Stopping Bike Theft for Good – Using Tile as a GPS Tracker for Stolen Bicycles

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Tile on a Bike
Tile sticks easily onto most surfaces, though finding the right spot on your expensive racing bike might be a challenge.
Tile GPS Tracker
Tile GPS Tracker

For anyone with a bike, theft is a very real threat. When locks fail, Tile may just be the solution for getting back our best friends (yes, I mean the bike). After seeing the Tile advertised all over Facebook, I decided to look into just how helpful this might be for cyclists who want to improve the probability of getting their bike back after a lousy criminal makes off with it.

First, a few facts about Tile. It’s small, it’s meant to stick to things via a double-stick adhesive (meaning, I’m not sure how well this residue will remove once the device dies), and it uses Bluetooth 4.0 to track up to ten Tiles at a range of about 150ft.

The range kinda sucks, I’m not gonna lie. But the folks at Tile have thought of this by extending the range of your Tile to a web of all Tile users. In other words, if your stolen bike comes within 150 feet of another Tile user, you will be notified of its location. This is great, except that it may take a while for the network to grow large enough for it to work very well. But with almost $3,000,000.00 worth of Tiles sold before it’s official launch, the odds are good that the network will soon be pretty big.

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As for the price, in it’s pre-launch phase, you can get Tile for around $18. After it’s officially released, expect to pay about $25. But, since the Tile does not use batteries, you’ll need to replace the whole unit every year. The folks at Tile say this is great because you’ll always have the latest device . . . but that’s probably what I would say too if I wanted you to buy one every year. Overall, however, $25 per year isn’t too bad when you consider the cost of replacing your bike if it’s stolen without a tracking device. One other thing, it only works with IOS for the time being–meaning you’ll need an iPhone or an iPad to use it.

Is Tile Useful for Cyclists?

Tile actually does seem like a viable solution for folks who want to know where their bike is. Since a thief could easily remove the chip once it’s spotted, I would recommend sticking it in a difficult to find place. Finding that space is easy, but getting Tile there may not be. The least obvious hiding spots for Tile would include the following (look away now, thieves):

  • Drop it in the seat tube
  • Stick it inside your handlebars
  • Tuck it somewhere under your saddle that’s not easily seen
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Dependent upon your bike’s dimensions, the Tile may or may not fit inside of it, but it will probably do some good stuck under the saddle. Especially if you figure out its stolen while the thief is still making a getaway near you.

Tile on a Bike
Tile sticks easily onto most surfaces, though finding the right spot on your expensive racing bike might be a challenge.

Pros and Cons

Tile could make stolen bikes a thing of the 20th century. If the network grows nationwide, this would be an excellent investment (along with homeowner’s/renter’s insurance that covers your bike). At a relatively cheap price point, Tile is almost a no-brainer.

However, until the network does expand, Tile may not be as effective as possible. Plus, replacing the unit once a year is a slight pain. If you’re not a fan of being on the grid, this would mean you’re never really alone with your bike. Of course, your phone is doing the same thing, so . . . .

Check out Tile’s website for more information, or to order your own Tile. If you do buy one, let me know how you like it! Comment below!

About Bek 301 Articles
SLO Cyclist's former chief editor and recovering road snob, Bek made sure everything ran smoothly around here. She was also the one who reminded us not to take ourselves too seriously--unless it involves black socks. Black socks are always serious.

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