While it’s true that eMTBs are becoming popular targets for thieves, there are many ways to protect your two-wheeled sweetheart. But how do you secure your bike properly and what should you take into account when choosing your new bike lock and/or theft insurance? We met with the security experts from ABUS and asked them to give us a few helpful tips on the matter.
As with most things in life, it’s the small stuff that makes a big difference. And this is all the more true when we talk about bike-theft prevention. When do insurance companies actually pay out a claim? And, most importantly, when don’t they? One of our mates recently had a six-year-old mountain bike stolen from his garage – just gone! After reporting the theft to the police, our friend was in for a nasty surprise. His insurance refused to settle the claim because the garage door had been closed but not locked. Had the garage been locked and the bike secured with an additional lock, his home and contents insurance would have covered the theft and the insurance company would have settled the claim.
Many bike thefts, much too low clearance rates
Over the past few years the number of stolen bicycles in Germany has hovered around 300,000 per year. Depressingly, the number of bikes recovered or tracked down barely touches 10%! And while you might not need a maths degree to figure out the numbers, we still struggle to make sense of what they actually mean: nine out of ten stolen bikes are gone forever and in most cases, the rightful owner won’t even get any compensation for his loss.
What should I do in case of theft?
Before making an insurance claim, you should make sure to follow these simple steps:
- Report the theft to the police. If possible, attach some pictures and a detailed description of your bike as well as a frame number or a bike pass.
- Include the original invoice/sales-contract.
- If possible, provide a receipt or invoice for your lock to prove your bike was properly secured. You can also include a picture of the cracked lock, if the thieves were stupid enough to leave it behind.
Which insurance policy covers which cases?
This usually covers your bike against theft from a locked storeroom, garage, cellar or apartment. Simply add bicycle cover to your existing contents insurance to get comprehensive cover for your bike, whether it gets stolen from a bike rack outside your home or while travelling. However, you’ll always have to ensure that your bike is secured with a lock! Depending on the type of policy, your bike may be insured at replacement value, whether it’s a € 200 clunker or € 10K top-spec beauty.
Special bicycle insurance:
Particularly for expensive eMTBs, we recommend taking out comprehensive bike insurance. This is the only way to cover your bike against theft, even when it’s not sleeping in your house, i.e. in an open garage, at the back of your camper-van or attached to a camping awning. Even in these cases, the bike must always be secured with a lock.
If the bike isn’t stored inside a locked room, a bike lock is a mandatory requirement for any bike theft insurance. Make sure to read the terms and conditions of your insurance policy to find out exactly what’s covered and what’s not.
Safety tips: What can you do to prevent your bike from being stolen?
At home: You should always lock your ebike, even if you keep it in your own garage or basement. Another helpful tip: remove the battery and display or just put your bike in the bedroom.
Beer gardens and bars: Find a spot where you can keep an eye on your ebike at all times.
In town: Always leave your bike in busy places and never in a quiet or dark alley.
At work: If you cycle to work, ask the facilities management if you can store (and perhaps charge) your ebike in a secure room while you’re working. Many workplaces already provide safe bike storage solutions and even charging stations. We still recommend locking your bike even if it’s stored in a safe storeroom.
Two is better than one: two locks are h4fer than one. If you double-lock your bike, you’ll give potential thieves twice as much work, which means they’ll take twice as long to crack your bike.
A solid base: Lock your bike onto a solid railing or long lamppost and make sure these are well anchored to the ground. Always check if the item you’re attaching your bike to is suitable for this purpose. Wire fences, for example, can be cut open within seconds. It’s a good idea to lock several bikes into a large, unwieldy cluster.
Through the frame: You should always lock the main frame to a fixed object. A thief will quickly undo and remove the front or back wheel and run off with the rest of the bike! The remaining 10% of it won’t get you far!
- Locking your bike to short posts
- Not securing the frame of your bike
- Not turning the dials to lock a combination lock after closing it
- Leaving the key in the lock
- Skimping on locks
Which lock should I use?
Every lock can be broken. It’s just a matter of how long it takes. That’s why it’s important to use a lock with a high security rating, which will slow down the thief’s work. While we all know that a light eMTB is more agile, you should never try to save weight on your lock! Here, one simple rule applies: the heavier the lock, the higher its safety level. Many tests have shown that D-locks, chain locks and folding locks are your safest choice.
Security level: the chunkier and heavier the lock, the higher its security.
- folding locks are flexible, compact and can be attached directly onto the bike frame (weight: approx. 400 - 1,500 g).
Security level: the chunkier and heavier the lock is, the higher its security.
- D-locks are made of solid steel and don’t have any visible moving parts outside the locking mechanism. The system offers excellent safety against the most dedicated of thieves.
- The bulky shape makes it more difficult to carry around and secure.
Security level: very high
- Combined with a loud 100 dB alarm, the smart D-Lock offers maximum security. Your smartphone serves as the key.
- expensive, heavy (weight: approx. 1,800 g)
Security level: very high (if connected to a fixed object)
- Chain locks are flexible and therefore more comfortable to carry around. They also give you more options when it comes to attaching your bike to a fixed object.
- heavy (e.g. 2,150 g at 110 cm length)
A few handy tips from Torsten Mendel
(Marketing/PR Manager Mobile Security at ABUS)
Torsten Mendel regularly uses his bikes, preferably his road bike, to get around town. To protect them against thieves, the ABUS PR Manager relies on a folding lock with the highest safety rating, which he uses to attach his bikes to a fixed, anchored object. If you can be bothered to carry around two locks, always try to combine two different types. Why? Because thieves tend to focus on just one type of lock. Torsten uses only one lock but that’s mainly because high-quality locks can weigh between 1 and 2 kg. However, the lock he uses has the highest security rating which in his opinion is still the most important selection criteria and strongest deterrent to thieves. Locks from quality brands like ABUS combine high quality materials with a high security design, helping to put off thieves before they even start. On average, bike thieves will give up cracking a lock after three minutes and move on to an easier target. It will be very tough to crack a lock of the highest security rating in that time.
According to Torsten Mendel, the next step in anti-theft safety is the smart lock which allows you to operate the locking mechanism via App, Bluetooth or NFC. Models like the folding lock with alarm function trigger an alarm as soon as the thief touches or moves the lock. ABUS also offers a Single-Key-System for eBikes, which allows you to use one universal key for the battery, the frame lock and the additional lock.
Here are two new models from ABUS’ portfolio:
ABUS 770A SmartX™ D-Lock
The ABUS 770A SmartX™ combines the advantages of a conventional D-lock with the innovative features of a smart lock. The system relies on sturdy materials and no additional moving parts outside the locking mechanism. The robust system is topped off by a loud 100 dB alarm designed to deter thieves.
- SmartX™ locking system with Bluetooth functionality: the high-quality keyless locking system allows for user-friendly operation.
- Alarm function: min. 100 dB for 15 seconds, then automatic rearming
- 3D position detection: detects vibrations and small movements to trigger the alarm
- Intelligent alarm: the lock only emits a short warning tone in the event of small and short shocks
- USB-C connection
- App connectivity
- Last parking location
- No GPS functionality. Lock and bicycle cannot be tracked
ABUS ABUS CityChain™ 1010 chain lock
The ABUS CityChain™ 1010 chain lock is particularly well suited to urban use, since the long chain (110 cm) allows you to attach your bike to larger fixed objects (such as lampposts). If you already own an eBike with an ABUS battery lock, you can order a separate chain lock and get your key cut from the same Code Card. That way you will only have to carry one key!
- 9 mm thick hexagonal chain with textile cover to protect your frame
- The chain, housing and supporting parts of the locking mechanism are made of specially hardened steel
- ABUS Plus cylinder for extra protection against tampering i.e. lock picking
- Automatic keyhole hood to protect the internals from dirt and corrosion
- The long chain makes it easy to attach your bike to fixed objects
For more info head to: abus.com
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Words: Manne Schmitt Photos: Robin Schmitt