Matthew Colbourne lives in Hertfordshire and works in London. He started biking in 2005 at the age of 42, buying a KTM 950 Adventure and immediately became hooked - clocking up 15,000 miles a year and eventually selling his car for lack of use.
In 2008 July he bought a KTM Super Duke R and had a fabulous year until it was stolen (despite being alarmed and parked outside Shoreditch Police Station!) in June 2009. The bike was never recovered and his insurance paid out. He bought a replacement Super Duke R in July 2009.
“I had also kept my 950 Adventure and in December 2009 this was also stolen from a bike park in London N1. The bike was recovered and a small amount of damage was repaired under my insurance. When the Adventure was repaired, I sold it and bought a KTM 950 Super Moto. I had only had this for a couple of months when it was stolen from a parking bay in London N1. The bike was alarmed, but not chained as there was no street furniture to chain it to. The bike was not recovered and the police had no interest in trying to find it despite having CCTV footage of it being stolen.” Says Matt..
“In the same period I have also had two non-fault accidents. One of which left me hospitalised when a woman rammed the back of my bike while I was stationery at a red traffic light.
“I have now come to the renewal of my Super Duke insurance and have received a form letter from my current insurer to say that they will no longer insure me on this bike. I have spoken to several other brokers and none will even offer me third party cover, so I'm faced with the possibility of having to give up biking!”
Matthew was unfortunately a horrendously high risk because of the thefts he had suffered. Alas, insurance is all about discrimination and his record counted against him, along with a police that doesn’t respond to bike theft and London authorities not providing anchor points for bikes. Though Matt didn’t help himself by not fitting any locks to his bikes when they were parked up. As he couldn’t get anybody to insure him for the Super Duke, he had to buy a new 'smaller' bike to get cover (much thanks to CIA insurance).
“Incredibly though, I can get cover on my new KTM 690 Duke (possibly even more steal-able then the Super Duke) without even being asked by the insurance company to fit an alarm. I have also bought a BMW F800ST for London. Both Duke & BMW are having an Acutrac tracking system fitted (the Duke rarely leaves my side!!!). I plan to keep the Super Duke for track days as I hope that it might not be too long until I will be able to get insurance again.” Said Matt.
“I work as an IT consultant in Central London and I can get around fast and easily by bike but, as I am often rushing to get to a client site, I'm regularly faced with having to take any parking I can get rather than being able to pick and choose places that have street furniture to chain the bike to. It does also appear that KTMs are particularly targeted in the N1 area so they are pretty much a no go for London unless you have your own secure parking - and bear in mind that, despite the new parking charges - there are very few bike parking bays that provide a chain bar.
“The Police are entirely disinterested. I did exchange some emails with them; they can cover all bases with their paperwork but can't (or won't) do anything tangible about the problem. The insurance companies are terrible in that they don't do anything to advise or help bike riders to combat the problem. Bike theft has a significant impact on two people, the owner (who suffers inconvenience, cash losses and ultimately the right to ride a motorbike) and the insurer that has to write a cheque. In this case however it is the insurer who has the information on areas of high theft, the bike types that are stolen and the anti-theft devices that help to foil the thieves. Why do they not at least share this information with their clients, if not insist on particular devices being used in particular areas?
“And let's not forget the manufacturers. Most give you no immobiliser, no alarm, no built in secure chains, in fact nothing to even deter thieves from lifting your vehicle. Can't they at least make it difficult for them? If everybody were to work together we could drive this problem away, just look at the experience with hot hatchback cars in the 1980s, where Police, Insurance Companies and Manufacturers combined to almost eliminate an epidemic theft problem.
“I'll end on a positive note though. The BMW is a great piece of efficient, reliable and cost effective transport (70mpg nd 140mph!!) and the 690 Duke is just about the best fun I've ever had on two (one!) wheels. I'd advise anybody - even without theft / insurance nightmares - to forget about chasing horsepower and remember the quality of the ride!”