The desert landscape enveloping Naco, Arizona and Naco, Sonora has been a hotbed for illegal smuggling for decades. A pall of danger, sadness, and desperation hangs low in the valley with blue skies, seemingly out of reach, high above. For me, the inherent mystique accompanying the periphery is all consuming.
Cities are a tough landscape to navigate from the saddle of a motorcycle. You’ve got taxis, potholes, pedestrians, and thieves everywhere and they’re all out to get you! I’ve spent the last five years either living in, or commuting to New York City. Here are a few tips to help you keep your motorcycle out of the hands of thieves.
Get a lock and chain. Kryptonite locks are pretty standard around New York City with most motorcyclists using them. Get a decent length so when you’re parked on the street the chain can reach a street sign or another anchor point. If you’re not near a suitable anchor point, wrap the chain through your wheel and around your frame as best you can – it will help prevent someone pulling in the clutch and walking away with your bike.
Get a cover. You can spend money on a decent one to protect your bike, but run the risk of that getting stolen instead. It’s up to you if you want a $14 cover from eBay or a $80 cover from Amazon. I ride year round, so the added protection that comes with a high-end cover is worth it to me. In the end, the goal with the cover is to help your motorcycle blend in. A faded, stained motorcycle cover draws less attention in the city than a shiny motorcycle.
Park on the sidewalk. This is a tough one in that the thieves stealing your bike might be wearing a badge. In New York City it’s illegal to park on the sidewalk, although some precincts don’t really enforce it. I know that when I’m at my girlfriend’s house in Bed Stuy I can park on the sidewalk for months without issue, but in East Harlem, I can’t park for more than a few hours without receiving a ticket. The idea is to make it harder for the thief to get the bike into a van. If he has to walk the motorcycle to the end of the block first, he might look for an easier target.
Here’s a gross tip: if you’re parking on the sidewalk, park you motorcycle near bags of trash. It’s gross, I know, but you’ll have riding gloves on and thieves are less inclined to rummage through garbage to get to your bike.
Befriend cocaine dealers. When I was living in the city I used to do all my maintenance on the street. I did everything from oil changes to disassembling vintage Hondas in the gutters of New York City. By spending so much time on the street, people take notice and start talking to you. In both Brooklyn and East Harlem drug dealers singled me out. When I met “Chris,” the dealer in Brooklyn, I sincerely thought he was going to rough me up. When someone like Chris leads you through a secret underground tunnel, into an empty parking garage, and tells you to solder wires in his car, you solder wires in his car. It’s nice having a drug dealer owe you a favor. Similar situation in East Harlem. I spent so much time tinkering on my motorcycles that two drug dealers started looking after me. It was great having so much street cred as a white kid in the ghetto.
Find a lot. If you just don’t want to deal with the stresses of street parking, another option is finding a private parking lot and negotiating a monthly rate. After a while in East Harlem, I got fed up with moving two motorcycles every other day for street cleaning. I got in touch with the owner of a gated lot and made a deal – one parking space for $125 a month. The added security helped me sleep at night.
Get insurance. I learned this one the hard way. My first year in New York City I had my sweet little Honda stolen from me. It was such a violating experience! After filing the police report I called my insurance company only to find out I didn’t have comprehensive insurance. I was young, I was naive, and I was devastated! Lucky for me, a week later my motorcycle was recovered with minimal damage. According to the police, recovering a motorcycle in the city is unheard of.
So there you have it! My tips for keeping your motorcycle safe in the city. Sure, you can get a fancy GPS tracker, a disc brake lock, or an audible alarm system, but in the end if a thief wants your bike, he will find a way to take it. Keep it simple and keep it yours!
It may not be the safest thing, but I absolutely love night riding. In fact, I much prefer roving through the darkness over a bright, sunny afternoon. That said, I also enjoy strapping big lights to things! The other night I did just that. I strapped a Hella 500 driving lamp to my R1200GSA. I switched out the stock 55w H3 bulb for a 100w H3 bulb and the difference, oh man, the difference! Now, while I mosey down the road I’ve got a flock of moths trying to catch the light.
Three things I learned from watching this video:
1. Don’t run from the police!
2. Don’t ride a motorcycle through a shopping mall!
3. Let the Royal Canadian Mounted Police edit your next chase sequence!