Five Bike Tech Innovations to Watch in 2017
From cloud technology to more easily adjustable seats; there is no part of a bicycle that won’t benefit from the upgrades we will be seeing in the coming year. Get your pedals ready.
The Bicycle Cloud
The Bicycle Cloud is a cloud based Software as a Service (SAS) application catering for retailers, cyclists and policing authorities alike. The aim of the software is to provide a simple, effective solution to help safeguard retailers and cyclists against the scourge of bicycle theft and fraud.
- Real-time theft reporting across retailer network
- Real-time theft reporting by geo location
- Real-time tracking supported by state of the art nano-technology (currently in development)
- Full transparent market-place linking cyclist to bike and cyclist to retailer from point of sale, to repair sale or upgrade
- Commission free Cycle to Work platform
- Cyclist registration platform
The Bicycle Cloud intrinsically links the Retailer and Cyclist through a unique digital cloud based bike registration process. It provides a fully integrated customer management software solution that streamlines communication and payment processes from the workshop to the showroom. It provides retailers with a 0% commission Cycle to Work payment solution that allows the retailer to receive payment from the corporate directly – without need of a middle man.
This innovative software aims to grow the market by improving transparency, improving bicycle theft recovery rates and providing those policing the market the key information they require to make targeted informed decisions. Surely a much needed innovation, considering the growing problem of bicycle theft in Ireland. The company that created the Bicycle Cloud are still in the process of developing the nanotechnology required, but rollout is expected in January.
These aren’t just about making seat adjustment quick and easy. Once you get yourself a dropper seatpost you’ll find yourself using it continuously throughout your rides. A touch of a button allows you to control your centre of gravity by “dropping” your seat on the fly. A lower centre of gravity helps you improve stability on the bike by keeping your mass where it’ll move the least. Having a low seat will also help shock abortion. Having a lower centre of gravity will also help with your turns. It distributes your weight evenly between your wheels, which allows you to take wide turns without sacrificing speed. Having a dropper adds a new dimension to mountain biking.
When making your next bike purchase, there will be one question you’re sure to ask yourself: rim or disk? Once the reserve of mountain bikes, disc brakes have been steadily rising in numbers within the road community. So what’s the difference? Traditional rim brakes, as their name implies, base the braking force on the outer edge of the wheel. A disc brake focuses forces on a smaller rotor, situated towards the centre of the wheel. The advantage of a disc brake is its power (saving your hand muscles), its consistent brake force levels, its weather resilience, and its minimal maintenance needs. Furthermore, relocating the brake caliper has freed designers from the constraints of rim brakes and has allowed for the ballooning of tyres and rim widths.
These aren’t yet well established enough to make any grand ruling on them, but they are definitely worth a mention here. Tubeless tyres will soon be among us and they will have their benefits. According to early test, tubeless tyres will have fewer flats that tubes, however, they are currently thicker and heavier than tube tyres. The other offering of tubeless is the lower pressure. Less pressure means that the ride quality will improve; it also boosts traction when cornering and braking, because softer tyres stick to the ground better. But before you get too excited about going tubeless, it is worth considering the negatives. The maintenance, for one, isn’t as simple as handling a regular clincher. It requires a lot more care and patients. Using sealant can also be a messy process. There is also limited choice on the market at the moment. It would be best to wait on this one awhile longer and see how it progresses.
Aero bikes have really hit their stride this year with a new breed of bikes that make integration central to their design. The key to this is cable routing. The sleekest aero bikes keep the gear and brake cables hidden for as long as possible, routing them through the handlebars, stem, and frame before they emerge close to their partner components, usually on the backside of the tubes to keep them out of the wind. Tested against lightweight bikes, aero bikes prove faster in most conditions. The one exception is steep inclines, where their aero ability doesn’t make up for their extra weight. Aero bikes are also not the easiest to live with. Integrated brake cables mean that they are harder to access and harder to fix. Despite how sleek these machines look, and their added performance, you might want to consider their practical value before making a purchase.