We love our bikes here at Gizmag. We really appreciate efforts to help keep our rides out of the hands of thieves, too, especially those innovations that serve more than one purpose – such as the Küat Racks Bottle Lock, or the Interlock seatpost bike lock. BikeWatch is just such a device, attaching to any 27.2 - 31.6 mm seatpost and combining a bike alarm, rear LED light and cable lock in one attractive unit.
Kristians Licis, Kaspars Skerba, and Gatis Mencendorfs out of Riga, Latvia came up with the 3-in-1 BikeWatch design as a more practical way to secure a bike to railings than heavy chains or U-locks, and an inexpensive alternative to GPS trackers. Four prototypes later and they now have an eye-pleasing pre-production model they're happy to make public.
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Within the stylish 3.9 x 3.5 x 1.5-inch (100 x 90 x 40-mm) anodized aluminum housing is a 105 dB tamper and movement alarm, and dual 50,000 millicandela LED light strips. As you can see from the schematic below, the latter is made up of four side-mounted 5 mm Vishay TLCR5800 red LEDs and two fiber optic cables.
BikeWatch is powered by a 9-volt battery that's reported to offer 24 hours of continued use at maximum brightness, or about 350 hours in blink mode – a convenient but potentially expensive battery option.
"To produce a louder noise, we needed 18 V which can be easily ensured by a 9 V battery," Licis explained. "These are also more resistant to the cold than Li-ion batteries, which is important if you want to use our product in winter. It's also possible to get a rechargeable 9 V battery, too."
The device's bike lock cable comes in two flavors – a 3.3 ft (1 meter) long, 0.2-inch (5 mm) wide regular version that separates completely from BikeWatch, and a 6 ft (1.8 m), 0.06-inch (1.5 mm) pull-in cable that's integrated into the IP53 water-resistant housing.
"They are regular steel cables," said Licis. "It's not possible to cut them with regular cutters, but it is possible with larger ones. Their main function is to protect bike against grabbing and riding off. If cables are cut, the alarm goes off at maximum volume."
An electronic lock secures the cable to the device. If the rider doesn't activate the onboard alarm using the supplied iMax iButton key when locking it to the railings or bike park, the cable-locking mechanism can be released by pressing a finger on the electronic key reader to the top of the unit for three seconds (the LED lights are also turned on and off with a short finger push on this key reader).
When the alarm is active, the iButton will be needed for cable release and/or alarm deactivation. If the cable is cut, the alarm sounds for ten minutes. After that, it will sound only when movement is detected, saving battery power if the thief has thought better of trying to walk off with your precious two-wheeler, but still remaining alert to movement.
If any vibration is detected by BikeWatch while the alarm is active (including attempts to remove any of the four seatpost attachment screws), the unit beeps once and remains ready to activate the alarm proper for the next ten seconds. If nothing more happens in that time, the device returns to "waiting" mode.
If there's more movement within that ten-second window, three more warning sounds are fired off. Should the would-be thief still not get the "back off" message, the alarm sounds for as long as there is continued movement, and for 30 seconds after the vibration stops.
In order to raise funds for tooling and to cover minimum order costs, the design team has launched on Indiegogo. A light-only model is available for US$49, and an early bird pledge of $65 will get you one of the first 100 alarm/light combinations. Once they're gone, the cost will rise to $79. A pledge of $109 will secure an alarm/light/regular cable device, and there's another early bird special for the design that features an integrated cable ($105). A colorful Indiegogo special has been created for a pledge of $159.