15
May
22

Bike locks are a pretty mundane tool: you use one because you have to. It's not about what kind of fancy toys it has or how it looks, it's strictly about function. How tough is it, how easy is it to open, and how versatile is it in terms of locking location. Those are the questions we traditionally ask ourselves when shopping for a lock, right?

Skylock aims to change the conversation, and radically - this Bluetooth-enabled lock is probably one of the most innovative things that could happen to the bike lock industry since, well, ever. Check it out.

The primary purpose of Skylock's Bluetooth connectivity, as you might guess, is controlling the locking mechanism. Skylock can be unlocked either by the proximity of your smartphone, or by switch in the smartphone control app. So yes, this is a bike lock with a battery, and no, it doesn't have a backup key or analog opening system. There are capacitive buttons you can use to pop open the lock, but that still requires it to be powered on. There's a USB port for charging it, but who wants to charge a bike lock? Even once in a while, that seems like a hassle.

That's why the Skylock is fitted with a freaking solar panel. No, this isn't a joke: a solar-powered bike lock is totally going to be a thing, assuming Skylock meets its $50,000 funding goal in the next 30 days. Skylock says the lock requires only one hour of direct sunlight to get one week of battery life, and that a full charge should last around a month. That means, basically, you need to ride your bike or have it sitting in sunlight an hour a week to keep the lock charged up. If you only use your bike occasionally, maybe once or twice a week, that might be a bit of challenge. But for those who commute or regularly ride their bikes for leisure, it'll be easy to keep the Skylock topped off, assuming you've got enough sunlight in your region.

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Unlocking isn't the Skylock's only trick, though. Realizing that pretty much any lock can be hacked through with an angle grinder and a few minutes (or much less, depending), the Skylock includes a motion alert system. As long as you're within Bluetooth range of the lock, your smartphone will send you an alert if your bike or the lock is moved (you can even set the threshold). Granted, this probably isn't exactly useful if you're leaving your bike at a large group rack on a college campus overnight or are in a large office building (I doubt the signal would penetrate), but it does keep your bike safer when you're just popping into a restaurant or store.

The Skylock also uses this motion detection for safety purposes - if the lock detects an especially jarring movement, the crash detection feature engages and your smartphone app will provide you an option to contact a set list of persons or dial 911. The app also, of course, remembers where you parked your bike, which can be useful if you're in a major bike commuter area. The one thing Skylock really doesn't get into detail on is toughness - they say it's "military grade" and built to withstanding the toughest "breaking methods," but I've yet to see a bike lock that can stand up against a cordless angle grinder, which tends to be the tool of choice among high-end bike thieves.

So, how much will all this functionality cost you? A lot, frankly. Skylock will retail for $250, but a small group of initial backers can pre-order the product for $160 right now. The Skylock isn't expected to ship until early 2015.

Skylock

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Scott

    ...and is as trivially cut as any other bike lock currently available.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Pretty much my guess, too, but what bike lock can stand up to an angle grinder? The smart features are definitely very cool - I can see this being super useful for people who bike commute, saves pulling out a key or messing with a combo lock twice a day. It's not like they're pretending it's indestructible, just easier and more useful.

      • atlouiedog

        Agreed, but that's a lot of extra money for what I see as a small amount of convenience. If/When someone does cut your lock you've lost your bike and $250. I guess it's just not a product for me.

        • andy_o

          Norm MacDonald even put this situation in an old joke of his. He bought a pitbull to protect his stuff, and turned out the pitbull was the most valuable thing he owned.

      • h4rr4r

        Angle grinders take a long time, time busy bike thieves like me just don't have. That is why I use heavy duty bolt cutters.

        /this is a joke

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          Bolt cutters don't work on good U-locks, joking aside. Apparently most bike thieves actually use screwdrivers and try to break the locking mechanism. Even a crappy Harbor Freight angle grinder can get through a super rugged U lock in a couple minutes.

          • h4rr4r

            Big ass bolt cutters work fine on many U-Locks. Youtube has lots of videos of it. Sure the nice expensive ones are designed around it but the cheap ones crack under the pressure. Plus with overalls and a clipboard no one will even question what you are doing.

      • hp420

        this. now if they make a model that uses just the bare-bones keyless entry idea, without all the extra stuff, which I will never need, I'd say a $60 model is highly possible. then I'd definitely buy one of these!! But even at $160 it's way too much, since my bike didn't even cost that much.

    • Martim

      If by "trivially cut" you mean "cut by an angle grinder", then yes, it can be trivially cut. But in that case, please show me a single lock that can hold up to an angle grinder for more than 2 minutes.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    "Or It Will Be If It Reaches Its $50,000 Funding Goal, And They Don't Bail Or Delay It Into Oblivion Like Most Crowdfunding Projects"

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Well, the team is made up of some ex-engineers from Boeing and Jawbone. So they're not just some random kids or whatever.

      • Matthew Fry

        While that gives confidence that the designs are solid, it still doesn't mean anything as far as delays. Engineers are rarely in charge of the entire pipeline. It will be delayed, they're always delayed.

  • The_Chlero

    I dont think that the "bluetooth features" are very useful. Usually, when you park your bike you dont go a few meters away, usually you go inside a building (restaurant, coffe, pub, etc) and the there are this walls and materials that block your signal, specially since bluetooth has a very short range frequency.

    Maybe this will be better with a WiFi antenna, but I dont this this would be battery effective (or cost effective). In real world, bluetooth range is just a few meters away, with other frequencies, walls and people.

    Its a nice gadget, but is not much more useful that your average bike lock you already got.

  • namesib

    $250 for a bike lock?

    I don't think so.

    • Navitron

      This is obviously for people who have super high quality $3000+ Bikes.

  • Matt

    You say, "the Skylock includes a motion alert system. As long as you're within Bluetooth range of the lock, your smartphone will send you an alert if your bike or the lock is moved"

    But the video says,
    "Just log Skylock into my local wifi network.."

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      It can use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Wi-Fi, I imagine, extends the range a bit.

      • Henrik

        I think the point with WiFi is you log in to a WiFi hotspot. Like your schools/work/coffee shops WiFi.

        And then you can be on the other side of the earth for that matter and get the message.
        So when your on vacation you can get a message that someone are moving your bike. :-)

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          Ah, very true.

      • Blowntoaster

        they should sell an optional wifi enabled bike tracker in case they do get through the lock, and make off with your bike.
        one small enough to hide in the handlebars or frame tubing...

  • Bruno

    Bluetooth? Too dangerous, Could unlock when i'm leaving the bike, plus, it works with Iphones... Unsafe x100.
    Put a NFC chip inside and program it so it can only work with the programmed chip. Mine.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Proximity mode is optional. You can use capacitive buttons or a switch in the app, too.

  • hp420

    very cool, but even if I pre-order it still costs more than my bike.

  • Mayoo

    250$ for the lock. Robbers will steal the lock and leave the bike.

    • Kov

      It serves its purpose, right?
      Bike lock is supposed to prevent robber to steal the bike, so..

  • Wesley Modderkolk

    "Realizing that pretty much any lock can be hacked through with an angle grinder and a few minutes (or much less, depending), the Skylock includes a motion alert system. As long as you're within Bluetooth range of the lock, your smartphone will send you an alert if your bike or the lock is moved (you can even set the threshold)."

    If it is in Bluetooth range you can probably see it happening.

    Just like pretty much every reinvention of something this becomes overly complicated and solves absolutely nothing. What happens when the battery runs out(Even with solar panels, the possibility is there)? Or more likely, what happens if your paired smartphone is stolen?

    Seems to me like you are paying $250,- (or $160,-) for you to lose your bike.

  • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

    This lock costs about as much as my commuter bike....

  • heike1975

    Great. So my bike will get stolen by a nerd with horn-rimmed glasses instead of the usual thug. Thank You, Skylock!

  • dobbsy

    Their website doesn't work and I can't find it on Kickstarter...

  • Giorgis

    Why not an app that detects jarring so it can send false allarms ?

  • Markoff

    1. good luck with bluetooth range
    2. enjoy pranks with bluetooth signal scrambler
    3. my bike doesn't cost even 160USD, 250USD are they serious? i will better buy few good quality old school bike locks which will stil cost like 5-10X less than buying this complicated crap where I need to worry about bluetooth range, about battery in my phone (it doesn't have solar panel unlike the lock!) and losing lot of money invested in fancy bike lock

    • Roger Siegenthaler

      Well huzzah for you with a cheap ass bike... Mine cost over 1.5k so 250 for a lock like this isn't really pushing it at all.

  • Lorenzo

    250$? I paid my bike about 200$...

  • http://liveinalux.com/ mankulito

    for 250 bucks i will buy a new bike