In the UK, one bike is stolen every six minutes;
It’s no joke!

Have you heard the one about a white horse that goes into a bar, and orders a pint of beer (to hear the pun read on)? Well there are many more bad jokes that start with a different theme. Imagine locking your prized trusty stead against an immobile structure, and coming back hours later to find the lock and frame still there, but no wheels, or worse no bike at all; it ain’t no joke.

On my travels whether it's an overnight stay or a day ride, security of the bike when left unattended is paramount. If you’re only going to be away from the bike for a few minutes (in a shop or cafe for example), a simple lock will sometimes suffice, especially if you can still see the bike, though there was an incident where I was looking at my locked bike while I was having a coffee, and a 'bathplug' took my Polar computer. It’s even worse when the bike is left unsupervised or unattended for any length of time, there’s always a nagging doubt what you will come back too?

It’s important to get into the mindset of the bandit. Joyride thieves steal a bike for convenience or for pleasure, with no intention to resell it, and are more likely to around busy beer selling centres (like town centres or even festivals). Impulse thieves are opportunist, taking advantage of the right moment, then looking to turn over a quick buck, these can be anywhere where there are guaranteed numbers of bikes (like universities). Professional thieves are a different kettle of fish, they can be so brazen, they can steel in broad daylight, using cordless angle grinders to cut the best of locks off. These are more likely to target high profile bikes (like hotels and restaurants around a big MTB event). Many manufactures claim they have the best cycle lock and their websites even explain how to lock your bike up (Click the image to see how to lock your bike up). So at the risk of teaching your granny to suck eggs, there's a great site called 'the best bike lock. Com', with good advice on keeping your bike, and it’s worth paying heed to it. Click here (opens up a new window) to go to 'the best bike lock. Com'. Here’s a few suggestions they made-

  • Always lock the frame (not just the wheel!) to the secure object.
  • Keep the lock as far from the ground as possible.
  • Avoid just locking around the crossbar.
  • Make the lock as difficult to access as possible.
  • If you use a U-lock, fill as much of the 'U' as possible.

Storing your bike overnight

Bike alarm Warning potential thieves your bike is rigged to a self-destruct mechanism, could potentially dissuade them from taking your bike, and I’m not condoning violence, but they’d have to be pretty quick to get away with this one. The downside is; It’s likely the building and your bike would be damaged during the theft. Just get creative like taking your seat post out; no one wants a bike without a seat! (click the image for a passive deterrent).

Ask where the bikes can be kept overnight when booking accommodation. Hotels are usually good with either a locked storage room, or big chain hotels sometimes allow you to take your bike into your room, but beware, I’ve been duped by hoteliers before- I booked a particular small hotel in Padstow, I specifically asked for secure storage for the bikes. In correspondence the owner said that wasn’t a problem, but when we arrived the proprietor denied saying about the bikes. So reluctantly we chained them against the fence outside. I actually had a small alarm on the bike (Click the image to see the alarm); which went off at three in the morning. It was hammering down and it could have been the rain that set the alarm off or it could have been a thief. Either way we put the bikes inside a broom cupboard in the hotel. Each place should be taken on its own merit, but I urge caution. There’s a good site for accommodation called ‘Beds for cyclists’, click here to go their site (opens new window to beds for cyclists site). The website takes away the frustration of trawling the internet’s depths for appropriate cycling accommodation on UK cycle routes, by collating the best bike hotels, on the best cycle routes in a new visually appealing and easy to use tool.

Of course many of my overnight stops involved camping, but by their very nature campsites are not really secure, and in this case, the bike is more secure while wild camping. I know that’s a bold statement, but if the ‘perp’ doesn’t know where to find you, it stands to reason the bike is more secure. Making the bike blend into the background helps, click here to see the ‘Bike Parker’ cover I use at night while camping, along with locking it to a tree and the small alarm; it’s secure as it’s going to be.

Here's a small list of establishments that were friendly (or not) to me storing the bike. The gradings relate to how difficult it was to convince the staff and where they eventually stored the bike. Hover over any underlined word for more information.

★★★★★  Any Premier Inn, any Travelodge.  Just take it to your room.
★★★★★  Any Holiday Inn, any Ibis hotel.  Just take it to your room.
★★★★★  Any YHA.  There's always a bike shed.
★★★★★  Calshot Activities centre, Calshot.  Just go in and lock the bike.
★★★★  Staden Grange hotel, Buxton.  Contact the manager for storage.
★★★★  Elstead hotel, Bournemouth.  Contact the manager for storage.
★★★★  The Castle Inn Hotel, Bramber.  Contact the manager for storage.
★★★★  Mayfair pub, Lymington.
Contact Stored in the garden shed
the manager for storage.
★★★★  The National Tramway Museum, Crich.
Contact Stored in an old storeroom.
the manager for storage.
 Click here for related story.
★★★★  National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.
Contact Stored in the boiler room.
the manager for storage.
 Click here for related story.
★★★★  Great Western Hotel, Newquay.  Contact the manager for storage.
★★★★  Trans Cambrian Trail.  See their website for accommodation.  Click here to see pdf guide.
★★★★  Gales hotel, Llangollen.  Contact the manager for storage.
★★★★  Park Head Country Hotel, Bishop Auckland.  Contact the manager for storage.
★★★★  The Sportsman's Inn, cowgill.
Contact Manager allowed storage in cellar
the manager for storage.
★★★★  Steam Museum, Swindon.
Goto They have lockups for mobility scooters
front desk and plead.
★★★  Portmeirion village.
Goto Locked up behind the ticket booth.
the ticket booth and plead.
 Click here for related story.
★★★  Lundy, Landmark Trust.
Contact Kept on the deck of the ship.
the company and plead.
 Click here for related story.
★★★  Any Best Western.  Contact the manager for storage.
★★  Marine Hotel, Criccieth.
Goto Stored in the beer cellar.
the front desk and plead.
★★  Seabank hotel, Porthcawl.
Goto Stored behind reception.
the front desk and plead.
★★  Bath Arms hotel, Cheddar.
Contact Stored in a public stairwell.
the manager for storage.
★★  The Royal Beacon, Exmouth.
Contact Stored in the laundry room.
the manager for storage.
 Any GWR Class 800 IET.  Must reserve a bike space.
 Durham Cathedral, Durham.
Contact Stored in the security office.
the security office and plead.
🙁  Avon Valley Railway, Bitton.  Don't expect much joy.  Click here for related story.
🙁  Ironbridge Trust, Telford.  Don't expect much joy.  Click here for related story.
🙁  Keyhaven ferry, Keyhaven.  Don't expect much joy.  Click here for related story.
🙁  Castell Coch, Cardiff.  Don't expect much joy.  Click here for related story.
🙁🙁  The Cross House Hotel, Padstow.  Don't bother.  Click here for related story.
🙁🙁  Radstock mining Museum.  Don't bother.  Click here for related story.

Railway stations are leading the way with secure storage at their stations, sadly this has a negative connotation; it’s quite clear they want you to keep your bike on the station (rather than take them on the train). Cycle spaces are extremely limited on a train, so most commuters have two bikes and leave their cycles at either end of their journey. 'Greater Anglia' train company have introduced ‘CyclePoint’ boasting of a purpose-built facility that brings secure parking, retail, maintenance, hire and advice all under one roof. London Midland trains have made provision for 470 new cycle parking spaces at six stations. Northern Ireland’s ‘Translink’ have recently installed secure cycle compounds (click the image for more) at two train stations (it’s a start) which are only accessible when you purchase a 'Key Fob'. ‘Transport for London’ (TFL) boast that there is safe, convenient bike parking all over London, on streets, at stations and at work places. Southwark Council are installing secure cycle (shown above) parking sheds on local streets, these are on request by the residents. The ‘Mud Dock’ (a big cycle shop near Queens Square in Bristol) is going one further; they offer (for a reasonable price) secure parking for the day, or per week, with or without a shower (including soap and towel). They will even sort out your bike problems while you leave it with them, they’re certainly ‘upping the ante’.

Once you've stopped crying

Once you’ve stopped crying that some renegade has swiped your bike, you can do one of three things; carry on crying, or dig out the insurance policy or track your bike with a GPS tracker. Insurance for your bike varies from just under £20 upwards to mid forties and of course varies in what you get for your money. Some offer; third party insurance public liability (essential in some countries), get you home costs (I’m not sure if this means to your destination or real home), competition use, e-bikes, MTB’s, new for old, accessories, Emergency Private Medical & Dental Treatment, Emergency Physiotherapy, and loads more benefits. When you Google ‘cycle insurance’ you’ll get a stack of hits, though a comparison site can give you a broad spectrum. Once you’ve chosen your insurance broker, you really should be specific what you want. Are you covered by home insurance? Be aware home insurances may only cover you if the bike is stolen from your home. Even if your bike is in a shed, it’s likely the insurance company will want it locked and you’ll probably need an approved lock, and don’t forget to keep lock receipt safe. You’ll need a bronze rated lock if the insured value of your bike is below £250, silver rated if it’s up to £999 and gold rated lock if it exceeds £1,000. If your bike is in a communal area, it must be locked to a secure structure. Away from home it’s likely the insurance won’t cover your bike if it’s left in a public place longer than twenty four hours. Top Tip- take a photo of your bike showing the locks and what it’s locked too. is a good place to start for comparison, click here to go to the site (opens a new window).

Cycle GPS trackers alert the owner (via an app on your phone) if their bike is tampered with or moves, which would give many false activations if you park in a public area. The trackers consist of an accessory, which is in some way attached to the bike. They come in all shapes and sizes from discreet stealth trackers that fit into the bar ends, to ones that are completely obvious (research suggests a tracker in plain view is more of a deterrent), for the gadget lovers there’s even locks (though in theory if your lock is cut off- you lose the tracker) and bike lights that incorporate a live camera and tracker (click the image to see a backlight tracker). Some of the trackers are surprisingly very cheap (have a look at good old Ebay). Bear in mind the devices would require a sim-card and obviously some kind of contract (even pay as you go requires a regular financial commitment to keep the sim activated and there's usually an annual fee for the app). Then there’s the battery, which would need replacing regularly. That said, with the app, the owner is able to trace the bike – even using it to alert the police to where the bike is being moved or kept. Cycling Weekly have made a comparison of some, to go to the Cycling Weekly site, click here (opens a new window).

I’m sure you’re wondering about the white horse that went into a bar, and ordered a pint of beer? Well, the barman says, "Blimey, we sell a whisky named after you." and the horse replied, "What, Eric?". Now, that's a joke.

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