Think!

Youíre bike has just been stolen!  Whether you have $7,000 or $70,000 invested you never want to have that empty feeling.  We tend to spend money on accessories, performance products, or custom paint but very seldom is $20 or $30 on motorcycle security given a serious thought.  Do you think the little disc lock or fork lock is adequate?  Should you rely on a hardware store lock? Read onÖ.

Why donít we think about security? Before we think about motorcycle locks and motorcycle security we need to think about the negatives of owning a motorcycle.  We buy and ride them for a variety of reasons.  The open and free feeling is always one of the top reasons people cite.  This same openness and freedom is what increases the risk of loss.  Nobody wants to think about the negatives but we really should give it a little thought.

We have all seen the booths at the bike shows that are selling security products but usually glance at them then walk on past.  Boston Biker stopped at the TBLC (The Bikerís Lock Company) booth at the Bayside Expo Center to find out more about security.  Margie Foley, President of TBLC, took the time to explain trends in motorcycle thefts and what the motorcycle security industry is doing about them.  She also told us of a simple way to tell a quality locking system from those that are easily defeated.

Thieves are getting smarter and the security industry is constantly working to stay a step ahead of them.  Foley has been involved in motorcycle security for almost 25 years.  In 1978 she joined the Kryptonite company as they were introducing their initial motorcycle security products.  As a Vice-President of Kryptonite, Margie worked with law enforcement agencies, motorcycle manufacturers, and consumers around the world to better understand how to protect motorcycles and frustrate the thieves.  For five years, Margie was President of one of Kryptoniteís sister companies in Europe where she oversaw the development, marketing, and sale of products internationally.  Margie knows security.  Since founding TBLC, Margie has been working on the development of their own line of motorcycle security products.  They specialize in motorcycle security and through this focus are able to offer leading products directly to motorcyclists and through distributors to motorcycle retailers all over the world. 

Foley said that their quickest and easiest sales are to those that have had a bike stolen or know of a friendís bike that was recently stolen. 

Foley said that the trend has been to smaller and smaller locking systems.  In the 1970ís the large U-locks were popular and offered significant more security from hardware store chains and padlocks.  The U-locks have fallen out of favor for the smaller and more portable disc locks of today.  These locks have gotten as small and as good as then can be.  The better quality ones have hardened steel shackles, bodies, cylinders, and steel balls in the tumblers.  The less expensive ones are not hardened and are easily defeated.

Even disc locks that appear similar are very different in their construction.  The lower quality locks have similar powder coating that covers a die cast lock that is easily defeated with a common hand tool.  In contrast, the TBLC locks are made of hardened steel that thieves will need torches or die grinders to get them off.  Same price, very different levels of security.  You can tell the difference real easy, bring a magnet!  The magnet will be attracted to the higher quality steel locks but not the die cast ones.  The disc locks are getting better (and smaller) but they wonít prevent your bike from being picked up or dragged away.  It only takes one real strong guy or two average strength guys to pick up the front of a bike and roll it away.

Many people donít realize that one of the biggest risks is at large motorcycle events or while your bike is at home or work.  You would be amazed at the number of thefts at the large events yet very few people take the time to secure their bikes.  Our bikes are just as vulnerable at work and at home too.  If you donít want to carry a cable lock then you might want to think about buying one for work and one for home.  Those that are interested in stealing bikes can very easily follow you to work or home then make plans to steal the bike when it is most vulnerable.

The best way to protect your bike is to secure it to another bike or an immoveable object. This will prevent thieves from rolling the bike away or 4 guys from grabbing it and lifting it into a pickup truck.  Just like the disc locks there are all sorts of qualities and security levels of the cable and chain type systems.  Hardware store chains are easily cut with bolt cutters (isnít that how the hardware store cuts them to length for you?).  Many of the vinyl coated chains sold as motorcycle locks are still hardware store quality.  The stranded cable locks offer more cutting resistance but the loops can sometimes be pulled apart with little more than a strong arm and a quick yank.  Margie said that even she has been able to defeat some cables by giving them a quick yank.  The TBLC line of cables are made from high strength aircraft quality steel cable and then vinyl coated to protect the bikeís finish.  They also offer a line of armor-coated cables where the cable is clad in stainless steel armor and is then vinyl coated.    Some of the high strength cables (like TBLCís 7 foot Columbia Cable) can be coiled into an 8 inch diameter coil that easily fits into most saddlebags.

TBLC wants to know if any of their products fail.  Products can fail because someone has abused or tried to defeat the lock, if there is a new thievery method, or if the product wasnít produced correctly.  Margie said that when she does get an infrequent call or letter telling her that one of her products has failed she wants to get the lock back so that they can analyze the failure and incorporate the learning into their products.   Do you want extra keys or did you lose a key?  The TBLC key codes are not available to locksmiths or hardware centers.  The keys cannot be duplicated.  TBLC does offer a key replacement service.  Call them for the details.

Looking for a special gift for a special person?  Why not buy them some security for their bike and give them peace of mind?  

(Editor's note:   TBLC has gone out of business since we wrote this article.  There are a number of companies that make security products specific to motorcycles.)


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