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Old 9 Oct 2013
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Ask a motorcycle thief

i've found this article, i think its really useful to read and share it in here

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So earlier this week, the guys over at RideIt had an idea: solicit a motorcycle thief to do one of their Ask Me Anythings. First answered by a cop in London and later an actual bike thief from the US, the results are positively illuminating. Here, we’ve edited the material into something linear and easily digestible. It’s a must-read if you don’t want your bike to get stolen.

The original Ask Me Anything request reads:

- what type of motorcycles did you target and why?
- what’s the best type of security system we can get for our motorcycles?
- how and where should we position chain locks on our bikes so you don’t take bolt cutters to them? how easy is it to cut high quality locks?
- what deters you the most? as in when you see a motorcycle and analyze it for a steal,
- what makes you go “no, not that one.”
- what does a gallon of bleach taste like after you swallow it?

Let’s look at the responses from the cop first:

“The thing is security costs money. Its not a 100% guarantee but it gives your bike a fighting chance.”

Types of motorcycles: “The most popular bikes for thievery are sports bikes and those bikes which you see around more commonly. Reason being in an age of trackers, HPI checks and people knowing much more about how to be smart when they buy a new vehicle (so as not to buy a stolen one) its much simpler for the thief to break the bike up into parts and sell it for parts. In fact only a few weeks ago we raided a house and found 5 motorcycles in various stages of being stripped down.”

Best security: “The most common way of stealing a motorcycle is by lifting it off of the ground and loading into a van. Quick, easy, quiet, once the bike is in the van its invisible, riding it comes with a greater risk of being caught. Plus you don’t even need to know how to ride it. No need to override the ignition. It couldn’t be simpler. We have seen them in the past put a scaffold tube under the front forks and under the back of the bike near the shock and lift it between 4 of them. Even a big sports bike at 200kg is only 50 kg each.”

“For this reason your first priority must be to stop it getting off the ground. Only a good chain, lock and ground anchor will stop this. Ideally you need something which is hardened and 16mm diameter plus. Otherwise they may well be able to cut it with bolt cutters. Which for them is ideal because its quick and very quiet. A good lock is one which is hard to pick and very hard wearing. We don’t see many picking attacks at all, in fact I don’t think I ever have but for peace of mind I use an abloy on my bike.”

“Another good tip, always lock it off tight, don’t leave a lot of loose chain on the floor. If you do the the chain is vulnerable to freeze and sledge hammer attacks.”

“A decent ground anchor should be very solid indeed. The ones which you sink into concrete are best but not realistic for most people unless you’re putting concrete down anyway. A strong bolt down is mostly very efficient. Some are better than others. I’ve got a hardie ground anchor because you can lift a lorry cab up with it and it won’t break. Another great thing, disc lock alarms. I’ve got two, one on each wheel. If the bike starts moving they go off and make a right ruckus, just what the thieves hate. Also things like alphadot, smartwater, with visible stickers are deterrents too.”

“Ideally garage your bike. If its on a driveway then get one of those PIR security lights. The thieves do not want a “and by the light let your good work shine” type scenario. A dummy CCTV camera is good to, because a lot of thieves will be put off even if they think its a fake.”

“In terms of decent locks the very best padlock that I know of is the Abloy Protec 362. Its what I use. Its got a 15mm boron steel shackle, very heavy duty. Its military grade, used in bank vaults. The Squire 65CS is another good one, although not as hard to pick as the abloy. In fact the abloy is yet to be picked I believe. The abloy is very pricey. Look out for them on ebay. It will be a significant saving for you. Those locks are both very hard to bolt cut. The squire hides the shackle (shrouded). Makes it hard to get any sort of grip on it with bolt cutters. Often you can’t even see enough of it to put cutters on it. The weak point is normally the chain. A lot of manufacturers make lightweight chains you can use around town but are bolt cutter resistant, not proof.”

How to lock up: “Ideally not through a wheel. A wheel is easy to remove. Its great having a really secure wheel but like I say a lot of the time they get sold as spares so through the frame is great. You can’t do that with my bike so I’ve put it through the gap between the engine block and the down pipes then through the front forks which is either going to be quite time consuming (likely set the disc lock alarms off) or very noisy. Lock the chain off tight. What I mean by that is it shouldn’t have much slack between the bike and floor at all. You may have to make a cut in the chain sleeve in order to be able to do this. But its really worth it. If the chain is loose on the floor its much more vulnerable to sledge hammer attacks, freeze attacks, wedge attacks and bolt cutters.”

How to deter a thief: “The biggest deterrent is a secure motorcycle. Reason being there are lot of insecure ones out there and they will go for the low hanging fruit every time.”

“Remember what a thief doesn’t want is to be caught. Being caught is the biggest hazard in their line of business. Business is how most of them see it. Make your bike more risky than other bikes and they’ll go for easier pickings. Reminds me a while a go I was on foot patrol and saw a lovely Ducati 916 with a chain through the back wheel, not attached to anything. I did give the owner some advice and it was heartening to see that he did take it on board. Ultimately your goal should be making getting caught in the act as likely as possible and the maximise the time it would take to steal the bike.”

“The point is, the more trouble the thief has to go to the longer its going to take. The vast majority of thieves got for the low hanging fruit. This is about not making your bike the low hanging fruit.”

And here’s what the thief has to say:

“I’m not exactly sure how I ended up with this life. I was basically a normal American kid who was very shy and did well in school. My best friend was basically a dirtbag and he made it seem cool to be a dirtbag. I started off dropping him off at bikes to steal, then scouting out bikes for him to steal, then helping him steal bikes, then stealing them together.”

“I figured out quickly that the guys we sold the bikes to made more money and assumed far less risk so I saved my money so I could get on that end of things.”

“I considered myself small time but I was involved in the scene for over 10 years. While my name was brought up in investigations I was never charged with a crime related to this business and I never “informed” on anyone. I quit when I felt the risk exceeded the reward. Maybe it was the guilt, the shame, maybe I was just finally growing up. I lived a lie for a long time and even if no one knew it I was painfully embarrassed inside because of the life I had been leading. I love motorcycles and I was the man responsible for that sickening feeling you have when you wake up to realize your baby has been stolen and I was responsible for it A LOT. Towards the end I would sleep in sweat pants and a hoodie because I knew any day my door was going to be kicked in and I wanted to be comfortable as possible in jail.”

“I’ve been out of it all for 4-5 years and I still am trying to figure out how I became that guy.”


Types of motorcycles: “Mostly supersports. They are the most commonly crashed and generally the easiest to find (left outside in nice apartment complexes) Next would be Harleys and for a brief moment in time the high dollar choppers.”

Best security: “Never, ever, never never never, NEVER leave your bike outside at an apartment complex. Especially one with a gated parking garage. The gated parking garage in a mid to high rise apartment building in the nice part of a large city is the number one place for bike thieves to go ‘shopping.’”

“As far as passive devices go I like the NYC fughetaboutit chain/lock from Kryptonite, the thicker of the two. It needs to go through something like a braced swingarm whenever possible. If you absolutely have to put it through a wheel put it through the rear wheel. It takes much longer to swap than the front wheel. Any $100 disc lock will work well, again, rear wheel, locks on the front are more easily defeated, take my word for it. Cheaper disc locks can be quietly, well, we’ll leave it at that, cheap ones can be defeated in silence.”

“Lo-jack and Lo-Jack w/early warning are pretty good at recovering the bikes from amateurs and semi-pros, but someone who knows what they are doing will remove the lojack system quickly after clearing the area. Still someone even more professional (surprisingly rare) will have somewhere to check/store/breakdown the bike that is rf shielded. The problem with lo-jack is that it doesn’t keep someone from stealing the bike. Even if you get it back in one piece without the police crashing into your bike to catch the thief you’ll still likely have a broken upper triple, damage to the neck of your frame (Steering lock), damage to your ignition, damage to the tank lock, possible damage to the tank itself (rareish) possible damage to the trunk lock , and then your insurance company might **** you too. It’s much better to not get the bike stolen in the first place. So in addition to lo-jack you want some sort of VISIBLE passive devices to make the thief move on. The paging alarms are somewhat effective, but they aren’t linked to the police. Removing electronic devices is obviously more of a mental challenge than a physical one. The quality of the install is a huge factor here. Hide the lo-jack or alarm in or under the airbox and all the wiring within the factory looms and you’ll have a good set up. However, almost NO dealer tech is this thorough. It’s not his bike, why would he go the extra mile?”

Best locks: “Of the dozens of [thieves] I knew over the years I only came across one like this, but I knew someone that had a pair of bolt-cutters that weighed a lot, more than a 45lb plate at the gym, and had replaceable cryogenically hardened teeth. They cost several hundred dollars. The high dollar chain lock sets $150+ are worth it. Even the high dollar braided cable locks are good. They can be cut, but it’s a pretty time consuming process.”

What makes you pass over a bike? “Personally, if it’s rashed up, looks cosmetically rough, but mechanically sound. Say grips are worn, been dropped on both sides, but the chain is clean and well-adjusted, tires worn hard on the edges, has any signs of safety-wiring for the track etc. It’s lack of value isn’t what I’m looking it. It would remind me of myself once upon a time. I think that’s probably all he’s got, his whole world, it’s not pretty, but he rides the piss out of it. He gets a pass.”

“More for most people, just what takes time. I’ve known very very few stone cold guys that can sit there for an hour working on a bike. Most people will give it a few seconds, maybe a couple minutes, and if they can’t get it they are gone. What is only seconds feels like an eternity when your freedom and life are on the line. Quality disc lock on the rear wheel, quality chain and lock, lockable bike cover and theft coverage on your insurance. For me, lo-jack isn’t worth the cost. It’s more expensive than theft coverage and after a thief has had his way with the bike I don’t want it back. All can fit in a back pack and aren’t much of a hassle to carry. Never leave it outside very long day or night.”

Security tips: “If you’re temporarily parked outside somewhere a good little FREE anti-theft trick, bring a stubby flathead with you and remove your clutch lever. No clutch lever and they aren’t riding anywhere. Of course if you do this every night outside your apartment they’ll just come back with their own clutch lever.”

“LOCK YOUR ****ING STEERING – DON’T LEAVE YOUR SPARE KEY IN YOUR TRUNK. I can open your trunk with a butter knife, don’t leave me your ****ing key in there, jesus. Happens more often than you think. Also, don’t leave your TITLE in the trunk, i’ve seen this too often too. Steering locks aren’t that hard to bypass, but they aren’t THAT easy either. Sometimes you get the freak one that doesn’t want to break and you’ll need to come back with a second person. In that time maybe the owner sees the bike and the thief doesn’t get it. Had it been unlocked the bike would be gone.”

“Again, if you park outside of an apartment and your bike gets stolen, rent a ****ing garage or self-storage unit near by to use as a garage. The thief is just going to wait a couple weeks for insurance to replace your bike and come back to check. If someone tries and fails to get your bike the same thing applies. Move it, they WILL be back.”

How much do you earn per bike? “It varies depending on yr/make/model/condition. About 10-12 years ago there was an out of state buyer we used to crate bikes to that had the ability to create titles for them who paid $3500 for near new 1000cc supersports. 1,000-1,500 is more typical for super sports. Harleys vary quite a bit depending on model and options, from 1,000 for a basic late model sportster to several thousand for a highly optioned fat boy, road king etc.”

Ride ‘em or van ‘em? “There is this common misconception that a few guys load bikes into trucks and vans. The people who get CAUGHT load bikes into trucks and vans. Your career will be very short if you’re loading a 185mph rocket (that likely has a tracking system) that will outrun the police into the back of an 85mph van that will take you to the scene of your arrest. If you can’t start the bike and ride off then you damn sure can’t find and remove lojack.”

“In 10-15 years I’ve known a couple dozen thieves and only one that was foolish enough to load bikes into a truck or van for any length of time. He learned to wire them after he was caught, twice, lol.”

“I was taught to never ride a hot bike anywhere you didn’t absolutely have to and to ride strictly by the letter of the law. You don’t get it if you don’t have somewhere to take it, you don’t ride like a jackass and risk your money/freedom, it’s not a bike, it’s a job, and it’s payday. Generally you got the bike, rode it straight to your destination, and broke it down.”

A final word: “The majority of thieves aren’t that smart and half of those are on drugs, please don’t be dumber than they are.”
original post Ask a motorcycle thief | RideApart



so...guys,how do you protect your bikes from theft ?
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  #2  
Old 9 Oct 2013
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Thanks for posting this - very interesting.

I try and avoid high risk areas and use lock ups - out of sight, out of mind. Fortunately, neither of my bikes resides in a high risk area.

S
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Old 9 Oct 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by docsherlock View Post
Thanks for posting this - very interesting.

S
Yes, it's a good read and a useful reminder of the precautions needed in just about any western nation; isn't that "the rub" - in many other countries of this world there is much more respect for personal property, even though (or because) folks have far less possessions.
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Old 10 Oct 2013
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I like that last comment the most. Had a look at that padlock and wish the made them like that in miniature. It's 1.2kg on its own.



I'll stick with an alarm disk lock on trips.
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  #5  
Old 12 Oct 2013
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nice post makes for some very interesting reading
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  #6  
Old 7 Jan 2014
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Great information for a new rider! Thanks for the post!
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  #7  
Old 7 Jan 2014
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Chalk & Cheese

I read this article some years back in one of the Brit magazine, IIRC.
Should add attribution to original author.

Big problem with it is they talk to a UK cop ... and then an American thief.
Huge contrast between the two regards bike theft. Would have been much better to talk to a UK thief ... there's plenty of 'em! (apparently)

In the USA bike theft is barely a blip on the radar. The police won't even come out to the scene of a theft in big US cities. You'll have to go to the station to file a report.
Will they investigate? Not a chance.
But why?

See, in America we have something that barely exists in the UK. It's called real violent crime. Lots of MURDER. Everyday. MURDER. Everybody has a gun and we have shootings everyday in cities like L.A. and Oakland. The stats are off the charts and truly stunning.

How many gun murders happen in the UK in a year? Very few, no?
So, for this reason, bike theft is a very low priority for police in the US. The other thing is ... not many thiefs bother with bikes. Far more profit in cars, house breaking or robbing Jewelry stores.

From my multiple visits to the UK and from reading up on the bike scene over the last 20 years ... it's clear bike theft in the UK is endemic. Out of Control. I was warned by everyone I met in the UK to be careful about leaving my bike. (I was)

In the USA most owners would never go to the lengths Brit owners do to prevent theft. I've never seen anyone, anywhere in the USA use a ground anchor. Yet in the UK, nearly everyone has them.

Also, almost NO ONE has Sat trackers mounted and NO ONE uses the little bar codes stick ons to identify parts. Does not exist here. Once again, common in the UK. Some high end guys in the USA may use our Lo-Jak system. But very rare indeed. (expensive)

Here in the USA we often leave our bikes outside. In the UK very few risk it.
Also, in the USA target bikes are much different than the UK. The Stats show that in years past Harley's are high on the list ... or any cruiser. As the American thief says, Supersports are up there too. (Ninja14, GSXR1000, R1,
CBR1000 et al) In UK sport bikes are favored but seems they'll steal anything on two wheels.

Nonetheless ... all the tips in the article are valuable. But I just wanted to point out that bike theft is just not a big deal in the USA. Two type of bikes that are rarely messed with here: Old BMW air heads and beat up dual sport bikes ... like mine.

Here, a cover is a good, simple and cheap way to put off a thief. And as the American thief says ... always lock your steering. In the USA ... just that alone may put the thief onto the next bike in line.

This is what I do when my bike has to live outside or when traveling in dicey areas. (parking garages, street)
Steering locked
Hidden ignition switch (can't be hot wired)
Ignition key cover (hides key hole ... made it myself)
Put bike in 5th gear
Nice Disc lock on rear disc

Leave all the factory safety ignition cut outs hooked up. (clutch, side stand, in gear) All these have the potential to slow down or foil an amateur thief. A thief must be quick above all. Anything to slow them down might help you.

But if the thief is a pro? fug-gett-about-it. Your bike is GONE in 60 seconds!
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Old 8 Jan 2014
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Best way: ride a bike that isn't worth anything. Been parking for years all over, no security.
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Old 10 Jan 2014
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bike

To confirm Mollydog post , here in the US the bikes are pretty safe most of the time and you will often see helmet on the bike not attached to anything , back to Europe its a very different story as in Paris and most of France you have to lock your bike to a post or it will be gone very fast , same goes for luggage and if you have valuable such as GPS you better remove them even if its only the time to have lunch somewhere . During my trips I always use an old cover and if the place look unsafe I also have a pyton lock that I carry with me . In south and Central America I almost never use it due to the indoor parking situation in hotel and during the day no local want to steal a big bike loaded like a mule , same goes to Asia or Africa . I will be just careful with the tank bag and GPS if I go exploring for few hours . I did find kids sitting on my bike few time but to me its completely normal and my only fear was to see a kid get hurt by the bike falling on them .
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  #10  
Old 31 Jan 2014
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got my bike stolen in brooklyn

This is a great thread.
My motorcycle got stolen in brooklyn one month into my year + trip around north and south america. it was sitting next to ten other bikes but although mine was probably of the least value, it was obviously a "white boy's" bike according to the actual thieves with whom I spoke face to face with after the fact. KLR 650s seem to be the popular choice for cruising around the ghetto and doing wheelies. I was told that it was their bike now since i was in their territory.
I was dumb though, I left it on the street in a sketchy neighborhood for 3 weeks with a disk lock and steering lock. all my boxes were off thankfully. i'm pretty sure they van'd it or used a truck. I made the report and nypd actually came to the scene, no sirens blaring of course. I was sure my trip was done and ready to fly back to LA but luckily stuck around for 2 weeks to get a call that they found it. Luckily the idiots couldn't get it started. dead battery. the tank hadn't been opened and there was about the same amount of gas. I was personally threatened that the bike would be stolen again so i found a garage for it while i waited for parts in the mail; new ignition, rear rotor, rack mounts, license plate, etc.
now i travel with a kryptonite nyc chain, i wrap it around my boxes so it doesn't take up space while traveling, it's heavy as heck though. i will get another disk lock before i leave to mexico and south (back in la now).
short story about it here: lots of little worlds
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  #11  
Old 31 Jan 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mollydog View Post
I read this article some years back in one of the Brit magazine, IIRC.
Should add attribution to original author.

Big problem with it is they talk to a UK cop ... and then an American thief.
Huge contrast between the two regards bike theft. Would have been much better to talk to a UK thief ... there's plenty of 'em! (apparently)

In the USA bike theft is barely a blip on the radar. The police won't even come out to the scene of a theft in big US cities. You'll have to go to the station to file a report.
Will they investigate? Not a chance.
But why?

See, in America we have something that barely exists in the UK. It's called real violent crime. Lots of MURDER. Everyday. MURDER. Everybody has a gun and we have shootings everyday in cities like L.A. and Oakland. The stats are off the charts and truly stunning.

How many gun murders happen in the UK in a year? Very few, no?
So, for this reason, bike theft is a very low priority for police in the US. The other thing is ... not many thiefs bother with bikes. Far more profit in cars, house breaking or robbing Jewelry stores.

From my multiple visits to the UK and from reading up on the bike scene over the last 20 years ... it's clear bike theft in the UK is endemic. Out of Control. I was warned by everyone I met in the UK to be careful about leaving my bike. (I was)

In the USA most owners would never go to the lengths Brit owners do to prevent theft. I've never seen anyone, anywhere in the USA use a ground anchor. Yet in the UK, nearly everyone has them.

Also, almost NO ONE has Sat trackers mounted and NO ONE uses the little bar codes stick ons to identify parts. Does not exist here. Once again, common in the UK. Some high end guys in the USA may use our Lo-Jak system. But very rare indeed. (expensive)

Here in the USA we often leave our bikes outside. In the UK very few risk it.
Also, in the USA target bikes are much different than the UK. The Stats show that in years past Harley's are high on the list ... or any cruiser. As the American thief says, Supersports are up there too. (Ninja14, GSXR1000, R1,
CBR1000 et al) In UK sport bikes are favored but seems they'll steal anything on two wheels.

Nonetheless ... all the tips in the article are valuable. But I just wanted to point out that bike theft is just not a big deal in the USA. Two type of bikes that are rarely messed with here: Old BMW air heads and beat up dual sport bikes ... like mine.

Here, a cover is a good, simple and cheap way to put off a thief. And as the American thief says ... always lock your steering. In the USA ... just that alone may put the thief onto the next bike in line.

This is what I do when my bike has to live outside or when traveling in dicey areas. (parking garages, street)
Steering locked
Hidden ignition switch (can't be hot wired)
Ignition key cover (hides key hole ... made it myself)
Put bike in 5th gear
Nice Disc lock on rear disc

Leave all the factory safety ignition cut outs hooked up. (clutch, side stand, in gear) All these have the potential to slow down or foil an amateur thief. A thief must be quick above all. Anything to slow them down might help you.

But if the thief is a pro? fug-gett-about-it. Your bike is GONE in 60 seconds!
Yeah, well, there'll be ANOTHER murder if I catch an asshole stealing my bike.
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Old 31 Jan 2014
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Is he in there????

If I am away from my bike for a bit, I park it in front of a coffee shop or somewhere that the thief might think that the owner might be inside and watching
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Old 2 Feb 2014
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Originally Posted by lao_li View Post
...or simply ride an old bike that nobody will steel and stop worrying but enjoy live
How old?
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Old 2 Feb 2014
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Registered trail bikes are a big draw card.
  • they can be 'de-registered' and used off-road where no-one will check them (e.g. on tracks or the farm).
  • they hardly ever have any tracking or alarm systems fitted
  • they are 'light' and easy to man-handle between two people onto a pickup/ute
  • the steering lock are easily broken, and the electric system easily bypassed/hot-wired so no issue to get it running again after stealing it
  • nobody asks you why you want to buy a complete front/back wheel for a trail bike if you have to 'leave it behind' during the theft because of a chain
  • some trailbikes (e.g. XR600) don't even need/have key-ignitions.

Why do I say this? How many 'tourers' out there believe 'smaller is better' and go for a trail-bike for a touring bike?
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Old 2 Feb 2014
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How old?
As old as Methuselah
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Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!




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