Zovii Alarmed Grip Lock

Nobody wants their motorcycle stolen, but most riders rely on the simple lack of an ignition key to deter potential thieves despite the fact no key is required to wheel their bike into a thief’s van; that pesky ignition key issue can be readily overcome elsewhere. Maybe a rider also uses their bike’s provision for locking the handlebars to one side, accomplished by turning the ignition key an extra click, pressing the keyless ignition button a certain way, or using a separate keyed lock built into the steering head. However, I almost never see motorcyclists perform even this one, extremely convenient, extra step to protect their valuable machinery. If they’ve never had a bike stolen—or damaged in an attempt—it can seem like a farfetched threat.

Granted, I don’t live or park my bike in high-crime areas where I’m sure I’d witness many riders routinely going to greater lengths to ensure security, but a motorcycle sitting out in the open could be stolen (or molested) anywhere. When I lived in an apartment complex and parked my bike—completely covered and with bars locked—in a dedicated lot 50 feet from my bedroom window, someone took a hammer and chisel to my ignition cylinder, which cost over $200 to replace four decades ago. Even if you keep your bike garaged and you’re confident about the safety of areas where you park locally, traveling exposes you to additional risks and uncertainties, with theft being one of these. It’s also of much greater consequence to be suddenly stranded on a trip to another state than on a ride to meet a friend for lunch nearby, so protection is especially important away from home.

There are a variety of ways to make a motorcycle harder to steal. You can run a chain or heavy cable through an anchor embedded in concrete and your bike’s frame (a wheel can be removed and replaced later by thieves who throw the rest of your bike into their truck). You might attach a disk lock to your front rotor, preventing it from completing a single revolution, but the wheel could be removed in this case, too—and there’s the possibility you’ll forget the lock is in place and try to ride away before crashing unceremoniously a split-second later (don’t ask me how I know). Of course, the same thing could happen if a thief just tries to roll your bike away without noticing the disk lock. Some disk locks also feature loud, motion-sensor-activated alarms. There are electronic alarm systems that can be installed deep within a bike’s innards, and which will set off an ear-piercing siren when motion is detected; some of these will alert you via cell phone, allow the bike’s location to be tracked, or disable its ignition. Installing such high-tech options may be intimidating to many riders.

Anti-theft devices can be expensive, with sophisticated electronic versions running hundreds of dollars. Others are physically awkward to carry on rides due to their heft and/or bulk. It’s really not surprising few motorcyclists take additional precautionary measures, as the costs or hassles don’t seem worthwhile if theft risk is considered minimal. I recently stumbled upon an option on the Aerostich website that leaves fewer excuses for eschewing this kind of protection. The Alarmed Grip Lock from Zovii is effective, economical ($60), compact (6.5”x2”x2”), and lightweight (9 oz). It can immobilize a front wheel and throttle grip or render a clutch inoperable, while making its presence obvious to anyone—including the owner!—who might try to move the motorcycle. It also emits an obnoxiously loud (120 dB) screech if disturbed while armed.

Operation is simple: The burly, carbon-fiber-look, hard nylon clamp is hinged at its wide end and opens easily when unlocked at the narrow end with a small, sturdy key. The unlocking process releases the spring-loaded key cylinder to extend out from its housing as the 10mm carbide-reinforced, hardened steel locking pin exits its socket inside the clamp. The user then folds the clamp shut to capture either handgrip with its associated lever, locking everything in place by pushing the protruding key cylinder back into its housing. A single beep confirms the alarm is armed, and the rider can walk away with confidence a potential thief will likely find this bike a poor candidate for stealing. Upon returning, the rider unlocks the clamp just like at the start, disarming the siren and allowing the clamp’s removal in seconds. While it’s easy to accomplish this task quickly, it’s also critically important to be prompt, since fiddling with the lock triggers the motion sensor; if you dither, you’ll soon be punished. A sequence of five beeps warns of the siren’s imminent activation, with 15 seconds of aural hell unleashed if movement is detected after this notice. Whether or not the alarm is ultimately set off, the system automatically resets and rearms after any disturbance.

For storage, the device can be locked closed with the siren disarmed by simply double-pressing the key cylinder at that time. The brief instructions included in the box don’t make clear exactly how to do this, but a little experimentation revealed the following method. Depress the cylinder slowly until the single arming beep is heard about half-way in, then allow the cylinder to spring back out to full extension before depressing it again, this time all the way. A double beep signals there’s no need to worry about triggering the alarm unintentionally. If you want to use the lock without the siren function, just employ this same procedure.

Electrons are provided courtesy of an included CR2 (stubby cylinder-style) lithium battery, which resides under a waterproof rubber flap, accessible only when the clamp is open. Also accessible only with the clamp open is an adjustment for the distance between handgrip and lever; a single #2 Phillips screw secures the lever slot in one of several positions—plenty of range for the vast majority of motorcycles. However, because the clamp is designed to tightly hold a standard throttle handgrip in place, some oversized grips may prevent closure. Note that, when the clamp is locked in place, the brake or clutch lever should be positioned close enough to the handgrip to activate the brake or disengage the clutch. Locking the brake and throttle is the most effective choice in most cases. Three keys are supplied, along with a code for ordering replacements, and the snug-fitting zippered carrying pouch is equipped with a cinching strap.

No theft deterrent is foolproof. Given unlimited time, privacy and an angle grinder, any mechanical deterrent can be defeated. If three or four stout men arrive in a van, they can lift your bike into the back and carry it off to be fully liberated at their shop, regardless of your countermeasures. More commonly, though, thieves go for quickly and easily acquired targets. If you make stealing your motorcycle a time- or labor-intensive project with lots of unwanted publicity, it won’t hold much appeal. Zovii’s Alarmed Grip Lock does exactly that, and at a very reasonable price point.