This year’s Consumer Electronics Show wasn’t just filled with camera gear to help you put together that awesome edit you’ve always wanted.
There was also lots of other bike-friendly electronica on hand to help make your next ride a little more entertaining, your next mountain bike camping trip a little more fun and your precious smartphone a little less apt to blow up when you crash.
Portable power solutions for your favorite electronic cycling gadgets
Camping out in the wilderness with your mountain bike is supposed to be all about getting back to basics, unplugging from the world and enjoying all that Mother Nature has to offer.
The reality, however, is that many of us simply can’t handle going that far off the grid. There were several interesting bits at CES designed to help keep your gear powered up when there isn’t an outlet handy.
Goal Zero made a name for itself with its comprehensive range of portable solar chargers but the company has now expanded into portable, high-capacity battery systems to keep your USB-rechargeable gadgets up-and-running.
The new Goal Zero Switch 10 Multi-Tool Kit (US$120) features a 3000mAh Li-ion battery (enough to recharge a Garmin Edge 810 three times) plus an attachable 110-lumen LED flashlight to help you find your way around the campsite. Once the battery is depleted, you can plug it into the included folding solar panel to recharge it in as little as four hours.
The complete Goal Zero Switch 10 Multi-Tool Kit features a portable solar panel, battery pack with built-in USB outputs, and interchangeable tips that turn it into a flashlight or, yes, a fan
Alternatively, the US$80 Goal Zero Torch 250 sports a 180-lumen spotlight, a 70-lumen floodlight, and a bigger 4,400mAh battery. When that’s depleted, you can hook it up to a solar panel or even just crank the built-in generator in a pinch.
Meanwhile, Eton packs everything together into its US$100 BoostSolar, which includes a 5,000mAh Li-ion battery with enough current for a full-sized tablet and a built-in solar panel to keep the cells topped up. If you know the battery will last long enough for your trip on its own, you can remove it completely and still it for recharging your devices with the handy on-board USB ports.
The Eton BoostSolar combines a portable solar panel and high-capacity Li-ion battery pack to keep all of your devices powered up when you’re off the grid
Lots of options to juice up your smartphone
None of those recharging options will do you much good if you’ve shattered your smartphone in a wreck. Not surprisingly, there were plenty of tough phone cases on hand at CES.
One of the most exciting is the new US$129 OtterBox Resurgence Frē, which combines a supplemental 2,600mAh rechargeable battery (already featured in the standard Resurgence) with the rugged, waterproof protection the company is best known for. Expect a public release later this year.
The new OtterBox Resurgence Frē combines a rugged, waterproof outer case with a supplemental battery pack to keep your new iPhone 6 running strong while tracking your ride on GPS and keep it in one piece if you crash
Apple’s new iPhone 6 already has a remarkably good camera but Element Case and Schneider Optics have teamed up to take those capabilities even further.
The new US$249 iPro 6 Trio case boosts the standard Apple optics with three interchangeable lenses (wide angle, telephoto and fisheye), all with glass elements and proper anti-reflective coatings. Super wide and macro lenses are optional.
To help with framing that perfect riding shot, the case also features standard 1/4-20in threaded mounts for use with the included handle.
We’re eager to try out Element Case’s new iPro Trio, with its interchangeable lens made by Schneider Optics
Listen to music while riding – safely and discreetly
We at BikeRadar know that a lot of you prefer to ride with music. Completely shutting out the outside world may not be the best idea but there are alternatives that let you listen to your favorite tunes and still be aware of your surroundings.
AfterShokz showed off its US$100 Bluez 2 headphones, which conduct sound waves through your skull to your inner ear instead of porting them directly into your ear canal. While the sound quality is a bit tinnier than conventional ear buds, they leave your ears completely open to ambient noise while also lending the added convenience of Bluetooth pairing with your smartphone and a built-in mic for taking calls if you’re so inclined. This latest version adds active noise cancellation to help decrease wind noise – one of our major complaints with the original model.
AfterShokz Bluez 2 headphones port music through your skull into your inner ear, leaving your ear canal available to hear ambient noise while riding
The folks at Cynaps, meanwhile, use the same bone conduction technology on its new Mint earphones but with a clever modular design that lets you attach the transducers to a standard headband, a hat, helmet straps, or any variety of other headwear.
Cynaps says you can even attach them to a window or other sound-conductive object to effectively turn it into a giant speaker. Cynaps is currently in the crowdsourcing stage for the Mint, which is available for US$79 via Indiegogo.
The Cynaps Mint is another bone conduction headset but with removable transducers that can be attached to your helmet straps