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Coming Soon To A Pole Near You: A Bike That Locks Itself

Cyclists may soon have a convenient way to discourage bike thieves, thanks to new designs that use parts of the bikes themselves as locks. Two projects — one based in Chile, another in Seattle — are promising to provide peace of mind without the fuss of carrying a separate lock.

Like security-minded Transformers, the bikes can be manipulated to use their own parts as a lock. Fans of the approach say that if a thief breaks a lock that's part of the bike itself, it can't be ridden away. That sets it apart from similar ideas such as hiding a cable lock in the frame, or integrating a U-lock into a cargo rack.

From Seattle comes the Denny, whose handlebars are a curved rectangle that also detach to serve as a lock.

And from Chile comes the Yerka bike, whose downtube and seat post combine to become a sort of locking bracket.

Neither of the bikes are currently widely available – but they've both attracted attention this summer, and one of them is already on its way to commercial production.

That would be the Denny, which recently won a competition to pick out "the ultimate urban utility bike," held by cycling advocates Oregon Manifest. A collaboration between the design firm Teague and bike makers Taylor Sizemore, the Denny also has an electric-assist motor, automatic gear shifting and turn signals that are part of its built-in front rack.

As the contest winner, the Denny will be produced by Fuji Bikes and should be in bike shops next year, the organizers say.

The Yerka Project is the work of three engineering students who are working to get their project up and running. The Yerka team promises that it takes only 20 seconds to secure their bike, which has the stripped-down look of the single-speed bikes that currently buzz around many cities.

"Every lock can be broken leaving the bike intact," Yerka's engineers say. "That's why we decided to make a lock out of the frame."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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