There are few things worse than seeing a friend of yours share a 'Stolen Bikes' post on social media, except perhaps having to launch your own mass search.
Being the victim of road side or high street bike theft has long been an unfortunate risk we take as cyclists, in fact results from a survey released by CCTV.co.uk and Direct Line Insurance earlier this year showed that bicycles topped the list of 'most stolen' items in the UK, ahead of mobile phones and power tools. As well as on street theft, we're now hearing more and more stories of thefts from inside homes and garages - which is why British brand Hiplok decided to step in with a new invention.
Hiplok appeared on our radars when they launched the wearable lock in 2011 - and they've been creating handy portable locks ever since. Now, they've stepped into home security, with the brand new AIRLOK which they're looking to bring to the mass market via a Kickstarter campaign.
The AIRLOK aims to combine security with elegance. It's effectively a ground anchor for your wall, that's been designed to meet Sold Secure Gold standards (though rating is yet to be applied) via a hardened steel frame and locking pin. However, it's also got a simple design that can help turn your bicycle into a work of modern art on your wall if you keep it clean enough.
"We set out to solve real world problems encountered by cyclists."
Describing the motives behind the creation, co-founder Ben Smith told us: "When we started Hiplok, we set out to solve real world problems encountered by cyclists. To date there hasn't been a stylish yet secure means of securing your bike - the choice has been unsightly ground anchors or beautiful wall hangers with no security. AIRLOK solves this problem combining top level security with elegant, functional design."
The AIRLOK is available in three colours: white, black and red, and uses a high security (but replaceable) locking key to fasten the hardened steel pin which secures the bike. Your beloved will sit in a scratch proof recess, that can accomodate road, mountain bikes and hybrid frames.
Though we've not tried fitting it ourselves yet, doing so seems pretty simple - you'd start by attaching the steel frame, before slipping on the plastic covering, which is then followed by the non-scratch bike frame recess that is held in place with four bolts. The bolts sit behind the bike frame when in use, and to remove it all, you'd simply reverse the process.
The AIRLOK can be fitted to a plaster wall - though it's of course most secure against theft the stronger the wall. However, when we're debating safety by considering the chances of the potential perpetrator actually knocking down the wall, then we can be sure that the thief in question is going to be having a pretty bad day in the office.
HIPLOK have put the AIRLOK through some fairly robust tests, involving hammers, and use of the frame as a pull-up bar - to no avail. We have seen the video evidence, and their attempts at destruction did seem both genuine and futile.
Currently, the system holds the bike alone, but HIPLOK say they will be looking to create some add-on packages with shelves and hooks to allow cyclists to store essential ride items next to their bikes.
When HIPLOK showed us their new invention last week, we've got to admit we were struggling to find holes in their plan. Once a thief is actually inside your home/garage (at which point sentencing gets much steeper if they're caught), they're not likely to want to stick around to angle grind through a steel locking device - also risking cracking the frame they're trying to lift. Even if by sheer perseverance they did succeed, the device should at least help you tick the boxes on your insurer's list of small print requirements, too.
Our only one quibble would be with the price and convenience of using this system if you're a firm believer in the theory of N+1. The AIRLOK will set you back £130 (though if you get in early on Kickstarter you could grab one for £99!), which seems fairly reasonable if you're just looking to hoist your one pride and joy up atop of the mantlepiece. If you've got multiple bikes in your home, the price will quickly escalate, to the point you might be better off looking at some of the more expensive storage units if you have outside space.
Speaking of space, though you could place one AIRLOK on top of another if your wall is high enough, holding the bike horizontally isn't the most space efficient solution (not that we've got any bright ideas for alternative ways to hold the frame).
All in all, the AIRLOK seems like a fantastic idea that opens the door to more indoor lockable solutions. If you've got a bike you want to keep safe AND stylish, it might well be for you. And, if you've got four bikes and a dedicated bike room with lots of wall space, your bike room could well be on the way to looking amazing.
Interested? See the Kickstarter page here.
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