Preventing Bike Theft

u-lock on an eBike
eBikes are an increasingly attractive target for theft. Dive into our comprehensive guide to ensure your ride stays where it belongs.
u-lock on an eBike
Written by Tony Donaldson
Pro E-Bike Reviewer

We see reports daily about stolen bikes, and only the lucky few seem to get their bikes back when it happens. Indeed, around two million bikes were stolen in North America in 2019, and one is stolen every 30 seconds, according to insight from Project 529.

How To Keep Your E-Bike Safe

With those worrying statistics in mind, it’s crucial to do everything you can to keep your prized possession safe at all times. Here are a few practical tips to ensure you don’t become a victim of bike theft.

Keep An Eye On Your Bike

The most obvious tip is to monitor your bike in public places. How often have you heard the lament, “I just left it for a few minutes,” from someone running for a quick cup of coffee? If you’re at a restaurant or coffee shop, make sure where you have a visual line of sight of your bike. But if you do have to leave it somewhere in public, make sure you lock it to something secure. Your bike won’t be such an easy target in a sea of other bikes.

Store Your E-Bike Inside

Keep your bike inside and designate an area of your home and office to store it where possible. This keeps the e-bike out of the elements and away from the prying hands of would-be thieves. If you have a garage that no one can access, that also works, but we’d recommend using some form of lock, just in case. Sadly, we’ve had friends have their bikes stolen after thieves tracked down where they lived using the Strava ride app.

lock on an eBike
This is properly done. A heavy steel chain through the frame and front wheel. Notice the quick-release front axle? Those make for tool-free easy pickings for thieves.

Invest In A Good Lock

You’ve spent plenty on your bike, so you must spend dish out on a good lock to protect that investment. A good lock is heavy and will require significant effort to break. Cable locks are some of the easiest to thwart with bolt cutters or an angle grinder.

lock on a bike
Not sure what this person thinks they’re anchored to. The lock is around the frame and through the wheel but not locked to the post.

We like U-locks or beefy folding locks as a first line of defense. Get a U-lock long enough to go through your rear wheel and frame with enough room to reach the bike rack or pole you’re locking it to. Though more expensive, we prefer the alarmed locks that offer a warning beep when jostled, then a wailing siren up to 120 decibels. No thief will want that attention while trying to break your bike free.
U-lock for bikes

Remember that some parts of your bike are easier to steal than others. A quick-release seatpost clamp or front wheel is not only easy for you to adjust but also easy for a thief to walk off with. If you’re buying a rack to carry bikes on your vehicle, consider getting a hitch-mount rack with built-in bike locks. We often use these with additional locks to make them less attractive. Even using your U-lock to lock two bikes together adds a level of deterrence.

Folding lock for bike
Folding locks like these take up little room in a backpack but expand to cover a wheel and the frame. This one from Abus has an alarm and will go off just by being jostled enough.

Consider Using A Tracker

There are ways to track e-bikes; some have connected systems built into the hardware. For less-connected bikes, there are other options. Though Tile and Apple AirTags can make tracking possible, they work on Bluetooth connectivity and rely on others with the app to pass close enough to register the device. Cellular-connected devices offer full coverage in most places and even notify you if your bike has been bumped.

However, no matter how careful you are, any bike can be stolen. This is why a good lock and your vigilance go a long way in preventing bike theft. Put simply, the harder you make it to steal your bike, the less likely it’ll get stolen.

Get more insight on bolstering your e-bike with our guide to the best e-bike accessories, and read about how to choose an electric bike.


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About Our Editorial Team

Tony Donaldson
Written by Tony Donaldson
Pro E-Bike Reviewer
Tony Donaldson is a professional photographer, writer, and content producer. He’s lived his whole life on two wheels, from BMX racing and freestyle to mountain bikes and motorcycles.

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