Bike thieves could be thwarted by a British invention that makes a stolen bicycle utterly impossible to ride.
Put simply, after securing it to an immovable object, the owner takes a small but crucial part of their bike away with them. It’s a bolt that slots into the headtube, through a hole hidden by the badge.
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When the owner uses a special key to remove the bolt, it separates the steering tube from the forks so the handlebars flop around and the bike can’t be steered.
“You can lock your bike to anything but if someone breaks your lock they’ve got a fully functioning bike. I wanted something that easily makes a bike useless to a thief,” says Jeff Rutland, the inventor.
“My Goldhawk bike can’t be ridden unless you have the key to the special Jiglok.”
To make the bike ridable, the key screws the Jiglok bolt through the head tube to join together the two separate parts of the steering tube. When the key is removed, the bolt sits completely inside the head tube and the swivelling Goldhawk head badge rotates into place to cover it up.
The key looks like a hex spanner but it has a special clover-style flange that Rutland says can be made in millions of unique shapes so only one will fit each lock.
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“I had the idea of making a locking part that is integral to the bike,” says Rutland. “Before I hit on this solution I tried lots of different ways. I’ve got a frame in my workshop that has been cut and welded so many times.”
The separable steering tube has been engineered to handle all the vertical stresses but the bolt handles all the rotational forces. “So, if a thief tries to pack the hole with something else to make the steering work, it will shear under the stress,” says Rutland.
Rutland worked as an engineer and design director in the oil industry and when his company was bought out, he was able to dedicate his time to solving the problems of bike thefts.
“All of the design work has been completed and we have finished prototypes with Reynolds frames,” he tells Cycling Weekly.
“Prices aren’t yet firm but I expect the frameset to sell for £750. We can start making them with three weeks’ notice.”
Max Glaskin is an award-winning freelance journalist who tweets about cycling and science as @CyclingScience1.
He is the author of Cycling Science (published by Frances Lincoln UK, Chicago University Press USA, and seven other languages).