Morpher: The World’s first fold flat cycle helmet

morpher-folding-helmet

The Morpher is a new innovation in portable cycling helmet technology. Would a bicycle helmet that you can fold flat persuade you to wear one? Inventor Jeff Woolf is hoping so: after having his life saved by his headgear after a hit and run accident 20 years ago, Jeff has developed a compact Morpher helmet that’s easy to carry around with you. With 9 out of 10 Londoners who hire Boris bikes choosing not to wear a helmet, the new innovation could prove to be a lifesaver.

The Morpher isn’t pocket-sized, but the flat-folding, portable design means it can be easily slipped inside a rucksack or handbag. Whether or not it makes it into production depends on the success of the project’s Indiegogo campaign, which kicks off at the start of November in the search for funding. However, the prototype has already won three innovation awards.

The helmet slips easily into a rucksack or laptop bag.
The helmet slips easily into a rucksack or laptop bag.

Jeffrey Woolf isn’t new to the invention game and has been named British Inventor of the Year twice. He has also been awarded an OBE for his services to innovation. Of the Morpher helmet, he says: “I have been aware of the increasingly large number of cyclists taking to the streets without helmets and, with my experience in inventing, I wanted to see if I could help to reverse this trend.”

“I am delighted to announce the launch of Morpher’s Indiegogo campaign, providing the opportunity for people to be involved in the creation of Morpher and to own one of the first folding helmets in the world. Morpher helmets will fold up small enough to fit into a work bag or typical laptop carrier. With more and more people riding every day, Morpher helmets will help to protect cyclists and save lives around the world.”

Inventor Jeff Woolf is looking to raise funds for production.
Inventor Jeff Woolf is looking to raise funds for production.

As on the similar crowd-funding site Kickstarter, you can commit different levels of cash to the project in return for different levels of reward. For a mere $20,000 you can get an all-expenses paid trip to China to see the helmet in production and get your hands on 25 of the helmets with your own custom-made graphics. Those with less money in their pockets can chip in for a far more reasonable $5.

The Morpher helmet is built from expanded polystyrene (EPS) with nylon hinges that help it to fold up. The headgear weighs in at 250g and has been developed with the cooperation of the British Standards Institution. For more news on the helmet, which is scheduled for a Spring 2014 release, visit the official website at or the @morpherhelmet Twitter account.

Wahoo RFLKT: Second Screening on Two Wheels

Wahoo-RLFKT

I’m an avid cyclist, so I’m constantly on the look out for great tech that can make my life better. We even published a handy guide. So I was delighted to get my hands on the RFLKT iPhone bike computer – a cycling computer that harnesses the power of your smartphone (provided your smartphone is an iPhone).

Slightly larger than a regular cycling computer (the case reminded me of a mini-DV), the Wahoo RFLKT is incredibly easy to set up as you just hit a button and it pairs with most cycling apps on your phone. It’s also very easy to install – either in an ostentatious fashion on your handlebars or in a discreet gentlemanly manner on your stem (using rubber bands!). Both are quick and effortless but if you live in an crime ridden city you’ll need to carry the metal removal key around with you. It’s hard to casually remove RFLKT without the key which should deter the casual thief, so gauge the motivation levels of your local larcenists as you park.

The RFLKT wirelessly receives all app data and ride information from the iPhone via low-power Bluetooth 4.0 technology. My iPhone battery is unreliable to the point where I don’t leave the house without back-up power and want to set the ring tone to “Why Does It Always Drain On Me?” but riding around all day with RFLKT (playing MGMT) didn’t have any significant impact on battery life. The RFLKT runs on a single coin-cell battery which should hold out for a year.

RFLKT reflects your iPhone screen so you can operate your favourite iPhone cycling app, switch between screens, start or stop intervals and even control iPhone functionality such as music playback, while your iPhone remains safely out of sight. There’s even a little light for when you’re riding at night.

I have a perennial problem with apps such as this in that I listen to music through Spotify or the Podcasting app so every time I hit the music playback album iTunes would kick in. That’s a minor gripe. And because I’m spoilt I really wanted this to be a touch screen – I kept swiping at the screen – even though many cyclists wear gloves making this a stupid idea. A clock face would have been nice – but not essential.

The app relies on your iPhone’s GPS for data, making it accurate overall but leading to wild jumps at times – the occasional glance at the screen will make it seem like you’re breaking the speed limit. You can plug RFLKT into Wahoo’s wider eco-system of accessories- they have a heart strap monitor and cadence sensor if you really want to drill down on data. But if you’re a little less hardcore the RFLKT is an excellent entry point into cycling metrics.

The Wahoo RFLKT is priced at £119.99 and is available from the end of June from the Apple store, and www.wahoofitness.com.

Top 5 Cycling Gadgets

Cycling-Gadgets

Cycling has been in the news a lot lately, with the trialling of Dutch-style segregated roundabouts appearing alongside less positive stories about fatal road accidents. However, technology is playing a big part in improving the lives of Britain’s cyclists, and this list of gadgets and apps will assist with everything from safety and maintenance through to fitness and entertainment.

ProNav

1. Safety

Road safety has historically been a major problem for cyclists, and HGVs have been involved in over 50 per cent of cycling deaths since 2010, despite only making up around four per cent of our road traffic. Now, a brand new device called Cycle Alert aims to eliminate the blind spots that can precede collisions with lorries and trucks. This ingenious system sends direct warnings to the drivers of nearby HGVs, alerting them to the presence of any bicycle within two metres. This is achieved by a unit (carried on either the bike or cyclist) communicating with sensors in the lorry cab, immediately triggering a warning alarm and flashing light.

Cost: TBC. Available from nationwide retailers and cyclealert.com later this year.

2. Navigation

Garmin was the first company to launch GPS into the cycling market, and their Edge 510/810 devices incorporate numerous cycle-friendly features. Alongside the usual GPS positioning and speed displays, these compact systems can display gradients, elevations, heart rates and even lap times. Best of all, it’s possible to share the details of your journey in real time with friends and family members, through the Garmin Connect smartphone app. Waterproof, glove-friendly and with a 17-hour battery life, these are among the best GPS devices on the market for cyclists.

Cost: Upwards of £250. Available from Amazon.

Basis-Band

3. Fitness

Cycling is one of the best ways to improve your fitness, but it can be hard to keep tabs on your progress and health. Enter Basis Band, an American device worn on the wrist that acts as a personal cardiologist and fitness instructor. It calculates numerous metrics including heart rate, temperature and galvanic skin response, before distributing this information via cloud technology to a computer program, where users can track everything from calorific output to how long they sleep at night.

Cost: $199. Available from www.mybasis.com

Westone-R4

4. Entertainment

There are countless varieties of portable headphones in the market today, and many people will already have a preferred brand. However, cyclists with deep pockets and no brand loyalties might wish to consider the Westone 4 R-Series of earphones, whose name promises Ultra High-Performance Stereo sound. Sure enough, clever engineering has created impressive ergonomics, while removable cables can be replaced in the event of damage occurring. These in-ear speakers use four-driver systems, based on half a century’s research and innovation, and provide a tolerance of +/- 2dB between earpieces.

Cost: £389.99. Available from The Headphone Company

5. Maintenance

Every keen cyclist will be able to tell tales of mechanical issues and breakdowns, and many of us struggle with even basic repairs like reattaching a slipped chain. Enter the Bike Repair app, which is downloadable onto any Android or iOS device, and offers step-by-step solutions to common problems encountered by cyclists. With over 80 written features and 64 photo guides, this should be enough to resolve anything short of a double puncture.

Cost: £2.49 from iOS, or £1.93 from Android. Available from The Bike Repair App

Image courtesy of @each1teach1

TomTom GPS Sports Watches: Exercise and Technology – the Perfect Fit?

TomTom-GPS-Sports-Watch

I’m more active that you might expect for someone who edits a gadget website and spends all day and I love any chance I get to combine exercise and technology. I’ve tried many a pedometer the FitBit One being a current favourite) and I love my Withings wireless scales. But one of the coolest fitness I’ve used was the Nike Sportswatch powered by TomTom. So I was interested to hear that TomTom was coming out with a new product that “completely re-designs the GPS Sport Watch.”

TomTom-Running-Man

The new, ultra-slim (11.5 mm) TomTom Runner and TomTom Multi-Sport GPS sport watches feature an extra-large,high-resolution and high-contrast display, full-screen graphical training tools and the headline feature one-button control so it’s easy to access information without slowing down.

Swimming-Sports-Watch

“We know that most GPS watches on the market are too bulky and complicated to use while training. Runners and multi-sport athletes can now view their performance information at-a-glance, making it easier to achieve their fitness goals.”
Corinne Vigreux, managing director, TomTom Consumer.

GPS-Woman-Running

The new watches feature TomTom’s Graphical Training Partner – basically easy-to-read full-screen graphics so you can optimise your workouts with access to relevant information. There are graphical training modes: Run, Goal and Zone. The one button controls are great for navigating key stats (and also just for controlling your watch), especially when running, swimming or cycling (I hate fiddling with buttons in the rain or through cycling gloves). TomTom claim you can use the battery for up to 10 hours in GPS mode which is more than fine for my stamina levels.

TomTom-Cycling

Another great feature is the ability to accurately track indoor runs using built-in sensors to count strides, so your treadmill runs aren’t “lost”. Rather than locking your data down to a proprietary platform you can sync, analyse and share stats on popular running sites and community platforms, including the TomTom MySports website, MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, TrainingPeaks and MyFitnessPal. Long-lasting battery: Up to 10-hour battery life (GPS Mode)

The TomTom Runner and TomTom Multi-Sport will be available in Summer 2013. For more information head to TomTom.

Mio Cyclo 105C cycle computer review

Despite the daily threat of physical harm and death I do like cycling to and fro on London roads. In part this is because traffic makes buses agitating and the tube is a hot mess of sweat and agravataion in the summer. But also I like to think that I’m somehow magically getting fitter with all these rides to and from Hackney. I even got a fixed-gear bicycle so I’m peddling the whole time and not coasting down hills or relying too much on gears. But how fit am I really getting? Well the best way to find out is with a cycling computer and Mio were kind enough to lend me one for a week or two to find out (if the suspense is killing you the answer is “not very”).

Mio

Mio have a range of stylish bike computers that record time, speed, distance, altitude and calorie consumption. The computers are equipped with an anti-glare 1.8” screen, simple menu structure and a customisable dashboard. To top that off their computers come with built in GPS so they can track your movements. Not bad for a little device that looks like a chubby Casio watch.

There’s very little set up needed and there’s a distinct “out of the box” feel to package. You will need to place sensors on your wheels and pedals to log all this data and the 105 H which I was testing also had a strap-on heart monitor that you’ll need to pop on around your chest before getting started. The Mio Cyclo 105 series comes with a built-in ANT+ sensor and is compatible with every power meter, so the user can easily monitor performance. The Mio Cyclo 105 H is the same product, but includes a wireless heart-rate monitor in the box.

Cyclo-105_front

The computer itself is a little on the large side and clashed with the polished sleek aesthetic I’ve been trying to hard to achieve on my “ride” but if you’re less vain than I am (i.e., most people), then it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The casing is rugged and waterproof so ready for most London weather. There’s a charger to power up the device (and the 18 hour battery life is more than good enough for most rides) and you can sync data back to your computer via a micro-USB cable.

This is my main issue with the device actually. It does a *beautiful* job of recording my movements when I’m on the bicycle and is simple and easy to use. But it really falls down at the last hurdle with PC syncing. I simply don’t want to be plugging things into my computers anymore. I’d much rather we entered the world of wireless background syncing. Maybe (definitely) I’ve been spoiled by the world of smartphones and smart personal fitness devices like the FitBit Zip but I want things to be logging my data in the background and then spitting info back at me via an app – the Withings WiFi scale and the FitBit Zip are both perfect examples of this technology. It’s a great way to actually interact with the data you’re providing – and harnesses the power of a computer you actually have on you.

This gripe aside it’s a great device and if you’re serious about your cycling fitness it’s worth checking out.

The Mio Cyclo 105 H is out now for £169.99

The Mio Cyclo 305 puts bikers on the map.

We’ve all heard them; the constant whining of cyclists chastising drivers (mainly lorry drivers to be fair) for not giving them enough room on the road. And in many cases they have a point. Having said that, I’m sure we’ve all been cut up by a cyclist at some point too. All in all though they are the poorer citizens as far as road management is concerned. Perhaps now though, they might feel a little more loved as they now have their very own custom sat nav systems to play with courtesy of personal navigation specialist Mio.

Mio-Cyclo

The Cyclo 300 and 305 come with pre installed maps from top digital mapper TeleAtlas and are more or less ready to go straight out of the box. Fitting snugly on the bike frame, the Cyclo’s big on screen buttons are super friendly for cyclists (can you feel the love growing) and make navigation a breeze. There’s even a ‘surprise me’ option when planning a route to take you on a magical mystery tour to your chosen destination. The unit itself is able to handle many kinds of weather situations given that it’s impact resistant and waterproof whilst the 3” anti glare screen provides clear enough instructions for recreational cyclists or even the more demanding needs of a trained mountain biker.

To make bikers feel even more loved they can share key route information such as time, speed, distance, height and calorie consumption with other users using Mio’s desktop software. If you go for the 305 version though, you get an additional wireless wheel sensor to monitor and record your heart rate and fitness levels that you can also share with other pedal bashers if you want to.

So is this the dawn of moan free cycling?  After all, with cycle friendly routes at your very finger tips, pedal power’s never had it so good!

Mio Cyclo 300 with Western-Europe Maps    £299.00

Mio Cyclo 305 with Western-Europe Maps    £349.99

Due out early 2012. www.mio.com/cyclo

iBike Coach. More power to your pedals.

There’s one thing you can honestly say about pedal bikers, they’re a hardy lot. What with having to put up with dodging unobservant car drivers, dealing with bad weather, punctures, the odd tumble and a sore rear not to mention the expense of buying a bike in the first place. You have to ask yourself, is it all really worth it? Clearly it is, if you believe the ever increasing bike population stats, so its all down to fitness I suppose. There seemed precious little technology could do for them apart from making bikes lighter. That was until Velacomp developed the iBike Dash last year, a dedicated bike computer that logged your distance, time, heart rate and temperature and gave you GPS routings and everything.

iBike

Following on from this they’ve released the iBike Coach a software app upgrade for the iPhone 4 and 3 which works in conjunction with the IBike Dash offering enhanced tutorials, easier set up, more colourful screens and music control.

The iBike app update now includes an ‘always on’ feature which allows you to continue to monitor your data even when the IBike app is not running via the iBike Dash electronics. The two applications then simply synchronise when the Bike app powers up and your data gap harmony is restored.

John Hamann, CEO of Velocomp, says, “Cyclists naturally expect that their cycling computer information will always be correct and accurate. And iPhone and iPod touch users naturally expect to have full access to all of their apps, whenever they want. With our new ‘Always On’ technology, both of these critical expectations are met”.

iBike Coach includes a water and shock resistant case that works with any iPhone and a universal mount that securely attaches the case to any bike. It also includes 6 months free membership to www.strava.com and online social fitness site that lets cyclists all over the world log, share, compare and compete with each other’s personal
fitness data.

iBike Coach $69.95

Christmas gifts for the budding cyclist

When it comes to presents, people can usually be defined by one key interest. If that interest is cycling, then you’ve come to the right page. We’ve toured the web and picked some of the greatest gifts any keen velo-driver might ever want.

MyVelo

For loved ones:  Wikku Mirror Indicators

Nothing says “I love you” more than anti-get-hit-by-a-car cycling mirror indicators. They bad boys fit on your handlebars and let you mirror, signal and then manoeuvre just like a real car.  £44.78.

Slightly-less-cheap-and-more-obscure-but-bear-with-me: TurboCharger iPhone 4 Back Pack from Proporta

Honestly, they’ll probably need an iPhone 4 to benefit from this one. Still, not only will it protect the iPhone from any scrapes and drops it might experience on a bike, but the 1700mAh pack will also double the phone’s battery life. Perfect for the cyclist using GPRS to map their route, or navigate, or blast out phat tunes with wanton disregard for road safety. £49.95.

For the music lover: Vita Audio R1 KMII

It’s a DAB radio. However, it’s also stylish and small, and can be purchased with a carry pack and a battery add-on so those crystal clear digital radio broadcasts can travel with you. After all, who hasn’t longed for the car radio experience while cycling along?

Apart from the novelty value, there are loads of other useful functions – adjustable bass and treble controls, an input for other audio devices (maybe the iPhone, with its enhanced battery pack?). If you’re planning on passing it on for Christmas, however, you may need to hand over an I.O.U. – it’s not out ‘til June!

The London Cycler (someone whose bicycle has recently been stolen): MyVelo Customised Bike

If you like your bike to make a statement about you, you’ll need it customised. MyVelo builds bikes based on your specification – you choose which type of saddle, frame, wheel, grips, mudguards and colours you what.

Once you’ve picked out your colour scheme (or used a pre-design style or a random selection), you can either head to the showroom to watch the bike being built, or just sit back and wait for it to be delivered. Easy.

The bikes themselves are all hybrid-sports cycles, available in both men’s and women’s lightweight aluminium alloy frames. If you’re one to boast about these things, they’ve got 21-speed Shimano gears, Italian Selle Bassano 3 zone comfort seat and Kenda puncture resistant tyres. £375.