6 Reasons to Avoid a New Smart Bike Lock Today

smart bike lock

6 Reasons to Avoid a New Smart Bike Lock Today

Key Points

  • A smart bike lock works with a smartphone app and can help prevent potential thefts. 
  • Smart bike locks need power for most of their features, and you will need to charge batteries or change them often. 
  • Smart bike locks are also dependent on unreliable technology and are vulnerable to hacking. 
  • Some alternatives to smart bike locks are U-locks, nondescript bike trackers, and using a bike-sharing service. 

Based on the steady rise of bike thefts, it may seem counterintuitive for us to recommend not buying a smart bike lock. After all, as many bike owners can attest, securely locking your bike can be a bit of an art form, and most of the time, you just have to hope that industrious thieves don’t target your bike while you’re shopping or hanging out with friends.

However, there may be better answers to rising bike theft than a new smart bike lock. If you’re wondering why, this article is for you. We’ll explore the top 6 reasons to avoid a new smart bike lock today, including their high cost and unreliability. Also, we’ll explore alternatives to smart locks to help keep your property safe.

What is a Smart Bike Lock?

A smart bike lock is a lock that works with an app, allowing you to lock and unlock your bike without a key or combination. Smart bike locks also alert you of attempted tampering and theft.

Smart bike locks work as GPS, letting you keep an eye on the location of your bike. GPS doesn’t require Wi-Fi, so it can be a great way to keep tabs on your bike when you can’t watch it every minute it’s locked up. 

While smart bike locks are excellent for bike sharing, they aren’t always the best option for daily riders. In fact, there are many reasons to avoid a smart bike lock. Let’s find out why. 

Why You Should Avoid a New Smart Bike Lock

The Features Need Power

One of the neat features of a smart bike lock is the theft alarm. Cyclists will get an alert on their phones when the lock thinks it’s being tampered with, which is pretty handy on the surface. 

However, it needs a battery with a charge or another power source, and an alarm is just one of the features of a smart lock that needs power. For example, some locks can alert contacts if you get into an accident. While this sounds great, the problem arises when these power-dependent features require consistent and long recharging to work. 

Many features of smart locks aren’t the main reason most people buy the locks. They’re an add-on or a “nice to have.” Unfortunately, these nice-to-haves eat up the power that is needed for the necessary power-dependent features like connecting to your smartphone to unlock your bike. 

While some smart bike locks do have USB or solar charging options, the fact remains that smart locks need the power to communicate with your smartphone and operate as intended.

The Batteries Need Monitoring

Because a smart bike lock needs power, the lock will need a battery. Of course, as we all know, batteries may need charging or replacing regularly. Not only do cyclists need to keep their phones charged, but they also need to ensure their smart lock battery is charged and working correctly. Most smart locks last about a year or less before needing replacement, which means you’ll have to be diligent about making sure your bike lock batteries are fresh. 

Limited Bluetooth Range

If you’ve ever used a Bluetooth device, you probably know that Bluetooth doesn’t have an infinite reach. Most Bluetooth devices have a spread of about 30 feet. And, of course, buildings and environmental features can block Bluetooth, meaning the distance maybe even less. So, why is this important? Some smart bike locks need Bluetooth for many of their features, such as locking or unlocking the bike, alerts, and tracking should it be stolen. Limited Bluetooth range means you’ll only get alerts about theft if you’re within 30 feet of your bike. It also means you may want to avoid smart bike locks that rely on Bluetooth.

Dependent on Unreliable Technology

Technology of any kind can be unreliable like batteries draining unexpectedly quickly or charging cables becoming unusable. Additionally, phones can go missing, apps can fail, and connectivity can be finicky. When these things happen, suddenly our convenience isn’t so convenient anymore, and we’re left with issues instead. While some smart bike locks come with a standard key to unlock your bike should something fail, that would require you to have the key with you. And if you have to carry a key around with you anyway, why not just save money by avoiding buying a smart bike lock?

They’re Expensive

While the cost of a bike lock can be nothing compared to the price of a lost bike, smart bike locks can be much more expensive than all other locks. It’s a typical rule of thumb for cyclists to spend about 10% of their bike’s worth on a secure lock. And while that may be a good baseline, a lot of the best, most reliable smart bike locks cost upwards of $200. For most of us, that’s a lot to spend on a bike lock, especially one that may or may not be reliable. 

Vulnerable to Hacking

Unfortunately, this is a bit of an inevitable risk when living in our technological world. People can hack your computer or phone, and those same hackers can also hack your smart bike lock. Traditional locks definitely don’t have this issue. 

Smart Bike Lock
Smart bike locks may seem like a good idea in theory, but there are a few crucial considerations you’ll want to know before buying.

©Dusan Petkovic/Shutterstock.com

Alternatives to Smart Bike Locks

If the thought of failing, unreliable batteries in expensive devices have you questioning whether a new smart bike lock is right for you, we have some alternatives. 

Bike Trackers 

Great GPS Tracking Option
Invoxia Real Time GPS Tracker
  • 2-year subscription with no fees
  • For vehicles, cars, bikes, motorcycles
  • 120-hour battery (moving) to 4 months (stationary)
  • Anti-theft alerts
  • Black
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
09/28/2023 03:24 pm GMT

While some smart locks have trackers that work with GPS or Bluetooth, they aren’t ideal for deterring thefts, nor are they perfect when trying to recover a stolen bike. We don’t think it’s reliable because most thieves will simply toss a lock to the side once they get their hands on your bike. And, because the tracker tracks your lock, not your bike, you may never get your bike back. However, several types of bike trackers work with Bluetooth, GPS, or an app that is attached to your bike and can help aid in tracking it down. 

The genius thing about some trackers is that they look like they’re just another part of your bike, so you can effectively hide them in plain sight. For example, you can find bike trackers that look like lights or other bike accessories or that attach to under your bike seat. Of course, these aren’t always perfect.


Best Anti-Theft
Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 Bike U-Lock with Cable
  • Made from hardened max-performance steel
  • 4-foot cable to secure the front wheel
  • Features a disc-detainer locking mechanism
  • Very robust and easy to use
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
09/28/2023 09:17 am GMT

A good U-lock will fit snuggly, not leaving a lot of room for would-be thieves to wrestle a picking device or a hacksaw through it. 

Bike Sharing

While not everyone lives in an area where bike sharing exists, they are a decent alternative to a smart bike lock. When you’re part of a bike share, you don’t own your bike, you rent one. You won’t have to worry about carrying a lock, smart or otherwise. 

Lyft has branched out from ride-sharing to include bike sharing. The program is available in many major U.S. cities, including San Francisco and the greater Bay Area, Portland, Washington DC, New York City, Chicago, and Columbus. 

With Lyft’s bike-sharing program, you can rent bikes with safety features like attached lights and built-in brakes to tour cities or just make it through your morning commute. 

Register Your Bike

While all locks can help prevent theft, the sad fact is that nothing is 100% effective all the time. And, if your bike does get stolen, it can be very hard to recover. One way to help make sure you can get your property back is to register your bike with Bike Index.

Bike Index is not an alternative to a smart bike lock but rather a supplement to any bike theft prevention. Bike Index is a free registration program that uses community outreach and law enforcement partners to help you reunite with your trusty steed. 

Wrapping Up

While any lock is better than no lock, we feel that smart bike locks need just a little more time on the market to work out the kinks. In the meantime, using a secure U-Lock and common sense, like locking your bike in a safe, well-lit area, will help prevent theft. 

6 Reasons to Avoid a New Smart Bike Lock Today FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Can you still use a key with a smart lock?

Some bicycle smart locks come with a key you can use if something malfunctions on your smart lock.

Can a locksmith pick a smart lock?

Typically, no, a locksmith cannot pick a smart lock. Smart locks have advanced features that make them almost impossible to pick. Your locksmith may need to have special tools or advanced programming skills to unlock your smart lock.

Where is the safest place to lock your bike?

The safest place to lock your bike to is a solid, unmovable object that your bike can’t be lifted over. Try to choose a place that has a lot of foot traffic and is well-lit. Lock your frame, but also try to lock your wheels, especially if they can be removed easily.

Can bolt cutters cut a kryptonite lock?

No bike lock is totally safe from being cut. However, Kryptonite U-locks are notoriously difficult to cut, even with bolt cutters.

Can someone cut through a bike lock?

Yes. Cable locks are notoriously easy to cut.

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