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OpenBike develops “operating system for bicycles”

US company, partnering first with Marin, introduces common platform for powering and controlling electronic components

California-based OpenBike is partnering with Marin to build a bike with headlights, a phone mount, integrated automatic rear lights, turn signals and USB charging, everything powered and controlled via a “connected bicycle ecosystem” that’s also available to other bike companies.

OpenBike is designed to be a platform with a single battery that powers everything and charges as you ride, and a single network that allows various components to work together. It also allows different components to share access to apps and the cloud.

“Around the world more people are riding… Affluent markets are driving this growth and technology is advancing in tandem,” said Randall Jacobs, one of the founders of OpenBike, at the Highway1 Demo Day in San Francisco. 

“However, we have a problem because today when we add technology to our bicycles we quickly end up with a mess: separate batteries, little inter-operates, nothing connects. It’s heavy, it’s expensive and it’s a lousy user experience.

“What would we do with a clean slate? We would take all the things and integrate them into one system. We would start with the features that matter most to us like a headlight, a phone mount and USB charging. 

“We would have integrated tail lights, we would have a battery that can be removed for charging or secured and charged as you pedal, we would have controls that put everything at your fingertips so you never have to take your hands off the bar. We’d have sensors and software that turn lights on when dark and turn them off when you park to deter against theft. It would all be connected and would come as standard equipment from your favourite brands.”

Of course, you don’t have to have any power on your bike other than your own legs, but the idea of OpenBike is to simplify the user experience for those who do use multiple devices.

OpenBike has revealed that it is building the first batch of bikes to use the platform with Marin (we're working on more information on that), although the technology is open to other brands too. 

“Today in the bike industry, component makers sell to bike companies who hang parts on frames and sell you a complete bike,” says Randall Jacobs. “These companies struggle with electronics so you end up with aftermarket add ons and a Frankenbike. 

“With OpenBike we provide an open platform that solves power, control and connectivity, making it easy for the industry to deliver the bicycles of your dreams.”

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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