Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bike locks: How to defend bike thieves with high-tech from – Business Week

Felix Ehrenfried

They were robbed and deprived. Now beat back the cyclists. New digitally tuned bike locks are thieves put a stop to. But the crooks to prepare.

Every two minutes stolen a bicycle in Germany. And these are only the cases officially recorded. Therefore a loss message is little more than a sad routine for a cop. Nevertheless, the officials of police station Hamburg-Altona triggered the theft of a wheel’s biggest surprise. Not the case itself, but the amount of damage that were the desperate citizens to protocol: Proud 25,000 euros. He had, he assured, secured his bicycle as usual with two thick padlocks. Used it has nothing to him – the precious bike equivalent of a VW Passat was gone.

Of course, the spectacular case is an exception. But it illustrates a trend: For many cyclists their vehicles are not only a means, but also a status symbol. So Bikes are more exclusive and more expensive and therefore more attractive to thieves. The consequences can be seen every morning when bike owners with their wheels squeeze in the office elevators and repurpose their workplace storeroom.

Now want to advance equal to the Radl-Klau with modern electronics a stop several start-ups in the United States and Europe. They now also offer for wheels on what has long been standard for cars. Tracking by satellite navigation (GPS), message by mobile, if thieves are at work, annoying alarm systems

In order to implement their ideas, get many founders money on future customers. The Californian start-up Mesh Motion by crowdfunding has collected the equivalent of 95,000 euros and so developed the U-lock Bitlock. This allows the owner to lock the phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi radio. Even more convenient is the padlock of SkyLock: It registers via radio when the mobile phone of the owner approaches – and unlocks automatically.


A complete alarm system offers Lock8 including spiral castle, GPS location and siren. The concept comes from two ex-students of the British elite university of Oxford. The GPS module is inserted to protect against vandalism in a box near the rear axle. Other manufacturers hid the radio module, the calls for help in steering. Many systems send the position data of wheel running on your mobile – but the customer often pays subscription fees; an average of around five euros per month.

That smart locks thieves can complicate the work, of which Andreas Mayer is convinced of the Police Crime Prevention of the federal and state governments: “A note with an inscription like, This wheel is electronically ‘is likely some of the fact . hold “

Roland chicken, technology expert at the General German Bicycle Club (ADFC) warns, however, against exaggerated expectations – and levity:” If the positioning functions of the locks are clearly visible, can even amateurs sensors with a hard blow destroy. “Professional thieves would anyway develop methods to paralyze even hidden sensors, he believes.

Even if the position report to work, the police could find quickly reach their limits, fears chicken. Lose yourself about the signal in a multi-family house, the officers would certainly not get a search warrant for a bicycle. The smart fuses should only complement classical stable ironing or armored cable locks.

Whether this is worth it, that is probably a question of price. Who lies down several grand for a noble race bike, the likely the few Euro disturb little extra for digital preservation. Add to that nor the coolness factor when the proud owner quickly via smartphone aiming his mountain bike in front of colleagues and the alarm can howl. The effect is priceless.


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