Top 10 most innovative cycling products of 2018
We've been doing these annual lists of standout cycling products for a while now, and as we always state up front … these aren't necessarily the best things from the past year, so much as they're simply some of the most unique. With that disclaimer in mind, read on to see what made our list for 2018.
A shaft-drive alternative to chains and belts
Claimed by its makers to be the "world's most efficient" bicycle drivetrain, CeramicSpeed's DrivEn system is centered around a cylindrical carbon fiber shaft that reaches from the single chainring in front to a flat 13-speed cassette on the rear wheel. Mounted on either end of that shaft are sets of very-low-friction ceramic bearings, which engage the teeth on the chainring and the cassette cogs. As the rider pedals, the bearings transfer torque from the chainring through the shaft and into the rear wheel, turning it.
According to CeramicSpeed, it creates 49 percent less friction than the high-end Shimano Dura Ace chain-and-derailleur setup. The prototype is currently unable to shift between gears, although that could be remedied via a wireless servo that moves the rear bearing mechanism fore and aft relative to the cassette.
More magnetic pedals, but simpler and lighter
Maglock pedals made our Top 10 list for 2016, as they cleverly use a series of magnets to keep the rider's feet on the pedals. The things are kind of big and heavy, though, which is where this year's magpeds come in. They utilize just a single neodymium magnet per pedal, which is drawn to an SPD-compatible steel plate attached to the underside of the rider's shoe.
Each magnet provides about 15 kg (33 lb) of attractive force, and is mounted on a flexible rubber damper, allowing it to stay in contact with the steel plate as the foot moves around. When riders do want to get their feet off the pedals, it's simply a matter of twisting the foot to one side.
Taking that "folding" thing to the wheels
Although there are now all sorts of ways of folding down bicycles' frames, the darn wheels still present a problem – they either have to be tiny, or they end up getting in the way when carrying the folded frame. German designer Andrea Mocellin, however, has a possible solution to that problem.
His prototype Revolve is a full-size 26-inch spoked wheel that can be folded to a third its diameter and back again in an instant. And no, the tires aren't inflatable. He's currently looking for an industry partner to help commercialize the technology, which he believes could also be applied to other products that need to transported in compact form – products such as wheelchairs or even wheeled drones.
Foot pumps aren't just for camping mattresses
If you've ever tried pumping up a flat tire with a compact hand pump, you'll know that it takes a lot of time and effort. Floor pumps, however, are just too big to take with you on rides. Well, that's why the Stompump was created.
Small enough to be carried on the frame, it gets placed on the ground and attached to the tire's Presta or Schrader valve stem via an included hose, after which the rider … well, they stomp on it. According to its creators, it can fill a 29-inch mountain bike tire or a fatbike tire three times faster than a hand pump. A version for high-pressure road bike tires is in the works.
A stow-and-go trailer
Bike trailers are great for towing cargo to and fro, but they simply bang around and get in the way once that cargo has been delivered. It was with this in mind that the Trenux trailer was invented. In a process that takes less than 10 seconds, it simply folds up and sits over the rear wheel when not in use.
The current 11-lb (5-kg) prototype is capable of carrying a payload of up to 88 lb (40 kg). Its German designers say it'll haul the likes of two beverage crates, a suitcase or four boxes of flowers on its 24 by 16.5-in (62 by 42-cm) cargo area. The design includes a removable fabric basket. Plans call for a crowdfunding campaign to take place next spring (Northern Hemisphere).
Putting a wind tunnel on your handlebars
Ordinarily, if seriously-competitive cyclists want to get their aerodynamic drag measured, they have to head for a wind tunnel or a velodrome. VeloComp's new bar-mounted AeroPod, however, is claimed to give them the figure they seek – their coefficient of drag times frontal surface area, or CdA.
While the exact process by which the device works is pretty complex to go into here, it basically involves measuring forces opposing the cyclist (acceleration, hill slope, friction) and comparing those values to the rider's applied force, which is obtained from a third-party direct force power meter. The resulting Cda figure is displayed either on a compatible cycling computer, or on the company's PowerHouse Bike smartphone app.
Tires that dress to impress
Suppose you commute during the week, but enjoy heading out on the trails on the weekends. Are you going to swap back and forth between smooth and knobby tires, or go with one set of tires that's a compromise between the two? With the reTyre system, you don't have to do either.
It consists of a slick commuter tire that stays on the rim full-time, along with different types of treaded rubber casings (known as skins) that can be mounted over top of that tire utilizing integrated zippers along both sidewalls. The company currently offers two types of off-road skins, plus a studded model for winter riding.
A headlight that knows where you're going
Along with a bar-mounted headlight, mountain bikers typically also wear a light on their helmet to illuminate whatever they're looking at, such as the part of the trail that's around the next curve. Mystic Devices' Hydra 3 Bike Light, however, is claimed to make the helmet light unnecessary.
The headlight contains three separate 600-lumen LED bulbs – a central one that points straight ahead, and ones on either side that point trail-left and trail-right. While the central LED stays constantly lit, the outer two selectively come on and off as sensors within the headlight detect that the bike is turning. This means that when the cyclist is turning right, the LED which illuminates the area to their right will temporarily come on, with the same thing applying to the trail-left light for left turns.
If it works for cars …
There are already automobiles that provide real-time tire-pressure readouts, and now there's a system for bikes. Quarq's TyreWiz initially gets threaded onto a tire's Presta valve stem, after which an integrated sensor constantly measures the tire's air pressure up to a maximum of 150 psi (10 bar). Readings are subsequently transmitted by either ANT+ or Bluetooth Low Energy to a cycling computer or an iOS/Android app on a paired smartphone.
Users will receive alerts of particularly low or high pressure, plus they'll be advised of how much they should adjust the pressure based on their weight and tire dimensions. Additionally, LEDs on the TyreWiz will illuminate when the air pressure is too far out of whack.
This bike longs to carry things
Featured just last week, the Convercycle e-bike transforms between regular and cargo configurations. In regular-bike mode, its rear swing arm folds down/forward and locks in place, tucking the back wheel up inside of the built-in cargo rack. Once it's time to load up on groceries, baby seats or whatnot, that swing arm is folded back, extending the wheelbase and opening the rack up.
The folding process reportedly takes just three seconds, and can be done with one hand. Once in cargo mode, the bike can carry up to 60 kg (132 lb) in its rack, along with a rider weighing up to 120 kg (265 lb) on the seat. The bike itself tips the scales at 28 kg (62 lb), with its rack sitting at a width of 43 cm (17 inches) – that's no wider than the handlebars.
What else did we like, that didn't quite make it into our Top 10? Well … there was Refactor Fitness' RF-1, which combines a cycling computer, camera and headlight in one device; Speedcraft's AIR cycling glasses, that use magnets to open up the rider's nose; Cyclevision's Edge helmet, with its front and rear cameras; the Flare headlight, which lets riders post online alerts about road hazards; and the Alpaca Bike, a titanium folding bicycle with a removable front hub which allows the wheels to be stacked flat against one another.