By Zak Stone
There's LoJack to fight back against grand theft auto. There's the phone-tracking Find my iPhone when a smart phone goes missing. So it makes sense that cyclists might want a tracker to help locate stolen bikes--an expensive (and sentimental) purchase that's often quite vulnerable to theft, even when wrapped in the thickest chains.
The BikeSpike is a GPS device that would alert bikers the minute their vehicle was stolen and allow them to track it in real time on a map, with their phone or computer. The idea is that it could allow law enforcement (presuming they care about your jacked bike) or vigilante citizens to track down their missing property. The app can also put out a text alert to friends with the bike's location, so they know to keep their eyes open too.
If you happen to live in the kind of town where no one locks up their bikes, the BikeSpike team pitches a range of other features for the new tech--which is currently seeking $150,000 on Kickstarter--including: the ability to share favorite bike routes over social media, or, if you're a professional racer, the ability to allow your friends to follow your progress in a race.
Bike spike transmits its location data via the cellular network and the basic data plan comes with a price tag of $6.99 per month. The $12.99 monthly pro-plan is marketed at more serious cyclists and coaches who might want to create public races or manage a fleet of racers.
Of course, your first question might be: can't the thief just chuck the tracking device in the trash? According to the BikeSpike Team, users can set the sensitivity of the device so that it sends a notification if someone's tampering with it (or even if your bike falls over), and it supposedly takes more time than the average thief has to detach it. "Think of the BikeSpike in the same way you think of a guard dog in your home. Knowing that there is a defender ready to bark is something that gives intruders a reason to leave your house alone," they write on their Kickstarter. But by that logic, the device's assets--its small size, the ease with which it hides under a water bottle holder--could also be weaknesses. Dogs make themselves known. The BikeSpike doesn't--on purpose.
Indeed, the biggest challenge is probably getting overworked cops to take the time to chase down your bike, whether or not they know exactly where it is.
Copyright 2013 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.