20 awesome bike technologies that will make your ride less bumpy
It’s spring — time to get outside and enjoy nature! And what better way to do it than on a bicycle? But lest you think the tech world has ignored the pain points of cyclists, here are 20 cutting-edge bike-related technologies – from smart locks to self-filling water bottles — that will make your heart sing and your brain spin.
1) Solar Bike
Invented in Denmark, this solar-powered electric bike doesn’t need to be plugged in. It has solar cells built into both wheels and these recharge when the bike is idle. According to the inventor, it has a 40-mile range and can travel up to 30 mph. The bicycle is still a prototype and not yet available for purchase.
Slovenian entrepreneur-turned New Yorker Niko Klansek has created an electric pedal assist that you can install into an existing bike to make it semi-electric. It charges when a rider brakes and gives riders a little boost in pedaling power when they need to go up a hill or otherwise get tired. Unlike a regular electric bike, the Smart Wheel attaches to your own bike. It’s for riders who mainly want to pedal using their own strength but might need a bit of extra help on hills or long hauls.
FlyKly’s other product is a Smart Light, which is powered by the bike’s front wheel and will charge your cell phone as you pedal. There is a FlyKly app on iOS and Android that connects to both products. The app even allows bicycle tracking through GPS should your bike be stolen. The product costs about $1,000 and ships internationally.
Connected Cycle is a French startup that has built a smart bike pedal equipped with GPS and GPRS sensors. As soon as you start pedaling, the sensors activate and track your movement, speed and route. This serves two purposes. First, the pedal can be used as a fitness tracker, and second, if your bike is stolen, the Connected Cycle app (not released yet) can help you see where it has gone. The pedal can access the Internet on its own, without a Bluetooth equipped smartphone. The company has an Indiegogo campaign beginning at 1 p.m. EST today. The price of the device has yet to be determined but early contributors can get 50% off, according to the website.
COBI, the Frankurt, Germany-based cycling startup, recently raised $4 million from European investors Capnamic Ventures, Iris Capital and Creathor Venture.
COBI has developed a modular system to upgrade bicycles digitally to smart bikes in a manner similar to connected cars. The system consists of a mounting on the handlebars, a smartphone with the COBI app installed, head and taillights as well as a thumb controller.
The system costs $169 through pre-order for all bicycles but can also be integrated as an OEM (B2B) system by bicycle manufacturers.
The leading cause of bike-related deaths is crashing with a motor vehicle, and of these, more than 90 percent of fatalities were not wearing a helmet. Maybe this fashionable foldable bike helmet by Italy-based Carrera will persuade more riders to protect their heads while cycling. It snaps into place and is held in place by elastic for a snug fit. It can be snapped off and placed in your bag when you’ve arrived at your destination. It retails for $112 on Amazon.
Hövding is a smart “invisible helmet” developed in Sweden for people who want to look fashionable while cycling but still be protected. The company holds several patents on its “helmet,” which is actually an airbag that deploys if the cyclist has an accident.
According to the company’s website, “The inflated airbag covers a much larger area than a traditional cycle helmet and is designed according to current accident statistics. The protection is greatest where it is needed most and the airbag provides extremely soft and gentle shock absorption.”
The product has been test crashed thousands of times using stunt drivers. As a result, Hövding’s algorithms can tell the difference between biking and accidents. It retails for about $320.
Drivers of Jaguars and Land Rovers will be alerted to cycists in their vicinity with “Bike Sense” technology that is being developed at Jaguar Land Rover’s Advanced Research Center in the UK.
Sensors on the car will be able to identify bicycles and motorcycles nearby, with red warning lights and alarms sounding if the driver gets too close.
Your small child has just gotten a bicycle and he ignores your pleas to stop as he hurtles towards an intersection. The MiniBrake was made for these situations. It is a remote-controlled brake for bicycles that parents can use to prevent their kids from having an accident. The startup is based in Hungary and the system will be shipped for the first time this spring, costing €109.
London-based startup Blaze has raised £1 million from venture capitalists to export its LaserLight technology. It is a bike light with a laser that projects a green image of a bike six meters in front of you as well as a 300 lumen LED light. It helps motorists see cyclists from angles where they would otherwise be invisible. The company was launched in February 2014 and is already selling in 50 countries with revenues of £250,000 last year. One of their biggest markets is Japan, where there are reportedly 11.5 million commuting cyclists.
The LaserLight costs £125 and is available on the company’s website.
Lock8 is a keyless smart lock with a GPS tracker. Founded by Austrian Franz Salzmann and Mexico native Daniel Zajarias-Fainsod, the lock features motion and temperature sensors and a very loud alarm if someone touches the bike. The owner of the bike will receive a push notification if the alarm goes off. The first test locks will retail for €249. The plan is that the lock will be the start of a global bike sharing company.
The startup received over $1 million in seed funding from angel investor Christophe Maire. The lock can be unlocked by any smartphone through the use of a password.
11) Nokē U-Lock
The Nokē U-Lock is a very strong U-Lock that you unlock with your smartphone. It also has an alarm against would-be intruders and can be used with a Bluetooth. Pre-orders on Kickstarter start at $109 and will begin shipping in September 2015.
Although it sounds Scandinavian, the company that produces the lock, FŪZ Designs, is based in Utah.
Skylock is a very strong U-lock that can be operated with a smartphone and will send you an alert if someone is trying to tamper with your bike. The lock can also detect crashes. And it has a social component: You tell the Skylock app, which works with both iOS and Android phones, who your friends are and they will be notified in the event of a crash. You can also share access to your bike with friends.
On top of that, you don’t have to recharge the battery because the lock contains solar panels and can recharge itself. Unlike the Lock8 and Noke, the Skylock doesn’t set off an audible alarm, nor does it have GPS tracking. It can be pre-ordered for $159. Skylock’s parent company, San Francisco-based Velo labs, will eventually develop the product into a bike sharing service.
This Santiago, Chile-based company ran a successful Indiegogo campaign last year. Instead of fumbling with a bike lock, the Yerka is a bike that you can snap apart and wrap the entire bike around a pole.
The bike is not actually unstealable, it’s just that for a thief to steal it, they’d have to destroy the bike itself, thereby defeating the purpose. The entire bike can be pre-ordered for $499 on Indiegogo.
Joyride is a Toronto-based startup that wants to tackle the epidemic of bike theft. The service tracks your bike’s location using public WiFi. A small sensor is placed on the bike and periodically pings the owner so they can reconstruct the bike’s travel history. All of this can be tracked through the Joyride smartphone app, which will be released soon.
TReGo Bikes is an Israeli startup that lets you turn your cruising bike into a cargo bike and back again. The bike extension allows you to place a child seat or shopping basket on the bike and then remove it when you want a lighter, unencumbered ride.
Loopwheels are bicycle wheels with integral suspension. They don’t have spokes and give you a smoother ride than regular bike wheels, even letting you easily ride up curbs or on cobblestones. The wheels have a spring system between the hub and the rim of the wheel that provides suspension – cushioning the rider from bumps and potholes in the road. The springs also absorb road noise, reducing vibration through the frame and into the rider’s arms. Developed in the UK, the wheels have been nominated as one of the London Design Museum’s designs of the year for 2015. The wheels are available for wheelchairs as well, and a pair retails for about $1,000.
Not quite a bike
Martin Angelov and Mihail Klenov, two architects from Bulgaria, designed the Halfbike. Its Kickstarter campaign reached its funding goal of $50,000 within 24 hours, accomplished several stretch campaigns, and so far, raised more than 10 times its funding goal: $821,000.
The creators of Halfbike said they “created a new vehicle to awaken your natural instinct to move. A vehicle that trains your balance and reflexes in a completely new way…the Halfbike will not simply transport you from A to B. It will distract you for a moment from all your day-to-day worries, allowing you to focus solely on your body and the ride itself.” The bike costs $399 on Kickstarter and will be shipped by December.
If you use your bike for errands around town, you’ve probably thought to yourself, “Why isn’t there a Waze for bicycles, a navigation app that shows you the best way to get from point A to B, with the best bike lanes and fewest obstacles.” The Hammerhead app aims to be just that.
This New York city-based startup addresses two pain points: first, the need to find a route that is optimized for your cycling needs, and second, a way to retrieve that information in a safe way while riding your bicycle. The app, available on iOS and Android, provides maps of best bike routes and you can even specify that you want a route with say, no hills or very light traffic and the app will create a route for you. Then, the app communicates with a device mounted on your bike that shows you whether to continue straight or turn in a way that doesn’t distract you from the road. You can pre-order it for $85.
The Fontus is the prototype of a concept that is competing for the James Dyson Award. You can use the calories produced from cycling to create drinkable water out of thin air. It is the brainchild of Austrian industrial design student Kristof Retezár, and consists of a bottle that fills with condensed water from the air while your bicycle is in motion. It does this by collecting moisture from the air, condensing it and storing it as safe drinking water. The upper part of the bottle holder is cooled by electricity generated by solar panels. As the air condenses into water, the droplets drip into the bottle attached below. Meanwhile, the air itself is pushed into the device by the forward motion of the bicycle.
20) RayGo for bikes
The RayGo is a device and smartphone app that lets you check your text messages and other messages while driving, but in a safe way. Now RayGo wants to create a similar device for cyclists – using a simple device mounted on your handlebar, you can scroll through your messages and have them read to you as you are biking through a pair of earphones. This is not for cyclists who are riding in rush hour traffic, but perhaps for those who are winding their way along a forested bike path. If 500 people add themselves to the bike waiting list, RayGo promises it will produce the device. It is not clear how much it will cost, but the RayGo for cars, which has almost reached its $30,000 funding goal on Indiegogo with six days left in the campaign, is currently $55.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our roundup of the latest bike technologies and inspired you to take your wheels out for a spin.