Bike theft is an issue that every cyclist has to pay attention to. Whether you’re locking your bike in a busy city or at home in your garage, it’s at risk of being stolen.
If you’re looking to invest in increasing the security of your bike, a good quality bike lock is a great place to start.
In 2021 Apple released the AirTag, a coin-sized Bluetooth device made to track your valuables and help you locate them if lost or stolen.
Thanks to their concealable size, many cyclists are now using AirTags to track their two-wheeled friends, but are AirTags suitable for tracking a bike or is there a better alternative?
In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of using an AirTag to track your bike, alongside some of the main issues all bike tracking devices face.
If you’re interested in using an AirTag to protect your bike, you can view the most up-to-date price on Amazon here.
What Is An Apple AirTag?
Apple AirTags are small coin-shaped Bluetooth devices that provide the location of your valuables and essentials using compatible apple devices (iPhones, iPads, Macs, etc.) to update you on their whereabouts.
AirTags are built for iOS devices rather than Android and are locatable using the “Find My” app, which is available for free to every Apple user.
If you constantly lose track of your keys and wallet, an AirTag could prove helpful as its Bluetooth signal will assist you in locating your missing item.
As you get closer to your missing item, the Bluetooth signal increases in strength, and the “Find My” app points you toward the AirTag using its compass navigator.
AirTags can also be tracked whilst being very far away from you. Normally devices require GPS to be trackable at long distances, but not AirTags.
What is the Maximum Range of an Apple AirTag?
Unlike more expensive tracking devices, AirTags don’t use GPS tracking. Instead, these 3cm trackers utilise Apple’s global reach of devices to keep you informed of their whereabouts.
The maximum Bluetooth range of an AirTag, in my experience, is roughly 30m, meaning as long as your AirTag is within 30m of a compatible Apple device (over 1.5 billion worldwide), it’ll let you know where it is.
Theoretically, this means you could pinpoint an AirTag on the other side of the world if it were near a compatible Apple device.
If the AirTag is moved out of reach of any Apple devices, your “Find My” app will display its last known location until it’s located again.
I wanted to find out if an AirTag’s ultra-wideband signal could be tracked through walls, so I attempted to track it from outside of my house and was able to do so when the AirTag was on the ground floor.
However, when the AirTag was on a different floor to my iPhone, it wasn’t trackable using the “Find My” compass tracker.
Since many thieves use garages as a holding point for stolen bikes, I placed my AirTag inside a garage and was able to track it through the metal doors. The signal wasn’t strong, but I could locate the AirTag from outside at a distance of roughly 20ft.
How to Track a Bicycle with an AirTag
If you’re interested in tracking your bike with an AirTag, you’ll need a way to mount it to your bike without limiting its Bluetooth signal.
I recently reviewed some of the best AirTag bike mounts, so have a read if you don’t already have one.
With an AirTag mounted, if your bicycle is lost or stolen, you can place the device into “Lost Mode” using the “Find My” app on your iPhone.
In “Lost Mode”, you’ll receive an update if the AirTag is located, which will pinpoint your bike’s last known location on the map within the “Find My” app.
People using an iPhone or other apple devices within the connectable vicinity of your AirTag will receive a notification alerting them of the missing item.
When placing the AirTag into “Lost Mode,” you also have the option to provide the finder with your phone number or email address, to help them contact you to return the item.
So surely an iPhone-wielding thief will be notified that the bike is being tracked?
Can Thieves Remove AirTags From a Bike?
Thieves are becoming more aware of the tracking devices cyclists use to locate their bikes.
If a thief realises that a stolen bike is being tracked, they’ll likely attempt to remove the tracker to avoid being located.
Fortunately, there are three relatively simple steps you can take to minimise the chance of your AirTag being removed from a stolen bike:
Hide or Disguise the AirTag
AirTags hidden out of sight are less likely to be noticed, giving you more time to track your bike down if it was stolen.
Several of the best AirTag mounts I tested that disguise the trackers as standard bicycle accessories, such as bells or reflectors. Several mounts also hide AirTag out of sight on or in your bike.
Some AirTag mounts are supplied with stickers stating, “This bike is tracked…etc.”. I’d advise against sticking these to your bike.
Firstly, a thief is unlikely to be dissuaded by a sticker. If they want your bicycle badly enough, they’ll steal it.
In addition, you’re alerting them to the fact that the bike is tracked, so they’ll know they need to locate and remove the tracker. It simply doesn’t make sense.
Mount Security Features
Some of the better AirTag bicycle mounts utilise additional security features such as security Torx screws.
Torx screws require a unique tool to remove them, significantly increasing removal difficulty for a thief compared to hex or cross-head screws.
Some mounting systems use metal to house and protect your AirTag, which does make it harder for a thief to remove by force, but as you’ll find out in my AirTag mount test results, metal mounts heavily reduce the Bluetooth signal of an AirTag. Not what we want.
A more drastic measure you can take to track your bicycle is removing the speaker from your AirTag.
If an AirTag is away from its owner for 8-24 hours and continues moving, its internal speaker will sound at a random point during this period.
The lost alerts were put in place by apple to prevent AirTags from being used by stalkers or for other unauthorised tracking purposes. And rightly so! It’s against the law to stalk someone or track them without consent.
However, it’s not against the law to track your personal possessions, and the longer you can track a stolen bike, the higher your chances are of recovering it.
If you want to silence your AirTag to track your bicycle without alerting a thief, read my AirTag silencing step-by-step guide.
Are AirTags Reliable & Suitable for Tracking Bikes?
As mentioned, AirTags rely on Apple’s vast network of devices to provide you with their location.
Because of this, AirTags are very reliable for use in densely populated environments where millions of Apple devices will act as beacons for your AirTag to connect to.
AirTags will also work well in most small cities and towns, but if you live out in the country, where there aren’t many people around, an AirTag’s ability to track your bike is greatly limited.
If you live in a rural area and still want to track your bike, a GPS tracking system might be a better option.
GPS stands for Global Positioning System, meaning that devices with GPS tracking use orbiting satellites to locate their position, meaning their location is visible around the clock.
I’m currently working on a review of the best GPS bike trackers and AirTag alternatives. I’ll add a link here for those that are interested once published.
How to Mount an AirTag to a Bike
Mounting an AirTag to your bike is easy, but it’s important to remember and understand that each AirTag bike mount will alter the strength of your AirTag’s signal.
A weak Bluetooth signal reduces the chance of locating your bike if it’s stolen, so choosing an AirTag that doesn’t interfere is essential.
I recently tested a range of different AirTag mounts to see how well they work and if they are suitable for bike tracking.
All of the mounting systems I tested are relatively cheap and available online. However, if you enjoy a bit of DIY, you should read my review of the best DIY AirTag mounts.
Most of the mounts featured in this article can be made with household materials.
AirTag Alternatives for Bike Tracking
If you’re not an iPhone user, you won’t be able to use an AirTag, but you may want to track your bike in case of theft!
Fortunately, several similar Bluetooth trackers on the market can be used with Android devices to track a bike.
To learn more, read my review of the best AirTag alternatives for Android devices.
Conclusion - Are AirTags Suitable for Tracking Bicycles
If you live in a densely populated area, it’s arguable that there isn’t a better device for tracking your bike than an Apple AirTag.
AirTags are much cheaper than GPS systems, and users won’t incur a monthly charge to keep their AirTag working, whereas a GPS device will require a monthly payment.
I recently tested the best AirTag bike mounts and was impressed by how well some cheaper options performed.
Ultimately, AirTags are a great addition to any bike’s security and can provide extra peace of mind while locking it in public areas.
I’m using an AirTag to track my bike, for the price and the fact that the battery lasts a year, it seems a worthwhile investment.
Thanks for reading!
If you have questions regarding the content found in this article, leave a comment down below, and I’ll get back to you.