Every year the technology and electronics worlds gather in Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show. And though it’s not a bike show, there are always products and ideas that are of interest to cyclists amongst the roll-up TVs and latest in artificial intelligence. This year we found more breathable rain gear, hydrogen-fueled electric bikes, and a heated razor that will give you the smoothest legs ever. Here are 11 of our favorite products from CES 2019
Panasonic GXO e-Bike System
Panasonic's e-bike motors and batteries are popular in many parts of the world, but aren't as popular in the USA as Bosch, Shimano or Brose's systems. That may change with the company's new 350watt/90Nm of torque GXO mid-drive motor and battery system which will debut in bikes from Univega USA and Van Dessel. When reached for comment about the GXO system, Van Dessel's founder Edwin Bull said, "The GXO motor is awesome. [It weighs] 2.95kg and [produces] 90Nm of torque: it goes. But it’s also very natural and intuitive feeling, so it feels like it’s your own power rather than a motor." Unlike the other e-bike drivetrain makers, Panasonic also actually manufactures batteries as well as motors, which potentially gives its systems a bit of a performance advantage. One of the first bikes to use the GXO system is Van Dessel's Passepartout, a gravel-style bike with clearance for 700x42mm tires, or 650x55mm tires. Complete bikes start at $5499
OnTracks Guide Watches
The OnTracks Guide Watches are twice the smartwatch. One paired to a smartphone, they work as a system, providing not only two-times the information at at glace, but also clearer navigation. If you need to turn left, the left watch vibrates and shows a turn arrow; for a right turn the right watch vibrates and displays a turn arrow. The idea is you get clearer directions without having to pull out your phone. There's also an optical heart rate sensor in one watch, and the displays can be fitted into a variety of holders: a traditional watchband, sport bands with thumb loops, short finger gloves, long finger gloves, and motorcycle gloves. OnTracks packages start at about $205.
Helite B’safe Airbag Vest
When the B'safe vest senses an impending fall, chambers in the front, back, and over the rider's shoulders automatically inflate to cushion the rider. It can detect a crash in as little as 200 milliseconds, and inflation (a replaceable Co2 cartridge fills the chambers) takes just 80 milliseconds. The brains are found in a sensor that’s installed on the bike under the saddle-claimed battery life for the sensor is 10 years-which tells the airbag to inflate in the event of a crash. While any protection in a crash is welcome, we can't ignore the limitations of this item. Specifically, it doesn't cover the elbows, hips, or knees-which we all know are the most commonly injured body parts in a fall-or protect against a collarbone-breaking blow to the side of the shoulder. Still, the B'safe protects the rider's torso, the spine, and potentially the neck. A bit of road rash isn’t a big deal, but a punctured lung is and that's what the B’safe hopefully can prevent.
We're fans of the Aftershokz headphones, which employ bone conduction to pump music into your head, leaving your ears open. Optishokz pairs Aftershokz's bone conduction with eyewear, giving you music and sunglasses in one easy-to-wear package. The lenses are interchangeable, with multiple tints available, so the Optishokz should be road and mountain friendly. Six hour battery life should be enough for most rides. The Optishockz will launch on Indegogo in February and are expected to sell for $179-early backers will be offered a discounted price of $99.
The North Face Futurelight
Futurelight is presented as a hyper-breathable waterproof membrane. The increased breathability is achieved through the Futurelight's mesh-like structure, which is created through a very techy sounding process called “nanospinning.” This creates a more open (and therefore more breathable) structure than a Gore-Tex membrane, while Futurelight's pores remain small enough that water cannot pass through. Cycling is a very intense activity that generates lots of sweat and vapor. When cyclists wear waterproof gear, we tend to get wet from the inside out as laminated waterproof materials-like Gore-Tex-cannot expel vapor as fast as we create it. If Futurelight does deliver on its claims of improved breathability while retaining a garment’s waterproofness it could be a game changer. Take note, however, that Futurelight still is part of a laminated material, and the inside and outside face materials play a role in a garment's overall performance. Plus Futurelight still requires the use of a DWR (Durable Water Repellant) to prevent water from clogging up the outer material and compromising breathability.
GilletteLabs Heated Razor
Whether it’s the legs, face, or anything else, nothing beats the look and feel of a good shave. This razor from GilletteLabs has a heated metal bar on the leading edge of the blade cartridge that warms the skin and shave soap just in front of the blades, which promises a more comfortable experience. Two heat settings are provided, and one charge is good for up to six shaves. The razor’s stand doubles as its recharging base, and it’s fully waterproof so you can safely shave in the shower.
Higher Ground SatPaq
Many great rides-arguably the best rides-go outside of cell-phone coverage areas. The SatPaq provides a way to message for help without investing in a stand-alone satellite messenger device. The SatPaq clips to an existing smartphone and pairs to it with Bluetooth, allowing the user to send text messages (but not make calls) to loved ones, or contact the GEOS SOS service from their existing mobile phone anywhere in the world, so long as there is a clear view of the sky. The SatPaq costs $249, and messages must be purchased in quantities of 75 ($30) to 500 ($145). The SatPaq costs as much as the stand alone Spot X satellite messenger device ($250), but the SatPaq’s pay-as-you-go message bundles are a bit more user friendly.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bike
The H2Bike (Hydrogen To Bike) is an electric bike powered not by batteries, but by a fuel cell that converts hydrogen and oxygen to electricity. It’s an intriguing concept because hydrogen is a renewable energy that produces only heat and water as emissions. There are no batteries-which are difficult to recycle and full of nasty chemicals-and, unlike a battery powered system, the hydrogen bike can be “recharged” quickly (about a minute). Claimed range is about 60 miles. Naturally this concept is not without potential challenges, the largest being the need for a convenient network of hydrogen refueling stations (which does not exist yet). Hydrogen fuel cells were once seen as a promising technology for automobiles, but other technologies proved more popular. But perhaps it’s found new life powering your local bike-share.
Halfords Cybic E-Legend SmartBike
The Cybic E-Legend is an e-bike with Amazon Alexa built in. It gives riders access to Alexa’s regular skills-turning on the lights at home, ordering dinner-as well as dialing up turn by turn directions, controlling the bike’s lights, and playing music. A color display provides performance data, and a map among other features, and a smartphone app allows the user to lock the bike, and allows the owner to see the bike’s location-helpful should the Cybic get stolen. Details on the e-bike's drivetrain were not provided, but we expect a class 1 system. A non-powered version of the Cybic will also be sold.
AllRoad Mobile TiX Phone Case
The AllRoad TiX phone case for Apple's iPhone X-series is just 0.8mm thick and consists of a shock resistant bottom cover with a real titanium frame - and what cyclist doesn’t love titanium? It's a thin, tough, and pretty case, which is pretty great on its own. But The TiX case also has slide-on accessories that allow you to mount the phone to a handlebar, or to a Go-Pro style finned mount. This makes it thinnest and most elegant case that’s also cycling ready. And when you’re not riding, you can pull the mounts off and enjoy the iPhone’s low-profile design.
NordicTrack GameFit VR Exercise Bike
Zwift and CVRcade demonstrated that gamifying indoor cycling has potential. And now NordicTrack is joining the party with its immersive GameFit VR system. The system launches with three games-Aeronauts, Bike Messenger, The Last Rider-which the rider experiences through a wireless VR headset. The bike has electronically controlled resistance, tilts to simulate climbs and descents, and a fan to simulate speed (and/or cool the rider). The games are played with the handlebars-which are essentially a game controller-and the pedals which not only can be pedaled forward or backwards, but also have “stomp down” and “stomp up” functions (that probably makes more sense when you're playing the games). NordicTrack's materials describe the games thusly, “Aeronauts will have you soaring through a world of Steampunk fantasy while The Last Rider will have you conquering zombie foes in an apocalyptic wasteland. Bike Messenger sends you on delivery routes as you dodge people, buildings and even cars while navigating your destinations on a digital map.” The compete system will sell for $1999, and includes a one-year iFit subscription.
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