November 25, 2015

A Powder Bomb for a Little 'Thief-Shaming'

Given the official-sounding play-by-play, you can be forgiven for mistaking the European Bike Stealing Championships for an actual sporting event. In reality, though, it's an effort by the folks behind the online magazine to raise awareness about the rampancy of bike theft in Europe. 

The video is well done; there are far worse ways to spend four minutes than watching Rome, Amsterdam, and Prague go head-to-head for the 2015 title:

November 20, 2015

"For the Grasp Lock, you are the key"

To hear Grasp Lock co-founder and engineer Samson Berhane tell it, the primary problem with the bike locks already on the market is the bodily contortion they necessitate.

"No more stretching to unlock your bike," Berhane says in a Kickstarter campaign video for his Canadian start-up's biometric bicycle lock locked and unlocked by fingerprint. "No more reaching over the frame to secure your bike."

(The Grasp Lock's hinged arms, see, allow it to slide easily around your bike and the rack, making lock-up a snap.)

I'm more concerned with security than ease of use, though, so I was impatient for the video to address this aspect of the Grasp Lock.

"Its hardened metal body can resist virtually any attack," explains mechanical engineer Jason Zeng as the camera pans across three team members unsuccessfully wielding a crowbar, a saw, and a pair of long-handled cutters.

Impressive, but am I ready for a bike lock that requires batteries??

November 18, 2015

"I knew I was screwed": So-called "Kingpin" of Bike Thieves Apprehended in Portland

The television show Inside Edition could hardly have scripted a better ending to its segment on bike theft in Portland.

It began as a standard-issue bait bike story. The show's producers borrowed a $2000 Trek Fuel EX 5 from a local shop and engaged security expert Jason Cecchettini from to outfit the loaner with a tracking device. Then they cable locked it (asking for trouble...) to a signpost—and waited.

Not for long. Soon enough a man with a pair of wire cutters made off with the Trek, and a film crew gave chase.

They tracked the bike's signal to a combination homeless colony/chop shop under Interstate 5, where they found Leroy Parsons with an upside-down Trek Fuel EX 5, one of the wheels in his hands.

"I knew I was screwed," Parsons later told police.

Parsons, known to the Portland police department's bike task force as the "kingpin" of bike thieves, was arrested at the scene.

Take a look/listen:

November 16, 2015


BTB has both offered tips for vetting Craigslist sellers and passed along the Bike Index field guide How Not To Buy a Stolen Bike in Four Easy Steps. So it's only fitting that you read here about the latest effort to enable cyclists to purchase pre-owned rides without worrying that they're financing a criminal enterprise.

Called—aspirationally, we must assume—Perfecto, the brainchild of L.A. tech entrepreneur Rob Lawson bills itself as a "trusted marketplace for used bikes." It's a website where cycling enthusiasts can "buy or sell a bike, safe in the knowledge that it isn't stolen."

"Unlike ebay, craigslist or other listings sites," the venture's About page reads, "Perfecto is made by cyclists, for cyclists and we don’t tolerate stolen bikes."

Perfecto wants to build trust between buyers and sellers, and has implemented several ways of doing so. Users must create an account, and they are encouraged to log in through Facebook or Strava. Would-be buyers and sellers can chat on Perfecto. And after a transaction has been concluded, each party has the opportunity to rate the other. 

Perfecto also encourages bike sellers to include serial numbers with their listings. This actually surprised me. Why not make divulging a bike's serial number a requirement of hawking it on the site? (It has been almost a year since Project 529 sent the CEOs of Craiglist and eBay the names of 51,203 cyclists who wanted the online sellers to require serial numbers on bike listings. I'll have to look into what, if anything, came of that.) 

The ads I perused on Perfecto did seem to have more detail—and less sketch—than many a Craigslist posting, though, so it's a step in the right direction. If you're on the market for a used bike, check it out.