Bike ID: How does it help you to get a stolen bike back?
If your bike or e-bike is stolen, a bike ID (bike passport) can help you get it back. You can create it not only in analogue form, but also digitally using an app. In this article, you will find out how to set it up, what information you need to include and how it can help you in an emergency. Since the cycling season is just about to start, now it is the best time to fill out your bike ID. As it can be easily done using an app, we will introduce you to two bike ID apps.
You can cross the border without a bike passport. But if your bike is stolen, it’s worth its weight in gold. With its help, the police can identify the stolen bike and you as the bike owner. And this increases your chances of getting your bike back.
The only prerequisite is that you create the bike ID beforehand, either in analogue form or in an app. We will tell you what you should bear in mind and how you can ensure the best protection of your bike.
What is a bike ID and what are its advantages?
Similar to a passport, a bike ID contains specific information, which is useful for identification. However, in this case it is the characteristics of one bike or several bikes: for instance, brand and model, frame number, manufacturer, colour or coding. A photo should also be included.
What is all this information for?
With a bike ID, the police can identify a stolen bicycle and assign it to its owner. In addition, the ID is a valuable aid in communicating with a bike insurance company.
You can set up a bike ID in two ways:
analogue on paper
or with the help of a bike ID app
Create a bike ID in analogue form: This is how to do it!
If you record the data for your bike or e-bike in a bike passport, you have a much better chance of getting your bike back in the event of theft.
Create a bike ID in analogue form: This is how to do it!
If you want to set up a paper bike ID, it is best to use one of the many print templates available on the internet. Alternatively, you can create the document yourself.
In both cases, the following information should be included:
Information about you as the owner (name and address)
Type of the bike
Manufacturer and model
Colour of the bike
Coding (if available)
Bike lock used
This information can be supplemented with details about the dealer from whom you bought the bike, the accessories (e.g. add-on technology) with which you bike is equipped or even details about individual components such as the front and rear wheel, seat post, brake, handlebars or pedals. Specific characteristics such as damages or decorations make identification even easier. Also, it is a good idea to include one or more photos of your bike.
The basic rule for a bike ID is: it is better to have too much bike details than too little. In case of an emergency, a detailed description will help you identify your bike and prevent you from losing it.
Important note: Gathering all the details for a bike ID can sometimes be tedious. But it is worth the effort. Besides, you only have to do the work for each bike once.
Create a bike ID using an app
The modern version of a bike passport is digital, which means that you save the bike details in a bike ID app. This way you have it at hand on your smartphone, no matter where you are.
Advantages of a bike ID app
An app for smartphones has several advantages over an analogue bike ID:
No separate document: If you have all the details in an app, you don’t have to carry around a multi-page document. There is also less risk of forgetting the ID. After all, your smartphone is usually always with you.
Integrated template: You don’t have to think too much about which information to collect. A bike ID app has a template that you only have to fill in.
Details about several bikes in one place: With an app, you can bundle bike IDs for several bikes.
Easy transmission to the police: For example, if you save the information about your bike in the PowUnity app, you can send it in a PDF format directly to the police and the insurance company via the app. That saves you valuable time.
Have these advantages convinced you? If yes, then the question is which app you should use. We will present you with three selected options.
Police bike ID app
The German app “Fahrradpass” was created in cooperation with the police. Considering that the police are experts in theft protection, there is little to criticise.
The central functions of the app include the following:
You can save details of several bikes in the app.
In addition to frame and code numbers, details of the model and manufacturer and other information about your bikes, you can also store descriptions and photos.
If your bike is stolen, you don’t have to go to the nearest police station. You can forward the bike data via email – either in text format or as a PDF attachment – directly to the police.
The police bike ID app is regularly released in a new version for iPhones and Android phones. The app review is largely positive. The only drawback: the bike passport app is “only” a bike passport app. It does not offer any other functions.
The UK’s National Cycle Database BikeRegister has over 1 million registered bicycles, which makes it the largest and most searched cycle database in the UK. In 2019, the BikeRegister mobile app was launched, which provides these advantages:
The police, retailers and the public can register their costly bikes in a nation-wide database.
The app is now being used by more than 23 Police Forces on thousands of police-issued mobile devices.
It allows to trace ownership of stolen or lost bikes, using bicycle frame number or BikeRegister ID.
One of the drawbacks of this app is that it is only available for Android users. And similar to the German app “Fahrradpass”, it only allows you to register your bike in a nation-wide database but does not provide any additional features.
Bike ID of the PowUnity App
The PowUnity app also contains a bike passport. The Bike Passport can do everything that the police app can do, but is aimed specifically at owners of e-bikes: you can enter all the important data about your e-bike, from the frame and code number to the motor model, a detailed description and add photos and proof of purchase.
In an emergency, you can notify the police and insurance company directly via the PowUnity app and send a theft report including GPS data via your smartphone.
The main difference to another bike passport app: The PowUnity app is much more than a bike passport:
Together with the BikeTrax GPS tracker, it automatically alerts you to an attempted theft via your smartphone. It also gives you the option of tracking your bike across Europe in real time and sending the on site location directly to the police. This way, the chances that the police will catch the thieves and return the stolen bike to you are much higher.
The app automatically records every ride you make without you having to press a button. It also allows you to manage your rides in a route diary, share your routes on social media (e.g. Instagram or Facebook) and export your routes to navigation apps such as Komoot or Strava.
The integrated newsfeed section also provides you with valuable tips on theft protection, e-bikes and e-bike accessories.
All in all, the PowUnity app is an all-in-one anti-theft, bike management and route tracking solution. So you only need one app for your favourite bike features instead of many individual apps.
While owners of e-bikes invest a lot of money in bike locks, a bike passport often falls by the wayside. Some bike owners find the information search too time-consuming and others haven’t even thought about creating an ID yet.
However, this seemingly “trivial matter” of setting up an ID can prove to be of valuable help in the event of theft. After all, it happens again and again that the police have to let bicycle thieves go because stolen bicycles cannot be identified. If you forget to write down the frame number and have no proof of purchase in your drawer, all you can do is watch as your e-bike becomes the property of someone else. But with a complete bike passport, this won’t happen to you.
Ideally, you should do the same with your bike passport as you do with your personal ID card: take it everywhere with you. And this is, of course, easier to do with a bike ID app than with a paper document.
In addition, with a digital bike passport, you benefit from more options and services, starting with an online theft report which can be generated via your smartphone in a few seconds. With the PowUnity app and the BikeTrax GPS tracker, you get comprehensive theft protection with a motion alarm, real-time tracking and the possibility of generating a theft report. In fact, you can’t get much more secure than this.