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A thief uses an angle grinder to attempt to steal an electric bike.  Read on to learn more about e-bike security, locking techniques and theft prevention.

10 Ways Your E-Bike is Vulnerable & Best Practices to Avoid Theft

Now that you have an e-bike, it is time to get serious about protecting it. People have been stealing each other’s property since the beginning of time, and when the object has its own set of wheels it's even more of a target. Millions of bikes are stolen each year in North America, and only a fraction of them are ever recovered. 
From our experience, we’ve seen electric bikes get stolen many ways - not just when they’re left out unlocked. In fact, most incidents of bike theft happen due to improper locking. That is to say, just because you’re using a lock doesn’t mean you’re safe! Here are 10 different ways your e-bike could be vulnerable to theft, and best practices to minimize the risk: 

1. Leaving home without a lock:

You head out for a quick errand and realize you accidentally forgot your lock … so you stow your bike outside the store - after all, you’re going to be in and out - it’ll be fine, right?

Wrong - this is a bike thief’s dream! All it takes is a few seconds and they’re out of sight with your bike.

An unattended electric bike without a lock outside a cafe.

Best practice: Bolt your lock to your frame.
Instead of having to remember to bring your lock each time you head out - why not bolt it right onto your bike frame? Our super secure Foldy-lock mounts to the frame of all MOD BIKES, so it's there when you need it. And when you don’t need it - it is rattle-proof and out of your way.

A MOD Easy cruiser electric bike with a foldable lock bolted to the frame overlooks the scenic Colorado River in Austin.

2. Locking up to an unsecured spot:

You’re running late for work or a meeting and don’t see a good bike rack, so you improvise and lock up to a street sign, chain link fence or a small tree.
If what you fasten your bike to is easier to cut through than a lock, your bike will be a target.

A MOD Berlin electric commuter bike is locked to a relatively unsecured street sign that could be unbolted or cut through.

Best practice: Find a secure rack or bring it in. 
Always lock up to a secure bike rack! Large heavy ones cemented to the ground are better than tinier ones that are just bolted. Chances are there is one within a block. If not, bring your bike right in the front door of the building you need to go to and ask where you can lock up securely, or see if you can simply bring your bike inside.
 

3. Locking the wrong part of the bike:

Maybe the bike rack you are locking up to is irregular or overcrowded and makes it difficult to run your lock through your bike frame - so you settle for fastening your lock through the front wheel or rear rack instead of a more secure part of the bike.
This is problematic, since a bike thief can simply remove your rear rack or front wheel from your frame and steal the rest of your bike.

A lonely wheel remains locked to a bike rack after a thief took the rest of the bike. Failing to lock the triangle or inner frame of your bike is one of the most common improper locking methods which leads to bike theft.

Best Practice: Always lock up the frame triangle.
Find a way to lock the triangle of your bike frame! This can vary from bike to bike - but even our foldable MOD City + (which has no downtube and thus no traditional frame triangle) has multiple frame sections that are completely closed for secure locking. Alternatively, the City + can fold up in seconds for easy indoor storage.

An e-bike correctly locked to a bike rack, with the frame triangle secured.

4. Using a cheap lock:

We get it. You were trying to save a few dollars and chose to use an inexpensive lock. You love the convenience and the fact that it’s lightweight.
However, if we’re being honest, cheap locks are just one baby-step up from having no lock. The truth is that a cable cutter can make easy work out of them in seconds.

An inexpensive cable lock gets easily clipped by a thief with cable cutters.

Best Practice: Price matters. Don’t skimp on bike security!
Most cheaper locks on the market are lightweight cable locks that scream “easy target” to thieves. We highly recommend a durable and portable MOD Foldylock Compact Bike Lock. It mounts to your MOD BIKE frame so you have security when you need it, and takes up little space when you don’t - plus it's tough as nails. You will not find a more secure lock in this weight range. 
 
 Our foldable lock is both compact when folded and yet expands to be larger than most U-locks when extended. The most secure bike lock in its weight class!
 

5. Ignoring quick-release wheels: 

You’re planning to lock up your bike outside for an entire workday. You correctly used your Foldylock on the triangle of the bike’s frame. However, you didn’t lock your quick-release wheel(s).

Best Practice: Lock up your QR wheels AND your frame.
Getting a wheel or set of wheels stolen isn’t as bad as losing your whole bike - but it still means you’re stranded! Quick-release axles are convenient yet also make it easy to remove a wheel from a frame. 
Find a way to lock up quick-release wheels if possible - either with our Lock N Roll replacement skewer set, or by having a second lock:
 
An electric bike with two durable foldable locks, secured to a bike rack with the frame triangle and quick-release wheels both locked up.

6. Leaving the battery in your e-bike:

You leave your e-bike locked up outside for hours with the bike battery left in the frame. Although this will probably be fine - you can do better. A bike with a battery is far more attractive to steal than one without.

Best Practice: Don’t leave your battery outside.
If you’re going to leave your bike outside for the duration of your work shift, for example - you might as well bring that battery inside, even if it doesn’t need a charge.
All MOD BIKE batteries can be locked to the frame. That being said, an e-bike without a battery is far less likely to be eyed by a thief. We recommend taking your battery inside if left unattended for hours at a time. 
An e-bike owner removes their battery from the bike frame prior to heading inside for their workday.
 

7. Leaving your bike out overnight:

You routinely leave your bike locked up outside on the street overnight. Maybe you have a small apartment and live on the second floor, and you don’t feel like the hassle of bringing it up.

Best Practice: Find a way to get your bike inside each night.
Avoid keeping your bike outside overnight at all costs - no matter the lock. Any bike locked up outside can be stolen - it's just a matter of the thief having the right tools, enough time, and not being seen… which is much easier in the dark.
If you live in a small apartment, consider our folding MOD City + model, or our lightweight MOD Berlin coupled with a hanging bike hook.

Carrying an electric bicycle up a set of stairs builds character and strength. Keeping your e-bike inside is much preferred for safe overnight storage.

8. Leaving the screen unlocked

An overly curious stranger decides to mess with your display screen and as a result depletes your battery power.
A would-be thief tampers with the e-bike's display screen, but is unable to do much thanks to the password protection feature.

Best Practice: Lock out your display screen (and motor).
Use the password protection feature of your MOD BIKE’s display screen to lock out the electrical system of your bike. Simply enter your 4 digit code to turn it back on later. Already have a MOD BIKE? You can find instructions for your model’s display screen here.
Without access to the display screen, the motor will be inoperable - making it less likely for a thief to pursue. Furthermore, a thief may end taking your e-bike to a shop to unlock your display screen and motor - which will likely result in your stolen bike getting flagged, reported and ultimately returned to you. 
 

9. Locking up in a low traffic area: 

After making it to your destination, you lock up your bike on a low-trafficked side street. Your bike will be locked up but unattended for hours. It may be getting dark soon and there are no streetlights on this block.
An e-bike locked up to a street sign in an alley adjacent to South Congress in Austin, TX.

Best Practice: Lock up in a well-lit highly visible spot.
If possible, it might be worth locking up your bike a few blocks away from your destination on a busier street with more public visibility, then walk to your final destination - depending on how long you’ll be there. Better yet - see if you can bring your bike right inside to your final destination. 
 

10. Not preparing for possible theft: 

You did everything right - but were the unfortunate victim of bike theft. You’re at a loss for what to do next - you were not prepared for this. 

Best Practice: Register your bike through your local PD.
Chances are you’d be devastated to lose your bike - so, you owe it to yourself to get your bike registered. In addition, we recommend you write down your bike’s serial number, have reference to your original bill of sale, and photo documentation - should you need it later. Having this already in place will greatly increase the chances of getting your stolen bike recovered.
 
In the end, avoiding bike theft is a numbers game - no lock is foolproof. Although it could happen to anyone, following our best practices will drastically minimize the chances. If you avoid all the sketchy scenarios we outlined above, we can all but guarantee you’ll avoid being a victim of bike theft.