Putting barcodes on your bikes
Why even use barcodes?
The first thing to note is that barcoding your bikes is not at all a REQUIREMENT for using BRM, it is simply an option that you may want to use, normally when you're doing a high volume of rentals / maintenance. This is normally because you :
- have a large fleet and so you handle LOTS of bikes. Barcode scanning helps you eliminate misidentification of your bikes
- have a small fleet but do LOTS of rentals with them. If you want to streamline your process you can use a barcode scanner to create your reservations by scanning bikes.
- or perhaps you just do lots of maintenance of your bikes, and want your mechanics to be able to enter the service entries without having to wash hands and type stuff into a computer.
The below example shows a fairly typical bike ID sticker, containing the same ID in 2 formats; text and barcode.
Why put stickers on?
Now, remember, the primary function of the sticker is to uniquely identify it. In this case, AL60 is a unique identifier for this bike. (it's not a product line, its is a specific bike - there is only one AL60 in this fleet)
So who are we identifying it to:
- humans - your staff so they can know which bikes to check out, check in etc. They read the labels and type that into BRM.
- computers - you can scan in the barcodes and then BRM will automatically find them. Saves you typing long identifiers and potentially getting it wrong. Faster too, when you have lots of bikes.
- 1D barcodes don't work 'around corners'. That is partly why we favour putting them on the top tube. Imagine the same sticker wrapped around the head tube - it would wrap around and not be readable.
- barcode length is proportional to how many characters you are encoding. See these 2 examples:
So you will want to bear this in mind when you come up with barcode ID's.
If you have a bike ID naming scheme with really long IDs you may want to consider using just sequential ID's, see below...
What ID's to use?
Of course before you label up your bikes you need to come up with a naming scheme:
- 1,2,3,4,5,6 - simply number your bikes sequentially
- M1,M2,M3,M4.... F1,F2,F3 - simple numbering but separated into Male and Female
- MTB1, MTB2, MTB3.... RD1, RD2, RD3..... CRS1, CRS2 - sequential by bike type, (e.g. Mountain, Road, Cruiser)
- AL60, AL61, AL62 - sequential by frame type - (e.g. Aluminium)
- MAD52_1, MAD52_2, MAD54_1, MAD54_2 - sequential by bike MODEL and SIZE (e.g. Madone 52cm)
Which scheme you use is entirely up to you. As long as each bike is unique. Simple sequential is fine, but the only advantage of putting more information into an ID is that when you look at a reservation you can quickly see from the ID's which bikes are included. (but you can see this anyway as reservations show bike model and size as well). Also if you put the size into the name it makes it easier to see a bike's size when looking at a pile
We strongly recommend that you use the same ID's in the text and barcode parts of the label. It is just simpler this way. However, they don't need to be the same. For example if you already happened to have some barcodes on the bikes, then BRM can handle different textual names and barcode names for your bikes.
OR, as described above, perhaps your HUMAN ID's are long, but you don't want your barcodes to be that long.
How to get them printed.
How do you generate barcodes?
Once you know what format you're going to use, you then need to produce the labels.
for just testing you can generate them online, e.g. use this site:
For larger shops we recommend you purchase your own printer. It will come with software to actually create the barcodes.
we have had excellent results with this printer: Brother - PT-P750W
(but you can use other printers you like of course!)
- we recommend around 18mm width for putting on bikes
- we use Brother TZ tape with excellent results (durability; sun, water and scratch resistant)
- we recommend to place them near the headset on the top-tube then you can scan them even when a rider is on (if necessary)
Smaller shops can get them printed by third parties, when you tell them your specifications.
If you have any trouble just let us know and we'll put you in touch with someone to supply your labels.
You can use any code you like, e.g. Code-128 as long as your scanner is capable of translating that encoding. The reason BRM doesn't care is that by the time it reaches BRM it has been converted into a String (line of characters).
BRM can therefore accept barcodes containing:
All Alphanumeric characters.
ABC123 and even 'hyphens -'
AB99-1 is valid, for example.