LOCKING UP YOUR EBIKE

All bikes are of interest to thieves.  Because of their value, electric bikes are particularly attractive targets.  Given enough time, there is a way through any lock.  So, what do you do?

Here are a few things to think about:

Where do you keep your bike?

Your first line of defence is physical access.  Can you store your bike somewhere where people cannot get at it?  Overnight, perhaps you can store it in your home.  During the day, perhaps you have a secure room at work or school.

The key here is that the bike is in a locked space.  Garden sheds generally are not locked or are not particularly secure.

If you do not have somewhere secure, there may be a solution.  Many councils and local authorities are installing secure bike storage on the street.  For example, Bikehangar makes a Cyclehoop system that can house six bikes in half the space of a car parking bay.

Google:  “request bike storage from” with the name of your local council or authority.  If there is no existing provision, write to the Transport Department at your local council or authority.

How do you secure your bike?

Remember that roughly 2/3rd of bike thefts reported are from homes and associated outbuildings and sheds.  So, even if your bike is a locked space, you may consider having additional security.

Also, if your bike is stored in a communal space overnight or perhaps locked up outside while you nip into a shop, then you will need bicycle locks.  With bike locks there are 3 main considerations:

  1. Type of lock;

  2. Its security rating; and

  3. How you use it

Given the value of an electric bike, we would strongly recommend only considering Diamond or Gold ratings from Sold Secure (or an ART rating of 4/5 or better).

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What lock choices do I have?

Cable Locks
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Cable locks are your first option.  Unfortunately the vast majority of these are not sufficiently secure. As mentioned above, given the value of your electric bike, you should not use a lock rated less than Gold, and even then be aware that any lock can be defeated given enough time and the right tools.

 

With that said, there is one very interesting, Gold-rated lock in the category:  Litelok.

Litelok is a cool bit of kit.  It uses multiple innovative, lightweight materials to defeat all but the most sophisticated of bike thieves.  And the lock can be worn as a belt while cycling.

Chain Locks
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Chain locks are a similar in concept to cable locks except that (other than Litelok) they are of much more serious construction.  There are a range of products and brands rated Gold or better.  The Kryptonite New York range is a good option.

The lock shown above has a 170 cm chain, a 14 mm shackle, and weighs 5.96 kg.  There are lighter an shorter (and thus lighter) versions -- a 100 cm chain weighing 3.92 kg, and a 75 cm chain weighting 3.15 kg.

The trade off between Litelok and a chain lock comes down to flexibility vs weight.  Roughly speaking, a chain lock weighs twice as much as Litelok for a given length/ circumference (for example, the 103.5 cm Litelok weighs 1.46kg); however, a chain will be cheaper and easier to weave in and out.  This may be relevant depending on which parts of your bike you are trying to secure.  See the How do I lock up my ebike? section below.

As an aside, although a Litelok can be worn as a belt, a chain lock can be worn as a bandolier.  So, swings and round abouts.

U-Locks / D-Locks

Your third option is a D Lock (sometimes called a U-Lock).  Similar to chains, there are a good number of Gold or better rated versions.  Kryptoniite make the lock shown above.  It weighs 2.76 kg and encloses 68 cm (26.1 cm long x 10.3 cm wide).

 

The issue with D Locks is that they are a fixed shape and size, and many electric bikes have special requirements.

If the battery on your ebike is in the downtube, then the downtube may be thicker, and the standard 10 cm between the two parallel bar may simply not be enough.  If you have a mid-drive motor, the gap between the frame and the rear wheel may be larger.  Again, the lock simply may not fit.  If you have a front hub motor, then you will need to explicitly lock both the front and rear wheels.

Folding Locks
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The final option is a folding lock.  These have a hardened steel construction similar to D locks, have much of the flexibility of chain, but are lighter weight.  Unfortunately Sold Secure only rates three folding locks as Gold or above, and these are difficult to find in the UK.

As a rough guide, folding locks are lighter than chain.  Kryptonite has 6 part folding lock, that encloses 100 cm and weighs 1.2 kg.  Unfortunately this lock is rated on Silver

Other Options

Some bike manufacturers incorporate security into the design of their electric bicycleVanMoof and Yerka are two examples.  Both will replace your bike for free if it is stolen.  (Terms and conditions apply.)

Unfortunately, to date ebike manufacturers that make security their highest priority, do not end up as your first choice otherwise.

Another interesting development is Skunk Lock.  Skunk Lock is a standard D-Lock the releases a foul smelling gas when cut.  Unfortunately Skunk Lock have not yet had their locks rated by Sold Secure and therefore we cannot recommend it.

How do I lock up my ebike?

First, you want to lock your bike to a solid object that cannot be lifted up and cannot be cut.  If you are locking your bike to a bike rack that is not fixed into the ground, thieves could steal the entire rack, removing your bike later.  If you are locking to a small tree, thieves could cut the tree down to take your bike.

Second, so as to discourage the most brazen of thefts (e.g. carting off an entire bike rack of bikes), lock up your bike in a well lit area with high foot traffic.

Third, lock the frame to the solid object.  If you can capture your rear wheel in the lock at the same time, do so.  (This is the issue with U-locks.  It can be difficult to capture the bike rack, the frame, and the rear wheel all at the same time.)  Try to get a snug fit so that thieves cannot get a crowbar into gaps.  If you have a rear hub motor, consider the fact that thieves could cut the wheel and tyre.  Although a rather brazen attack, the electric motor may be worth it.  If you have a mid-drive motor, be aware that the gap between the frame and the rear wheel is likely to be wider than normal.

If you have a front hub motor, then you definitely need to lock the front wheel as well (even though front hub wheels do not come with quick releases).  In which case, likely you will need two locks.  Ideally you will be able to lock the front wheel directly to a solid object, but if this is not possible, then locking it to the frame is a good start.  Keep in mind that generally front wheels are easier to remove than rear wheels and so front hub motors are particularly vulnerable.

However you lock up your bike, ideally no part of the lock is resting on the ground, and ideally any key holes are facing down so that rain (and dirt) does not get into them.

Fourth, take away with you any removable accessories -- e.g. the seat, the battery, the display.  Even if your battery is secured with a key lock, you should not consider these locks to be rated Gold or above.  The battery unit itself is valuable and portable and thus a high value target.