Stopping soft luggage theft

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by alaskan dude, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. Anywhereness

    Anywhereness Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Anywhereness
    When I first started touring, I was was super paranoid about things getting lifted from my bike. I have Ortlieb panniers, a 42L hiking backpack as my tail bag and a tank bag.

    But, as time wore on I realized that really day to day, nobody is going to go explore your bags as you wander into into a store or coffee shop, as long as you park smartly. Interestingly, park it where there's a lot of foot traffic in and out and you can see the bike from inside the store. Having lots of people around is quite the deterrent to thieves.

    Also, don't ride at night.

    When I'm stopping for the night at a cheap grungy motel, I usually bring my bags in. If I'm staying with someone and it's a nice neighborhood, I usually just leave it strapped to the bike. I've got a disc lock and a cable lock around someplace to lock the bike up at night.

    If it's someplace really sketchy but I'm parking to go take a piss or eat, I'll often just bring my tank bag in, which has the easy to filch valuables.
    #21
  2. DirtDancer

    DirtDancer Slidin' Downhill

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Santa Maria, CA
    achy, where do you sit on that thing? or do you just stand all the way? lol
    #22
  3. theshnizzle

    theshnizzle Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,339
    Location:
    Canada eh?
    You have waaay to much shit on that bike, dude. Time to purge,seriously.

    I toured for years with soft bags. Never locked anything ,never lost anything.

    Relax, and ride your ride. People are fundamentally good. Who HASN'T left thier keys in the ignition or a bag lock?

    You're in NA, nothing will happen.
    #23
  4. sieg

    sieg Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,954
    Location:
    Southern Illinois USA
    #24
  5. SilkMoneyLove

    SilkMoneyLove Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,452
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Ride through mud. Get your bags good and grungy. Image is everything. If it looks grungy and likely full of dirty underwear and worse, swampy socks, they won't mess with it.
    #25
  6. achtung3

    achtung3 Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,014
    Location:
    Central Coast California

    I packed way too much crap for the trip! Lesson learned.

    But I still had space for my fat butt!:D

    [​IMG]
    #26
  7. Ednukey

    Ednukey Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    40
    I had a bag with all my clothes and most of my camping gear, stolen in Tok, in the summer of 2010, during a 41 day motorbike trip. I had a waterproof gear bag wrapped with a cable, kinda like you describe. I woke-up, and the cable was still there, minus the bag. I was sleeping maybe 20 ft from the bike.

    I took a six month trip the following year, and used a Pacsafe (as recommended by another commenter). I would highly recommend it. Takes longer and is more of a pain to cut through.

    That theft was my first whilst traveling. Since then, I've had a helmet stolen from behind my back while fixing a flat tire in Trapper Creek, and a pair of riding gloves stolen off of my gas tank in Chicken, while I was about 30 feet away getting fish and chips at that gas station/restaurant/campground place.

    So, I guess my point is...I never had anything stolen in many years of travel, then had three things stolen in two trips - all in AK...
    #27
  8. achtung3

    achtung3 Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,014
    Location:
    Central Coast California

    Pretty sucky!:eek1

    I guess I was pretty lucky. No lock no cable, nothing and did no loose anything in all my travels, camped in Dawson City, Chcken, Kitwanga, Glennallen.
    I also camped around UT and CA State parks.
    #28
  9. SilkMoneyLove

    SilkMoneyLove Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,452
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Ednukey - quit buying jewel encrusted gear and leaving it unattended :-)

    That sucks. It is a good reminder that stuff can happen.
    #29
  10. Ednukey

    Ednukey Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    40
    No jewel encrusted gear here.

    I ride a borderline rat-bike versys; and no 'fancy' shit. I was a college student (in my thirties) and then a recently finished college student when I experienced the thefts.

    There were fancy GS1200s and other such shit parked nearby, with GPSs, fancy beemer gloves, etc., still attached to them, during two of the three thefts. So, the whole "park near fancier stuff to make your stuff look less enticing" didn't really work, either.

    An unfortunate illustration that, in some ways, you almost can't be too careful.

    Take precautions to a level which make you feel comfortable, then just take what comes. There are assholes and super nice folks everywhere. After the thefts, the super nice folks helped me in various ways.
    #30
  11. Omit

    Omit n00b

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    6
    Location:
    Vancouver island
    ..... that would be mostly in Western Canada. Can't speak for south or north of the boarder, but for the big empty bit in the middle I'll talk with the rest of the guys, and no one will touch your stuff:wink:

    I think the best plan is to keep you 'valuables' (phone, camera, passport, etc.) in a tank bag or something else that you can easily pull off the bike. I have a small Giant Loop Fandango tank bag that is just about perfect for all this stuff, but small enough and easy to remove so I just grab it and carry with me when ever I am out of sight of the bike.

    I have never had anyone attempt to steal stuff from my soft bags or back bag. I know it can happen, but nothing is without some risk - the question is how much hassle you are willing to put up with to reduce that risk with cables, locks, etc? If it really bothers you (and I'm not saying that is right or wrong - everyone has their own comfort zone) then maybe hard bags are a better option for you.
    #31
  12. Vagabond25

    Vagabond25 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2014
    Oddometer:
    79
    Location:
    Colorado
    That's the thing when it comes to security measures; you'll never know how many would-be thieves were deterred. However, you'll know right away when a pacifist strategy, i.e. trusting in kharma, fails.

    For instances when I have to walk away from the bike briefly, I rely solely on a pacsafe system. For slightly longer durations, I employ this disc brake lock/alarm, and this heavy chain if I can find a suitable pole.

    When I campout, I use all of the above, plus a generic bike cover. The disc lock/alarm is enough to wake the dead, so I'm confident I'd be woken from my tent and able to sort things out from there. :2guns

    If I'm staying at a hostel/hotel/motel/friends', I'll tear down ALL the luggage, hard and soft, and bring it indoors with me, and rely on the rest of my security measures to keep the bike where I left it. There was one instance where I had to stay at a hostel in a sketchy area, but the hippie at the front desk let me roll my RT right into the secured lobby. Hippies are great like that. :thumb

    Yeah, it can be kind of a pain in the a$$, but I'm not about to let some low-life ruin my trip. If an item wasn't mission essential, I wouldn't have packed it in the first place. And, I'm not made of money, so replacing stolen gear along the way just doesn't sit well with me for more than just the principle of the matter. :dog
    #32
  13. Argus16

    Argus16 ThReAd KiLleR

    Joined:
    May 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    539
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    Pacsafe+1
    I bought some aircraft wire with fasteners from Home Depot and made some loops on each zipper. For the tankbag I then run another piece around my handlebar and lock it. It stops the quick thefts from happening... so far.
    Repeat for the soft side bags, and the Actionpacker handles.
    I also plan to buy a bag of gussets from HD and holepunch my boots, jacket and pants and run some wire thru those as well. $1000 of gear right there... and maybe 1 minute to secure everything.

    The places where you'd get gear ripped off are the places you'd least expect it. Shopping mall parking lots amongst the worst.
    $8 for the cable and another $8 for matching Samsonite luggage locks. I seldom use the Pacsafe but I bring it along if I'm using my big 60 litre wetbag
    #33
  14. dirtydeeds

    dirtydeeds I'm alive.

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,788
    Location:
    Calgary, AB, Can
    Everybody has made great points here. On both sides of the argument.

    I did use hard panniers. Don't anymore. I've figured that for the price I paid for the racks and panniers I could have bought almost 5 sets of Ortliebs.

    Personal preference says I like having less weight and soft bags. I'm willing to put karma in charge of the rest. I do take some precautions. I've used a small Pelican for a lockable top box for camera gear as well as a removeable tank bag. I prefer the tank bag. I'll take it with me when away from the bike.

    As others have stated, in many years of biking I've never had my gear 'broken' into. (I left some gloves on my dash one night in Guatemala - they weren't there in the morning. Also, in Nicaragua a guy with a machete tried robbing me one morning. I let him take what he wanted which was only my shoes. Then I shared my breakfast with him. He gave my shoes back to me.)

    Anyhow I use soft bags, do a bit of due diligence and in 20 years of wondering around; feel pretty comfy with that system.

    The only advice I'd offer is to start how you feel comfortable and be open to change based on your experience.
    #34
  15. The_Precious_Juice

    The_Precious_Juice In Garrison.

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2013
    Oddometer:
    2,165
    Location:
    Roanoke Valley, Virginia
    Good stuff

    1. Don't make your self a soft target.

    2. Know your surroundings

    3. Travel light

    4 have important gear on your person at all times

    5. Have a empty back pack to put sort of important gear in when you go on foot

    6. Dull and dingey tarp over MC.
    #35
  16. luckychucky

    luckychucky Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,410
    Location:
    SE Missouri
    [​IMG]Attach an empty holster to the bike, might make a thief think twice. Never know if a sharp shooter is not too far away. Wrong county might get you in trouble tho. You would think Alaska!
    #36
  17. Vagabond25

    Vagabond25 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2014
    Oddometer:
    79
    Location:
    Colorado
    Now THIS is a great idea!
    #37
  18. Alinel

    Alinel n00b

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2015
    Oddometer:
    3
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    A big HI from India ! Here's a Indian made soft luggage solution that has lasted me 10,000+ Kms ... mostly unpaved in the trans-himalayas .. Its seen & lasted thro' slush fests, torrential rains...Hail storms and blizzards .. quality is impeccable .. The company (Via Terra - http://www.viaterra.in/) even offered repair services absolutely free of charge for a damaged saddle bag even though it happened due to the negligence and poor strapping by the rider .. like its their job to be nice :clap:evil:D

    I come to know that they offer international shipping now.. which is why I am posting this here ! Very affordable and lasts forever..and then if anything happens, they'll repair it for free... Its a deal or what ?

    -Cheers,
    Alinel
    themotorcycleodyssey.blogspot.in
    #38
  19. juno

    juno Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Oddometer:
    479
    Location:
    Jupiter
    Shopping malls are at the top of my list for expecting to get ripped off. They are a petty thief or bored persons delight.
    #39
  20. SilkMoneyLove

    SilkMoneyLove Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,452
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    I used to be content with a regular bicycle cable lock. That is, until I forgot the combo and couldn't find the pic I took of it for backup. I tried what I thought the combo was and in my attempts to open it, I broke it apart with just my hands. Sheared the pin right off.
    I was surprised it was that easy. I basically pulled on it 2 or 3 times and snap.

    I had been using this for years to lock my jacket and helmet to the bike.
    #40