Most high end cars have tracking devices as standard, as do many commercial vehicles. Now the technology has got small enough, you can now hide GPS tracking devices for bikes on your bike! This will both save on insurance and give you peace of mind in knowing that as long as the device is there, you should be able to keep tabs on your machine.
Bikes are easy to steal. The sexier the bike, the more people want it, and in some areas the more likely it will be nicked.
According to The Telegraph, over 92,000 bikes were stolen across the UK between May 2013 and April 2014. Hotspots included Oxford (846 stolen in that period) and Cambridge, as well as several boroughs of London (the SE1 postcode alone saw 734 bikes stolen).
According to research in 2012 by University College London, the two most likely places for theft are in the immediate vicinity of your home, and in an unguarded public place.
With so many online second hand sales forums, fencing a bike has never been so easy. Indeed, it really is a case of buyer beware – with so many hooky bikes on the market you could end up paying a crook for someone else’s pride and joy.
Some motor vehicle tracking companies claim a 91% retrieval rate on the vehicles stolen that have their tracking devices on board. If your bike is your primary mode of transport, and your have spent a lot of money on it, then it would make a lot of sense to install a GPS tracker on it.
Only one company is making specific bike trackers at present, and at around £100 these aren’t the sort of thing you would put on a cheap and cheerful machine.
Spybike has three versions of its GPS tracking devices for bikes. One is concealed in a seat post, another in a bike lamp and the third is installed in your handlebars. Where the thief may dispose of the lamp fairly quickly, there’s no obvious sign of the tracker in the seat post or handlebars.
The system wakes up if the machine starts moving after you have armed it with your key fob. It then sends your phone a text message saying it is on the move, and using an app you can then track its movements as the thief heads off on it.
As with car immobilisers and alarms, it is only any use if you arm it, and obviously you must remember to disarm it in order to not get a text message every time you unlock it and use it!
For an additional £3.50 a month you can get a subscription to a mobile network and as long as you just remember to arm it when you lock the bike up it should be plain sailing from there.
The only real weakness is for people like me who only use their bikes to get lost in the countryside. Some of my favourite places to walk and cycle in the UK are far from signal range, and professional bike thieves operate in the more popular cycling areas. You may not be alerted of the bike’s location until it is many miles away… For the commuter or city cyclist who has a carbon framed, £1000 + bike, this may well be a very wise investment!