How to Secure Your Bike When Bikepacking or Touring: 11 Tips From An Ultra Cyclist

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By Robbie Ferri, Cyclist, Personal Trainer, and Group Exercise Instructor.

Cycling is an incredible sport, and not only will it keep you fit and widen your social circle, but it also gives you the opportunity to go on adventures. Cycle touring has also been a very popular way to holiday and enjoyed by many. In the more recent years since Bikepacking came on the market, we have seen long-distance racing and much lighter, faster setups to help you explore and go further faster.

Carrying everything you need for living on the bike does mean you are going to be carrying things that might be very important to you or might have a lot of value, so you need to ensure they don’t get stolen. Whenever you travel anywhere outside your house, you always have to be conscious about the safety of your bike. In this article, we’re going to tell you all about how to keep your bike and all your goods safe while adventuring on your bike

Before Reading: Check My Video!

11 Tips To Keep Your Bike Safe

1. Always keep your bike in view

One thing about bikepacking and cycle touring is that you spend very little time away from your bike. When it comes to keeping your bike and gear safe, the best thing you can do is to keep them in view at all times. If you ever go to a cafe, sit near the window or even consider sitting outside if it is a nice day. 

bikepacking bike down on the road

The key is always to keep it in view. Especially when you’re in very busy areas, as the more people, the higher the risk, I typically would make a habit of stopping at places where I do have a great view of my bike, and I can relax knowing it’s in view. Remember, without your bike, your adventure is over very quickly. 

2. Use a lock

There’s not always an option to keep an eye on your bike, and sometimes you have to lock it and leave it. Typically when you go bike touring or bikepacking, the lighter the lock, the better. Many cyclists I know tend not to take locks because they are very heavy. We wouldn’t recommend not using a lock on a bikepacking trip and highly advise taking something light even if it is only going to keep a robber at bay for a few minutes. It’s better than nothing.

bike lock

We use a small cafe combination lock. The lock featured in the video you will find in the link below. It isn’t the most secure lock, but it weighs less than 100 grams and packs away in a bag excellently. It’s a great cafe lock, but you’re not going to want to leave your bike overnight outside with this.

3. Use a lock properly

Not only should you use a lock, but it’s important to use a lock properly. When I say properly, I’m talking about using it to secure not just the frame of the bike but also the rear wheel. Typically thieves won’t take one wheel as they are worth next to nothing when not in a pair. Run the cable through the inside of the frame and the wheel as well.

Use the lock properly when bikepacking

4. If leaving the bike, take your valuables

As we mentioned before, sometimes you just have to leave the bike. When you do this, we highly recommend taking your valuables with you, such as your keys, phone, Garmin, wallet, passport, cash, and anything that you will struggle to replace. A drawstring bag is a great tool for doing this and carrying your shopping too.

bike front bag

5. Traveling with a friend

Bikepacking and touring with a partner or friend is an excellent way to up security while riding. It means when you need to go shopping or leave the bikes, one person is able to stay with everything to ensure they are ok. Typically riding in a pair does take more time, but it is great knowing that you can get away rarely ever needing to lock the bike up and also can half the cost of hotels and campsites.

6. Go with your gut

One thing I haven’t learned over years of bikepacking and cycle touring is that sometimes you just need to go with your gut. If you come up to a shop and there are characters outside that give you a bad feeling, I would advise you to either wait till they are gone or go and find another shop. There’s been a few times in my life where I have said I wish I would have gone with my gut, and it would have saved me a lot of trouble. 

So if you ever feel like something isn’t right or seems like a bad idea, then we recommend rethinking your options. I always say 99.9% of people in this world can be trusted, but it’s vital to keep your guard up as some people will take the opportunity if they can.

7. Make it difficult for a thief

Another great idea when stopping is to try and make it as difficult for a thief as possible. This will not only deter them, but it will also occupy their time, and you might catch them in the act. Here are our top ways of making it difficult.

  • Leave your bike in the hardest or lightest gear
  • Strap your helmet to a wheel or the frame
  • Make it difficult to get to by putting things in the way
  • Leave bags loose on the bike, then restrap them when you return
  • Remove the front wheel and lock it to the frame and rear wheel
  • Remove the saddle and take it inside with you
bikepacking rear wheel

8. Even when Sleeping, protect your bike

So just say you’re doing a few overnighters outside. The first thing you need to do is never share your location with any stranger or on social media. This is because you don’t want anyone trying to come and grab your bike while you’re sleeping or putting you in any danger. I would also recommend leaving a few things strapped to your bike, so if moved, it will make a noise and wake you up.

When it comes to hotels, you have two choices. We always think it’s best to have the bike in the room with you. I have heard many horror stories of people leaving it with a hotel and them just putting it out the front without the rider’s permission and it getting stolen. So you can either book and just take your bike up to the room without even asking, or you can ask in advance if it is ok to have it in the room. If you can’t, but they have safe storage, then take all the bags off before passing it over. A trick I used to use was telling reception I was leaving very early in the morning, and they would let me keep it in the room.

9. Try not to give too much away on Social Media

When bikepacking and touring, it is great to share your adventures. Not only can your social media be a scrapbook, but it also can inspire others to jump on a bike and get riding. You do have to be careful when sharing on social media though. You can typically find yourself giving away where your camping location and even the roads you will be on. This isn’t a great idea, especially when you’re far from home and don’t have local connections to help.

bikepacking phone instagram

10. Don’t Peacock

Peacocking means making yourself stand out. When you roll into a town or a small village, it’s a much better idea just to blend in than to make yourself known to everyone. Try not to draw attention to yourself only to find many people checking out your bike, watching and waiting for you to leave it unattended. 

11. Avoid Big Cities

Although you can’t always pick your route, we highly advise you to avoid big cities. The majority of crime happens here, and there are a lot more risks when going into them. Typically when cycle touring and bikepacking, you tend not to go through big cities unless you’re there for a reason. This is because the traffic is more dangerous and the roads can get a little too crazy at times.

bikepacking robbie in a field


A lot of keeping your bike secure when bikepacking and cycle touring is just common sense. Always keep it in your sights and if not, have it locked up well or being looked after by someone else. Having a bike taken isn’t nice, and it’s best to do whatever you can to stop it from happening. We hope you enjoyed the tips and safe travels.

Robbie Ferri CPT

Robbie from “Riding with Robbie” is a Personal Trainer living in in Norfolk, UK. He has bikepacked all over the World, and also raced ultra distance at a top-level. He has worked closely with industry leaders such as Shimano.

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