Those who bike know to fear the almighty pothole. A deep rut in the road, or a big piece of metal lying on it, can mean the end of a biking trip. And those fancy bike computers are no help — while they track everything about you and your bike, and may even give directions, they can’t warn you about that massive impediment three car lengths up. Now, however, there’s something that scans the road in front of you to spot possible hazards and can prevent accidents like this:
This one was so bad it made the news. Most accidents don’t end with the front bike wheel looking like Clifford the big red dog’s chew toy and the fork completely sheared through. Still, this writer has personally suffered an encounter with a massive crater missed by then-Mayor Bloomberg that resulted in a popped tube, destroyed tire wall, and dented Open Pro rim. Needless to say that ride was done, and I had to replace the tube, tire, and later the rim. So I’m quite interested in taking a look at the gadget that offers to warn riders about the road ahead.
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Byxee, a handlebar-mounted scanner searches an image of the oncoming landscape, and can pick out the road and irregularities on it based on shadow measurements. The Byxee Linear Road Scanner (BLRS) works in conjunction with the Byxee Hazard Detect System (BHDS) to pick up trouble spots at up to 80 feet, and beeps a warning. The sensors also pick up moving objects, like balls or the kids that inevitably chase them. You can set the field of view and sensitivity or use one of the 28 smart settings. The battery life is about 30 hours, and the battery power is displayed on startup. When it’s drained, you can charge it with a plain old USB.
It’s a revolutionary road scanning device for biking. As it says on their Indiegogo page, “Byxee is another set of eyes that never get tired or blinded by sun-glare or headlights or, let’s face it, distracted. Distractions are a major cause of accidents and Byxee serves as a sharp reminder to stay alert and stay alive.”
Keep in mind, the speed of the bike shortens the warning time; at 10mph, it will beep five seconds before the pothole, manhole, or vicious lip of a metal sheet, at 30 mph, warning time is reduced to two seconds. Byxee’s sensors are supposed to be intelligent enough to recognize if the bike is part of riders and will begin scanning again when it has a free stretch.
This is both good and bad, because it’s unclear how helpful it would be in situations like the one in the video. Further, Byxee is optimized to scan tarmac roads during day rides. Based on these features and limitations, Byxee seems like a wise investment for those who ride in small groups or alone on busy paved roads, and could even be work for scooters and e-bikes.
Byxee is seeking $135,000 in funding on Indiegogo to enable the firm to produce a prototype that’s ready to ship by January 2016. If you grab a super early bird for $140, plus $25 shipping, you’ll save $110 on the otherwise hefty $250 price tag. While Byxee is a welcome addition especially for those who ride rough and busy roads, this is yet another piece of hardware to mount to your bars. It would be excellent to have this technology incorporated into a bike computer, or a bike computer added to this tech. Until then, better safe than sorry.