It's been another big couple of weeks in the world of crowdfunding and we’ve seen everything from an 'Artificial Gills' underwater re-breather, which experts said wasn't possible refund nearly $900,000 to Indiegogo supporters, and a combined bath mat alarm clock that will force even serial snooze button-ers to get out of bed in the morning make its funding goal.
We’ve also seen a 'world first smart bike', a reimagining of the bicycle itself (not for the first time), and a bell that raised more than $1 million dollars.
Here’s our picks for the best and worst cycling related crowdfunding campaigns that want your help.
Everything's better with Bluetooth, right? Even a bike? Launched a few weeks back, the SpeedX Leopard Smart Bike has taken Kickstarter by storm…
What exactly is a smart bike, you ask? Well, the tech-heavy ride features a carbon frame with built-in lights, and an integrated head unit called the Smart Control system. The GPS enabled cycling computer appears to record key metrics like speed, distance, heart rate, and power, drawing data from sensors built into the frame as well as external ANT+ sensors. SpeedX is the firm behind the Speedforce smart stem, and claims its low-power GPS system can track and record data for up to 800km or 40 hours, and only takes 30 minutes to fully charge.
With the Leopard, SpeedX boasts that it’s the "third bicycle brand in the world to achieve full-integrated wiring" – calling out Trek and Specialized in the process – and on paper the Leopard looks like an interesting bike (though not all BikeRadar staffers are totally sold on it yet).
SpeedX highlights that the Leopard is made with T1000 carbon, and weighs 1.2kg. Well, you can make an unflinching stiff frame with T500 carbon or a noodly one with T1000, it’s the layup that matters. And while the sensors and integrated lights are likely to add some weight, 1.2kg for a frameset isn’t a particularly impressive figure.
Also, if you opt for the Di2 build, do you have to charge your bike and drivetrain? What about the rides recorded on the Smart Control System, can you upload them to your training software of choice like Strava or Training Peaks? Or are you stuck with the SpeedX software? Most of all, do you really want or need a Bluetooth-enabled bike?
With that said, it's pretty hard to argue with the lifetime warranty, budget friendly price point, and over $1 million dollars raised so far. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the SpeedX Leopard.
Vagabond Bicycle Bags
Vagabond Bicycle Bags is set to create a high quality modular bike packing system that can be mounted onto any frame. There's no shortage of frame bags out there and plenty that don’t need racks or special mounts, but the team at Vagabond have added an extra layer of utility by making their kit useful off the bike as well.
All the bags are made in the USA, and Vagabond has partnered with a sewing facility that specialises in soft goods for law enforcement and military use. Based around the Ruck Sack Base Backpack, the system is made up of the Baar Handlebar Bag, Frem Frame Bag, Siit Seatpost Saddle bag, Water Bottle Bag and two accessory pouches.
The Ruck Sack is a hearty looking roll-top bag with an explandable volume of up to 45l and interestingly features 'hydration and laptop sleeves'. Each piece minus the backpack is secured to the bike with soft straps and should fit any standard frame design.
Taking the bags off the bike, each piece of the system is secured to the Ruck Sack using straps or MOLLE webbing. Used by militaries around the world the MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) system is used to attach smaller pouches and equipment to load bearing platforms like vests and backpacks. The Vagabond bags use MOLLE sticks woven through the webbing to secure the smaller bags to the backpack, and also allow you to attach any other MOLLE gear you may already own.
This system should be great for bikepacking beacause when you stop somewhere and lock up your bike, you can take your gear with you.
Pmzero Wellness Bicycle
A lot of people have tried to reinvent the bicycle over the years, though with nearly all cyclists riding traditional upright style bicycles, it’s safe to say it’s a design that’s here to stay. However, some still want to tinker and design the next big thing, which brings us to the Pmzero Wellness bicycle.
We’re not really sure how to classify the Pmzero, but we think it’s an upright recumbent cross with a motorcycle, or maybe a lowrider slash e-bike? While it probably pedals okay, we do wonder about the effect that placing a rider's body weight so far back will have on handling.
We've also got reservations about the dual pad-style seat. It's a design that looks good on paper but has been tried and abandoned many times over the years. This is because the pads of the saddle need to be tilted forward as to avoid cutting off circulation, but doing so causes the rider to slide forward potentially causing hand, wrist, shoulder and neck problems as the rider braces themselves upright.
There’s only one size and it’s hard to tell but it appears the seat height is adjustable, though smaller riders may not be able to reach the pedals.
Currently live on Indiegogo the Pmzero Wellness Bicycle was previously on Kickstarter, but the campaign was pulled a few weeks ago.
Getting a flat can put a damper on even the best day out riding, but do you hate them enough to carry a high pressure 11l air canister on your bike?
The Bimp Air is a portable air canister that's designed to be mounted in a water bottle cage. Made from alloy, it features a built in gauge and hose, and is refilled with a specially designed fork-mounted 'energy converter', that transforms the bikes movement into air pressure — there's a more traditional compressor avaliable too. Bimp claims its system can be filled in six minutes of riding at 15kph.
Taking into account the abuse mountain bike gear is regularly subject to, and the volume of air stored in such a small canister, the Bimp seems like an accident waiting to happen. A portable air canister seems something better suited to the automotive market, where it's less likely to get knocked around. Considering one, maybe two 16g CO2's are enough to fill most tyres (unless you're aboard a fat bike), 11l at 50-bar of pressure also seems like overkill.
We’ll concede that being able to reuse energy created while riding in the form of air pressure is an interesting idea. But in an industry laser-focused on shaving grams, it seems doubtful that a potentially bulkier, weightier system will gain much traction over lightweight and mostly reliable 12-16g CO2’s and minipumps.
Earlier this month we brought you news of the OMATA One Analogue GPS cycling computer. The first of its kind, the OMATA One puts cutting-edge GPS technology in a stylish analogue display, and apparently is exactly what people wanted. The old-school bike speedo hit its US$120,000 goal in just two days!
When the Blaze Burner was first announced, we thought it could almost have been designed by Apple. In fact, created by the same company behind the Laser Light, the Blaze Burner is a sleek 100 lumen lamp that uses magnets for mounting and easy charging.
As crowdfunding campaigns are quite often plagued by delays cause by supplier or manufacturing problems, it appears the Blaze Burner is set to ship on time with the lights currently being manufactured and shipping soon.
Taking everything we thought we knew about the simple bike bell and throwing it out the window, Knog has created a unique product with the Oi bell. It seems the brand was onto something, with the noise maker raising AU$1,078,634 despite a humble AU$20,000 target.
As usual, if you’ve seen a product that you think we should know about, mention it in the comments below or contact Colin at colin.levitch(at)immediateaus.com