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Bicycle Security - How to Protect Your Bike

Preventing the theft of bikes and e-bikes

Secured by Design (SBD) and Police forces across the country have launched awareness campaigns around cycle crime, with SBD continuing to work with cycle lock manufacturers and providers of cycle infrastructure to improve security standards.

In partnership with Sustrans and the Bicycle Association, the Standards for Public Cycle Parking has been published to promote good practice.

Whilst this has contributed to a decrease in cycle crime, there are still huge numbers of bikes stolen in the UK.

When leaving your cycle or e-bike in a public place, always remember to secure it with an SBD security-approved product – cheap cable locks like the one pictured (left) won't stop a thief as they can be removed in seconds.

However, owners of e-bikes need to be aware that the theft of e-bikes and batteries are increasingly being targeted as their popularity and demand for them grows.

We all need to store our bikes safely, even at home, and the theft of bikes from sheds and garages continues to be a problem, as they often house multiple bikes so can be easy picking for thieves.

Whilst a large number of stolen bikes are recovered each year, the police are often unable to return them or prosecute offenders as the owner cannot be traced.

You can help to keep your bike secure at home and when cycling by following our bike security guidance.

SBD accreditation is the only way for companies to obtain police recognition for security-related products in the UK. A list of SBD member companies that have bike security products which have achieved our Police Preferred Specification is at the end of this page.

Here are our top tips to help you keep your bike safe and secure, both at work, at home and if travelling for holiday or leisure purposes.

1. Register it

Register your bike on a secure, SBD recognised, national database. The police will check these databases if they find bikes in the possession of a criminal or if left in the street to help identify the rightful owner.

A bike carrying a database label or stamp is a highly effective, visible deterrent to bike thieves, as they know that if they are caught with a registered bike they will be arrested as the owner can be traced by the police within seconds.

2. Record it

Remember to record as many details of your bike as you can, such as the make, model, size, colour, frame number (normally found underneath the bike between the pedals or where the back wheel slots in) plus any other distinguishing features and take a photo.

3. Security mark it

Security marking your bike using an SBD recognised forensic asset marking or etching kit is another highly effective, visible deterrent to thieves and an established method of reducing theft.

4. Double-lock it, secure it and lock the lot

It can take thieves as little as a few seconds to cut through some locks that haven’t achieved the Police Preferred Specification. Double locking is the best protection for locking any bike. However, we recognise this is not always possible or practicable at times.

Whatever the type of lock, look for the SBD logo or see the SBD approved list at the bottom of the page.

  • Secure your bike as close to the stand as possible to give any thieves little or no room to manoeuvre.
  • Lock the frame and both wheels to the cycle parking stand.
  • Locks are considered more vulnerable when they come into contact with the ground, so keep them off the floor.

We have provided more information about how to choose the right lock below…

5. Remove the removable bits

E-bike batteries are designed to be easily removed for charging, which is convenient for you, but can also be very convenient for a bike thief. Battery systems on e-bikes vary from ones in the frame of the e-bike, to a rack over the rear wheel or an integral type of system. Locking methods vary and whilst on some models it is possible to lock in the battery to the e-bike, we suggest if you are leaving your e-bike in public parking for any length of time you should take the battery with you as a thief can easily overcome these locks.

Some batteries have a serial number, so take a record of it and consider using an SBD recognised forensic asset marking or etching kit to mark the both the battery and cycle and use the warning labels these kits provide.

You might want to consider taking other parts that are easy to remove with you too depending on the security of your cycle parking location, such as the saddle or wheels. Alternatively, consider using locking skewers or nuts, which can increase security by securing the bike's components to the frame permanently, making it difficult for thieves to steal detachable parts.

6. Park secure

When parking your bike in a public place you need to consider many factors, including your own personnel safety and the security of your bike.

Lock your bike at recognised secure cycle parking. It should be well lit, overlooked and if possible covered by CCTV.

Secured cycle hubs and racks are provided by local councils and businesses. However, while some of these products are security tested, others are not so be wary. You can find details of racks and stands which are supplied by SBD member companies and have achieved Police Preferred Specification below.

  •  Avoid leaving your bike in isolated or dimly lit places, always leave your bike where a potential thief will have to perform in public!

  •  Do not lock your bike to an open-ended structure such as a signpost – thieves just lift the bike over the top of it.

  •  Avoid locking your bike against a gate or wall, thieves will often use leverage against the wall or gate to break the bike lock.

  • Electric Bikes (e-bikes) are very expensive, so try not to leave them in the same place on a regular basis as they may be noticed and stolen to order by a determined thief. You should also consider removing the battery if you can. Cycle lockers are a good option if storing your e-bike in a public place.

7. Keep valuables secure when cycling

Always keep your valuables secure when cycling. Don't put them in open baskets or panniers.

8. Be aware of your surroundings

Always pay attention to your surroundings, especially whilst stationary. Thieves target unsuspecting cyclists for both their valuables, such as mobile phones and their bikes.

9. Remember safety begins at home

Many bikes are stolen at home, mainly from sheds and garages. You should take the same care to lock your bike securely at home as you would on the street.

Sheds - improve the general security of your shed and garden. Secure bikes in a shed by using a purpose-made shed shackle and padlock or a ground anchor fixed to the base of the shed with a security rated security cycle or motorcycle lock.

Several SBD companies also supply secure bike storage sheds which can be readily used out of sight in the rear garden. However, if you decide to place these in the front garden, please check with your local council that they comply with national permitted development rights; outbuildings cannot be constructed in front of a house and may require planning permission, for example, if you live in a conservation area or in a listed building.

Garages - there are several things that can be done to improve the security of garages. If you are installing a new garage door, consider replacing it with an accredited SBD product, these are now available as up and over, sectional or roller shutter options in a range of materials with thermal insulation.

E-bikes are increasing being targeted from garages, so consider using a ground anchor fixed in the concrete floor to secure them.

10. Remember to keep your bike safe when travelling by car

Keeping your bike safe while on a roof rack or rear carrier of a vehicle is just as important as keeping it secure at home or work, as it can take an opportunist thief only seconds to steal your bike when you park your vehicle.

Always pay attention to where you park your car, and ensure it is parked in a well-lit, busy location where the actions of any thief would be noticeable.

How to choose the right bike security lock

Buying a bike lock should not be an afterthought. In the UK, the average cost of a bike is approximately £500 and an e-bike can cost anything between £1,000 up to £10,000 so it is important to use the best protection possible.

Questions you should ask are:

  • Will the bike lock perform its job?  Buying a cycle lock which has not undergone an approved security test, is just not worth it.
  • How do you know what a quality lock is?  A quality lock is one that has been accredited with the Police Preferred Specification.
  • Will it protect my bike? An accredited bike lock will act as a strong deterrent to any thief.
  • I have a high value e-bike how do I protect it? Buy the highest rated security product which has the Sold Secure Diamond rated approval

At SBD, we insist on security standards for cycle security products with the aim of reducing and preventing the theft of bikes. Various test methods are used to determine resistance against attack using the sort of tools that a thief may use to steal a bike.

Secure Cycle Locks

  • Buying and using a single SBD approved product with a high-security rating will provide better protection than using two untested products.
  • Choosing the security level or type of lock is down to individual circumstance and personal preference, as we all use our bikes in different ways.  
  • Whether you are cycling in a city with good provision of cycle parking, out cycling with the children in a country park with no cycle stands to lock your bike, or on a mountain biking trail in a national park, you need to choose the right type of lock for the activity and situation. Style, weight, and security grade will all be a factor.
  • To secure a high value e-bike you should consider a cycle lock with a high security rating and with technology to resist attack by battery powered angle grinders.
  • All SBD approved cycle locks have been independently accredited to the Sold Secure standard run by the Master Locksmiths Association.

All SBD approved cycle locks have been independently accredited to the Sold Secure standard run by the Master Locksmiths Association.

Sold Secure test to four grades for Pedal Cycles, with Diamond being the highest grade. Powered Cycles look for Gold or Diamond:

If you wish to find out more information, please visit the Sold Secure website.


Check that you have adequate cover under your household insurance for theft of bikes and that this extends to cover theft from outbuildings or sheds. You should also check that the sum insured is adequate given the high value of some bikes and e-bikes.

Report It

If your cycle is stolen at home or in the street always report it to the police as it might have been recovered, it will also give us a clearer picture of cycle thieves and their methods. It will help in targeting offender in hot-spot areas as in our case study from Gwent Police.

Secured by Design is the only way for companies to obtain police recognition for security-related products in the UK. Below is a list of Secured by Design member companies that have bike security products which have achieved our Police Preferred Specification:

Bicycle Security