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Cycle Security Guide

By Updated June 2020.

According to the Home Office, 98,000 bicycles were reported stolen in Britain in 2019.

Here at CycleInsurance.co.uk we have put together some essential cycle security tips for our customers.

Some of these are common sense and you will probably already be aware of them, others might come in useful when you need to leave your bicycle unattended. Generally, Cycle Insurance policies require a minimum use of security. Be sure to check your policy wording for full details.

Cycle Lock

It is an excellent idea to secure your cycle when parking using an approved cycle lock. Cycle locks generally come in three types: Cable, Chain & Armoured Locks, Shackle Locks, and Loop Locks (Immobilisers).

Cable, Chain & Armoured Locks

Cable locks have several advantages over other types of locks, the main advantage being their flexibility. They can come in various lengths and are flexible enough to be wound around one or more static objects, such as lamp posts or railings for added security. Cable locks normally consist of one or more strands of cable wound together, and the more expensive securer cables will consist of many braided strands woven together. The more strands there are, the harder the lock is to cut through and the more secure your cycle will be.

Chain locks tend to be a lot heavier than cable locks, and their strength depends on the type of steel they are made from. The heavier the steel the heavier and more unwieldy the chain will be, and don't forget you will have to carry this with you when you cycle. Chains are generally good at withstanding tensional forces, stretching, but can often be broken by torsional forces, twisting. Thieves normally achieve this torsional force by inserting two long levers into the gaps between separate links and moving the levers in opposite directions. Better quality chains will have consecutive links with much smaller gaps to prevent levers being inserted, and be of hardened steel.

Armoured Locks are essentially a cable lock with a sequence of articulated barrels which hide the wound or braided cable inside. The barrels are able to rotate if a thief attempts to saw through one, because they are separated from each other internally. This means a thief will have a hard time trying to saw or cut through one of these locks. Armoured locks tend to be heavier than normal cable locks, often similar in weight to chain locks, and they tend to only be available in shorter lengths which may restrict where you can securely attach the cable to.

Shackle Locks

Shackle Locks consist of a U-shaped round bar and a straight bar which houses the locking mechanism. Each end of the U bar secures into the straight bar to lock the cycle in place. They are usually made of hardened steel, which resists cutting to prevent cycle theft.

Shackle locks will either have single or a double mechanism. Single Mechanisms fix one end of the U into the bar, and the lock mechanism secures the other end. The key will operate the lock at one end of the bar. Double Mechanisms have a centrally located lock which secures both ends of the bar independently.

Better quality shackle locks normally of the double mechanism type and are harder to break or damage. Both mechanisms would need to be broken for the bar to be released. A quality shackle lock is one of the most secure locks you can use on your cycle, although they can be difficult to transport as they are solid and heavy. They are generally not very big, and as so you need to find something suitable to lock your bike to, e.g. railings. You will find yourself limited on the size of the objects you can secure your cycle to.

There is nothing to stop you using more than one type of lock together, suck as a shackle lock combined with a cable or armoured lock. This way you can pass the cable lock through the front wheel and around a wider range of fixed objects.

Loop Locks (Immobilisers)

Loop Locks loop around a rotating part of your bike, generally the wheels, to prevent it from being ridden away by thieves. One option is to simply wrap a chain or cable lock around the wheel and tyre which will prevent it from passing through the frame, bringing any opportunist thieves to a short, sharp stop. The disadvantage of this crude method is that you have to still have a separate chain or cable, and you also risk damage to your cycle.

Loop Locks which attach straight onto your bicycle's frame and are the most convenient type. Locking the cycle using one of these is simple, as you just pull the locking bar around and through the wheel to lock into the opposite side. If you are only going to be away from your bike for a few minutes this can be a great way of preventing a casual thief and a few cycles now come with these built in.

Possibly the best way to secure your cycle is to use a combination of different types of lock. Each lock requires different tools to break, so a cycle that has several different types will take more time to steal and therefore be less tempting to thieves, who normally want to be finished and leaving in under a minute.

Where to Leave Your Cycle

Where you leave your cycle can make a great deal of difference to preventing theft or damage. Just a couple of minutes extra thought when locking your cycle up is definitely worth it, whether you will be gone for a few minutes or overnight.

The best option is to secure your bicycle into official cycle racks, such as can often be found at train stations. These are designed to be secure and are often covered by CCTV camera's for extra peace of mind.

If there are no official cycle racks, make sure that you secure your cycle to a solid, immobile feature such as railings or a lamp post. Somewhere that is not going to cause an obstruction or block a footpath. Whatever you secure the cycle to, try to wrap your lock around as many different parts of the cycle and the object as possible. For example, if using a cable or chain lock, try to pass it through both wheels as well as different areas of the frame and the object you are attaching to. This will help to prevent your cycle being stolen.

Check to make sure that your cycle cannot simply be lifted off or over the object you have attached it to. For example, if you use a shackle lock to attach your cycle to a post, make sure that thieves are not able to simply lift the bike up off the post and make off with it.

Security Marking

Whilst not a direct deterrent to thieves, having your cycle marked by police is a good idea.

Security marking makes it easier to identify the cycle so that you can have it returned if it is recovered after being stolen. If the cycle is very clearly labelled as being security marked, then it can actually deter potential thieves, as they may find it a lot harder to sell the bicycle on afterwards. If you do get your cycle security tagged, be sure to mark it as such and register the code with your local police station.

We hope that these tips have been helpful. Remember, whatever security devices you use, there is still a chance that your cycle could be stolen. So don't forget to purchase Cycle Insurance as well!

Why not check out our Road Safety Tips and our Specialist Cycle Insurers?