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BikeSpike: The Best Idea Yet for Recovering Stolen Bikes

by Ted Johnson

A LoJack-style device for a bike. The best idea yet? I bet you agree, because I bet you thought of it yourself — just like I did. And just like me, you didn’t have the¬†wherewithal to make it yourself. And like me, you Googled for it, and found some unsatisfying attempts to create such a device. So, like me, you decided just to wish the thing into existence — because that always works.

Wish fulfilled — almost.

The guys at BikeSpike look like they could get it right. Yes, it’s a Kickstarter project. But if you have a bike worth more than $149, I don’t know why you wouldn’t back this project for at least that much. It’s a great price point — less than those base model GoPro cameras that have become ubiquitous in the last three years, but with much more potential to improve cycling for everyone.

That’s right, I see the BikeSpike as a tool for bike advocacy.

I’ll get to that later. Let’s start with the theft recovery scenario, because that’s the funniest video. (Try not to focus on the disturbing State Trooper on the left. Couldn’t help yourself, could you?)

 

“Every security system has a fault,” said Josh Billions of the BikeSpike team.

A lock can be defeated by an angle grinder but people still buy locks and use them. The BikeSpike is an additional layer of security. Similar to a barking guard dog protecting your locked home we have a tamper detection system that will notify you when when a thief removes the device or disturbs the bike.

In addition to theft recovery, the BikeSpike allows you to share and boast about your rides. It also has the ability to detect when a bike has crashed.

But we’re humble commuters; we don’t care so much about sharing our “races” with our “fans.” Right?

The system has an “Open API,” means that other geeks and developers can create stuff that the BikeSpike team hasn’t thought of yet, such as games and fitness apps.

With lots of anonymously-shared data, bike advocacy groups could demonstrate where and when cyclists are using bike lanes, and help planners decide where to build or extend bike lanes.

This data can be used to generate better bike maps. What are the most popular routes? What are the safest routes?

The BikeSpike can even detect bumpy road conditions and potholes (as long as the bicyclist hits them), to help prioritize road repairs. (The Transportation Department in your jurisdiction should pay you to use it, but now I’m way ahead of myself.)

The “Hacker Pack” option can connect the BikeSpike to a dynamo hub, so you would never have to worry about recharging it. (A great excuse to buy a Biologic ReeCharge Dynamo Kit.)

BikeSpike will cost $149 retail without any service — which is a good reason to pledge $149 now, and get 12 months of the Commuter data plan included.

BikeSpike and custom carbon fiber cage

BikeSpike and custom carbon fiber cage

People bike commute for so many reasons: for fun, for health, for the environment, for their communities. BikeSpike seems like a device that touches on all of those motivations — and it may actually help you recover your bike if it’s stolen.

And that is where the BikeSpike has yet to prove itself. Which brings me back to LoJack. They have a whole blog for their success stories of recovered vehicles, but only story one involving a recovered bike.

If BikeSpike is successful, I can imagine it hanging on hooks in every local bike shop — and being the easiest upsell a bike shop ever had when they sell a new bike.

 
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5 Responses to “BikeSpike: The Best Idea Yet for Recovering Stolen Bikes”

  1. Lance says:

    It would be alot more awesome if they had a unit that fit in the downtube under the seatpost so as to hide it from the bike thieves.

  2. Andy says:

    It looks great, but I definitely hesitate to purchase something that doesn’t exist. That’s the difficulty with Kickstarter – they say they can make a great product, but especially with gadgets, it’s easy to claim wonderful things that don’t pan out. I think they said it would have a month of battery life – can you really expect a GPS with cell phone tracking abilities to last that long when we all know that other GPSs last at best 2 days (like a Garmin Legend) and even a basic cellphone is a stretch do expect 3 days of use. I’m eager to see how it pans out, but until then, there are other alternatives that 1) exist now, 2) claim to have an essentially free data plan. Google SpyBike to see one that hides in your headtube. I’ve been considering it, but I’m not yet sold on a device run on cell phones, as most of the riding I want tracked is outside of coverage areas.

  3. Though, I am an honest person, a device like the Bike Spike makes me paranoid.

    Just the idea of allowing your bike – thus allowing YOU – to be tracked wherever it is sounds like a chapter ripped out of a dystopian scifi novel.

    It would be very helpful, when people start using Bike Spike, to have REAL stories of bike-retrieval.

    • Ted Johnson says:

      I totally understand.

      Whenever I start to feel paranoid about the privacy implications of some new and unfamiliar thing, I stop and remember that I am on Facebook. If that’s my bar for privacy protection, then it’s a pretty low bar. If I want to raise my standard of privacy protection (even a little) I don’t see how I can justify staying on Facebook.

      So I end up exactly where I am — in a love-hate relationship with technology I find kind of fun and useful.

      So with BikeSpike, I’d have to ask myself whether or not they at least exceed the privacy morass that I accept with Facebook, and do I trust the company to continue to meet or exceed that muddled standard.

      People who currently use GPS devices with social sharing have already resolved this problem (if the ever stopped to think about it at all). Companies such as Garmin are forging ahead promoting this concession to privacy as value added on their new devices, such as their Garmin Edge 510 and Garmin Edge 810 — neither of which offer a theft recovery benefit.

  4. Maciej says:

    Well, there’s even no need to mention Facebook here, really. We all have our mobile phones, which can be tracked easily, even the old ones, not-so-smart, without all those GPSes and other fancy things, which can be triangulated with enough precision. So we are actually already tracked all the time, or at least could be if needed. (Also, Find My iPhone, anyone?) Some even say that mobiles could be used to eavesdrop on us without our knowledge… Now how’s that for a conspiracy theory, eh?

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