Have you ever let slip to a non-cycling buddy how much your carbon road bike is worth? Most of the time you're met with somebody who is genuinely gobsmacked at it's value. As with most mechanical products, push bikes can get very expensive, very quickly. However there is one group of people in this world who aren't surprised by the worth of dual suspension MTB or a set of carbon wheels.. and that's the thieves who are responsible for the 5000+ bikes stolen each year within Victoria alone.
Unfortunately, despite humans having the capability to land a robot on Mars - we haven't quite yet figured out a simple and cost-effective way to GPS track our valuable items. The need for a readily available, inexpensive way of tracking your bike is real - and it looks like Cycle Leash can fill that void.
Cycle Leash doesn't use expensive GPS technology, instead - it makes use of something everybody already owns.. a mobile phone. By purchasing a Cycle Leash subscription for $59, you receive a Cycle Leash beacon, which is a small bluetooth chip, about the size and weight of a $1 coin. It's got an adhesive backing, and you can stick it anywhere on (or even inside) your bike.
This beacon isn't a GPS and therefore doesn't act like one. If your bike is stolen, your beacon needs to come within 10m of another Cycle Leash user. Now this mightn't be too useful if it's sitting in the thieves backyard.. however eventually that bike will be sold to somebody, and that is when Cycle Leash will reign it in. An unsuspecting new owner will then likely at some point come into contact with a Cycle Leash user or Cycle Leash enabled store, and suddenly - the whereabouts of your bike is known.
One of the cooler features of Cycle Leash, and the reason for it's name is the perimeter function. Your phone automatically sets a 10m radius perimeter around you, and if your bike is moved outside of that zone, an alarm will sound. You then have the option of flagging your bike as stolen, which alerts all other Cycle Leash enabled phones to try and detect your beacon.
We got our hands on the Cycle Leash at BikeExchange HQ and we keen to see it in action. It took us a while to realise we needed to have location services on - but once we had everything enabled it seemed to work well. We did the 'ride that bike away from the phone as fast as possible' test, and within seconds of the beacon leaving the phone's 10m perimeter, the vibrating alarm went off. We also did a 'ride by', where the bike and beacon rode down the street at high speed past the phone holder who was standing on the footpath. It picked up the beacon quicksmart. The technology clearly works, so now it's about getting as many active users onto Cycle Leash as possible.
Cycle Leash plans to collaborate with the Police, Pawn shops, bike stores and coffee shops to help track down stolen bikes. The chances of a stolen bike making a visit to stores like this are pretty high, so by having these stores enabled with Cycle Leash, the stolen bikes will be detected, the Police notified and the rightful owner soon reunited with their bike.
So if you know the pain of losing your bike, or want to prevent others from going through the misery, tell your mates about Cycle Leash, grab the app - and maybe one day you'll be the reason somebody had their pride and joy returned safely.