Smart bike locks with alarm, Bluetooth and app promise comfort and high theft protection. What the locks afford, shows our comparison test.
If you have a smart bike lock, you can save yourself the annoying key-out-of-the-pocket-crunch: Thanks to Bluetooth and app connection, the locks promise a lot of comfort. Some models even have a built-in alarm to deter thieves at first touch. Still others bring the known from the smartphone fingerprint sensor on the lock. Sounds great – but unfortunately does not help.
As part of our themed world of smart bike locks, we also have the Miikey Fingerprint Bike Lock (test report), the I lock it (review), the Vgeby Castle (review) and the Linka original (review) tested. This article compares the core features of the locks with each other. Details can be found in the linked individual tests.
The bike locks tested here come in three design variants:
- Speichenschlösser, which are mounted on the seat tube of the wheel and sealed with a metal pin through the spokes
- Classic cable locks for winding and plugging
- Longer, U-shaped padlocks made of sturdy metal for connecting the bike to lanterns and so on
Linka and I lock it are from the first category. While the Linka Original is a bit narrower and rather heavy because of the metal body, the manufacturer of the I lock it relies on lighter plastic material and makes the lock wider. This has the advantage that it fits unproblematic on different bike brands. In direct comparison, it was easier and more convenient to attach the I lock it to the bike with the included screws. However, the bicycle lock does not depend on simple assembly – but above all on stability and durability.
The Vgeby Bluetooth lock consists of a twisted metal wire in a plastic sleeve. This is locked in a plastic box. With this design, the lock is flexible, but it is not very robust. The sheathing gets deep notches when you try to wrap the lock around your bike. And with only one centimeter thick, the wire is also severed quickly. Thus, the Vgeby is really only for the short stopover at the bakery – who has to leave a high-quality bike outside overnight, definitely needs something more solid.
Maybe the metal-made padlock of Miikey? It is mounted as desired between the center bar and rear wheel or between the frame and the bicycle stand and plugged to fix the closure on the ends. There are eight grid points on the bracket, making the lock flexible in its use. Overall, it leaves a much more solid impression, but can not compete with a padlock from brand manufacturers such as Kryptonite.
The I lock it is made of plastic and weighs about 350 grams. A steel bracket secures the bike. According to the manufacturer …
Smart lock and unlock
All locks in the test are connected via Bluetooth with a suitable smartphone app. The app takes over the unlocking of all locks; the rest of the functionality and the convenience of using the app differs significantly.
The Miikey fingerprint bike lock (review) is the only one with fingerprint sensor in the test. This one worked very reliable. In addition to the fingerprint and app, a conventional key also opens the lock. In the app is a documentation of when the lock was unlocked. Unfortunately, she actually only registers the unlocks via app; If the fingerprint sensor or unlock key is used, there will be no new entry.
According to the manufacturer, the app stores the GPS data when closing. That did not work in our test. If you would like to share the castle with friends or family, you can add other users via the app and authorize the lock you want for selected people. But they all have to have a user account in their app.
The Keybox app shows all registered locks including their last use and battery level
The Vgeby Castle (review) also documents all lock and unlock operations. GPS positions from the point where the bike was connected do not save it. Also, there is no option to release the lock for friends or family. If you do not even want to get the smartphone out of your pocket to unlock the lock, you can activate the "automatic unlocking" function here. Once the user is in the vicinity of the device, it opens by itself.
The Linka original (review) registers every closing and unlocking in the app. It also saves the location when locking the wheel. The lock also offers automatic unlocking when you are nearby again. However, it sometimes took a little longer to recognize the proximity to the smartphone in the bag by itself.
Also I lock it (review) remembers closing and unlocking including GPS coordinates in the app. Automatic unlocking when you're nearby is also possible and works more reliably on the I lock it than on the Linka lock. In addition, there is an option to automatically lock the wheel when you go away. But even in the lowest setting it takes a long distance until the lock becomes active (about 15 meters).
The LED on the top indicates which mode the lock is currently in.
Unlock without a smartphone
Of course it can happen that the smartphone battery is empty. Do you have to leave the bike behind because you can no longer unlock it via the app? This is actually the case with Vgeby Castle. There is no way to open the lock without a smartphone – except, of course, with the help of a bolt cutter, which should have no major problems with the thin fuse wires.
At I lock it, the developers came up with a color combination. Three colors are used to build a six-digit code to unlock the bike even without a smartphone. To do this, hold down the power button. Meanwhile, the color of the LED changes between green, blue and red; in the right place you release the button. This makes it easy to share your bike with friends who do not have an app for it.
The big circle on the front is the alarm buzzer, Above is the key for closing
This works similarly with the Linka Original. There is a four-digit number code here. However, the input system is a bit complicated: Keep the power button pressed until the LED flashes purple, then press the power button several times according to the numerical code. After each number, the lock gives feedback with a tone that you have now reached the next point of the pin.
The Miikey 3in1 bike lock is also unlocked with a fingerprint when the smartphone is turned off. And if there are any problems, there is still the good, old key.
Spoke lock on seat tube
Spoke lock on seat tube
✔ (number code)
✔ (color code)
✔ (fingerprint sensor + key)
✔ (only when unlocking via app)
✔ (App or Number Code)
✔ (app or color code)
✔ (app, fingerprint or key)
The castle of Miikey has no built-in alarm. Both Linka Original and I lock it have a 110 dB alarm. This is loud enough to alert people in the area, but not loud enough to stop any thieves from carrying the wheel away. Unfortunately, it came in the test more often to false positives, for example, if the Bluetooth connection did not work immediately and you move the bike too early or someone who really wants to unlock another bike, but with his butt against it. This person could get the shock of a lifetime. I've thought of it here: instead of triggering the alarm shrilly at the first bump, a three-time warning tone sounds. Only with further shocks there is the full 110-dB-drone.
The manufacturer of the Vgeby Bluetooth lock actually had nice ideas. The built-in alarm is very loud at 115 dB. As soon as someone in the locked state tries to unscrew the battery compartment, the alarm goes off. Even if you cut the wire, the alarm should start. If necessary, the user activates the vibration alarm in the options. Unfortunately, the alarm of the castle is constructed in such a way that it can be easily silenced, for example, by the use of clay. Already the locking of the alarm module on the front reduces its volume enormously.
I lock it frame lock
Miikey bike lock
Miikey bike lock
Vgeby bike lock black
Vgeby bike lock red
In a nutshell: from the point of view of safety, all smart bicycle locks are no longer toys. Professional bicycle thieves would probably say "gift ribbon". The products are perfect for a short stopover, no more and no less.
If you really want to protect your bike, you will get something decent for a similar amount of money. Especially the U-locks of Kryptonite and the folding locks of Abus are recommended regularly. And at least Abus offers on request also an alarm system for his castle.
Abus Bordo granite
Abus Bordo alarm
Kryptonite New York
The comfort of a smart bike lock is great – but you should not compromise on the safety of your favorite bike. Of the locks tested in comparison, the Linka Original (review) and the I lock it (review) performed best. Handling and functional package are the most consistent here. The disadvantage of these spoke locks: they only lock the bike off, not on. Anyone who wants to, should look at the accessories of the manufacturer. Both offer, for example, a compatible, very robust metal chain for their frame locks.
A really insecure feeling leaves that behind Vgeby Castle (review) with its thin safety wire, which does not resist a bolt cutter for a long time. Also, the Miikey fingerprint bike lock (test report) pleases only at first glance with his good fingerprint sensor, but turns out on closer inspection as little thoughtful. For the overall rating very good, it was in any of the tested locks enough.