage will also make it much harder to identify.

If you live in a city, there may be the option of a gated parking garage specializing in motorcycle storage.

3. Cover Your Motorcycle

If you do not have access to a private or locked garage, the next-best step you can take is to keep your bike covered. A nondescript motorcycle cover acts as urban camouflage. There’s nothing about a black or grey cover that catches the eye, which will hopefully mean that a potential thief passes your bike for a flashier target. Harley-Davidson offers indoor-outdoor motorcycle covers with no visible branding to help a thief identify the bike.

When the cover conceals the motorcycle wheels, it is very difficult to identify the make and model of a desirable bike, and a thief is reluctant to be spotted lifting the cover to look at the bike. The cover has the added benefit of keeping people from sitting on the bike, letting their kids sit on the bike, or vandalizing the bike. The cover will also help keep the bike clean when it is stored outdoors and protects the finish from UV damage. Most covers have metal grommets on the bottom edge that can be used to secure the cover with a lock or a cover alarm.

4. Select a Good Parking Location

Look for a motorcycle parking spot that is highly visible, is directly under an overhead light, is in a highly trafficked area and has obvious security cameras. The more people that are around, the less likely your motorcycle will be stolen. When you are out and about, try to park the bike where you can see it while you are in a restaurant or bar, for example. 

5. Secure Your Gear

If your motorcycle is not equipped with locking luggage, securing a helmet or jacket when the bike is parked can be a concern if you don’t want to carry those items.

Many motorcycles are equipped with a basic helmet lock, but an accessory helmet lock can be added to a bike not so equipped, or to secure a second helmet. A jacket can be secured by looping a thin security cable through a sleeve and then locking the cable to the motorcycle.

Before leaving the bike remove and stow away an accessory motorcycle navigation device or mobile phone holder that could be quickly removed and stolen, and either take it with you or place it in locking luggage.

Properly securing your motorcycle can help prevent motorcycle theft.  See a complete selection of motorcycle security options including covers, alarms, locks, chains and cables at your local Harley-Davidson® dealer.

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