The best defense against bike thieves is to own a bike that no one would want to steal and use a lock that's just good enough to make it inconvenient. But if you must have nice things, a good bike lock is essential. There are many options: U-locks, cables, chains, and now, electronic locks that offer a few extra features that can make your ride safer and smarter.
Skylock isn't the first bike lock to substitute a wireless signal for a key, but it's beautifully designed and feature-rich. The lock was created by Velo Labs, a cycling tech startup founded by engineers from Boeing and Jawbone. The Skylock is their first product, but it's not ready for retail: the company is announcing a $50,000 crowdfunding campaign to get the first locks out to customers by early 2015.
Skylock is raising $50,000
The main attraction of the Skylock is keyless entry, which works over Bluetooth short-range wireless signals. Open the app or simply approach your bike and the lock will snap open. If you've somehow been separated from your phone, the lock has a keypad and can be opened with a password. This system also makes it easy to share your bike with friends by temporarily authorizing their phones to unlock Skylock, and can be logged into a local Wi-Fi network to increase its range.
The lock also has an internal accelerometer so it can alert you if your bike gets moved — something that would have been helpful to me last fall when construction workers dismantled the scaffolding to which I had stupidly locked my bike. You can even adjust the sensitivity of the accelerometer if you live in a place like New York City where rats and pedestrians will be bumping into your ride all day.
But wait, there's more. Skylock is solar-powered so you don't need to worry about the battery dying. It also has an OnStar-esque "Crash Alert System" that can be set to automatically call an ambulance or your loved ones if it detects that you've taken a spill.
It's solar-powered, Bluetooth-enabled, and will alert you if your bike gets moved
The lock is similar to BitLock, which raised money on Kickstarter last fall. It differs in two essential ways: it appears to be further along than BitLock was at the start of its Kickstarter campaign, and Skylock claims to be twice as physically strong. You can still cut through the thing with an angle grinder, but that level of trauma should trigger a red alert from your phone.
Skylock is fundraising on its website and offering a discounted price of $159 to backers, with additional discounts for backers who refer friends. The company says it will have both Android and iPhone apps ready at launch and it will retail for $249 once it hits the market. It's a bit steeper than the BitLock or a traditional U-lock. But if your bike is your baby, it might make sense for you.