These bike handlebars have built-in lights, navigation, and an alarm system

Wink Bar
© Velco

Drop in a Wink Bar and add a host of smart features to your bike.

With the transportation trend leaning toward cleaner options, e-bikes and electric scooters and skateboards are getting a lot of exposure these days, and while electric mobility is a great solution for some commuting needs, an even greener choice is a plain old conventional bicycle. Although the idea of having an electric drive system on your wheels which enables longer faster rides is very alluring one, a manually-pedaled bicycle, even a newly manufactured one, will come out way ahead of an electrified version in terms of its carbon footprint.

However, the greenest choice of all is the bike you already own, or that your neighbor owns, or that's for sale at a thrift store. As someone who's spent many an hour picking through piles of bikes and parts in backyards and garages over the years, I can testify that there's no shortage of good quality bikes at people's homes that almost never get ridden. These bikes could go on to be someone's daily ride for years to come with a little bit of an overhaul and perhaps an upgrade. Even as the e-bike market seems about set to blow up, and we're starting to see a lot of e-bike conversion kits and drop-in electric wheels for sale, the time seems ripe for a second-hand bicycle refurbishing and upgrade business, which could add high-tech 'smart' components for safety, convenience, or security.

One such product that looks to be a good addition to the bicycle aftermarket is the recently launched Wink Bar, a drop-in replacement handlebar that integrates lights, navigation, a security system, and more, adding a bit of smart functionality to an existing bike at an affordable price. Available in either a flat (MTB style) or upright (city bike style) version, the aluminum Wink Bar is powered by a removable 1800 mAh lithium ion battery that is said to last up to three weeks between charging.

Wink Bar© Velco

The Wink Bar connects to a smartphone app (of course) via Bluetooth, which keeps track of ride stats, routes, and more, while also handling the navigation. When using the app to navigate, lights on the handlebar indicate the directions, as well as alert the user of incoming calls, allowing the rider to keep their phone tucked away instead of being mounted to the bike. The Wink Bar has a GPS tracking system in it for more reasons than just navigation, however, as the global geolocation system can allow a lost or stolen bike to be tracked for recovery, and an integrated 92 db alarm can be set to go off when moved without unlocking the bike via the app.

The headlights are also described as 'smart' because they turn on and off automatically based on the the amount of available light, and although it's hard to tell from the website if the 225 lumen LED headlights are a great solution for seeing the road directly in front of the bike (based on the product photos), they do look like they add a fair amount of visibility to the bike itself, which can increase ride safety.

"We created the Wink Bar to give cyclists the ability to make their bike rides safer and smarter. Rather than something you have to attach to your bike, we wanted to make it an integrated part of the bike’s design. That way, the alarm is always protecting your bike, our inbuilt navigation tool, VelcoNav, is always there to guide you, and the headlights are there to keep you safe on the road. We’re so pleased to finally be launching the Wink Bar, and see it revolutionize the way riders from around the world cycle." - Johnny Smith, CMO at Velco

The French startup Velco is launching the Wink Bar with a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, where early bird backers can secure one of the first of these smart handlebars for a pledge of $149 (MSRP $264), which are expected to be delivered sometime in September 2017. Each Wink Bar purchase also includes a lifetime free data plan for the navigation and geotracking features. Find out more at Velco.

Tags: Bike Accessories | Gadgets

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