Going Nuclear on Thieves
Anyone who’s lived in a metropolitan area with their bike knows the dangers of locking it up outside. Even the most expensive locks are no match for the thief with a discerning eye, and so the Beater Bike, the one that you don’t care about at all, usually ends up being the bike you ride the most for errands and commuting.
Patrick Wells and Ayantika Mitra of Atomic 22 Security set out in 2009 to change all of that, and what they’ve come up with is nothing short of genius.
Usually, a bike thief steals bikes to strip them; take off all components, and sell them a la carte on eBay or Craigslist. Atomic22 has created a 3 dimensional key that takes the place of normal stock skewers and bolts, making it impossible to remove any one component. Each key is extremely small in diameter, and unique for each person, just like a house or car key. The key interfaces through a bit system to both Allen heads and torque key heads, making it completely compatible with a multitool.
In addition to making bikes secure, Atomic 22s are just good parts, in and of themselves. “We wanted to make sure that we were giving people the best of both worlds,” explains Wells. “Our skewer, for example, is one of the best in the industry. It was a floating head to alleviate alignment issues, and the threads are both internally and externally rolled, making them extremely smooth.” Most components are titanium, and where that’s not possible, they use high quality steel.
All parts have been rigorously tested for any potential weaknesses in security. “Once we were able to get a Phillips head screwdriver in between the nut and bolt of the skewer, and we scrapped everything to start from scratch.” The result? “We created a bolt that’s incapable of rotating independently of the key. You also can’t clamp a wrench around it, because we tapered and rounded down any edge that a wrench could potentially grip.”
For the future, Atomic 22 plan on partnering with partners in the industry to create build kits, making it easier for consumers to get one set of parts for everything on their bike. All components are made in Horsham, UK, where Wells and Mitra call home, and are currently available through Bespoke.