The biggest cycling event of the year begins in under a week. But before the world’s greatest riders line up in Düsseldorf on July 1, then snake their way for three weeks through Belgium, Luxembourg and France until they cross the finish line at Paris’ Arc de Triomphe on July 23, here are the best tech gadgets to ensure you’re keeping up with the two-wheeled Joneses this summer.
1. Linka Smart Bike Lock
Straddling the worlds of tech and bike security, the Linka lock is unlike any other on the market. Funded via a Kickstarter campaign in 2015 by maker Velasso, from Oakland, the Linka is “the world’s first auto-unlocking smart bike lock”.
Quite the PR mouthful. But Linka’s unique design allows the lock to sense when you’re approaching, and automatically unlock from a range of three to six feet. That allows you to forgo the hassle of keys–what a ridiculously 2016 concept!–and complete a clunky task simply by walking towards your bike.
The Linka is mounted to the rear of the bike frame, so you’ll still need to use a D-lock to make it fully secure. But if a thief does try to make off with your steed the Linka will immobilize it immediately. GPS also lets you know where the bike is at all times. Something those of us who’ve left the bike on a heavy night can fully appreciate.
2. Connected Smart Pedal
Another crowdfunded concoction, the Connected Smart Pedal, made by Paris’ Connected Cycle, is a worthy addition to any tecchy cyclist’s arsenal. Turning your bike into a cutting-edge connected device, the pedal allows for GPS tracking, allowing it to track your bike if it’s taken. If a bad guy even attempts to grab your bike, the pedal will send out a distress signal.
The smart pedal also measures a wide array of metrics–including speed, route, incline and calories burned on each cycle trip. You can keep abreast of all these things via a connected smartphone app. The smart pedal is also energy self-sufficient, generating power through its own movement.
3. Hövding 2.0 ‘invisible’ helmet
Malmö-founded Hövding has been a darling of the bike-tech world since it unveiled its award-winning airbag helmet design back in 2005. The first certified model went on sale in 2011. The Hövding ‘collar’ might not exactly be an invisible bike helmet, but it is about as inconspicuous an accessory as you’ll find today. Essentially a snood that blows up into a full, Anime-esque covering upon any crash, it has won praise worldwide by bikers desperate for a helmet that, well, doesn’t look like a helmet.
In 2015 Hövding released its 2.0 version, which is lighter and more ergonomic, with changes to connectivity ports and color combinations. Subsequent reviews have gushed about the product, which has helped cement Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city, as a center of tech and innovation.
4. Garmin Varia Radar
Not knowing what’s behind you, and whether you’re being tailgated by an overzealous driver, is a fear every road cyclist can understand. GPS giant Garmin thinks it has the answer, in the shape of its Varia Radar.
The product almost never existed: its original crowdfunding campaign failed to reach its target, which led Kansas-founded Garmin to step in and continue its development. The Varia communicates the distance between you and approaching vehicles via a display unit, or existing Garmin edge device. It might not stop a car from rear-ending you. But it will at least inform you when things are getting a bit too close–or shake you into an alert state on long journeys when it’s all-too-easy to take an eye off things.
Another innovation, another crowdfund: Revolights’ Eclipse+ solution is an innovative way to keep yourself visible at night. Eclipse+’s wheel-mounted lights were, apparently, an accidental byproduct of CFO Adam Pettler’s attempts to create enhanced headlights.
The result is two arcs of LEDs on each wheel that, via an accelerometer, only light up when they are at the front and back of the wheels respectively. They’re bright, safe and definitely a cooler way of staying visible than regular, fiddly mounted lights.