Motorcycle Security When Touring: Protecting Your Bike

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I’ll admit that motorcycle security when touring isn’t the sexiest of topics.

But none the less, it’s still a concern for many explorers when traveling. And rightly so!

If you’ve spent your hard-earned cash on a bike, and all the touring kit to go with it, it makes sense to secure it somehow.

In this post, we’ll look at some affordable motorcycle security for when you’re touring.

Security vs Experience

If you ask around, you’ll hear a very common story with people’s journey into motorcycle security.

When they first start touring, they have a cheap bike and every lock, chain, and security on the market.

But as they gain experience, the cost of their bikes goes up, but the level of security they take with them goes down.

And my story is no different.

bmw motorcycle secured to fence with lock and chain - motorcycle security
Choosing the right security is a compromise between protection and convenience

Motorcycle Security And Touring: Negative Correlation

The first time I toured, I was riding an old Honda CBR600 that was worth no more than £2,000.

With it, I took a quality disc lock, a 10kg chain, a second (alarmed) disc lock, and a bike cover. It took me ages to secure my bike in the evening, and it took me ages to take it all off again in the morning.

Plus, I had to carry all this stuff. And at times, the added weight severely messed up the balance and feel of my bike.

In the end, the effort of carrying my motorcycle security far outweighed the risk of having my bike stolen. Especially seeing as though I spent most of my time in quiet hotels in the mountains.

The second time I went touring, I took a more expensive bike but less security.

And every time I’ve been touring since then, the price of my bike has increased whilst the level of motorcycle security has decreased.

So why is this?

If Thieves Want Your Bike, They’ll Take It

I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true.

You can deter an opportunist thief with some basic equipment.

But if a professional bike thief wants your bike, they’ll take it no matter what you do.

Professional outfits go around in teams and vans. They have the equipment to beat your security and will simply pick your bike up, bungle it into a van, and drive off.

Accept this aspect of riding and you’ll be able to worry less about your motorcycle security and concentrate on the enjoyment of your tour instead.

Motorcycle Security: The Disc Lock

For the reasons listed above, the easiest thing to carry is a disc lock. There are tonnes on the market, and a quick Google search will reveal a plethora of options available to you.

The one I personally use is the Oxford Monster Disc Lock. This particular lock is made from 11mm re-inforced Ni-Cr-Mo alloy steel. On top of this, it is Thatcham and Sold Secure gold approved.

Two hardened steel bolts form the double locking mechanism, and the wide access allows you to use it in combination with a chain if required.

As well as the main Oxford lock, I also carry a little Mammoth Micro Disc Lock for the rear wheel. At 6mm, the pin won’t deter a determined bike thief, despite its reinforced steel.

But the beauty of its sleekness means I can fit it on the rear disc in 2-seconds flat. And for the sake of £7.99, it makes for a good, visual deterrent.

Most potential bike thieves would choose to steal a bike with no disc lock rather than one with a disc lock.

And most would prefer to steal a bike with a single disc lock rather than one with two disc locks.

oxford monster disc lock
Oxford Monster Disc Lock. (Image via Oxford)

Motorcycle Security: Cable Locks

I mentioned in this post that a simple cable lock can come in incredibly useful on tour. They can be used to secure roll bags, and they come in handy for securing jackets and helmets when you stop for a coffee.

But if you happen to park near a fence or a lamppost, you can secure your motorcycle to the lamppost in a few seconds.

Granted, a bike thief will snip through it pretty quickly if they want your bike.

But in combination with a disc lock or two, a humble cable lock is light, cheap, multifunctional, and acts as an added deterrent.

oxford loop lock - motorcycle security
Oxford Loop Lock. (Image via Oxford)

Motorcycle Security: The Humble Bike Cover

I’ve toured both with and without a bike cover in the past.

As mentioned above, I used to take one when I rode my Honda CBR600. But then again, the bike was small, which meant the cover was small, light, and compact.

I used to fold it up neatly and then bungee it to my roll bag. Not only was it secure, but it acted as a cushion to lean back on during longer stints of my tour.

These days, I ride an adventure bike. And bigger bikes call for bigger covers. I currently use the Oxford Protex cover which is excellent. But despite it coming in a supremely portable pouch the size of a matchbox, I’ve never managed to get it back in.

Stuffing it into my top box or rollbag takes up too much space, so these days, I leave it at home when I tour.

If you have a smaller bike or have a cover that folds up into a tidy little bundle, I would highly recommend taking it.

Of course, a bike cover does not prevent your motorcycle from being stolen. But out of sight is out of mind.

And if you can get your disc lock to go through the cover as well as the bike, then that’s another level of security. Any potential thief will literally have to rip the cover off just to see what bike is hidden underneath it.

oxford pretex bike cover - motorcycle security
Oxford Protex Bike Cover. (Image via Oxford)

Motorcycle Security: Car Parks

Nobody wants to leave their bike in an expensive city car park. But that being said, they do come with a great level of security.

In Luxembourg, I found a deal on a lovely hotel that had underground, private parking that was protected with CCTV. I didn’t put any locks on the bike, and I didn’t have to worry about it at all for the duration of my stay.


Similarly, I once stopped in San Sebastian which was a nightmare. The car park was almost a mile from the hotel which meant carrying all my gear across town in the blazing summer heat.

On top of that, my night in the car park cost 25 Euros!

All that said, the underground car park was secure. All entrances were protected by barriers, it was staffed 24 hours a day, and had CCTV cameras covering every parking bay.

Motorcycle Security When Touring: Conclusion

Whilst your motorcycle is your pride and joy, you can only do so much to protect it.

Find yourself a setup that is light, effective, and multifunctional. And rather than carrying half a tonne of armour-plated, reinforced steel, remember that deterrents often work just as well as security.

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