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Travellers' Advisories, Safety and Security on the Road Recent News, political or military events, which may affect trip plans or routes. Personal and vehicle security, tips and questions.
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  #1  
Old 7 May 2014
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BIKE Security:Parking, Bike Covers & General Paranoia

I read about riders going to lots of trouble to find safe parking for their bikes. Some even bring bikes INSIDE their room!

I am aware that not all overnights are ideal in terms of bike security, but in my travels (mostly Latin America) I find that if you're paying for a room ... management generally does not want your moto to get stolen or vandalized.
Anyone agree with that premiss?
Police showing up at their Hotel is not great for business ... and it may cost them.

I like the "inner central courtyard" lay out common in typical Latin Hacienda designs. But even there, I see some bringing bikes into the room, even though main front door is locked at night.

Are things that bad? Who does this? Who does not? Is it mostly "new" riders or everyone? ... is there a lack of understanding of local culture at play?

I know Bike Theft is ...and has been ... a huge issue in Britain. Why is that? Who can explain it?

But bike theft is not so much an issue in the rest of the world. Do some bring paranoia from home? a lack of trust of "foreigners" when they travel?
Is not understanding local language/culture part of this? I know many Americans have that attitude ... and bike theft is nothing here.
"...we are afraid what we don't understand"

What about "Trust"? If the answer is NONE ... Why? Based on what negative personal experience?

I am thinking of bringing a bike cover along ... or perhaps using my tent ground cover as a bike cover. A cover takes a fair bit of space up, so I'm only considering it at this point. Do covers help?
Is the " ... out of sight, out of mind" theme true? Or not? Worth it?

I've seen certain riders hauling HUGE, thick chains or long cables, BIG padlocks, U locks or Disc Locks. Is all that really required? I carry a simple, small but good quality Disc Lock which I put on the rear Disc. In addition I lock my steering and have a hidden ignition defeat switch.

Are you afraid to leave anything on your bike at night? No matter where it's parked? I see many travelers totally stripping the bike every night, lugging the CRAP 3 stories up to their room ... then lugging it back again in the morning. Then spending 1/2 hour re-mounting it all.
Is that the best way to operate? Or are these just "Noobs" travelers?

I leave my panniers on the bike at night ... empty. I use INNER bags which I do bring to my room. 30 seconds off/30 seconds back on. Does anyone really think a thief would steal empty panniers off a bike in a reasonably safe location? (like outside your room)

I don't worry at Hotels/Hostels unless bike must be stored far away, off site. But if it's a locked facility ... usually no problems.

I worry more about a short stop NOT at a Hotel, but doing a quick wander round or shopping. I think a cover might help here ... where basically most everything is left on the bike. (no electronics or tank bag)

What is the best routine on the road in strange towns, doing all the usual stuff travelers do? (banking, internet, shopping, bike parts or shop, Cafe's, Hotel)

Anyone use a Bike Cover? Locks?
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  #2  
Old 8 May 2014
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There are two aspects to your question;

1) Theft of items off the bike

2) Theft of the bike.

Moving the bike to your room solves both of those problems, means you don't have to totally unpack the bike for items to remain not only safe but also saves unpacking just to repack in the morning.

Bike in a locked court yard mostly solves the second, but not the first problem. Even so called 'secure' places have theft of items off the bike. This may not sound like a big deal .. until you realize the item taken cannot be replaced here. So the 'value' of the thing is not the initial cost, but how much time and money would be needed to replace it here? So the 'value' can be higher than the initial cost. In addition some add a sentimental value to things .. why they take those I've no idea.

---------------
Bike covers deter both bike and item theft - out of sight, out of mind. I like a popular place where the thing is in plain and frequent sight.

======================
Theft happens everywhere. It may not perceived as being as frequent as somewhere else .. but it happens.

=================
If you don't understand a culture then you tend to be cautious. That maybe taken as fear of the unknown ... but if they were that afraid they would not be there.
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  #3  
Old 8 May 2014
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One man's paranoia is another's reasonable precaution.

I find that most times, the hotel proprietor is more concerned about my bike's safety than I am. Of course, I travel with a bike I can afford to lose, not that I want to lose it. I am happy if it is in some kind of locked or fenced in enclosure. Quite a few times it's ended up in a hotel lobby, but never in the room. I carry a cable and padlock, and try to lock the bike to a post or something, trying to keep the cable up off the ground so it's harder to cut with a hammer and chisel. If there is no post, I cable the wheels together.

I too, feel most vulnerable when I am alone and have to make a stop in the middle of the day, to go into a big store, deal with a border, or see a neat little walking trail. Obviously the irreplaceable stuff comes with, but that doesn't mean I want to lose the replaceable stuff, either. Anybody has a good idea, please respond.

The only thing I have ever had stolen was a pair of overpants that I left draped over the bike to dry, then forgot to bring them in.
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  #4  
Old 8 May 2014
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There you are, riding your motorcycle on the big "once in a lifetime" trip through Africa or South America, partway through a trip of several months, and you walk out to the parking lot to find your bike gone...


I think part of it is simply that if the bike is stolen, your trip is over.
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Old 8 May 2014
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Originally Posted by brclarke View Post
There you are, riding your motorcycle on the big "once in a lifetime" trip through Africa or South America, partway through a trip of several months, and you walk out to the parking lot to find your bike gone... I think part of it is simply that if the bike is stolen, your trip is over.
Certainly true for some "one trip" riders/travelers. But ..."once in a lifetime"? Not for everyone. For others, it's more "a lifetime of travel".

Of course no one wants to lose a bike (that's why I asked about bike covers) ... but losing a bike doesn't have to be a Trip Ender. You can buy another bike anywhere and continue.

For some "the trip" is all about bike prep, farkles, high tech camping and non-stop riding. Their ride centers more around the bike and their gadgets, riding big distance and making constant progress forward ... to ??? Many set a relentless schedule and press on with few breaks.

For others the bike is more an expendable tool ... transport A to B ...better than going by Bus (no crime in Bus travel). They may be less attached ... and may ride a bike they can afford to lose. If a rider only has $1000 to $2000 in bike, then not so devastating. $25K? Another story.

As Hecktoglider says: Less Is More. Far on Small.
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  #6  
Old 8 May 2014
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That might work for you, but for other folks, yes, spending several months riding across Africa or South America could indeed be a trip of a lifetime.

If I were riding a multi-month tour and some asshat stole my ride, it might well be the end of my trip, depending on the circumstances. It would certainly have taken me several years of saving to get to the point of affording such a trip. Maybe I'd get out the credit card and go buy a cheap little 125 so I could at least have something to ride - or maybe I'd have to fly home.

I think people going to a bit of trouble to lock up their most valued posession isn't unreasonable.
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Old 8 May 2014
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You make it sound like travelling in Britain guarantees your bike getting nicked. I know London can be problematic, but it's not all that bad!

My Metal Mules only take about 10 seconds to get off, and offer me peace of mind when it comes to leaving the bike and having a wander. At night, if I'm staying in a hotel, as I've said it's quick and easy to take on and off. The roll bag for my tent takes a little longer . . .

As for the bike itself, I use a disc lock and a cycle (sturdy) lock to 'chain' the bike to something solid (railings, etc). By far the best safety feature is my 'ratty', although fairly new, cover. I bought a cheap one without any brand markings that makes what's underneath look worthless. There's lots on the HUBB about the merits of covers - as you say, out of sight and all that - and my rubbish-looking one seems to make the bike fairly invisible. I've been at campsites where, when uncovered, I get loads of interest in my bike, loads of questions, admiring looks, etc. when it's covered, no interest at all. I get ignored! The more worthless you can make it look, the less interest you'll get. As many have said, most theft is opportunism; the less attractive you can make the prospect (either by making it look really secure or worthless) the more chance there is you'll keep the bike.

If someone really wants your bike, it's gone. To this end, I also have GPS tracker fitted. Is some scrote does nick the bike , I can tell the Police where it is!
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Old 9 May 2014
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Originally Posted by Endurodude View Post
I also have GPS tracker fitted. Is some scrote does nick the bike , I can tell the Police where it is!
Hey Endurodude, you in Peterborough Ontario? Was also wondering what kind of GPS tracker you have?

To add to the thread, we're planning on bringing a bike cover. Yes it's bulky compared to nothing at all, although I find it's not that bad once it's folded and compressed. I've heard the out of sight argument far too many times and it has me convinced.

We're hoping on doing some day hikes here and there so I'm also considering bringing a security cable to run through our gear (jacket, pants, helmets) and leave it locked to the bike when we go for a hike somewhere. I just hate not being able to go for a hike down some beautiful trail because you're scared of losing your crap on the bike. Might be overkill if we also use a cover, not sure. Also have a disc lock for what that's worth.

I used to laugh at my friends for bringing their bike covers on our trips, I never did and had no problems. But that was closer to home and everything was insured. Travelling to CA/SA is a bit different as insurance won't exactly provide replacement value (or any value for that matter) if the bike gets stolen. But I feel like the odds of theft are higher here in NA anyway.

Cheers,
Mark
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Old 9 May 2014
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Originally Posted by L84toff View Post
We're hoping on doing some day hikes here and there so I'm also considering bringing a security cable to run through our gear
Umm I too like a walk. At a fairly remote site I left my motorcycle boots beside the bike .... they were still there when I returned...

But during the walk the weather changed ... a bit of rain .. I had a storm jacket with me so was not too worried .. until I remembered the motorcycle boots sitting mouth upwards to receive the rain! It was a quick trip back to empty about a cup full of rain out of the boots. A cover would have been good....
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Old 9 May 2014
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Originally Posted by Warin View Post
Umm I too like a walk. At a fairly remote site I left my motorcycle boots beside the bike .... they were still there when I returned...

But during the walk the weather changed ... a bit of rain .. I had a storm jacket with me so was not too worried .. until I remembered the motorcycle boots sitting mouth upwards to receive the rain! It was a quick trip back to empty about a cup full of rain out of the boots. A cover would have been good....
Another vote for the cover then . LoL too bad about the boots. I think I'd take that over having them stolen that's for sure. Some folks use a plastic grocery bag over top of each boot, although I've not tried that. Also keeps critters out.
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Old 9 May 2014
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Risk equals likelihood times severity of consequences. Low likelihood but high consequences equates to significant risk. Likewise high likelihood but low consequences.

I often cover and lock my bike, and usually strip baggage overnight. Sometimes I bring it in a room--usually not. I've left it on the streets in Eastern Europe and Latin America....but again not usually. I've had stuff stolen off the bike and under other circumstances while traveling, and it's always been a pain in the ass to replace even minor items. Usually I end up with something of decidedly inferior quality. Ever tried to find high-quality trail runners in Brazil? How about in Zimbabwe? I've done both, and both times I ended up trekking with a full pack in ridiculously low-quality shoes. Didn't like that.

I'm no noob, and I don't like the OP's repeated framing of questions in those terms. People make choices and then live with the consequences. My choices don't need to be identical to yours, but that doesn't make me foolish, deluded, or inexperienced.

Mark
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Old 9 May 2014
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Originally Posted by L84toff View Post
Hey Endurodude, you in Peterborough Ontario? Was also wondering what kind of GPS tracker you have?
Peterborough UK, sorry! GPS is Road Angel BikeTrac; it''s really useful. Via their website, you can also track where you've been - or, as I also use it, give loved one's the login details when away and they can see what you're up to! On second thoughts, is that the best idea . . .
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Old 9 May 2014
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Originally Posted by Endurodude View Post

If someone really wants your bike, it's gone. To this end, I also have GPS tracker fitted. Is some scrote does nick the bike , I can tell the Police where it is!

Don't about your thieves, but here a tracker isn't useful anymore. The first thing they do is park it in covered parking so there is no satellite reception. Then they watch it for a bit to see it wasn't tracked. Then remove the tracker and dismantle at leisure. Funny enough, bike theft isn't common. Its cars, BMWS and bakkies they go for. And often by hijacking with you inside; that way they get the keys and immobiliser as well.

Leaving stuff on a bike? No thanks. I park where I can see it. Here if you stand still long enough they will steal your shadow and the milk out of your tea.

Not sure why they don't steal bikes. They don't ride them I guess, except delivery boys on 125s. And to sell the parts, well the bike community is small and someone selling stolen parts will quickly be traced. Its rare to hear a bike was stolen. Cars often.
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Old 9 May 2014
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Question

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Originally Posted by Kradmelder View Post
. Its cars, BMWS and bakkies they go for.
What's a 'bakkie'?
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Old 9 May 2014
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How about in Zimbabwe? I've done both, and both times I ended up trekking with a full pack in ridiculously low-quality shoes. Didn't like that.

I'm no noob, and I don't like the OP's repeated framing of questions in those terms. People make choices and then live with the consequences. My choices don't need to be identical to yours, but that doesn't make me foolish, deluded, or inexperienced.

Mark
Zim, especially the cities, is one of the places where they will steal the shoes right off your feet. It is not always poverty related. In some very poor countries theft isn't as prevalent. In a country with a culture of thievery, where it is more tolerated, it is more wide spread. In fact, many hijackers drive BMWs. They will steal electronics, not clothes or food. It is naiive to think all people are the same, which is on the ridulcous pillars of liberal Political Correctness.
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