TIME Gadgets

9 Bicycle Gadgets That Will Keep You Safe in Style

Bicycle Technology
Guido Mieth—Getty Images Bicycle Technology

Turn some heads in the name of fun and safety with this techy cycling gear

Sure, the bicycle was invented in the early 1800s, but lately, a renewed interest in the two-wheeler’s eco-friendly footprint has yielded many great innovations for riders. Concerned first and foremost about sharing the road with gas-guzzling automobiles, cyclists want better visibility and more ways to pedal safely. But beyond that, they’re into making their commutes and cruises fun again.

These nine gadgets may have not exactly reinvented the wheel, but they’d be welcome additions to any modern-day ride.

Blink Steady

High design meets high visibility in this low-profile, rear flashing light. Hewn from solid aluminum, the $125 tail light securely affixes to your seat post using a 2 millimeter allen wrench, not the kind of tool your everyday thief typically carries. Lit by two 120-degree, low-powered LEDs, the waterproof flasher sips power from two AAA batteries.

But don’t worry about leaving the light on — an accelerometer ensures the light only flashes when you’re riding, and a photosensor only turns Blink Steady on when it’s dark enough.

Cycliq Fly Cameras

A pair of action cameras disguised in working bike lights, the Fly 12 and Fly 6 are ingenious devices for recording the road rage that goes on around you. Named after 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock, the front- and rear-facing cameras (respectively) are two different products.

Fly 12, which just nearly tripled its Kickstarter goal, is a smartphone-compatible 400 lumen headlight that records 1080p video. Fly 6, which appears to be sold out thought Cycliq but is still in-stock through Amazon for $210, packs a 720p video camera into a 30 lumen flashing light. Whether it’s keeping an eye out for you or helping you to be seen, this smart technology certainly has your back.

Helios Handlebars

As righteous as many riders can get, there are quite a few that actually know their hand signals from their hind quarters. Due out this summer, Helios makes a range of connected handlebars (they come in bullhorn, drop, or straight styles) that not only pack a 500-lumen headlight, but also a blinker system into the ends.

Pair the $280 smart handlebar with your phone through Bluetooth, and you can make the lights turn on when you’re near (a great battery-saving feature), enable GPS tracking, and use the rear-facing LEDs (which serve as blinkers) to guide you around using your phone’s Google Maps turn-by-turn navigation.

Monkey Lights

Sure, a Tron light cycle would help improve night-time visibility, but you don’t need to replace your entire rig to turn heads. Monkey Lights snap onto your bike’s spokes and flash colored LEDs in certain patterns to give your wheels a brightly-colored visual. From rainbow stripes to barreling fireballs, the 8-bit-like graphics can be programmed in hundreds of color and pattern combinations. And ranging in price from $25 to $75 dollars (per wheel, and depending on how many LEDs you want) the waterproof and theft-resistant lights don’t draw much attention in the daylight, making them a cool surprise once the sun goes down.

Orp

Designed and tested on the mean streets of Portland, Ore., one of the bike-friendliest cities in the world, Orp is a bike bell for the 21st century. Give its rubber button a light tap and the $65 handlebar-mounted peripheral will emit a 76-decibel chirp, the kind of sound that seems to say, “oh hi!”

But if you lay down on that same “wail tail,” an urgent 96 decibel roar emits from the cute little device instead, also causing it to flash its LEDs angrily. USB-chargeable and easy (for you) to remove from a bike (so thieves don’t do it instead), Orp’s battery lasts up to eleven hours in slow strobe mode, or for three hours with a constantly-running 87-lumen headlight.

Scosche BoomBottle H2O

Back in the day, it was no big thing to see someone cruising down the street carrying a boombox. Okay, maybe it was a minor curiosity. But now, you can wirelessly stream your music into a battery-powered speaker that’s so small, it can fit into the water bottle cage on your bike.

Designed to take all the bumps and splashes your ride can dole out, the Schosche BoomBottle H2O can handle both dirt and water (and, therefore, mud) with an 11-hour rechargeable battery to help rock your ride. And, since your bike won’t be carrying any water, if you opt to take a plunge, fear not — the $99 speaker also floats.

Skylock

The only item on this list that is solely available through pre-order, this solar-powered, keyless bike-lock is the u-bolt for the smartphone set. Pairing via Bluetooth, the accelerometer-equipped lock will alert you if anyone is tampering with it, and send notifications to your friends if you’re in a serious accident (it’s got the brains to know when it’s gotten bashed).

In addition, you can set the Skylock to let your friends unlock your ride, so you can take part in bike-sharing without all the sign-ups. Chargeable through the sun or USB, the steel, shock-proof, device is weather resistant and both Android and iPhone compatible — and $159.

Siva Cycle Atom

It seems like a long-overdue technology, but Siva Cycle solved it anyway: Of all the energy we’re expelling pushing down on a bike’s crank, why can’t we capture it to do something useful, like charge a phone? The Atom, a wheel-mounted portable battery charger, turns kinetic energy into potential energy, storing it in a 1650Ah battery that’s perfect for topping up your phone on the fly. And, with an extension cord routing up to the seat-post, the $130 charger will even power your phone directly while you pedal. Talk about a stroke of genius.

Torch T1 Bike Helmet

Usually, a bright idea is symbolized by a lightbulb going off over someone’s head, but this brilliant concept integrates lights right into the helmet. Shining bright with 10 LED lights, this shatterproof helmet has a white headlight and red rear light that give you great visibility on the road. A marked improvement in safety because it puts the lights higher into drivers’ line of sight, the Torch helmet can last up to 12 hours before needing to be recharged, and only takes 1.5 hours to juice up.

Currently the T1 is on sale for $109. But get it while you can, because it looks like they’re cleaning out inventory while they gear up to sell the Torch T2, a new version currently fundraising on Indiegogo.

TIME Cycling

Lance Armstrong Told to Pay $10 Million to Tour de France Prize Insurer

Oprah Interviews Lance Armstrong
George Burns/Oprah Winfrey Network—Getty Images In this handout photo provided by the Oprah Winfrey Network, Oprah Winfrey (not pictured) speaks with Lance Armstrong during an interview regarding the controversy surrounding his cycling career January 14, 2013 in Austin, Texas.

The athlete is locked in a legal battle with the Dallas promoter that insured some of his bonuses for winning the Tour seven times

Lance Armstrong may have thought that everyone would love an apology when he confessed to doping for all seven of his Tour de France victories, but the truth is costing him now.

The disgraced cyclist was told to pay $10 million Monday in an arbitration award decision in favor of the Dallas promotions company that insured several of his bonuses for winning the Tour.

The company, SCA Promotions, had originally gone to arbitration with Armstrong in 2005, after refusing to pay his bonuses because of doping suspicions. He denied wrongdoing, and SCA Promotions paid him a $7.5 million settlement in 2006.

But after his confession in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2013, the company moved to go back to arbitration. With the new decision in its favor, the company filed a motion on Monday in a Texas court to confirm the arbitration into a ruling against Armstrong, which would force him to pay.

Armstrong’s attorney told USA Today that the decision was “unprecedented.”

TIME Cycling

Lance Armstrong: If I Could Go Back, I Would Probably Dope Again

Lance Armstrong takes part in a special session regarding cancer in the developing world during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York
Lucas Jackson—Reuters Lance Armstrong takes part in a special session regarding cancer in the developing world during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City on Sept. 22, 2010

Lance Armstrong claims he would never dope today. But if he had to go back in time, the 43-year-old cyclist who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles would probably do it all over again.

In an interview with BBC Sport to promote the documentary, Lance Armstrong: The Road Ahead, Armstrong explains that attitudes were different in the ’90s – thus his decision to use performance-enhancing drugs.

“If I was racing in 2015, I wouldn’t do it again,” he told BBC Sport. “Take me back to 1995 when it was completely and totally pervasive, I’d probably do it again. People don’t like to hear that. That’s the honest answer.”

“It’s an answer that needs some explanation,” Armstrong continued. “I look at everything when I made that decision, when my teammates made that decision. It was a bad decision in an imperfect time, but it happened.”

If there was one thing that Armstrong wishes he could change, it is “the man who did those things.” Armstrong lied in interviews for more than a decade until he came clean during an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2013.

“For 15 years I was a complete asshole to a dozen people … that’s the man that really needed to change and never come back,” Armstrong said. “If I go back to 1995, I think we’re all sorry. You know what we are sorry for? We’re sorry we were put in that place. None of us wanted to be in that place. We all would have loved to compete man on man .. naturally, clean. Yeah, we’re sorry. We all looked around as desperate kids.”

This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.com

TIME Cycling

The 2015 Tour de France Will Include Its First African Team

Race leader Astana team rider Nibali of Italy rides near the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the final 21st stage of the Tour de France in Paris
Jean-Paul Pelissier—Reuters Race leader Astana team rider Vincenzo Nibali of Italy rides near the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the final 21st stage of the Tour de France cycle race in Paris, July 27, 2014.

MTN-Qhubeka was one of five teams to win a wildcard entry to the 2015 race

MTN-Qhubeka will become the first African team to compete in the Tour de France, after securing one of five wildcard entries to the 2015 race.

The team, which is registered in South Africa but includes a roster of both African and European cyclists, will compete when the Tour de France kicks off July 4 in the city of Utrecht, The Guardian reports.

“I believe in the riders we have and the talent,” general manager Brian Smith told Cyclingnews in October. “We can light up stages of the Tour, and we bring this incredible story to the Tour. We’re putting African kids on bikes, and being at the Tour de France would help that immeasurably.”

The other teams to receive wildcard invites are Bora-Argon 18, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, Cofidis and Europcar.

[The Guardian]

TIME Aging

Here’s How to Make Sure No One Can Ever Guess Your Age

man cycling
Getty Images

As you get older, your body reliably falls apart. Right? Not even close, finds a new study published in the Journal of Physiology. Age really is nothing but a number—but if your number happens to be high, that only applies if your exercise levels are, too.

The study from King’s College London and the University of Birmingham in the U.K. looked at older adults all between ages 55-79 who were very active cyclists. The researchers collected extensive physiological information of every person, including heart stats, respiratory and metabolic levels, endocrine functions, hormones, brain power and bone strength. Many of these measures showed a significant association with age—but they varied so much from person to person that no single measure was able to reliably predict a person’s age.

That’s probably because exercise levels have such a strong influence over many of those numbers, the study authors note, and being sedentary arguably plays the biggest role. Said Norman Lazarus, study co-author and professor at King’s College London, in a press release, “Inevitably, our bodies will experience some decline with age, but staying physically active can buy you extra years of function compared to sedentary people.”

TIME

Tour de France Prize Money Way Up

Tour de France 1934
AFP / Getty Images Frenchman Rene Vietto tries to break away from Spanish rider Vicente Trueba as they climb the mountain pass of the Tourmalet (Col du Tourmalet) on July 23, 1934 during the 18th stage of the 28th Tour de France

With Wednesday’s official announcement of the route for the 2015 Tour de France, the best cyclists in the world know exactly where they’ll be next July. They also know what they stand to win: there are about 2 million euros (about $2.6 million) at stake, with a €450,000 prize for the final winner and €22,500 for the winner of each stage (that’s about $576,000 and $28,800, respectively).

That’s considerably less than the prize pool available for the famously lucrative International Dota 2 video game championships, but it’s plenty to get excited about — especially compared to the money that used to be available for Tour de France winners.

When TIME first covered the world’s most famous cycling event, in 1934, only 60 competitors were entered (versus 198 today) and the stakes were much lower:

L’Auto, Paris sportpaper, founded the race in 1903 as a circuit of the Auvergne highlands, enlarged it by stages to its present scale. L’Auto foots the bills for meals & lodging, furnishes to each contestant his bicycle, as many tires as he can wear out, $2.64 per day for pin-money. This year publicity-seeking merchants have scraped up 800,000 francs ($52,800) for prizes. The winner of each of the 23 daily laps gets 1,.000 francs ($660).

Even accounting for inflation, that’s not much compared to today’s prizes: $52,800 in 1934 dollars is $937,207.88 today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, and $660 is $11,715.10. That means the winner of each stage stands to make twice as much as he did 80 years ago, and the overall prize pot is nearly three times as big. And the prizes haven’t exactly climbed steadily: in 1954, TIME reported that the winner of each stage would take home a mere $570 (about $5,000 today).

At least 1934’s racers could afford a train ticket, if not necessarily first class. And, as TIME wrote in its coverage of the race, that was important: “One race was so swift and grim,” reported the magazine, “that after the finish a rider was reported to have bought a train ticket over the route so that he could inspect the scenery.”

Read more: A Brief History of the Tour de France

TIME Cycling

Tour de France: Determination, Dirt and Damage

With the world's most epic cycling competition concluding Sunday with Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali victorious, TIME takes a look back at the monthlong contest with a photo from every day of the race.

TIME Cycling

The Gritty Faces of the Tour de France

Wet conditions in the fifth stage of the Tour de France made for a dangerous ride--defending champ Chris Froome dropped out after two falls--but they also made for some incredible images of riders persevering

TIME Cycling

Reigning Tour de France Champion Exits Race After Crashes

Le Tour de France 2014 - Stage Four
Doug Pensinger—Getty Images Chris Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky chases back to the peloton after being involved in a crash just after the start of stage four of the 2014 Le Tour de France from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille on July 8, 2014.

Two crashes lead to an injured right arm

Defending tour Tour de France champion Chris Froome bowed out of the cycling race Wednesday after crashing twice.

The conditions were slick on Wednesday’s Stage 5 section, running from Ypres in Belgium to northern France. Rain poured onto the course, adding an extra challenge to an already demanding race. Froome, of the British Sky team, crashed at the 29-km mark, according to the race’s website, before eventually crashing again at the 83-km mark. He exited the 152-kilometer stage with an injured right arm.

Froome injured his wrist on Tuesday after a crash in Stage 4, but was cleared to race again.

“The wrist is painful and it’s certainly not ideal going into tomorrow’s cobbled stage,” Froome said Tuesday night, “but I have a great team around me and we’ll get through the next few days as best we can.”

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