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‘Smart’ bikes

The new generation of e-bikes with built-in anti-theft protection

It finally happened, my e-bike was stolen last month. Or my Wheeee!-bike as I liked to call it after it changed my life and gave me so much joy when I bought it in 2021.

I had always known it was a matter of when, not if, it got stolen. We had a good insurance policy and had always felt it was more important to ride it to all the places we wanted to go rather than constantly worrying about whether it was safe.

In the end my bike was taken from outside my husband’s school in broad daylight. Two men rode up on a moped with an angle grinder and one was riding it away within seconds. We filed a police report but without a clear image of the people’s faces there is nothing that the police can do. It is an easy crime, seemingly without repercussions for the thieves.

I found it amazing how quickly I was back in my car almost every single day now that I didn’t have a bike. Every errand, trip to the shops, appointment and weekend outing was another car journey. I was reminded of the lure of how easy this mode of transport is. There are so few barriers and although finding a parking space can be annoying, it only costs a few pounds for a short trip.

I did also miss the ease of stopping off at different shops along my way, the pleasure of a little detour to cycle past the sea and the boost of energy the exercise and fresh air gives me. So there was no question for me that I would be replacing my e-bike.

When I went to the bike shop to try out options I was also excited to discover technology has moved on since I last bought a bike. There are several angle grinder resistant locks now on the market, including one that is that bit wider to make it easier to attach to cargo and non-standard bikes. I chose the Abus Granit Super Extreme 2500 for that reason. It is an investment at £250 but one worth making. An angle grinder makes quick work of every other type of lock.

The big advance, however, is in the integrated lock and alarm system from Bosch. The ‘smart system’ uses the bluetooth on your phone as a lock. The bike will only switch on when your phone is in range. If a thief steals the bike, the system will remain locked and they won’t be able to use the bike.

If the bike is moved an alarm sounds on the bike and you are notified on the Flow app. You can see the location of your bike and only you can give permission for it to be unlocked.

There is a subscription cost of around £35/year for the app but the first year is free. Again, it feels like an investment worth making for the additional protection it offers. Whilst it can’t prevent a thief from physically taking your bike, the hope is that over time thieves will learn it isn’t worth their while to take a bike with this smart system.

I finally brought home my shiny new Gazelle Grenoble last week. It’s not a cargo bike this time. We have the Tern GSD for transporting our two children. Because I have a progressive neurological condition I decided to prioritise something less heavy with a good low step-through.

Nothing is infallible but with my new angle grinder resistant lock and the smart system I am confident to park my bike all over the city again. It is also a good reminder to check your insurance policy covers you for where your bike is stored and up to the value you really need if you had to replace it. 

It feels great to be out of the car and back on my bike for all those daily errands and weekend outings. I chose the Gazelle because it was the only bike I tried that makes me say ‘Wheeee!’ inside my head every time I get on. 

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