The snow was melting, and everywhere was that delightful nature documentary sound of trickling water. In fact, the retaining wall against which my bike is leaning was perspiring heavily, like one of those water features you might find in an office building lobby or a fancy Chinese restaurant. As I rode, I thought of millions of pounds of filthy snowmelt running down the ridge and carrying all that dogshit, ice melt, and car exhaust into the river below:
Speaking of inspiration, yet another company has been inspired to replace a simple and effective mechanical mechanism with an overly complicated electronic system reliant on all sorts of variables in order to function correctly. Remember the Skylock keyless entry u-lock system? You know, the one you're not using because what could be simpler than a lock and key?
Well, apparently the cycling world's indifference to the Skylock was so intense that here comes a company called Noke (like "no key," not the potato pasta) with pretty much exactly the same thing:
Noke's first product was a keyless padlock, which apparently won a bunch of design awards--which is another way of saying nobody actually uses it:
(So basically three dorks.)
So, emboldened by the utter non-ubiquity of the padlock, they took it a step further:
"However, some people need an extra level of protection."
I assumed "extra level of protection" meant they were introducing a new line of feminine deodorant, but in fact they just meant they were making a keyless u-lock:
So how does it work? Well, first you press a button:
Then the lock looks for your phone:
Et voilà, your bike is unlocked!
This is fantastic. See, the great thing about Bluetooth is that it's never a pain in the ass to pair your phone with your various devices, and you've never got to do it all over again when you upgrade your phone or run a software update or anything like that. If you've ever had to, say, get your new phone working with your car's Bluetooth audio system again, I'm sure you've also said to yourself, "I sure wish I could also do this while trying to unlock my bike!"
Also, just imagine: there you are, sitting in a café by the window on a sunny day, sipping a latte and idly flipping through your Facebook or your Twitter or your anonymous sex hookup app. Your bike is locked up just outside, safe and secure thanks to your Noke. Then, along comes a thief who, noticing the Noke lock, presses the button--and of course the lock immediately opens because you're only like 15 feet away. You shout and bang on the glass, your invective fogging up the window, but the thief just flips you the bird and rides away.
Back in the old days desperate people used to go around checking the coin return on payphones. Now all they'll have to do is press buttons on Bluetooth locks. A shiny new bike sure beats the hell out of a quarter.
But all of this is a small price to pay for never having to carry a key that weighs about as much as a couple sticks of gum, or remembering a combination, which you don't need to do anyway because combination locks suck:
"No more worrying about lost keys or forgotten combinations."
And of course phones never get lost or stolen. That's why I think the Noke will be an especially big hit in London:
Step 1: Snatch smartphone while cyclist unlocks bike;
Step 2: Return later with smartphone and unlock bike.
It's the gift that keeps on giving.
Of course, in the event that you lose your phone, Noke does have a "quick click code:"
Remember that part about how you don't have to remember any combinations? Well, I'm sure a series of dots and dashes you only use in the event you lose your phone would be much easier to remember than a combination you use every day. People love communicating with dots and dashes. This is why we all text in Morse code now.
And naturally no keyless lock is complete without the "social networking" component:
"Sharing your bike with others is easy. With just a couple taps you can quickly and securely share your bike with your friends."
Sure, I suppose it's conceivable you might want your friend to be able to take your bike while it's locked up somewhere:
Or, far more likely, maybe that fucking cheapskate Brian should buy his own goddamn bike.
So what does the Noke look like inside? Well, as you can see, it has various tiny batteries, springs, and electronic components, which seems especially well-suited to cities which experience foul weather:
(I'm sure that will work great after your bike sits out in freezing rain for three hours.)
And the great thing about batteries is they're never dead at inconvenient moments:
But don't worry, if that happens you can stand around charging your lock like a schmuck until you can finally open it:
That is, if it's not frozen shut.
And that's not all! It's even got an alarm nobody will give a shit about, because if you've ever heard an alarm in a big city you know everyone in the community immediately stops what they're doing to investigate:
"If someone tampers with your Noke for more than three seconds, a loud alarm will shriek for 30 seconds, drawing attention and likely scaring off the intruder."
This feature makes the Noke the u-lock equivalent of Mario Cipollini:
"Hey, whaddya know? Eef someone a-tampers weeth my gnocci for more than a-three seconds, I a-shriek too!"
Best of all, if you don't have a smartphone in the first place, you can also purchase an optional key fob:
This is positively mind-boggling. Why would someone seeking a "keyless lifestyle" want a key fob? Why would someone who's too much of a Luddite to own a smartphone buy an electronic lock with a key fob instead of a mechanical one? And most importantly, if people do go keyless, what are the fixie doofuses going to hang from their pants? Key blanks?
Actually, that's probably exactly what they'll do.
Lastly, with the thaw imminent, this could be your last chance to use your bike ski:
Now that fat bikes have totally jumped the shark, everybody knows that bike skis are the only way to go:
First time on a fat tire bike . Loved it !! pic.twitter.com/YPsQ20hwmzFirst Target, now Hincapie, and finally in eight more days, spring.
— ghincapie (@ghincapie) March 12, 2015
Fat bikes are so over.