Sadly, bike theft is an all too common in many cities all over the world, as they are attractive targets due to their mobility, light weight and in some cases, high value. As electric bikes have become more popular, their attractiveness to bike thieves has become apparent. Therefore, as an e-bike owner you must be highly vigilant about theft.
No, unfortunately most bikes do not have GPS trackers installed by default from the factory. There are some high-end bikes which have them but the majority of electric bikes do not. Fortunately, however, you can purchase a wide array of GPS trackers which can be fitted to your electric bike.
Read on for details on some trackers for sale, how GPS trackers work, and some tips to prevent an unfortunate e-bike theft from ever occurring in the first place.
GPS Trackers for Purchase
There are numerous GPS tracker devices for sale on the market. I’ve looked at some of them, and like the look of the Guardian bike light tracker.
Guardian Bike Light Tracker
The Guardian bike light tracker sends the location to your phone by text message, along with a link for Google maps. This means no additional apps are needed for your smartphone. It’s disguised as a regular rear bike light, so thieves won’t give it a second look if your e-bike is stolen. Another huge advantage is that there are no monthly subscription fees to pay, unlike many other trackers on the market. The device cleverly uses a pay as you go sim card, so you only pay for the text messages the tracker actually sends to you.
Where to hide GPS Trackers on an Electric Bike
Obviously the first thing to think about when you get a GPS tracker is where to mount it, so thieves don’t know that the bike’s location is being tracked. Apart from having a unit that is disguised as a bike light, as above, another way is to install the tracker into the seat post.
How do GPS Trackers Actually Work?
Global Positioning System (GPS) is a globally accessible system of satellites and corresponding ground stations. It’s operated by the U.S Department of Defense (DOD). The most common use is for GPS navigation devices.
A GPS tracker device uses the GPS satellite network to transmit its location, even while moving. GPS trackers use microwave signals that are transmitted to GPS devices to give data on location, speed, time and direction that the tracker is traveling in.
Proof of E-Bike Ownership
Before you go out and purchase a GPS Tracker, it’s important to take multiple, clearly-lit photographs of your electric bike, and make a note of your bike serial number. Ideally, keep a copy of your e-bike’s receipt of purchase also. This will be important if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to report a theft to the police. At least you can prove that bike is yours in the event that the bike is recovered since you have all the evidence at hand.
If theft is a big concern for you, consider purchasing e-bike insurance to recoup the cost of a theft.
Electric Bike Theft Prevention
Since electric bikes are usually more expensive than their non-electric cousins, they present a more attractive target for bike thieves. Because of this, it’s worthwhile to invest in a GPS tracker for peace of mind and additional security. There are other preventative measures, which I cover below.
Park your Electric Bike off the Street!
The most valuable tip that I can give you is to store your bike off the street and out of sight. This tip alone is the single most important thing you can do to prevent an e-bike theft from ever happening.
Store your bike off the street and out of sight. This tip alone is the single most important thing you can do to prevent an e-bike theft from ever happening.
When I store my bike in my apartment building, I am fortunate to have access to a dedicated storage room for bikes. This means I have quick access to my e-bike, it is never on the street, and it saves space not having it in my apartment. The only other people who will have access to the bike storage room are other residents of the building. These people are extremely unlikely to be bike thieves for obvious reasons. I lock up my bike with a padlock and chain just in case but it’s more for peace of mind.
At work, I am lucky to have access to an underground parking garage. There is a dedicated bike rack where I can lock up my e-bike during the workday, and the only access is to work colleagues. This also means that it’s off the street while I’m at work.
Between my apartment bike storage room and to the underground parking garage at work I never have my e-bike parked on a public street. Fortunately due to this have never experienced a bike theft.
If you do not have a bike storage room, try to store your electric bike in a hallway, in shed that is not visible from the street, a basement, under the stairs, in a garage, or even in a garden at the back of your home. In the worst case scenario, store it directly inside your home or apartment – anywhere is better than on a public street.
One last thing is to make sure that is not visible from the street, even in your home. You can read horror stories on the internet where e-bike owners stored their expensive e-bike on a balcony or other areas that were visible from the street, resulting in a bike theft.
What Can I do for Times when I Absolutely Must Park on the Street?
If you absolutely must store your bike on a public street, make sure of the area is public with plenty of foot traffic and well-lit. This may prevent a more casual bike theft as the thief will be forced to cut the chain or break the lock in front of others. The presence of others may prevent a theft. Another tip is to make sure the amount of time away from your bike is as short as possible, such as quickly purchasing something from a shop and immediately returning back.
Lock your E-Bike to Something Completely Immovable
Make sure the item that you lock your bike to is extremely robust and impossible to remove from the ground (at least without power tools), such as a metal pole set into concrete, or a railing. A friend of mine locked his bike to some wooden posts that were supports for a small tree planted on a public street, so bike thieves simply pulled up the wooden posts, threw them aside, and lifted the bike away without needing to break the lock and chain. The posts appeared secure, but unfortunately, professional bike thieves know to be on the prowl for these vulnerabilities.
Make your E-Bike Appear Visually Less Attractive to Thieves
Another possibility to reduce the chance of bike theft on a public street is to cheapen the look of your electric bike. Some ways to do this are with cheap-looking stickers or decals to cover expensive logos, or to deliberately leave some dirt on some shiny components like expensive pedals or wheels. If you combine this with a heavy lock, parking the e-bike near other, more attractive-looking bikes a thief may simply ignore your bike for a more obvious target. You should also remove the battery from your e-bike and take it with you, as an e-bike without the battery is much less attractive as a stolen item. If you are spending an extended time away from the bike, try to remove the wheels and saddles as well.
Crappy Second Bike
If you are particularly worried about bike theft due to the absolute necessity to park a bike on the street, consider getting a second ‘beater’ bike or e-bike for those occasions. It sucks to have any e-bike stolen, but it’s better than having a $10,000 high end e-bike ending up in the hands of bike thieves.
Invest in a high quality lock that will need power tools to remove. Thieves will most likely move onto an easier target rather than risking a huge racket trying to get the lock off your e-bike.
Lock the E-Bike through the Frame and Wheels
When you actually go to lock your bike, make sure you loop the chain through both the frame and back wheel at a minimum, in addition to the stationary object. If your chain is long enough, you can also attempt to loop it through the front wheel too. If you only loop it through a wheel, a thief can simply remove the wheel and take the rest of the e-bike for parts.
I hope you found these tips useful. Keep your e-bike safe!