Ebike Security Part One
So, your ebike is your pride and joy and it wasn’t cheap, so you want to do everything you can to stop anyone stealing it, right?
Don’t worry, we can help you with everything you need to know to keep your electric bike as safe and secure as possible.
This is a big topic, so we are going to split it up into two parts. This is part one, general security advice. Part two is going to be about some of the technical security options you have with ebikes, and a registration scheme.
The bad news
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.
If someone really wants to steal your bike, you can’t stop them. Modern battery tools like angle grinders can cut through just about any bike lock, and most of the things you lock your bike to.
BUT there is lots you can do to help stop 99% of bike thieves. Where you lock your bike up, what you lock it to, and the locks that you use can make a potential thief go past your bike and look for something easier to steal.
Choose the right lock
A rough rule of thumb is that you should spend 10% of the price of your bike on the lock for it. There are a couple of problems with that though.
With many ebikes costing upwards of $10,000, you are going to struggle to spend $1,000+ on a bike lock. Even the very best U-locks and chain locks only cost three to four hundred dollars.
The other thing is that the best bike locks are also the heaviest, so aren’t really suited to being carried around.
You need to choose the best bike lock for the situation that you are protecting your bike in. Big, heavy locks are perfect for protecting your electric bike at home or at work (you can leave the lock in the location where you use it), or when you can easily take one with you, say on an electric cargo bike.
If you’ve finished a ride and are sitting outside a café with your e-bike in sight, it’s a good idea to use a lock, but it just needs to be enough to stop someone jumping on your electric bike and riding it away or throwing it on the back of a car. In this case, a lightweight lock, from a good brand, is all you need. It doesn’t matter if it’s a combination or keyed lock, you’ll see anyone that is trying to swipe your prized electric bike.
Frame locks are another quick and easy option that is moderately secure. They lock the back wheel of your electric bike so it can’t be ridden. For added security you can also buy chains that plug in to your frame lock that let you secure the bike to a solid object.
On a multi-day adventure, like ebiking the Otago rail trail, you’ll want a lock that has good security without weighing too much if you are carrying it with you during the day. Some of the folding locks that we sell are great for this situation. In places where you are staying overnight, ask if there is a secure room or garage that you can lock your bike up in.
The bottom line is that the longer you are going to be leaving your bike, and the less people there are around where you are leaving it, the better your locks need to be.
Avoid cable locks
These are made of plastic covered wire ropes, and unless they have high-tech covers on them, they can be cut (though slowly) with a knife and a grunty pair of scissors. While some of the heavier cable style locks do have much thicker wire ropes in them, others also have a much thicker plastic coating on them, which makes them look good but doesn’t add to security at all.
Keep you Ebike out of sight
If you have to leave your e-bike for long periods (say at home or the office), especially if it's somewhere where other people don’t often go (around the back of a building or in a car park), then it helps if it is somewhere where potential thieves can’t see it. If thieves have the tools to cut good bike locks, then your bike being inside a locked cage isn’t going to slow them down much (we’re speaking from experience here). A storeroom, or bike lockup that people can’t see into is a much better option.
Lock to something solid
Whenever you can, lock your bike to a solid, well-fixed object. If you lock your bike to a roadside signpost, it’s sometimes easier to pull the sign out of the ground than cut the lock.
In places where you lock your bike up regularly, and it gets left for a longer period of time, look at installing an anchor or solid bike rack to lock your bike to.
Use your lock properly
Locking your e-bike with the lock higher up off the ground is better than having it at ground level. If thieves are using long handled bolt cutters, being able to use them with one handle on the ground lets them apply a lot more force.
Fill your lock up. Some U-locks can be broken with car jacks. The less space there is ‘inside’ the lock, the harder they are to break. Buying the smallest lock that you think will go around your bike frame and the objects you might lock to is better than buying a bigger lock.
Don’t forget your wheels
You should always lock your e-bike frame, or even better your frame and back wheel to a solid object. If possible, feed a cable through any wheels that your main lock doesn’t protect, and secure it to your lock so you don’t come back to a wheelless ride.
Check the rating on locks
There are a few different rating schemes that tell you how good a bike lock is. Solid Secure rates locks as bronze, silver, gold or diamond. ART rate locks on a one to five-star scale.
There is also some great independent information and reviews of bike locks available online. We like The Best Bike Lock.
What else can you do?
Stay tuned for the next instalment, which is about some of the high-tech security solutions that apply to any bike and a few that are available on Bosch ebikes. We also cover 529 Garage, a great free scheme to help stop your electric bike from being stolen and make it more likely to be recovered if it is stolen.