Better illumination will make night riding safer, and e-bikes may catch on
Last week, I covered a few product highlights from the Interbike Expo trade show. Today, I offer a quick look at three big trends affecting the world of bikes. From brighter lights to pedal-assist e-bikes, these items have the potential to change how you roll.
BRIGHTER LIGHTS: Every year, LED technology improves, and with it bike lights get brighter, smaller and cheaper. Just a couple years ago, a rider of the night might pay $500 for a mediocre light that sucked power from huge battery packs. No longer. Smaller and more efficient handlebar-mounted lights, including the likes of the to-be-released BT20 model from Fenix, offer serious illumination at $100 or less. Light & Motion, another category leader, debuted a 1,200-lumen torch that is nearly as bright as a car headlight but weighs just a few ounces and fits in your hand.
ELECTRIC BIKES: Will 2013 be a breakout year for pedal-assist electric bikes? This category has been on the verge for years, with a handful of niche players. But today more and more companies are getting on the e-train. A bellwether is seen in motorsports maker Polaris Industries Inc., which has annual sales of $2.7 billion. This fall the company will debut a line of electric bikes alongside its snowmobiles and ATVs. Company press material cites making electric bicycles “a viable mainstream recreational option” as a primary goal.
NEW WHEEL SIZE: It’s called 650b, and you can expect to see the term thrown around a lot next year in mountain bike circles. In between standard 26-inch wheels and the oversize (and also now fairly standard) 29-inch wheels, the 650b wheel type exists. Dozens of companies are on board for 2013 with bikes and parts to support the wheel size, which measures about 27.5 inches in diameter. It’s marketed as a “just right” in between for speed, maneuverability and the power to roll over obstacles in your path.
Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com. Find Regenold at Facebook.com/The GearJunkie or on Twitter via @TheGearJunkie or by email at email@example.com>