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How To Protect Your Dirt Bike

Helpful Tips To Prevent Theft of Your Dirt Bike, Trailer, Gear or Tools

John Lavina (March 2014)

With all of the preparation that goes into a riding trip, it's easy to forget that your dirt bike, trailer, gear and tools are all potential targets of theft.  A professional thief is difficult to stop, but try a few of these tips to help cut down the risk.

Keep It Locked and Covered At Home - If you have a garage, thieves know you have good stuff in there, but they don't know exactly what.  The garage is a great target for a thief, because the doors, windows and locks are often much easier to defeat.  They may drive by on a weekend when you've got the garage door open and scope out what you've got.  It only takes seconds to gain access to your garage later, during the week, when they know you are at work.  So it's a good rule of thumb to cover your bike and tools, and chain up your bike, even when it's at home in the garage.  If you have a shop in your garage, instead of putting your workbench on the back or side wall, sacrifice one of the car stalls and build a half-wall or stack up your cheap junk near the front so you can face the shop bench inward.  This way you can't see anything from street when the garage door is open.

If you live in an apartment, you can always rent a small storage unit to keep your bike in, but pay attention to who is watching when you pick up and drop off your bike.  Make sure to buy a decent lock to secure the door.  You want one that has a wide casing that helps keep thieves from being able to get bolt cutter jaws onto it.

Keep A Low Profile - Whether you live in a city or the burbs, one of the easiest things that you can do to protect your stuff, is to keep it out of sight. This is a no-brainer.  You can keep wandering eyes off your bike by not washing it in the front yard or driveway.  If you have a trailer that you need to leave unattended often, think carefully before putting huge Fox or Moose Racing stickers all over it.  If you tone down the advertisement, people won't know if your trailer is full of expensive motorcycles or used clothes headed for the Salvation Army.

Camping and Staging – Don't telegraph your every move.  When you warm up your bike, go down the trail sometimes then come back 10 minutes later to fill your water pack.  You can leave a couple of inexpensive bicycles, or some chairs, an empty cooler, etc at your camp to give the appearance that you are nearby and keep people guessing.  In remote areas you can even set up a small empty pup tent.  If you have an RV or toy hauler, you can leave the radio on at a low volume inside when you are out on a ride.  A dog can be a great deterrent as well.  Your dog many not bark much unless someone approaches the RV, but every time a car drives by the RV he'll probably stick his nose out and spread the blinds, giving the impression that someone is inside, paying attention.  Another great trick is to put a black cloth over the main window and leave the blinds open.  This way no-one can peer in, but from a distance it looks as though the blinds of your RV are open and gives people the feeling that someone may be in there and may be watching them.

If you haul your bikes in the back of a pickup truck, make sure to buy a good quality cable lock designed for motorcycles, and run the cable through the frame of the bike.  When parked for long periods of time at a restaurant or tourist spot, try to butt your tailgate against a retainer wall or tree.  Ever tried to offload a dirt bike over the side rail? Not easy.  And an ATV? Forget about it.  If you decide to get a cable lock, get the kind that is coated, because the plastic coating is designed to gum up the blade of a hacksaw before it can reach the braided steel center. And again, if you can, try to back your truck up to a tree or a wall.

If you have a trailer, a good product to buy is a trailer lock. These locks help prevent someone from hooking up their vehicle to your trailer and nabbing your whole rig.  A normal hitch lock on a trail can be defeated with a standard set of bolt cutters from Lowe's in about 3 seconds.  A robust lock works by covering the hole that the ball hitch fits into.  

Take your tie downs, gear bag, and stand out of the bed of the truck and put them in the vehicle covered.  Try to give the impression that you might just be a hiker or fisherman, and could be very nearby and return silently at any moment.

On the Trail – If you have some sort of issue on the trail and have no choice but to leave the bike and hike back to camp, there still some things you can do.  First move it out of view from the main trail.  If you have necessary tools (and you should) remove the spark plug, put the bike in first and remove the gearshift lever.  Take these parts with you.  If you can, cover the bike with some brush or leaves, and chances are good that the bike will still be there when you get back.

Get It Insured - No matter what precautions you may take to prevent theft, a determined thief eventually will get his prize.  The best way to soften the blow if this happens is to purchase motorcycle insurance. Check with your insurance agent, because many of the major insurance carriers now offer policies to cover dirt bikes and ATVs, and it's usually dirt-cheap to add ATV coverage to an existing automobile policy.  Look into it.

Remember that a thief will alway choose the easiest target.  Don't let it be you.
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