Are bike manufacturers doing enough to stop bike theft?

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Bikes are pretty easy to steal. A vehicle with no windows or doors that can be picked up by a few strong people is easier to steal than, say, a car.

Steering locks are defeated by a firm kick and immobilisers can be bypassed using a cheap circuit board and a few wires. So what are bike manufacturers, who make money out of selling their machines, doing to help keep them safe? Quite a bit, actually.

BMW and Yamaha have been exploring new ways to keep their models in the hands of the people who have paid for them.

Patent drawings have been filed by BMW showing a new way of locking a motorbike’s gearbox to prevent it from being wheeled away. A solenoid will drop a metal pin into one of several holes in the universal joint on the driveshaft at the gearbox end.

BMW R18 security patent drawings

To make sure an electrical failure can’t result in a dangerous rear wheel lock-up while the bike is being ridden, the metal pin is designed in such a way that it cannot drop into a hole at anything above 2.5mph.

The patent drawings look to suit the brand's upcoming R18 cruiser, but there are also designs for versions that could be used on other shaft-drive models and a variation for the company’s chain-driven bikes, too.

Meanwhile, the last few versions of Yamaha’s TMAX large-capacity scooter model have come fitted with a lockable centrestand to make it much harder for thieves to wheel it away.

Yamaha TMAX locking centre stand

The TMAX’s combination of twist-and-go rideability and large-capacity grunt have made it a target for criminals who use it as a getaway vehicle and bike thieves who use them to push another stolen bike away.

Having the centrestand locked in position makes it impossible for the bike to be wheeled away by an opportunist thief and would be a real pain for a more professional criminal, too.

The Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) recently launched a star rating system for manufacturers to make it clear how much factory-fitted security you get with a motorbike model.

As of last month, none of the ten manufacturers who have signed up sell a maximum five-star rated model. Harley-Davidson’s entire range receives four stars, along with a smattering of bikes from other manufacturers.

Honda are not signed up to the MCIA scheme but made the move in 2019 to offer a free security tracker on all of their road bikes – which is a major step forward for theft prevention and detection. They remain the only company to offer free security trackers.

What do MCIA secured ratings mean?

The MCIA secured star ratings are determined by how many of the following features a bike leaves the showroom with:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

MCIA sold secure star ratings

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Ben Clarke

By Ben Clarke

Staff Writer, hick for life, two cylinders max