How To Protect Your E-Bike From Theft
Have you ever had a bike or e-bike stolen? That sinking feeling of coming back to where you last left it — only to find it gone.
Bike thieves run rampant, and there’s not much you can do to discourage them from trying to take your bike. Even in a public place. Even in broad daylight.
But with the right tools, you can make it a whole lot harder for them to succeed. And even if your e-bike does get stolen, there are ways to increase the chance that you’ll get it back.
Here are the facts about bike theft: how common it is, how you can prevent theft, and how to improve your chances of recovering your e-bike if it’s stolen.
How Common Is Bike Theft?
It’s difficult to know how many bikes are actually stolen in the US. That’s because bicycle registration isn’t required in many areas, and many thefts also go unreported.
Estimates vary widely, from 342,000 to nearly 2 MILLION bike thefts in the United States each year.
It’s also been said that a bike is stolen every 30 seconds in North America. That means 2 bikes per 60 seconds (1 minute). And with 525,600 minutes every year, that works out to 1,051,200 stolen bikes per year in North America.
But only about 157,000 bikes were reported stolen in the US in 2019. If the upper estimates of close to 2 million bike thefts were true, that would mean fewer than 8% of stolen bikes are actually reported stolen.
And what about e-bike theft specifically? There are fewer studies on that. Yet, one study from the Netherlands found that e-bikes were 3x more likely to be stolen compared to traditional bikes!
Most e-bikes are neither easier nor more difficult to steal compared to traditional bikes, but they’re typically more valuable (a big plus for thieves).
The flip side to the great “resale value” for thieves, of course, is that high-value e-bikes cost more for their owners to replace compared to traditional bikes, too. That’s why it’s all the more important to know how to protect your e-bike from theft. And what’s more, it’s vital to improve your chances of recovering your e-bike if it’s stolen.
Doesn’t the Premium 3 High Step look great parked on this corner? Bike thieves think so, too. Always lock up your e-bike!
6 Ways to Protect Yourself Against E-Bike Theft
If you’re ready to amp up your e-bike security, here are the best steps to take.
1. Register your e-bike
Your first level of e-bike protection: give yourself the best chance of recovering your bike if it’s ever stolen.
With bikes being 4x more likely to be stolen than cars, it’s an unfortunate fact that you’re likely to experience a bike theft or e-bike theft at some point in your riding life — and we want you to get it back!
You may be able to register your e-bike with your city government. If that’s an option in your area, we recommend starting there.
You can also register your e-bike on national bike registries like BikeIndex.org and Project529.com.
To register, you’ll need:
- Pictures of your e-bike
- Your bike’s serial number(s)
When it comes to serial numbers, e-bikes are a little different from traditional bikes. All bikes have a frame serial number, but e-bikes have additional serial numbers on their motor and battery.
You may or may not be asked to provide all 3 serial numbers when registering your bike, but it’s important that you know them all for your own tracking.
Watch this quick video on how to find all 3 serial numbers on your e-bike.
2. Consider purchasing e-bike insurance
Some states require e-bike licensing, registration, and insurance — if your state does, insurance is a must!
But even if it’s not a requirement where you live, insuring your e-bike is still an option. Just note that many insurance companies consider e-bikes to be motorized vehicles, similar to a motorcycle or car. That means your renters insurance or homeowners insurance policy may not cover your electric bike automatically. Talk with your insurance company for more information about your options.
Distinct from e-bike insurance, some bike lock manufacturers issue a payout if your bike is stolen despite the proper use of specific models of their locks. Magnum is not affiliated with any bike lock manufacturers, but we found offers like this from manufacturers including Kryptonite and OnGuard.
3. Use locks and other anti-theft devices
Yes, that’s “locks” — plural!
It may seem secure enough to lock your wheel to the bike rack. But removing an e-bike wheel from your frame — especially the front wheel — is quick and easy. Especially for thieves with a lot of practice.
Using more than one lock helps ensure that thieves can’t walk away with parts of your e-bike — such as taking your wheel or wheels but leaving the frame, or taking your frame but leaving the wheel(s).
You should definitely lock up your frame — but if you don’t lock your wheels, too, they won’t last long. Photo by Jose Antonio Gallego Vázquez on Unsplash
On the other hand… ONLY locking your wheels is a mistake, too. This picture shows why. Photo by Jose Antonio Gallego Vázquez on Unsplash
Types of Locks
So what are the common types of bike locks?
- U-Locks: These rigid locks are more of a “D” shape than a “U,” if you count the bar that connects the two ends of the lock together. They’re typically made of metal and among the most difficult to break, making them a great option for protecting parts of your bike against theft.
- Chain Locks: So called because of the linked chain in the interior, these locks are usually covered by fabric to prevent damage to your frame or whatever the lock is wrapped around. They can be heavy and expensive, but they’re a secure option.
- Cable Locks: Ok for certain applications and short-term storage, cable locks are easy to break with basic cable cutters. Because of this, they aren’t recommended for storing your bike overnight or for long periods of time.
- Folding Locks: As their name implies, folding locks fold up for easy storage and great portability while you’re out for a ride. Shop Magnum Foldylocks here.
How to Lock Up Your E-Bike, Battery, and Accessories
How can you use multiple locks effectively?
Use a chain lock to secure your rear wheel and front wheel to each other as well as to the frame. Additionally, loop a U-Lock through your cable lock, rear wheel, and the rear triangle on your frame to secure your bike to a permanent structure.
All of this said, given the right tools and enough time, no locks are fully tamper-proof.
So if you can avoid it, it’s best not to store your bike in a single public place for extended periods of time.
What’s black and blue all over? The black and blue Magnum Voyager paired with our Magnum Foldylock folding-style lock.
5. If you can’t lock it, take it with you
There are locks and anti-theft devices available for seats, stems, motors, controllers, and more. What’s more, you can purchase alarms to discourage theft and GPS devices to track the location of your bike at all times. (Be aware that subscriptions and fees might apply for these items.)
But if you don’t want to purchase unique locking devices for every part of your bike, consider taking valuable parts with you when you leave your e-bike locked up.
For instance, what about your battery?
All Magnum Bikes feature easily removable batteries for convenience when transporting and charging your bike. Your Magnum Bike comes with a battery lock and a unique set of keys to secure your battery to the frame, which means it’s not easy to remove it from the bike without the key.
That said, you can easily unlock and take your Magnum Bikes battery with you. You could also wrap a chain lock or cable lock tightly around your frame where the battery sits — but again, beware that long-term storage increases the likelihood of being tampered with. Plus, it’s better for your battery to store indoors!
The same goes for valuable accessories that you’d rather not have to replace, like aftermarket baskets, lights, etc. If you’d hate to lose it, take it with you.
6. Store and park your bike in safer places
Lock your bike to secure, permanent structures only. If the thing you’re locking your bike to isn’t bolted to the ground, your bike isn’t safe. Consider using more than one lock.
Communal garages and building lockups aren’t as secure as they may seem. Even if there are cameras, they probably aren’t monitored frequently enough to prevent theft. And unfortunately, if someone with access to your building is a bike thief, your e-bike is an easy target. So when possible, store your bike inside your own house, condo, apartment, etc.
Install a security camera or motion detectors. If you are the sole property owner or if it’s permitted by your building, invest in security cameras and/or motion detectors for your unit or bike storage. These days, there are highly affordable options for both of these.
Don’t leave your e-bike in the same place daily. If thieves watch you come and go with your e-bike at the same time and in the same spot every day, your e-bike is an easy target. If you can’t take your e-bike inside with you, try parking it at different bike racks each day.
Parking your e-bike at the same rack every day could be making a bike thief’s job easier. Photo by Fredrik Solli Wandem on Unsplash
What Should I Do If My E-Bike Is Stolen?
- Call the police and/or your e-bike insurance company. Remember that bike theft and e-bike thefts are rarely reported. More reports gain more attention!
- If you registered your e-bike, use that registry to report it stolen. This helps spread the word and may stop your e-bike from being resold illegally.
- Make note of the case numbers from any and all of these reports.
- Consider posting photos of your bike on social media, including community groups that center around recovering stolen bikes. Include any unique details that could help people spot your e-bike — stickers, after-market paint, accessories — especially those that are difficult to swap out or remove, etc.
- Check online marketplaces and local resale shops (pawn shops, etc.). You may spot your e-bike being resold there. If you locate your stolen e-bike in an online marketplace, please be safe — never confront the seller yourself. Instead, enlist the help of local authorities to help you recover it.
By using the best methods of storage and protection, you have the best shot at keeping your e-bike safe from thieves. Be careful out there!