Editor’s note: Smartphones are a great tool for cycling that can track your ride, navigate you to a destination, or even call for a rescue. iPhone Phridays is a roundup of some of the most interesting or useful iPhone cases we’ve been testing over the last few weeks.
Ever since I ruined one phone’s screen by putting it in my pocket while riding I have been using a waterproof iPhone case, since it protects the phone not only from drops, but from splashes and sweat. I was especially intrigued by the iPhone 5/5s iBattz case ($120) because it is not only waterproof, but has an extra battery pack to extend your run time.
That battery is 2,200 mAh, effectively doubling the size of the stock battery power. With my iPhone I get most of a day of normal use out of one charge, and maybe half a day of heavy use (this is the iPhone 5 with the lousy battery). With the iBattz case I can get multiple days of normal use and at least a full day of heavy use.Tweet Print
Not everyone wants or needs to monitor their heart rate while bicycling, but for some it’s an important health and fitness gauge. In my case, after two false alarms for anxiety or stress-induced heart issues in less than three years, I’ve turned to heart rate monitoring for safety’s sake as well, but have been turned off by the dreaded chest strap.
So imagine my interest when a helmet-based heart rate monitoring system appeared. I’ve worn Lazer helmets for five years, and the Belgian company’s partnership with LifeBEAM, comprised of pilots, engineers and cyclists, began to make sense.Tweet Print
SQ Labs is a sister brand of German engineering wunderbrands Liteville and Syntance, focusing mainly on fit points: grips and saddles. The 711 grip looks like the Incredible Hulk wrapped his mighty paw around a round grip and gave it a squeeze. It’s perfectly shaped to fit your hand as you hold it.Tweet Print
Nearly everyone is familiar with Thule rooftop bike racks and boxes for motor vehicles. With the introduction of the Pack ‘n Pedal series the company’s cargo-carrying knowledge expands to bicycles. The Commuter and Tote panniers are sold individually for either matching or mixing.Tweet Print
Heated grips? This sounds like the kind of thing that would be either hokey or over-the-top luxurious. But they come in handy (no pun intended) for motorcyclists and snowmobile riders, so why not bicyclists as well? A’ME happens to make some very high-quality and effective grips that can keep your hands happy through the winter.Tweet Print
Rand McNally certainly knows how to make maps, but when it comes to using them in the outdoors, why let the tech companies take over? The Foris is a handheld GPS unit designed for general purpose outdoor use by hikers, cyclists, geocachers and others.Tweet Print
When you’re camping out in winter, your sleeping bag is one item you do not want to skimp on. The Ignite Dridown 0 bag makes use of Kelty‘s new DriDown coated down, which helps retains the fluffy features’ loft and warmth. While I certainly didn’t sleep out directly under the rain, I did get it plenty moist on some rainy nights to be convinced that DriDown works. Another bonus: if you’re on an extended journey, it also dries more quickly, which is essential when you have limited opportunities to dry your gear.Tweet Print
As LED lights continue to pack more lumens in smaller packages, the line between lights for road riding and for mountain biking gets more blurred. Case in point is this diminutive powerhouse from Lupine, the Piko 4. Its 1,200 lumens are plenty to see by when traveling down a dark trail, but its small size and setting options make it a versatile choice for street use.
The Piko’s German-made high quality and precision are evident right away. They’d better be, for $335. The machined aluminum light head is finished with shot-peening and hard anodizing to toughen the surface. The LEDs, lens and circuitry are similarly top-notch.
The Piko comes packaged ready for helmet use; while it mounted to my helmet easily enough, 1,200 lumens is a lot to shine in drivers’ eyes. (For trail use, however, helmet mounting would be great.) So I opted to procure an optional quick-release handlebar mount ($40), which scores points for being the most svelte I’ve used, just 4mm wide, while also being solid as a rock. The process of switching from helmet to handlebar is quite fiddly, though, involving tiny screws and O-rings.
Like other Lupine headlights, the settings offered by the Piko’s switch can be programmed from a multitude of choices. The beam has a brighter spot in the center transitioning smoothly to a wide halo. Runtime is at least as much as claimed (two to 58 hours, from 1,200 to 50 lumens)—one charge was good for a full week of evening commutes on the 470-lumen setting with occasional boosts up to 1200. The switch has blue and red LEDs to indicate how much juice is left, and there’s a reserve mode available after the low-battery warning blinks.
Lupine is like the BMW of lights, with a high level of design and construction, and a price to match. But it’s a great choice for those who use and abuse their lights, especially if you’d like one light to go from road to trail and back.
I tested and liked the original version of the Flea lights back in Bicycle Times issue #3. This diminutive light set has been updated with a new USB charging system, and Blackburn is also offering a solar charging option for space-age convenience.
Each light has four LEDs housed in a sturdy body. The front’s 40 lumens put it in the “be seen” category (rather than “to see”), and it has two steady modes plus a flash. The rear has two flash modes plus steady and is disco-bright. Both have fuel gauge LEDs in the on/off buttons. Run times were at least as good as advertised—one hour on high for the front and six hours on steady for the rear.Tweet Print
My family and I like to go bikepacking and camping as often as possible, and often that means paring down the camp necessities to the basics. The $190 Sumo cooking system from Jetboil is lightweight, compact and serves as cooking surface, cook pot and flatware for our family of four.Tweet Print