If you’re a cyclist, you know that few things are as disheartening as leaving a great movie or delicious dinner and finding some or all of your bike missing. Protecting your bike isn’t always easy and just like a home robbery, bike theft feels like a personal violation.
But there’s some good news: In most cases, your homeowners or renters insurance policy will cover bike theft — even when it happens away from home. If your bike’s been stolen, file a police report (ALWAYS), then contact your insurance provider. After you pay your deductible, you’ll be covered for the remainder of your bike’s current market value.
Since the police and your insurance company will want to establish that you took preventive measures, get in the habit of locking up correctly. Here are a few tips for protecting your bike against theft.
Choosing your lock
Start with the highest-quality lock you can afford. U-shaped locks are easy to carry and come in a wide range of proven models — OnGuard and Kryptonite both make difficult-to-break locks with great warranties.
Always choose a lock that releases with a key, not a combination. Combinations aren’t easy to figure out, but their dials can be exploited by accomplished bike thieves.
Once you have your lock, complete the warranty or registration form. This way the manufacturer knows that you own it (and may even replace it if a thief breaks it). More important, the registration form serves as another piece of evidence that you took necessary precautions.
Using your lock
Use multiple locks, or locks and cables, to secure every part of the bike you can. The most expensive parts of your bike are the frame and the rear wheel. So if you put your lock around only 2 pieces, make it those.
The “cable and U-lock method” only requires a small lock, but it’s essential that you place the lock around the rear wheel within the confines of the frame’s rear triangle. (This prevents the 2 from being separated, even if a thief detaches your rear wheel.) It’s also a good idea to add a cable to this setup. Loop the cable through your front wheel and attach it to your lock. You can often get a small lock and cable as a set.
Don’t hold components in place with a “quick-release” (QR) lever. Seatpost clamps and axles often have QR elements, but your local bike shop can help you fix that.
Always lock up in well-lit areas, among other bikes if possible. The more your bike can blend in, the safer it is.
If you can’t lock to a proper bike rack, lock up to something that’s securely attached to the ground, and make sure would-be thieves can’t slip the lock over the top. Remember, thieves don’t have to ride your bike away, they just have to GET it away.
Utilizing your insurance
And if, in spite of your best efforts, some savvy thief manages to steal your wheels, your homeowners or renters insurance can help minimize the loss. If you have a policy, check to see if your bike’s covered. If you don’t have a policy, you can get a free renters or homeowners insurance quote from Esurance.