In the centuries since bicycles were invented, we’ve seen other forms of transportation evolve from horse-drawn carriages to sleek hydrogen-powered luxury vehicles, and yet our favorite form of two-wheeled transportation has stayed almost exactly the same. Some cyclists maintain that there’s no need to mess with perfection – yet there’s clearly room for some cool updates. Here are 14 high-tech cycling innovations, from onboard gadget-charging computers and spokeless wheels to invisible helmets and bike locks that can climb poles.
Levitation Bike Hovers, Generates Electricity & Provides WiFi
This concept bike not only powers your cell phone and acts as a mobile hot-spot providing WiFi on the go, it also uses magnetic levitation and kinetic energy to lift itself up, decreasing wind resistance and reducing impact from bumps on the road. Riding the Levitation Bike generates electricity for the phone charger and an LED screen monitor that will tell you how far you’ve traveled and how much energy you’ve produced.
Loopwheel Bike Has a Suspension System Built Into the Rims
A spring system replacing the spokes between the rim and the hub absorbs the impact of bumps and potholes on the road, resulting in a much smoother ride. Made of a carbonic opposite material, they’re super-strong, and ideal for use in folding bikes, making them just as comfortable as their conventional-frame counterparts.
Invisible Bike Helmet is an Airbag For Your Head
Okay, so this helmet technically isn’t invisible – though it seems so, when you see a rider cruising down the street with their head uncovered. The way it works is quite a surprise; it’s like an airbag for your head. A black collar around the wearer’s neck uses rechargeable batter-powered accelerometers and gyroscopes that detect the motions involved in a bike crash, triggering a gas inflator that fills a nylon airbag with helium. That bag forms a protective hod around your head that will cushion you from impacts. Unfortunately, this cool invention costs a whopping $600, and once the airbag is deployed, the helmet must be replaced.
Alpha Bike Has On-Board Computer, Enclosed Gears
Look carefully at this bike. What’s missing? The gears and chains. They’re all enclosed within protective plastic, reducing maintenance and keeping them out of the elements. The Alpha has a lightweight carbon-fiber frame, and an onboard computer and handlebar display with data like speed, and gear status powered by the motion of the front wheel.
Flexing Kurve Bike Saddle
This bike seat has zero cushioning, yet it’s reportedly much more comfortable than a conventional saddle. The Fizik Kurve features a flexible carbon composite shell on forged aluminum rails. The flex of the seat can be adjusted by the user to the ideal comfort level.
4-Strike Bike: Pedal with Both Hands and Feet
Give your legs a break and get even more power with handlebars that double as an extra set of pedals. The 4StrikeBike distributes body weight more evenly than a conventional bicycle, reducing back strain and giving riders a more complete all-body workout. The hand pedals can be fixed upright and used as regular handlebars when desired.
Amazing Soft-Rise Bike with Steel Tires
Designed by Ron Arad, the Soft-Rise Bike is not exactly practical for commuting or racing, but isn’t it pretty? These decorative flower-shaped geometric wheels really do work, and guests at the W Hotel, which commissioned it, can take it for a spin. The wheels are made of flexible tempered steel.
Bikes with Built-In USB Chargers for Gadgets
More and more bikes are using the kinetic energy generated by the motion of the wheels to power gadgets and onboard computers. The Silverback Starke series is one example, with a USB port powered by a hub dynamo.
High-Tech Bike Share Plan for Copenhagen
Bicycles are already a major form of transportation for Copenhagen residents, so it’s no surprise that the city is among those leading the way for forward-thinking bike-share programs. RAFFA ARchitecture & Design has developed a sharing plan using real-time GPS tracking, an online reservation system, and bikes that can be stored virtually anywhere to increase ridership from 37% of the population up to 50% by 2015.
The Biceberg Bike Storage Locker
As bikes get more popular, we’re going to need secure and convenient ways to store them. Enter the Biceberg, a storage locker for high-traffic biking areas that looks a bit like an ATM machine. Each unit can hold 92 bikes, along with accessories like helmets. It’s already in a number of cities around the world, and technically isn’t all that new – it’s been around since 1994. But it’s a cool solution that will hopefully spread, and help spur some similar ideas.
Foldable Bike Helmet
Would more people ride their bikes to work or just to get around town if they didn’t’ have to worry about stashing a helmet once they got to their destination? Possibly, and Carrera’s foldable bicycle helmet might be just the solution. It’s made of adjustable strips of foam that provide a custom fit, and can be snapped together nearly flat when not in use.
Electric Hybrid Recumbent Bike Goes 40mph
Electric bikes are gaining popularity, especially among those who don’t want to get too sweaty on their commute, live in especially hilly areas or don’t have a lot of muscle power. Here’s one that’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen before – the Ultralight Adventure Vehicle by Outrider USA, a recumbent bike with three wheels for stability and dynamic handling that can go up to 40mph with a 100-mile range. The bikes could help cyclists keep pace with drivers on the roads, reducing the danger of accidents.
World’s First Folding Bike Wheel
Morph is a folding, lightweight bike wheel by Vitamins Design that could revolutionize the portability of bicycles. Winner at the 2013 Design of the year Awards presented by the Design Museum in London, this wheel is also being applied to another crucial form of wheeled transportation: wheelchairs.
Bike Lock That Can Climb a Pole
A group of German designers have created a bike lock that can scale a pole, getting it out of reach of (or at least making it more difficult for) thieves. Inline skate wheels are fixed onto metal ring equipped with a small motor that takes it right up to the top of a light pole. Of course, this would be difficult to apply on a large scale, since there are only so many light poles in any given city. But it’s fun to watch.