The strap locks that come standard on many motorcycles are the least secure way to lock your helmet. The problem with this locking system is that it leaves the helmet no more than a scissor's cut away from a thief’s possession.
A few years back, I was on my annual pilgrimage to the Laguna Seca MotoGP with my usual riding buddies. After returning to our bikes after the Saturday night festivities in Monterey, we found my friend’s brand new Shoei helmet had been cut from his Honda VFR.
Here are alternative locking methods in increasingly secure order.
Light Cable Locks
The appeal of light-duty cables is their compact nature and versatility. Many of them are self retracting for easy storage. They are also most often accompanied by a combination lock so there are no keys to lose. The problem is that they are only a step above the easily cut helmet strap mentioned in the sad story in the intro. A scissors will not do the trick, but a small side-cutter probably will.
Kryptonite R4 Combination Cable Lock
This retractable cable lock features a 4 digit resetable combination with easy-grip dials. To protect that code, there is an anti-reset button. The cable is 2.9mm thick and 3 feet long. A nice additional feature is the detachable light for night use. The retail is under $25.
Chains and Heavy Cables
The larger diameter of these devices makes for a very secure locking option. There are two down sides to these methods. First, the helmet is left exposed to both the elements and potential thieves. Additionally, if you ride in an open-faced helmet, there is no additional security. You must feed the device through the eye port of a full-face helmet to truly secure it. Those things considered, chains and heavy cables are very difficult to cut making them a secure choice.
ABUS Cobra Steel Cable
This 10mm thick aircraft quality steel cable is self-coiling for easy storage under many seats. It is vinyl coated to protect both the helmet and motorcycle surfaces. It is also long enough to loop it through a jacket sleeve. The lock is not included. At under $20, this is a very affordable option.
Large U shaped locks are the most secure of the exposed locking methods. The hardened, large diameter construction would require industrial tools to defeat. One downside to U-locks is the challenge in storing them. Also, unlike cables and chains, they are rigid, thus a bit more challenging to secure.
OnGuard Pitbull LS U-Lock
The 13mm shackle is the core of this substantial lock. The Pitbull includes five laser cut keys, one light key and an all tube multi-position quick release bracket for mounting on the motorcycle. It includes a unique and secure locking mechanism on the yoke that is claimed to withstand 8 tons of pull force. It retails for about $55.
The most secure solution to keeping your helmet safe is lockable hard luggage that is sized to accommodate a helmet. Back in my younger years, I would not have been caught dead with hard luggage. It was just to tour-bike-like for my minimalist, bare-bones sport-biking self.
Now, in my slightly more mature years, I enjoy the convenience of a nicely styled tail trunk or set of saddle bags on occasion. There is no denying that having the ability to place valuables (especially that expensive helmet) in a secure, clean, concealed location is a real plus on the road. The key here is to make sure that the luggage is, in fact, sized for a full-face helmet – many are not.
The Trekker is one of the newest models in the extensive Givi line of aftermarket cases. The cases, which can be used in side or top applications, can accommodate 1 or 2 full-face helmets depending on the model. The prices vary widely depending on the mount and cases desired.
In the end, you must decide on the level of convenience weighed against the level of security of any helmet locking system. Just don’t be so quick to trust that helmet strap lock.