M!nder

The M!nder is an intelligent theft-deterrent for bicycles, comprising a very loud siren and a hell of a lot of firmware analyzing the movements of the bike.

M!nder bike alarm mounted on a road bike.
Prototype. July 2022. Mount varies.

It is not dumb electronics that reflexively trigger on any movement, and it is not a puny beeper that barely turns heads.

When parking, the rider mounts it at a position where it hangs freely, and types-in a password to activate it. Upon return, the password is typed to de-activate it, and the M!nder is packed away.

While parked, the bicycle’s movements are monitored by the M!nder; threats suspected to be major will receive a loud siren, while minor threats are responded to correspondingly.

What to Expect

This won’t turn your bike into Fort Knox! It’s just a minder, watching your bike, while you’re away. The worst it can do is to shriek. Like other bike security tools, it just hopes to make your bike less worthwhile than other bikes.

It knows that a thief can, and will, smash it! Any bike lock can be cut, so a minder does not take a ‘more metal’ approach: It’s made of 3D-printed plastic, and contains fragile electronics. It may even break if you drop it! What it aims to do is to make as much noise as practical, with its dying breaths!

You’ll need a padlock suitable to your bike frame. The M!nder must be mounted at a position where it can hang freely; ideally, it should not rest against any part of the frame. The more free-hanging, the better–though, like a lock, it must also be at as high a position (away from the sidewalk) as possible.

Why free-hanging? Because an angle grinder will have a harder time to cut it, and a bolt cutter will have a harder time to smash it! The thief will have to hold the M!nder, which is dangerous with an angle grinder, and impractical with a bolt cutter–and the M!nder will react, which is exactly what we’d want it to do. The thief will have to attack the padlock, or the mounting plates (which allow the enclosure to mount on a padlock): In most forms of attack, these alert the firmware.

Unlike a lock, the mounting plates are made of soft metal. Why soft metal? Well, because angle grinders cut through most D-locks/U-locks anyway, so there is no practical defence there! And if the thief is using an angle grinder, he/she/per is already making lots of noise anyway; so, a M!nder’s shrieks will be of little benefit! The sole benefits are: he’ll have one more thing to cut through; he won’t be able to claim that he is an owner who lost his lock’s key (because he won’t have the password to de-activate the M!nder with).

The soft metal is for bolt-cutter attacks: Hard metal is harder to cut, but it breaks; soft metal is very easy to cut, but he is likely to have to pry it off, thus generating more movements for the firmware.

You must not permanently mount the M!nder on your bike! That’ll defeat it. And, when riding, you’ll need to carry it in your pack, protected from impact, vibrations and rain.

The M!nder should be recharged after every 10 hours of usage, via a micro-USB cable (not included) connected to a basic USB port. It is slow-charged, so high-current adapters must not be used. See the M!nder’s manual.

At power-up, if insufficient battery capacity is detected, the system will beep and will automatically shut down.

The system attempts to strike a balance between under-responding and over-responding. But, as in all engineering, there are trade-offs. Thus, it is possible that the bike will be stolen without the system ever responding; and it is possible that the system might respond when there seems to be no justification for it having done so.

Buy

The M!nder is expected to go on sale in Summer 2022. The price will be $200 CAD, with a limited-time offer of $150 CAD.

For updates, subscribe to the mailing list on the home page.

Mini FAQ

This is only a brief FAQ. For the full version, see the M!nder FAQ.

Do I still have to lock my bike?

What if they smash the M!nder?

Where should I hang it from?

Is there a warranty?

Is there a GPS tracker in it? An app?

Isn’t this just like a car alarm? People ignore those!

Why not just use a $10-$50 alarm?


Do I still have to lock my bike?

Yes. Don’t use a cable lock; use at least a dependable D-lock/U-lock. Good parking-practices remain your responsibility. See the M!nder FAQ for an example of M!nder’s vulnerabilities.

What if they smash the M!nder?

They will! A thief’s first instinct is to smash it.

Depending on the form of attack, the M!nder might not last long enough to make sufficient noise.

Where should I hang it from?

Ideally, the middle of either side of the handlebar. But, it is hard to find padlocks that’d fit one. So, watch the videos for some suggestions.

Is there a warranty?

One year for manufacturing defects. See the MI!nder’s terms of sale, for that, returns and refunds.

Is there a GPS tracker in it? An app?

No, and no. The M!nder tries to prevent the theft, not to send you to a criminal with a possibly-disassembled bike, in a shady part of town, while hoping that the police do show up for a non-life-and-limb crime of common theft!
On the other hand, passers-by might not even take photos when they hear the M!nder going off! So, if you’re in that kind of area, beware!
For more details, see the M!nder FAQ.

Isn’t this just like a car alarm? People ignore those!

A car weighs a tonne and occupies a large space. A bicycle is light and small. Simply, movement is far easier to detect on bicycles, and more accurate ! See the M!nder FAQ.

Why not just use a $10-$50 alarm?

Their sound is barely more than a buzzer’s!

And they’re dumb! They will either over-react (e.g. shrieking at a cyclist who accidentally knocked into your bike while trying to park next to you) or under-react (e.g. the manufacturer, or you, set it to not be so jumpy, thereby missing slow, sneaky attacks such as taking out its batteries, or unmounting it). They have no firmware analyzing those movements! See the M!nder FAQ.


Updated: Thursday 4 August 2022.