Monday, July 7, 2014

Bicycle Innovations For People Who Don't Ride Bikes

I'm always skeptical when "home fashion" and "lifestyle" magazines write about bicycles and bicycle gear -- they almost always highlight the most inane and pointless "innovations" designed to appeal to people who very likely don't ride bikes.

The latest I've seen was this from Dwell -- a magazine and store for the fashionable home. American Cycle: Modern Gear for Biking. It's a "roundup of tech-savvy biking gear and stylish new cycles" that will "give you more reasons to ride." Anybody who needs this gear to give them a reason to ride is obviously happier being seen in a fashionable cafĂ© with a bike near them than actually on their bike.

 Here are the highlights:
Double-O Lights: this 80-lumen headlight's main selling point is that it clings to its holder with magnets and won't fall off. That, and you can fit it around your U-lock so nobody steals your fashionable lights. I had no idea that headlights were just falling off bikes all over the place. No word on pricing, but I have no doubt that brighter lights are probably available for less. Worried about theft? Unclip the light and take it with you. There's an idea.
The Shelfie: "A (literally) elevated storage solution, the Shelfie unit boasts sculpted curves as fine as the ones on your Italian cruiser." Ummm. . . it's a box. It has a hook on one side that supports the bike by its saddle. I cannot actually imagine something quite so pointless heralded as a tech-savvy innovation. Funded through Kickstarter, but the price has yet to be announced.
You just knew they'd have the Vanhawks Valour electronically "connected" bike on the list. The carbon-fiber bike sports the kind of build quality we expect from department store bicycle-shaped-objects. The maker also touts "safety" while the bike itself actually has no brakes. (see more HERE)
The "Growler" bike from Inner City Bikes. This "durable, industrial" bike's most notable feature, apart from it's really unconventional (and uncomfortable-looking) geometry, is the fact that it has this built-in holder for a growler. That's a half-gallon bottle of beer -- really popular with "beer artisans" lately. Enough with the beer and bikes thing already, people. Fun fact about carbonation -- beer does not hold up to a bike ride. If you can't wait until you get home before you have a beer, it might be time for a meeting.  
Cycle Pack from Nanamica: "This new edition of the Japanese-made backpack is a step up in the ever-stylish Hershcel category of carryalls." If it sounds expensive, that's because it is, at $480. But ultimately, it's just a backpack. OOHH -- but the article says the part that rests against your back is padded. I have a $10 backpack from Target, and it's padded, too. 
Po Campo Ultimate Bike Share Bag -- specially made to fit in the baskets on those bike-share bikes in cities like New York, Chicago, and London. I suppose if somebody uses bike share bikes a lot, it might be handy, and at $85 it seems like a bargain compared to the Nanamica backpack, but what do I know?
Cleverhood rain poncho. I actually have no problem with rain capes or ponchos -- I don't particularly favor them myself, but some people like them, and that's fine. And I suppose if somebody wants a rain cape, the one from Cleverhood is probably very nice, but then at $239, it had better be. But I think if this guy is going to ride in the rain, he's rendered his rain cape completely pointless by riding a fenderless bike.
Now THAT'S what I like to see. The Cambium is the new non-leather saddle from Brooks -- made with rubber and a specially bonded fabric top -- it looks great, and reports so far are very good. No complaints from me about a Brooks saddle being in this "roundup" -- but I had to groan over this bit from the description: "Anyone's (sic) who had the pleasure of owning a Brooks racing saddle has also felt the pain of breaking one in." Time to bust the myth. The only people who say things like that are people who've never ridden a Brooks leather saddle.
The Reductivist Ring Tool -- a minimalist multi-tool that also can serve as a key ring. It has several hex heads, plus screwdrivers, a Torx head, and a couple of spoke wrenches, and . . . wait for it . . . a bottle opener! Does every bike tool now have to incorporate a bottle opener? 
Musguard -- This rolled up piece of plastic can be unrolled and strapped to the seat tube, turning it into, well, not a fender or mudguard, exactly -- more like a filth deflector. When not in use, it can be rolled up around the top tube (as shown). Whatever. Just get some fenders.
And a Fortune bonus -- yes, the folks at Fortune are weighing in, too, with their pick for the bike of the future.
The Samsung Smart Bike -- which connects to a Samsung smart phone -- gives you GPS, a rear-view camera, laser-beam generated "bike lane" lights, and more. The curved frame is "meant to reduce the roughness of riding on urban terrain." Sure it is. At least it has brakes. Doesn't look like much room for a fender in the back, though -- so that rear-view camera is bound to get covered with road spooge in no time at all. Shock of all shocks, though -- is that a Brooks sprung saddle on there? Unbelievable.

Unrelated News: Blog updates will be a little spotty for the next week or so. I'll post what I can when I can. News will come later. Thanks for your patience.

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