Motorcycle Security

Jess and I put a fair amount of thinking into motorbike and luggage security. After all, we had just bought these beautiful new GSs with shiny new equipment and there was only so much we could do to dirty them up so as to make them a less attractive target before heading off on our North and South America trip.

Motorbike Alarm

The first thing we did is take a look at alarm systems. We considered the BMW Anti-Theft Alarm because BMW Motorcycles of Ventura County could guarantee correct installation and because it immobilizes the bike by shutting down the fuel pump. But, what I really wanted was an alarm with a receiver that would tell me if someone was tampering with my bike when I am beyond range of sight and sound.

We decided on the Scorpio SR-i900R, which includes an alarm with accelerometer (tilt sensor), a perimeter sensor, a remote ignition disabler, and RFID transceiver. It didn’t work out as we intended and here’s why.

Alarm with accelerometer: This works just fine and we have no complaints.

Perimeter sensor: Finding the appropriate sensitivity setting was bit tricky. More importantly, the perimeter sensor was rather impractical in populated areas where we were most afraid of theft. And we certainly didn’t want to attract additional attention to our bikes by having the alarm go over whenever someone walked past or stopped to admire them.

Remote Ignition Disabler: We have no idea if this works because the dealership had big concerns about splicing into the bikes’ wiring, and we certainly weren’t going to press them to take chances with our electrical systems.

RFID Transceiver: At half a mile the transceiver range is quite limited and most of the time we were out of range but otherwise it worked just as intended. We never had to catch a potential thief but several times it warned us when overzealous admirers sat or leaned on our bikes to take pictures.

In the end, I think we would repeat our decision to install an alarm and we would probably go with Scorpio again but with two important exception. First, we would go for the SR-i900 (non “R” version) because I would gladly forego the perimeter sensor to save $100 since we rarely used it anyway. Second, we would opt not to splice the alarm into the wiring of Jess’s G650GS (we chose not to fiddle with the CAN Bus on the F700GS). It only resulted in causing the turn signals to flash when the alarm triggers – pretty unnecessary and an unnecessary drain on the battery.

It’s also worth mentioning that we each use a Dowco Guardian Ultralite Plus to cover out during nights of rain, wind, or snow and when staying overnight in the city. The cover is – just as it claims – ultralight, packs quite small, and makes the bike just a bit less obvious to the casual passerby. And to that point, probably best to go with the ‘Adventure Touring’ over the standard version because it is dark rather than light gray.

Luggage Security

Security – along with ease of packing – was the primary reason we opted for hard panniers. The Touratech Zega Pro aluminum cases on my F700 are fitted with locks and I have spare keys creatively and redundantly stashed in case of loss. Likewise, Jess’s SW-Motech TraX panniers securely lock with a key. At the risk of incurring Jess’s ire because she loves the sleek, angular look of her TraX cases, I will point out two issues. First, the key can only be removed when set to the locked position. This means that you can’t leave the cases unlocked and must either turn off your ignition or carry your pannier key separately whenever you want to open the cases. Second, and quite surprisingly, the TraX are not watertight despite never having been knocked. Fortunately, we solved this by running a thin weather stripping along the inside bevel.


With the aluminum panniers locked, the Touratech Adventure Dry Bag, which we run along the passenger seat, and the Giant Loop Diablo Tank Bag are the two most vulnerable bits of luggage on our bikes. The security measure that we employed for both is a PacSafe, which is like a steel cable net, that we lock to the frame or luggage rack. We usually bring the tank bags when we enter a restaurant because there’s always a camera battery that needs to be changed or something. Otherwise, we stash the tank bag face down inside the PacSafe with the duffle bag. In fact, if it’s warm and we want to leave jackets or riding boots behind, we place those inside the 120L PacSafe as well. Surely this increases the allure of cutting the PacSafe cables, which any moderately competent thief can do, but, through 50,000+ km of moto travel, none have yet bothered to try (knocking on wood).

Other Security Implements

Such was our anxiety early on that we – really, I – carried a Krypotnite chain lock that weighs in at just under 10 lbs. Yeah, nuts. Now we each carry a far more modest chain lock, which we prefer over steel cable. It weighs about three pounds and is long enough to run through a crash helmet and the sleeve of a riding jacket. When not in use, we lock it around the two passenger handrails and it doesn’t shift or jostle during the ride. When we’re stopped for the night and we feel we could use the added security, we run each through the wheel and frame and interlock the two chains together or to a fixed object.

I have twice driven off without first removing a disc lock. In fact that is how my F700 took her first (of many) fall. It was damaging to my ego but worse still with Jess riding pillion when I did it, it gave Jess endless hours of fun mocking me for it. Obviously, I’m why they make a Disc Lock Reminder but between habitually locking the handlebars and using the chain when the situation calls for it, I don’t tend to use the disc lock much anymore.