Helios bars - transform your bike into a smart bike

Built in light + GPS and Bluetooth connectivity, all from your cockpit

by Dave Atkinson   May 23, 2013  

Helios bars - flat

These are interesting. In fact, there's always something interesting on Kickstarter. Helios bars integrate a fistful of features into your bike's handlebars and sync up with your smartphone too.

They do all sorts of stuff, these bars. For a start there's a built-in 500-lumen headlight smack bang in the middle of them, that runs off the internal batteries (looks like a pair of 18650 cells from the exploded pic) and gives you an ever-present and difficult to steal light source.

As well as the light there's a GPS unit built in, which sits inside the stem. On the one hand you can feed that GPS data to an app on your smartphone to track your rides, but because the GPS is part of the bike you can also locate your bike whenever the Helios bars are switched on, which could be very handy if your pride and joy ever gets nicked. You can text your bike (the bars take a standard SIM) and receive the location back within 30 seconds. Turn-by-turn navigation via Google Maps is also available.

The GPS also links up with the rear-facing LEDs (at the bottom of the drops or on the back end of the bullhorns) to give you a sort of visual speedo, the LEDs cycling through a range of colours as your speed increases. On top of that you can use the rear-facing lights as left and right indicators by pressing a button on either side of the stem. The Helios smartphone app allows you to choose a colour for the LEDs too, if that's your thing, and the bars also have a proximity lighting feature: your bike will light up as you approach. Assuming you didn't leave your phone in the pub.

The bars are more than halfway to their $70,000 funding target with over $40,000 raised so far from 240 backers. If you fancy a pair of the first run then there's still 71 sets available at $199, plus $55 shipping outside the US. That doesn't seem too salty to us.Obviously they're not designed to go on your Sunday-best racer, but they might be an interesting addition to your posh city bike. What do you think?

www.ridehelios.com

16 user comments

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These are going to divide opinion pretty strongly I predict.

Not much use for me living in the country and commuting during the day, but if I still lived in the city I could see them as quite useful maybe... and quite cool. Or am I just deeply uncool? Plain Face

posted by thelostboy [8 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 11:53

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why on earth would you want the rear facing lights to be anything other than red?

They don't have all the fancy smartphone features, but I've got a set of these* for my commuter. Surprisingly powerful (given a single AA battery) secondary front and rear lights, with not-entirely-useful indicators (the buttons are on the units- ie at the very end of your drops)

*(widely avaible through other retailer, shop around for the best price, wiggle was just first in my search for them)

posted by Al__S [419 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 11:56

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Like. Want.

posted by miuzikboy [52 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 11:56

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If you're going to pledge for this, be aware that the GPS unit won't work outside the US.

Really, really nice project and I hope it does well.

posted by j1mmy76 [63 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 12:29

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Oh hang on, it might work, but the SMS messaging thing might only work with US carriers.

Confused. Does anyone know if there's a difference between US GPS modules and rest of the world. My incstinct says a GPS unit should work anywhere in the world, or what's the point.

posted by j1mmy76 [63 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 12:42

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How do you change the angle of the light, if you change frame/forks etc?

posted by ir_bandito [58 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 12:47

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this will definitely catch on around here (London). I hate switching lights between bikes, taking them off at the pub, etc. Or just plain forgetting them in the morning and then deciding in the afternoon that I would have liked to have put in a couple of hours training on the way home, but now can't. Great idea, as long as replacing parts when they break is straightforward. Smile

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posted by theclaw [75 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 12:50

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These look great for a posh city bike. For the rear facing lights I'd want red, and then obviously flashing amber for turning.

A matching seatpost is needed. Collar'n'cuffs.

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posted by andyspaceman [206 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 13:03

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I agree, some really good ideas for commuting bikes.

There's a fine line between useful and gimmick though, as demonstrated by the rear-facing lights. Of course they should be red - or perhaps indicators, fine - but why do you need a smartphone app to control them? You can't use a phone while riding (unless you're an idiot). So you'd have to stop, dick about with the colour of your 'rad ride', and then go again. Or how about, you put a small click-rotating bezel on the light that could be rotated as and when "necessary".

The GPS should be fine globally - although as my Garmin goes a bit funny when I put it in a pocket, I expect the signal will be terrible inside the headset.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

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posted by Gizmo_ [642 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 13:11

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anti-theft bolts and stem cap look like they ought to come as standard with this. Unlike most of the boutique crap that seems to turn up on kickstarter this actually looks quite nice and thought through but if you a packing all that electronic kit into one unit I'd want to be damn sure that individual spares were available.

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posted by joemmo [692 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 13:13

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Call me old fashioned but I find difficult to call a bike made for city riding "smart" when it has no brakes... Thinking
(I know, fixed wheel,at one with the road bladiblah...)

posted by Arno du Galibier [22 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 13:24

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@Arno I think it's funny that it has both mounts for a brake and braking surface on the rims

Personally I'd have at least a front brake

It is cool but seems a bit necessary, I basically have all the stuff just not in my handlebars

posted by Cycle_Jim [280 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 14:57

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one thing - if you were going to the trouble of integrating a light into the bars you might as well stick a better one than is likely to be powered by a couple of CR2302 cells. It does look a little like someone wanted all the gadgetry of yer modern cyclist but that didn't upset the aesthetic priorities of the hipster fixie rider.

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posted by joemmo [692 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 15:01

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andyspaceman wrote:
These look great for a posh city bike. For the rear facing lights I'd want red, and then obviously flashing amber for turning.

A matching seatpost is needed. Collar'n'cuffs.

Like this? I don't know if there are any others on the market but I saw one of these yesterday weirdly. It's called the Lightskin LED seatpost

lightskin-LED-seat-post.jpg

posted by thelostboy [8 posts]
23rd May 2013 - 20:02

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Difficult to steal? My allan key says otherwise (speaking from a handlebar theft experience).

posted by CharlesMagne [18 posts]
24th May 2013 - 22:50

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Also, am I the only one who thinks the drops have been welded on upside-down?

posted by CharlesMagne [18 posts]
24th May 2013 - 22:53

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