Tokyo Bike Fantasty- The Land Before Crime

Last week I went on a trip to Asia to visit some of the Boombotix distributors. My first stop was in Tokyo and Osaka to meet Fun Fancy. Donky and Katsu have been working to promote Boombotix in Japan since we started, so it was cool to get on their turf.

Bike-Japan

 bike commuting is a way of life

The bike community is vastly different than San Francisco. It wasn’t uncommon to see your everyday investment banker headed down the street in an upright sitting cruiser wearing an expensive tailored suit. The number of people riding bikes seemed to keep the clutter of the streets to a minimum. If people didn’t ride their bikes, then they would be on the subway.

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Hammock backpack + Bluetooth portable speaker: All you need for camping this summer

New hammock backpack makes packing for outdoor adventures easy-breezy

As perennial supporters of outdoor living, we have to point out this most awesome new piece of camp equipment to hit the shelves. It’s called the HackedPack and, in short, it’s a backpack that packs up the most important piece of camping gear: a hammock.

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Of course, it’s not just a piece of sheet for you to tie between trees. The HackedPack also includes all of the ropes, carabiners, and other necessities for securing the hammock between trees. It also has plenty of strap space for you to clip on your favorite Bluetooth portable speaker, and just enough additional room to pack away some trail mix and water.

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The backpack is able to achieve this remarkable space saving technique by using some fancy pass-through design trickery that allows the hammock to support the weight of an individual without putting stress on the backpack’s straps.

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Pretty cool idea, and what’s additionally beneficial about its design is the fact that it keeps the pack off the ground, thereby eliminating the chances of any sort of bugs or critters scurrying their way in while you sleep.

Smart bike brings turn-by-turn directions to the rider’s handlebars

Connected cycle helps riders keep their eyes on the road

If you’ve ever biked a longer distance, then you know the headache that comes with trying to figure out directions beforehand.

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Either you’ve got to memorize the name of every road and turn, or you’re constantly pulling off on the side of the road to check the map on your phone.

A new “smart” bike on Kickstarter seeks to put an end to this frustration. Referred to as the Vanhawks Valour, this connected cycle has 11 days to go on the web funding site and has already achieved its funding goal five times over.

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The reason why everyone’s throwing money at it is because it’s a pretty damn cool product. Basically, the bike connects to one’s smartphone via mobile app (iOS and Android) / Bluetooth technology, and sends GPS directions directly to the rider’s handlebars, using LEDs to indicate which road to go down. The reason behind this technology? To keep the rider’s eyes on the road, especially during high-traffic commute times.

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The bike can be pre-ordered via Kickstarter for $1,049. That’s the single fixed-gear though – if you want the multi-speed unit, you’ll need to pony up $1,199. Both models are expected to be ready for shipping out in November (just in time for the holiday season).

Also worth noting is that as the bike app becomes familiar with roads and areas traversed, it becomes smarter; that is, it learns where to avoid potholes and suggest safer routes. The bike also includes haptic feedback in the handle bar grips, so when an object is entering a blind spot, the rider is alerted.

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Lastly, the Valour app can also act like a fitness wristband tracker, keeping score of your riding progress by monitoring and logging your activity, including things like distance traveled, time spent riding, and calories burned. The data is sent to a corresponding app where riders can analyze later on and set goals accordingly.

Remote control brake keeps young cyclists safe when biking near busy streets

Nifty gadget is easy to add on to the rear tire of bike

If you’re a parent of a young cyclist, then you’ve probably had – at the very least – half a million heart attacks while watching them ride in the street. To ease the parent’s trouble mind, a group of investors have developed a pretty cool, unique way to control the little biker: a remote-control bike brake.

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Referred to as the “MiniBrake”, this smart little gadget is fitted to the rear of the bike’s frame right above the tire. Its remote control has a range of just a little over 160 feet and when a parent becomes worried that their two-wheeling tot is going too fast or coming too close to an intersection, they simply push the remote control’s button and the MiniBrake clamps down on the tire.

Now while one might envision this brake causing the child to come to a screeching hault, whereupon they’re flipped head over the handlebars, the stopping motion happens over a distance of about 20 inches, so it’s fairly gentle, and gives the rider a chance to put his / her feet on the ground.

Worth noting: if MiniBrake detects the bike is broken or has a flat tire, the brake automatically applies till it gets fixed.

The device’s battery has a couple hours of charge to it, and shuts off when not in use; LEDs indicate how much charge is left, letting the user know when it needs a boost-up.

Right now, the device is on Indiegogo trying to secure funds to go into production. Being the supporters of all things cycling-related, we encourage you to check it out.

Awesome safety app for cyclists

Real-time tracking app lets family and friends track rider en route

There are a million apps out there for today’s cyclist to peruse, but one in particular just came out, and is definitely worth sharing. “RoadID” is what it’s called, and while you might’ve heard that name before, its latest iteration is worth sharing because it can be used as a means of letting friends and family track a cyclist’s progress in real time.

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What’s more, if the cyclist stops moving for more than five minutes, a notification is sent to that friend / family member, alerting them that the rider might be in trouble.

Also worth noting, the app has a lock screen that displays all vital information about the cyclist for first responders to review when they arrive at the scene (hopefully it never has to be used). Information displayed includes the user’s name, city and state, three emergency contacts, and important medical information (e.g. allergies, medical history, blood type, etc.)

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Obviously, the app can be used for other activities like running, walking, or hiking — basically anything you can take your Bluetooth portable speaker with you. The way the user’s friends and family members can view the status of the cyclist / road warrior is via link, which can be sent by email or text prior to hitting the road.

Beyond emergency situations, the app also makes it easy for riders to track each other down for a meet-up on long rides. So it’s not all doom-and-gloom—it can also be used for on-the-fly get-togethers.

RoadID is free, and can be downloaded via the Apple store.