Lock specialists Kryptonite announced at the UK's iceBike show that they're throwing their weight behind the Bike Revolution scheme, which was launched last year at Interbike. This is an online cycle registration system, where you can add details of your bike to a worldwide database to make it easier to trace if it's stolen.
Registration is free, but Kryptonite offer a complementary IT kit containing three Pulse ID tags for £9.95. The idea is that you fix these stickers to your bike – one in an obvious place like the top of the down tube, to act as a visual deterrent, and the other two in less easy to spot places. The tags have a QR Code (essentially, a square barcode) which, when scanned with a smartphone, takes you to the bike's entry on the Bike Revolution database.
So, if you come across a second-hand bike for sale and it has one of the stickers, you can tell within seconds whether it's been stolen, without having to scrabble underneath it looking for a serial number. Plenty of these scanner apps are available online, and Bike Revolution also have their own, which is downloadable for free. If you don't want to pay for the stickers, people can still check the status of your bike by inputting the serial number or other details.
If a bike is marked as stolen, Bike Revolution will publish this information on their site and use Facebook and Twitter to contact bike shops, police and cycling clubs to help trace it. We're behind any system that puts a spanner in the works of bike theft, so Bike Revolution sounds like a brilliant idea. However, we're not totally convinced about the tags.
Using the UpCode app on a Nokia 5800 and Barcode Scanner on a Sony Experia X10 we were able to scan the stickers successfully while they were still attached to their backing sheet. However, when we attached one of the stickers to a handlebar to test its durability, we found both scanners could no longer read the tag. The same was true when we added some 'dirt' (actually a blob of ink).
In fairness, Kryptonite recommend sticking them on your bottom bracket shell and down tube, where the curve of the tubing is less tight and the barcode is less likely to be distorted. Just make sure you can successfully scan the code in that position before fixing it in place. Kryptonite say the stickers are tamper-resistant and weatherproof. They certainly adhere pretty tightly, but we reckon a determined thief could scratch one off in five to 10 minutes.
Also new from Kryptonite are Color Skins – coloured shackle and crossbar covers that let you customise your Kryptonite mini U-lock. Simply cut away the old vinyl skin and dustcover, and, using a combination of warm water and a lubricant (we were told hairspray works well), slip on the new one. Kryptonite say the process takes about 10 minutes. Color Skins are available in red, white, purple, blue and pink for £4.99 and will be in stores from the end of the month.
Evolution Mini 7 U-lock
On the lock front, the new Evolution Mini-7 pack combines a 7in shackle U-lock with a 4ft KryptoFlex cable – the first combination of its kind from Kryptonite. Made from hardened steel with a 13mm-diameter shackle, Kryptonite have submitted the U-lock for Sold Secure Silver status testing. It costs £44.99 and is available now.