Modern bikes come with immobilisers and alarms to deter thieves. Classic bikes typically pre-date such sophisticated measures, lacking even an ignition key if fired by a magneto. With many old bikes highly collectable and now worth more than their modern counterparts, what can you do to safeguard your precious classic?
Some anti-theft hardware is just as relevant to an old bike as a new one; a hefty chain and padlock for example, preferably attached to a ground anchor or stout railings. If your bike is recent enough to have disc brakes, a disc lock may be enough to persuade a casual thief to move on to an easier target. However, the chances are that a typical classic bike thief is not an opportunist looking for easy cash, but more likely part of an organised gang with the facilities to dispose of it profitably.
Such people are more likely to steal ‘to order’ or break up a classic for valuable spares. A security marking system such as Datatag or Smart Water can be applied to any bike and makes the major parts traceable, so less attractive to thieves.
You might feel vulnerable displaying, or even parking, your bike at a show but thefts appear to be more likely from the keeper’s home address. Perhaps there are just too many pairs of eyes at a typical show to give the criminals their opportunity? For all they know, that group of people twenty yards away from your bike could be friends of yours.
At home, the best security is to keep your bike out of sight as much as possible so as not to advertise its existence to anybody and everybody passing your front gate. A brick garage, or well-constructed shed, with stout bolts and locks, preferably alarmed, will give you 24 hour protection and, at Footman James, is a requirement for classic bike insurance. You might also think about where to park your bike when you clean and polish it; do you live on a busy road? Could you wheel it around the back first? On the odd occasion you have to park on the street or driveway overnight a decent cover is your only way to disguise the bike.
Ultimately, insurance is your last line of defence. It won’t compensate you emotionally for the loss of a treasured machine but it will protect you from suffering a financial loss, enabling you to fund a replacement. Here’s hoping you never need to fall back on it.