Date reviewed: August 2023 | Tested by: John Milbank | RRP: £449.99 | www.engineeredbyzicam.com
The Guardsman Security Barrier on review here is a unique device made by Engineered by Zicam (formerly Image4Security), that makes it much harder for a thief to get your bike out of your garage.
Bennetts BikeSocial has a policy of only reviewing security devices that we can properly destruction test. The attack testing here was carried out at the Engineered by Zicam workshop in Worcestershire as it’s not something I could test in my own garage, but the review remains completely independent, as are all BikeSocial’s tests.
Made of 3mm-thick mild and stainless steel, the Guardsman Security Barrier is built entirely by hand, with some clever touches intended to resist attack.
The price includes delivery, and while a fitting service is no longer offered, few tools are required for installation.
The two posts are designed to be positioned behind the pillars (or ‘piers’) that typically sit on either side of the garage door, with four M10 expanding bolts keeping each in place. An additional bolt on either end optionally secures the posts to the wall via a bracket and a length of threaded rod. While this rod does help, it’d be great to see a thicker bracket system here, though options are limited given the space required for the barrier to swing upwards.
The Guardsman must be fitted to a solid concrete floor, so you’ll need access to a powerful drill (they can be easily hired if necessary). After the holes have been cleaned out, the expanding bolts are inserted, the posts offered into place, then sheer nuts tightened down until the tops break off, making them very difficult to remove.
The Guardsman is a three-section telescopic barrier that swings easily down to horizontal, then pulls out smoothly before locating into the opposite post. A gas strut similar to those used on car hatchbacks carries the weight of the barrier, making it very easy to lower and raise with just a fingertip, tucking itself well out of the way into the corner, below the height of a standard up-and-over garage door. The barrier should stay smooth for a lifetime thanks to the use of needle roller bearings in the head.
Once extended, the barrier is locked in place with a separate key-operated barrel. When not in use, this can be left on top of the thick steel guard that resists drill attacks. It’s slightly fiddly to get the barrel in at first, but only takes a few seconds with practice.
A small clip on the post to hold the barrel when it’s not in use would be handy to avoid losing it or having it roll off and out of sight. If I had one, I’d probably screw a Terry clip to the wall, or 3D print something to stick on the lock guard plate.
Two loop anchors are supplied which, with a little jiggling, should take most chains up to and including 22mm. These provide a valuable anchor point if your bike is kept at the front of the garage, though they’re not quite as heavy-duty as the toughest dedicated ground anchors.
The Guardsman can of course offer great protection for a car that’s stored in a garage, but when it comes to motorcycles, there is the concern that a bike could be lifted over, or slid underneath.
I laid my 2001 Honda VFR800 on its side (with some carpet) and found that it would just fit underneath. However, it is important to note that getting it through is harder – and more time-consuming – than it sounds, and will likely cause a lot of damage to the valuable panels if not done with care.
Needless to say, a thief won’t always worry about damaging a bike (though every piece of damage is potentially lost ‘earnings’ when it comes to selling it, or its parts on), but anything wider than the VFR – like an adventure or touring bike – will not fit underneath.
Lifting a bike into a van is relatively easy as you can put one wheel up, then lift the back end in, but lifting one over a barrier to the other side is surprisingly harder. Add the fact that the limited space between the top of the barrier and the bottom of the garage door means that the bike will need turning on its side, and getting it out will be a lot more difficult. I tried, and while I didn’t want to drop the bike, it was clear it would take four of us, and still be very tricky.
Two people could theoretically manhandle a bike over the barrier, but it’d be time-consuming, and likely to result in a lot of damage while making a lot of noise.
Ramming a car into a garage door is not something I was able to test, but one Guardsman customer had suffered this fate. While up-and-over doors (and roller shutters) are often relatively flimsy, the attack simply bent the Guardsman, saving the customer’s two bikes.
It was hard for the owner to get inside due to the damage, but the device had clearly done its job, and they went on to install a new one after replacing the garage door.
Another customer saw their Guardsman attacked by thieves who ripped it out after chaining it to a vehicle and driving away. While this did pull it out of the floor, it took a large section of the garage with it, creating a huge amount of noise and leading to the neighbours chasing the thieves away empty-handed.
Attacking the horizontal section of the Guardsman with a sledgehammer yields no useful results as it bounces off the stainless steel tubing. Striking the mild steel pivot box and first section of the tube is equally pointless, though a sustained attack to the locking area did eventually see it distort and sheer the locking pin.
Striking the posts eventually started to sheer the fixing bolts in the ground, and began to bend the posts themselves, but as with the locking area, this was an extremely noisy attack that took a very significant amount of time.
It’s important to note that in most installations, the Guardsman’s posts would be behind the piers on either side of the garage doors. This means that they’d be almost impossible to attack successfully with a sledgehammer. However, for this test we installed the Guardsman in the centre of the workshop’s doorway, thus making it much easier to attack.
Drilling the pivot pin out is extremely difficult thanks to the protection on either side, while drilling the lock is hampered by the protective cover. Even if you could get at the lock barrel with a drill, it’d be very difficult to remove, and without getting it out the pin still holds the barrier’s arm in place.
The only area really worth prying is the pivot head. The Guardsman Barrier I attacked was an older model, which did allow me to get a large bar underneath and start to bend the plate away, but this still didn’t allow access.
Despite the difficulty of defeating the barrier with this attack, the Guardsman has for quite a while had an extra crescent of steel welded into this area to prevent any tools being inserted.
An angle-grinder attack is generally the biggest vulnerability of any security device, and the Guardsman Security Barrier is no different. I performed several cutting tests on the barrier, and while I did manage to defeat it, it was of course a noisy, and very visual attack.
Generally, the Guardsman provided a similar resistance to cutting attacks as a medium-weight chain.
Anything that can be made, can be destroyed, and the Guardsman Security Barrier is of course no different. Its greatest vulnerability lies in a cutting attack, but this is typical of most security devices, and there can be no argument that however a determined thief attempts to defeat the Guardsman, it will be a significant extra hassle.
The best security is layered, and using the Guardsman along with a decent chain and lock (see our lock destruction tests here) will make your motorcycle much, much harder to steal.
Besides the excellent protection against a ramming attack on your garage door, the Guardsman also offers a very real deterrent to any would-be thieves, making it more likely they’ll move on to something easier.
If you’d like to chat about this article or anything else biking related, join us and thousands of other riders at the Bennetts BikeSocial Facebook page.
From left to right: David, Patrick and Colin are the team at Engineered by Zicam, doing all the fabrication, powder coating and dispatch at their small workshop in the Midlands
This was the first time I’d attacked any security device in front of the people who built it, and it’s a weird feeling as you do everything you can to ruin something that someone’s put their heart and soul into. But what impressed me most was how, with every hammer blow and every cut, I could hear them saying things like ‘ooh, if we make this change, it’ll be even stronger there.’
The Guardsman barrier was invented by Patrick Batham, who owned Image4 – an events and exhibitions engineering company – along with Colin Wheeldon. Patrick had seen a video on YouTube about someone who’d had their bike stolen, and came up with the idea of the barrier. After months and months of development, and Patrick’s son-in-law David McGinnity joining the team, the Guardsman was released.
The company also built some other excellent security devices, like the Apex ground anchor reviewed here, but after being recently taken over by Zicam-Security, the focus is, for now at least, solely on the Guardsman Barrier and taking it out to an even wider audience.