Bill Kiriakis might have both the worst and best luck with bikes.
Last week, Kiriakis purchased a Stromer ST2 pedal-assist city bike, intending to use it for his daily commute from Marin to San Francisco. After picking up the bike from The New Wheel, in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, Kiriakis locked it on the rack of his car and proceeded with his day. When he returned to the vehicle, the $6,990 bike was gone.
Seven grand might sound like a small fortune for a city bike, but the ST2 is no average commuter. In addition to a lithium-ion battery with a 90-mile range and a top pedal-assisted speed of 28 mph, the bike is GPS enabled and has a digital display built into the top tube for monitoring and calibrating use. One function of all of that technology: tracking and anti-theft features.
“Being a tech geek-athlete, I loved the ST2’s overall wireless computer, smart phone and native GPS capabilities,” explains Kiriakis of why he went with the Stromer. “The anti-theft function was a small part of the decision, but being an optimist and a generally trusting person I thought I would never need it.”
Because he had not even turned on the bike, much less synced it to his phone and set up all of its functions, Kiriakis figured the bike was a loss. “I went through the check list: file a police report, look around for nearby cameras. But it was going through the motions, and I thought I would never see it again.” On the off chance, Kiriakis decided to call The New Wheel to see if they could help.
“When I heard that his bike had been stolen, we knew that there was no way the thief was going to get away with it,” says shop owner Brett Thurber.
Using the ST2’s GPS functionality, Thurber and the team at Stromer tracked the bike to a San Francisco address. They reported the location to the police, then activated the bike’s anti-theft system, which disables the rear wheel and motor, causes the built-in lights to flash, and displays the message “Theft” on the digital display. Acting on the information, police descended on the neighborhood and, while heading for the address, recognized the stolen bike when the thief rode past, with the lights flashing. Less than two hours after it was taken, the bike was recovered.
Kirakis says the incident affirmed his decision to purchase a Stromer. “It is definitely priced at the high end of the range. But once again, it proves you get what you pay for,” he says, adding that he hopes the case will send a message to would-be thieves. “High tech is coming to bikes, and they should know that there is a much higher probability of getting caught.”
Thurber emphasizes the point. “I didn't expect for Bill’s bike to get recovered so quickly,” he says, “but I knew that it would be recovered. These bikes are pretty much impossible to successfully steal.”