Secure bicycle and bicycle parts against theft

> Who steals bicycles in Germany?
> Can I park a bicycle at the train station or at the university?
> Which lock is safe, what do I have to consider when buying a lock?
> How can I secure a lightweight, expensive road bike for a short time?
> Are there efficient ways to effectively prevent wheel theft?
> How do you make a good bike look as unattractive as possible?
> Is a bicycle insurance useful?
> Help coding, bike alarm and GPS tracker against theft?
> What to do if the bike was stolen?

Statistically, every day in Germany good 900 bikes are stolen, which corresponds to a criminal clock rate of an incredible two minutes or about 330.000 wheels per year, the 2016 reported to the police as stolen. The dark figure of all stolen bikes should be much higher. The police clearance rate is statistically close to 10%. However, it varies considerably between 3,5% in Bielefeld or Berlin and almost 34% in Delmenhorst. I have been stolen in my life so far two wheels as a teenager. Both times I was sad for days. The bad thing about it is not just that a wheel is materially gone. The really bad thing for the stolen are the stolen memories of the bike and the fact that you probably have to walk a few days thoughtfully. In Naples and other major crime cities, people park their bicycles on the balcony of the apartment. Incidentally, there are also mopeds and scooters - right up to the sixth floor.

Theft protection of a mudguard through a simple cable clamp

Simple theft protection with an additional cable clamp

Who actually steals the bikes? In the past, it was often the self-operators who only wanted to go from A to B for a short time. Today, there are often young offenders under 21 years, desperate drug addicts and more often specialized bicycle gangs who fill the same whole truck container with two-wheeled stolen goods. It is striking that the perpetrators are almost always male.

Statistically, the thefts in the last ten years in Germany have indeed decreased, but the bicycles were just in the last few years, always higher quality and much more expensive, so the sum insured for insurance still increases year after year. In the days of hip cargo bikes, MTB e-bikes and stepless automatic transmissions in carbon frames, an expressive bike has become a luxurious lifestyle segment in our society. The high season for bicycle thieves starts in the spring and ends in the fall. It is once again the best example of "opportunity makes thieves" (large selection) and "supply and demand" (great need and high attractiveness) in the summer season. In winter, cycling is also less profitable for thieves.

Google Trends clarifies the topic of bicycle theft:


Source: Google Trends

Therefore, individual thefts are becoming increasingly lucrative. It goes so far that wheels are even stolen to order. At first, the perpetrator only takes a picture and does not hit until he has a prospective buyer on the internet. The wheels are often sold anonymously in action exchanges or in parts on the Internet. Some bicycles appear after weeks in Eastern Europe, at flea markets (eg in Essen), or in the used trade again. The resource-weak police is powerless and father state sees the criminal activity for decades uninvolved. If you want to mentally get in the right mood for bicycle theft in Germany, you should take fifteen minutes and this one ARD panoramic video look at.

A bicycle theft is always possible, because every lock can finally be cracked: With a lot of time, with criminal know-how or with professional tools. Even the best padlocks are opened with a battery in less than a minute. But you can do a great deal yourself to make a two-wheeler jamming or a bicycle part theft as unattractive as possible. Because that's exactly my goal: Your own bike always has to be better protected than the wheels that are right next to it. Or look less attractive. If a thief needs three minutes or more to crack, he usually leaves off the object of desire.

Many anti-theft measures are as good as always associated with disadvantages for the two-wheeled owner:


  • Good bicycle locks are usually expensive and require a solid object to connect
  • They are difficult to attach to the wheel and are very heavy with up to 2,5 kg
  • Threadlockers for noble bicycle parts are expensive
  • and in the event of a breakdown, they need the right tool
  • Alarm systems and GPS trackers are expensive, need constant energy and are still considered unreliable

It is therefore important to find the best possible compromises that work in your own two-wheeled everyday life. And before your own bike is stolen. The following tips also apply to motorized two-wheelers.

Scenario 1: How can I park a bicycle at the train station, at the university or at the swimming pool?

An old saying goes: An old bike and a good castle Here is the only true strategy to thwart a bicycle theft at railway stations in the long run at all. That is why train stations, swimming pools, universities, libraries, schools and public bicycle storage facilities must be avoided as a bicycle parking space. Thieves love good bikes that are sure to be unattended for at least half an hour or more. Parking a good bike as a commuter at the station is bordering on insanity, because here criminals have a lot of choice, enough time and a lot of possibilities to go underground very quickly.

Bicycle parts theftEven an old, rusty three-wheeler worth only 50, - EUR has to be connected to commuter stations with a really good lock, because here is nothing for casual thieves anything so attractive, such as a short ride into town by bike to cycle from the swimming pool home instead of traipsing. All bike parts must be screwed tight, otherwise they are gone. Quick-release clamps have to be exchanged for firmly bolted axles. It is best to use two locks from different manufacturers and of course chains both wheels firmly with. Police, ADFC and insurance companies advise against turning off a bike, for example, in a dark, unobserved backyard. Public spaces in the middle of cities are more suitable as a bicycle parking lot: But you should not park it at the train station, at the university or in front of the swimming pool, where there is a guarantee for criminals to steal the bike or expensive bicycle parts in peace !

Places with very high risk of theft for bicycles are:

• Commuter stations, train stations and major traffic stops
• Depending on the living situation, also in the immediate vicinity of the place of residence
• schools and universities
• educational and recreational facilities
• Shops and restaurants with longer stays, eg the beer garden

Where are the majority of bicycles stolen in Germany?
Supplement in July 2019: There is now a usable > Bicycle theft card with hotspots in Germany from velo.graph. There you can also enter bicycle thefts.

Cities like Münster, Leipzig, Halle, Cottbus, Magdeburg, Kiel and of course Berlin are really dangerous for cyclists. But even in the tranquil district of Gütersloh 2016 2.347 total wheels came away. Gütersloh is thus on the sad place 8 of the counties with the largest bicycle theft risk. The safest way to park your bike is, for example, in the Südwestpfalz, Bayreuth, Hof or the Vulkaneifel. The statistic differentiates between "thefts absolutely" and "thefts per 100.000 inhabitants". For example, 94 wheels are stolen every day in Berlin, but based on the number of inhabitants of the cities, these are not much more than in Hanover, Bonn, Freiburg or Paderborn. Striking is the strong north-south divide. Significantly more bikes disappear in the north of Germany than in the south. The entire study of Fahrradklau strongholds can here as PDF be downloaded.

Tex-lock castle

Tex-lock bike lock made of woven textiles: Not quite as light as it looks, but highly flexible. Version 1.0 was not sure, now there is V2.0.

Scenario 2: I have a new bike and need a good lock - which should I buy?

Unfortunately, there are not many bicycle locks that can withstand a planned theft with bolt cutters or Akkuflex for a long time. In addition, they have almost all the disadvantages: they are very heavy, because they must be made of thick, hardened steel, otherwise even cheap bolt cutters cut through unhardened steel like butter. The old rule applies: 10 percent of the bike's value is expediently invested in a lock. 60 - 120 Euro may already be so. When locking all bike locks, the lock cylinder should always point down to make it difficult to break up with picking tools. One finds in the net Reviews about good bike locksthat unfortunately only few models recommend and do not all give consistent results.

Experts recommend:

  • U-locks with high-quality lock cylinder (eg Abus Granit X Plus ™), which withstand picking attempts
  • Chain locks with hardened links (eg Hiplok™ wearable like a belt)
  • Stable folding locks (eg Abus Bordo ™) with attachment to the drink holder must be long enough to lock the wheel to a solid object
  • Unfortunately, no real highlight anymore: Tex-lock™ is a lightweight lock made of textile fibers that are intelligently interwoven. It comes from a kickstarter campaign. Addendum 11 / 2018: Unfortunately version 1 could be sawn through with a simple iron saw Link to Cycling Claude's testVersion 2.0 now includes a hardened chain. In any case, the Tex-lock ™ is still beautiful.
  • In case of doubt you always take two locks from different manufacturers, so a "criminal specialization" turns out to be a particular type of lock

Discarded by:

  • Wire rope and spiral locks without steel casing, these can often be opened with a normal side cutter from the hardware store
  • Cheap chain locks whose links are neither hardened, nor one Picking trial withstand
  • Combination locks, as they are considered by thieves with tact as easy to crack
  • Older locks, because even if they still look like new, they are technically obsolete

The most serious disadvantage of expensive and high quality steel locks is almost always the high weight including the attachment to the wheel, The heavier a lock, the more stable the bracket must be. The lock holder is just as important as the lock itself! If it fails after a few kilometers on bad roads, the castle is worth only half as much. In the case of a bicycle, the weight of the unsprung masses increases with a fixed lock assembly.

Armored cable lock and lightweight wire lock in comparisonSo is a ride on cobblestones with a heavy lock perceived much more unpleasantly, as if it is for example sprung directly worn on the body. The pictured ABUS Steel-O-Flex armored cable lock and a lightweight wire rope loop in comparison. The thick armored cable lock fits just as straight through the spokes of an 28 inch wheel with 36 Save. In my opinion, the lock is rather something for motorcycles. Together with the wire rope is a good combination to secure a few parts such as saddle, wheels, etc. with.

The Hiplok chain lock worn around the waist does not interfere with cycling

Such a Panzerkabelschloss is unfortunately already quite difficult. The best place for a heavy bike lock is in my experience wearing like a belt, After ten minutes driving it is as good as forgotten. Above the jacket, this means an optimal lock length of approx. 90-115 cm depending on stature and clothing: Measuring and "trying on" is unfortunately not always so easy, as the manufacturers stupidly deliver the lock in a sealed package. The "Hiplok" belt buckle in the photo is adjustable in length and forgotten after a few kilometers. It wears almost as good as real "hip gold". As already mentioned, there is also a disadvantage with this type of lock: The more often the lock is pulled by wet, dusty spokes, the dirtier it gets and the dirtier the textile upper part gets, where it hangs tightly entwined. Along with the usual hint of summery sweat gives the dark, oily edges to bright tops. For fair weather riders that is usually not a big problem. Incidentally, emergency doctors do not like this mode of transport, because in isolated cases they could not unlock the lock of injured cyclists - in addition, the risk of accidents due to the metal links increases during the rough descent.

For reasons of style, I even had my motorbike oil timer clad in shoemaker leather. The significantly heavier motorcycle, it is better attached to the sprung vehicle itself. Shorter or longer locks are attached just over the shoulder like a cartridge belt - New German "crossbody", This shoulder place is definitely less comfortable in the long term.

Scenario 3: How to protect a light, expensive road bike against theft for a short time?

Certainly not with a heavy lock. Here is a calculation example: A good road bike or Gravel bike may weigh 6,5 - 10 kilos. Who hangs a sturdy lock with 2,5 kg on it and voluntarily increases the weight by a quarter to a third of the total weight? For a 200 kg motorcycle with a payload of 50-70 kg, this would only correspond to the theft protection. In addition, all parts can be disassembled on expensive wheels in seconds with quick fasteners, here you need a few good locks, for example, to secure only the wheelset and saddle, which alone can quickly be worth about 1000, - EUR. So what do you do?

Counter question: When was the last time you saw such an expensive, light bike finished in the city? Probably almost never. Right, because there is a reason for that: You park such wheels only in the apartment, not in the basement, not in the garage, not in the car and certainly not in the city. Even with a breakdown with a flat tire, a lightweight bike can still be worn outstanding, instead of leaving it somewhere unattended and pick up later.

If you have to visit the gas station without a lock, experienced cyclists will be happy to advise you on expensive bikes to disassemble the bike into parts and leaning loosely against a wall: remove the chain from the sprocket, loosen the saddle, take out the wheels. So a thief falls when accessing everything from the hand: Watch video With the fast wheel as an escape vehicle simply get rid of it is also impossible.

Light combination lock for racing bikes

Crops combination locks from Japan weigh less than 200 grams

Things are easier: In order to secure an expensive road bike at the tank for two minutes, a very light wire lock is completed on a solid object. That really only applies for a few minutes. Expensive road bikes are much better stolen by professional thieves directly to sporting events, when the triathlete is changing or the athlete is in the water ... Because here is the selection huge, the hectic big and there are the best chances to get professional footage.

Scenario 4: My bicycle saddle and saddle post were stolen. How can I prevent the usual parts theft on the bike?

Anti-theft bicycle saddle

Brooks saddle with a riveted bicycle chain height adjustable ...

A fixed with quick release seat post velvet expensive saddle or not firmly screwed wheels you can nowhere stand alone. If so, at least all quick release against Anti-theft Lite Axles replaced, for which a tool is needed. The part theft on the bike is a huge problem, because everything that is not really niet- and nail-fixed, disappears over time. Only the components make a bike really valuable. All bike parts are nunmal screwed together or even just clipped. In times when good LED headlamps cost more than 100 EUR, screw locking is a must.

Pitlock as theft protection

Pitlock as effective theft protection

Thread locking Some companies have come up with great things in recent years. The principle is always the same: The thief needs just the right special tool in the form of a tool similar to the "special nut" with secured wheels.

Unfortunately, these systems are often very expensive and expensive almost always require a tool that must be at hand in every breakdown. Otherwise, the bicycle workshop can not help. On known threadlocking systems there are, for example:

  • Pitlock ™ has more than 1000 different codes, the tool can be ordered via a code card in case of loss. For a 3er set "wheel axles and saddle" the street price is at least 40, - EUR
  • Hexlox ™ works similar, but visually looks different
  • Abus NutFix ™ Screw covers can only be removed when the wheel is on the side
  • The Seat post protection by Rose works with a simple wire rope for just 6, - EUR

Anti-theft Pitlock screw

Pitlock screw for saddle clamping in individual parts, right fitting the insert

Is that also cheaper? I have become creative myself: For me, the question arises, how to protect screws against the tools of thieves cost-effective, without the smallest repair even stand in the way. There are in the specialized trade special screws and stub axles eg with Interior pentagonalThat at least scares away occasional thieves, but no professionals. I was looking for more unconventional solutions:

Theft-proof screws make themselvesHot glue is ideal for filling Allen screws flat. If you paint the plastic after cooling with a Lackmalstift in screw color, this can at least cause confusion in the theft attempt. If the screw is heated, the glue is very difficult to remove. I advise against it in my own interest, otherwise it is easy ... just try it yourself. The inlays can even be used several times. It looks visually much more perfect than in the photo with the first samples. For very secure connections, the screw head can also be filled with silver-colored metal spatula. But he can hardly be removed.

Screws with magnetic inserts secured against theftHexagon socket screws can also be used with very strong ball or cylinder magnets eg from Neodym be closed. Again, a part thief can no longer use a key, unless he has an even stronger magnet. There are 10ER or 20er sets for a few euros on amazon. For example, the magnetic ball size with the specification 4-5 mm fits for a seat post or screw axis. For larger Allen screws on older wheels, 6 mm ball diameters are suitable. Attention, the magnets are ultra strong and will not come out easily. Not even with a needle ...

Cylinder magnet as anti-theft device for Allen screwsJust order a 10er set of magnets and find out for yourself how it works. Do not forget the strong magnet in the repair kit on the next flat foot, otherwise you will be alone in the rain. According to long-term tests of other cyclists, the magnets can rust over time as they attract all metal particles. It may therefore make sense to treat the balls or cylinders with a protective varnish before. When fixing necessarily keep sufficient distance from electrical equipment such as bicycle computers. Naturally, strong magnets have also lost nothing on data carriers or smartphones GPS devices.

Scenario 5: Camouflage of precious bicycles through optical aging

Dirty bikes protect against theft

Who likes to lend a hand here?

How do you make a good bike look as unattractive as possible?


  • Coat frame and rims with water-soluble paint
  • Drive several times in bad weather, but do not clean the bike
  • Saddle mended by being wrapped in places with brown package tape
  • Moisten desirable parts such as hubs, gears and cantilever brakes with oil and then bread with sand. Caution: Never distribute oil on braking surfaces such as rim disc brakes or brake linings
  • Wrap the seat post and lamps with Tesak crepe, let hot glue drip onto the stem. This can be easily removed from cold metals if they were not previously heated
  • Spotlight housing with fabric tape "patch"
  • Many, ugly wheel reflectors use
  • Stick brand logo with removable labels
  • Wrap the Bowden cables with wire
  • Use dirty hub rims or fabric scraps to hide high-quality hubs
  • Without pedals you can not drive away: plug pedals for folding bikes can be easily removed during parking
  • Engrave your own name clearly in the frame (eg with a "Dremel") or have the wheel coded (see below)

Pink bike with pink lock and pink tires ...

Very conspicuous bikes are, according to experience, stolen less often

Scenario 6: I would like to protect my bike with a bicycle insurance

At home, the bike is often insured by home contents insurance, but ... There are often hard conditions far back in the contract. Many bike insurances or household insurance, for example, recognize only certain locks as genuine theft protection or liable only during the day. If one plans to take out additional bicycle insurance for expensive bicycles outside his four walls, then suddenly high insurance fees speak against it.

Bike insurance outside the home contents insurance are quite expensive for a good reason, I also advise to read the fine print: "firmly in the basement", "no liability between 0.00 and 6.00 o'clock in the morning", "excess charge for job wheels", etc. The longer you with The requirements of insurance companies, the smaller is the feeling of being able to really weigh in safety. From my point of view, a bicycle insurance therefore only makes sense for expensive e-bikes. In the end, it is your own responsibility to become an easy victim of Volkssport Fahrradklau.

Pasting brand logos against theft

The logos of the expensive Busch and Müller LED bike headlamps have been covered with matt foil to reduce their attractiveness for thieves.

Scenario 7: Help Encoding, Bicycle Alarms, and GPS Tracker Against Theft?

Alarm systems for bicycles react to vibrations or changes in position and then emit acoustic signals. In principle, the working principle is a good thing, but in everyday life, there will hardly be a human soul that actively intervenes in a bicycle theft with a beep. Another scenario is much more likely: it will rather trigger false alarms that annoy your fellow human beings. It should also be remembered that the energy source of an alarm system must be charged. Unfortunately, the market for bicycles also does not offer high quality alarm systems. Cheap Chinese products are more annoying with teething problems than they can thwart a theft. A video example for the handling of a bicycle alarm system.

At first glance, the new ones also appear GPS tracker for bikes very interesting, Disguised as a tail light, they send signals up to a few meters to the owner's smartphone via the respective location of his bicycle. Although the technology of this directional transmitter is not fully developed for every product, it seems to me very promising in the future for vehicle location. At second glance, you suddenly go on a time-consuming crime hunt and maybe even do things that are punishable. This Youtube Video explains the limitations of GPS tracking in bicycle theft. My conclusion: Without the help of the police, you can not get your bike back via GPS tracker because it is behind closed doors. Manufacturer are eg Velocate or Spybike.

The bicycle coding (formerly bicycle registration) on the local police is a measure that at least at the sale of stolen bicycles something daunting, because then they are of course less valuable under the bailiffs than without the branding of the owner. For lightweight bicycles with aluminum or carbon frames, a sticker can be used instead of a material-removing engraving. Police, ADFC and bicycle dealers carry out the coding for 10-15, - EUR. You will need the proof of purchase of the bike and your ID. More information about the procedure Is there ... here, The coding procedures are still not uniform nationwide and not without controversy. It is an effective preventive measure that the wheel will not automatically play back to its owner after a theft. Proponents speak of an explanation rate of 30% by the coding, in some cases even before the owner noticed the loss and brought to the announcement. At least the real owner can be found in the lost property office or at a police random check. Nevertheless, a stolen bike in Germany is gone forever in nine out of ten cases!

Scenario 8: What to do if the bike was stolen?

Many sufferers have neither the frame number, nor a photo or a purchase contract for a second-hand bike. In times of smartphones, this is a sacrilege, because all three you can take effortless photos - of course, only if the wheel is still there. The police offers besides a downloadable Bike Pass also one Bike Pass App which identifies legitimate owners and identifies stolen wheels.

More tips after a bike theft:


  • Report to the local police, preferably in person
  • Inform the bicycle theft insurance or home contents insurance if the bike was stolen from the locked cellar or garage
  • An advertisement "Bicycle stolen" with photo eg Ebay classifieds give up, either as searched or as 1-Euro article. This may also prevent Hehler from offering the bike here.
  • Hang flyers with photo at the place where the wheel was stolen "Witnesses wanted", offer finder's pay
  • From time to time ask at the lost property office of the city
  • In online bike forums or social media in the "Stolen" or under radklau.org , fahrrad-gestohlen.de create a post

Anyone who finds his bike later, may not just take it, but must inform the police. But they still remain the legal owner, even if the wheel was sold, for example, at a flea market to a new, bona fide owner.

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