Most people you’ll meet on the road riding in America are wonderful – helpful, friendly, happy to meet you and really pleased you’ve come here to experience the USA. You’ll feel safe most everywhere you go. Unfortunately, no matter where you travel in the world, there are some people who take advantage of others.
A long way from home, you can’t afford to lose anything to prying hands, least of all your motorcycle. So how do you keep your bike and gear from being stolen while touring? Here are our tips.
1) Always Lock Your Bike When You Leave It. It’s amazing to us how many experienced riders leave their bikes sitting with the keys in the ignition and walk away, or don’t bother to lock their forks or panniers. It only takes a few seconds for someone to nick an unlocked bike. Be smart – if you’re going to be out of sight of your bike, lock it up.
2) Bring The Proper Locks. Make sure you’ve got a good quality Disk Lock and either a chain or cable lock with your bike. Know that professional thieves can defeat these locks easily; but they’ll deter amateur thieves, and they’ll at least buy you some time with the pros. If a their has to make noise or do something that might draw attention to himself to steal your bike, someone might notice and intervene, or he might move on to an easier target. Consider locks to be just deterrents, never kid yourself into thinking your bike can’t be stolen just because you’ve locked it.
3) Don’t Leave Valuables Sitting On The Bike. We’ve seen riders with GPS units, mobile phones & $500 helmets on their handlebars go into a cafe for an hour, leaving everything unsupervised – not smart! Someone could throw your helmet into the back of a car and it would be gone in ten seconds, and you’d be stuck looking for another. If you have to leave the bike, have a mate watch your stuff, or take your valuables with you until you return.
4) Run A Cable Lock Through Your Helmet And The Bike If You Don’t Want To Take It. Let’s face it, sometimes it’s a bother dragging your helmet around everywhere, especially if you’ve got to use the toilet. If you’ve got a full face helmet, run your cable lock through the visor hole above the chin piece, then run the cable through something hard like a frame loop on your bike, and lock it. This way, your helmet’s not going anywhere. Keep in mind the helmet can get very hot sitting out in the sun, so covering it with the helmet bag most manufacturers supply is a good idea.
5) Park Smart At Night. When you park the bikes for the night at a motel, make sure they’re in a well lit area where they can be seen by people coming and going. Don’t park them in some dark lonely corner where a thief can go over the motorcycle undisturbed. Somewhere near the front desk, in the light of the entryway is best. And if you’re in a group, lock the bikes to each other. This will make them harder to just carry off or push away. This is especially important when you’re staying at a motel that’s on a main travel byway, where everyone’s transient.
6) Don’t Be A Hero. Lots of people park their bikes just outside their room, thinking they’ll hear a thief and will disturb them in the act; let’s think this through. It’s 3am and you hear someone trying to steal your bike, so you run out in your underwear into the pitch black parking lot and say “stop, thief!” – how well do you think that’s going to turn out? You have no idea how many people are out there, if they have weapons, if they’re some harmless kids or hardened criminals. Call 911, call the front desk, call your psychic advisor, don’t rush out looking for a confrontation.
7) Totally Unpack The Bike And Leave Panniers Unlocked At Night. Don’t leave even a pair of socks in the panniers at night, and absolutely don’t lock the panniers or the top case. If you do, a thief will wonder “what’s in here?” and might break the lock or the pannier to get in. Depending on what kind of insurance you have, this could be very costly. Make it easy for someone to lift the pannier cover and see there’s absolutely nothing inside. Take everything to the room with you.
8) Don’t Leave Passports, Cash, Or Any Valuables In The Room When You Go Out. Parked the bike and going out for dinner and drinks? Don’t leave your valuables in the room. If anything gets stolen, are you going to hang around in town until the crime is solved? No, and a thief knows that. Don’t leave anything in the room safe either – stuff gets stolen from room safes all the time.
The roads, the things you’ll see and the people you’ll meet while riding in America will make an impression that lasts a lifetime. Make sure you take home only the best memories – be smart and ride safe!