Bike thieves are notoriously difficult to deter. Even the strongest locks on the market can be jammied with enough time and persistence, which means bicycle owners can never quite be sure that their beloved steed will still be there when they return after leaving it locked up to a bike rack or lamppost. Until now.
A new invention emanating from Chile promises to do away with dodgy locks and disappearing bikes. On first glance, the Yerka bicycle seems unexceptional – a conventional contraption with two wheels, a seat and a handlebar. But a closer look reveals a bottom tube that splits in half, allowing the bike to be hooped around a secure metal pole via the seat tube.
The beauty of the design is that for a thief to forcibly release it from a rack, he or she would have to cut through the bike itself – rendering it unusable. And, of course, you don’t have to fork out an extra £70 for a heavy-duty lock after already spending hundreds on a new bike.
Aside from the innovative frame design, the bicycle also uses anti-theft wheel nuts, which can only be loosened using a special key – a useful method of preventing opportunistic thieves from nicking the wheels.
The Yerka is the design of twentysomething Chilean inventors Cristóbal Cabello, Juan José Monsalve, and Andrés Roi Eggers, who set their minds to creating an unstealable bike after the latter was the victim of multiple bike thefts while at university.
After raising money through a combination of state funding and online crowdfunding projects, the trio last week saw their design go into production, with 300 bikes rolling off the production line. They are set to retail at $500, although that may rise to $600 and over in the future.
“In the next four years, our goal is to sell a container of almost 300 units each month worldwide,” Cabello told CNN. “But the most important goal is that customers say, ‘This bike is great. We love the bike you sold us and we will spread the word.'” The team are now seeking an extra $1m investment with the aim of distributing 300 bikes a month globally.
However, the Yerka has not been received well from all corners. As transportation writer Lloyd Alter points out, any lock can be picked. Despite its design, the Yerka still relies on a locking mechanism to secure the frame.
The seatpost could also be susceptible to being bent out of shape by an injudicious knock while the bike is left locked up, making the ride functionally useless.
“If we weren’t doing something as disruptive as this, or something that people aren’t interested in, we wouldn’t receive any critics, and believe me when I say we’ve had lots of them, mainly referring to the same ‘what if I cut the seat post’ question,'” Monsalve told Fox News.
“We try to learn and improve our project with every critic, and we are soon to release a video in which we probably answer those kind of questions.”