The UK has seen a dramatic drop in motorcycle theft since the start of the pandemic.
A report from MCN stated a 35% drop in general crime for the 2020 lockdowns, and Police National Computer (PCN) figures suggest as much as a 45% decrease in motorcycle theft in the same period.
While lockdowns have led to many placing their beloved bikes into the safety of pandemic hibernation, the decrease in theft has galvanized people like Bill Taylor from BikeTrac to look a little closer at the current systems used to turn stolen motorcycles into a profitable statistic.
“When BikeTrac first started ten years ago, we saw more bikes heading towards the ports after they were taken. We either found them in shipping containers or boxed up ready to be shipped, so we knew where they were headed. That route has become much rarer now…We normally recover a bike very quickly after it has been stolen. The thieves will store a stolen machine for a period of time to see if anyone comes for it, and we generally recover it at this stage. But on the odd occasion that the bike is moved on before we get to it, they don’t seem to be heading straight out of the country.”
Bill mentions that they tracked a customer’s bike to a container that, when opened, also contained parts from other bikes that had been stripped – some of which still sported identification and proof that authorities could trace back to other stolen motorcycle cases.
Dr. Ken German, an expert in vehicle crime, also added this useful bit of information:
“Some bikes certainly make it out in containers, but it’s far more lucrative to strip a bike and sell the parts. There’s much less risk in handling parts than there is if you’re caught with a whole bike.”
What can you do about it?
Dr. German highlights the benefit of forensic marking systems such as Datatag and how useful they can be in retrieving and tracing a stolen bike.
“…they can help police identify stripped parts from a specific bike and build up a picture of who has been handling them or selling them on. If the police enter premises and find a seat and mudguard, they will have a hell of a job proving anything. But if they carry covert markings that link those parts to a specific stolen bike, it goes a long way to helping them build a case.”
WebBikeWorld has formulated a list of anti-theft device reviews that you can peruse for bike compatibility. Check them out, and stay safe!
What started out as a leisurely ride from Brisbane to Tenterfield and back over a couple of days with three friends and family turned into a bit of an adventure simply because one of our riders hadn’t checked his tyre pressures.
You should check your tyre pressures every time you go out for a ride or it can result in bad handling, increased wear, fatigue cracking, increased chance of a puncture, decreased grip and lower braking performance.”
I probably should add that it is also important to check your mates’ tyres, particularly important when heading off on a longer ride over multiple days with several others.
Sadly, one of our riders had never checked his tyre pressures since he bought his bike and got his licence about eight months ago!
We were unaware of this before our ride. In fact, I only became aware after the inevitable happened.
I had charted a course that took us over some notoriously bumpy country roads on the NSW/Queensland border ranges and recent floods in the area had made the roads even worse with plenty of unprepared potholes.
My crew didn’t hold back in criticism of the route, either.
So, as lead rider, I kept the pace down on known bumpy sections and unleashed on sections which I knew had been repaired in recent years.
With 20/20 hindsight, I should have kept the pace down everywhere.
Just south of Old Bonalbo where the Clarence Way has been resurfaced in recent years, we went through a lefthand sweeper shaded by a big old gum tree.
Right in the middle of the corner were two massive ruts in the bitumen with jagged edges. It looked like a truck had hit the skids when the tar was still hot and wet!
I didn’t see the ruts because of the shade, but as I went through I noticed I had luckily ridden right through the middle.
Not so lucky was my riding partner whose back wheel hit a rut which immediately ripped a gaping wound in the sidewall of his KTM 390 Duke’s rear tyre.
Recently, a reader of MotorBikeWriter reached out to us to share his story titled ‘But Where Do You Put The Patient?’. This novel was written by Paul Riley, a motorcycle paramedic with over 20 years of experience for the Ambulance Service of NSW in Sydney, Australia.
Paul is a part of a rare breed that it takes to be part of an emergency response team. Most flee from disaster, paramedics run towards it in an effort to save lives. For six years, Paul spent that time as a motorcycle paramedic navigating the narrow streets or traffic-riddled roads of Sydney, to get to those in need. Being on a motorcycle gave him and his patients the advantage of time, as he could get to an accident scene much faster than his four-wheeled colleagues.
Paul gives his readers the opportunity to see what life is like on the life-saving side of an accident. Aside from the serious, heartbreaking, and painful parts that come with being a first responder, Paul has gathered some hilarious stories over the years as a paramedic.
If you’d like to ride along with a motorcycle paramedic by getting yourself a copy of Paul Riley’s ‘But Where Do You Put The Patient?’, you can visit his website, where both hardcopy or e-books are available. Paul even welcomes riders and readers alike to keep in touch with him by tossing him an email (found on his website) – this further indicates his dedication to humankind, no matter what.
In most cases, I would encourage you to ride your motorcycle or drive your ATV or UTV to your destination, but sometimes, you can’t.
Whether you have a designated off-road powersports vehicle and you need to get it out to where you can use it or you just need to bring your motorcycle along with you for some reason, having a trailer and being able to tow your bikes or other powersports equipment around is a serious convenience.
Having the right vehicle for this is a must. Too often, folks have a great idea to tow a trailer with them only to find out that they don’t own the right vehicle for it. With this in mind, I wanted to take a moment to discuss towing a powersports trailer and what vehicles you should look for when you’re thinking about towing a trailer. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Get the Proper Tow Rating
Towing a trailer isn’t always an easy feat, but if you have a vehicle that can handle the weight of that trailer, then you’re off to a good start. You need to get a vehicle with the right towing capacity.
This is going to be more than your typical passenger car or many of the smaller crossovers out there. Think about it like this: the trailer you pull is going to weigh somewhere between 500 pounds and 1,000 pounds at a minimum. Add to that your motorcycle which can weigh anywhere from 300 pounds to 500 pounds or more, and you’re looking at needing a towing rating of at least 1,200 pounds or 1,500 to be on the safe side.
If you’re putting more than one bike on the trailer, then you’re only going to add to this need for a high towing capacity. Personally, I’d advise you to find something that can tow over 3,000 pounds at least. That way, you should be in the clear. Even with a couple of bikes on a small trailer. If you have ATVs or UTVs, make sure you calculate the weight properly and have a vehicle that’s equipped accordingly.
Think About Tongue Weight, Too
The towing capacity isn’t the only figure you need to think about. You should also figure out the tongue weight capacity. The tongue weight is the downward force that’s exerted where the trailer connects to the vehicle. Usually, this is a simple ball hitch. Your hitch will be rated for a specific amount of weight, and you need to be sure not to exceed that weight.
The best way to do this is to use a commercial vehicle scale. However, you don’t have to use one, especially if you’re pretty sure you’ll be far below the capabilities of your vehicle. Tongue weight should be between 9 and 15 percent of the gross trailer weight.
So, if you have a 1,500-pound trailer when laden down with motorcycles or ATVs, you’ll have a tongue weight of about 225 pounds.
Of course, how you load the trailer matters, too. If the trailer is loaded down with everything at the front, it will have a heavier tongue weight than if everything is loaded at the back. Generally, you want a bit more weight on the hitch, because it helps you avoid trailer sway.
Below is a great demonstration of trailer sway and how tongue weight plays a role.
As you can see in the video, the more weight you load towards the front of the trailer, the less trailer sway occurs. Make sure to load the trailer evenly, and also ensure you’ll be within the vehicle’s tongue weight capacity, and you should do just fine.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best vehicles for towing a motorcycle or powersports trailer.
Trucks are going to be most driver’s go-to vehicle type when towing. These machines are designed with towing in mind, and that means that you’ll have trucks of all sizes that can easily tow over 5,000 pounds, sometimes they can tow far, far more.
There are generally four different sizes of trucks: compact, midsize, full-size, and heavy-duty. All of them will be able to handle a small trailer with some motorcycles or ATVs on them. However, a word of caution. Don’t just assume every truck for sale can tow the weight you need to tow.
It’s still important to do the math and cross-check that against your particular vehicles’ towing capacity and tongue weight. If you’re shopping for a new truck, then you should talk with the salesperson about your specific needs. Tell them what you want to tow, and they should be able to help you out.
SUVs and CUVs
SUVs and CUVs, or crossovers as they’re commonly known, are extremely popular vehicles right now, and for good reason. These vehicles are the true do-it-all machines. They have generous cargo areas, plenty of seating, all-wheel drive in many cases, and they sit up a little higher providing a good view of the road and some off-road capability.
SUVs and CUVs are also good towing machines in many respects. Not every single one on the road is going to be right, but for mild towing duties, you’ll find that even many crossovers do just fine.
“Many late-model vehicles including numerous small CUV’s and SUV’s, are capable of towing a small trailer easily.” The team at EchoPark Automotive told me. “They’re also great everyday vehicles for when you’re not towing a trailer.” The spokesperson for EchoPark went on to say that many people looking for a good tow vehicle use an SUV without ever experiencing any issues.
While some are better than others, pretty much all of them will be able to tow at least 1,500 pounds. However, I’d look for a CUV or SUV that’s capable of towing at least 5,000 pounds. The Toyota 4Runner (shown above), for example, can tow that much and is a great option.
Generally, the bigger the SUV, the higher its towing capacity will be. It’s also worth noting that the body-on-frame SUVs that are based on truck chassis will have the highest towing capacity while the smaller car-based CUVs will have lower towing capacities.
Last but certainly not least are vans and minivans. Full-size vans will have the highest towing capacity and generally be the best towing option. However, you might be surprised to learn that even most minivans can tow 3,500 pounds or so.
Full-size vans will be able to tow far more. The Ford Transit Cargo (shown above) is able to tow between 5,000 and 5,800 pounds depending on how it’s equipped. In most cases, that’s more than motorcycle-and-powersports enthusiasts actually need.
Also, the nice thing about vans is you can take a lot of gear and passengers with you as well very easily. While pickup trucks will beat out vans in terms of outright towing capacity. Vans are sometimes the more versatile vehicle overall.
The last few years have seen London struggle to control a huge motorcycle crime wave. At its peak in 2017, 15,497 motorcycles and scooters were stolen in London1, that’s over 42 a day! Crime figures have since been brought down by a concerted Police action, including tactics to ram thieves off bikes and an awareness campaign of preventative security owners should use.
However, thieves are getting ever resourceful, no longer just relying on bolt croppers, today’s tooled up criminals are carrying battery powered angle grinders, freeze sprays to shatter brittle metal and using (previously stolen) scooters to push stolen bikes away.
What can you do to avoid motorcycle theft? 80% of motorcycle theft occurs at home with average thefts taking only 20 seconds!2 So, tool up and invest in the best motorcycle security devices you can buy, follow the tips below on what to look for in heavy duty security for use at home.
As a minimum, invest in a security chain with 16mm case-hardened links; 16mm is too big to be attacked by big bolt croppers and through-hardened links are too brittle, the whole link will shatter after one side is broken. With grinder attacks so common, larger chains with links up to 22mm are available from the firms like Almax and Pragmasis. Still not 100% grinder proof, but they’ll take considerable longer to cut and put off all but the most determined thieves.
When locking your bike, keep your chain elevated off the ground, it’ll be a lot harder to attack if it can’t be braced against something solid.
A chain alone won’t stop you motorcycle being lifted into a van, you need to chain you bike down to something solid like a ground anchor. These are either a hoop design to bolt to a concrete floor (with measures to prevent unbolting) or are a Y-shaped pipework design to be sunken into a fresh concrete hole. The latter are neater and flush to the floor, but more effort to install. Once a good chain is threaded through your bike and the ground anchor, no-one will lift your bike away without a good deal of angle grinder work.
Essentially a lockable pin clamp to go on your brake disc to prevent your bike being rolled away. Not as secure as a quality chain and often removed relatively quickly with a grinder, either directly or by grinding a chunk out of the brake disc! However, disc locks are still a worthwhile buy due to their portability for when you’re parked up away from home and many are available with a loud alarm. If you’ve got one, use it in combination with your chain and ground anchor at home as well to increase the theft effort.
Obviously a thin rain cover isn’t going to secure your bike much, but a cover will hide your bike from prying eyes and opportunist thieves. They won’t know if you’ve got a posh Ducati or a tatty commuter hack, what manner of security gear you have in place and are one more thing to slow a thief down. Don’t take my word for it, a bike cover was also a key part of the recent Met Police “Be Safe Lock Chain Cover” campaign3 to raise awareness of motorbike theft in London. Considering the low cost of a cover, they’re well worth using.
Motorcycle theft is a big problem in many cities and should not be dismissed without thought. You maybe insured against theft, but excesses and future hikes in premiums will still hit your wallet. Above are some simple measures and a minimum to protect yourself, more tips are in this motorcycle security guide. Ultimately, there is no single wonder device, use multiple, each requiring more time and effort to overcome.
Met Police (https://www.met.police.uk/SysSiteAssets/foi-media/metropolitan-police/disclosure_2018/february_2018/information-rights-unit—detailed-breakdown-of-statistics-for-motorcycle-theft-in-london-by-borough-for-2017)
National Crime Intelligence Service (NCIS)
Met Police, Be Safe scooter theft (https://www.met.police.uk/police-forces/metropolitan-police/areas/about-us/about-the-met/campaigns/be-safe-campaign/be-safe-scooter-theft/)
If you are lucky, it will not cause an immediate loss of air and therefore traction and control.
Those with tyre pressure monitors, either factory fitted or aftermarket, will get a warning.
If not, you can sense the loss of pressure through the steering and handling which becomes heavy and vague.
On some occasions, my tyre has picked up a screw or nail that blocks the loss of air and I’ve only noticed it when I’ve done my pre- and post-ride checks. That’s why it’s so important to do these checks before and after a ride.
Tubeless Vs tubed tyres
There are advantages and disadvantages in tubeless and tubed tyres.
A tubed tyre will often hold the air better after a puncture, allowing you to ride to safety. A tubeless will often lose a lot more pressure a lot quicker.
It is a lot more difficult fixing a punctured tubed tyre at the side of the road, but it can be done.
Otherwise, you better have good roadside assist!
If it’s just a small tube puncture, you can fix it cheaply and ride on in confidence. There may be no need to buy another tyre. At worst you may need a new tube.
A tubeless tyre may be easier to fix with a repair kit, but it limits the longevity of the tyre. Even though it is not illegal, it may void your insurance in a crash, so you may need a whole new tyre.
How to fix a tubed tyre
Fixing a tubed tyre requires a lot of tools and usually reasonable luggage capacity.
You will need tyre levers, a puncture repair kit, spanners and a compact air compressor that runs off the bike’s battery as a few canisters of compressed air will not re-inflate a tyre from totally flat.
Rarely can you fix a punctured tube without having to take the wheel off, which makes it extra problematic. In which case, you may need to transport the bike.
Popping the bead of the tyre can also be difficult as they are often cemented in place to stop them slipping on the rim.
On one occasion, we had to ride over the tyre with another bike to pop the bead, severely scratching the rim.
Use the levers to get the tyre off the rim to expose the tube.
To find the leak, spit on any blemishes to see if it bubbles or listen for hissing.
Repair kits include a small piece of sandpaper which you use to rough up the area around the whole. Then apply the cement and place a patch over the hole.
Push the tube back in being careful not to twist or pinch it, put the tyre back on the rim and the wheel back on the bike, reattach the chain if it was the back wheel and pump it up.
It’s a lot of work and difficult on your own, but it can be done.
How to fix a tubeless tyre
Most road bikes and even some adventure bikes now come with tubeless tyres.
They are a comparative breeze to fix.
Usually the hole is easy to find as there is still a nail, screw or other object embedded in them.
Take it out with a screwdriver or pliers.
Your repair kit will have a rasp-like tool that you then ream in and out of the hole to rough it up a bit to make a good contact with the cement which you inject into and around the hole.
The kit will also have a tool that looks like a big needle and plugs or sticky rope-like pieces to plug the hole.
I prefer the rope version because it seems to fit into irregular holes better.
Thread it through the “needle” tool and then ram it into the hole and pull it out quickly.
This will leave the plug in place and you can cut off the excess, leaving about 1cm of plug.
You won’t usually lose all the pressure from the tyre as you would from a punctured tube so you may be ale to pump it back up with two or three canisters of compressed air.
It’s important to then ride the bike for at least 15 minutes at about 80km/h to heat the plug so it bonds with the tyre.
Who said that car is the best means of transportation? College students can make a choice in favor of motorbikes that provide the same speed and save you from traffic jams.
Top 10 motorbikes to consider in college
The time you spend in college is probably one of the brightest and enjoyable periods in your life. College is always about fun, parties, meeting new people, vacations, parties again and other entertainment stuff. Of course, you should not forget about studies as it is your primary goal and your future success depends on your academic performance. Being busy or lazy, you can always pay someone to do math homework or take care of your papers choosing a service based on essay writing service reviews.
However, college is the time when we are open up to discovering something new, look for adventures, burst with energy and have an urge to explore our opportunities. Here is when a two-wheeler can become a great companion in this journey due to its mobility and convenience.
Best bikes to afford in college
Delegating your assignments to reliable writing agencies that can be found looking through top essay services reviews (pay special attention to speedy paper reviews as one of the best in this field), you can devote your spare time to planning trips and increasing your popularity in college due to your new two-wheeler friend. Motorcycles are agile, convenient and very fast when it comes to speed so they can become a great solution for those who don’t like spending hours in traffic jams. Besides, they are light on pocket and can be affordable for an average college student. Just look at these models:
KTM 250 Duke and RC 250
KTM 250 Duke. A lively and quick model, this bike comes with 24 Nm of torque and 248.8 liquid-cooled engine that allows you to handle confidently. This is a good choice if you buy a motorcycle for the first time;
KTM RC 200. This model is designed specifically for those who want to become popular with the help of a motorbike. It looks gorgeous, has a perfect riding position and is also a great choice when it comes to paying off the bill. You can count on its 25.4 bhp power and 19.2 Nm torque;
Yamaha YZF R 15. This is one of the most good-looking and affordable bikes when it comes to the combination of speed and money. Its version 3.0 comes with a 155 liquid-cooled engine, braking stability and 14.7 Nm torque which allows you to have an exciting ride;
Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350X. For a student’s budget, this model fits perfectly. Due to the blacked-out engine, it looks almost mean and aggressive and it is well contrasted with white and red colors on the fuel tank. It has assertive braking and air-cooled motor with 346cc;
Jawa 42. A well-known Czech brand, Jawa is made in a neo-retro style with the matte paint scheme and complemented by the high quality with minimum chrome use. It is powered by 28 Nm torque and 293 cc engine;
Bajaj Dominar 400. It is probably one of the most powerful motorcycles an average student can afford (at least, at the moment of publishing of this article). Compared to the previous models, it is not only more powerful and affordable but also faster and eats less fuel;
Royal Enfield Classic 350. It can offer a loud exhaust, retro look, high quality and enjoyable rides based on the five-speed gearbox and 346 cc engine;
Royal Enfield Classic 350
Suzuki Gixxer SF. Say hello to this model as your future companion in adventures. Its design is based on older and more powerful models but it still looks good and is built with quality;
Yamaha FZ-S FI (version 3.0). This model is often called the king of the streets and we are not exaggerating. The overall body of the motorcycle tells people about its power and speed and 12.8 Nm torque proves this statement;
TVS Apache RTR 160 (version 4). This model can offer you enough speed without burning a hole in your wallet. It has an aggressive look and a powerful engine for all your college trips.
Does it damage the bike’s clutch to keep your motorcycle in gear with the lever pulled in while waiting at traffic lights and is it safe?
RACQ technical officer and Triumph Bonneville rider Steve Spalding says the mechanical issue largely depends on the type of clutch your bike has.
“Most bike clutches are wet which means they run in oil ( usually the same oil as the engine and transmission) but some, such as many old BMWs, use a dry clutch that’s essentially the same as a car,” Steve says.
“Either way, there is still an element of additional wear by holding in the lever for long periods.
“With a dry clutch the thrust bearing (or sometimes called a throw-out bearing) rubs against the pressure plate fingers while on a wet clutch a rod pushes against the clutch pack – the purpose of both types is to separate the friction plates.
“Both types add unnecessary wear if the clutch is held in for prolonged periods. It’s also holding the clutch cable and linkage under tension.
“Also, with a wet bike clutch there is always a level of drag because wet friction plates never fully separate. That’s why most bikes have a firm clunk when first gear is selected.
“This drag is friction and therefore wear, it also places additional stress on the oil and tension on the chain.
“So it’s better for mechanical reasons to put the bike into neutral.”
For safety, it is advisable to leave your bike in gear at the lights, at least until you have a couple of cars pulled up behind you to avoid a rear-ender.
The reasoning is that you are ready to take off in case the driver behind you (and sometimes the driver behind them!) doesn’t pull up in time.
We love a bit of DIY bike maintenance, but there are a few pitfalls that can trap the unwary home mechanic, warns RACQ technical officer and self-confessed mechanical “trainspotter” Steve Spalding.
“I like to know where, how, why things work on my bikes, how the models differ and spec changes, oil specs, servicing schedules, workshop tools to do DIY maintenance etc,” says Steve.
Steve Spalding RACQ
However, he says there can sometimes be variances between recommended replacement parts and what actually fits your bike.
He recalls replacing his chain and sprockets on his Bandit in a working bee with some friends: “I probably drove them nuts when I spent around 30 minutes using Vernier callipers to measure the right amount of ‘crush’ on the joining link so as to not damage the ‘O’ ring seals.”
“The sprocket sizes quoted by the bike shop for my bike were wrong. They didn’t believe me at first.”
He says he has also found the online and in-store manuals listed different oil filter fitments. He now uses a different model and brand from what is recommended in the manual.
“You’ll find there is a necessary close working relationship between parts people and mechanics. It comes down to the part number versus the application,” he says.
“The spare parts staff rely on manuals and part numbers to supply a part. However, the mechanic determines if the part will actually fit correctly. And the buck stops with the mechanic if they get it wrong.
“Therein sometimes lies the tension as both are experienced at what they do.”
Identifying the correct part
Steve says motorcycle manufacturers change or modify parts or specifications during model runs. That can make it difficult to identify the correct part.
He advises a VIN number is necessary with original parts.
“I think most mechanics rightfully rely on, and respect, parts people for getting them the right parts when needed,” he says.
“So the message to DIYers is do take advice from the parts suppliers. However, it’s always good practice to make careful observations when removing old parts or preparing to do a job. That will reduce the risk of getting the wrong part.
“And, most importantly, be absolutely satisfied the supplied part is correct before attempting to force-fit.
“The other advice is use quality parts and oils, and only do repairs and servicing you are competent at doing.
“Mechanics have years of experience, access to manufacturer training, workshop special tools and technical data that most home DIYers don’t have.
“With experience, it’s better to spend more time researching and learning before taking on a new repair task. Then you will spend less time becoming frustrated with a job that goes from difficult to disastrous.”
Steve says there is a lot of helpful advice online, but he also warns about owner forums and YouTube “how-to” videos.
Online DIY tips:
Be careful in where you source motoring advice. It is usually well-intended but not necessarily accurate;
Manufacturers, dealerships and local repairers are credible sources of advice, forums and social media less so;
Be extra careful about seeking or accepting ‘legal advice’ such as for traffic infringements, crashes etc from forums and social media;
Just because a thought keeps appearing on blogs or social media, doesn’t mean it accurate. It could be that it’s just being repeated from one incorrect source; and
If you take advice from unreliable sources and causes damage to your bike or makes things worse, there’s not much chance of recourse. You wear the cost of incorrect advice.