Kevin Manning’s ingenious Pump-Hub system inflates bike tires as you ride. Photos: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
SAN FRANCISCO — Sometimes even a great idea falls flat at first. Take Pump-Hub, a self-inflating bike tire gizmo. It was rolling along at trade shows and getting lots of good press before the financial crisis of 2008 sidelined the project.
Now its creator, engineer Kevin Manning, is getting back on track with a new team behind him and plans to expand his original idea — an automatic, adjustable, tire-inflation system housed in the hub of a bike wheel.
For cyclists, the Pump-Hub means no remembering to check the tire pressure or pack a pump, no fiddling around with the valve and then racing to put the cap back on before the air wheezes out and your aching arms have to start all over again. It inflates the tires to the proper pressure while you ride, making a gentle clickety-clack sound reminiscent of spoke cards from childhood days. When the tire hits the designated pressure, the fluttering sounds stop. If you get a flat, just upend your bike and spin the wheel until pressure is restored.
“It’s like how using a Macintosh is easier than using a command-line interface,” Manning says, turning his Gunnar bike upside down on the Embarcadero to show me how the Pump-Hub works. If you really boil down all the technology behind his invention, he adds, the main advantage basically ends up being “it’s easier.”
No one but actual, honest-to-God bicycle messengers had the authority to wield a Timbuk2 messenger bag. If you were an iron-assed hard case living life on a bike, you’d probably earned the right; though you might still have found yourself the target of diluted messenger disgust.
That was the pervading vibe 15 years ago when I bought my first Timbuk2 bag, a Bolo (back then, each size had a name; the Bolo was the large version). Make no mistake, these were Messenger Bags: simple, voluminous, virtually indestructible black holes, able to swallow an inordinate amount of awkwardly dimensioned deliverables, specially stabilized for use on the bike exclusively. The only grudging nods to civility were a couple of pockets sown onto the outside of the bag and an optional padded shoulder strap.
And apart from a few minor changes, it’s stayed that way. Like the coelacanth, the Classic Messenger has remained a living fossil, unchanged, while other Timbuk2 species have evolved and developed around it. Until now.
The little dots on the sensor’s face are lights that tell you whether the sensor is connected, or if the battery is low. Photo: Eli Milchman
LAS VEGAS — Rather than come out with a more casual-oriented wearable fitness tracker like everyone (and we mean everyone) else, Wahoo stuck to its athletic roots and took the more serious route of improving the heart-rate monitor strap and accompanying training software the company introduced a few years ago.
In fact, Wahoo has created three new versions of its Bluetooth HR strap. The company even tried to restructure the way athletes think about training with the new “burn or burst” approach for the Wahoo iOS app.
The CycleNav: Putting the “win” back in “Schwinn.” Photo: Eli Milchman
LAS VEGAS — Remember the Hammerhead? It’s a device that attaches to your bicycle, links to the GPS on your phone via Bluetooth, and guides you along a pre-chosen route by flashing a left or right light when you need to turn.
Schwinn‘s new CycleNav does one better. Like the Hammerhead, it attaches to your bike (via quick release) and flashes an LED light to alert you to an upcoming turn. But it also speaks voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation to you through a speaker, just like your iPhone does.
Bike2Power has just added an iPhone 5s version to their line of ruggedized, weather-sealed BikeConsole Smart Mounts for bicycles. The lineup already has a version for the 5 and 5c, but the new 5s model allows access to the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
Now that winter has hit the country, cycling has moved indoors for much of the U.S. That means straddling a stationary bike or throwing your trusty road or mountain bike up on a stand (or if you’re really brave, rollers).
That’s where the Xspin comes in. it’s a small box filled with sensors and a low-energy Bluetooth 4.0 radio that attaches to a crank arm and sends speed, distance and cadence data to an accompanying app — either one of two developed by its parent company, Pafers, or a handful of popular third-party cycling apps, like Strava or MapMyRide. It’ll also work with ellipticals (though it obviously attaches differently, since ellipticals don’t have cranks).
Venice Beach, California. A sunny playground full of hipsters, homeless folk, and the team behind of Cult of Mac Deals. But there’s another company that calls this chill little corner of LA home – Solé Bicycles.
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Ever tried using an iPhone or Android phone to navigate with GPS through crowded streets? It’s pretty difficult, even for a veteran cyclist like me, to split my focus between the road and tiny symbols on the phone’s tiny screen.
Plugging in to a headset to hear turn-by-turn directions sometimes works, but cycling with headphones can also be a pain (not to mention illegal in places under certain conditions).
The answer, of course, is a heads-up display like Google Glass; but until it’s ready, there’s the Hammerhead, a light-powered navigation aid with some other cool tricks up its sleeve.
You can thank Bluetooth technology for making cycling safer. “How’s that,” you ask, as you wolf down a Lemon Sublime Gu? The answer lies with the growingnumber of Bluetooth speakers designed to be mounted a bicycle; listening to music from a speaker obviates the dangerous (and often illegal) temptation to wear earphones on the bike.
The latest is Outdoor Tech’s Buckshot, a tiny, ruggedized (to IPX-5) shotgun shell-shaped speaker with a rubber mount for attaching it to a handlebar; it even doubles as a speakerphone. What separates the Buckshot from most other bike-friendly Bluetooth speakers is its diminutive size, and its price — the Buckshot is just $50.
Jabra made a big show of introducing their Sport Bluetooth music/phone earbuds at CES this year, even bringing in triathlete celeb and Ironman champ Craig Alexander to flaunt the buds while he sweat away the miles on a stationary bike. Unfortunately, the Sport has been plagued by reports of abysmal Bluetooth connectivity (possibly due to range) and poor fit ever since it shipped.
Jabra’s response is their new Sport Wireless+, the successor to the Sport, which Jabra says has made everything better.