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It’s official, you’re no longer trapped in a car for a commute that seems to drag on forever, and you’re getting more built-in exercise. What could be better? The only thing you have to figure out now is how to secure your electric bike while you’re working.
How do you secure an electric bike? Simultaneously utilize a high-quality primary and secondary lock. Remove bike parts such as the battery or hub motor and take it with you. Or, lock detachable parts to the bike in such a way that it’s difficult to remove without destroying the frame. Also for extra safety use a GPS tracker and app as a backup.
Electric bikes, as with regular bikes, are stolen as a whole bike or parts are removed. There are several ways you can make this harder for thieves, and most are practical things you can do right now. In this article, we will show you how to protect your transportation investment.
How Do You Secure an Electric Bike?
Did you know there is a rule of thumb when buying a bike lock? First of all, they’re expensive, so that’s your first hint. But apparently, other cycling enthusiasts say that you should be willing to spend at least 10% of your bike value on locks to keep it from getting stolen.
It makes sense, though, because after spending so much on a bike of your choosing, the last thing you want is to have it stolen on the very first day. Hence, if your bike cost $1,000, plan on spending at least $100 or more to protect it. It’s easier than coughing up another grand for a new bike.
The 5 Most Common Type of Locks for Electric Bikes
Having just one locking device isn’t enough. Anything that a bike thief can run off with should be locked down – whatever it takes to make them think twice about your bike.
Ideally, you should have a secure lock and a supplemental one attached to keep would-be thieves at bay.
Here are the five most common locks for electric bikes.
1. Chain Locks
The strength of the chain and the locking device should be equal. The best U-locks come with two separate pieces (lock and chain) and are made of quality steel. Some come with a canvas cover to protect from scratching your bike.
- Look for chains that are long enough to snake through your bike and lock several parts at once while still have room to wrap around a pole or tree.
- The thicker the chain, the better resistance it offers against a thief with an angle grinder.
You can even buy a bare basic chain from the hardware store, and that can show any potential thieves that you’re serious about protecting your bike, but other experts say those are still easy to cut through. However, if you have a U-lock and a wheel lock on top of a chain lock, the message will be loud and clear.
This one is probably one of the most recognizable locks. The U-lock is easy to lock, sturdy, and the shape makes it harder to break with a pipe. The best way to use one is to position it in such a way that even less room is left inside the U shape. This makes it harder for a thief to leverage any makeshift tool to break it.
The U-lock will not fit around some poles or trees. Hence, adding a chain lock will enable you to anchor it to more stationary objects such as pillars.
Don’t settle for a cheap U-lock either. Instead, look for a heavy-duty one that’s worthy of protecting your mode of transport. And again, keep the rule of thumb in mind when pricing locks. Here’s an article that lays out different options for u-lock bike mounts for carrying a U-lock on your eBike.
3. Wheel Locks
Also known as Amsterdam locks, this one does as it says, locks the wheel. The most common way to use it is to secure the rear wheel rim and tire, so it doesn’t spin.
A thief can still steal your bike, and it’s a smaller deterrent, but the difference between walking away with it versus speeding off might work in low-crime areas.
One way around it is, again, to use another locking mechanism in addition to this one. The wheel lock should be used as a secondary device and not as the main lock.
4. Disk Brake Locks
Disk brake locks should be considered the back-up to the back-up. This lock only works if you have disk brakes. It has a pin that is placed through the cooling hole in the disk of your E-bike.
The downside is that someone can remove the wheel and take off with it. However, and you know what’s coming by now – if you have a primary lock, it will fortify your bike further.
Look for a disk brake that comes with a motion alarm (Abus Bordo Alarm 6000a on Amazon). It will make any thief think twice.
5. Cable E-Bike Locks
The standard cable lock is easily cut with pliers or bolt cutters, so they are not the best option, but it can be a backup lock. They are still useful because it’ll be another layer of tampering to get to your bike.
Say, for example, you use a chain lock, and also wrap the cable lock through your bike, and on top of that have a U-lock or a disk brake lock with motion alarm, all a thief sees is time – which is something he may not have if you park in a high-traffic area.
The advantage of cable locks is that they’re not as bulky or cumbersome as a U-lock. But when you’re talking about securing your transport, it is worth it. They are also not as expensive as more high-end locking mechanisms, either.
What to Look for When Choosing a Lock
Top Rated, Tested and Approved
As with most products on the market, not all are created equal, so you should look for bike locks with maximum security ratings. This means that they have withstood grueling testing under different circumstances.
The Shape of E-Bikes
The wider size of E-bikes requires a locking mechanism that will fit around the circumference of the bike and what you’re attaching it to. Be sure to check the measurements of your ride and the security device.
Weight of Locks
Since you’ll be carrying your lock wherever you go, the most reliable locks may not always work if they’re too heavy to lug around. There are wearable chain locks (Hiplock Gold on Amazon) and bike-mounted locks on the market that may be worth looking into, but look out for inferior models.
Using Different Locks
You can also vary how and when you use different types of locks. If you’re running a short errand and wouldn’t be more than 10-15 minutes, you can use a lightweight, medium-security lock, but know that it’s a short-term solution and not going to provide complete security.
I’d be worried about leaving an electric bike out overnight when thieves can use heavy duty tools to take out lightweight locks.
Even if you’re parking in a garage at work with cameras and security, you still want to use a sturdy and robust bike lock because it will be parked for extended periods.
The Top E-Bike Lock Brands
Here are the best bike locks for 2019. There should be no surprise that Kryptonite products are at the top of the list once again, but there are also other brands on the market that may be more suited to your budget.
The following products have been stressed tested with some of the most hardened tools, and by experts in the field, so they are considered the top-of-the-line by many.
It has a dual-locking shackle, a 4-foot cable, and one-year free anti-theft protection. It will take longer for a bolt cutter to cut through this loop cable. There is also less room to pry it open with a jack.
The lock is an 18mm dual-locking shackle that weighs 4.5 pounds. It can withstand a grind and takes four times longer than average to cut through.
It’s long enough to fit on most bikes, but check that it can fit on your E-bike (3.25” x 6”). Rated 10 out of 10, this U-Lock has three stainless steel keys, a sliding dust cover, and a free-year of anti-theft coverage.
The chain is a tough 10-pound beast that’s 39-inches long and is great for electric bikes. There are other tougher chain locks, but for the price, this will do the job. The chain is also connected to a 15mm disc lock, has a dual-locking shackle, and a disc-detainer device.
It’s light, small, and flexible, but with enough time, this device can be breached more quickly than the Kryptonite version. Because it’s light and small it’s best suited for low crime areas, because it won’t be able to withstand heavy duty tools trying to take it off. With 5mm steel bars, it has a coating around the bars and a silicone cover to protect your bike.
This lock has a double-locking, hardened shackle, but can still be cut through faster than a Kryptonite. Maybe that’s why it rated Solid Secure Silver by Hiplok’s standards (the Gold is the highest).
Again, this can be a secondary lock that is easy to carry and can fit on a belt, bag strap, or in your pocket. Just don’t misplace it and beware of anyone bumping into you to lift it.
This Wi-Fi enabled lock is keyless and has a motion sensor. It is a 9mm hardened steel shackle lock with an auto-unlock radius of 6 ft. You can also use a 4-digit phoneless access code through the app. However, without available Wi-Fi, you’ll need to pay for cell service or Bluetooth capabilities.
7 Additional Ways to Make Your E-Bike More Theft Resistant
Along with innovation comes opportunists that are looking to make a profit. Such is the faith of electric bikes. It’s a high-value target that can be easily stolen with the right tools and enough time. Here are a few other tips for keeping your E-bike secure and a little more theft-resistant.
1. Look for the Best Places to Park Your Bike
The best place to park your ride is in a very public, high-traffic, well-populated, and well-lit area (okay, so that’s a tad bit overkill, but you get the idea). If you have 2-3 reliable locks on it, a thief will more likely move on. Some experts believe that people may still look the other way due to fear of confrontation with a thief, but every avenue of deterrent counts.
You already know this: stay away from shady neighborhoods, and any side alley. A busy street might draw the attention of thieves, but it’s better than an isolated area. Look for stable places to anchor it, such as a large tree, a street sign, or a concrete pillar, and make sure your E-bike can’t be lifted off, like a traditional parking meter, for example.
Don’t leave your bike out at night either because darkness and privacy are hidden tools of a thief, no pun intended. Even if there’s a bike rack, a thief can cut through it and slip the locked bike off the rack. Both of the bicycles that I have had stolen from me were taken at outside at night. Word of warning!
2. Remove Parts and Accessories
The battery and other parts of an electric bike can be stolen, and thieves may destroy the frame to salvage valuable parts.
Remove the battery because even bikes with factory locking mechanisms aren’t enough of a disincentive. Also, though most e-bikes require a key to remove it, thieves have been known to still tamper with it, and if it’s broken, it’s not useful to you or them.
Don’t forget about the wheel, lights, displays, monitors, and the seat, which, if they’re quick-releasable components, you should secure. As for helmets, you can run a bike lock through the vents.
It helps if you had a plan before you leave home on how to carry items while you ride, and when you park your bike. Some locks also come with an attachment that allows you to carry it on the frame.
3. Lock Your Bike Parts to Your Bike
If you must leave the battery, your best option is to lock that and other valuable parts of your bike to the bike itself.
Run the lock through the battery’s handle and add a chain that passes over the battery and locks the frame to it. The same thing with the wheel and hub motor, you can run the lock through it and the frame. Abus has locking systems to secure removable parts.
You want to lock it in such a way that the thief has to damage the bike to get at parts. For example, make sure the lock or locks pass through the frame and at least one wheel and if locks overlap, even better.
4. Change Your E-Bike Routine
If you park in the same place every day, using the same routes, locks, and routines, you become predictable, and thieves can study your patterns, the bike, and the best ways to steal it. This is the targeted kind of theft.
If you don’t change things up, thieves will come prepared. Sometimes, they’ll wait weeks and months to plot a well-throughout plan. If you lock your bike to a sign, for example, they can cut the sign and lift the bike.
5. GPS Tracking and Serial Numbers for E-Bikes
Recording your electric bike’s serial number can also protect your property. The number can then be used to aid police in tracking it down and hopefully recovering it.
GPS tracking adds another layer of security, and if you have a program that’s accessible on a smartphone, it will show you where your bike is. Even if your E-bike doesn’t have the function, you can purchase tracking accessories.
There are a few developing technologies that include:
- BikeTrak: This is a GPS that’s paired with a mobile app to help with detection and activity tracking.
- Boomerang Cyclotrac: The device is placed on your bike and if it’s tampered with an audio alert sounds. If the thief takes off with the bike, you’ll receive a notification on your smartphone.
6. Purchase E-Bike Insurance
When all else fails, homeowners’ or renter’s insurance can help you cover the cost of theft, damage, and other liability issues. It may not protect it from theft, but you may not have to pay full price when purchasing a new one.
7. How to Make Your E-Bike Safe at Home
The best thing you can do is to park it inside your home. Even if you leave it in the garage, thieves can break-in, and a darkened garage allows them ample time to disarm your bike. If you do leave it in the garage or shed, camouflage it, and utilize the two-lock method.
Registering Your Electric Bike
Registering your bike is a great step to take. In the event of a theft, you’ll have more information to provide the police and/or your insurance company.
The top four organizations are:
- National Bike Registry: they partner with the 529 garage (which has an app to upload photos and create profiles), and also works with law enforcement.
- Bike Shepard: You receive a pulse ID tag, certification of registration, and join a global bike database for stolen bikes.
- Stolen Bicycle Registry: a non-profit site that has tips on what to do if your bike is stolen.
- Bike Registry: has a forum of over 89,000 bike owners posting information and alerts.
Is Your Cable Lock Good Enough to Protect Your E-bike?
If your lock says it’s gold tested, your bike must be safe, right? While gold-rated locks are the highest security rating for a lock, there is more to keeping your bike safe. Part of looking for the best locks for your bikes includes knowing what thieves are using to steal it from you.
The more you know about what they use and how fast it works, the better you’re able to choose primary and supplement locks for the environment where you’ll be parking your ride.
- Lock picks: These are easiest to carry and to conceal. A skilled thief can take seconds to pick a cheap lock, and before you know it, your expensive E-bike is gone.
- Cable cutters: Another easily concealed tool, this will cut through any simple braided steel, cable lock or padlock. It takes even less time than a lock pick.
- Bolt cutters: There are some small ones as short as 18-inches. It’s not as effective as the cable cutters because they wouldn’t necessarily cut through every lock, but it’s still quite useful.
- Hacksaw: This will work through most chains (from hardware stores), and cheap cable and U-locks in no time. It’s also easy to conceal but may be slower to cut through a high-grade lock or cable.
- Angle grinder: It’s noisy and may draw attention, but if you’re parked in a low-traffic area, it wouldn’t be as noticeable. These also come in cordless models, and with enough time, skill, and concealment, a bike-jacker will cut through most standard locks.
I hope this article gives you the right insight and information so that you’re prepared to keep your eBike safe.
If (God forbid) your beloved electric bike has been stolen you should read here for tips on how to recover it.