For better or for worse, technology has permeated our lives. And over the past few weeks (namely due to this month’s Consumer Electronics Show), a new crop of wiz-bang tech products have popped up to enrich the world of biking. But we’re wondering: do we need them? What’s the role of electronics when we push our pedals down the road? We love biking for its simplicity, darn it.
But on the other hand, it would be game-changing to know the location of our bikes should they ever be stolen. And who’s to argue with tech advancements that increase the safety of both cyclists and drivers?
Below are five new tech gadgets designed to enhance the cycling experience. What do you think? Like ’em? Despise ’em? Already clicking “complete your purchase”?
Powered by an app on your phone, BitLock is a triple threat. The app senses your proximity, identifies you as you come within 3 feet of your bike, then allows you to unlock your bike with the push of a button (goodbye, U-lock key!). Having a space cadet moment and can’t remember where you locked your bike? Using the GPS on your phone, BitLock records the location of your bike, too. You can even set up a ride share program with your family and friends, giving them access to unlock and lock your bike. Bonus: the app also tracks your miles, calories burned, and how much CO2 emission you saved.
Volvo smart helmet
The number of cyclists killed or injured in the U.S. each year is hard to swallow (close to 50,000), and Volvo has decided to do its part to combat this. The company has partnered with protective sports gear manufacturer POC and communications company Ericsson to design a helmet that links drivers and cyclists, alerting one another before potential collisions.
Using a phone app, cyclists’ position is constantly pinged to a Volvo cloud and can be shared through the cloud to drivers and vice versa. Imagine your helmet flashing red as a car zooms past your intersection. If you’re in a vehicle, think about a bicycle symbol flashing via your heads-up display if a cyclist is in your blind spot.
The helmet was presented at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month and is still a prototype at this point. Stay tuned.
You’re biking along to meet your friend when, crap—you can’t remember if the coffee shop is on 2nd Street or 2nd Avenue. You pull off the road, grab your phone, and hunt around for Google Maps. After twisting and turning to avoid the glare of the sun, you realize it’s actually on Cedar, and you have to double back.
Introducing smrtGRiPS. Currently raising funds on Indiegogo, the high-tech handlebar grips tell you where you need to go through buzzing. Right hand buzzed? Turn right. Same deal with the left. The vibrations build in intensity as you near your turn. Keep those peepers on the road, smrtGRiPS offers eyes-free navigation.
The grips also act as a bike tracker. Should your bike be stolen, whenever another biker using smrtGRiPS comes near your bike, you’ll get a notification and be able to retrieve your bike. So the feature is only helpful if smrtGRiPS becomes ubiquitous. But if tracking down a stolen bike is your main concern, read on…
Connected Cycle pedal
Another product that debuted at Consumer Electronics Show: the Connected Cycle pedal, a stylish piece of mind. Synced with your phone, the French company’s high-tech pedal instantly notifies you if your bike is moved, and allows it to be located at any time. Installation takes under 2 minutes, however the pedal can only be removed using the owner’s specially coded key. Get ready to stop crime in its tracks.
Connected Cycle’s pedal also automatically records the speed, route, incline, and calories burned during your bike ride. Because why not.
Carbon fiber 3D printing
Ah, carbon fiber. So strong, so light, so sleek. And now, ready to be 3D printed. Another marvel of the Consumer Electronics Show, the company MarkForged showed off their “significant advancement in materials science,” the Mark One. It’s the world’s first 3D printer producing fully functional, beautifully strong carbon fiber parts. No word yet on how the Mark One will transform the cycling industry (cheaper carbon components?), but revolution can’t be far off.