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Seven weird and wonderful tech inventions for the bike

Alia Parker's picture
The Monkey Light Pro bicycle light. Cycle Traveller

Bicycles have come a long way since the penny farthing hit the market back in 1869. However, these days it's not just mechanical design that's changing the way we ride.

As with most inventions, few catch on in the mainstream market, but that doesn't mean they're without their merits. 

From around the world, here are seven technological inventions all aiming to shake up the humble bicycle.

 

1. Monkey Light Pro

Ever worried that cars won't see you riding along in the dark? Worry no more with these funky bicycle lights that project images onto your spokes. That will do the trick. One thing's for sure, all eyes will definitely be on you as you ride past. You can even design your own cartoons to show to the general public. These lights are definitely for the dedicated, with most bikes costing less than what you'll pay to light up two of your wheels.

 

Lazer Genesis LifeBeam helmet. Cycle Traveller

2. Genesis LifeBeam Helmet by Lazer

Helmet manufacturer Lazer figures why strap an uncomfortable heart rate monitor around your chest when you just put the sensor in your helmet. A sensor is sits in the headband of the helmet and communicates via Bluetooth or ANT+ technology with a unit built into the back of the helmet. This then transmits the data to your fitness device. Makes a lot of sense for those who like to track their athletic performance. Just remember to charge your helmet before heading out on a ride.

 

The humidity water bottle. Cycle Traveller

3. Fontus humidity water bottle

Thirsty? Why not just pull some water out of thin air! That's what Austrian industrial design student Kristof Retezár did when he invented Fontus. Simply attach the water bottle system to your bicycle frame, then, as you ride, air will blow through it and a little solar powered condenser will extract moisture from the humidity. Cool idea, but it takes some time to get enough water to drink, so prepare for a really long ride... and make sure there's plenty of sticky humidity about. Not available on the market.

 

The Flykly smart wheel pedal assist. Cycle Traveller4. The FlyKly smart wheel

There was a lot of buzz about the Copenhagen Wheel when it won the Dyson Prize in 2010, but five years on and the product is still only taking pre-orders. The Flykly smart wheel on the other hand has entered the market. It's not quite as 'smart' as the Copenhagen Wheel and only converts single speed bicycles, but it works. Swap out the back wheel to turn your bike into a 250 watt e-bike, then connect the phone app to control the bike's settings, monitor your performance stats, check the battery life and even lock the wheel.

 

The CycloCable bike lift, Norway. Cycle Traveller

5. The CycloCable bicycle lift

This is how to cheat up the hills without getting an e-bike. The bicycle lift has actually been helping to push cyclists in Trondheim, Norway, up a steep 130-metre hill since 1993. These days it has been upgraded by a company called CycloCable that is trying to get other cities to adopt the technology. Locals have thought up of all sorts of fun ways to use it, from rolling up with prams and scooters, but the most conventional way is to stick one foot on the 'lift' platform and let it push you and your bike to the top.

 

Japan's underground bicycle parking station. Cycle Traveller6. The Eco Cycle Underground Bicycle Park

Japan is renowned for its love of robotic technology, so it's little wonder they invented an automated underground bicycle parking station (that's earthquake resistant too!). Basically, for this one in Tokyo, the user pays a monthly fee to get a code which they key in when they insert their bicycle into the machine at street level. The bike then gets taken down into a big underground cylindrical storage facility that securely holds up to 144 bikes (other designs will take up to 800 bikes). When the rider wants their bike back, they just key in their code and up it pops. It's like a massive bicycle vending machine.

 

Solar bike path, South Korea. Cycle Traveller7. The solar powered bike path, Korea

The world's attention was captured by The Netherlands when it released a prototype solar panel bike path, whereby cyclists rode along the solar panels themselves. Chit chatter in engineering forums seem to suggest this model in South Korea, in which the solar panels form a shelter that cyclists ride under, is more efficient (as the panels are pointed at the sun), suffers less damage and provides riders protection while generating electricity without using farmland to host the panels. The new path runs for 32km (20 miles) from Daejeon to Sejong.

 

What other bike tech inventions have you heard of?

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