Cycling fulfills a number of needs for bike enthusiasts, everything from maintaining fitness to conquering the daily commute to work. Even the latest food delivery apps like Deliveroo and UberEats have taken on board jaunting through the big city by way of fast food bike delivery. And as the trends continue to change in terms of how we get from point A to point B more efficiently, so will the need to keep ourselves safer and our commute less and less taxing. The ultimate question for cyclists continues to be how can I improve my ride?
Well, we’ve culled the bike accessory catalogs to find out which gear truly lives up to the hype. And the consensus is in. Smart bike accessories have put forward-thinking design to the ultimate test in order to evolve in tandem with your ever-evolving bike ride. Smart predictive lighting, smart navigation systems and automatic metrics tracking, smart helmets, and smart turn signals and rearview mirrors all populate the greater canon of biking gear this year. Here’s a rundown of which ones perform with flying colors.
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You’ve had to be under a rock not to have noticed the plethora of bike companies hyping their latest GPS navigation systems. Granted, we all need some sense of direction when we jump on our 8 speed. Sometimes it’s a matter of navigating an alternative route to avoid the upcoming traffic or road construction. Sometimes we need to anticipate how long the route will be. Whatever the case, here are a few that go beyond the usual spiel of “Turn left at the next red light” to give you a more interactive and dynamic navigation system.
Beeline betrays its seemingly lofi hardware with simple and straightforward smart function: a compass, a speedometer, and a clock. The idea behind the Beeline device and its respective app is to take all of the complication out of GPS navigation systems. In its aesthetic design, the device pays clever homage to the old school rounded bike bells that attach to the handlebar. You attach the device (a silicon strap) to your handlebar and let the compass, battery life counter, or speedometer keep you abreast of your route and progress. The connected app takes it further. From the comfort of your iOS or Android phone, you can plan your trip, keep a log of saved destinations and places, and archive your history and metrics.
The bottom line is that the Beeline device is simply no fuss, lightweight, and compact. It hardly passes for smart gear at first glance. But once you get rolling you’ll find yourself easily pairing it with your smartphone like a discreet appendage from your bike. Recharge and synchronize the device easily with a USB cable. The Beeline comes in red, blue, and black and retails for $126.15
2. Smart Halo Bike NavigationSmart Halo not only tackles the question of where you are going but how you get there. The cycling lifestyle brand has rendered a trinity of smart accessories into one solid union of functional tech: navigation, security, and intuitive lighting. The result is a strong piece of hardware, a halobase that attaches to the handlebar, that will give you turn by turn navigation to your desired destination. But it doesn’t stop there. It also has a compass that will help you plot point by point as you negotiate each turn on your way. And still, in the larger navigation sphere of the Smart Halo functionality sits that all important tracking function to help you find your bike should you get lost or it gets stolen.
These are strong elements for Smart Halo’s navigational app. Couple those with its intuitive lighting and you no longer limit yourself to biking only at daylight. At sundown, the night lighting kicks in. And when you are finished with your bike route the light shuts off automatically. No need to worry about seeing where you are going or wasting the energy life of your light with this one.
Finally, Smart Halo gets security right. The Smart Halo system uses a motion sensor to detect if any brazen thief has tried to access your bike. And thanks to that motion sensor system there is an automatic shutdown mechanism. But just for added measure, you can manually deactivate your bike as well should you need to. The locking mechanism quickly incapacitates the bike before thieves can override the system. Thieves will think twice before trying to hassle with Smart Halo’s bulwark of security measures.
Other bells and whistles include a 3-week battery life, fitness and activity tracker, simple pairing with your iOS or Android device, and simple installation or removal from your bike. The Smart Halo system retails at a starting price of $179.
Cobi throws its hat into the ring with its own take on smart connected bikes. Unlike the aforementioned devices, Cobi invites you to mount your smartphone to your device on the handlebar. It comes with a charging mount for your smartphone. The phone charger and remote control put the app right at your fingertips. And depending on how much of your phone you need at arm’s length, this device could be right for you. But if you’d rather keep your fingers on the handles than the phone, Cobi has a thumb-manipulated remote control that can sit just at the handles of your bike.
The app comes with forward-thinking navigation, monitoring not only your route but the weather and the conditions of the commute itself. And to top it off, it’s voice-guided. So should you need to keep your eyes firmly fixed on the road, you can listen to your navigation system guide you through turn by turn directions.
Cobi has also embraced intuitive thinking for security and lighting. Here, sensors can detect suspicious activity in order to secure the bike. Sensors also finesse your front and rear lighting with 3 different modes of lighting to take you from day to night. And rear turn signals are an added touch to keep drivers up to speed with when and where you are turning or stopping. Lastly, an electronic bell acts intuitively as well to caution pedestrians that may be too close.
The fine folks at Cobi are so confident in their design that they’ve given buyers a full 24-month warranty and a 60-day return policy. The Cobi system retails at a starting price of $249.
Start-up Smart Bike (cool points for the original company name) has jumped headfirst into the smart bike arena with its take on rearview mirrors and navigation. Sure the concept has been already explored in the traditional sense and the not-so-traditional sense (i.e. Cycliq Fly6). But here Smart Bike couples traditional functionality with forward-thinking inventiveness. Enter Hexagon.
Hexagon uses the handlebar to mount its camera and your smartphone. The system then gives you eyes on what’s happening behind you much like a traditional rearview mirror. But Hexagon doesn’t limit itself merely to the rear view. It uses its sensors to detect if you’ve been in an accident or not. And like your very own OnStar biking system, Hexagon will notify any emergency contacts you’ve programmed into the system.
Then it goes on to streamline all the bulky hardware you may be fitting to your bike. It tracks distance, follows your fitness activity, and it even live streams. And finally, there’s a power bank to recharge your phone when you’re not using your bike for…well, biking. And not to be outdone by Cobi, Hexagon’s turn signals are par for the course.
Smart Bike’s Hexagon is clearly the outlier here in the fray. And they know it. Though new to the market, they’ve taken a ball to the wall approach to captivate consumer cyclists. Hexagon’s starting retail price is $99.
We shouldn’t forget that while much of this year’s catalogue surrounding bikes focuses on the latest models of bikes themselves and any extension of the bike, helmets play just as integral a part in your safety if not more than anything else you can invest in as a cyclist. And a few heavy hitters have not taken that point lightly. Here’s a look at the strong contenders for smart helmets should you decide to upgrade your head gear from average to forward-thinking.
1. X1 Smart Bike Helmet
Enter the ever-evolving world of X1 connected helmets. Here the brand populates its universe of bluetooth connected helmets (more specifically the X1 and the X1 Pro) with a bevy of devices and gear that keep the cyclist in the fast lane of tech. The two most impressive add-ons to the helmet design are bluetooth connectivity for simple pairing with your smartphone for both versions of the helmet and a video camera for the X1 PRo iteration.
Let’s tackle the cleverness and common sense of the Bluetooth function. Here X1 allows you to completely put your phone away and navigate through a grocery list of functional apps that include GPS navigation, fitness and goal tracking, phone calls, and even listening to FM radio. The helmet is equipped with both a microphone and speakers that offer multifunctionality from conversations and voice commands to listen to your favorite tunes.
The X1Pro boosts your riding experience with its integrated camera. Shooting in up to 2 hours of 1440p or 1080p, the camera is specially designed for sport and action sequences. Much like your standard sports video cameras, this one offers many of the same perks. It also allows you to narrate your filming experience with the built-in microphone, add music from your FM radio or Bluetooth-paired smartphone, and capture photos and videos that can be instantly downloaded to your smartphone and shared.
But on to the brass tacks. How does the X1 perform in terms of protecting your cranium? The X1 is forged from a polycarbonate shell with a nylon strap. The soft interior is equally comfortable for the wearer. And the X1 uses an open ear design so that the wearer can be fully aware of his surroundings when en route. And most importantly the helmet is designed to withstand heavy impact, making it a robust choice for keeping the cyclist safe.
The X1 comes with a 2-year safety warranty and retails at a starting price of $199.
2. Lumos Smart Helmet
Lumos credits itself as being the next generation of helmet for the city cyclist. What that means for cyclists is a new brand of helmet expressly tailored for the precise nuances of the urban commute. And here’s the interesting thing about that concept. Rather than relegate some of the functional tech to the bike itself, Lumos kits out its helmet with a vast array of tech.
So the idea of spiriting through the city at the speed of light has got you going. Lumos’ helmet comes front and rear-equipped with lights. And these lights do a number of clever things rather than just simply illuminate your bike path for you. They also have turn signals and intuitive warning lights. Now pedestrians and drivers alike will be even more conscious of your intentions when you take to the road. And so will your helmet with its sensors that respond to your level of activity.
As for accessibility and freedom, the helmet comes with a handlebar remote control. That way your hands stay on the handlebar rather than fiddling with the helmet. And for design, Lumos has won a grocery list of accolades for its lightweight, weatherproof helmet. It retails at a starting price of $179.
3. Torch Bike Helmet
Torch offers a strong entry into the smart helmet fray with its robustly designed helmet. Like the aforementioned helmets on this list, it offers a lightweight yet sturdy design. It also goes the way of 360-degree vision. One size fits all here where padding adjustment and a dial fit acclimate themselves to the contours and size of the wearer’s head. And like Lumos, Torch has front and rear-equipped lighting and bright colored helmets so that drivers and pedestrians can see you day or night.
As for safety, the helmet is CPSC and EN1078 certified. What does that mean beyond the fact that the T2 withstands impacts like a boss? It means you can purchase the helmet in North and South America and in Europe.
But as for other tech features, the T2 is rather minimalist. It can be recharged with a USB cable in under 2 hours. But minimalist is what the fine folks at Torch are banking on. Simple functionality at a very affordable price of 85 British Sterling.
No point in upgrading your bike if you can’t keep it protected from theft. Thankfully, a few standouts have brushed off their thinking caps and gotten down to the hard business of building a better bike lock. Here’s what the contenders look like.
1. Ellipse Smart Bike Lock
Lattis has taken forward the standard design of the U-lock with its intuitively designed Ellipse. Here the brand couples tech ingenuity with old school fortitude to render a bike lock that is both hard to break as well as hack. What have they come up with? The Ellipse is a 17mm stainless steel horseshoe that locks into a chamber. Breaking the lock will take a gargantuan effort on the part of any audacious thief.
But then take into consideration, that same thief will also have to get past the Ellipse’s security controls. The lock is paired via Bluetooth to your smartphone. And in so doing you can personalize your level of security, waxing from keyless entry and automatic shutdown to merely double tapping your phone. But if you’re at all worried about a hacker bypassing any of these controls, find some peace of mind with Lattis’ high tech design. They’ve used “bank level” encryption to keep your lock well out of the hands of any standard hacker.
How does all this tech stay up to speed in one place? The lock is self-charging thanks to its solar panel. No need for extra cables or a charging mount to bog down your commute with cumbersome gear. And if you want to bike share, there’s even an app for that as well.
The very forward-thinking Ellipse is hefty and muscular. But its price is surprisingly lightweight at an affordable $199 or a payment plan option of $22 a month.
2. Linka Smart Bike Lock
Linka’s drive to a safer more secure bike comes on the heels of its efficiency campaign: “Lock smarter not harder.” Like Ellipse, it is an auto locking device. But unlike Ellipse, the lock resembles one half in a pair of handcuffs. It readily mounts to your bike for lockdown or for the commute.
The idea is simple. The device locks the wheel to the frame, instantly incapacitating and immobilizing the bike. But should the thief try to cart off with the whole bike in hand, there is an anti-theft siren at the ready to ward him off. And it detects any form of tampering and kicks into defense mode automatically.
Here is yet another take on keyless entry. As you approach the bike, the lock recognizes you and unlocks. And if you need to find your bike, there is a tracking app that will pinpoint your bike with your phone. Linka retails for a starting price of $129.
3. Connected Cycle Smart Pedal
Here’s a completely different take on securing your bike. Connected Cycle has rendered the first smart pedal. Yes, you can virtually upgrade your bike into a smart bike by installing new pedals. The pedal in question is easily installed in under 2 minutes. And once installed it can only be removed by the owner’s coded key.
Should a thief try to steal your bike, the pedal sends you a notification on your phone. It also locates your bike if the thief is, in fact, successful with wheeling it away. While those two elements are probably not enough to stop a thief dead in its tracks, it’s already a step in the right direction.
Then there are the other added bonuses. We already know that the pedal synchronizes fluidly with your smartphone. So not only does it come with GPS, it has strong activity tracking to help monitor your goals and progress. But here’s the most forward-thinking attribute to the pedal. It’s self-governing, meaning that it generates its own power. So there’s no need to recharge the pedal or connect it to a cable or charging mount of some sort.
The Connected Cycle pedal launches officially this year.