Birmingham Cyclist

Cycling in and around Birmingham England

Thanks to a remarkably positive experience with Co-op insurance, my replacement bike for my stolen Dr Dew is on order. I just wondered if people have any experience of ways of thief-proofing bikes. I'd always assumed a decent d-lock and a Bike Register sticker was enough for a fairly scruffy mid-range bicycle but I've learned that's not true :-(

As well as a good lock, and just leaving it outside buildings much less, I've been considering:

a) getting my brand new, beautiful shiny bicycle frame and painting it to look as distinctive, and perhaps scruffy, as possible. It'll hurt, but less than getting it stolen. But would it make any difference?

b) getting it microchipped. The adverts sound good, but anyone got experience in practice or recommended chippers?

Any further suggestions?

Sorry if this is already a much-trodden topic - I looked back through a bit before posting, but feel free to direct me to older threads if it was.


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I've seen bike frames covered in black duck tape which presumably deters thieves if it doesn't stand out as a decent make. I assume it is easily reversible, perhaps test on the underside first?

Thanks LS - that's a good alternative to painting.. although perhaps its reversibility means also the thief can reverse it....

Sadly bike theft is never going to be entirely preventable. While it may be possible to make a frame look a mess with duct tape or paint, the presence of nice components remains. If someone really wants to steal a bike they will do so - nothing is going to stop someone with an angle grinder or a bottle jack. They could also cut through whatever the bike is attached to or cut the frame and sell the components. I suppose the best strategy is a highly rated D lock in as secure a location as possible. I doubt that microchips do much good as they are reliant on the police recovering an intact bicycle and scanning it. I don't think bike theft comes very far up the police list of priorities. 

I like the last tip on this:

"Or ride a bike that isn't worth stealing. Who are you? Lance Armstrong? You can get a brand new bicycle for £75. The thieves would rather have the lock."

That's Plan C, if second bike gets stolen....

And some more tips on giving yourself an ugly bike.


A D-lock *and* a cable lock, so the thief needs two different kinds of tools.

Lock it next to something more expensive looking and/or easier to steal.

Lock it somewhere else where theft is less likely.

Use a folding bike and take it inside with you.

A bike that a thief is unlikely to be able to ride properly (fixed, recumbent, unicycle, bike with pedals or wheel removed) might not get very far.

Get the bus. :(

Disguising an expensive bike will probably help some of the time, but if it's worth nicking to strip for parts or to joyride, then it doesn't matter what the frame is.

Anything that aids recovery of the bike after it's stolen is a gamble.  I'd rather put the money into better locks that prevent it being stolen in the first place.  There may be some argument for GPS tracking devices.  That said, when I've had reason to remove the bottom bracket from my bikes, I've taped a note with my name and address on it around the BB cartridge before replacing it.  Costs nothing, and might be helpful to prove ownership if it crops up on eBay or wherever after being stolen.

I'm fortunate enough that I've never had a bike stolen.  The worst I've had is random people fiddling with my recumbent (presumably because it's weird and interesting).  But I'm not generally in the habit of locking bikes up in regular places or for prolonged periods (other than on campsites when touring), which probably helps more than any security method above.

To convert it into a 'shopping bike' I had my Boardman powder coated matt black and I've painted over the logos on the components. A real faff because the bike has to be dismantled and rebuilt. It now looks undistinguished (but maybe rather cool!) Hasn't been nicked yet (D lock and cable lock), but there are plenty of barstewards out there....

Just an additional 2p'th: I have been slightly paranoid about "very good locks" ever since I had to buy a very good hacksaw blade and cut through my own D-lock on my last day at one workplace, when the lock broke.  I still use D-locks but stop short of things like cables with internal rollers to inhibit cutting.  If possible I tend to park near nicer bikes :-)  I had my bike barcoded by the police when they offered it (outside New Street station; I think they are there reasonably frequently) but hope never to have to test the service.

I have on occasions removed the saddle, leaving the stem in place.   The expression on the faces of people who notice is worth watching for, and gives you an idea of what will be going through the mind of a potential thief.

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