If you’re a bike rider in a big city you’ll know someone who’s had their bike nicked, or perhaps more annoyingly, badly damaged by thieves. Although tempting to resort to shipping chain and hungry Dobermanns to secure your pride and joy, we’ve sourced some of the best low-tech locks and hi-tech alternatives to keep your bike safe and where you left it.
Although if that’s outside a pub in Hackney we can’t be held responsible for the inevitable results...
Remember this gem? While only the most optimistic hipster would claim this is an alternative to actually locking your bike, the ‘smart’ Helios is almost unfeasibly good-looking and clever. A complete replacement stem and bars may not be cheap, but the beautifully integrated smart lighting and GPS tracking smarts are pretty impressive. The latter allows you to SMS ‘ping’ your bike, and it’ll respond with its live location, while the lights include a superbright Cree headlamp, rear indicators in the bar ends and - once synced with a phone - ambient and reactive lighting. The latter switches your lights on automatically when you approach, which is basically KITT via Streethawk. Find out more on the Helios website.
Datatag Pro Stealth System
The adult version of those invisible markers the Police bring around to schools, Datatag has a long history in motorbike use, so it’s tried and tested. The Stealth system uses a combination of deterrent labels, data dots and UV stencilling to make sure your bike is not only returnable if pinched, but also obviously protected. Matthew Lawson, Chief Digital Officer, Ribble Bikes reckons it’s a winner: “When it comes to tagging your bike there’s no other product quite as secure as Datatag.” Find out more here.
Master Lock Bluetooth Smart Padlock
It may look like just any other padlock, but the Master Lock has a cunning trick up its sleeve - there aren’t any physical keys on earth that can open it. The company claims ‘robust, military-grade authentication and encryption mechanisms’ will keep your bike safe - simply download the free Master Lock Vault eLocks (iOS or Android) app, create an account, and when your phone is in range the lock will automatically unlock. You can authorise other people to open the lock remotely, and you’ll also get notifications for low battery and tamper alerts. Check them out on the Master Lock website.
Of course, protecting your bike can be seen as a bit boring, something you can’t accuse the Bike Mine Kickstarter project of being. For a mere £49 pledge it promised a titanium tripwire which looks suspiciously as though it triggered a shotgun blank and a firing mechanism. “When tripped by a thief, BIKE MINE detonates a 150db blast of sound”, according to the Kickstarter page, which probably sounds a bit like firing a shotgun very close to a person's ear. This may result in a visit from armed police, but that combined with the noise will almost definitely will put casual thieves off. For a project that's all about MAKING AS LOUD AND SCARY A NOISE AS POSSIBLE, however, it's all gone a bit quiet on the Kickstarter front, with the accessory now being listed as cancelled. Still, nothing to stop you from running with the newly-found inspiration and making your own – provided you don't mind seeing your day in court, of course...
Abus Bordo U-Grip 5700 Lock
A normal lock, but not as we know it. This Abus folds down to a super-compact rectangular 6.4cm, but unfolds into a ring of 5mm steel bars to link around your pride and joy. The unorthodox design means the bad guys might think twice, as the standard chain cutters or u-lock jacks may not work on this. However, it’s not to be relied on for long periods, as it gets a medium security rating of 7 out of 15 from Abus. Find out more at Ribble Cycles.
The idea of attaching a tiny GPS to your bike isn’t a new one, and using a Tile or similar works just as well. However, the Cricket also detects movement, triggering an alert on the synced app while it’s in Bluetooth 4.0 range. The replaceable coin battery lasts for about a year, apparently. As a second line of defence it’s a bit of a no-brainer for the money, although as Cricket themselves point out, people do touch/move locked bikes by accident too, so it’s best used in easy visual distance, otherwise you’ll be doing a lot of running to check false alarms. More here.
Hiplok Superbright Wearable Chain Lock
The Hiplock is a quiet and calm stroke of genius. Carrying a very secure chain around is a complete pain, and the easy ‘sling over the shoulder’ or lock around the waist tactics will cut you in half in an accident. The Hiplock chain simply incorporates a separate buckle, so you can carry it round your waist without actually locking it to you. This model is also super-reflective, which is never a bad thing. Sold Secure Gold rated, that’s a 10mm hardened steel chain under the shinyness. Pick 'em up from Halfords.
The Noke lock is a stylish but standard-looking U-lock, but one that adds keyless lockery to it’s playbook, as well as sporting a rather nifty retro fingerless leather glove vibe. The action isn’t broadly dissimilar to the Master Lock, in that you download a specific app, then sync your phone (or tablet if you must insist on being obtuse), so that when activated near your iOS, Android, or Windows device the lock opens automatically. On pre-order now, shipping in July. Find out more at the Noke website.
Tigr Ti lock
It’s a trad lock maybe, but with a serious difference - it’s made of tough but light titanium wands, and slips into a pocket, bottle cage or alongside your top frame bar, depending on which size you opt for. The Tigr Mini is a mere 400 grams, an ideal emergency lock for outside the newsagents. More here.
With a name like that this product has a lot to live up to, and although it’s a project on Indiegogo there’s promise here. Essentially the concept is a far more hardcore version of the Cricket, involving a proper GPS array locked inside your existing, standard bars. Activated and deactivated via an app, Sherlock could potentially offer real-time GPS positioning down to 5m, motion detection and a unique ID, so once recovered your ownership is proven. Follow the project here.