VELO EYE BICYCLE SECURITY QR TAG
The Velo Eye Bicycle Security QR Tag is an incredibly simple, inexpensive database system that uses a QR sticker and an app to keep tabs on registered machines. Anyone with the app can identify whether the bike has been reported stolen.
True, in keeping with any stickered system, it won't literally strop someone from stealing your bike(s) and no substitute for good locks and security generally. However, it’s an additional deterrent and doesn't require specialist scanners, so arguably more effective.
Pros: Inexpensive, simple to use deterrent, Apple & Android compatible.
Cons: Stickers alone will not deter thieves, Requires compatible phones/tablets.
Essentially, Velo Eye is an app-based service. Bikes and their rightful owners are "married" via their unique sticker, to an online database containing the owners name, address and other details.
It does rely on the owner flagging the machine as being stolen, on their app. So, if someone scans the sticker, using their Apple or Android phone, a red or green bike will pop up. This notifies that the bike in question has been registered.
If a red bike pops up, it's been reported stolen. This also prompts the person scanning to advise of the bike's precise location. This will prompt the person scanning the bike to notify the registered owner of its location (complete with map) and the time spotted.
Now, given people's concerns around digital security (mine included), We're very mindful of how data is stored. However, Velo Eye assure us everything is encrypted to SSL standards I am assured the system will not reveal the rightful owner's address, financial information etc. Details that could readily facilitate organised, steal-to-order criminals.
Before I discuss installation, a word about the "ultradestruct" vinyl sticker. In common with Datatag, it uses an extremely powerful adhesive. One that makes effective removal extremely difficult and tampering obvious. Theory goes, this will help genuine people avoid buying stolen bikes and traceable machines are less appealing to thieves.
Set up 3/5
This is straightforward but it’s worth noting bike details (frame number) before you get started. Particularly, if you are about to have a frameset repainted-especially going the powder coated route. I can appreciate why people like to keep things authentic, especially on a custom build.
However, (maybe this is too many years lived in London's seamier districts, speaking) but unless ultra-distinctive, to me decals simply signal to a thief that a bike is worth nicking.
I’d recommend giving machines a sudsy bucket wash, beforehand. However, the kit includes an alcohol-based wipe, to remove oily films and anything else, potentially impairing the sticker's adhesion.
Top, or down tubes seem the most obvious focal points. Either way, prepare your chosen host with the alcohol wipe and while that's drying, download the app and register your machine.
Given I regularly log and update my bikes particulars; this took 15 minutes, start to finish. Add another twenty or so, if you're needing to wash your bike and/or rooting around for the frame number.
Well, in short, it does exactly what it says on the tin. I had some initial teething trouble getting the app and everything to behave but this is circumstantial, rather than a glitch in their system.
Having registered my Univega, it has always popped up green on the system, since. To my knowledge, no-one has popped over to scan it, while I've been doing an impromptu supermarket run and its's been tethered outside by an equally formidable lock.
Thankfully, having tested in various contexts, using friend's devices, the app hasn't revealed my address, or anything else that would leave me and my machines unduly vulnerable.
A damp Autumn evolved into a very wet winter. Parking the sticker although the top tube certainly helps keep the worst at bay but even with mudguards, I've been treating the old girl to sudsy bucket washes-on a weekly basis. Cables have also been given periodic shots of PTFE and other solvent based maintenance sprays.
Stickers feel a bit "papery" compared with Datatag and I was a little concerned how they'd hold up. To date nothing. No discoloration, lifting, peeling etc. Mind you, I did smooth down carefully and left 24 hours before riding.
Depends on how we're measuring things. Arguably a product such as Datatag has more kudos and is more widely known. However, while very effective, it costs considerably more than Velo Eye and to some extent, relies on stolen machines being recovered and your police force being proactive with their scanners.
At the other extreme, putting your name, date of birth and telephone number on a piece of laminated card, inside a handlebar end costs nothing. However, where the Velo Eye trumps both is that its app based. Smart phones are ubiquitous, the sticker says it's registered, which makes tracing that bit easier.
How easy? Well, Velo Eye advise me the recovery rate presently stands at 75%. A dealer in Montrose has begun marking all the bikes they sell. Only one has been stolen and thankfully recovered.
As with any system, there are potential pitfalls and limitations. The Velo Eye is no substitute for good quality locks and other sensible security practices. Nor will it deter organised criminals/professional thieves, or buyers without a conscience. Nonetheless, it is a very simple, yet well-conceived means of registering bike(s) and making stolen bikes that bit easier to trace.