Part of what makes riding a bike such a joyful experience is the simplicity and efficiency of the endeavor. Although I have bare-bones bicycles for running around town, I have to confess to sporting a fancy power meter on my race rig that measures my effort in watts and tracks the amount of work I’ve done in kilojoules.
For commuters who enjoy mating their simple machines with techie gadgets, there are several new products which may be of interest.
Many of the accoutrements are definite safety boons, others are fun toys, and some… are just over the top.
Of course bike lights have been around for many moons, and are a necessity for night riding. These vary from the old-school bottle dynamos that rely on friction from the front tire’s sidewall to generate power, to fancy blindingly-bright rechargable halogen torches, to the new, non-friction dynamos which rely on magnetism for power (no batteries, no friction).
Why stop with headlights and taillights? The Safe Turn Indicator (photo at top) is a cool little contraption that allows cyclists to more emphatically make known their turning intentions to motorists. The indicators Velcro onto the rider’s wrists. Simply holding your arm out to the side automatically activates the blinker – lowering your arm turns it off. Users customize the angles and timing of activation. Sounds like a great idea for cyclists who ride in the dusk or dark.
For the true wired-cockpit feel, cyclists add speedometers, watt-meters, and GPS navigation systems. Although I think you might be safer by, ummm… learning to turn your head, if the clip-on mirrors (which can attach either to your helmet, eyeglasses, or handlebars) don’t feed your need for technological gear, Cerevellum offers a digital rear-view mirror for cyclists. The device also consolidates a potential mess of knickknacks and gizmos on your teched-out handlebars: a recordable heart-rate monitor and GPS system is part of the package.
And, in spite of the warning disclaimers on iPods and headphones’ packaging, many cyclists insist on riding with tunes. As a born multi-tasker, I like to intersperse news downloads and foreign language instructional podcasts with my music to pass the time on long rides. I get my share of weird looks as I repeat Spanish phrases to myself while huffing and puffing along.
The Bicycle to Beach Speaker offers a safer audio solution: it’s a waterproof casing with a built-in speaker that fits into your water bottle cage. The weather-resistant package is also suitable for use at the beach (as the name indicates) and in the shower. It works with any docking iPod and comes with a remote control that mounts onto your handlebars.
So, you can rock out but still hear what’s going on around you. Of course, you’re also probably going to piss off a lot of the people around you by pushing your audio on them. Besides, why go halfway? Check out what these guys from Queens are doing with bike-based sound systems and Thumping Beats!
- Boston Bike Czar, Cheap Tech, Better Riding
- Hi-Tech Hitchhiking for Commuters
- Buses Forego Schedules, Add Tech for Faster Commutes
- More Dangerous NOT to Ride a Bike
- Oakland Bike Bling: Scraper Bike!