So whose big idea was it to make the steering lock part of the ignition? Is it a good design? And just how big of a deterrent are they to thieves?
Unlike optional disc locks that can be purchased separately, there needs to be one stock lock per bike manufactured.
Having an entirely separate assembly line to produce one lock for every single bike means higher production costs.
And who’s going to pay for that? That’s right. It would end up being the consumer. A brand new bike is pricey enough as it is.
So the second most affordable strategy is to make the steering lock, or fork lock, a built-in part of the motorcycle.
The second expense eliminated by the one-piece approach is a legal one. If the steering wheel lock was sold separately, an uninformed consumer could do something that severely damages the bike. And you know what that means.
“Your janky lock destroyed my bike!” And another cool million leaves the company, and there’s only one way to make that back: raise prices.
Why Does The Steering Wheel Lock? And How
Steering locks take some serious machining, welding, and tedious assembly.
This video shows us that the steering lock is a very small metal pin that retracts into the barrel that takes the key.
The same barrel also turns the electric ignition component.
It’s worth pointing out at this point that breaking the fork lock also means breaking the ignition.
The exact way to engage the locks has some variation from one model to another.
A Yamaha bike calls for turning the handlebars as far as they will go to the left. Then you put the keys in the ignition and turn them all the way to the LOCK indicator.
Test the handlebars to be sure that the lock is engaged. If they don’t move, then you’re good to go.
Thieves Aren't The Only Hazard
Since they’re a standard feature, your decision to ride a motorcycle should include considering the hazards associated with the steering lock.
One hazard is financial.
Motorcycle forums are clogged with posts by bike owners that cannot get their forks to unlock.
They are not an easy fix, as most DIY Youtubers show that replacing the lock calls for a drill. Replacing the lock also means replacing the ignition.
Neither is it uncommon for the lock to engage while the bike is being driven.
Check out this post in a Harley Davidson Forum. The driver is lucky to be alive, and the manufacturer agreed to replace all the faulty components.
But things could have turned out much worse if anything had been different.
What is the Purpose of Steering Lock?
There’s the answer we want to hear, and then there’s the truth.
We’d like to think that when we park our bike to go have a few with the crew, thieves throw themselves at our bike and bounce off of the lock.
Which is the case with petty joyriders and common schmucks.
But motorcycle theft is a booming business, and it doesn’t always call for a ready-to-ride bike. There’s always a need for spare parts.
A fork-locked motorcycle can be lifted into a truck in seconds.
Your measly steering lock isn’t going to wall out a determined thief.
But it might slow them down. Indeed, many a bike owner has marveled at how easy it is to break the steering lock on a motorcycle.
The pin of the lock can be snapped with a few solid kicks. No tools required.
Stolen Harleys are ending up as far away as The Dominican Republic. Lifting motorcycles is a lucrative business, and the “suppliers” are trained professionals.
A fork lock just slows them down.
So Why Not Make a Stronger Steering Lock?
It would seem that the industry should loosen its pockets and just make the steering lock stronger.
How hard can it be?
The weak point isn’t the steering lock.
The threshold of damage tolerated by the lock is the same as the steering system. In other words, what breaks the lock breaks the bike.
The harsh reality is that any lock for a motorcycle only complicates theft rather than eliminating it.
A determined thief will get your bike.
The one, sure, guaranteed way to keep a motorcycle from being stolen is to padlock it to an unmovable object with an atomic titanium padlock and the anchor chain from the Queen Mary.