New toys for biking
Cyclists like to spread the love. They want everybody to ride a bike -- male or female, young or old, athletic or klutzy -- so it’s no surprise that they’re constantly churning out new products like the ones below. Tested at the annual International Bicycle Expo this month in Las Vegas, each of them makes cycling more exciting, practical, comfortable and fun for some kind of rider. Whether you’re a commuter, cruiser or high-performance racer, there’s probably something here for you.
Roy M. Wallack
Ridekick Power Trailer: Rider-controlled motorized trailer that turns your regular bike into an electric bike.
Likes: A versatile and relatively frugal way to get the benefits of an electric bike (sweat-free work commutes and easy hill climbing) at a fraction of the price of a typical E-bike, while adding handy cargo capacity to boot. Setup time is just a couple of minutes; the trailer attaches to the rear hub as easily as a typical bike trailer, and the finger throttle and wire attach with Velcro to the frame. The 11-gallon trunk holds a medium-sized bag of groceries or a case of beer. The 2-foot wheelbase approximates handlebar width and handles well in traffic. The lead-acid battery charges in five to six hours and can power a bike for 12 flatland miles with no pedaling.
Dislikes: Heavy at 40 pounds, although you don’t feel it when you run the motor.
Price: $69. (877) 974-4440; www.ridekick.com
Showers Pass VelEau 42: A 42-ounce under-the-seat beverage reservoir that allows for a convenient and unbroken riding position thanks to a retracting suck hose.
Likes: Drink without an uncomfortable hydration pack on your back or coming out of your riding position to grab and swig from a water bottle. While rear-mounted drinking systems are not new, the VelEau (pronounced “velo”) adds convenience and safety with a retracting mechanism that returns the suck hose to its resting place at the juncture of the top tube and head tube. Just reach for the suck hose, put it to your mouth and let go when you’re done drinking. The retractor automatically pulls the hose down to a magnet on the frame that holds it in place. Your seat-bag tools aren’t forgotten; VelEau includes a built-in tool pouch.
Price: $80. (503) 799-5999;
Nantucket Bike Baskets Adult Rectangle: Handsome rattan basket, hand-woven in Indonesia, that measures 12.5-by-10-by-9-inches deep.
Likes: As solid, functional and classy as furniture yet designed for serious cargo work. Not mere decoration, the burly design encourages heavy use, preventing unraveling by using a tight, thickly woven “rolled” rim that feels like a hard piece of pipe. It affixes to a handlebar via two buckled leather straps, which typically hold up for years in any weather, unlike cheaper fabric fasteners.
Price: $50. (800) 337-9280;
Back-Up Barz: Bolt-on handlebar extensions that perch your hands 5 inches higher than a standard handlebar, allowing you to ride without maintaining a bent-over position.
Likes: Instant comfort. Your back straightens up, and aching arms, neck and back disappear. Easy to install by clamping on next to the stem. Due to their central placement, the Barz do not hinder you when riding in the regular bar position, such as when climbing.
Dislikes: Braking reaction time suffers. The extra split-second it takes to drop your hands from the Barz to the brakes could be unnerving, even though you do speed up over time. Seems a bit expensive for a relatively simple product.
Price: $119.95. (800) 750-4066; www.BackUpBarz.com