It feels like an e-bike string of pearls when you watch the bikes on the Rhine on a sunny Sunday. Now, that we all have a battery-powered e-bike, next columnist Markus Sekulla has to asks: What’s next – after the e-bike? The answer may not be to be seen at the Rhine on Sundays, but it's found quite quickly on Google: The smart-bike.
Anyone who likes to read tech blogs inevitably noticed the trend toward the smartification of things. Maybe it’s not at the peak of the hype cycle any more, but back then, all of a sudden, everything had to be smart and connected to the internet. It started with our homes and cars and stopped with coffee makers and toothbrushes. What’s left? Not too much. I also tested and bought a few devices back then. Many of them fit well into my life especially in the initial euphoria phase and caused a wow among my (mostly male) friends.
Fast forward to the year 2022 and there is hardly anything left of my smart device portfolio. My smartphone, of course (!), a smart watch, but that’s about it. You could call it a love story without happy-end when it comes to smart devices if there weren't some cool use cases. Many people in my circle of acquaintances use smartwatches to reduce time on the smartphone or some have a smart home security system to monitor their houses. So, why is it that smart devices somehow haven't really caught on and are no longer perceived as cool? In my opinion, there are two main reasons for this:
One area that has been mostly smart-free so far has been bicycles. The emphasis is on has been. That's because more and more companies are integrating software solutions into our cycling experience. If you're anything like me, the first question written across your face is, “Well, how is that supposed to work?”
For example Harley Davidson is a key innovator with their “Serial 1” smart bike. It's all about Google’s services that were newly integrated services into the app. The software is designed to make our cycling trips safer and easier to evaluate.
And Bosch eBike Systems is also setting the course for tomorrow's bicycle locomotion – including route planning and tour tips, safety, health and fitness tracking and all kinds of features that make riding more pleasant. If you think that's all just a bunch of bells and whistles, you're probably right. However, for others it is new and therefore exciting gadgetry.
Sure, you can build yourself a smart bike by simply buying a steering wheel holder for your smartphone in an online shop. But: Real smart bikes want to take your smart game much further. Especially for athletes, there are good features with a cloud data solution to read distance, output and other metrics like how much effort you put in in relation to the battery. In addition, stealing a smart bike is certainly not the smartest action by thieves. The anti-theft technology with GPS are at least as secure as the currently popular location tags.
Do you need all this? Need is a big word, so no. But are they cool features? Yes. However, it will take a long time before smart bikes have the same penetration as e-bikes. If you want to buy one, it is worthwhile to observe the market extensively.
What do you think – cool or frills?
Text: Markus Sekulla
Bosch: How connectivity is revolutionizing the use of e-bikes:
downtown-mag: The new Serial 1 RUSH/CTY STEP-THRU ebike powered by Harley-Davidson in review:
ERGO Bike Tracking: Beating thieves at their own game:
E-bikes: Cool, useful or ridiculous?
Apple Airtags: Where is my bike?