Owning an e-bike can be a blast, but figuring out exactly how to keep said bike safe is anything but.
For the uninitiated, electric bikes are expensive, which makes them prime targets for thieves. After spending upwards of $2,000 on what may amount to a two-wheeled toy, you’re going to want to make sure your e-bike (or e-scooter) stays in the right hands — your own.
Luckily, there’s a whole ecosystem of tools and services designed to give you peace of mind, including heavy-duty locks, attachable alarms, and — if you’re lucky enough — a dedicated cadre of bike-hunters that can be deployed to locate your e-bike in the event that it goes missing.
This is your complete anti-theft guide to owning an e-bike.
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First thing’s first: lock it down. We’re not talking just any lock, either. Regular bike locks and flimsy chains can be easily bypassed with $10 bolt cutters — that’s a small investment given the prospect of making off with $2,500 worth of wheels.
While there are innumerable brands in the bike lock space, Kryptonite has made a name for itself as being among the toughest. To make things easy, its site even offers customers a case-by-case recommendation of which lock best suits one’s specific scenario.
If you’ve got what Kryptonite refers to as a “standard” e-bike (think something similar to a Citi bike with pedal assist) the Evolution 1090 with an integrated chain should cover your needs. The chain itself is made from 10mm-thick heat-treated manganese steel, meaning regular bolt cutters will do little to liberate your e-bike from its chain. It also comes with a patent-pending lock- and drill-resistant cylinder to ward off more determined burglars.
Arguably the best part about Kryptonite’s locks (aside from being effective) is the guarantee that comes with them. Each has its own “anti-theft protection offer” that insures up to a certain amount of money in the event your e-bike lock is picked or broken. That’s the type of confidence you want in a brand offering e-bike safety.
Alternatively, if a chain lock is too chunky for your taste, U-locks are an excellent alternative. While they may not fit on every e-bike style, those with thinner frames make ideal candidates. For anyone looking for something lighter and more portable than a heavy chain lock, this option from Abus features a 13mm-thick steel alloy shackle and weighs 3 pounds.
It may not boast the same level of safety as a thicker chain lock, but if you’re okay with sacrificing toughness for convenience, U-locks are a good bet.
Knowledge is power, even when it comes to e-bikes. To stay abreast of your e-bike’s status, an alarm is advised, and on that front, you have a couple of different options.
There’s an ecosystem of motion-activated alarms out there with a variety of accessible price points. Simply install the alarm somewhere on your e-bike, activate it when you step away, and that’s it. (Pro tip: Always place the alarm somewhere out of sight like under the seat. Alarms can be effective deterrents, but not if they’re smashed to bits before they have a chance to sound off.)
If faith that your alarm will deter thieves isn’t enough, internet-connected systems that pair with an app might give you more peace of mind. Bosch’s ConnectModule, for example, allows you to track your e-bike and gives updates when it’s moved and potentially tampered with. The piece is also connected to your motor allowing you to remotely turn your e-bike on or off.
To bring the benefits of Bosch’s system to your e-bike you can buy the module and (if you’re a little handy) connect it to your motor. Alternatively, you can find a local bike dealer capable of doing it for you. Use of Bosch’s Flow app is free for a year with the purchase of a ConnectModule, but costs $40 per year after.
If you’re the type of person who stresses about having something stolen before you’ve even purchased it: congratulations — not on the anxiety, but on the preemptive advice you’re about to receive.
Bike companies are abundantly aware that theft is a problem among e-bike owners, and have responded with their own anti-thieves. VanMoof, a Dutch bike company selling high-end bikes, has its own dedicated team of bike hunters. You can read the hunters’ stories for yourself, but the general gist is this: your bike goes missing, and they are set loose to find it.
More proactively, VanMoof also offers app integrations with anti-theft tech, including bike tracking and remote lockdown, so you don’t have to wait until your e-bike is stolen to know that it’s in danger.
While VanMoof’s security measures are particularly robust, it isn’t the only e-bike brand out there with integrated anti-theft. Wing, a New York-based company, also offers integrated tracking, along with vibrational alarms, for its e-bikes. The Freedom 2 e-bike, for example, comes with remote locking and “tamper detection.”
The takeaway is that safety should be a part of your e-bike shopping checklist. While searching for your perfect e-bike, make sure to browse for any potential anti-theft features — they may well just save you from burning a $2,000 hole in your pocket.
Maybe you’re not psyched about buying more stuff for your expensive e-bike, or are in a pinch until your added safety support arrives. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to use tools you do have at your disposal.
Apple’s Air Tags, for example, can be a great sit-in for a connected tracking system. The Bluetooth item trackers won’t tell you when your e-bike is being tampered with, but in the event it does go missing, you can track where it went.
Sometimes a deterrent is all it takes. While not all e-bikes have removable batteries, some do, and detaching your e-bike battery while you’re not around can be a great way to disincentivize would-be burglars. In that vein, Cowboy’s e-bike provides an elegant solution to the removable battery design, with the two-wheeler’s unique tube design that allows riders to slide the battery in or out.