Whether you use your two-wheeler to commute, get exercise or simply avoid traffic, new technologies are working to ease your ride.
As cities’ urban densities grow so does traffic. It’s not surprising that more people are hopping on bicycles as their main form of transportation. Whether you use your bike to commute or exercise, companies all over the world are developing technologies that improves and enhances the riding experience. With some of the most exciting tech exiting beta for the market, 2015 is poised to be an exciting year for cycling.
Bicycling infrastructure is blowing up in cities small and large, and like any movement, it’s met with backlash. A common argument against road-sharing initiatives is the belief that cyclists can’t be treated like car drivers because they don’t obey traffic laws.
That’s partially true — bicyclists often blow through red lights. However, the sensors that trigger a traffic light change do not pick up the presence of the bicyclist, so cyclist’s options are to wait for a car or fly through the light.
Not anymore. Veloloop is a sleek, lightweight, microcontroller-based device that triggers the most common inductive loop sensors at intersections, effectively manipulating the signals as if a car sits at the light. The device will be available soon on their website for $95.
The idea of a bicycle producing electricity like a mini-turbine is nothing new. But readapting this idea to charge mobile technology, especially given its critical role in navigation through GPS or wellness through fitness tracking, is novel.
Enter the lightweight Ampy. This wearable charging station uses internal coils that capture kinetic energy from a ride and deliver it to a lithium ion battery via USB. The makers behind Ampy says that one hour of exercise will generate three hours of charge time on most devices. Ampy will retail at $95 and is currently accepting preorders on their website.
Bike-share programs such as New York City’s CitiBike have provided unprecedented public access to bicycles. However, that access does come at a cost. The heavy steel-frame bicycles can withstand constant use, but the extra weight of heavy-duty steel can be a bear to tow uphill.
The ShareRoller portable motor provides riders with an extra push. Using friction drive to power the bike, the 7-pound unit mounts onto the metal docking triangle above the front wheel. It installs in less than 10 seconds and can boost a rider to 18 mph (without pedaling) for a 12-20 mile range.
ShareRoller also has built-in LED headlights and a USB charging port. ShareRoller’s $1,300 price tag is still less than some high-performance bikes (and certainly less than a car).
The original video that proposed the idea of an invisible helmet went viral in 2012. Now Hövding is a readily available reality. After years of studying normal riding patterns and recreating hundreds of common bicycling accidents, the Hövding acts as a sort of personal airbag that inflates on impact.
When not deployed, the USB-chargeable helmet resembles a scarf. The deployed Hovding covers a larger portion of a cyclist’s head than a traditional helmet and records 10 seconds of impact, much like an airplane’s black box.
Hövding starts at €299 and is available at retailers throughout northern Europe (though has yet to reach the United States).
The Fontus water bottle is a self-contained system that generates its own water. Imagine the implications for the Tour de France! Developed by Austrian Kristof Retezár, Fontus attaches to the bike frame and captures air during motion, then sends it through a solar-powered cooling device that extracts moisture and funnels it into a detachable water bottle.
In humid climates, Fontus can harvest up to a half liter of water per hour. This simple technology could have wide implications for issues such as access to clean water. While it’s not available for purchase yet, the device was recently named a Top 20 Finalist in the James Dyson Award, a competition honoring innovative engineering and design.
Whether you hop on your two-wheeler to commute, exercise or simply navigate around town, new technologies are cranking along with you.
Michael C. Powell keeps his spear sharp in all sorts of creative endeavors, freelancing as a writer, designer and photographer for outlets like Consequence of Sound and IMPOSE Magazine. He’s also an alum of the Guardian, Tiny Mix Tapes, Pitchfork’s hypnagogic sister site Altered Zones, his home’s alt newsweekly LEO Weekly and others. When not making the most of his journalism degree, you can find him developing websites for a wide variety of clients, spinning records and putzing about on his two-wheeler. His breadth of interests in technology, art and culture makes iQ by Intel an ideal home. Michael, who sometimes authors under the nom de plume Kenny Bloggins, loves Twitter and tries to make creative use of the platform at @kbloggins.