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Friday, March 27, 2015

Stolen $7,000 Smart Bike Rescues Itself

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 9:40 AM

Can a smart bike rescue itself if there’s no one around to see the blinking LED that says it’s stolen? Tuesday morning, Bill Kiriakis drove in from the North Bay to The New Wheel to pick up his brand new $6,990 Stromer ST2.

By noon it had been stolen. What could have turned into a real lousy Tuesday turned into an exciting tale of smart bike success. 

click to enlarge Little does this bike know that it's about to be cruelly wrested from its owners posession.
  • Little does this bike know that it's about to be cruelly wrested from its owners posession.

Kiriakis made the mistake of locking his super bling electric bike up to his rack and walking away. 

click to enlarge Dramatization of the bike theft.
  • Dramatization of the bike theft.

when he came back from work, Kiriakis found that somebody had snipped his cable lock that held the Stromer ST2 to rack on the back of his car. Rather than panic, he called The New Wheel, where had purchased the fancy bike. Normally you probably wouldn’t think, “Hey, my bike got jacked, maybe I should call the place where I bought it.” But this isn’t any ordinary bike. The Stromer ST2 is billed (by Stromer) as “The first e-bike in the world to integrate Bluetooth, GPS, and GSM, as well as communicate with the rider's smartphone through a proprietary, cloud-based platform.”

In other words, it’s really not a bike you want to steal.

Rather than tell Kiriakis he was out of luck, Karen Weiner of The New Wheel called up Stromer North American Operations Manager Oliver Dine, who was able to track down the bike’s location. But that’s not all – Dine put the Stromer ST2 into “theft mode.” This handy feature disables the electric motor and rear wheel so that it can’t roll anywhere. It also flashes the built-in LED lights (a kind of distress signal I guess) and flashes “Theft” so that when you, or the police find it, they don’t mix it up with some other $7,000 e-bike, that might be lying around. 

click to enlarge The bike knows it's stolen...
  • The bike knows it's stolen...

Sure enough, the staff of The New Wheel and the SFPD managed to track the bike down and recover it near Eighth and Market streets. No word if there was an exciting e-bike vs. segway chase, or anything similarly futuristic. Nicholson said that, “For his part, the thief said he was impressed with the ST2’s top speed of almost 30 mph.”

Nicholson called this a, “wild proof of concept incident” that demonstrates the ability of a smart bike to help in its own recovery effort. When I brought up privacy concerns about the ability of Stromer to access, and take control of a bike remotely, he told me that, “As far as monkeying with the anti-theft features, only the owner can do so via their registered phone which they have paired with the bike. And, with the owner's permission, in case of emergency Stromer can do so remotely.”
click to enlarge This bike's incredible journey came to an end when it found it's way home safely to its master.
  • This bike's incredible journey came to an end when it found it's way home safely to its master.

So if Kiriakis had managed to pair his smartphone to his Stromer ST2 he could have disabled the rear wheel, turned on the blinking Thief sign, and alert the police himself. In any case, it’s a pretty impressive recovery effort, aided by the SFPD, who are probably stoked that there are finally bike theft that can be easily solved. 
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About The Author

Leif Haven

Leif Haven

Leif Haven is a writer and cyclist living in the Bay Area. He can be spotted dragging himself up a hill — literally and metaphorically.

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