The 10 best cycling innovations of 2017
It's the end of the year, which means it's time to once again look back over some of the most interesting bike-related products that we've covered over the past 365 days. While not all of them are necessarily going to sell like hotcakes, or change the world of cycling as we know it, they're all things that we thought were kinda clever … or just plain ol' cool. They're presented here in no particular order.
A hub that puts on the pressure
Any mountain biker will tell you that softer tires offer more traction, while harder tires go faster over smooth terrain. You're probably not going to stop and inflate/deflate your tires multiple times during each ride, though. That's why the WhiteCrow Hub was created. It uses the rotary motion of your wheel to pump air into or out of the tire, as activated by a steel cable that runs up to a handlebar-mounted remote – no batteries are required.
Not quite anti-lock brakes, but close
Integrated into the frame of the bike, the Pinarello-backed BluBrake system consists of an inertial measurement unit (an accelerometer/gyroscope combo), wheel speed sensors, an artificial intelligence control unit/battery pack, and haptic actuators in the brake levers. If the brakes are applied and it determines that a lock-up is imminent, it warns you by buzzing the actuator in the relevant brake lever.
A new slant on indoor training
The Kickr Climb works with the 2017 versions of Wahoo Fitness' Kickr or Kickr Snap stationary trainers, replacing the front wheel of the bike. When it's connected to a cycling simulator program like TrainerRoad or Zwift, the device can physically recreate virtual grade changes by automatically lifting or lowering the front of the bike frame. To fully sell the illusion of riding up or down a hill, the back end of the system will increase or decrease resistance accordingly.
The power of de feet
Perhaps you've got multiple bikes, and want to monitor your power output on each one. Built into a shoe cleat, the STYX Powermeter mounts on any type of shoe with the standard three holes in the bottom. The setup actually consists of two power meters/cleats – one for each foot – so readings are obtained from both of your legs. As long as you wear the same shoes, you can use the technology on any of your bikes.
Price: Approx. $1,249
Keep on truckin'
If you don't want to buy both a cargo bike and a regular bike, then you might like the TReGo. It temporarily replaces a normal bike's front wheel with a steerable cargo truck, that can carry up to 25 kg (55 lb). Once you reach your destination, you can quickly detach the TReGo from the bike, and use it to cart your load wherever it needs to go.
A nutty approach to preventing parts theft
It's safe to say that most people lock their bike up with it sitting in an upright position, which it can't be moved from until it's unlocked. Realizing this, the folks at Abus went and created an anti-component-theft system called NutFix. Once it's installed, the only way of removing a bicycle's wheels and/or seat involves turning the whole bike on its side.
Price: $34.99 to $69.99
Making use of wasted space
Between stuff like wallets, smartphones, energy supplements, pumps and tire levers, mountain bikers already have quite a few things to carry when they go out for a ride. With that in mind, Italian entrepreneur Giacomo Macoratti decided that the multitool didn't have to be one of them. His All In Multitool is designed to stay on the bike full-time, nestled into the crank hollow.
Price: Approx. $96
A "portable" cargo e-bike
Cargo bikes may have their attributes, but the things do tend to be on the long and awkward side. Tern's electric-assist GSD, however, has the wheelbase of a standard bike, along with folding components that help it ride in a car and store in an office or apartment. Announced this year, it will arrive at bike dealers in the first quarter of 2018.
Power to the pocket pump
When a cyclist has to change a high-pressure tire at the side of the road, pumping it back up using a compact hand pump can be quite the hassle. That's why many bikers utilize compressed air canisters, although they're not reusable. Another alternative was unveiled at Interbike, however – the pocketable miniFumpa battery electric pump.
An easier way to go electric
We've already seen kits that incorporate a motor, battery and electronics within a wheel that can be swapped onto a regular bike, turning it into an e-bike. Those wheels tend to be heavy, though, making the bike difficult to pedal in unpowered mode. The Swytch eBike Conversion Kit addresses that problem by moving the battery and electronics into a pack that clicks in and out of a handlebar-mounted bracket within just a few seconds.