High-Tech Cycling Gear
These gadgets can make your ride safer and more fun.
Ever since you attached a bell or fastened plastic streamers to the handlebars of your Schwinn, you’ve known that the right accessories make bicycling better. Here are some high-tech add-ons to make your current ride more enjoyable.
Bike locks. The TiGr lock bow (www.tigrlock.com; $145 to $220) is a sturdy titanium unit that manages to be both tough and elegant, and the 30-inch model is long enough to secure both wheels on most mountain and touring bikes (it straps to the bike frame when not in use). Too big? TiGr sells 24-inch and 18-inch lock bows, too.
If security concerns take precedence, check out the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini (www.kryptonitelock.com; $110), the gold standard of U-shaped locks. The Mini’s extra-thick, 18-millimeter steel shackle provides good protection in high-crime areas. The downside: It’s heavy and bulky, making it difficult to snug up to the frame when not in use.
The Abus Bordo Granit X-Plus 6500 (www.abus.com; $170) offers the convenience of a folding lock with the security of a U-lock. Its strong steel bars fold into a compact holster that attaches to the bike’s frame.
GPS. Gadget freaks will love the Garmin Edge 500 (www.garmin.com; $200), a top-notch cycling computer that tracks and saves your distance, elevation, location, speed and calories burned. But wait: Your smart phone has GPS. If you don’t want another gadget in your life, download a cycling app, such as MapMyRide (www.mapmyride.com; free, or $3 for the premium version), Strava (www.strava.com; free, or $6 per month) or Runtastic Road Bike (www.runtastic.com; free, or $5 for premium). The free version of each app will record your workout details, but the paid versions do a whole lot more. For instance, the ad-free edition of MapMyRide (with monthly membership) gets you a real-time tracking tool that lets friends and family monitor your bike workout. The one big advantage of a stand-alone GPS, however, is its superior battery life. The Garmin Edge 500 runs up to 18 hours between charges. Can your smart phone do that?
Bike lights. If you ride at night, front and rear lights are a must. The NiteRider Lumina Flare (www.niterider.com; $170) is a clever, dual-purpose unit that attaches to your helmet; a bright, 650-lumen headlamp lights up the road ahead, and a flashing, 1-watt taillight covers your backside. The Flare recharges in six hours; the front light lasts 1.5 hours on high, 3 hours on medium and 5.5 hours on low.
Speaking of night riders, how about a road bike that glows after dark? The Lumen, by Mission Bicycle, in San Francisco (www.missionbicycle.com; starting at $1,245), features a patented retro-reflective coating on its frame and wheel rims that bounces light back to its source rather than scattering or diffusing it.
Airbag helmet. The Hövding (www.hovding.com; 299 euros, or about $400) is a head-and-neck protector that can detect an accident and signal the loose-fitting collar to inflate—just like the airbags in your car. It comes in three stylish patterns as well as basic black. Granted, the Hövding is pricey, but it’s nirvana for cyclists who can’t tolerate helmet hair.