Fiber starters – The textile cycle lock

“Cycle theft is a widespread criminal activity,” Ulrich Syberg, President of the German Cyclists’ Association (Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club – ADFC) was quoted as saying in the German newspaper ‘Die Welt’ . He seems not to be exaggerating. Every year in Germany, instead of disappearing into the distance down a leafy cycle path, some 300,000 bicycles suffer a rather different fate and just disappear! A start-up company in Leipzig is, therefore, hoping to be the scourge of despairing thieves in future with their cycle lock made of fibres.

In Berlin alone, 88 bicycles are reported missing every day. No wonder that experts recommend investing five to ten percent of the cost of a bicycle in a good quality lock. The choice is generally between frame, cable or shackle lock; many bikes end up with a flat-link chain. “Cycle locks like that are often felt to be cumbersome and heavy,” says Alexandra Baum, who, together with two fellow strugglers, is, therefore, looking to provide a textile cycle lock as a lightweight flexible alternative.

High performance fibre rope: founders Katja Käseberg, Alexandra Baum and Suse Brand (left to right) are not trying to reinvent the (bicycle) wheel – but they are reinventing its lock. (Source: Texlock)

High performance fibre rope: founders Katja Käseberg, Alexandra Baum and Suse Brand (left to right) are not trying to reinvent the (bicycle) wheel – but they are reinventing its lock. (Source: Texlock)

At first sight, their lock, called the ‘Texlock’, looks just like a normal rope that you can buy in any retail shop, and which could easily be severed with a pair of scissors and a little effort. Yet this impression is deceptive. The system, which has been registered for a worldwide patent, consists of a multi-layered braid of various high-performance fibres – and it proves once again: there’s strength in numbers! Each layer fulfils a specific function. Whilst the outer layer is simply there for visual effect, a second acts as protection against cutting with bolt croppers or other implements the thief might have; a third layer gives it mechanical and structural strength and a further layer is there to ensure its resistance to heat.

After around two years of development work, the prototype has been ready from the middle of this year – and immediately received a nomination for the ‘futureSAX‘ Idea Competition, the innovations platform for the State of Saxony. The three pioneers in this start-up company are currently testing and optimising the textile security rope and its lock. A crowdfunding campaign at the beginning of 2017 is hoped to provide the ‘petty cash’ required for the market launch. And then we shall soon be able to see it for ourselves: ‘Fibres versus thieves  – Round One. Fight!’

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Home news: under the new heading ‘Fiber starters‘ we shall, in future, be introducing companies, people and interesting pieces of news from start-ups on the textile scene. Everyone has now heard of ‘Silicon Valley‘  – but ‘Fiber Valley’ is not yet so well known.

Ronny Eckert

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