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BikeSpike transmitter located on frame without water bottle holder cover.
BikeSpike transmitter located on frame without water bottle holder cover.

Thwarting Bicycle Thieves with BikeSpike

Chicago-based BikeSpike wants to thwart bike thieves by letting you track the location of your stolen ride via Google Maps… and much more.

10 percent of bikes in Holland are stolen every year. It's just a fact of life, one of those that militates against investing too much money in a bike, especially if you commute on one. That's why a lot of Dutch riders ride old, beat-up mounts that, if is hoped, will discourage thieves.

In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, places the value of stolen bikes and parts at $350 million a year. In fact, according to Eric Jaffe, writing in The Altantic Cities, bike theft has the lowest risk to reward crime ratio compared to other type of thefts including cars, bank robbery and kidnapping. Bike thefts in New York City are up 25% according to the latest stats.

The U.S. Justice Department, Jaffe notes, "recommends that city police departments do a better job educating the public about safer locks (and, as importantly, locking methods).'

Of course, good strong locks and chains don't always discourage thieves, either. It just takes a portable, battery-power grinder to cut through locks and chains, the thief can be off in just seconds. If he or she has ripped off your $25 thrift shop special, it's no big economic loss. If it's your $500 commuter, or worse, your high-end, custom road bike, that's another thing entirely… for you $2,000 e-bike.

Hopefully, your home owner's or renter's insurance will cover the loss, though for higher-end bikes, you may need to add a policy rider (no pun intended) and that can be costly. Bankrate.com estimated the cost as much as $160 a year.

The DoJ also recommends bike owners registering their bikes, and "applying electronic tags," which bring me to the below video, a Kickstarter promotional piece for BikeSpike, a group of innovators out of Chicago, Illinois. They are raising funds for their GPS tracker, which can locate your bike via an iPhone app if it's stolen. But beyond that, it'll send a collision alert, like GM's OnStar, in the event you collide suddenly within an open car door or some inattentive motorist turning right. You can also share your cycling stats with others via your smart phone.

The palm-sized unit bolts to the bike's frame and is camouflaged by a carbon fiber water bottle holder. The battery has estimated charge life of one month. In order to track the bike, the owner will need to subscribe to monthly cellular service: Team BikeSpike, as they call themselves, reports this will be under $7 a month. The unit will retail in stores for $149.

The BikeSpike Kickstarter campaign runs until April 9, 2013, so consider helping fund them. Contributions can be as little as $1.

Posted By: Bill Moore [19-Mar-2013]

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