GPS bike locks

A week doesn’t go by without someone contacting me to promote their bike related Kickstarter. Where I can, I oblige.

An area that really excites me, is bike locks. I’d like to be able to:

  • Unlock my bike with my phone
  • Receive an alert if someone tampers with my lock
  • Share my bike with my friends, without having to hand them a key
  • Rent my bike to strangers to make a little extra pocket money

The best of the current generation of bike locks simply doesn’t do these things. However, I’d like to introduce you to three locks that do.

Lock8Lock8 GPS bike lock

  • Available Q1 2015 – Preorder from Lock8.me
  • 249 USD or £146
  • GPS tracking
  • Built in alarm
  • Charges as your wheels spin
  • Share your bike with others

BitLock

  • BitLock bike lockAvailable November 2014 – Preorder from BitLock.co
  • 119 USD or £69.95
  • GPS tracking
  • 5 year battery life
  • Unlock using your smartphone (iPhone and Android)
  • Share your bike with others

SkyLock

  • SkylockAvailable early 2015 – Preorder from SkyLock.cc
  • 159 USD or £94 if you preorder or £146 if you wait until release
  • GPS tracking
  • Unlock using your smartphone (It senses when you are nearby)
  • Tamper alert
  • Battery recharged through solar panel
  • Can unlock without your phone
  • Share your bike with others

Out of the three, the SkyLock looks really promising for an area like London as it looks particularly hefty.

If you had a spare bike, you could rent it out to strangers for £10 to £20 per day using sites such as Spinlister. Thanks to these locks, you could simply authorise the person on your smartphone and they could rent your bike, returning it when they are done. As generally one lock isn’t enough in London, you could attach a second combination lock such as the Knog Party Combo.

It’s like AirBnB but for bikes.

Hidden GPS trackers

Aside from the above GPS bike locks, item-trackers are also about to become much more common place.

Trackr is one such project that started with a crowd funding target of $20,000 USD. It broke all expectations, and has so far raised a total of $844,000 in crowd funding.

These coin sized item-trackers don’t have a built in GPS. Instead, they rely on a Crowd GPS network. If the device is within 100ft of any user, it will transmit its location back to you.

Obviously, this relies on enough people having these devices.

A single Trackr device costs 29 USD or around £17. You can attach it beneath your bike saddle, to your cat, dog, or your bag or anything else you can think of.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

9 Responses to GPS bike locks

  1. Owen Billcliffe 30/07/2014 at 1:10 pm #

    I like the use of tech in those locks, although I feel like the GPS isn’t that useful unless a thief that smashes the lock off is responsible enough to take the pieces with him instead of leaving them at the empty rack… ;)

    Also love the idea of the tracker, but can’t see it being indispensably useful until it’s seriously mass market and in every Evans, Cycle Surgery etc. Is there a map somewhere of current usage?

    • Andreas 31/07/2014 at 9:55 am #

      The GPS would only really work to track a stolen bike on the Lock8, as they likelihood is they’ll cut the cable but the lock will remain on there, unless they’re smart enough to smash it off. On the other two locks, the GPS would merely be used if you’d rented the bike to someone you know and wanted to find out where they’ve parked it.

      With the mini trackers, I don’t think there currently are basically any in circulation as they’ve still not quite launched, but it would be interesting to see a map like that!

  2. Tom 31/07/2014 at 12:26 am #

    Hmm… once again Kickstarter is solving the problems that no one knew existed.

    “i’d like to lock up my bike and then lend it to a friend without actually meeting them, but how?” how many times has that ever actually happened to anyone? Also unlocking a lock with your phone? Why? what it wrong with a key, you’re carrying keys anyway, you presumably have to carry a key to the lock in case your phone runs out of battery, so why? I just dont get it. Do you have to charge your lock, just so you can unlock it with your phone?
    Also the cheapest is £70 and looks rather flimsy.

    I am genuinely baffled by this article and the daft products it’s about. It isn’t the 1st of April is it?

    • Caroline Downunder 31/07/2014 at 3:14 am #

      Tom and Owen I agree with you… if you are going to use a tracker, it needs to be attached to the bike rather than the lock. And if you are going to share your bike, you won’t be adding another keyed lock for the extra security, that just defeats the original intention. Sounded great until you think about it a little…

      • Andreas 31/07/2014 at 9:58 am #

        Hey Caroline – apologies for not being clear in the article. You don’t add an extra keyed lock, you add a combination lock such as the Knog Party Combo mentioned in the article.

        • Tom 31/07/2014 at 10:02 pm #

          Yeah, but presumably the fancy pants lock has to have way to open it without your phone, in case your battery runs out?

          On a more serious point, are any of them recognised by bike insurance companies? Most cycle insurance policies are only valid if you can prove that you have a lock from their specific list of locks.

        • Andreas 31/07/2014 at 10:06 pm #

          I don’t believe any of them would be at this stage Tom as they are as yet unreleased.

    • Alehouse Rock 08/08/2014 at 12:31 am #

      [[[[[ Spot-on, squire!
      A. R.

  3. Daniel 07/08/2014 at 10:12 am #

    Hey Andreas!

    LOCK8 actually detects any attempted tampering and alerts you via push notification – and also alerts other LOCK8 users in the direct vicinity via the app too. In addition, there is also a built in alarm, which sounds if LOCK8 detects unusual movement (e.g. not someone knocking your bike when they park theirs next to yours).

    LOCK8 also knows if someone tries to cut/grind/freeze/melt the wires – the cables really are intelligent! So again, you and the close community are made aware of the attempted theft/vandalism.

    Speaking of cables, LOCK8 is available with a whole range of cables – from lightweight, to ‘hefty’ D-Locks.

    Also, The case is made from polycarbonate – which is INCREDIBLY strong. It would take significant force to remove LOCK8 from your bike, even if the wire is cut, meaning that the bike would still be tracked even if a thief wasn’t deterred by the loud alarm.

    Many thanks for the article,

    Daniel
    LOCK8

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