Getting your bike stolen sucks. It can leave you ragged with feelings of betrayal, vulnerability, and paranoia that the entire universe is conspiring against you. Before all of that is where Bike+ comes in.
There are a bunch of bike alarms already on the market, but this is one of the few we’ve seen that combines an app and a physical alarm. The Bike+ hardware resembles a slim remote control that fits under the water bottle holder, and if you set it to be “armed" on your phone, the device's accelerometer will send you a text message if you're bike is being jacked. (You can also adjust its sensitivity so the bike doesn’t shriek every time someone tries to lock a bike onto the same rack.) If the bike burglar is undeterred by the alarm, Bike+ also contains a GPS that will track the bike to the thief’s lair.
“The beauty of the device is that you don’t have to wait until your bike is stolen,” says Bike+ app developer and Wi-MM cofounder Kevin Fahrner. Arming it and walking away already gives him a sense of freedom, he says, and he also uses the accelerometer to measure workouts and the distances he’s traveled.
Fahrner, along with co-developer Les Levitt, just finished up a successful set of trials with B-Cycle, a bikeshare program based in Madison, Wisconsin. Now that they’ve tested the app on the streets, Wi-MM is getting “a couple thousand units” ready for sale next year. The hardware and app will go for less than $200, but Bike+’s creators are still figuring out the exact figure.
Fahrner’s already thinking about the next generation of Bike+ units, too. Those, he says, might fit inside the frames of certain bikes so the device remains invisible. Eventually, he hopes that bikes will go the way of car stereos, in that car stereo theft is now virtually obsolete. “This is the beginning of the bike theft industry going out of business,” he believes. We'll believe it when we see it.