Ask RideApart: Chains

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Ask RideApart Chains

We believe your bike should remain with you even if you aren’t around. So making sure you have a proper set of anti-theft chains is key to keeping the baddies away.


Hey Guys,

You’ve got the best American moto blog as far as I’m concerned, so I trust your advice. Hopefully you have time for a question from a fan.

If you had to have one chain for your fancy new sport bike, both worthy and backpackable, what would you pick?

Rob from Boston
’14 STR


Dear RFB,

Thanks for the question. We’ve always got time for a Ask RideApart question from a fan — especially when it’s preceded by praise. Flattery is currency — we’re only human.

Back to your question, and away from our beaming pride. Since you specified “backpackable,” we assume that you’re referring to a security chain, and not a drive chain.

It’s a really good idea to lock your bike when you have to leave it unattended. Using a chain is a good option, especially if you can use the chain to secure a major part of the bike, like a frame rail, to a stationary object, like a light pole or a tree. We like to combine a chain with a secondary lock, like a disc lock, for dual dissuasion.

Professional thieves have proven that they can defeat just about any lock in seconds. The trick is more about where you park, and making your bike less of an easy target. A locked bike parked under a streetlight on a heavily trafficked street is much safer than a bike parked in a dark alley. Locking your bike with a chain is a deterrent that will encourage casual thieves to look for easier prey. There hasn’t been a chain made yet that can’t be defeated with the right tools and enough time.

That said, we’d look for motorcycle-specific products, not lighter weight general purpose or bicycle products.

A longtime favorite is the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain 1415. It’s heavy (15.25 lbs), but still backpackable at 5′ long. If you’re serious about showing potential thieves that this is not the bike they’re looking for, the Fahgettaboudit looks the part, yet has a flexible jacket covering that is gentle to chrome and paint.

If 15 lbs is too heavy for you (and it probably is on a sportbike), you might want to consider a cable lock like the Trimax Alarm Cable Lock, which also integrates a deterrent audio alarm. Weighing in at about 3.5 lbs, the Trimark is constructed of coated 25mm quad-strand cable, and is 4′ long. Cable locks sometimes succumb to bolt cutters, which is their disadvantage over hefty chain locks, but a 25mm cable takes a lot of strength and a big bolt cutter, and with the alarm function, the Trimark will make a lot of noise before it gives way.

Best advice — find the cable or chain that fits your budget, use it every time you park, and secure your bike to a big stationary object in a highly trafficked, visible area, or park inside a locked garage whenever you can.

Stay safe, and thanks again for the nice words.

  • James

    Almax makes a chain that’s uncroppable, you guys should check them out. A little expensive because they’re in the uk, but well worth it.

    • Jason Fogelson

      Thanks, James — those look interesting. We’ll have to get a hold of some Almax and see how it stacks up.

    • Jon Weston

      I’ve got one, (a IV), for my triumph for when it’s parked at home. It’s massive and way too heavy to put in a backpack!

  • Generic42

    FYI Neither link works, they are broken iframes.

    • Jason Fogelson

      Fixed! Thanks for the info.

  • hunkyleepickle

    While i agree that a good chain, and being chained to a stationary object in a well lit area is great, for my money, the best insurance is well, good insurance. I may pay a few extra bucks for it, but full theft insurance, and being very accurate with my insurance company in where i park, underground, leaves me with peace of mind. Steal my bike, it can always be replaced.

  • Davidabl2

    Something huge like the Krypto shown in the pic is ideal for the commuter who must park in the same place everyday..just leave it at work, locked around a light pole or something. A second one at home if you must also park in an insecure place.
    The Trimax looks good for securing a bike on the road, along with your helmet & jacket..At least if the over-sensitive alarm issue noted by one of the reviewers has been addressed by Trimax.

    • KC

      I tried a few disk lock/alarms. The Abus Detecto 7000 disk lock/alarm works the best for me. I’ve never had a false alarm and it fits under my seat easily when I’m not using it.

      • Davidabl2

        I’ve got a Xena or two. But have one bike without disc brakes and another with a solid front disc,and a difficult-to-access rear disc(use a bicycle u-lock for that one) The SV is happy with anything, including Xena.

        • KC

          The Abus will clip to anything that will pass through it’s jaws. So long as the trigger is pressed in, even manually, it’s armed. The trigger simply retracts into the body to arm – it’s not under tension. It’s a simple, effective, system.

          • Davidabl2

            I’ll have to see one in person to see if it’ll attach any easier to that hard to get at rear disc on my main bike.

            • KC

              I have the same problem. My rear disk is not easy to attach anything too. I have the disk lock/alarm on my front disk. Depending on how greasy you want to risk getting I used to padlock the drive chain to the rear sprocket on an older motorcycle.

              It’s not hard to make a motorcycle a nuisance to steal.

      • Jason Fogelson

        That one looks good, KC. A little expensive, though — but way cheaper than replacing the whole bike.

        • KC

          There’s lower and higher cost models, it depends on the features you want. Security for your motorcycle is only effective if it’s easy to carry and/or use every day.

  • ThruTheDunes

    There was a theft-related article, I think last year, and a comment had a link to an interview with a former thief that had some interesting insights. I follow some of its advice when parking in public when commuting by covering the bike with a non-branded (generic) cover, and use a disc lock front and rear. The front is a large obvious one. Also, I park under lights when possible so folks looking for a spot can see it. Its an older BMW thumper, though, so its not like it is a high-demand target bike.

  • KC

    The last thing I want is a massive chain and lock, or even a big U-lock, to lug around. Let me preface this a little, I don’t store a motorcycle on the street. It’s only parked on the street when I’m away from home. I primarily use an Abus disk lock/alarm and park wisely when I travel. At some point I will add a built-in passive alarm/immobilizer. If I think I need a bit more I carry a padlock and a steel cable. You’d be surprised how many places you can simply slip a padlock to make a motorcycle annoying to roll away (slip one over the drive chain).

    • Jason Fogelson

      Using multiple disk locks is a very good idea, KC. But a chain can make it a little tougher to pick your bike up and toss it in a white van.

      • KC

        True enough and I’m sure it happens. The trick is finding a place to chain a motorcycle to and a location on your motorcycle that’s not easily removed. My motorcycle has a fairing. There’s no exposed frame members.

  • Harve Mil

    Any chain or cable you would be willing to carry around isn’t really worth carrying. The big bolt cutters will slice through them in seconds. Get a loud disc lock and theft insurance and don’t worry about it. If someone wants it bad enough an armed guard isn’t going to keep them from it.

  • Dave S

    If your bike is that likely to be stolen, MOVE to a safer area! I have never locked my bike and have even left the key in the ignition – no problem. Just saying……

    • Davidabl2

      Just have one family in your area with a problem teenager and all that could change….

    • Jason Fogelson

      Not always an option, Dave S. And what about when you go somewhere on your bike, and have to park and leave it unattended. You can’t always control your environment.

  • Davidabl2

    From a personal safety point of view, you probably don’t want to be carrying a huge heavy chain in your backpack. Landing on your back on top on the thing could not be a good thing.

  • Rich

    I don’t have the luxury of a garage so I bought a Oxford Monster XL for home and use a disk lock when out and about.

    The Oxford is pricey and definitely not portable but it is nice and long allowing for multiple bikes to be chained and unlike the picture above it has a protective shroud around the lock to prevent thieves from bolt cutting the lock.

    I wasn’t sure how effective the chain was until a friend who had the same model had someone try and steal his dirt bike. They hacked at the sheath, tried to smash the lock and even tried burning the lock but in the end they gave up and went away. Despite the plastic being a bit mangled around the lock the chain and lock were fine for continued use.

  • Rick Weber

    I love my Fahgettaboudit. Great for swinging around above my head in heavy traffic.