A LoJack® for bicycles?
July 25, 2013 4:15 PM   Subscribe

Has there been any development in the market for a LoJack-type tracking and recovery system... for bicycles?

I've Googled around and not come up with much, which is a little surprising. I've got an expensive bike on order that I want to do everything I can to protect, and thought a Lojack-style system would be ideal, in addition to strong lock(s), smart precautions, registering with the National Bike Registry, etc.

Surprisingly, it doesn't seem like a good one exists. I understand there are a number of difficult factors:

• The fact that if there were a popular system, it would be identifiable and defeatable by thieves.
• That battery life would be an issue
• That if you can afford a LoJack and monthly fees, your bike must be REALLY expensive and you probably shouldn't ever let it out of your sight, period.

The ideal system for me is one that:

• Is concealable. I understand that hiding a system inside of a frame would block the signal required for a GPS
• Has an easily replaceable battery
• Has a tracking website where you can get a visual trace of where your bike is
• Has a fair monthly fee
• Be specific enough that the authorities can act on the information it provides

The closest system I could find to what I'm looking for is the SpyBike, which I've purchased to try out. Unfortunately it's from a UK-based company so support here in the U.S. isn't great, and it's frankly been a nightmare trying to set up (I'm fairly geeky and it almost seems like my unit is defective, it works so terribly.)

It also appears that Kryptonite (makers of the popular locks) have a system called RealTime, but it appears to be designed for "powersport vehicles", not bicycles, and seems a bit on the expensive side in terms of monthly fee ("starts" at $40/mo.)

I've also read about the BikeSpike system, which sounds promising but unfortunately is still in Kickstarter development mode.
posted by wubbie to Technology (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Tile.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:21 PM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been really interested in getting these Helios handlebars when they're available, and they contain a GPS feature that can actually text you (you pay for a pay-as-you-go SMS plan, I guess) it's location. Not so handy once they part your bike out, but...
posted by destructive cactus at 4:22 PM on July 25, 2013


These Helios smart handlebars include a GPS tracking system.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:22 PM on July 25, 2013


The Helios handlebars have a gps in them for just such cases.

- concealable: it's built into the handlebars, so yes.
- replaceable battery: I don't know how easy the battery is to replace, but I'd venture to guess that their customer service is reasonably quick to answer questions like that.
- tracking website: google maps-based
- fair fee: the fee associated with a pay-as-you-go sim card, I believe. So, this one varies.
- Specificity: I have no idea...

Edit: ... so yeh...what His thoughts were red thoughts said...
posted by cmchap at 4:23 PM on July 25, 2013


The Helios system looks interesting. Unfortunately I'm getting a recumbent trike, which uses a very different steering system than traditional bikes.

I did start seeing Tile ads while I was going my Google search, and their range is quite limited. It's also still in development, which puts it in the same category as the BikeSpike solution.
posted by wubbie at 4:31 PM on July 25, 2013


For anyone else interested, the Helios handlebars also have major ergonomic and comfort issues owing to them being an integrated system not adjustable for length or stem rise, and the shape of the drop hooks is ignorant of the way real cyclists place their hands while riding.

It's a great idea but not ready for primetime. Get a Tile or something similar.
posted by a halcyon day at 6:32 PM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


For anyone else interested, the Helios handlebars also have major ergonomic and comfort issues owing to them being an integrated system not adjustable for length or stem rise, and the shape of the drop hooks is ignorant of the way real cyclists place their hands while riding.

I was wondering about that. The curve on the drops looked odd.

Found this while casting around; Zoombak. But service plans start at $20/month.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:56 PM on July 25, 2013


This page has a few ideas, some already mentioned here.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:03 PM on July 25, 2013


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