A robust, solidly built and well-calibrated alarm unit. For trips into town and on overnight bikepacking or cycle touring trips, the Alarmbox provides a welcome extra layer of security. However, in the majority of cases getting a lock with a built-in alarm would represent better value for money.
Loud and piercing
Ease of attachment
Needs to be used in combination with a lock
By Stefan Abram
With a long history of producing quality security products, Abus is perhaps best known to the cycling world for its bike locks and more recently helmets – but the Abus Alarmbox is neither of those. Its function is to sound an attention-grabbing alert if it detects any tampering via its inbuilt motion sensor.
Abus makes the point that a skilled thief could discreetly pick a bike lock on a busy street without attracting much attention – which is what the Alarmbox is designed to guard against. It’s also suggested that the Alarmbox could be used on scooters, barbecues, buggies, or anything else that might benefit from being alarmed.
However, it's still a good idea to get some specific bike insurance as no lock or alarm will 100 per cent guarantee your bike's safety.
Although the Alarmbox is quite small, it is very heavy at 415g (including the fixing bands) and almost feels like the weight of a lock in itself. The casing is entirely metal, save for the rubber bumper that wraps around it, and feels very robust.
Its interface is brutally simple: on one edge there is a button for arming the device and on another there is a keyhole which has the dual purpose of disarming and disassembling the device. That’s it. This pared-down construction does give a reassuring sense that any potential weak spots have been kept to a minimum.
Taking off the back plate of the Alarmbox, the rubber casing inside does look as though it would be effective for keeping water out and isolating the internals from any shocks and impacts, and I was pleased to see a CR2 3v battery was already included.
Attaching the Abus Alarmbox to a bike is quite pleasing in its simplicity and security. The back panel and two Allen bolts first need removing. Then, you just thread the metal bands through the slots in the panel and around whichever tube you want to secure the Alarmbox to. Thread the ends of the bands back through the slot and then pinch them in place with the two Allen bolts. Finally, you mount the rest of the Alarmbox to the panel and you’re good to go.
When the Alarmbox is assembled, the bolts are completely inaccessible and the device is kept securely in place. You can then use some tin snips to trim down the excess length of the bands. One thing I would be aware of is to attach the Alarmbox in a way such that it would be impossible to slip a pair of snips between the metal band and whatever you are fixing it to – as then it would be quite simple just to cut it off.
Abus Alarmbox: the ride
In use, the Abus Alarmbox is as simple as its utilitarian construction suggests. Simply push the side button to arm it and turn the key to disarm it. When armed, if it detects movement, a loud warning blast will be given. It’s only if there is repeat movement that the alarm will go off continuously. This is so that it won’t give an annoying false alarm if your bike is simply knocked while the Alarmbox is primed.
I found the sensitivity of the motion sensors to be really well calibrated. The odd knock when locking another bike next to it wouldn’t cause it to sound continuously, but it flawlessly picked up repeated little vibrations – of the kind made by someone struggling with a lock.
When the alarm does sound, it is quite high pitched and very piercing. It is definitely something that would attract attention.
I appreciated the comforting extra layer of security the Alarmbox gave me when leaving my bike locked up, and I didn’t have any problems with it going off when it wasn’t supposed to.
I can also see this being useful on bikepacking and cycle-touring trips. The best location for sleeping often doesn't bear a strong correlation with the presence of a good place to lock your bike. Although you can lock your bike to your tent or bivvy bag to give a warning rustle against any tampering, this never fills me with confidence. The addition of an Alarmbox – with its sensitive and piercing alarm – would do a lot to put my mind at rest in these cases.
In terms of value, it is a little hard to judge as there are very few direct competitors. Brands are available on Amazon which promise a similar product with prices around £21.99, but these manufacturers are largely unknown and so we cannot vouch for their quality.
The most direct competition comes from locks with alarms already built in. Such as Abus’s own 440 Alarm U-Lock bike lock at £84.99. This weighs in at 1,400g and is 230 x 105mm, making it significantly larger and heavier than the Alarmbox. However, the Alarmbox does need pairing with a lock if you were to leave your bike for any length of time, so the total price, weight and size is likely to be in the U-lock’s favour.
But if your needs from a lock are so specific that simply getting one with an alarm built in doesn’t present you with any viable options, the Alarmbox does represent good value for a standalone bike alarm.
In summary, when popping into a café on a Sunday morning loop, the extra security of an alarm would be nice to have. But considering the heft of the Alarmbox, I felt that the weight-to-security as well as the performance to price ratio would be better served by simply bringing a stronger lock. And also, compact and easy to mount though it is, the Alarmbox doesn’t quite suit the aesthetic of a speedy road bike.
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