Bolt cutters are a nightmare for bike owners. Thieves can slice through cables and padlocks in seconds. And forget about only locking the front wheel, too (rookie mistake). Good news for bicyclists who resent carting around heavy U-locks or chains: A new bike design incorporates the lock into the bike itself. And its creators claim it’s unstealable.
Here’s how locking up the bike works: The down tube — the part of the frame that connects the head tube (up by your handlebars) to the crankset (next to your pedals) folds open. By connecting the two ends of the down tube using your seat post (and a lock with a key), you can effectively wrap your bike around the nearest lamp post or tree. Stealing the bike would have to involve either uprooting said lamp post or tree — or breaking crucial parts of the bike frame, rendering the bicycle useless.
The prototype is called The Yerka Project and it was designed by college students Andrés Roi, Cristóbal Cabello, and Juan José Monsalve from the University of Adolfo Ibáñez in Chile.
The students claim they didn’t design the Yerka with dollar-signs in mind — they came up with the idea after Roi had his bike stolen twice. They hope to turn the Yerka into a full-time business after graduation. They are also in the process of designing other models, Monsalve tells Esquire:
We only have one fully functional prototype at the time, but we want to make various bike models, with speeds, girl models, etc. Currently the frame is made out of steel and our intervention of aluminum. We are raising funds right now make more prototypes and to make a small volume of bikes, which are going to be the first ones to go out to the market. We still don’t have a date, but we think our first small volume will be ready in six to eight months, tops.
Whether the Yerka really is, as its website touts, the world’s first unstealable bike remains to be seen. But considering that bike theft is so common because it’s easy to pull off, a little deterrent could go a long way. In heavily biked cities like San Francisco, where bike thefts have increased nearly 70 percent from 2006 to 2012 — this new model could be a game changer.