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Common Tread

The most useless part on a motorcycle

Jul 31, 2019

Before we start: I currently have neighbors who are retired, work second shift, and who are Ruger and Remington customers.

I have a large, fairly remote, locked garage with lots of privacy. Take that together and you might think I'm speaking from a position of extreme privilege. But my life experience has not been homogeneous. My motorcycles have had less glamorous and secure accommodations in my past. I have lived in apartments. My motorcycles have lived in my living room and kitchen and out on the street. I feel all of these situations lend just a little credibility to my point in this article: Fork locks are pure useless.

What a waste of metal. If your machine is locked up in a building, you probably don’t need one. If your motorcycle sits outside where people can get to it, it ain’t gonna do you much good. Your bike can still be moved and lifted.

Odds are excellent a thief is going to steal your motorcycle by putting it into a vehicle and bringing it to a place that offers a little time to defeat all the anti-theft devices.

Here, watch.

Sixteen seconds. After watching that frame by frame, I think that fork was locked, and you can see how much good it did. A fork lock can be broken pretty easily by hand. One good kick will usually do it. Honestly, the helmet lock Lance loved so much on the new Versys is harder to defeat than these things.

I guess the price is right. Photo by Lemmy.

Fork locks require some machining and welding and some bits and pieces to install. Some are integral with the ignition key, some are separate. All are painfully ineffective, and all add cost to a motorcycle. I mean, older Harleys have a hole in a tab on the fork and a hole in the frame and they expected you to chain up your rig. At least that didn’t add much cost to the bike. 

Really? Photo by Lemmy.

I have a dirt bike with a neck lock. A dirt bike! The ignition is not keyed. You could literally walk up to the bike, kick the handlebar to snap the lock, press the starter button (yes, it has e-start!) and ride it away.

That’s insane.

The only time a handlebar lock can be of any use in my mind is if your bike has it engaged and there is the same bike next to yours that’s worth as much or more and it’s not locked. All security devices are staving off theft rather than preventing it. Everything in this world can be defeated, but the fork lock buys very, very little time, if any at all.

So, manufacturers, feel free to phase these out any old time now. They’re useless. You know it, we know it, and the thieves know it.

Give us better headlights or something instead.