From navigation, to helmets and bike lights, there’s no part of the cycling gear industry that’s immune to innovation – much of it crowdfunded. However, perhaps the greatest opportunity for innovation is with bike locks.Theft continues to blight the experience of cycling for many. From theft of individual components (my mudguard was stolen recently!), to finding a broken lock on the floor and your bike nowhere to be seen.The new smart generation of locks have an expensive upfront cost, but if they can improve security, then they may be worth the investment.Smart locks connect you to your bike through your phone, and they do so much more than just anchor your bike to an immovable object. They can tell you when they are being tampered with. They can be unlocked by your phone. They can allow you to authorise your friend to borrow your bike. They can track your activity.These locks are all available online only, direct from the developers, but are good options if you live and die with your phone. There are more and more coming to the market, so if smart locks seem like they will be your next bike bling, then keep an eye on Kickstarter. Exact features vary and here we give you three options to get you started and show you what your lock is now capable of doing for you.
The Skylock is available to pre-order. It is a keyless lock which links to your phone and has an accelerometer. The phone connection allows you to share the unlocking with a friend should you wish to share your bike. The accelerometer can tell you when your bike is being tampered with, but it can also alert someone you designate should you crash your bike while to lock is carried on your bike.As a bonus, there is a solar panel for charging. This may work better in sunny California than rainy England, but you could leave it in the sun for a day and then have it work for 6 months. If in doubt about the sun’s ability to shine, there is a USB port.
Bitlock is a Bluetooth lock which again uses your phone for security and allows you to share with a friend. The lock also doubles as an activity tracker.This lock allows you to keep your phone in your pocket or bag and then just push a button on the lock. The benefit of this is you don’t have to dig around your bag or keys or phone. You can use the app to find your bike should you forget where you parked it. The battery is removable rather than rechargeable with a claimed battery life of 5 years under average use.
This lock attaches to the bike permanently and locks through the rear wheel. Again, it works with Bluetooth and allows you to use the phone directly or when you get within range. You can check where you left your bike and the app will even give you an indication of high theft areas allowing you to select the safest place to leave your bike.This lock is rechargeable and a single charge should last 9 months. The Linka has the added benefit of a very loud alarm, so should someone move your bike too much, they will get a bit of wakeup! This would be a great second lock, adding smart, and loud, benefits when used in conjunction with a standard shackle to attach the bike to a rack.
To smart lock or not to smart lock?
These locks certainly change the way we interact with our bike. They are also capable of giving you greater peace of mind, when you leave your bike on the street.However, unlike popular traditional locks, these locks don’t yet have a security rating. Therefore, it’s hard to know how tamper proof they are. It is all well and good for your lock to alert you to someone hacking at it, but it still needs to take them a long time to get through it to give you time to get there.Until the locks undergo Sold Secure testing, their ability to actually secure your bike are in doubt. But locks have different uses, and it is often good to use two locks. In this case, one smart lock will add more than just shackling to your security arsenal.Guest Post by Emily Esche.