Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure


Motorcycle TourMagazine

About Postcards from the Hedge

Always on the cutting edge of the motorcycle industry, Bill Heald’s Postcards from the Hedge provides readers with an exceptional look into all things motorcycle. From racing to design to day-to-day riding, Heald has a grasp on it all.

Name: Bill Heald

Current Rides: Honda VFR and V45 Magna, Kawasaki Ninja 500, Triumph Street Triple R

Favorite quote:

The Wand chooses the Wizard Mr. Potter. It is not always clear why.

- Mr. Ollivander in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

No Honor Among Thieves

“A plague upon it when thieves cannot be true one to another!”

Falstaff in Henry IV


You hear a lot when a gaggle of touring motorcyclists get to gaggling. I avoid such gatherings like quicksand of course, for in my role of Professional Hermit my Code of Conduct frowns upon such interactions. But sometimes you get stuck, or you simply have to pass by a gathering of riders on your way into the non-franchise donut shop and overhear the topic of discussion. These dudes, with brand new bikes, brand new leather jackets and brand new expertise, were talking about getting things stolen off their bike, or rather, they were worried about getting things stolen off their bike. This is always an intriguing subject, for as we all know the vast majority of motorcycles on the road are not blessed with solid locking luggage and even when they are, if you’re traveling two-up you have to Beverly Hillbilly some of your gear, especially if you’re camping.

It is a genuine dilemma. While I always think the stories found in every kind of media about all kinds of theft can easily amplify the reality of the situation way beyond the actual risk, the sad fact is it can happen to any of us at just about any time, if the circumstances are right. At the same time, there are ways that you can reduce the likelihood some miscreant will peculate your possessions (isn’t peculate a great word? I stole it out of the thesaurus). So what in the world can you do, really? You travel, you have to stop, you have to go inside at some point for any number of reasons including to see something interesting. Unless you want to disassemble your transport and transport the stealables to some sort of secure location, you have to devise a security strategy. Someone or some thing would be very handy here, if they’re into guarding stuff. Said guardian needs to be on your passenger manifest, so they can be deployed when needed. A German Shepherd would be an excellent choice, but a lot of their excellent guarding properties are tied in with their size, and they can really upset your center of gravity if they ride shotgun. Shotgun? Do bikes even have a shotgun seating designation? I guess the pillion could be considered the shotgun seat, but that’s typically occupied by the Navigator. A smaller breed might work, and a likely candidate could be an Australian Cattle Dog for they weigh about half what the Alsatian does yet can be every bit as fierce. But there’s a problem: the Aussie lives to move large objects (like cows) from where they are to somewhere else, and a car near the bike at speed screams to be relocated. Perhaps the canine might not be the most practical solution.

What about enlisting someone on site? Tricky. But improvisation is often rewarding, and sometimes just parking near a vehicle advertising Law Enforcement can create a zone of safety, at least for a bit. Valet parkers or often bracing young pre-miscreants who will not only let you park close, but keep an eye on your rig knowing that that nice old fellah will be generous at tip time. You know, this reminds me I once enlisted the services of a parking attendant without ever actually doing it. I was riding locally when I lived in LA, and stopped at my favorite Mexican food establishment (a place that won the dubious award of “Best Restaurant to have an Affair in” because it was so dark). I parked right up by the door in an out-of-the-way nook I knew about, and all I had with me was my helmet, which I secured to the bike via the helmet lock. After loading up on exquisite chicken enchiladas, I returned to the mount only to be accosted by the parking attendant, who seemed to want compensation. “What for?” asks I. “I watch your hat for you,” he explained. I guess he shooed away a roving gang of thugs, who had designs on my helmet. Or not. Did I compensate this guy? I don’t remember. But had I been on the road with a loaded bike I surely would have.

Other strategies? This is actually a pretty tough problem at certain places. But simple solutions are often at hand, such as just parking in a well-lit spot (sunlight is good) and asking for a window table that will give you surveillance. Biohazard stickers can come in handy, and work a treat if deployed generously. I used to have a roll of “Police Line, Do Not Cross” ribbon I stole from the prop department on a movie (actually I asked for it; I’d never steal from those guys) but I used it up. But man, it did keep people away from the bike. Or, at least I think it did, which is half the battle after all. As with all things, the best weapon you possess is just common sense, and a bit of imagination. Every parking lot, campsite, etc. is different and requires its own unique solution. Thieves may always be among us, but you can do all kinds of things to make their mischief more challenging. Another good idea is even though it can be a pain, don’t leave your 27” iMac zip-tied to your handlebars or that solid gold GoPro strapped to the sissy bar. Make your ride as boring and valueless in appearance as possible, at least when traveling anywhere you are a bit spooked about. I’m not suggested doing what my old friend Sarah in NYC did, and cover her knew scooter with duct tape so it looked like it had all kinds of body damage and was hanging on by a thread. But you get the idea. Use that bit of invention in all of us, and you’ll likely be fine. Falstaff learned you can’t trust a thief even if you are one yourself, but you sure as Shakespeare can outsmart them.