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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.