The Salt Lake Police Department receives about 60 reports of bicycle theft every month.
On the average, each bicycle reported stolen is worth more than $350, according to department statistics. Still dozens of other thefts go unreported, police say.Striders Inc., a fledgling Salt Lake company, has developed a product company officials say can help stem bike thefts. The lock doubles as a bicycle pump, hence the name AirLock.
"You eliminate the need for an extra pump or another accessory," said Mike Stevens, Striders' vice president of marketing.
AirLock, which will be available for retail sale in January, is the latest of a line of convenience products developed by Striders Inc. The product will retail for about $40.
Its predecessor, Redi-Lock, utilizes a heavy-duty, galvanized steel cable that retracts inside a metal tube that is mounted on a bicycle frame. It is lighter weight than U-shaped locks (it weighs less than a pound), and it doesn't rattle about like a cable or chain, which can scratch bike frames.
"A U-lock is very heavy, and it's very limited to what you can lock it to," said Stevens. Redi-Lock has been sold locally by Guthrie Bicycle and Schwinn dealers for about $25 each.
Greg LeMond, three-time winner of the Tour de France, is a stockholder in Striders Inc. and has endorsed both Redi-Lock and AirLock.
Stevens said AirLock was well received at the recent Inter-Bike, the world's largest bicycling trade show held each year in Anaheim, Calif.
Striders President Paul Taggart, formerly president of Ogio International Inc. - makers of the Original Locker Bag - is no stranger to the development of new products. The Locker Room Bag, which had sales last year of $8.1 million, was first marketed in Salt Lake City's Nordstrom and Footlocker stores in 1987. It now is sold in 28 catalogs, and the company has 4,800 accounts.
Taggart, who has left Ogio but is a major shareholder and serves on the company's board of directors, said he jumped at the chance to direct Striders' efforts. The company is a year old.
He recalled the company's beginning: Redi-Lock's inventor telephoned him and said, " `I've got this new product. Do you have an interest in it?' Virtually two weeks later a corporation was formed," Taggart said.
So far, Striders' success appears to be locked up. Taggart is using his Ogio connections to help market the AirLock and Redi-Lock. L.L. Bean has committed to market Redi-Lock in its spring catalog.
Sharper Image, retailer of specialty products, is testing it to ascertain whether they will sell it. Taggart said the U.S. military's warehouse program also has committed to buy Redi-Lock.
"The challenge we have is, how do we let (the public) know this product (AirLock) exists?" he said.