A LoJack-style device for a bike. The best idea yet? I bet you agree, because I bet you thought of it yourself — just like I did. And just like me, you didn’t have the wherewithal to make it yourself. And like me, you Googled for it, and found some unsatisfying attempts to create such a device. So, like me, you decided just to wish the thing into existence — because that always works.
Wish fulfilled — almost.
The guys at BikeSpike look like they could get it right. Yes, it’s a Kickstarter project. But if you have a bike worth more than $149, I don’t know why you wouldn’t back this project for at least that much. It’s a great price point — less than those base model GoPro cameras that have become ubiquitous in the last three years, but with much more potential to improve cycling for everyone.
That’s right, I see the BikeSpike as a tool for bike advocacy.
I’ll get to that later. Let’s start with the theft recovery scenario, because that’s the funniest video. (Try not to focus on the disturbing State Trooper on the left. Couldn’t help yourself, could you?)
“Every security system has a fault,” said Josh Billions of the BikeSpike team.
A lock can be defeated by an angle grinder but people still buy locks and use them. The BikeSpike is an additional layer of security. Similar to a barking guard dog protecting your locked home we have a tamper detection system that will notify you when when a thief removes the device or disturbs the bike.
In addition to theft recovery, the BikeSpike allows you to share and boast about your rides. It also has the ability to detect when a bike has crashed.
But we’re humble commuters; we don’t care so much about sharing our “races” with our “fans.” Right?
The system has an “Open API,” means that other geeks and developers can create stuff that the BikeSpike team hasn’t thought of yet, such as games and fitness apps.
With lots of anonymously-shared data, bike advocacy groups could demonstrate where and when cyclists are using bike lanes, and help planners decide where to build or extend bike lanes.
This data can be used to generate better bike maps. What are the most popular routes? What are the safest routes?
The BikeSpike can even detect bumpy road conditions and potholes (as long as the bicyclist hits them), to help prioritize road repairs. (The Transportation Department in your jurisdiction should pay you to use it, but now I’m way ahead of myself.)
BikeSpike will cost $149 retail without any service — which is a good reason to pledge $149 now, and get 12 months of the Commuter data plan included.
People bike commute for so many reasons: for fun, for health, for the environment, for their communities. BikeSpike seems like a device that touches on all of those motivations — and it may actually help you recover your bike if it’s stolen.
And that is where the BikeSpike has yet to prove itself. Which brings me back to LoJack. They have a whole blog for their success stories of recovered vehicles, but only story one involving a recovered bike.
If BikeSpike is successful, I can imagine it hanging on hooks in every local bike shop — and being the easiest upsell a bike shop ever had when they sell a new bike.