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Is your bike secure enough to tour?

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When you set off on a touring trip, you likely have a million things on your mind. From making sure you have a lightweight tent to ensuring you're following your route correctly, it can be hard to keep track of every aspect of your trip. 

However, there's one often overlooked issue that can ruin your entire tour: security. Although you're probably most concerned with being ready when you ride, if you aren't ready to leave your bike safely, it might not be there when you get back. And what's worse than being stranded in a foreign place without your bicycle and all your belongings?

Here are a few tips on securing your bikes no matter where you are and reducing the chance that it will be stolen, stripped or looted. 

Use the right lock 
Cycling About explained that cyclists should think about locks from the perspective of a thief. People who steal bikes want to do it quickly and with small tools. It's unlikely that they'll haul welding tools out onto the street to steal your ride. Instead, they might use bolt cutters, hand tools, ice spray or even portable angle grinders. 

Keep your bike safe no matter the city.
Keep your bike safe no matter the city.

With these tools, most cheap locks can be cut through easily. Among the stronger locks, some are too heavy to be practical on a tour. Instead, consider tougher D-locks or reinforced cables that balance strength with weight. 

Lock the whole bike 
Some of the best lock systems combine the benefits of a cable with the protection of a D-shaped design. You want to ensure your bike's frame, front tire and even seat are all securely fastened. Run a cable through all these parts. If you just put money into your bike for a comfortable touring trip, make sure you protect your investment by locking every section of your bike. 

Pick a good location 
Your bike will be safer in certain areas of a city than others. Again, it pays to think like a thief when you consider where to lock up your bike. Dark, secluded and private areas are easier to steal a bike from than well-trafficked areas where people would have trouble cutting a lock without drawing unwanted attention. 

"Lock your bike to a structure tougher than your lock."

Cycling About recommended locking your bike in a very public area, especially one near a closed circuit television or security camera. In case you bike does get stolen, this hard evidence would increase your chances of finding it. 

Additionally, lock your bicycle to a structure that's tougher than your lock so the thief can't break the tree or pole instead. Also check that your bike can't be slipped over the top of the anchor and that the local government won't confiscate your bicycle. 

Know your bike and serial number 
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which deals with plenty of bicycle theft, recommended you have your serial number handy, in case your bike is stolen while you're on a tour.

Consider storing a picture of your bicycle and its serial number in the cloud so that you can access this information at the police station if you're robbed. Although they may not find your bike and touring gear, the more information you can provide, the better your chances of recovery are. 

Use insurance 
Hopefully you never need to use it, but buying insurance for a long touring trip might help you get out of a location where your bike is stolen and you're trapped abroad. Talk to your insurer and other tourers to find the best options available. 

"Bring your bike or panniers inside hotels."

Bring your bike or panniers inside 
If you're wild camping, it's easy to keep your bags and bike nearby, but if you're in a town or city, it can be more difficult. However, often you can just bring your bike into the hotel and keep it more secure. If you can't bring your bike inside for safe keeping, at least bring in your panniers. 

For day trips and small stops, the experienced cyclists at TravellingTwo explained that they don't worry about keeping all their bags with them and instead just protect the most important ones. 

"Mostly we leave our baggage on the bikes," the blog explained. "It looks disheveled and faded enough now that we think it's pretty unattractive. But we always take our handlebar bag with us, which contains our money, passports and camera, and we often take the bag with our computer and other electronic gadgets along as well. That way, even if the bikes are stolen, we haven't lost the things that are most expensive or hardest to replace."

Ortlieb panniers are even built with security measures to make stealing the entire bag very difficult. 

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About Stephane Marchiori

Owner of Cyclocamping.com
Bike touring since 2003, including:
a 5-Year Bicycle Journey Around The World!

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