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Frame number: The real hero of the bike theft battle & how it can save your bike

Everything you always wanted to know about frame numbers and were afraid to ask! Find out what is frame number, where to find and what is it good for.


Why do you (and everyone) keep asking about my frame number?

Well, that’s a good que..

And why do you always add that annoying note how “really important” it is?

Hahah..also a good one. Both are completely legitimate questions you have there.

Indeed, we see a lot of importance in the frame numbers. Let us explain why.

Frame numbers are exclusive identifiers of each bike. About 95% of bikes cruising Dutch roads have a unique frame number when manufactured – and so does yours. (Even if some bikes seem they don’t have any at the first glance, usually you can find the number somewhere well hidden, sometimes on even more than one spot).

Think of it as a licence plate number of a car (or even more precisely, an engine number, since licence plates can be changed easily). Every bike can be quite easily recognised by its unique number.

Alright, that’s nice, but why does it matter so much?

If it’s missing (or even visibly scratched off), the most probable reason is the bike’s violent history – chances are your bike was stolen in the past and you are riding someone else’s bike. And if that is true, your bike may get you in some serious trouble. For example in the Netherlands it will leave you with €200+ fine and a criminal record at the least.

Without even intended to hurt anyone, you are practically funding thieves who are stealing other people’s bikes and supporting the whole rotten system. Not something to be proud of, right?

Alright, but how does this help ME?

Aside of avoiding fines and possible legal trouble? Right, imagine you end up on the wrong end of the chain, and your bikes gets stolen (just like over 500,000 bikes do in the Netherlands each year – your chances are good).

If you recorded your frame number, we can help you recover it and report it to police. With the combined power of us and police, you actually have almost 33% chance you will get your bike back. That may seem “mah” now, but at the moment your bike is actually gone, you’d do anything to have such chances – believe our own experience here.

On the other hand, in case you don’t know your frame number in this situation, your chances are almost zero. There are lots of similar bikes, and recovering “black omafiets with a silver bell” without knowing its unique identifier is borderline impossible.

You can find more information about what to do when your bike is stolen in this article.

So it’s like a lot of hassle, right? Like 10 minutes of heavy lifting and stuff?

No, not really. It’s about two minutes of “work”, maybe even less if you have a newer bike with a sticker frame number. Check the number, maybe take a picture, save it somewhere like the Bike Index database. Done.

Ok, so where do I find the magical frame number thing?

First, what to look for. Frame numbers are usually 6-12 characters long codes, combining numbers and letters. A modern standard number consists of 2 letters followed by 7 digits, but this often varies, especially with older pieces.

Many new bikes (for instance Batavus brand does this) even have a laminated sticker with a barcode and the number, placed in a more visible place so you don’t even need to bend your back:

Doesn’t your bike have a sticker like that? Don’t worry! Most have the number also engraved in the frame. You’re looking for something like this:

You get the idea.

 

These are the most common places to search for your frame number:

The only challenge is that most frame numbers tend to be “hidden” in the bottom of the bike (most often on the frame between pedals), usually covered with dirt – which is behind most people’s border of a comfort zone.

If you want to take anything from this article, it should be this: take a rag (or paper tissue or whatever) and go get your bike’s frame number NOW. It takes no more than two minutes (really), and you can thank us later.

Ok got it, but what then?

For starters, it would be a good idea to write it somewhere or take a picture. The best thing you can do is enter it into some bike register, such as the Bike Index register. It’s free, it will be saved there forever, and you always know where you can find it, should your bike be stolen. If you actually decide the sell your bike at some point, you can simply transfer the registration to the new owner. Plus, it again doesn’t take more than 2 minutes.

Once it’s done, you’ve done SO MUCH for your bike! You don’t even know.

 

Now, time for a bike ride? 🙂



FIND OUT MORE:

Anti-theft 1.0: The basics of bike locking

The Science of Bike Locking: Outsmart the Thieves!

Bike locks: How do I choose the right one?! The ultimate guide.

Help! My bike got stolen! What do I do?

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