Two-wheeled travel has always been a lightning rod for innovation. Steel tubing, ball bearings and pneumatic tires can all trace their origins to bicycle applications. By the late 19th century a full one-third of all U.S. patent applications were for bicycle-related designs, according to the Franklin Institute. Some interesting ones we found include a sail-powered bike (Patent No. 6932368), a double bicycle for “looping the loop” in circus performances (No. 790063) and a wild one-wheel bicycle with the rider sitting inside the wheel (No. 325548).
Get a copy: You can order Bicycle Times Issue #40 here.
Of course the bicycle builds on inventions that came before it. The wheel is seen as perhaps the greatest invention of all time, and its creation is a far more complex tale than the bicycle’s. In this issue we excerpt a portion of Richard W. Bulliet’s book, “The Wheel,” that documents how there are actually three distinct types of wheels, each with its own origin story.
Since the “ordinary” design with two wheels of the same diameter was introduced in the 1870s, the bicycle has largely rolled along an evolutionary path. But now with the introduction of so many new technologies so quickly, will the bicycle be radically transformed from the simple, mechanical form we know it as today? And how will our experience interacting with it change? See some of the interesting examples that could represent the future—or failure—in this issue.
And what about the bikes themselves? How are they changing? We got our hands of one of the most distinct bicycles in years, the new Cannondale Slate, for our lead product review. Its unorthodox and distinctive suspension fork is derived from mountain bikes, and it might take you places on a road bike you could never go before.
The best thing about technology is that it is always expanding. Old technologies are rarely lost. Bicycles are still being ridden that are generations old, but still bring a smile to our faces and wind across our cheeks. Whether your interest in technology celebrates the new or the old, the bicycle has something for everyone.
In this issue
Inventing the wheel
The history of wheeled travel is diverse, opinionated and often circumspect. In this excerpt from “The Wheel,” by Richard W. Bulliet, we learn how something as ubiquitous as the wheel isn’t as simple as you might think.
Wear with care
Proper cycling apparel is an investment, and if you want it to stay functional and comfortable for the long haul, you need to take care of it. We discuss textiles and apparel care with the experts.
Bikes in paradise
On the tiny Marshall Islands there are no private vehicles, so bicycles are the only way to roll. And just as Darwin would have predicted, there they have evolved some distinguishing characteristics all their own. By Jordan Vinson.
Bike to the future
The cycling industry has always drawn entrepreneurs and innovators. Take a look at some of the ideas that could change the way you ride. By Adam Newman.
How LED Lights Work
Learn how these tiny diodes can emit such powerful light. By Karl Rosengarth.
Catching up with Charlie Kelly
- Cannondale Slate
- Felt V55
- Scott Sub EVO 20
- Faraday Porteur
- GT Traffic 1.0
- Bike lights
- Commuting gear
- Shoes and pedals
I thought I knew the bike industry pretty well, but I had never heard of Satechi when I got wind of this new light. Turns out it’s more of a general interest consumer electronics brand that makes gadgets like USB hubs, rechargeable batteries and Bluetooth speakers.
The RideMate light uses a single LED pumping out a claimed 500 lumens. I can’t offer any sort of independent verification of that number, but I’d say it’s in the ballpark. It’s certainly bright enough that it will light your way just fine at speed in the dark and I feel more than comfortable operating it in the lowest of its three settings as a “be-seen” light around town. It also has a flashing mode for daytime use. (For daytime only, people!)
It operates a bit differently than other lights in that it has an on/off button that controls the whole thing, including charging out, and then a separate button that controls the light.
The RideMate is a bit bulky compared to the sleek competition, but the aluminum body is sturdy and looks good. The diffuser in front also wraps around the side body offering a bit of light to enhance your peripheral vision and make you more visible from the side.
The killer feature of the RideMate is that it not only charges with a micro USB, it offers a USB out port so you can charge your phone or other items from its 2,500 mAh battery. Yes it will drain the runtime from your light but if you get caught with a dead battery in your phone it can certainly come in handy.
The included mount is a fixed type that bolts to your handlebars and has a quick release for the light unit. It can swivel a few degrees each way if you have swept back bars. I would like to see a second, rubber strap for easier swapping from bike to bike, but at the price it’s hard to ask for more.
In all I’ve been quite impressed with the RideMate and its features for the price.
- Price: $50 ($35 on amazon.com)
- Weight: 149 grams
- Output: 500 lumens
- Claimed runtimes: High – 2 hours, Medium – 4 hours, Low – 8 hours.