On Tuesday January 10, 2023 I woke up later than usual, 7:15AM. When I first saw Spencer’s face it looked like someone had died. I asked “What’s WRONG?!” and he said “Tess was stolen!” YIKES. So began the journey to learn about how to secure our building and any valuable bicycle, how our renter’s insurance covered our old non-e-bike but not this one because it was an e-bike and needed a special policy, and figuring out how to get a new tandem. Below are 3 accordions so you can skip what doesn’t interest you or you’ve already heard. Feel free to post your own experiences and any questions in the comments.

For those of you who believe bad things happen in threes, I will point out that in 2019 our tandem blew off the top of the car on I-90 going 70 MPH. We spent $2500 repairing it and the following year, August 23, 2020,  we totaled that tandem causing us to wait about six months for our new e-tandem we named Tess for the Tesla we would never own. So this is strike three and hopefully the last tandem we’ll ever purchase! Fingers crossed and knock on wood. Who’s superstitious?

Theft Story

Tuesday January 10 posted on FB
Sad news for us today… our daVinci Tailwind tandem, a mere 2 years old and less then 5K miles, was stolen while we slept. Our building was broken into and two professionals took it and 2 other new single e-bikes. We’re a bit stunned. It looks like insurance will probably cover most of it. Todd at daVinci says roughly 6 months out  for a new one.

The next day
We are saddened but taking it in stride. It’s just a “thing” and in 6 months we’ll have a replacement that, hopefully, will only cost us the $500 deductible. At least that’s what State Farm tells us. It’s $11K worth of bike with the accessories. It puts a cramp on planning our September trip because 6 months could stretch out longer. And of course we can’t get in riding shape until it arrives. We’ve had some generous offers to borrow people’s spare tandems. But none are with the independent pedaling we’re used to OR the e-assist we’ve become used to. Time will tell. It was certainly shocking. While there is video of how they got in and of them cutting the cables it doesn’t show faces (masks and camera angle). They were pros, in and out in 5 minutes. The police rarely find stolen bikes. They likely don’t try. Could easily have left the state or been parted out. We’re grateful that no one was hurt or endangered. We’re scrambling to figure out how to tighten security further.

Jan 20
It’s been a little over a week since we posted that our beloved TesS2 was stolen. Since then has been a roller coaster. For the first week we believed that our insurance was covering all but the $500 deductible. Then the axe fell and we learned that we didn’t have the proper coverage. So we are getting a measly $1000 towards our new bike. That’s one part of the roller coaster. The rest is that we discovered a fabulous used daVinci with literally ALL the bells and whistles including carbon fiber, Shimano setup with di2 electronic shifting, and oh yes – did I mention it has couplings and comes with the cases?! So we got VERY excited because we were debating the upgrade if we bought new. To be able to get this bike significantly sooner than a new one with all this for roughly the same cost is spectacular. THEN another axe fell when the next day they told us that looking at our old bike they didn’t think it would fit. Our stolen one was medium/small and this one is medium/medium. Then another day passed and the two relevant engineer/designers conferred with photos of us doing stand-over on our old bike…. VOILA…. we’re flying to pick it up in Texas in mid-April! Here’s a first picture of it before our customized stuff gets added. Note that it comes with a single battery on the front vertical tube. The other is a non-functional storage space should we want to carry a second battery to swap out…unlikely.


There are many aspects to bike security. Let’s start with how did the thieves get into our “secure” building? In our case, an urban apartment building using the standard DoorKing entry system, the system had a flaw we were unaware of. The thieves were pros. They probably had cased the place and knew what they wanted and they also knew that a locking vice grip on the USPS key cylinder would allow them a speedy opening of the front gate. Step two was walking past our elevator to our open bike corral where they headed for the three most expensive bikes, our tandem and two new electric RAD bikes. All 3 were “secured” with bike locks attached to wall mounts. The thieves were in and out in under 5 minutes and we do have video which shows what happened.

The first thing we did was call around and found that a local company Bulger Safe & Lock has a $550 package that hardens that DoorKing system. Well worth it and we only wish we had known about that weakness as it may well have prevented this whole incident.

Next we started researching the most secure wall mounts and locks. We found a company called Hiplok that makes both and have ordered but not yet installed the AirLok wall mount. Their U-Lock ANKR D1000 is a mere $300 but thwarts angle grinders as shown in the linked video.

Someone from SABRE recommended locking the disc brakes with this little DIsc Lock device which is on order now. And finally, we are exploring and will likely purchase this Boomerang device has both an alarm and GPS tracking for a relatively affordable price. UPDATE: we purchased the Boomerang. It’s a brilliant concept but the implementation is still in “beta testing” – meaning – not ready for prime time. We returned it after a month of frustration. The next option requires iOS which we don’t have but I include it as part of the research for your. It’s the Knog Scout and like the AirTag it uses the iOS network to locate your bike if taken. BUT the way it’s better is that it also has an alarm AND it’s built to install in a water bottle cage mount. Apparently Android has come out with a track my things and I’ve emailed Knog about when/if they’ll make it available for us! Time will tell. Learned about this in a great article in the WSJ dated 6/25/23: How to Make Your Bike Really Hard to Steal

The two main variables when considering e-bike insurance are if you want it to be part of your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance or separate AND if you want depreciated or replacement value insured. It’s a big cost difference. Note that if you have a homeowner’s policy it will cover an e-bike up to $3000 (minus deductible). There are some specifications about speed and power. However be aware that Renter’s insurance does NOT cover it at all and of course if your bike is a tandem it will be well above that $3K limit. 
We found a broker in Bothell who seems extremely conversant in e-bike requirements. I found her through a FB group for family cycling and everyone highly recommended them. I’m working with Summer there but anyone will be good. Here’s that contact info:
11830 NE 195TH STREET, BOTHELL, WA 98011
Cell Phone: (425) 673-7948
We haven’t yet decided what to do. If we switch our home insurance to Safeco we can get depreciated value for a mere $144/year which covers up to $10k for the tandem and another $3K for the extra stuff on it. But they determine the depreciated value and this tandem is used. Here’s from Summer’s note to us:

Safeco has a fantastic E-bike policy that covers your unique bike with full comprehensive and collision coverage, as well as covers liability for you and Spencer as riders.  The annual policy $165 or $144 if paid in full. Safeco’s renters’ insurance quote is coming in higher than your current coverage with State Farm. The annual premium with Safeco is $271.00 with matching coverages. 

If we want replacement value it depends on the amount you insure it for, but it’s significantly more. The bid I got was for a bike replacement of $16K which is more than we’d need. It was for $1300. Current thinking is we only do the cheaper insurance initially and reevaluate as the bike gets older and we get older.  But then again, the bike is not new. We’ll ask Summer for an estimated replacement value for our used tandem.  Summer got our quote along with the Safeco one for comparison, but this was from Markel so you can also go there directly. This is their page about e-bikes.
UPDATE Friday, March 10: Amazing Recovery!

Big news! Tess, our beloved stolen tandem, is home! It showed up on Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp. We would not have seen it as we’d long since given up on finding it. However we had immediately registered the theft with BikeIndex a global non-profit. Unbeknownst to us, there’s a local, all-volunteer FB group who focuses on watching for stolen bikes and reuniting them with their owners. They’re called  Seattle Area Bike Recovery Efforts (SABRE). Thanks to Erin’s eagle eye, our stolen bike was cited for sale. Erin remembered seeing it on BikeIndex over the last two months. Thursday night at 5:30 they emailed and texted us. The first step was to apply to be added the SABRE’s private group. You can only get in if you have a BikeIndex listing. Then SABRE’s volunteers walked us through how to get it back without waiting endlessly for the police. It was an exciting evening and next day for sure.

On Friday Tracy, another SABRE volunteer who’s done a lot of bike recoveries over the last few years, met us near the seller’s address and we talked through the plan. We parked in a nearby shopping area’s lot, walking distance to the seller. We had three plans. Plan A had been to call 911 and ask for protection which we did. But after half an hour they didn’t appear so we moved on to Plan B which was to read the folks and try to use diplomacy. Tracy is an excellent read of a situation. We sort of combined that with Plan C which would’ve been to ride off without explanation. NOTE: SPD dispatch called THREE hours later asking if we still needed them!

While the three of us walked over, Tracy told us her gut said they’d let us take the bike away. As the seller came out with her partner helping to carry the bike downstairs, Spencer posed as the buyer and Tracy was “a friend”. We ooohed and aaahed over it. The sellers suggested we take it for a spin. As we started off, Tracy explained to them the reason we liked the bike so much was because it WAS ours and had been stolen. She showed them photographic evidence including the police report and mentioned 911 had been called.

Tracy stayed behind just long enough to let them know that if they had questions, what the police report number was and mentioned they wouldn’t want to get in trouble for selling an $11,000 bike just because they didn’t know it was stolen. Tracy is an amazingly calm and effective negotiator and really knew how to read people. We just had to follow her lead.

We rode straight to our borrowed car and started to load it up. Tracy shortly rejoined us and we hugged and said thank you! While doing that the seller showed up saying she didn’t know it was stolen and she’d paid $40 for it. She said she had no idea it was worth so much but when she looked it up and saw the value she thought instead of keeping it to ride they’d get some money for it. It was listed at $3000 and marked down to $1200 on the first day, which is when we were contacted. The seller offered a sob story, which both Tracy and Spencer were quite sure was merely an attempt to protect the security of her rental apartment. Sheila felt a bit sorry though. We didn’t engage her further.

The whole experience was amazingly simple and effective.
What a happy ending.

Tracy helping us put Tess into the car

Tracy helping us put Tess into the car

S2 bring Tess back to CHUC

S2 bring Tess back to CHUC

Picking up Tess2