AirTag hiding place on the handlebar stem: Unfortunately, there is a catch to the promising idea
Photo: Markus Linden
Actually, they are not made for cyclists, but can be very useful for this target group: AirTags from Apple. The small gadgets work similarly to so-called GPS trackers, can help determine the position of the objects to which they are connected – these can also be bicycles. If an AirTag is inconspicuously attached to the bike, a possible thief would unconsciously take the AirTag with his loot, which is constantly trying to send its location. If the bike then reports from other people's cellars or garages, you can alert the police.
But there are a few catches to this promising idea. AirTags can only be located when another Apple device is nearby. If the bike disappears in Hamburg's city centre, the location is quickly transmitted. On a cow pasture in the Swiss Alps, things may look quite different. It can take a long time for a hiker with an iPhone to be nearby.
In addition, Apple's stalking protection (see "How AirTags work") can help thieves notice AirTags hidden on bicycles and also locate them via the associated warning tone. To prevent the latter, instructions are circulating on the Internet on how to paralyze the speaker. On the one hand, however, this means that you lose your warranty claim, and on the other hand, AirTags are no longer protected against water after the procedure.
We tested seven different solutions that are designed to help equip bicycles with AirTags – from a bell with a secret compartment to hiding places in the tire and on the bottle holder.
Lezyne Matrix Saddle Tagger
The Matrix Saddle Tagger is screwed to the struts of the saddle. That's why it's not exactly invisible, but it's only noticeable when you look for it. Lezyne provides the small plastic housing with a gasket and a screw cap so that the inserted AirTag does not get splashed water. Only a single screw is required for assembly, which secures the screw cap and holds together the claws that grip around the saddle rails.
Only the thread and the special screw are made of metal, the rest are made of plastic. However, the plastic claws look very robust. The Torx screw is secured with a pin to prevent it from being unscrewed. Lezyne provides a bit with the appropriate counterpart that fits into common bit recording tools. It's better not to lose it.
Saddlebags with a strap usually still fit on the seat rails despite the AirTag box. Exceptions are larger saddlebags with their own claws - there is no longer enough space for them.
What I liked: The construction is waterproof and the AirTag is easy to change.
The less: The bracket is only hidden when a saddlebag is attached. However, larger saddlebags with their own claws no longer fit.
For whom the Matrix Saddle Tagger is suitable: All those who don't have space on the frame and are looking for a simple solution for which they don't have to unscrew anything on the bike.
Topeak Ninja+ Cage Z with AirTag Mount
The Ninja+ Cage Z bottle cage looks like a standard bottle cage, but there is room for an AirTag on the frame. The tracker can only be attached when the bottle cage is unscrewed. Topeak supplies the two special Allen screws required for this as well as the associated tool.
The AirTag sits securely in the holder - but it is not covered. There is no protection against splashing water. In principle, this does not matter, because the AirTags are already sealed by Apple against splashing water. However, it is unclear whether the protection will last for a long time or during daily continuous rain.
If you kneel down, the AirTag can be seen. If you know what you're looking for, you'll find the tracker.
The bottle cage itself is flexible. Bottles are easy to remove and securely pin.
What I liked: If you need a bottle cage on your bike, you can easily integrate an AirTag here.
The less: The lack of splash protection and the imperfect privacy screen could cause problems.
For whom the Ninja+ Cage Z is suitable: For road cyclists who don't leave their bike outside in the rain.
Lezyne Matrix AirCage
Similar to Topeak's model, the AirCage is also a bottle cage in which you can store an AirTag. For this purpose, a small compartment is provided between the actual bottle cage and the bicycle frame, which is closed with a lid. This has a rubber ring that makes the compartment waterproof.
The construction is pressed together by the two screws with which the bottle cage is screwed to the frame. For the assembly you need the supplied tool bit, which is identical to that of the Lezyne Saddle Tagger.
The bottle cage itself holds the bottles securely without having to use too much force to pull them out while driving.
What I liked: The AirTag sits securely and dry, hardly noticeable.
The less: The prominent lettering "AirCage" on the bottle cage is not very helpful if you want to hide an AirTag.
For whom the AirCage is suitable: For cyclists of all classes who need a bottle cage.
NC-17 Connect Air Box
The Connect Air Box is a small AirTag hiding place for the stem, i.e. the bracket of the handlebars. It can be attached to all bikes with A-mount clamping - i.e. to most modern road bikes and mountain bikes. Trekking bikes also occasionally have an A-mount. But not many city and e-bikes.
The Connect AirBox replaces the A-mount lid and makes the stem a few millimeters higher. As a rule, this is not noticeable, because such an increase is possible on many bicycles anyway by adjusting the extension rings. The German supplier NC-17 offers the Connect AirBox with and without lettering. The neutral version, which is much more inconspicuous, is recommended.
Since only the lid is replaced, the replacement is feasible for any layman. All that is needed is a four-hex wrench to disassemble the original lid and then assemble the Connect AirBox.
How the lid is removed, the manufacturer does not want to reveal to the public. But rest assured, it will be written in the enclosed operating instructions. It's also quite easy if you know it and have the right tool handy. The lid is attached over the AirTag with firm pressure. If it clicks into place, it can no longer be removed by hand. However, when disassembling with the auxiliary tool, the inserted AirTag can be scratched.
In the test, the AirTag rattled a little while driving. It is therefore advisable to attach some scotch tape or other adhesive strips to it. Then, after removing the lid, the AirTag can also be removed without gravity by turning the bike upside down.
What I liked: The Connect AirBox is light, small and unobtrusive.
The less: Disassembly could damage the AirTag. If you don't have an A-mount, you'll have to look for another solution.
For whom the Connect AirBox is suitable: All bikes with A-mount clamping.
FindMe by the KLICKfix makers Rixen & Kaul is a simple bracket that is screwed to the standardized threads for bottle and tool holders. It consists of two halves that are pressed together when screwed on. To prevent water from entering, a sealing ring encloses the AirTag.
Two special screws with a modified M5 Allen screw head and a matching wrench are supplied. If you simply attach FindMe to the frame, it is very noticeable. It is better hidden if you mount it between the frame and a bottle cage or tool holder. This should work in most cases, as the case is quite flat. However, if you look closely, you will also discover the holder under a bottle cage.
What I liked: The solution is simple, quick to assemble and also fits between the frame and the bottle cage.
The less: In most cases, the FindMe case is easy to spot.
Who FindMe is for: All those who prefer a simple solution.
The Airbell looks and sounds like an ordinary bell, is inconspicuous and fulfills its warning function in traffic. However, the stand with the clamp for attaching to the handlebars can be disassembled into two parts and an AirTag can be inserted in between. The two parts are locked in place with a small clapper, which can be removed with a flat-head screwdriver (supplied).
The AirTag bell is available in two sizes for attachment to thin (22 millimeters) and thicker (31.8 millimeters) handlebars. If you have to change the battery of the AirTag, you can also get there without dismantling the bell, as the upper part can be removed individually.
What I liked: The AirBell works perfectly and the AirTag is very well hidden.
The less: If you unmask the AirBell, you can remove or open it with a normal screwdriver.
For whom the AirBell is suitable: All those who rely on the good camouflage on an everyday bike.
Muc-off Tubeless AirTag Holder
The Tubeless AirTag holder from Muc-off is hidden from the inside of the tire by placing it on a valve from the same manufacturer. The AirTag is held in place by a flexible rubber cover. The daring design only works with tubeless tires - i.e. only if rims and tires can be driven without an inner tube.
Many amateur athletes convert to such tires on racing and gravel bikes as well as mountain bikes. Anyone who has ever fitted tubeless tires knows that this does not work without sealant and almost always only with a special pump. In addition, it involves a relatively large amount of effort.
The AirTag sits securely in the tire, protected from the sealant by the rubber. In principle, its rotating mass leads to an imbalance when driving at high speeds. However, this bracket does not fit into narrow road bike tires anyway. Because of the dimensions of the Apple gadget, the tires must be at least 38 millimeters wide.
That's too much even for many gravel bikes. Such thick tires are more likely to be found on heavier touring bikes, e-bikes and (e-)mountain bikes. Fast cyclists with light rims will not be able or willing to use the tubeless AirTag holder. On heavy rims, on the other hand, the weight of the AirTag is not noticeable.
When tested with a gravel bike with 40 tires and commercially available rims, the holder and thus the AirTag protruded far out of the rim into the tire. In the event of a sudden puncture, the AirTag holder would probably break off. It would be even worse if the holder or valve did not break, but the rim was damaged by a bending valve.
What I liked: The AirTag is really well hidden, no thief can get on it. And if he did, he would have to pry off the tire to find the gadget.
The less: This AirTag holder only fits a few bikes and takes a lot of work to assemble. In the event of a sudden flat foot, there is a risk of damage.
For whom the Tubless AirTag holder is suitable: For gravel and mountain bikers who already ride tubeless.
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