Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

06 November 2016

Bike Theft Really Stinks--Especially With This Lock!

That stinks!

I've uttered those words--and worse--when cycling buddies' and acquaintances' bikes were stolen.  And we've probably heard those same words from those who were sympathetic with our plight when we didn't find our bikes where we left them.

(Those who hate cyclists probably say, "Serves you right!")

Now, if losing your bike stinks, it's fair to say that bike thieves stink (or worse).  I almost wish that it were literally true:  Think of how many fewer bikes we'd lose if we could smell a bike thief in our vicinity. How might American history be different if Patrick Henry had proclaimed, "I smell a bike thief!"

Well, if engineer Yves Perrenoud and San Francisco-based entrepreneur Daniel Idzkowski have their way, we may be one step closer to tagging cycle crooks with an olfactory "scarlet letter".  Their invention will, at least, expose them in another way that is no less obvious.

Perrenoud and Idzkowski's "Skunk Lock" looks, apart from its graphics, just like any number of U-Locks available today.  Nearly all such locks are invulnerable for a year or two, until some thief figures out a way to foil it. 

These days, the preferred method seems to be cutting the lock with an angle grinder.  If a perp tries that on the Skunk Lock, it will emit a potent scent that will cause him or her to vomit--which, according to the inventors, would make it more difficult to flee unnoticed.

The nausea-inducing substance is based on the fatty acids found in foods like rancid butter and parmesan cheese.  While it smells "completely unpleasant", according to Perrenoud and Idzkowski, and can stain clothes and cause vision impairment and breathing difficulties--even if the would-be thief is wearing a gas mask--it will not cause permanent harm and is considered "food grade", they claim.

What really stinks about the Skunk Lock, though, is that its pressurized gas component, called The Shackle, can be used only once.  If there is an attempted break in the lock, a new Shackle can be purchased.

Idzkowski hasn't said how much it would cost to replace the Shackle.  However, a Crowdfunding campaign that has exceeded its target will allow the Skunk Lock to retail for about $40 when it's introduced--in June 2017, he hopes.

Vomiting?  Breathing difficulties?  Stained clothes?  Hmm...Maybe there will be, at last, a real stigma (which, by the way, means "stink") to being a bike thief!


  1. Sign me up for one of these locks! Food grade, eh? Sounds like just desserts to me...

  2. Jim--Just desserts, indeed! I'm not so sure I'd want to taste it, though!