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  1. #1
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    smrtGRiPS: "World's First Connected Bike Grips"

    Just saw a new kickstarter-y thing for "connected" bike grips:

    https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/s...ted-bike-grips

    <iframe src="https://www.indiegogo.com/project/smrtgrips-world-s-first-connected-bike-grips/embedded" width="222px" height="445px" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe>

    I've got no affiliation, and I'm not sure how interested I would be in these (certainly not interested enough to back them)

    But often when I'm riding to a new location I will pick a byzantine route that should keep me safe, but which has like a billion random turns. And I do inevitably end up missing or forgetting one. So then I have to stop and figure out where I am, or dig out my phone if I'm really lost. So I like the basic idea of haptic way-finding.

  2. #2
    since 4/10/2009
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    these hipster crowdfunding projects piss me off sometimes.

    "cool" features that do what for you? bike finder? I have honestly never had trouble finding my bike on the rack. call me weird, but I don't have problems finding my car in huge lots, either. the haptic navigation thing is kinda cool...but only kinda.

    and then, these products are always too visible on the bike. these have these fancy clear plastic end caps so you can see there's something unique in there. Oooo, let's steal it and figure out what it is.

    then there's the hipster "design" aspect. so the developers made a version compatible with Brooks grips...but then decided to design their OWN lock-on mtb grip, rather than making something compatible with one of the major players in the mtb grip market like ODI or Ergon.

    the proximity alerts are sort of a good idea, but does that mean everyone has to use these grips?

    And the bike tracker requires a certain saturation of users of THIS GRIP to bounce notifications off of? Wait, seriously? They are trying to make it sound like THIS feature will help you get your bike back if it's stolen? HA!

    I ran across this thing recently, too.

    Connected Cycle

    Similar idea in some respects, but a slight divergence in features. As a pedal, I would never install this on a bike that I own. Mostly because its primary function as a pedal is kinda "meh". Kinda cool that it reports various fitness metrics, though. If this could be somehow applied to more functional pedals for riders interested in bike fitness, it might work better. But then again, other companies are already doing that...and doing a better job of it. I DO like that it doesn't rely on batteries that need to be recharged externally, but rather generates its own power. The fact that it has its own data connection helps with functionality, but so now I have to buy a cellular data plan for my bike? How about no?

    I do see this as being a good option for a fleet of rental or bike share bikes, as was their original marketing line. But for consumer bikes? I just don't see it yet.

  3. #3
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    ^ yeah, I've got zero interest in the tracking and anti-theft aspects of this. But I do think the wayfinding is kindof neat, particularly for something like a bikeshare. If I don't know where I am, or where I'm going, I think it could be cool to have grips that occasionally buzz and steer me towards my destination bike corral.

    But the "our network will help you find your stuff! (Disclaimer: assuming we can get a critical mass of other users in your area)" is the same thing that Tile was peddling. Not sure how that worked out either.

  4. #4
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    yeah, assumption of reaching a critical mass of users with smartphones using their app is HUGE and it's one that's never going to happen. It just needs to work out of the box when you buy it if they're going to advertise a given functionality.

    So far, not a single one of these "connected bike" systems has impressed me enough to strap one onto any of my bikes, even if they paid me as a spokesperson.

    The best theft protection is low tech. the phone app pointing to the bike in the rack is a head-scratcher. Maybe if your city's bike parking looks like this:

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    But that sort of thing doesn't happen in very many places.

    This:

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    and this

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    are the sorts of situations I usually see. And if you still can't find your bike, you have deeper problems.

    One thing that really irks me are the devices that require their own cellular data connection. I get that it overcomes the "critical saturation of users" problem, but all it does is replace one problem with another - namely that you have to maintain a data contract with some cellular provider for it to work. That's no good, either. The fact that it then relies on multiple wireless signals that can be obscured pretty easily - face it, GPS doesn't work if you bring it into a large building, and cellular signals aren't much better sometimes - really hinders the device's effectiveness in the end.

    I see these systems being effective if they're used in a sting operation where there are officers essentially watching "around the corner" and ready to tail the thiefs to their chop shop. But for the typical person who is going to lock their bike up all day and forget about it while they're at work, find that their bike has been gone for hours, finally check their app, and see that the tracking has already been obscured or disabled because the tracker is too easy to find on the bike. Face it - how many people are truly able to monitor their phones at work? Not that many in the grand scheme. My phone has to be silenced while I'm at work, and I'm not permitted to be using it while I'm on the clock. That means I get to check it on my lunch break at best. Systems that alert the user on their phone if the bike has moved aren't going to work if the alerts can't get through to the bike's owner.

    There's a system or two I have seen that use data inputs to control lights as signals. Okay, that's a useful feature, but why would I buy a complicated integrated system for that when there are lights that can do a lot of that on their own?

    The haptic navigation signals are a neat feature. For rentals and bike share bikes, I think moreso. Pair your phone with the bike, program your route, and go. A little fiddling to get it set up (not something I'd mess with in bad weather, for example), but if you're visiting a city and using its bike share program to get around, I can see it as a valuable tool. I can't say I'd install such a system on my own bike, to be honest. First, I live in a city that's super easy to navigate. You have to be a spatial idiot to get truly lost here. There are a few places where the roads don't go all the way through (usually because of rivers or parks, but occasionally for other things like large industrial areas) but it doesn't take much effort to find a way through or around them. It's so easy to navigate here that you can easily reach a specific address just by looking at street signs. I could see such a feature being a lot more useful in cities where the road networks look more like a bowl of spaghetti than anything ordered, but definitely overkill where I live.

    a lot of these crowdfunding projects that I've seen seem to rely too much on the fact that someone had an idea that they ran by a designer to make it look slick and modern before they sat down with many people to really hash out why someone would buy it, why it's an improvement on the alternatives, and most importantly, identify the drawbacks of the system. This is the kinda stuff that needs to be really hammered out before ANY money is spent on a fancy website (is it me, or do most of these websites use the same templates?), prototyping, or anything else.

  5. #5
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    Harold? The name change threw me for a loop.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    One thing that really irks me are the devices that require their own cellular data connection...
    The haptic navigation signals are a neat feature. For rentals and bike share bikes, I think moreso. Pair your phone with the bike, program your route, and go...
    Thankfully this one doesn't need a data connection, but you do need a phone with one. This isn't part of the project at all, but since tourists might not have a data connection, in an ideal world I think the bikeshare could have the connection. So you could rent a bike, select a destination, and follow the buzzing grips. (and I realize that there are these paper things called maps, but that's no fun)

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    a lot of these crowdfunding projects that I've seen seem to rely too much on the fact that someone had an idea that they ran by a designer to make it look slick and modern...
    There's a comment in the video that these guys have also been working on their "vision of the bike of the future" for more than a year. And if it's like all of the other "bikes of the future" that keep popping up, I assume it will be lacking rack/fender mounts and that for some reason the seat height won't be adjustable.

  6. #6
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    The only smart grips I need are ones that can pump up tires.

  7. #7
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    the only thing the "bike of the future" needs is to be cheaper. make them just as comfortable/light/fun as they are, but cheaper, and I'll be all over it. But working out more efficient manufacturing processes isn't as trendy as redesigning something that works great as it is and making it futuristic-looking and weighted down with electronics and batteries and goofy but lackluster attempts at "theft-proofing".

  8. #8
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    Love the honest feedback on this thread. The separation alert can also work with other bluetooth devices that are associated with the App. When the device looses it's pairing it warns the main user with an audible alert and a buzz. Only mama bear needs the smrtGRiPS. If you want to use your ODI Lock-On grips you can. Just change the external lock ring so it has the appropriate thread. Soon smrtGRiPS Black Edition will be offered with black external cap ends - super stealth no one will notice. Well, I will ;-) LouH from smrtGRiPS

  9. #9
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by LouH View Post
    The separation alert can also work with other bluetooth devices that are associated with the App. When the device looses it's pairing it warns the main user with an audible alert and a buzz. Only mama bear needs the smrtGRiPS.
    What does this even mean?

  10. #10
    I'd rather be on my bike
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    10/10 would not buy or use this. I am trying to simply my cycling experience. The fact that I use Strava now teeters on the edge of insanity for me.
    The pedals turn, not just the left one, but the right one too.
    2015 miles: 301/5000

  11. #11
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    Hi Harold,

    It was in response to your comment

    "the proximity alerts are sort of a good idea, but does that mean everyone has to use these grips? "

    The feature works with other bluetooth devices that are not necessarily smrtGRiPS. Every biker is associated to a bluetooth device (could be another smartphone, headphone so on) . Should a member fall behind and go beyond a radius of 300 feet (and unpair), the group leader will be alerted (buzzing grip and audible notification). It's simple application but we thought it could come handy for bike groups or families that are biking together and do not want lose track of each other.

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