Slava Menn, a MIT Sloan School of Management graduate and co-founder of Fortified Bicycle, shares the company’s latest development in theft-proof and weather-resistant bicycle parts. The newest addition to their collection is an entirely theft-proof bicycle, appropriately called “Invincible”, which is a combination of their other products and technologies.
Menn was inspired to start the business after a friend’s bike light was stolen, resulting in a collision with a car later that evening. Along with fellow MIT graduates, engineer Brad Geswein and cyclist and entrepreneur Tivan Amour, Menn was propelled to change the fate of cyclists and so they started Fortified Bicycle in 2011.
They quickly realised the severity and extent of bicycle theft in the city: a third of city bike lights eventually get stolen. The trio thus initiated Fortified Bicycle, originally called Gotham Bicycle Defence Industries, to overcome bike theft and its consequences.
The startup started by selling theft-proof bike parts and accessories such as puncture-resistant tires and rust-proof frames and chains. What makes many of their products theft proof is their unique and custom designed bolts that can only be removed with a special screwdriver, and not the conventional Allen wrench. Some of their other indestructible products include water-resistant fenders and a theft-resistant U-lock that can only be removed by being cut on both ends.
The Invincible bike combines these components, and is further protected by a special serial number. The reason being that if a bike is stolen, Fortified Bicycle will be able to locate it. The startup will work with local authorities and search online spaces such as Craigslist or eBay, where many bikes eventually turn up. If they are unable to find the bike, they have offered to replace it within 24 hours of being stolen, for free. They are confident in their products, with less than one per cent ever having been stolen.
By making bike ownership in a city safer, they intend to promote cycling as a healthier, environmentally safer means of travel. Menn adds, “What we’re trying to do is alleviate the struggle [of owning a bike] and make it easier, and get more people into biking”.