GPS Tracker Tracks Your Stolen Bike

Bikes are great for cruising through congested cities but there is a serious downside to pedaling your two-wheeler around… bike theft. It’s a big deal, for example, yearly estimates for stolen bikes in NYC are in the 60,000 – 100,000 range. Only an extremely small percentage of those are ever recovered. [stbennett] just got himself a halfway decent bike and is not too interested in having it stolen, and if it is stolen, he wants a way to find it so he built himself a GPS tracker for his bike.

The entire project is Arduino-based. It uses a GSM Shield and a GPS module along with a few other small odds and ends. A 2-cell LiPo battery provides the required power for all of the components. It’s pretty neat how this device maintains an extremely long battery life. The metal cable of the bike lock is used as a conductor in the circuit. When the cable is inserted and locked into the lock housing a circuit is completed that prevents electricity from passing through a transistor to the Arduino. In other words, the Arduino is off unless the bike cable is cut or disengaged. That way it is not running 24/7 and draining the battery.

The entire system works like this, once the bike lock cable is cut, the Arduino wakes up and gives a 15 second delay before doing anything, allowing the legitimate user to reconnect the bike lock and shut down the alarm system. If the bike lock is not re-engaged, the unit starts looking for a GPS signal. At that time it will send out SMS messages with the GPS location coordinates. Punching those numbers into Google Maps will show you exactly where the bike is.

Of course your other option is to park your bike where nobody else can access it, like at the top of a lamp pole.

35 thoughts on “GPS Tracker Tracks Your Stolen Bike

    1. Laughing, but I agree with you.

      Its a pretty awesome idea, I’ve been hunting the webz in search of such a solution that actually doesn’t require me to be in the US or Europe and sadly no dice. As pointed out below this solution is flawed because of its bulk. If I am to steal a bike or car or what ever means of transport it is, I reckon the first thing I would do is check the contents.

      1. I already have a few ideas of how to do this, need to sit down and figure out the maths and such so I dont end up with projectiles and out of balance wheels

  1. I hate to be the bad guy here, this is nice nonsense engineering. I absolutely love the tracker and the sleep mechanism, lot of thought went into it. Seriously I mean it.

    The irritating part is, that such a bright person who gets to think this well through, doesn’t see the obvious: GET A BIKE LOCK! Because now you have none…

    1. I’m sorry I can’t just help myself. I’ve checked through the BOM and 225$ price tag is quite a bit steep. That would almost get two Abus Bordo locks.

      Additionally I see a problem with the GPS, as in urban canyons this could get unreliable, set aside the fact that the perp might actually damage it while stealing the bike (unlikely, every sane perp would cut the lock with scissors:)

      1. a friend just had a 2000$ custom bike stolen from inside the car in his driveway. All the cars in the driveway (and many surrounding the house) were looked through, but the one with the fancy bike was targeted. a GPS in that thing would make my friend SOOOOO happy right now and he would GLADLY pay 225$ for one.

  2. What stops a thief from checking the bag, to see if it contains valuables? And finding this device, from guessing its function and disabling/discarding it? It needs to be better concealed. Perhaps behind a bicycle wheel cover?

    1. Or maybe even inserted into the frame? Modern bikes have tubing going through the frame so that might even be a method to conceal antennae going out.

      The idea isn’t half-bad, but if you’re planting a tracker you probably shouldn’t make it look and be the easiest thing to steal.

      1. Uhm, okay, seems like something like that is already made and sold under the name of “SpyBike”, concealed in the seat tubing or the topcap. Never mind then.

  3. It takes a thief with a special kind of stupid to leave the suspicious looking electrical doodad attached to the bike. And if it’s built in to the lock, that’s the first thing that’ll be left.
    Nice idea though. Perhaps a 2.0 is in order.

    1. you assume that thieves think the same as normal people do, they don’t really. I’m always amazed how people get caught…

      1. Very true. I once nearly lost the ham radio from my car, but the thief was too stupid to know how to unscrew a simple antenna connector (lefty-loosy, righty-tighty).

      2. You would be more amazed by the ones that never do.

        I worked with a man that spent nine months in jail for theft. He stole smallish items that are stored outside, bikes, power tools that sort of thing. He told me whenever he saw something really secured, he would say to himself ‘nice lock!’ before using a stolen angle grinder to cut around it or through it. Did it for years.

        Funny thing about this man. His unemployed, barely 18 year old girlfriend owned a very nice house outright in her name. I always wondered how she got that kind of cash.

  4. A good bike lock and bike insurance would be a better deal. Crooks are usually just dishonest, not stupid – pretty sure they would fine and disable the current setup.

    1. why not just get a $20 bike from craigslist? Old junks usually get passed over by the thieves.

      I did a 50 mile ride with a guy riding a junk bike he found in an alley. He kept up with the rest of us just fine.

  5. I never lock my bike at social places. It has tape and electrical things hanging under the seat, the LED dynamo diodes and cap. I always park it upside down or at some crazy angle close to that. Oh, it looks weird with a seemingly too high seat.
    I saw a tracker online that fits in the handlebars.

  6. I think this is more of a fun project rather than something practical. Unless your bike was taken in an armed robbery, the police aren’t going to track down the GPS coordinates you gave them.

      1. My friend btw are delighted that I dont drag them into beating up other people. And as stupid as it might sound but I like it too to not get charged with assault and battery.

  7. Getting a proper lock would be a much better solution. When will people learn that these “wire” locks are nothing but a piece of s*** ?

    1. “When will people learn”

      They will learn when the space aliens take over and manipulate our intelligence. In the meantime you will have to put up with your fellow humans

  8. I’m pretty sure you could make this fit in the front fork. There is usually a hollow tube in the front fork that could fit what is required. Issues would then be around exposing the antenna, and keeping it charged, perhaps with an inertial harvester

  9. Too big, bulky, fragile and inefficient. Consider this an expert’s judgment as I am the founder of a group in Hungary that’s been catching thieves with GPS trackers for three years already. I give you just one hint of a drawback. What will you do if your bike is taken into a large condo building? Break down all the doors? Add a tiny radio beacon.

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