Can FindMy find my bike?


At Tempo, we are all about ebike security, and make it our business to know what works and what doesn’t. We recommend two Apple FindMy products: The Knog Scout bike alarm, and a special bike bell that can hide an AirTag. In this post, we will describe why we recommend these products, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of using Apple’s FindMy network to find stolen bikes.

What is Apple FindMy?

Apple’s FindMy network is first and foremost a way to locate an Apple product that you have misplaced, like your phone, your headphones, or your house keys, if you have attached an AirTag to them. Secondarily, the FindMy network helps you find people who have Apple devices with them, if they have given you permission to know where their devices are.

Some nefarious folks figured this same tracking ability could be used to track people without their knowing they are being tracked. This has safety and privacy implications that Apple takes seriously, so they have built features into their AirTags that warn people if an AirTag that isn’t theirs has been moving with them for a period of time. The warning can be a beep from the AirTag or a notification to their iPhone.

These privacy and safety protections limit AirTag’s utility for theft tracking and recovery because a thief might hear the AirTag beeping, or get a notification on their phone that there is an AirTag with them, and they might be able to find it and disable it before the owner can recover their bike or other property.

If you still want to use Apple’s FindMy network to protect your bike, you have a few choices:

  1. Hope you find the stolen bike before the thief is alerted to the AirTag. Our AirTag bell is a good place to hide an AirTag.
  2. Disable the speaker in the AirTag so it can’t give away its location. This certainly voids the warranty and might seriously damage the AirTag in other ways so proceed at your own risk.
  3. Buy a FindMy-enabled product, like the Knog Scout, or a even one of the small but growing number of ebikes that have FindMy built-in.

How does it work?

FindMy is a “mesh” network of Apple devices that can recognize each other using various short-range radios like Bluetooth and ultra wideband technologies. Apple devices are constantly scanning with their radios for other radios that can talk to them. AirTags and other FindMy products can communicate over these radios, but don’t have their own internet connections or GPS antennas. They rely on nearby internet-connected, GPS-capable Apple devices to recognize them by radio and transmit their GPS location and ID to Apple’s servers over the Internet. Apple then shares the locations of the devices with their owners through the owners’ iPhones or similar devices. This is only possible because there are billions of Apple devices of various kinds all over the world looking for and talking to each other over short-range radio, and updating Apple with their locations.

It is really important to emphasize that an AirTag, and most FindMy products DO NOT have GPS, and DO NOT have their own Internet connection. Unless an iPhone or similar Apple device is nearby, neither the AirTag, Apple, nor the AirTag’s owner know where that device is. Not having GPS and direct internet access over cellular or some other longer range radio means that the AirTags can be smaller, cheaper, and run for months on a tiny battery.

This is in contrast to a more full-featured tracking product like the Cycloop, which Tempo also recommends. The Cycloop has its own cellular internet connection, and its own GPS, so it always knows where it is and can tell you via a dedicated app and can call your phone if it moves and you aren’t close by. It is also larger and more expensive than an AirTag.

How does it help find my bike?

If your ebike has an AirTag or FindMy product on it, you can check the FindMy app in your iPhone to see its location. This only works if it is close enough to other Apple devices to tell them its location so those devices can tell Apple and Apple can tell you. You can also report it missing through the FindMy app, which can alert people with nearby Apple devices that a missing item is nearby. As more and more people get Apple devices, and Apple equips its devices with more advanced technology, like new UWB radios that help with very short range, very precise location, the likelihood that your missing bike will be “seen” by an Apple device and that you could find it is going up.

Why the Knog Scout?

The one FindMy-enabled product we recommend right now is the Knog Scout. Knog is best known for making good looking, functional, LED bike lights. Their Scout is similarly well-designed enough to attach to most any bike without compromising its aesthetics. In addition to its FindMy capabilities, it has a very loud alarm (85db) that goes off if someone moves the bike and you and your Knog app-equipped phone are not right next to the bike. This features may be much more valuable as theft protection than the tracking ability conferred by the FindMy network. The Scout attaches via security screws to your bike’s water bottle cage mounts, and can be mounted under the water bottle cage to make it less noticeable, or on its own with a bright yellow cover to act as a theft deterrent, depending on your strategy. Tempo members get 20% off the Scout in our Member shop. For a detailed review of the Scout, check out the videos from our friend Bike Shop Girl.

A nice bike bell, with a secret.
Why the AirTag bell?

We love how discretely this bell conceals an AirTag. The bell looks a lot like other bells (and sounds quite nice, by the way - we tested several). But inside is a compartment meant for an AirTag. Assuming the thief doesn’t find it before you notice your bike is missing, you get a chance to get your bike back. And you get a nice little bell for your bike, which everyone should have anyway.

At Tempo, we believe ebike security is about a combination of being careful (like not leaving your bike locked outside at night), having good theft prevention measures (like a good lock and/or alarm), taking steps to make recovery more likely (registering with Bike Index, having a tracker), and carrying insurance if all else fails. Then you can enjoy your bike thoroughly without worrying all the time about it being stolen. A FindMy-based tracker is an affordable way to increase that peace of mind and enjoy your ebike more.

When our family bought an electric cargo bike earlier this year, one of my biggest fears was that this lovely and expensive new machine was going to get stolen. So I got the best lock money could buy, and I started to investigate: did I need ebike insurance?

First, I called my homeowners insurance provider to see if they would cover the bike if it were stolen. To my surprise, because it’s an electric bike, not only did my policy not cover it, they wouldn’t even add it for an additional fee or sell me a separate policy for it, the way they did for our family car.

Instead they referred me to an insurance company that specializes in bikes and ebikes. I bought a policy from them and sleep a little better for it.

I’ve heard similar stories from other ebike owners. And I’ve heard worse.

What can happen without ebike insurance

The saddest stories are the ones where someone assumed their homeowners or renters or car insurance covered their ebike, and after it was stolen or seriously damaged, it turned out it wasn’t covered.

And then there are the stories about people whose ebikes were covered by their homeowners policy, but their premium went way up when they made a claim for a stolen ebike.

Why it’s hard to insure an ebike

When it comes to insurance, ebikes land in a gray area outside standard homeowners insurance and auto insurance. Here’s why:

  • Ebikes are new in terms of the insurance industry. Most of the several million ebikes in the U.S. were purchased in the last two years. Insurers aren’t familiar with them, and insurers don’t like to be surprised by unfamiliar products.
  • Ebikes are more expensive than regular bikes. Policies that cover bikes, like most homeowners or renters policies, might have also covered ebikes until the insurer had to pay much larger claims than they expected to replace a damaged or stolen ebike. See above about insurers and surprise. So some policy terms got changed.
  • Finally, ebikes get stolen a lot, and not only from people’s homes. They are ridden and locked up outside all over the place, which makes them more vulnerable than other valuable household items.

Steps to take to properly insure your ebike

The odds that your ebike is covered by your existing insurance is lower than you may think. Here’s what to do to find out if you need ebike insurance:

  1. Call your insurance company and find out what they cover. Things to bring up: coverage of accidental damage, theft, and travel (like what would happen if you flew somewhere with your bike and the airline did a number on it). Does the insurance company consider your ebike a “luxury item”? If you’re happy with the coverage, great! You’re good to go.
  2. Consider bike-specific coverage. If you aren’t covered, or feel like the coverage you do have isn’t enough, here are some things to think about.

Bike insurance covers all kinds of bike specific things, not just theft. Think damage to the bike from a collision, medical payments if you are injured in a collision, insurance for the bike if you are traveling with it or racing it, or a bike rental while your bike is being repaired. Some policies even cover things like accessories (like bike lights and panniers) and riding clothes.

Bike claims won’t affect your other insurance premium. Should you need to make a claim on your ebike, your home insurance premium won’t change or get canceled.

We can help

Want to learn more about ebike insurance? Join Tempo and get easy access to insurance quotes, and other ways to protect your ebike right inside the app.

This is some text inside of a div block.
This is some text inside of a div block.
Michael Keating
Founder & CEO
Download the app!
Get Tempo