If you are a Brompton owner, you already know what it would feel like to lose your Brompton bike to theft. Many of us currently use one or a couple of measures to keep our bikes. But no matter what your option is already, I’m certain you’d like to learn about how you can introduce an additional layer of security or anti-theft protection to your precious Brompton bike.Apple AirTag. AirTag is an iPhone accessory that provides you with a private and secure way to locate personal effects when you lose them easily. If you’re familiar with the Samsung SmartTag or Tile, then the Apple AirTag will not be entirely new to you. But if this is your first time coming across or hearing about Apple AirTags, they are half-dollar-size discs, which, when connected to your iPhone, work with Bluetooth to help you locate lost items, such as keys, wallets, your pets, and other valuables.
You simply attach the AirTag to the device you wish to track and monitor the location using your Apple device. Keep in mind that Apple AirTags only work with newer versions of Apple products. From our testing, the device is compatible with any of the following:
- iPhone SE
- iPhone 6s and newer
- iPad, 5th generation, and newer
- iPad Air 2 and newer
- iPad Pro
- iPad mini 4
So, we tried using AirTag for tracking a bike, and what we discovered is that it is a cool way to track a lost or stolen bike. Whether you live in a sparsely populated or dense urban environment, you can pretty much rely on the resourcefulness of Apple AirTags to help you protect your bike from theft. You mean I can use Apple AirTags to protect my Brompton bike from bike thieves? Well, here’s all you need to know about using Apple AirTags to protect your bike.
What Do Apple AirTags Do?
First, let's start with what Apple AirTags are designed to do. Apple AirTags are small disc-shaped trackers designed to help you find a pretty wide range of possessions, from little handy stuff like wallets to bigger items like your bicycle. The AirTag works well when it’s within the range of your device's Bluetooth. Outside that range, it relies on the Bluetooth of other Apple devices around it to send you real-time notifications on the location of your possession.
The device is tiny enough to stay inconspicuous on the item to which it is attached. This means that opportunistic thieves cannot easily spot them. The AirTags are 31.9mm in diameter and 8mm thick. With the CR2032 coin-cell battery installed in the AirTags, you can expect to use them for at least one year before needing to replace them.
How Does it Work?
If your device is compatible, considering the list above, then you can easily pair your AirTag with your iOS device through the ‘Find My’ network button. We tested the AirTag with several household items. We discovered that users could even give the tracker a name, making it easy for you to remember exactly which device you’re tracking.
Once you’re done setting up the device, you can attach the AirTag to any object you want to track. Henceforth, whenever any iPhone is in the vicinity of the AirTag (which has been attached to the object), the location of the AirTag is updated, and you can see that on your device. This way, you can pinpoint exactly where the item is.
So Can I Use Apple AirTags to Protect My Brompton Bike?
The answer to this question is yes, but the effectiveness of the device depends on certain specifics, as you’ll learn in the subsequent paragraphs. I removed the plastic tab to activate the AirTag, then set a name for it. Next is putting the AirTag on the bike. Because of the coin or disc-like shape of the tag, you may not easily find a place to place it on the Brompton.
The idea was to place it in a place where a thief wouldn't easily notice it, so we set on
The steel tube of the Brompton. I used my friend’s Brompton Bike for this experiment, and luckily, it had a top tube cover over the steel frame. The AirTag fits nicely in between the steel tube cover and the frame.
Alternatively, you can try using a tape or velcro to attach it to the underside of the saddle or right on top of the seat post. We tried fitting the AirTag into the steel tube of the Brompton, but with a diameter of 3.2cm, it was slightly too wide to fit.
Once the setup was completed, my friend acted as the volunteer thief, riding off into neighboring streets on the tagged bike. I monitored on my iPhone using a different bike to trail him. I waited about 10 minutes before opening the ‘Find My’ app to look for the AirTag. At first, it was static and only started to move when the thief had gained some distance. When the distance is too far, and the AirTag is out of range, Apple allows you to put the AirTag in ‘Lost Mode’. This will notify a nearby iPhone that there’s a lost item around them.
The only disadvantage here is that the bike thief would also know that you’re tracking him (assuming he has a compatible Apple device, too), so I didn’t activate the Lost Mode. Interestingly, the location was updated with amazing alacrity, making it easy for me to track with accuracy. Once he stopped moving, I could also see that on the ‘Find My’ map. Eventually, he stopped at a restaurant; I came up close and found the bike.
How Effective is the AirTag?
From our little experiment, I can categorically say that the AirTag does work. However, there are a few limitations I discovered during the test.
Easy to locate the bike: the AirTags gives you a similar experience as with GPS trackers. They work really well for tracking bikes and other important possessions. Using the ‘Find My’ function, you can track the location of your bike pretty easily. And considering the battery life of the device, it is easy to conclude that the value is worth more than the price, 35 euro, of the AirTag.
Long battery life: The battery of AirTag battery is designed to last up to a year. Additionally, you can easily change it for a fair price. This makes the Apple AirTag a more preferred choice than Tile or Samsung Tag.
Compact and lightweight: Apple AirTags are pretty compact for a connected beacon. Because of their size, they occupy less space than a Tile or Samsung beacon. They have a light weight, making them ideal for installing on a bike without it being noticed.
A huge network of beacons: The beauty of the Apple AirTag is that they still work even when you are out of range. This is because it relies on the connection of other iOS users. The huge localization network potential available with every Apple device connected to the Internet is the game-changer here.
The thief could remove the device: the thief may not be scared away, but if they use an iPhone as well, they’ll notice the AirTag is on the bike when you start tracking. So while tracking your bike, you would hope the AirTag remains unnoticed by the thief.
Limited availability: Since the AirTag depends on the location finder function of other Apple devices, you may not be able to track your lost Brompton in a sparsely populated area where a lot of people do not use an iPhone.
Privacy protection: Despite the beauty of the product, Apple has deliberately placed a limit on how long the beacon can stay active once activated. Apple obviously does not want people stalking others with the AirTags. So, if an AirTag remains activated after a certain amount of time has passed, it will draw attention to itself automatically, sending a message to surrounding iOS to that effect. It gives off a sound that no one can miss.
This means that non-Apple device users, such as Android and Windows, will also get notifications regarding the presence of the AirTag on the bike. The noise will alert the thief, and they will disconnect the device. By allowing three days, Apple is giving users a window of time to locate it.
Apple AirTags are a great addition to the market. Regarding using the device to protect your bike from theft, you will find it pretty handy and easy to use. Installing is easy as well, but you can only hope that the bike thief does not have an iPhone with the ‘Find My Location’ button turned on. Among the places where you can install the AirTags are on the top of the Seatpost, under the bike saddle, and in-between the steel tube cover and the bike frame.
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