How do Motorcycle Disk Locks Work?


When you’re out on a motorcycle trip, no matter how short or long, the last thing you want is a stolen bike. There are several ways to secure your motorcycle, one of them being the disk lock.

So, How do motorcycle disk locks work? Motorcycle disk locks are small but sturdy locks that attached to your motorcycle’s disk brakes rotor. The U-shaped lock will slip over the disk and the pin will be inserted into a rotor vent hole and locked into place. The lock will prevent the wheel from turning by hitting the brake caliper or wheel forks. But, will a disk lock really keep your bike from being stolen?

No type of lock or theft prevention system is a 100% guarantee that your bike will never be stolen. Thieves are smart and tricky. If they really want your bike and the have the resources to snatch it, they will find a way. But, there are things you can do to make it more difficult, especially for the opportunistic thief who’s looking for an easy score.

What is a Disk Lock?

All disk locks look very similar. The are made of heavy, hardened steel and generally have a long, thin opening that will slide onto your brake disk with just a little wiggle room. They will include some kind of lock that opens and closes with a key. This lock moves the pin in and out allowing you to install it and remove it from the brake disk rotor. To install it on the bike:

  • Unlock the pin
  • Slide the lock onto the brake disk
  • Align the pin with one of the  vent holes
  • Turn the key to insert the pin through the hole and secure the lock

Disk locks usually come with a brightly colored coiled plastic cable. This cable is not used as part of theft prevention. It’s used to remind you to remove the lock before trying to ride away. Yep. Enough people do it to necessitate this feature. You’ll string the cable from the disk lock to your handle bars, or some place where you’re sure to see it.

Personally, I’ve been lucky so far. I haven’t used the warning cable in a long time, and, I’m not even sure where it went. But, there have been a couple of times where I’ve sat on the bike, ready to start it up, and I suddenly remember to remove the lock. Maybe I should find that cable and keep it with me.

Anyhow…

Will a Disk Lock Prevent Theft?

A disk lock will only prevent roll theft. It creates no more than a deterrent for most criminals, but there’s nothing preventing a few guys with a van from lifting your bike away. Actually, the van method is a lot less common than you might think.

Look at it this way, if a bear is chasing you, you don’t have to run faster than the bear, you only have to run faster than your friend. (That’s awful, I know). If your bike is parked along side another bike, your’s has the disk lock and the other doesn’t, which bike do you think the thief is going to take? He’s going to take the path of least resistance. And seeing a brightly color lock on your wheel and a bright reminder cable on your handle bars, might be just enough to make hime move to the next opportunity.

None-the-less, there are a few things you can do to make it harder for them.

Best Ways to Use a Disk Lock

If you are able, always use the lock on your rear wheel. Why? Because a bike thief can quickly remove a front wheel, replace it, and ride away, leaving you with your disk lock and your wheel, but no bike. Rear wheels take more time to remove, so, this will give you a little bit of an edge if the thief is in a hurry. And it’s safe to say most are.

For some bikes, typically scooters or older bikes with rear drum brakes, you should probably find an additional form of security, such as a chain and padlock, rather than relying solely on the disk lock.

Types of Disk Locks

There are two common types of disk locks; the kind described above, which is good for only one type of application; on the brake rotor. Or, you can get a padlock style that can be used as a disk lock, or used with a heavy duty chain to lock your bike to a secure object. The padlock style may give you more options on how it can be installed on your rear brake disk depending on the type of bike you have.

The padlock style can also be used in conjunction with a heavy duty chain enabling you to lock your bike to an object like a pole, or a strong hold anchor.

Disk locks come with different lock styles; tubular or a basic, straight key. It’s best to avoid a tubular lock as they can be easily picked with a ball point pen. Ne’er do wells have figured it out. Although manufacturers have made improvements to the tubular lock, a cheap brand may be easy to pick.

So, it’s better to use a lock that is not tubular, rather, one that used a straight key. A key retaining lock is one in which the key will remain in the lock and can only be removed once the lock is secure.

Disk locks come in a lot of brands and some can be made of less expensive materials. It’s best to pick a lock (no pun intended) that is made of hardened steel. If a magnet sticks to it, then it’s steel. Other materials may seem good, they are heavy, but, if the metal is soft it is easy to cut or saw through. A good quality lock made of hardened steel will cost you more, but it’s worth it.

Disk Locks with Alarms

An added level of security is a disk lock with an alarm.

They function just like any other disk lock, but come with the added feature of a motion sensitive alarm. It takes only a small amount of motion to trigger the alarm which will give out a few short warning beeps the first time it is disturbed. If it’s moved again within 5 or 10 seconds, a high pitched alarm will sound at about 90 to 100 decibels. Hopefully that’s loud enough the cause a thief to give up. The alarm will ring for 10 seconds, then stop.

But, we all know how annoying car alarms can be. They go off in the middle of the night and go on and on and on, and everyone ignores it.  So, is a disk lock with an alarm effective? Again, it’s not a guarantee, but any extra deterrent helps. For example, if you’re staying in a hotel and your bike is parked near your room, you can have an ear out for your alarm.

Wrap up

So, to summarize, disk locks are a decent deterrent that will help prevent roll-away theft of your motorcycle. Buy a lock that is made of hardened steel with a quality lock and key. Consider the added protection of a disk lock with an alarm and install it on the rear wheel. And finally, don’t forget to use the reminder cable so you don’t try to ride away with the lock still attached. You. Will. Fall. Over.

I hope this quick article helps you decide whether or not a disk lock is a good option for you.

 

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