For those of us who enjoy life on two wheels, security can be a concern - and with an estimated 1,200 bikes stolen every day in the UK, you can hardly blame cyclists for being cautious. Some places are more prone to theft than others - and in fact you can check the rate of bike thefts in your area by entering your postcode into this handy tool - but wherever you live, it's important to take precautions.
It's always worth checking with your insurer to see whether your bicycle is covered under your home contents insurance - you may need to pay an additional premium, and there may be restrictions regarding where your bike was at the time it was stolen. However, it's even better to make life hard for thieves in the first place - so here are a few helpful tips on protecting your pride and joy.
Ditch the combination lock
Most combination locks don't offer a great level of protection for your bike: there are plenty of videos online showing just how easy it is to crack them open without knowing the code. (We don't say this to encourage you into a life of crime, but if you can see a video like this within a few clicks, you can bet that dedicated cycle thieves have too).
A good D-lock or a high-strength chain and padlock provide a much better deterrent. Look for locks with a Sold Secure rating: these are independently evaluated by the Master Locksmiths Association, and are rated Gold, Silver or Bronze according to how long it would take a thief with tools to open them.
The best place to park your bike is on a busy street with plenty of people around. Thieves don't like to work where there's a chance they might be disturbed, and many high streets now have solid metal racks specifically for cyclists to use. Avoid locking your bike to anything fragile -a chain link fence or wooden post might be easier to break than your lock.
At home, it's best to bring your bike indoors if possible - the best place is a secure garage with a wall or floor anchor. If this isn't an option, it's generally better to lock it up somewhere out of sight, rather than leaving it in plain view where it can give ideas to passing thieves.
Mark it, track it
BikeRegister, the UK's police-backed bicycle database, explains how to mark your bike with a unique code that helps the police to return it to you if it is recovered. A clearly visible security mark can also act as a deterrent to thieves, as can a tamper-proof sticker indicating that the bike has been marked.
GPS trackers are another option: they're (currently) quite expensive, but if you've paid for a top-of-the-range bike they might be worth considering. GPS trackers that can be hidden in the steering column or seatposts are available, allowing you to track your bike's location from your smartphone at any time. They can even send alerts to your phone if your bike moves out of a predefined area, helping you or the police to track it down if it's stolen.