If you ride a bike in the city, you already know that there are certain things that are more relevant to urban riders than to those riding on lightly trafficked suburban back roads. Like nearly getting hit, needing a reasonable place to store your stuff, and people stealing your bike. All of which make urban cycling look unattractive to many would-be riders. Luckily, so much startup culture is happening in cities which seems to have done a great job to encourage entrepreneurs to think up great solutions to some of these urban bike issues. We’ve picked some of our favorite innovative crowdfunded bike products to help you trick out your bike. Some are for security, others are for pure awesome and/or utility- you’ll be able to tell which is which pretty easily.
Urban cyclists: Trick out your bike with these innovative products
Skylock is an electronic bike lock that connects with your phone to allow you access to your bike. Previous ‘keyless’ smart bike locks have all faced the problem of ‘what happens when the battery runs out’. (Unfortunate answer: you buy a new one). Skylock has attempted to solve this issue by adding in a solar component to keep the little battery churning along. An hour of sunlight will supply enough power for about a week, so unless you live somewhere that doesn’t get one hour of sun each week, you’ll be ok. Pre-orders are $159 for a ‘limited time’, and the regular price is listed at $249.
Helios bars attempt to make every bike into a ‘smart’ bike. These handlebars feature an integrated headlight and blinker system, smartphone connectivity, visual speedometer, GPS, turn by turn directions, and more. They come in drop, straight, or bullhorn style handlebars, and will fit on any bike with a threadless fork (you can use an adaptor for threaded forks). You charge them up with a USB cable/power adaptor, and the lights last from between 9-20 hours depending on the brightness setting you choose. Pricing ranges from $279-299 depending on the options you pick, and while there appears to have been some delays in shipping based on the updates on Kickstarter, many backers have already received their products and the estimated shipping date on the site for new orders is Dec. 2014.
If you ride in the city, you likely ride with a helmet, a lock, whatever stuff you need, and maybe some other bike accessories. When parking your bike, it is often necessary to lock the bike and take the seat off and take it with you, so that you have a seat to ride home on when you get back to your bike. Seatylock is attempting to pare down the ‘stuff’ you need by combining the seat and the lock into one. You’ll never forget your lock at home, either. The locking mechanism hides in the seat post and transforms into a one meter lock, which should be enough to lock your bike to whatever you need to. There are still 30 days to go on the Kickstarter for this particular product, and a pledge of $75 will earn you a ‘basic black’ version of the product.
The BikeSpike is a nifty little GPS device that monitors your bike’s location, has a collision detection system (and notifies certain contacts of the crash and location), allows for digital locking, and includes a notification system that you can use to find out if your bike moves out of its neighborhood, rather like a lo-jack (good for stolen bikes or kids who are supposed to stay in a particular area). You can mount it on your bike, and for an extra fee, add a little doohickey that turns it into a water bottle holder, since it goes in roughly the same spot as the water bottle usually goes. As a bonus, it also functions as a sort of fitness tracker, since it monitors your location, speed, etc. For a little device, it packs an awful lot of punch! The BikeSpike retails for $129, and you must choose from one of two monthly plans when you activate your BikeSpike. There is a Commuter Plan for $4.99/EU 4.99 per month, The Pro Plan for $6.99/EU 6.99 per month.
If you happen to own a bike that doesn’t have a mud flap on it, you’ve likely found your rear (and probably everything else) covered in some variety of wet street-grime on less than ideal weather ays. Plume is a recoiling mudgard that brings the fantastic 80’s era technology of slap bracelets to your bike. Stretch it out when you need it, and coil it in when you don’t. Plume was successfully funded and produced, but they were so popular that they’re out of stock as of this writing with an estimated back-in-stock date of Nov. 2014. Pricing is not on the site, but Kickstarter backers received one with a pledge of $35.
Maybe a year or so ago, I heard about Bucaboot from a friend. Overall, it is a great product: it can store a lot or a little, since it has a tough outer shell and built in side panniers, it locks, it is weather resistant, and is cute to boot (see what I did there??). Bucaboot raised funds via Kickstarter and seems to be in the final stages of production tweaking as of this writing – the website says it will be available to the general public (ie, non Kickstarter backers) in Spring 2015. No official price is listed on the site, but Kickstarter backers who pledged in the $145-195 range get a basic version.