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My Bike Handlebars have been stolen! What should I do?

What should you do if you’ve had your bicycle handlebars stolen aka you’ve been ‘cockpitted’?

What’s worse than having your bike stolen? Well, not much*, but right up there is having parts of your bike stolen. In London, we are increasingly seeing the theft of handlebars and shifters. Why? Well the component shortage for many common bike parts (like shifters, up to a 6 month wait) and increased demand has made this a profitable industry. 

Just a simple set of Shimano Tiagra shifters off a £1000 bike can cost £300 to replace, and that’s before the cost of the labour and other parts to fit them (let’s hope your hydraulic brake lines haven’t been cut!). As a ballpark figure, you’re probably looking at between £100 to £300 to replace stolen handlebars and shifters, but we’ve seen this go up to £600 if you’ve been really unlucky.

Bicycle with handlebars stolen
A rather sad looking bike that has had its’ handlebars stolen 🙁

So, if you’re unfortunate to be a victim of a theft like this, what should you do?

  1. Take a deep breath. Look around, make sure that you’re safe. Perhaps get yourself a cup of tea. Get photos for insurance (if you have it).
  2. Report it to the police. Sure, they might not find the thief, but if you don’t report it, then no-one knows that there is a problem. We actually volunteered to work as Special Constables with a focus on bike theft, but apparently you can’t pick and choose your roles, which is fair enough.
  3. Do not leave your bike in situ. It’s a fairly common ruse by thieves to steal a part of a bike and then come back for the rest. This may mean that you need to get a cab. Addison Lee have made great strides in recent years to be more cyclist friendly, and they have their cycle-cab product.
  4. Pop into your local bike shop. We will always take pity on you, and rarely turn anyone away in this situation. Indeed you’re likely to get another cup of tea. We might not have the parts you need there and then in stock, but can help you to get them. If you have insurance (highly recommended!) then we can usually get you back up and running with the minimum of fuss. If you don’t, well, we usually try to help you to get your bike working again as cheaply as possible. We have been known to advise which second hand parts to source, or can make a few changes to a bike (eg converting to flat bar) to hit your budget!
  5. Do something to prevent your bars getting nicked in the future. There are a number of options out there, and something we’ll cover in a future blog post. If we remember (or pop into our shop). Our best advice at the moment is not to park your bike near Dalston Junction Station, and not to park any fancy looking bike in Hackney, Stoke Newington or Islington as it seems to be the epicentre of this sort of bike crime in London.

Is my bike worth fixing after the handlebars and shifters have been stolen?

The usual answer is – yes. If a scumbag thief has gone to the trouble of stealing your gear shifters then your bike is probably good enough to be worth repairing. Thieves are horrible people, but they’re usually not stupid enough to try and steal the bars off a supermarket bike for a total value of £5.

Do beware trying to source bike parts online or second hand. We’ve seen lots of fakes, stolen components sold back to you, or confusing incompatibilities. Most bike shops won’t fit second hand parts (unless they’ve advised you which ones to buy) as it’s impossible to warranty.

As a shop, we’ve got good stock of Sram, Shimano and Campagnolo parts, and can help you to source the ones that we can’t so don’t be afraid to pop in and ask. If you don’t already, now might be a good time to get some bike insurance.

Of course, the best way to stop your bars or your whole bike getting stolen, is to be sat on it, so our advice is get out and ride!

*If you really can’t think of anything worse, you’re lacking in imagination

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