Bike locks have a simple task of keeping your bike in the same place you left it. However, bike theft remains rampant worldwide – and once your bike is gone, it’s pretty hard to get back.
In the past, bike locks have been a 'give and take' piece of kit – either secure and heavy, or lightweight and relatively easy to 'crack'. They also integrated poorly with many bikes, needing extra mounting brackets or to be carried in a backpack/pannier.
Now we're seeing a trend in cycling-specific smart locks, ranging from alarms and tracking systems to keyless locks that are disarmed via a smartphone – and even a bike that is the lock.
Here are eight innovative locks that have caught our attention.
You may be thinking, 'Wait a second, the Hiplok isn’t new – how did it make this list?' Despite its age, and lack of Bluetooth connectivity, Hiplok was instrumental in the rethinking of the bike lock. Before the first Hiplok came into being, plenty of riders were carrying flexible locks and chains around their bodies or waists despite the poor fit and lack of adjustability.
The Hiplok took the same 10mm hardened steel chain many had been 'wearing' for years, wrapped it in a Kevlar sleeve with a velcro extension, and used a padlock that doubles as a belt buckle. This allows the Hiplok to be worn like a belt and be fully adjustable to your waist.
The first of its kind, Lock8 is a keyless smart lock controlled by its owner's smartphone. The cable lock is also equipped with motion sensors, accelerometers, and temperature sensors to combat many of the weapons in a thief's arsenal.
If any of the sensors are tripped, the lock sounds a ‘painfully loud' alarm, and sends a notification to the paired smartphone. The lock also employs a GPS chip, so if your bike is stolen you can track it in real time.
The Lock8 is chainstay-mounted, charges off the back wheel and comes with a key in case your device runs out of battery. Lock8 also hopes its device can be used for bike sharing, enabling a network for users to rent bikes through its app wherever they are.
Similar to the Lock8 in some ways, the Skylock is a solar powered smart lock. This keyless U-lock is controlled via a Bluetooth connection to your smartphone, and enables remote monitoring and crash alerts to keep both your bike and – more importantly – you safe.
The lock is disarmed through the Skylock smartphone app, or by a code entered into the lock itself. An integrated theft alert system uses accelerometers to send push notifications to your phone if the lock is jostled or hit. The sensitivity of the alert system is adjustable to help cut down on false alarms.
Like the ICEdot sensor, the Skylock can also use its accelerometers to detect a crash. An impact will trigger an alert on your device, and if you don’t respond in time will contact first responders with your location.
Without exposure to sunlight, the Skylock’s claimed battery life is one month. Skylock also claims one hour of sunlight can power the lock for up to a week – it can also be charged with a USB cable.
At a little less than 3lbs / 1.36kg, that is a lot of tech in a very small package.
4. Fly12 bike alarm
The Fly12 combined front light and Full-HD video camera will double (triple?) as a bike alarm for cafe stops. If you plan to leave your bike, simply lock the Fly12 through the app.
If someone attempts to take the bike, the device's light will flash, record video, an alarm will sound, and an alert will be sent to your phone. Cycliq has said the Fly12 will maintain a Bluetooth connection with your smartphone for up to 100ft.
Not every lock on this list requires a battery and a smartphone. Clever design and new materials are just as important as gizmos. The Litelok claims to offer a lightweight lock that can stand up to anything a bike thief can throw at it.
Said to weigh just 1kg (2.2lb), Litelok’s inventor Neil Barron told BikeRadar the device can "withstand sustained attack from tools like cable cutters, bolt croppers and hacksaws". This flexible lock is made from a new composite material called Boaflexicore.
With just under a month remaining on its Kickstarter campaign, the Litelok has smashed its goal of £20,000, raising well in excess of £100,000.
6. Bike Angel
Similar to the LoJack automobile recovery system, Bike Angel is a small GPS tracking device that detects when your bike is being stolen and helps you track it down.
Hidden inside the seat tube, the device is ‘locked’ via a smartphone and once it detects movement, triggers a notification on your device using a GPRS and/or GSM message.
Still live on Kickstarter, the Bike Angel still has a way to go to meet its €25,000 goal — just don't watch the video at work, your colleagues will judge you.
The InterLock is a cable lock that is cleverly hidden inside a seatpost, always there when needed.
Integrating seamlessly into your commuter bike, a 90cm cable lock is stowed inside a 3D forged alloy seat post — it's available in common 25.4mm, 27.2mm, or 31.6mm diameters. This KickStarter success received awards at Eurobike and the Taipei Cycle show in 2014
8. Yerka bike
The Yerka bike is one of those, ‘why didn’t I think of that’ sort of ideas. Rather than some fancy smartphone-enabled lock made of unbreakable composite material, the Yerka bike team has instead opted to make the bike itself the lock.
The genius behind the Yerka bike, is if a thief wants to steal it, they have to cut through a main structure of the bike, leaving it unrideable.
To secure the bike, the down tube splits and folds out to the non drive side, and is secured to the seatpost by a key turn lock — or Bluetooth if the Chilean start up can raise US$200,000.
With just a few days remaining remaining on their Indiegogo campaign, the Yerka bike team have passed their US$50,000 goal.