Hubertus Kischkewitz


Connected bikes are gaining ground

The smart bikes are real eye-catchers everywhere.

The smart bikes are real eye-catchers everywhere: here, hundreds of interested people get information from Ralf Verholen (right) at a Deutsche Telekom event in Buchen im Odenwald.

Deutsche Telekom's solution is winning over increasing numbers of cycling fans. 10,000 smart bikes will hit retail outlets in 2018. German police are also interested: a stolen bike with an integrated tracking system was recently located in Poland.

The eConnect system is especially helpful on difficult terrain.

The eConnect system is especially helpful on difficult terrain like this: in case of a crash, it calls for help automatically.

For the bike's owner, that Sunday was a very bad day indeed. His high-end bike was gone, stolen from in front of a supermarket. But the thief neglected to consider the nature of his booty. Thanks to the built-in tracking system, the stolen bike transmitted its location data from Poland to its legal owner. The owner alerted German police, who asked their Polish colleagues for assistance, who ultimately seized the bike in the town of Klodzko a short time later.

The small on-board unit, the transmission unit, is installed on the lower frame, under a guard plate.

The small on-board unit, the transmission unit, is installed on the lower frame, under a guard plate.

So it's no wonder that German police are now interested in Deutsche Telekom's solution. Telekom colleagues Thomas Eckert and Ralf Verholen presented the features of eConnect in Braunschweig, to police officers from all over Germany. A small on-board unit integrated in the e-bike transfers information about the bike to the cloud, via Deutsche Telekom's mobile communications network. From there, it can be retrieved anywhere, on a smartphone or laptop. The result after a lively discussion: the police want to develop a specific concept for international collaboration. Thomas Eckert and Ralf Verholen have been asked to help implement eConnect, to increase the clear-up rate for bike thefts to the max.

Police interest is not the only sign of the rise of the smart bike. Bike manufacturer Winora is also convinced of the vast potential of the bike. Whereas around 3,000 Haibike-brand bikes were equipped with eConnect in 2017, some 10,000 high-quality connected mountain bikes will be built in 2019. Another new product is a construction kit for retrofitting bikes.

The connected bike offers more than just theft protection. Other features include:

  • Live tracking: A GPS signal from the bike lets its owner determine its location at any time. The current location, like the other features, can also be determined on a computer, through the online interface, or on the Haibike app.
  • Route recording: In addition to recording and saving driven routes, the route information can also be exported for services like Komoot and Strava.
  • Theft alarm: Alerts the owner when the bike is moved. Here, as well, if the bike is stolen, the GPS function alerts the owner as to the bike's current location and even shows the route the thief took.
  • Keyless go: This feature recognizes when the legal owner of the bike approaches it with the key and, as a result, does not send a theft alert. If the key is outside the bike's range, the theft alarm is active.
  • Automatic accident detection: In case of a crash, a pre-defined phone number is notified automatically.

Incidentally, the colleagues on the Connected Sports team, from Business Development in the business customer area, are currently on the road all over Germany and Austria to spread the word about these features. They are training 2,500 Winora retailers. It's a marathon, but not a challenge for the two men: "Our success inspires us. We're helping to ensure that cyclists can pursue their sport more safely and worry-free."