Bike Security: Get Your Beloved a Proper Bodyguard

By Siegfried Mortkowitz

So, you’ve just spent way too much money for that state-of-the-art mountain or road bike, the one that will make you feel – if not ride – like a pro. Great! Congratulations. But now every time you take the bike out for a spin, you worry that it will be stolen by someone who appreciates it as much as you do, but can’t afford to buy it, or someone who knows its value and needs some cash. In that case, the most important accessory you will buy for your bike is a lock.

Fortunately, bike security technology has been keeping pace with bike technology, and your bicycle is safer today than it ever has been. Today, bike locks are very tough to crack. True, they’re also more expensive, but since you have already sprung a bundle for the bike, what’s another €83.70?

That’s how much the Kryptonite New York Standard will set you back, with mount, at Amazon. The company is so confident about this lock’s ability to prevent thefts that it will replace your bike (up to $4,000) if it’s stolen in Manhattan. This U-lock has a 16mm hardened steel shackle and a pass-through design that forces thieves to cut the shackle twice to compromise the lock. It’s a little heavy at 4 pounds (1.8kg), but high-security means lots of steel. One drawback is the mount, which relies on friction to keep it in place, and user reviews suggest that it may not work long-term.

If you want an even tougher lock and don’t mind more weight and higher cost, try the Kryptonite New York LS Heavy Duty (€110, with mount). It weighs a hefty 4.55 lb. (2.06 kg) and has a 16mm “max-performance” steel shackle and double deadbolt locking. The same money offer applies if your bike is stolen in Manhattan.

OnGuard Brute STD-8001

Another effective U-lock is the OnGuard Brute STD-8001, currently €34.50 (without mount) on Amazon. It has a 16.8mm hardened steel shackle and a keyhole that shuts automatically to keep out the rain, snow and mud. OnGuard makes the same bike-replacement offer as Kryptonite, but offers $1 more. The shackle is square, which widens the diameter of available lock-up poles, and it has a locking mechanism that locks the shackle on four sides. Like Kryptonite, the mount is iffy and some reviewers have reported it breaking after a few months.

These are the top-of-the-line bike U-locks, but there are obviously other kinds of locks, which are lighter, cheaper, easier to carry around and easier to attach to poles and other bike parking spots. But almost all of them are less secure – except for the OnGuard Mastiff, a monstrous chain lock with 10mm-thick, titanium-reinforced links that are hexagonal to make cutting even more difficult. The chain is 3.5-feet (1.06m) long and is secured at each end by the company’s tough Boxer U-lock.

OnGuard Mastiff

The downside? It weighs 12 pounds (5.4 kg), which is probably much more than you want to ride around with – except maybe on an e-bike. The upside? It costs only €46.12 on Amazon.

Let’s say that you’re not 100 percent convinced by these super-secure locks (because you’ve heard horror stories and you really love your new bike) or some evil genius of a bike has managed to compromise your expensive lock and the bike is gone. Well, then you will want to have a GPS tracking system on the bike to help you catch the bastard before he disassembles it into parts to sell. Here are a few:

The See.Sense AIR bike tracker is new to the market and was launched via Kickstarter. The unit weighs 80g and sits under the seat post. One battery charge lasts three months and the AIR uses the new Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) low-power wide-area network (LPWAN) to transmit information.

If your bike is tampered with or moved, the tracker sends an SMS with the precise location of the bike. It can also be used to contact loved ones in case you crash. It is available, for now, only from See.Sense for £120, with Early Bird discounts available. The company ships anywhere in the world.

The Guardian bike light tracker is both a rear light and a GPS tracker that texts you if your bike is moved. Locations are sent via a link to Google Maps, with longitude and latitude coordinates also available so you can view the information without internet access. The unit costs £125 and comes with a compatible SIM card, which costs £10 a year to activate. The battery is rechargeable and is said to go about one week on a single charge.

Finally, the Boomerang CycloTrac doesn’t hide from thieves like other bike trackers, but sits under the water bottle cage on a bike’s frame, visible to all, makes noise when moved and has blinking LED lights. The creators say that police sources tell them this provides a greater deterrent.

The Boomerang features an on-board motion sensor. If the bike is moved, an alarm will go off and a text message will be sent to the owner. The unit hooks up with GPS tech to show where your bike is in real time once the tracker is activated. In addition to theft deterrence, this product also provides information on your ride distance, elevation and calorie burn. It costs $89 and a quarterly subscription for the software is another $14.97.