As cyclists, we tend to spend a lot of time worrying about how to keep our bikes safe from thieves in the street. But the truth is: we should be just as worried about their safety while they’re at home!
This is because over 50% of stolen bikes are actually taken from the owners home; a statistic that includes anywhere on the property, from inside the house or flat, to the garage, the shed and the front or back garden.
There are a few reasons for this sad state of affairs. Firstly, we tend to presume our bikes will be safer when they’re on our property, so we’re less likely to take steps to secure them adequately (or even at all).
Secondly, it’s often more difficult to secure our bikes at home. Not many properties come with the cemented bicycle racks we use in the street! So even when we’re inclined to secure our bikes properly at home, often it’s actually quite difficult.
And thirdly: thieves know all this! They know that bikes are less likely to be locked up at home. Plus they prefer less busy places, so a quiet garden, garage or shed is the perfect space for a thief to get down to undisturbed business with your bike!
The best way to combat this, is to secure our bikes at home as if we were securing them in the street. And if we keep out bicycles in the garden, that means finding a bike shed that offers enough protection to repel most thieves.
So how do you find a shed that will keep the thieves out?
The first thing to think about is what the shed should be made of. There are three choices: wood, plastic or metal.
Each type of material has a different inherent security level. And critically: depending on which material you choose, there will be more or less customisations that you can make, to boost that inherent security.
Traditionally, bike sheds have been made from wood. It’s strong, easy to customise and looks good in the garden. Unfortunately most wooden bike sheds are not very secure “out of the box”. But fortunately, there’s loads you can do to improve that security!
Plastic bike sheds are something newer. They have the advantage of being relatively cheap, really easy to build, and almost completely maintenance free. They’re also generally more secure “out of the box” than wooden sheds.
This is purely because plastic tends to bend rather than break (as wood does), when attacked. However, most plastic sheds are still not high security, and unlike wooden sheds, there’s very little you can do to boost the protection they offer. So you’re pretty much stuck with the mediocre security levels they come with.
Metal bike sheds are the most secure option “out of the box”, and if you want the highest level of protection for your bikes, they’re the best choice. However, they’re usually very expensive. And if you have to put them together yourself, it can be daunting task!
Finding a shed that offers a decent level of security “out of the box”
Whatever type of shed you choose, there are certain features to look out for that will offer the best inherent protection.
With wooden sheds, you want a strong structure. Look for thicker frames (made with beams that are more than 28 mm thick), and bracing in each corner. And always choose tongue and groove or shiplap cladding rather than overlap cladding (which is easily ripped off). These structural qualities will provide greater resistance to a general brute force attack.
For a targeted attack, the most common weak points are the door hinges and door lock. On most wooden bike sheds, the hinges are on the outside of the shed and are attached with regular wood screws. This means a thief can simply unscrew them and pull the door open!
So, ideally you’d want door hinges that are either hidden inside the shed, or that are attached with security bolts that can’t be unscrewed from the outside.
Likewise, whether the door is secured with a hasp and staple or carriage bolt, make sure that the screws that attach this fastening to the shed are either inaccessible when the door is locked, or are the special security versions, which can’t be removed from the outside.
However, very few wooden sheds are made with proper security as a priority, and unless you buy a shed that specifically advertises its high levels of security, then you’ll almost certainly end up with a shed that, while it may be structurally robust, needs some work to make it genuinely secure.
But the great thing about wooden sheds is that they’re so easy to customise. So replacing the wooden screws in your hinges or door fastening should be easy. And if the lock that comes with the shed doesn’t look up to the job, it’s easy to install an upgrade, or even fit a shed security bar.
In fact, with a few easy upgrades to your shed security, you can turn an average wooden shed into Fort Knox!
With plastic sheds, there’s not much you can do to improve the security, so it’s important to choose one that already offers a reasonable amount of protection. Just like wooden sheds, this means looking for a strong structure. Internal steel supports in the walls, as well as the roof, will protect your shed from the weather and brute force attacks.
More targetted attacks will again go after the hinges and the lock. So look for sheds where the hinges are hidden (luckily, on most plastic sheds they are). For the lock, make sure the fastenings are metal rather than plastic! And you want locking mechanisms that are difficult to access with tools.
Even more so than wooden sheds, most plastic bike sheds are not built with security in mind, so you may need to hunt around a bit. There are some plastic bike sheds made with security as a priority (such as Lockerpods), but they a few and far between, and expensive!
Unlike their wooden or plastic counterparts, metal bike sheds are nearly always designed with security as a priority. And if you get a shed from Trimetals or Asgard, you won’t have to do any customisation, as you can be sure you’ll be getting something that can protect your bikes already.
Be aware though that metal sheds are more expensive and you’ll still need to secure your bikes within the shed.
Which brings us to…
Steps to protect your bikes inside the shed
Whichever type of shed you end up with, and however secure that shed is, it’s really important that you don’t get complacent and leave your bike unsecured inside the shed.
Remember: we should secure our bikes at home as if they were in the street. And that means always locking your bike to an immovable object!
Now unfortunately, most sheds won’t come with a suitable immovable object. So you’re probably going to have to buy one and install it yourself. At a push, you could lock several bikes together, or even lock your bike to the lawnmower. But these should be temporary measures!
If your shed is metal or plastic and sits on a concrete base, then there are tons of ground anchors that you can bolt into the floor. If you’ve got a wooden shed, there are a few anchors and shackles that are specifically designed for wood.
And if you really don’t want to get the DIY tools out, you could even buy a couple of 40kg kettle bells and lock your bike to those. Just lock it to something that will stop a thief simply walking away with your bike.
Coupled with the thickest, Sold Secure Gold chain lock you can afford, this should ensure your bikes are as secure as they possibly can be.
However, remember: just as no bike lock is unbreakable, no shed is impregnable. So if you really want to sleep well at night, you should supplement your security setup with insurance for bicycles that adequately covers your bikes while they’re in the shed!
After numerous years of misfortune, and countless years of bikes and parts stolen in London, New York and Barcelona, Carl decided to make his own website. To counter the fear of living with a cheap cable lock, Carl rates the best locks on the market. For starters he recommends some really good bike locks, to help people find the best lock for their individual circumstances and to make sure they know the best way to use it.
Head to thebestbikelock.com for more bike lock news, hacks and info.