There are a ton of bike locks and anti-theft solutions on the market, but it seems that no matter how a bike owner attempts to thwart thieves, his or her bike is always at risk of disappearing at the hands of a determined criminal. So maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that one man's solution is to strap a detonator to the frame and blow the thief off the bike – a design we think even Wile E. Coyote (super genius) would approve of. But it still is (a surprise).
When we first spotted the Bike Mine, our initial thought was, "Why rely on an exploding alarm when you can just lock your bike up?" Creator Yannick Read tried that ... twice. And he woke up to find open air where his locked bicycle and locked motorcycle had been the night before.
Read, a digital communications specialist who moonlights as an inventor and designer, is no stranger to thinking and building outside the box. Over the past few years, he's co-developed the Paravelo, a folding bicycle-based powered parachute and camper; crowdfunded a bicycle handlebar-integrated drinking flask; and scored Guinness world records for loudest bike horn and smallest caravan.
Some of Read's works definitely seem less like serious products and more like whimsical, perhaps even tongue-in-cheek, promotional tools for his day job with ETA insurance company. The Bike Mine seems like it was created with that same semi-serious mix of fun and flair, and Read recognizes that it's not a mass-market product. He is confident enough in its potential to present it on Kickstarter in hopes of getting it into cyclists' hands.
The Bike Mine is a very simple mechanical alarm that uses a titanium trip wire, spring-action punch and shotgun blank commonly referred to as a "saluting blank," all housed in a rubber-wrapped steel body and attached to the bicycle via Velcro straps. The titanium wire gets connected to the wheel or nearby structure, so that when a bike thief moves the bike, the saluting blank goes off, creating a 150 dB blast to wake up the bicycle owner (and half the neighborhood) and ideally scare the thief off immediately.
It's a novel approach, to be sure, and it might work as intended. The thief might even think that someone's firing an actual shotgun at him and scurry off like his life depended on it. But if he doesn't, he may just say "nice try," have a good laugh and ride off with the bike anyway. Maybe the key is to use it in conjunction with a lock or other anti-theft device.
Read's Kickstarter campaign says that saluting blanks are widely available and legal to use, but an exploding bike alarm seems like something that could find itself on the wrong side of the law, or at least a law enforcement officer's impatient disposition. Read's disclaimers about using it only on private property and not positioning it in such a way that it will blow up in someone's face don't promote confidence – what if the thief is kneeling down working on a lock when it blows? In today's legal climate, it could bring headaches.
In the end, we're not sure that the Bike Mine is a viable product, but we're sure it's an interesting attempt at solving a very common problem. We're also sure it's given some folks an idea for a DIY practical joke (don't try that).
Kickstarters have over a month to decide. Bike Mine pledge levels start at £49 (US$71) or there's a Bike Mine perimeter alarm for £99 ($143), so thieves don't even get close before getting startled by an explosion. Shipping will begin in September, if things move along as Read plans.
The video below gives a good look at how the Bike Mine sets up and works in the field, and our photo gallery includes more shots of the Bike Mine and some of Read's past projects.