Cycling gets smarter, on the street and in the race

Data, Apps and IoT are reshaping cycling for Grand Tour winners, amateur riders or commuters in Smart Cities.

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As the automobile industry accelerates the development of the connected car, which is likely to be self-driving, the venerable bicycle is not to be left out. IDG Connect's resident cycling and mountain bike obsessive Mark Chillingworth spoke to the founder of Hammerhead, a scale-up tech firm that is now working with four-times Tour de France winner Chris Froome and Google to bring data-centric technology nouse to bike racing, and in doing so, further develop the connected bicycle.

Connecting the bicycle is a paradox. The beauty and the constant appeal of the bicycle is its simplicity, both in mechanics but also usage. That first ride of a bicycle is a milestone in childhood, and in the Netherlands, 37% of children under 12 cycle to school, a higher proportion than those driven to school. Despite the simplicity of the bike, technology can augment most experiences, whether that be a business process, entertainment or a cycle ride for sport, pleasure or just getting to work. The history of the bike is one of technological progress, from constant chemistry improvements to tyre compounds, new materials for frames (carbon fibre dominates the professional race scene) and increasingly technology. The rapid rise of mobile technologies, sensors and batteries has heralded in connected and powered bikes in tandem with an increased desire by younger generations to have less impact on the planet, rising urban living, and increased awareness of the health benefits.

As a result, connected bike innovations have hit the street, race scene and cycle lanes, ranging from See.Sense a bike light that combines an LED lamp with tracking technology that collects data on light levels, temperature, road surface quality, routes and how many near misses with drivers they experience. Hammerhead, makers of a GPS navigation and performance monitoring unit, says its technology will soon be able to communicate with cars, connecting with the collision and lane change avoidance technologies many vehicles pack. 

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