The 10 Best Bike Accessories, Urban Edition
The number of folks biking to work has jumped nearly 60 percent over the last decade. Still outnumbered by cars, cyclists are constantly looking for new gadgets to enhance safety, speed, and style on their commute. We compiled a list of some of our favorite tech-savvy bike accessories for the urban rider below.
On a bike it’s important to gauge who you’re sharing the road with and to make them aware of your presence. Varia, the world’s “first-ever cycling radar,” warns you on a handlebar-mounted screen whenever a car is approaching—up to 153 yards away. It even detects the vehicle’s speed and so-called “threat level.” If you buy the tail light bundle, it’ll get brighter the faster you pedal to warn oncoming vehicles that you’re there. Cyclists getting hit by cars from behind is the leading cause of cycling fatalities in the US, according to Garmin’s website. Garmin, $200
Foldable Helmet, $140
Those who prefer to arrive in style, without giving off the impression they just zipped across town on two wheels, can now do so by sliding the sleek and safe protector into their bag. Spanish company Closca recently fixed this, releasing a tri-fold helmet that collapses from 5 inches to 2.36 inches. Closca, $140
These ultra-futuristic smart sunglasses project virtual, real-time metrics. Without taking your eyes off the road, you’re able to monitor your power, heart rate, and distance-traveled, all hands-free. Also equipped with two micro-speakers and voice activation, you can receive texts and incoming calls, no longer having to awkwardly handle your phone while steering. Solos, not yet priced.
One of the ultimate cycling struggles is getting a flat. Tannus has developed a puncture-proof foam tire that’ll makes nails, glass, and other sharp metal objects non-events when cruising the city. Tannus, $75
Many riders are “going chipless,” meaning their shoes are locked into the pedals. Although it provides a faster, non-slip, more efficient commute, you end up looking like your mom’s new boyfriend in his cycling phase. With Retrofitz, you’re now able to convert your favorite kicks into cycle cleats. Retrofitz, $120
This Kickstarter-funded “smart bell” is smart in a lot of ways. It offers eight different tones, ranging from a polite ding to an urgent horn blast, depending on the situation. You can also record your own message and download new sounds through the app. Finally, it adjusts to the ambient noise level of your environment, ensuring you’ll be heard. All is controlled by joystick. You can also tell it where you want to go and it will help you navigate via light-projected arrows. And if that’s not cool enough, it’s got your front-facing LED light needs covered, and sounds the alarm if your bike is moved without your permission. Shoka, $100
When paired with its smartphone app, this GPS newcomer uses an array of neon lights to guide you to your preferred destination. By mounting it on the middle of your handlebars, it eliminates the potential danger of glancing down at directions on your phone. Hammerhead, $100
Bikes are the leading cause of sports-related concussion and brain injury in the US. A Swedish company, Hovding, developed one of the most innovative solutions on the market: an airbag helmet. If you’re wondering how it works, this soft pocket is worn around the neck, similar to the collar of a coat, and only deploys only when it senses a potential collision though advanced sensors. This past October, Stafford researchers discovered that it reduces your impact five to six times compared to a traditional bike helmet. Hovding (Europe only), $300.
MonkeyLectric developed hologram-like image technology to display patterns and images on the spokes of your ride. Currently there are 48 themes and hundreds of LED color combos to choose from; all are battery-operated, but tout “months” of battery life, and the new ones are rechargeable. Options are more and less expensive (from less than $50 up to $500 per wheel) but will show your flashy personality from blocks away. You can even download and display images of your own via Bluetooth. MonkeyLectric.
Unexpected downpours means bulkier gear, which sometimes gets uncomfortably hot when you’ve been riding a while. Portland company Rapha responded to this with a bike jersey of extremely breathable fabric that’s still water-repellent and form-fitting. Rapha, $205