E-bike manufacturers are incorporating GPS tracking technology into their new models to help prevent theft and aid in recovery. However, many wonder how knowing the approximate location of a stolen bike would actually help retrieve it.
James Dunn, co-founder of e-bike recovery start-up BackPedal, explains that customers are often skeptical about the effectiveness of GPS trackers in facilitating bike recovery. They believe that the police may not take action, making the tracking feature seemingly pointless. Thankfully, BackPedal is proving the doubters wrong.
What is BackPedal?
BackPedal, based in the UK, offers a monthly subscription service that includes bike recovery and insurance through Sundays Insurance, one of the leading cycle insurers in the country. The UK start-up uses GPS to achieve a remarkable 90% e-bike recovery rate. Meanwhile, the insurance component covers the bikes that cannot be recovered.
The subscription fees start at £8.99 per month, increasing based on the value of the e-bike.
As the popularity of e-bikes rises, so does the occurrence of theft, making services like BackPedal increasingly valuable. According to Cycling Industry News, e-bike insurance policies have surged by 292% between 2019 and 2022.
However, BackPedal’s research has shown that 76% of potential customers prefer having their stolen bike promptly returned rather than going through the lengthy process of filing an insurance claim and receiving a replacement.
While GPS tracking technology is widely available, BackPedal believes that perfecting the recovery operations is the real challenge.
Although BackPedal operates nationwide, it primarily focuses its services in London, Cambridge, and South East England. The company is exploring expansion opportunities, including deploying its recovery model in Amsterdam.
BackPedal’s Recovery Agents
BackPedal’s approach involves collaborating with both law enforcement and a network of recovery agents. These agents are typically former police officers or security professionals who possess local knowledge and established connections with the police.
In some cases, it’s just Dunn and his co-founder Richard White actively searching for bikes. BackPedal operates a remote operation center where a team member receives customer requests, tracks down the bike, manages the recovery agents, and liaises with the local police.
The recovery agents carry out various actions, ranging from knocking on doors and confronting potential thieves to jumping over fences and reclaiming the stolen bikes. If the situation is deemed safe, they proceed with retrieval. Otherwise, they await police assistance.
Despite the belief that police have more pressing matters to attend to, BackPedal has successfully collaborated with law enforcement.
BackPedal follows a specific procedure to involve the police. When a theft report comes in, it promptly informs the police and provides all available evidence. This evidence includes bike details, tracking information, and location.
The Role of GPS and Other Technology
The implementation of technology in e-bike recovery is a crucial aspect, according to Dunn. Apart from establishing a network of recovery agents and integrating it with various police jurisdictions, BackPedal faces the obstacle of ensuring reliable hardware.
Determining the suitable hardware raises questions about different vehicle types, use cases, and geographic factors. As e-bikes become more advanced, they incorporate IoT, GPS, and Bluetooth trackers.
BikeTrax, IoT Ventures, and BikeFinder offer approved trackers, seamlessly integrated within the bike. These trackers use the bike’s battery, have backup power, offer extensive coverage, and allow third-party access.
For bikes lacking GPS, BackPedal provides an installation service. Users can opt for professional fitting at £225 or receive guidance over WhatsApp for a home fit, priced at £150.
While GPS provides approximate location details, it falls short when it comes to pinpointing the exact unit, such as the particular apartment number. To address this limitation, BackPedal employs additional beacon technology.
The beacons emit signals via Bluetooth at regular intervals. This enables users to detect the bike’s location within a 50-meter radius using a smartphone.
Going forward, BackPedal anticipates increasingly sophisticated theft attempts. Therefore, it plans on continually enhancing and upgrading its hardware solutions.
Expanding the Business
BackPedal is growing rapidly. According to TechCrunch, the company has experienced an average growth of nearly 20% per month since January.
At present, the start-up has amassed 500 customers. The company wants to double that number within the next five months.
The inclusion of insurance was a crucial milestone for BackPedal. Including insurance places the start-up in a favorable position to secure seed funding. This fundraising process is expected to commence in six months, once the business has further expanded.
Meanwhile, the company is committed to achieving healthy and sustainable growth. Key aspects include gaining insights into each new market, establishing relationships with recovery agents, and refining the process of working with local law enforcement.
Image Source: TechCrunch, https://shorturl.at/bEV19