Tech Savvy Cycling: The Latest

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”?

BitLock

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

Image via digitaltrends.com
Image via digitaltrends.com

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.

smrtGRiPS

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

Image via connectedcycle.com
Image via connectedcycle.com

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.

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5 Bikeable NYE Outfits to Sparkle Your Way Into 2015

Ready to ring in 2015? From a swanky dinner with a champagne toast to staying in for the night and watching the ball drop on TV—we’ve got your bikeable outfit covered from head to toe. You’ll be making your list of resolutions, eyeing up someone to smooch, and singing your heart out to Auld Lang Syne in no time.

So, where are you off to?

An uptown house party hosted by your cool best friend

Image via Dynamite
Image via Dynamite

Headed to a party at your uptown friend’s home? She probably has a cowhide rug, a fair number of artistic screenprints on the wall, and an elusive cat lurking about. The occasion calls for a cool tank with a hint of sparkle. We like this option pictured above from Dynamite, or this slightly riskier number from Theory. You’re in the spirit, but effortlessly cool. Someone will probably mistake you for a Parisian. You’ll neither confirm nor deny.

Pair the tank with your most flattering skinny jeans, cuffed ever so haphazardly at the ankle, and your trusty simple pumps, like these from Madewell. (If you’ve got a long ride ahead of you, throw the pumps in your bag and leave your practical shoes at the door when you arrive.)

An upscale restaurant in the heart of downtown

Image via Nordstrom
Images via Nordstrom

Spending the evening with a special someone at the city’s chicest eatery? Arrive in a stylish jumpsuit and be ready for whatever adventures the night may bring. Major plus: many jumpsuits feature a tapered or straight leg, which means your silky fabric stays far away from that greasy bike chain. We like this piece above from Rachel Zoe. We guarantee, that sheer back will have heads turning. Similar (and cheaper) versions here or here.

Images via Kate Spade and J.Crew
Images via Kate Spade and J.Crew

Add some tasteful sparkle with accessories like this Kate Spade bracelet or these statement earrings above.

The hotspot nightclub with your best girls

Image via Garnet Hill
Image via Garnet Hill

You’ve made plans with your gals to hit up the city’s quintessential New Year’s Eve nightclubs. This is your opportunity to rival the disco ball in shine and sparkle—don’t let it pass you by. We suggest Garnet Hill’s (on mega-sale!) sequined skirt and tank combo. Pick your favorite color and shine on. We also give the Bird Industries stamp-of-approval to this lovely frock from ModCloth and this high-necked dress from French Connection, via ASOS.

But remember to pop on your trusty skirt garter to ride into 2015 with class, not exhibitionism. Available here and here.

Your neighborhood dive bar

Image via Forever 21
Image via Forever 21

Anything goes at your neighborhood dive bar. You’re a regular, and you feel completely at ease. New Year’s Eve is your opportunity to inject a little glamour and sparkle into the regularly plaid, denim, and cheap beer scene. Throw ’em for a loop in a glitter tee or tank (like this above or this) or some sparkly sneakers (like these Kate Spade gems). With distressed jeans, this look is completely bikeable.

Riding to the liquor store and back home, staying in for the night

Image via American Apparel
Image via American Apparel

Staying in for the night means you have complete creative license to get as outlandish as you want. For your ride to the liquor store, we suggest some sparkly leggings that border on obnoxious (this pair pictured from American Apparel should do the trick), your snuggliest sweatshirt, and a pair of 2015 glasses that you pick up from someone on the street. Home alone? Pick up extra booze and make people think you’re throwing a raging party.

As you cuddle up on the couch to watch New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin, smile to yourself because you actually made the best plans of all. Want to go to bed early? We won’t judge.

As always, ride safely and smartly this New Year’s Eve, and here’s to a very happy 2015!

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Chic Cyclist Gift Guide

It’s time to deck the halls, be jolly, and fa-la-la. Holiday shopping season is upon us. If you’re lucky enough to have a stylish lady cyclist in your life and on your list, check out our 2014 Chic Cyclist Gift Guide. With these goodies under the tree, you’ll be sure to make her spirits bright. Away we go:

Sawako Furuno helmet

Image via Sawako Furuno
Image via Sawako Furuno

If she’s going to have helmet hair, she should have a chic culprit. Keep her safe and stylish in one of Sawako Furuno’s many helmets. With designs ranging from animal patterns to graphics of NYC, this Japanese designer knows what’s up. Available for an average of $150 here. Simply can’t decide on a pattern? Pick up a gift card from one of the brand’s many stockists.

Ingebretsen’s Biking Viking Chocolates

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Contrary to popular belief, chocolate is actually a girl’s best friend. Hey, a lady needs her nourishment! Ingebretson’s, a nearly 100-year-old Scandinavian marketplace in Minneapolis, MN, has partnered with master chocolatiers B.T. McElrath to produce two fine chocolates: milk chocolate with cardamom and dark chocolate infused with coffee. Stuff her stocking with Biking Viking. She won’t be disappointed. $6.95. Pick some up here.

The Cambridge Satchel Company

Image left via bikepretty.com. Image right via The Cambridge Satchel Company.
Image left via bikepretty.com. Image right via The Cambridge Satchel Company.

Got an Anglophile on your hands? You can’t go wrong with a classic satchel from The Cambridge Satchel Company. They’re timeless, chic, and available in a variety of styles, sizes, and colors—from traditional browns to neon pinks. And each bag is handcrafted with love in Great Britain. Feeling fancy? Get the bag embossed with her initials and the company’s famous bike logo. Her inner Kate Middleton and her inner Beryl Burton will rejoice. $155. Available here.

Reclaimed Bike Gear & Wood Bottle Opener Coaster

Image via uncommongoods.com
Image via uncommongoods.com

A two-in-one coaster and bottle opener? Genius! Handmade in Texas by Rachel Spire, an artist, furniture designer, and avid cyclist, this nifty gadget will have your gal cracking open her beverage of choice and keeping her table protected in one fell swoop. Made with reclaimed wood and recycled bike gears. $15. Available here.

Bird Industries CycleChic Gift Set

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In the nick of time for the holiday season: presenting our CycleChic Gift Set! Perfect for the cycling lady who seemingly has everything. Our sturdy, lined, handmade, 5″ x 9″ pouch includes:

  • A Bird Industries Skirt Garter in your choice of size and color. Keeps her dresses and skirts in check while she’s cycling down the road.
  • Biketastic Pocket Mirror for quick check-ups of hair and make-up.
  • Blotting papers to instantly whisk away oil and shine from her face after a long ride.
  • A pinwheeled Upcycled Bike Tube Ornament made from discarded bike tubes. ‘Tis the season!

With our pouch popped inside her bike bag, she’ll be ready for any adventure that comes her way. $25. Available here or here.

Psst: Have your eye on a gift courtesy of Bird Industries? Want it to arrive safe and sound by Christmas Eve? Remember: our cut-off for domestic orders with standard shipping is 12/19.

Merry, merry!

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Winterizing Your Wheels

Snow on the ground? Check. Black Friday ads on a seemingly constant loop? Check. Hibernation instincts setting in? Check. Winter is here, and for most of us, the only thing we can do is embrace it. And that includes saying hello to crisp, snowy rides on our trusty bike. A good winter bike ride can be invigorating and empowering—you basically feel like a warrior.

Images via letsgorideabike.com, charleschesslerphotography.com, movabilityaustin.org
Images via letsgorideabike.com, charleschesslerphotography.com, movabilityaustin.org

But you don’t have a fat tire bike. And don’t have a 6 inch beard protecting your jaw from that unrelenting north wind. And you maybe don’t have a will power made of steel. No fear. We’ll get you suited up and on the road in no time. But first, you’ll need to prepare your bike for the elements. Here are a few tips to keep you safe:

– Switch up your bike. Winter is not the time to roll around on your shiny new, carbon frame speed machine that brings you medals and glory in warmer months. Salt and road grit will gunk up your chain and gears—fast. If you’re lucky enough to own more than one bike, select the more rustic option for your winter cycle, clean it often, and don’t forget to lube it up.

– Turn up for a tune up. Before you hit the road, it’s a good idea to take your wheels in to your local bike shop for a winter tune up. They’ll cross the t’s and dot the i’s so you’re feeling confident about the well-being of your cycle.

– Find some fenders. Does a wet tush covered in gross, dirty street slush sound appealing to you? No. Get yourself some fenders and repel 95% of that gunk.

– Winterize your wheels. Solid winter bike tires can be a lifesaver. Literally. Your sleek skinny summer tires simply won’t have enough traction on icy or snowy roads. So there are a few different options for your winter wheels. 1) You can select a thicker or nubbier set tires and squeak out a touch of air to make them a bit more gummy. 2) You can install some studded tires to help you grip the road (best for icy or packed snow). 3) Zip ties: a wonderfully cheap solution, but only if you don’t have rim breaks. Get the how-to here. 4) You can fall over.

– You don’t merely twinkle. You shine. If you’re commuting to and from work, you’re likely going to be riding in the dark. Bike lights are essential. No need to go disco-crazy, but a good set of front and back lights will keep you visible and safe. Consider investing in a good LED light like this one.

– Sloppy saddle no more. Locking your bike outside and heading indoors? Protecting the seat of your bike is a must. Check out our adorable, chic (we’re not biased at all), and functional saddle covers, here or here, that keep you sitting pretty.

Ride on, winter warriors!

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Last-Minute Bikeable Halloween Costumes

You give yourself 18 minutes to bike to work when you know it actually takes 25. You allow yourself just one more game of Candy Crush before tackling your pile of bills. And then one more after that. You’re a procrastinator. Own it. And you don’t have a Halloween costume yet, but that’s all about to change. Behold: last-minute and totally bikeable costume ideas.

Katniss Everdeen

Image via jenniferlawrencedaily.com
Image via jenniferlawrencedaily.com

Katniss’s sporty, no-nonsense, badass look is a no-brainer. Don a pair of khaki or hunter green pants, a form-fitting top, a black athletic jacket, and a Mockingjay pin (here’s an easy DIY). Assume the three-finger salute during your turn signals. Zip past congested traffic and tipsy pedestrians like the Girl on Fire you are.

Of course, a sleek French braid is a must. We like this tutorial. (Bonus: the hairstyle will surely fit under your helmet.) Hair gets a little messy throughout the course of your night? Even better. Katniss doesn’t have time to worry about flyaways.

 Bat

Image via evilmadscientist.com

Find yourself a black umbrella, snip-snip, stitch-stitch, and you’ve turned yourself into a bat! Okay, so it’s a little more involved than that. But it’s incredibly easy, we swear. Get full instructions for creating this clever nocturnal critter costume here.

Attach some bat ears to your helmet, wear an all-black ensemble, and you’re ready to roll. Add some dramatic arm movements and feel the wind beneath your wings as you ride.

E.T.

Image via cyclepalooza.ca

Got a red hoodie and a white sheet? Looks like you’ll be recreating the famous E.T. scene this Halloween. Affix a basket to the front of your bike if you don’t already have one and ride with purpose.

How you craft your E.T. friend is up to interpretation, your crafting skills, and time. Try paper maché, a drawing on cardboard, or your niece’s babydoll.

Feel free to get a bit weird, and frankly, extraterrestrial.

Kiki’s Delivery Service (or any witch, really)

Image via kikisdeliveryservice.deviantart.com
Image via kikisdeliveryservice.deviantart.com

Oh, Kiki. The adorable teenage witch from our youth with a delivery gig that often went awry. Her look is pretty simple—basic black dress, large red hair bow, red ballet flats, black cat sidekick. If your tresses are lighter, throw on a black bob wig if you’ve got one.

Attach a broom to the frame of your bike to transform your trusty cycle into a witch-approved transportation vehicle. Turn the brush horizontally and the broom doubles as a fender!

Ever the modest witch, Kiki would never be caught exposing her bloomers to the city below. Keep things in check during your spooky night rides with a trusty Bird Industries skirt garter.

Happy Halloween!

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The Post Office Workout: more than an exercise in patience

I’ve been fortunate enough this summer to have a flexible schedule during the day, which has led to the most unexpected routine that I’ve grown to love.  You see, I like to sneak in exercise.  I used to go to the gym for the purpose of working out, and I’m sure I will again in the future.  But if I can get breathing hard and working my muscles while I’m doing something else?  Score!  I think this is what originally led me to commuting by bike.  If you have to go someplace, you may as well exercise on your way there.

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The post office has been my main go-to this summer (better biking weather leads to more women needing bike accessories!).  So if I only have a few packages to send out, I’ve started jogging the 1 mile to the post office.  I drop my envelopes and jog halfway back to the park nearby.

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Here’s how it goes.  I will have already found a workout to do that I’ve either typed into my phone or have on the screen.  There are so many different exercises that use little or no equipment, but have more variety than just basic sit-ups and push-ups.  Searching “bodyweight workout” on the internet has provided a great variety.  This countdown nearly did me in.  Needless to say, I did not “repeat” at the end.

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Do your tricep dips on the park bench and use the jungle gym for any pull-ups.
Bonus: you sometimes overhear the bizarre conversations little kids have with each other.

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And this is what I see when I do sit-ups.  Ahhhhh.

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The half-mile back is for HIIT and warm down.  High Intensity Interval Training seems to be the silver bullet of working out right now.  I could do a whole post on that, but right now I’ll just say that you can get a great workout in just 4 minutes:  20 second sprint as hard as you can, 10 second rest (Tabata Regimen).  Do this 8 times.  It’s hard, but you can do anything for 4 minutes, right? I recently downloaded this handy free Tabata Timer app, which audibly tells you when to work and when to rest.

That’s it.  Replenish and hit the showers!

smoothies

Don’t be too impressed with my fresh smoothie.  I also ate 2 Oreos and a bunch of pita chips after that.  What’s the use of being good if you can’t be bad to even it out?

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