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Backers of See.Sense bike tracker Kickstarter project still waiting three years on

"Maybe See.Sense has decided to turn this into a long-running joke?" says frustrated backer... but what's really going on?...

After three years of waiting and "backtracking", a reader has told of their frustration at repeat delays with See.Sense's bike tracker Kickstarter. However, speaking to road.cc the company insists after pandemic-related delays, changes to the technology used, component shortages and extensive testing, See.Sense will not ship the product until it is right and remains confident it will be well worth the wait.

The road.cc reader purchased a bike tracker, starting at an investment pledge of £74, via the pre-order back in February 2020, two months after the Kickstarter project had attracted £80,286 of investment from 858 backers, with work beginning in the hope the finished product would be with customers by June of that year.

"This elegant bike tracker called 'See.Sense.Air' was just the product to discretely track our prize steeds," the reader believed, taken by the device's promised accurate GPS, long battery life, crash alert feature, discreet sizing and claim to be "the most effective bike tracking device available".

Once Covid struck, progress understandably slowed and updates over the next year show the expected delivery date knocked back to the autumn of 2020, then the first quarter of 2021, summer 2021, autumn 2021, March 2022, and most recently November 2022, leaving backers without product or, as things stand, a delivery timeframe.

 "The pandemic struck and See.Sense started backtracking," the reader told us. "Email after email telling pre-order purchasers (and backers through Kickstarter) that the development was taking longer than expected."

See.Sense Air

One such email from September 2021 said shipping would take place in early 2022, another two months later confirming a name change to 'See.Sense.Knowhere' but insisting delivery was still expected in the following months.

Come February 2022 and backers were told "a few elements" need to be finalised and "components with longer lead times offer better performance".

"So if we consider using parts with longer lead times, we can create a better, more energy efficient design. We know you've been waiting a long time for your tracker and so we feel it's only fair that we put the decision of what to do next back to our backer community," See.Sense explained, sending out a survey asking simply, 'How long do you want to wait?'. 

See.Sense backer survey (See.Sense/Kickstarter)

To that question, 78 per cent of the 716 backers who replied said they were happy to wait until the winter of 2022/23 in return for a device with longer battery life and additional mounting options.

"We've had a few emails with general project activity since June but nothing regarding the schedule for manufacturing or delivery," the road.cc reader explained.

> Where are they now? 13 of the best, worst and wackiest cycling crowdfunders and what happened to them

"November 2022 has been and gone, their latest communication has no information [regarding delivery timeframe] whatsoever. I contacted See.Sense and was simply told: 'Unfortunately we don't have any clearer info regarding delivery times, but if you wish to amend your order, please let me know here.'

"Maybe See.Sense has decided to turn this into a long-running joke? Maybe that name change to 'Knowhere' is more about the product than we realised."

"We're not ready to ship something until it's right."

Speaking to road.cc about the delays, See.Sense acknowledged, "There are obviously a lot of [Kickstarter] projects that don't deliver. We're not one, we've successfully launched multiple projects and delivered to thousands and thousands of backers.

> See.Sense's Beam and ICON2 lights successfully funded on Kickstarter

The Belfast-based company "on a mission to make cycling and micromobility better" has successfully delivered six Kickstarters and one Indiegogo project, receiving £575,000 investment from around 9,000 backers for products such as its Icon light (which received a strong review from us), while the 2.0 light topped the table with 26 per cent of your support in our reader's choice awards

See.Sense_Icon_4.JPG

"We certainly understand the backer's frustration," See.Sense said. "It's probably fair to say there is no good cellular bike tracker out there, the road is littered with the failures and underperformance of these products, so something we are very keen to not do is put out something that's sub-par.

"We could easily have shipped a sub-par product by this stage, we've invested significantly more than the money we took on Kickstarter. The initial technology we used, called Narrowband, we felt the network coverage wasn't sufficiently good despite the promises we were given by network operators so we moved to a different technology.

"We also suffered from short supply of lots of different things [during and after the pandemic] and also the fact that testing these products takes time, we can't base it on a quick test if we're going to ship it out to a thousand backers who have expectations around their pride and joy not being stolen and if it is stolen, being able to get it back.

"We're not ready to ship something until it's right. We've surveyed our backers and 80 per cent said 'yes, take longer, by all means we'd much rather have a smaller product that's easier to conceal than a bigger product arrive earlier'.

> REVIEW: See.Sense Icon2 Front And Rear Light Set

"It hasn't been that we've been dictating the timeline, we've given the backers options and we've reported back on what their preferences were and it's guided us on some of the decisions we've made."

 However, the comments from backers on the Kickstarter point to frustration from more than just one individual, with various questions asked throughout the past year about when the finished product will be received and for updates on progress.

And while there are also comments along the lines of one posted two months ago that states a backer is "happy to wait, all your products have been brilliant so far, so I expect the same of this" others, some of which can be seen below, express concerns.

See.Sense Kicksatrter comments (See.Sense/Kickstarter)

 

"In the three years we've been waiting as I've got older I've gone from a pushbike to a motorbike, but this will work all the same for my motorbike. I'm just hoping we actually get it before I go from a motorbike to a coffin," one backer joked.

See.Sense Kicksatrter comments (See.Sense/Kickstarter)
See.Sense Kicksatrter comments (See.Sense/Kickstarter)

 

Another this month asked See.Sense to keep backers who "stuck with you through the pandemic" informed, while another at the back end of last year added: "You keep saying one is coming, but it's 'Knowhere' to be seen."

Multiple comments are now unavailable due to backers cancelling their pledge to receive a refund, something See.Sense is willing to do if people feel they have waited too long or their circumstances have changed and they no longer need a device.

Addressing the accusations of poor communication, See.Sense points out the Kickstarter page has sent 24 updates to backers in 30 months since the project launched and regular surveys have sought feedback on key features and issues such as wait times.

And while some have made the tongue-in-cheek suggestion the name change to See.Sense.Knowhere could refer to the yet-to-arrive product, it actually came in December 2021 following a legal challenge by a company outside the cycling industry whose name includes the word 'air'.

See.Sense.Knowhere (See.Sense/Kickstarter)

To avoid confusion, and not wishing to go through a costly legal process See.Sense simply decided to change the product name to See.Sense.Knowhere to avoid confusion. No trolling.

"We are fortunate that it happened before we have ordered our packaging, which helps to minimise the costs of the change," a See.Sense update explained at the time. "Every cloud has a silver lining and in retrospect we are delighted with the new name, as it really does describe the main aim of our product more clearly — 'know where' your bike is at all times." 

So when's the tracker going to be ready?

When pushed for an update on when backers can expect to mount the finished product on their bikes, See.Sense referred only to the update of February 2 and then released another on March 7 — shortly after road.cc asked for comment — in which it is stated that work continues, with a new mount and device arriving next week, "which we will be testing rigorously to ensure that it meets our standards".

"We're going to continue to message to customers directly," See.Sense told us, not wishing to put a date on the table. "Those backers should hear it from us first."

In yesterday's update, the company thanked backers for "continued support and patience" and said it hopes that in its next update, in early April "once we've completed testing", it will "discuss our plans for finalising the product design and the timeline for moving to mass production and delivery".

In the meantime that leaves backers, three years on, without a new date. One comment on the Kickstarter update, penned five days ago, summs up the mood of some: "But finally when will this product be available to reach us?"

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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30 comments

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Sriracha | 1 year ago
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Is there any evidence that bike trackers help you get your stolen bike back? All the tales I've read suggest that one or both of two scenarios generally applies:

1) your bike is tracked to a block of flats, but could be any of multiple properties

and/or

2) all the Police can do (without a search warrant) is knock on the door and gamely ask, "do you have a stolen bike in your property?" with predictable outcome.

Meanwhile, even if your bike is never stolen, you still have to worry about who is stealing your location data.

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hawkinspeter replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
2 likes
Sriracha wrote:

Is there any evidence that bike trackers help you get your stolen bike back? All the tales I've read suggest that one or both of two scenarios generally applies: 1) your bike is tracked to a block of flats, but could be any of multiple properties and/or 2) all the Police can do (without a search warrant) is knock on the door and gamely ask, "do you have a stolen bike in your property?" with predictable outcome.

3) Wait for it to be moving and mount a Mad Max style attack to recover your bike

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hawkinspeter replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
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Sriracha wrote:

Meanwhile, even if your bike is never stolen, you still have to worry about who is stealing your location data.

See.Sense do make a half-hearted attempt to use bike location services to promote bike safety and guide active travel schemes - it's one of the reasons I bought one of their front lights (Beam+), but it was only used in a couple of places IIRC (Bristol wasn't one of the cities trialling it). I'm happy to have my bike ride locations used to enhance safe cycle routes etc.

They have a page about their data services here: https://seesense.cc/pages/data-services

(Also, it's not "stealing" in the same way that pirating movies is not stealing)

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Bishop0151 | 1 year ago
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Three years, three years!

Is that all.

I backed the IQ2 power meter back in in 2018. Still waiting, and they're still promising progress, and threatening to go into full prodution any day now!

See.Sense are going to have to up their game if they want the worst bike kickstarter crown.

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Veloism | 1 year ago
2 likes

The only reason small startups use Kickstarter is because they can't secure funding from traditional sources. See.Sense are not a startup, they've been around a long time. They do it because they're under no obligation to give the money back or even deliver a product. It's basically free money/a free loan to them.

It's a total sham...

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delboyirl | 1 year ago
1 like

As with others, several products from see.sense via kickstarter and direct and have gifted and advocated their products up to now. There is an inherent risk with Kickstarter but the length of time since launch has rendered this product effectively obsolete before its release as other options available and more discrete. 
I'm struggling to get a response on a faulty Beam+ at the moment so concerned that things are going wrong for them, sincerely hope not. 

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hawkinspeter replied to delboyirl | 1 year ago
0 likes
delboyirl wrote:

As with others, several products from see.sense via kickstarter and direct and have gifted and advocated their products up to now. There is an inherent risk with Kickstarter but the length of time since launch has rendered this product effectively obsolete before its release as other options available and more discrete. 
I'm struggling to get a response on a faulty Beam+ at the moment so concerned that things are going wrong for them, sincerely hope not. 

What other options are there apart from maybe AirTags (which aren't suitable due to the non-stalking protections)?

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NOtotheEU replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
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hawkinspeter wrote:

What other options are there apart from maybe AirTags (which aren't suitable due to the non-stalking protections)?

There are loads of trackers available, is there something I didn't see that makes this one unique?  EDIT: seems a bit rude on reading it back but it's not meant to be.

I use the Vodafone Curve which I've seen a few times for a lot less than the £80 rrp (I paid £10 + £2.99 pm). The light is great, the tracking and sensitivity are OK, the battery is average at best and the app is absolutely terrible. It has its faults but for the price I really like it.

Monimoto are about to launch the Cycloop tracker that got a good review by T3. I can't find any other reviews of it yet as it's too new but their motorbike trackers get good reviews. It seems good with a claimed 12 month battery life but it is a lot larger than most others. Pre order is £99, rrp is £149.

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hawkinspeter replied to NOtotheEU | 1 year ago
1 like
NOtotheEU wrote:

There are loads of trackers available, is there something I didn't see that makes this one unique?  EDIT: seems a bit rude on reading it back but it's not meant to be.

I use the Vodafone Curve which I've seen a few times for a lot less than the £80 rrp (I paid £10 + £2.99 pm). The light is great, the tracking and sensitivity are OK, the battery is average at best and the app is absolutely terrible. It has it's faults but for the price I really like it.

Monimoto are about to launch the Cycloop tracker that got a good review by T3. I can't find any other reviews of it yet as it's too new but their motorbike trackers get good reviews. It seems good with a claimed 12 month battery life but it is a lot larger than most others. Pre order is £99, rrp is £149.

I hadn't seen the Vodafone Curve previously. Looks reasonable, but the battery life is a bit short. Is that tied to a specific eSIM monthly payment? From what I remember, the See.Sense Knowhere can take a SIM of your choice which is my preference as I dislike monthly costs.

The Cycloop tracker is interesting, but it looks quite bulky and ugly. Had a little click around their site and one concern I have is that the eSIM is non-replaceable, so although the £49 per year is quite reasonable, they could increase that price at any point.

Other trackers that I've seen are either tied to over-priced contracts or aren't designed to fit to a bike or have apps that are hardly functional.

Probably the biggest difference with the Knowhere and other trackers is that it uses LPWAN networks to provide very low power tracking information, so the battery lasts a lot longer. There's two years of connectivity that comes with the device and thereafter they claim that connection will cost approx 3p per day (£11 a year).

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NOtotheEU replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
1 like
hawkinspeter wrote:

I hadn't seen the Vodafone Curve previously. Looks reasonable, but the battery life is a bit short. Is that tied to a specific eSIM monthly payment? 

It has a built in Vodafone sim so you're stuck with that. The battery life isn't great but the app does give an accurate prediction of how long it will last (when the app is working). If I ever find something better and stop paying I'll still keep using it as a light and movement alarm though.

hawkinspeter wrote:

Other trackers that I've seen are either tied to over-priced contracts or aren't designed to fit to a bike or have apps that are hardly functional.

Oh, so you have seen the Vodafone Curve previously! 😄

I did see one tracker with a big battery that fitted in the downtube and took your own sim but for the life of me I can't remember who made it.

hawkinspeter wrote:

Probably the biggest difference with the Knowhere and other trackers is that it uses LPWAN networks to provide very low power tracking information, so the battery lasts a lot longer. There's two years of connectivity that comes with the device and thereafter they claim that connection will cost approx 3p per day (£11 a year).

OK, I can see why you're holding on for this one now.

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janemmer replied to hawkinspeter | 6 months ago
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.....as with narrowband IoT which SS Knowhere intends using, Airtags are not as reliable as GSM, due to the 'network'  being more patchy than GSM. Latter remains, vkia a quick chatgpt comparison, the best protocol for mobile assets such as bicycles. 

This: www.3bo.mobi - apparently about to start retailing online for 100 bucks.

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SimoninSpalding | 1 year ago
2 likes

I've never backed anything cycling, but I did back a new design of coffee cup from Bru in spring 2020 (I have one of their existing products and it is really good). I am still waiting, butI have really enjoyed the process, the updates have been frequent(ish) and offered a real insight into the design and production processes. During the wait it has also been decided that my eldest daughter will get the cup when it arrives (next month maybe!) , so I will have to buy another one for myself 

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headingley | 1 year ago
0 likes

I backed this on Kickstarter and obviously I'm still waiting. Everyone who crowdfunds products must realise that at best they get a good product onitime etc and at worrst they lose their money. I, for one, am happy to wait - See.Sense do send updates from time to time (including questionaires etc) I've bought stuff from them as a normal customer and the products are great, I've also bought stuff via other crowdfunder they ran - the products are also great. See.Sense customer service is excellent - a couple of thing I had issues with have been solved very quickly. Remember to read the warnings before you invest - if you don't understand it then don't invest.

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Steve K | 1 year ago
1 like

I've bought precisely two things on Kickstarter, and am very happy with both.  One was the Hiplok D1000 - I felt on pretty safe ground there as they're an established brand, so it didn't feel like a 'proper' Kickstarter project (my LBS owning friend was annoyed with them for using Kickstarter and cutting out retail shops).  The other was the Jack the Bike Rack.  It was quite delayed (about nine months to a year, I think) which was a bit annoying as there was an event I was hoping to have it for; but the communications were good throughout and the end product is great.

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Mungecrundle | 1 year ago
1 like

I've committed to a few kick-starter projects. Whilst I invest more in a moral support spirit of something I think is interesting, useful and novel rather than any expectation that it will actually materialise, I have actually received everything I helped fund. However, some are certainly more successful than others.

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JustTryingToGet... replied to Mungecrundle | 1 year ago
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Mungecrundle wrote:

I've committed to a few kick-starter projects. Whilst I invest more in a moral support spirit of something I think is interesting, useful and novel rather than any expectation that it will actually materialise, I have actually received everything I helped fund. However, some are certainly more successful than others.

Agree. Likewise I've supported a couple of kickstarters (books and music) and I think drop the money and expect nothing.

I actually forgot about one so the book arriving was a nice surprise.

Appreciate if you've emotionally connected to the project and you're following the journey you may feel differently.

Equally, if there is suspicion if fraud that's a different matter. But generally I'd work on the basis it's a gamble.

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Boopop | 1 year ago
2 likes

Maybe I'm an idiot or something, but what's the point in a tracker that is that obvious? I suppose thieves won't remove it immediately but it seems to stand out a lot to me, I'd have thought that's the first thing they do when they get somewhere out of sight - chop it off.

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hawkinspeter replied to Boopop | 1 year ago
1 like
Boopop wrote:

Maybe I'm an idiot or something, but what's the point in a tracker that is that obvious? I suppose thieves won't remove it immediately but it seems to stand out a lot to me, I'd have thought that's the first thing they do when they get somewhere out of sight - chop it off.

I'm hoping that it can be made less obvious with the use of a saddle bag. As it's a niche device, there's a good chance that thieves won't be looking for it specifically and I doubt that they examine bikes particularly closely when they steal them.

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joules1975 replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
0 likes

It is tracking the saddle (and maybe the seatpost), not the bike.

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hawkinspeter replied to joules1975 | 1 year ago
0 likes
joules1975 wrote:

It is tracking the saddle (and maybe the seatpost), not the bike.

I usually keep them together

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OnYerBike replied to Boopop | 1 year ago
0 likes

One of the reasons given for the delay is making "a smaller product that's easier to conceal"

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Hywel | 1 year ago
4 likes

You don't invest in anything on KickStarter.  At best you're a customer, at worst you're a gambler.

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NOtotheEU | 1 year ago
1 like

I've only tried Kickstarter once and I've been waiting for Geotekk's Limpet alarm and tracker for a similar amount of time. It seems like Covid screwed up pretty much everything.

If it ever comes I'm hoping it will be better than the Vodafone Curve I'm using now but I knew it was a risk so I'm pretty relaxed about it. Only time will tell.

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joules1975 | 1 year ago
1 like

The time delays and treatment of customer/investor are appalling, but I'm struggling to see the benefit of the device. It's not particularly discrete, given that it's really quite visible, it takes up space under the saddle that could be useful for other things, and it means that its essentially tracking the saddle, not the bike.

Given that it seems to be sold primarily as an anti theft device, that last point above kind of renders it rather useless. If tracking after theft is the purpose, an apple air tag hidden in the frame is maybe a better bet.

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Milkfloat | 1 year ago
0 likes

After they over promised and underdelivered with the Ace and messed people around so much, I won't go near them again. 

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Sriracha | 1 year ago
0 likes

I know someone who was summarily kicked off see.sense's latest Indigogo for daring to ask questions about the slipping delivery date for their latest light. I certainly wouldn't give them my money.

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capedcrusader | 1 year ago
0 likes

See.Sense appears to be the mirror image of the IQ squared Power Meter debacle which is also entering its third year of backers waiting for their products. To say it has been a ride and a half to this point would be understating the experience of backing this company. We've had everything: products launch dates, first demos, products to reviewers, re-designs, the classic covid excuse, the dodgiest workshop videos you'll ever witness, more excuses, even more excuses, reboots a plenty, even the most recent reboot had us all semi-believing we were going to get a power meter. Anyway the updated supply date is winter 2023 - if they ever work out who to send them to because as far as I know many peoples data has been wiped from the IQ squared website. 

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hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
0 likes

I'm waiting for this too.

I'm okay with their improvements, but the length of delay is now getting a bit tiresome. Looking out of the window, it still looks like winter, but I don't think they're going to ship until next winter.

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Zjtm231 | 1 year ago
0 likes

Kickstarter - beware absolutely no guarantees you will receive anything 

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fenix replied to Zjtm231 | 1 year ago
0 likes

That's perfectly clear when you pledge. 

I've backed a few things on KS - most have delivered - a few haven't. 

It's not the same as ordering an item but some backers haven't got that. 

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