The demand and popularity of electric bikes have exploded over the recent decade, with vast improvements in design, material use and technology. However, this also gives them a higher monetary value and a greater attraction to thieves.
In the UK alone, over 376,000 bicycles are stolen every year, or approximately 1 every 90 seconds. Looking at the USA, this figure increases to a shocking 2 million bike thefts per year, around 1 every 30 seconds.
This is quite a distressing figure, especially when the majority of these crimes occur within big cities, where many riders commute to and from. To best help our readers avoid these threats, we will now go over our top tips and recommendations to protect your eBike from theft at all times:
Basic Tips for Avoiding eBike Theft
We’ll cover these in more detail later in the article—but here’s a quick list of things you can do to make your eBike safer:
- Use technological aids such as GPS trackers
- Use good locks in strategic locations
- Remove specific components
- Keep an unpredictable routine
- Park carefully
- Camouflage your ebike
- Get insurance
Minimising the Risk of eBike Theft
Parking Your eBike
The most important aspect of keeping your eBike safe is to minimise risk at every opportunity. This includes a number of factors, all working together to best deter theft. Starting off, we recommend parking in well-lit, populated areas.
While parking your bike in such visible spots may seem counterintuitive to some, secluded areas are at most risk of shady characters snooping around. By leaving your eBike in a busy or crowded area, the majority of thieves will not be brave or brazen enough to attempt a crime in front of so many witnesses.
Of course, this is somewhat of a double-edged sword, as putting your eBike near high-pedestrian areas also increases the likelihood that a thief sees it. Furthermore, according to ABCnews, very few pedestrians even help in the event of witnessing a theft. As such, the choice is up to you for this one.
Personally, we do prefer parking in populated areas with high foot traffic. Just make sure that no matter what, you park in an area with good visibility, preferably near or under a streetlight.
Bring Your eBike Inside (If You Can)
We can’t always avoid riding through the wrong parts of town; perhaps your favourite restaurant or store is there. For quick stops like this, we recommend bringing your eBike inside with you if possible.
Quite a few establishments allow riders to bring or store their eBikes within the building, greatly reducing the chance of theft. Despite this, we still recommend locking the wheel to the frame with a bike lock, stopping thieves from easily wheeling it out.
Be Unpredictable with Your eBike
Here’s another factor that’s often overlooked: predictability. If you have a consistent routine, it’s easier to scope out your vulnerabilities during your day.
This might feel odd, as electric bikes become crucial components of our daily routine, especially for commuters. But by sticking to a consistent routine, more committed thieves can eventually figure out the best angle of attack.This could include parking in the same place at the same time every day, or using one type of lock in the same spot.
However, by avoiding clear routines and switching up your tactics, you leave thieves guessing and unable to take any calculated risks. Parking next to other bikes is a good example, since it hides your bike in plain sight while thieves are distracted by so many other bikes.
Use Bike Locks on Your eBike
Bike locks might possibly be the most important step in eBike security. While some electric bike models incorporate key locking within the design, this alone is not enough. Much like traditional bicycles, securing your eBike with a good lock is heavily recommended. Don’t be afraid to use multiple locks either; they make stealing eBikes a much tougher process.
Here’s a list of our 5 most recommended bike locks:
- Kryptonite New York U-Lock
- Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7
- Abus GRANIT
- Abus Steel-O-Chain
- Bordo GRANIT XPLUS 6500
Use Effective Locking Strategies for Your eBike
We further recommend locking individual parts of your eBike to itself, such as the frame to the handlebar, or wheel to the frame. This makes it much harder for a thief to transport the ebike to a more secluded area.
As the most commonly stolen component, it’s especially important to lock in your battery, especially if it’s removable. Although many come with a factory locking solution, this is often not enough.
If possible, run your lock through the battery handle to lock it in place, or remove it and take it with you whenever you park. Try to lock it in a way that requires the thief to destroy the bike itself to access.
If the lock is attached to the frame and your bike is the weakest link, they will likely avoid stealing it. After all, who wants to buy a broken bike?
Check out the ‘LockPickingLawyer’ on YouTube to see just how easy it is to force entry on a poorly designed bike lock. Alternatively, learn about all the types of bike locks from this video.
Use the Right eBike Technology
Utilising technologies such as GPS trackers and alarms is another line of defence against thieves. These usually fit into the eBike’s seat, although comes at no compromise of comfort!
We recommend the TagLock tracker, a tracker hidden within a rear reflector and fully attachable to a frame or seat. However, quite a few eBike models already come with integrated trackers, alarms and key locking as a standard.
If you’re looking for a model with this technology as standard, the Angell eBike is a top pick for city riders worried about theft. The design is sleek and understated, looking like a traditional bicycle at first glance. However, it also includes an alarm and GPS tracking, fully integrated within the frame to avoid any tampering. It’s uncommon to find an eBike that incorporates all of this technology, with most simply opting for a key-lock ignition.
Try Playing eBike Mind Games
If you’re on a tight budget, the simple illusion of security can prove enough to deter theft. This can include fake GPS trackers that do no more than act as a flashing red LED, or even just a threatening sticker.
More often than not, would-be thieves do not want the trouble of trackers and potential repercussions. Even slapping on a few stickers about anti-theft technology can prove enough. We also recommend avoiding flashy eBike designs that will attract any unnecessary eyes.
Camouflaging your bike also works very well, although it requires the initial time and dedication to disguise it. Making your ride appear run down and cheap is a great way to avoid attention. This option isn’t for everyone though, as we’re sure some people love the look of their shiny eBike too much!
Buy eBike Insurance
This section is fairly self-explanatory, yet still easily grants the greatest peace of mind out of any other method mentioned. Insurance is the ultimate failsafe; covering your ride against theft means that the insurance company will cover the cost of a new eBike if yours gets stolen.
While this won’t decrease the overall odds of theft, it will keep you covered financially if it actually happens. There are many eBike insurance options available throughout the U.S, Canada and Europe.
Final Thoughts on Protecting Your eBike from Theft
Most of the time, ebike theft boils down into two categories: opportunism and targeted theft. The tips above will protect you from opportunists and seasoned thieves alike, who usually study their target for up to a week beforehand. Incorporating all of the above tips on a regular basis is the best way to keep your ebike as safe as possible.
Whilst this still does not 100% guarantee that nobody can steal your eBike, it greatly reduces the overall likelihood; alongside ensuring that it is barely worth the time or effort to do so. Now that your eBike is as secure as possible, ensure you ride in accordance with our PEV law in the U.S article.
Got your own method of securing your eBike? Let us know in the comments. If it’s good enough, we might add it to our list!