Japan Creates first Breathalyzer Bike Lock – Oddly, it Doesn’t Actually Lock

Bicycles hold an esteemed place in Japan’s transportation ecosystem. A nation numbering 127 million people, there are an estimated 72 million bicycles, with over 10 million new bicycles being sold each year.

That’s a lot of people riding around. And sometimes, they’re drunk.

Public safety concerns have given rise to a new device cultivated from the minds of award-winning creative agency, Grey Tokyo and Koowho Bikes. Their novel solution is the Koowho Alcoho-Lock.


The concept is simple enough: If you think it’s going to be one of those nights that you’ll tie one on, simply slip the hand-sized, half-kilo aluminum device around your bike tire and click it shut.

Calling it a “Bike Lock” is a bit misleading. It doesn’t actually lock. It sends a message to your friend telling them to talk you out of riding home drunk. It’s more of a “bike guilt” device.

Here’s where the Alcoho-Lock reveals itself as quite poorly named. If you blow into the app and it detects alcohol on your breath, it doesn’t actually lock. 

Instead, after sensing that your drunk, it sends an alert to your smartphone showing your blood alcohol level –followed by the option to open the lock with a click of your smartphone.


It does, to it’s credit, suggest that you push the bike home rather than ride it.

As an additional countermeasure, Alcoho-Lock simultaneously sends a message to a pre-designated friend or family member telling them that you are drunk (as well as where you are), while giving them the option to call you and talk you out of riding your bike.

drunk biking breathalyzer Japan lock

Testing, 1, 2, 3. Testing. Can I go home?

The device, which is set to retail for between ¥30,000 – ¥40,000 (around $300), is not designed with the motivation of strict prevention, but prefers to employ “the power of love” to keep you from riding your bike totally hammered.

While that’s a very nice thought, one wonders how effective tugging at the heart strings will be in rationalizing with the inebriated. And what if that friend or family member is in the shower and simply misses receiving the message?

While certainly a step in the right direction, it might be far more effective if the Alcoho-Lock actually just locked.

Check out the promo video:


You can learn more about Alcoho-Lock on their website: www.alcoholock.com


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Bobby McGill

Bobby McGill

Bobby is the founder and publisher of Branding in Asia.

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