Photography by Adam Camp...
If you've ever had your bike pilfered, you know all about the anger, denial and empty feelings arising out of that traumatic experience. A better option than running off to your psychiatrist, though, is getting yourself psyched up about preventing the theft of your pride and joy in the first place. To protect your ride, you have to be more determined than the bad guys. Luckily, there are plenty of security systems at your disposal, and with a little forethought your precious scooter should be able to withstand street prowlers in search of an easy heist.
Job one is decreasing your motorcycle's theft potential. Thieves of opportunity, for instance, can be kept at bay by devices such as quality disc locks, chains, cable locks or U-locks. The crooks will have to defeat this stuff on-site, so they'll usually move on in search of an easier target.
More serious criminals favor what's known as "lift-away theft": a group of beefy lads drive around in a large vehicle and, upon spotting a desirable target, lift the unlucky two-wheeler, locks and all, into their truck. Your best bet against this is to secure your machine to an immovable object, such as a permanent structure or in-ground anchor. This isn't always practical, but it's the superior way to stop thieves from rolling your ride away.
For equipment, make sure you get quality stuff. For instance, cheapie locks sport diecast components that're easily defeated with common hand tools. Better locks have hardened steel shackles and cylinders that require torches or grinders to remove.
We sought examples of the different locking systems on the market. They range from high-end hasps to items you can scrounge at your local hardware store; so really, you have no reason to leave your pride and joy at risk.
ABUS Granit Extreme 59/180HB: $159
German lock-maker ABUS has a great reputation in parts of theft-heavy Europe, so we rushed to procure one of its products. While we received the Granit Extreme 59 U-lock a bit late, we weren't otherwise disappointed.
The 16mm-thick Granit Extreme features a square parabolic shackle with a hardened steel construction that's said to offer maximum resistance against bolt-cutters. The trick ABUS-X-Plus double-locking cylinder features more than a million key variations for a high level of pick-proofness. The shackle is sheathed in a rubberlike cover to protect your finish against scratches, and a sliding cover shields the keyhole from dirt. The company recommends the Granit for securing "high-risk two-wheelers against all types of violent or intelligent methods of opening," but the heft, weight and shape of the Granit suggest that hauling it around town won't exactly be a breeze.
At First Glance: Big and brawny, intimidating cylinder mechanism
Upon Closer Inspection: Hefty stuff, awkward shape
Bully 10mm disk lock: $25
Your basic, first line of defense should be a quality disc lock that will provide a visual deterrent as well as slowing the thief down should he home in on your ride. The Bully Lock is an affordable, portable addition to your arsenalmade of hardened forged steel, the security cylinder features an anti-drill ball pin and 100,000 key variations. The 10mm hardened-steel lock pin provides a tough obstacle to the bad guys, and the bright yellow cover is vinyl-coated for protection from scratches.
It's small, so you can carry it with you anywhere for peace of mind, and it won't clean out your wallet. Just remember to remove it before you ride away!
At First Glance: Bright and easily seen for good visual deterrence; portable
Upon Closer Inspection: Fairly easily defeated, and not much good in a lift-away theft
Bully U-shaped Disc Lock (via Tucker Rocky): $35
Your first, basic line of defense should be a quality disc lock, and the Bully Disc Lock is a versatile example that offers a one-two punch to boot. Its double-roller-bearing locking mechanism, hardened anti-drill discs and eight-disc hardened steel cylinder make it a reliably stout choice for basic supplemental defense, and its low $35 price makes it one of the most affordable bike locks on the market.
For easy transport and an effective visual deterrent, the Bully Disc Lock is tough to beat. Its specially heat-treated alloy steel construction is said to resist cutting, and a nifty keyhole cover keeps dirt out to ensure smooth operation in inclement weather. The shackle is covered in soft plastic to protect your paint job from copious scratching, and two keys come with the unit.
At First Glance: Stout, beefy design, compact
Upon Closer Inspection: Simple lock mechanism seems like it'd be easily defeated; don't forget to remove it before you ride away!
Cobralinks Cable Lock (via Harley-Davidson): $200
The only place we could find these high-end chains was through Harley-Davidson Parts and Accessories. But since Cobralinks are well-known and well-regarded (and pricey), we felt it was worth the effort. The hardened stainless steel links cover seven strands of top-quality aircraft cable, which give them good flexibility combined with, according to Cobralinks, "the strength of a hardened steel bar." Installation is fairly straightforwardjust slide the links through the Cobrahead and snap the lock into a substantial-looking key lock.
The Cobralinks certainly look impressive, and only a very determined and knowledgeable thief would even try to break that cable. Cobralinks come in 6-, 8-, 10- and 12-foot lengths, with 34 or 1-inch outside diameters, weigh 10-15 pounds and roll up into an 11-inch coil so you can take them with you. We've heard you can call the manufacturer and order it directly for a more reasonable price, though if you ride an expensive bike, these might prove to be cheap insurance. Three keys are included with the patented setup, which is available at Harley dealers nationwide.
At First Glance: Sleek and sexy
Upon Closer Inspection: Heavy and solid, not very portable, might scratch paint
Kryptonite New York Disc Lock & Fahgettaboudit Security Chain: $200
Kryptonite calls this its "ultimate motorcycle lock for high-theft danger areas." Along with a catchy moniker, the brawny Fahgettaboudit chain-and-lock combo features hexagonal chain links made of triple-heat-treated steel. The unique shape of these links is said to repel attacks from bolt-cutters, saws, chisels and hammers, and the links' narrow inner width stymies leverage assaults, too. A protective nylon sleeve offers a buffer betwixt the hard stuff and your shiny steed, and allows you to coil up the heavy metal with a bit more ease.
The included New York Disc Lock (also available separately) sports a through-hardened half-inch steel shackle that's said to defy those very same bolt-cutters and saws. A new Pik-safe disc-style cylinder (which implies pick-proof protection) and a steel sleeve over the crossbar up the security ante on this device. The double deadbolt locking mechanism claims extensive holding power, and a sliding dust cover shuts out the elements. The Fahgettaboudit offers $1000 anti-theft protection in the U.S.A. and Canada and comes with a limited lifetime warranty and key registration. With this hefty 12-pound chain you'll probably feel a bit less vulnerable in the naked city.
At First Glance: It'll take a battalion of thieves to open up this bad boy
Upon Closer Inspection: One heavy mother; limited portability
MasterLock Python 6-inch Adjustable Cable Lock: $30
The beauty of the Python Adjustable Cable is that you can use it almost anywhere. Its claim of "the world's first fully adjustable locking cable that's always the right length" may be hyperbolic, but the patented locking mechanism does indeed hold the cable secure at any position for easy installation.
You simply insert the cable into the lock, pull tight and turn the key. The cable fits into the tough aluminum-alloy cylinder with a three-position keyhole (lock, cinch or unlock) that lets you pull and cinch the cable for secure lock-down. The lock is designed to allow only one-way cable movement when the key is in the cinch position, holding the cable in place until you turn the key. The cut-resistant, six-foot multistrand steel cable sports a black non-scratch cover to protect your bike's finish; a black ABS side cover on the lock does the same. The cable diameter is just 38 inches with the cover, so you can use it to secure helmets or jackets to your bike when not employing it for bike security. The cable coils compactly for storage and includes two keys.
At First Glance: Adjustable, versatile and relatively portable
Upon Closer Inspection: Not very stout, more of a supplemental defense measure
Master Lock Street Cuff 9-Link: $90
These shackles are by far the coolest security system on the block. With such features as a heat-treated lock cylinder and a pushbutton keyless locking mechanism, they also offer legitimate defense measures. An ABS bumper prevents annoying paint scratches, and a pivot design yields more lock-down versatility&151you can swivel the individual cuffs around to fit a variety of scenarios. The handcuff design also means they're relatively compact and lightweight; you can fold them in half for easy transport. Plus they come with a nifty tool-roll style case.
The three-inch cuffs fit your bike's fork legs or frame, and can be secured to signposts, parking meters or another bike easily. The heat-treated patented lock core is said to be virtually pick-proof, and the pushbutton keyless locking feature offers convenience in tight spots, too. The Street Cuffs come in several sizes so you can get longer link length depending on your application.
At First Glance: Design offers no fixed anchor point, so it's hard to jack. Portable. You can also play good cop/bad cop off the bike
Upon Closer Inspection: Awkward shape, needs specific-size anchor point for cuffs to lock to
Better to use a variety of locks, right? This billet baby from Targa fits the bill nicely, and with a choice of chrome or billet finish, your cruiser's cool quotient won't be unnecessarily diminished in the name of security. Utilizing a pin-tumbler key lock, the Lever Lock installs easily from a seated position on your scooter, immobilizing the lever and providing a visual deterrent to thieves. As an addition or alternative to a disc lock, the Targa Lever Lock is a good choice to stymie thieves. With a Lever Lock, there's also less of a chance of driving off with it in place, so you'll avoid the painful embarrassment of dumping your bike right in front of your buddies (we've all been there). The Targa Lever Lock clamps onto the throttle or left hand-grip holding brake or clutch lever, and will fit all sport, tour bikes and cruisers, including Harley-Davidsons. Remember, grip sizes vary by model and year, so be sure to verify your size (to ensure the right fit, use a strip of paper to measure your grip circumference).
At First Glance: Lightweight and portable
Upon Closer Inspection: Not for primary defense; use with another lock for full security
Trimax TG3048SX Locking Cable: $38
Trimax's 32mm beefy locking cable is a great visual deterrent from the get-go. The non-scratching plastic-covered braided stainless steel and armor-plated steel cups appear intimidating, and the ballistic polymer lock housing resists hammer strikes. A plastic cover protects the keyhole from foreign matter.
It's available in three lengths, 36-, 48- or 72-inch, and it's flexible for easy transport.
At First Glance: Beefy, visually intimidating
Upon Closer Inspection: Simple locking mechanism
Anchors and Exotic Electronics
Permanent options, of course, are best&151when the locking mechanism on your bike is secured to the ground, it's one less point of entry for the thief. Products such as Kryptonite's Stronghold and the Bike Anchor are both U-shaped steel anchors made to be embedded in your garage floor for real protection. With a heavy-duty chain and lock inserted through the frame and anchors, your bike's stoutly secured.
Operating on a similar principle is the new Bike Brace, a plasma-cut steel plate that also mounts to a permanent surface. A precision-ground one-inch shaft contained within inserts through a bike's wheel. An industrial-grade padlock, mounting hardware and instructions are included; a shell on the side protects the padlock from bolt-cutters for effective security. Owner Jay Heerens says plans are in the works for a cruiser-specific anchor system to be unveiled sometime next year. For more information see www.bikebrace.com.
And if you want to get even more high-tech, LoJack has launched a version of its stolen-vehicle-tracking service for motorcycles, too. Get more info at www.lojack.com.
For additional evaluations of, comparisons of, and shopping advice for motorcycle gear and accessories, see the Accessories and Gear section of MotorcycleCruiser.com.