Bicycling is a great way for kids and adults to enjoy the outdoors and travel around locally. These days, cycling is getting even more fun, with new tech gear that provides safety protection and accommodates the smartphones that you and your children carry with you every day. For the bike riding family, here is some useful gear to buy for spring.
Let's face it. Bike accidents can happen, especially when kids are just learning. Spills and collisions can be very minor. However, a severe blow to an unprotected head can cause brain damage or even death.
A number of important organization urge cyclists to wear helmets, including the National Safety Council, Safe Kids USA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, although survey statistics vary, it's clear that the vast majority of kids who ride bikes do so without a helmet.
To get kids accustomed to helmets, you should start them young, experts say. It also helps to give them a helmet that looks "cool," and to let them decorate it with stickers. Parents should act as role models, too. So whenever you go out on your bike, do wear a helmet.
The Giro Scamp MIPS helmet for kids definitely qualifies as cool-looking. It's inspired by the design of Giro's Montaro/Montara models for adults. The kids' helmet comes with a built-in visor, and we especially like the fact that it's intended to be "ponytail-compatible."
Also, while most helmets protect only against direct impact, this one is enabled with MIPS technology aimed at reducing rotational forces if the helmet gets hit at an angle. The kids' helmet is available in blue and pink, at pricing of $55.
Smartphone Handlebar Mount
Whether or not you or your kid is up to using a smartphone while riding is a decision only you can make. If the answer is yes, it's good to find a method of attaching the phone to the bike in a way that keeps the phone fully functional.
One product that does of this is called the Nite Ize HandleBand Universal Smartphone Handlebar Mount. Able to work with most smartphones, without or without cases, the mount is highly flexible for use and reuse throughout the family
Sold for $16 or less at online sites like Amazon, the mount is made from lightweight silicon with an aluminum base, so you can wrap it to just about any size bar on a bike, shopping cart, or stroller. You can secure and wrap other items along with the phone, including flashlights and bike pumps. To sweeten the deal a little bit more, the aluminum base can pull extra duty as a bottle opener.
Bone Conductive Headphones
If you're taking your phone along for the ride, you can do things like glance at a map on your GPS app or stop to make phone calls or reply to texts. You can also listen to music while cycling, but you'll need headphones for that or you might annoy neighbors who have different musical tastes.
Tuning in while riding can be riskier otherwise, so you should use a pair that lets in so-called "ambient" noise -- like traffic sounds -- from the surrounding environment. Headphones that work in that way include on-ear (as opposed to over-ear) models as well as in-ear headphones that rest inside the ear but not as far down as into the ear canal.
Bone conductive headphones such as the Bluetooth-enabled AfterShokz Trekz Titanium ($130) and less pricey Sportz Titanium wired headset ($50) can also be quite useful. With this type of technology, the sound travels to your brain through your cheekbones, leaving your ears totally free.
The connective piece goes behind your neck, making these headphones quite helmet-friendly. The Sportz Titanium is available with a built-in mic for $60. The Trekz Titanium also comes in a Mini edition for kids ($130). All models come in multiple colors. .
Reflective technology (RT) gear can help you and your kids stay safe on dark nights -- as well as dreary rainy days -- by illuminating you or your bicycle. Lots of RT gear is available, ranging from reflective tape to armbands, wristbands, vests, and entire RT outfits.
Nathan Cycling StickOns, however, are a highly convenient option for families, because you can stick them anywhere: helmets, clothing, bike seat, frame, or fender, for example. A set is priced at only $10. So you might want to invest in a bunch.
Mission Bicyle's Lumen reflective bike can also be quite useful, although only if you can afford one. The Lumen uses a patented technology called retro-reflection, which returns any light that hits its frame and wheels directly to the light source. There's no on/off switch. No batteries are needed, either.
The bike shines dramatically under direct light during night-time. By day, though, it is deep charcoal gray in color with only a slight iridescent sheen. The reflective bike is offered in single-speed and fully geared versions, in five sizes. Custom designs are also available, at a starting price point of around $1,100