Changes in most product categories in the bike world usually are incremental in nature. But every once in a while, a technological leap occurs — which is the case with the radical designs of the new helmet, bike saddle and riding jacket below. Along with an innovative power supply for a cyclist's cellphone, GPS device and other now-indispensable "leap" products, every ride can be safer and faster.
Smith Forefront helmet: RoboCop-looking helmet with a radical new impact-absorbing technology called Aerocore that uses honeycomb-like plastic baffles instead of traditional foam.
Likes: Light, cool, futuristic, safe. The Aerocore material, which looks like thousands of straws glued together, is lighter than foam, ventilates well and purports to reduce impact forces from a blow to the head by as much as 30% versus foam. The eye-catching design features a spaceship-like top-lid with six air ports and a built-in GoPro camera mount, a 360 rim channel, and 11 more induction ports on the front and lower sections. A quick wheel adjuster tightens the helmet to your head size, and the 360 channel is cleverly designed to securely hold a pair of Smith sports sunglasses. With its visor, the mountain-bike-oriented Forefront weighs about 12 ounces in size medium, about an ounce over conventional mountain helmets, while the visor-less, more minimalist Overtake road model is about 10 ounces.
Price: $219. www.smithoptics.com
The hot seat
Infinity bike seat: Minimalist bike saddle from El Segundo chiropractor Vincent Marcel that claims to eliminate discomfort.
Likes: Very comfortable. The design, which is basically the outside edge of the saddle with the middle cut out, positions your lower-hip "sit bones" inside the yawing air space, thereby eliminating the acute pressure points that lead to swelling, chafing and, in some instances, impotence. Instead, the pressure is spread out more mildly along an expanse of the rider's flute muscles. Successfully funded via Kickstarter earlier this year, the saddles will be for sale in September.
Dislikes: You can't slide around on the seat and adjust your position as easily as on a regular saddle; you must stand up to reposition.
Price: Several models, padded and unpadded, with metal and carbon rails, $90 to $300. www.infinitycycling.us
Sugoi Zap jacket: Bike jacket designed for low-light conditions that features a technology that allows the entire garment to function as a reflective surface.
Likes: Safe and waterproof. The Zap is fully seam-taped and provides 360-degree reflectivity in early morning and evening rides through Pixel, a fabric woven with microglass beads that explode at night when light hits them. No reflective strips are needed.
Price: $150. www.sugoi.com
Bike2Power BikeCharge power pack: Weatherproof and shockproof rechargeable battery pack that can fully charge a cellphone, tablet or GPS device.
Likes: Light, convenient, tough and powerful. No more running out of power 30 miles from home. Enough juice to recharge most smart devices 90% to 100%. Small enough (just under 5 ounces) to be kept in a seat bag or jersey pocket, or mounted anywhere on the bike (such as on the head tube, as shown) and rotated 360 degrees. Rechargeable from any USB sources such as a wall charger or computer port.
Price: $59.95. www.bike2power.com
Wallack is the author of "Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times