Kickstarters We Dig

This is the first in what will be a recurring series of posts regarding Kickstarter projects that we’ve run across and think are worth mentioning. We’ve seen some amazing products come out of Kickstarter, but we’ve also seen some awful stuff. Our purpose isn’t to take a firehose to someone’s dream; we’d much rather spread the word on something cool that deserves to fund.

However. A couple of years ago there was a project—the SpeedX Leopard—that sold itself as an integrated, aero bike. It was a cool bike being marketed to non-cyclists. Which is to say, people who weren’t already cyclists didn’t see all the problems with having the computer integrated into the stem or the rear light integrated into the seatpost (or the 28cm high bottom bracket). To this day there is a Facebook group made up of SpeedX owners looking for solutions to the problems they suffer that they wouldn’t be suffering if they’d purchased an aero road bike, a rear light and a GPS unit from a traditional bike shop. People should have been warned about the guaranteed-to-come problems.

So there’s a chance we may encounter something we want to caution you about, but our purpose here is to identify cool ideas that deserve (seemingly) to fund.

Most projects have a variety of pledge levels, a few of which are more of the moral support variety than substantive enough to actually get the product the project exists to sell. When we list a minimum backer amount, it will be for the actual product in question, not the T-shirt.

Anyone who has traveled on the East Coast with a bike on a roof rack has had the unforgettable experience of cleaning bugs off a bike the night before the big event, or the morning of. There have been various products over the years to protect your bike from Hexapoda carcasses, but they get discontinued like my favorite Clif Bar flavors (anyone remember Caramel Apple Cobbler?).

Zeal offers several different versions of their product so that whether you’ve got a road bike, TT/tri bike, mountain bike or even fat bike, they’ve got you, uh, covered.

Goal: $25,044 ($4457 pledged)
Minimum backer amount: $250
Days to go: 3

Magene Power Meter
If I had an extra $300 sitting around, I’d be pledging for this Chinese-made power meter myself. Most of the electronics in the world are being made in Asia, if not China itself, so I trust that this is backed by a factory that knows what it is doing. I’d feel differently if this was coming out of Chad.

The crank arms are hollow as is the BB spindle and it uses an easily obtained BB86 bottom bracket. Chainring options include 53/39, 52/36 and 50/34. Sorry mountain bikers and (most) gravel riders. It’s compatible with both SRAM and Shimano 10-speed and 11-speed drivetrains. They claim a weight of 760g.

Magene offers this in single-sided (left arm) and double-sided versions. It communicates via both. ANT+ and Bluetooth, so it should talk to your Garmin, Wahoo or other GPS unit with a minimum of fuss.

One of the things that the folks at Quarq have drilled into me over time is just how critical accurate measurement is and how having an accuracy rate of less than 2 percent can throw off test results than allow you to set and target zones. My personal feeling is that such a level of accuracy isn’t really that big a deal to most of us punters who aren’t trying to upgrade to Category 2. Whether it is or not, the Magene power meter claims to be accurate to +/- 1.5 percent, which would make them hands-down the best value in power meters.

My one concern is that the chainrings are integrated with the power meter in the spider. I don’t know what happens when, after 10k miles the chainrings are worn out. But for $300, who really cares?

The amount of technical information they include gives a strong sense of transparency and their comparison against the majority of power meter brands out there demonstrates how competitive their offering is.

Goal: $99,982 ($68,016 pledged)
Minimum backer amount: $179
Days to go: 21

Newton-Rider Helmet
The quest to create a better bike helmet, one that isn’t so dorky, isn’t so big, doesn’t die after a single impact, yadda von yadda, has resulted in some spectacularly bad ideas.

The Newton-Rider appears not to be one of those. The project is backed by a Danish fund for innovation and the helmet takes a different approach to protection by using a visco-elastic polymer that returns to its original shape following an impact. That’s interesting, but the central question always comes down to whether or not the helmet meets government standards. The team behind the project project claims that the helmet will comply with. EN 1078 and CPSC standards.

The helmet will also include an NFC chip that can potentially be used to create incentive programs for wearing a helmet while using a bike, scooter, etc. Our one concern is that the helmet comes in one size.

Goal: $7093 ($3750)
Minimum backer amount: $82
Days to go: 24

Join the conversation
  1. TominAlbany says

    I got a real chuckle from ‘Disco-elastic’ polymer. My recollections of the ’70s would back that up! 🙂

    I look forward to more of these columns!

    1. Padraig says

      As autocorrect fails go (and I really hate the autocorrect can change a word after you’ve moved on to the next word), that one is spectacular and Freudian in its slippiness. I may have to deliberately use that some time. Definitely.

  2. khal spencer says

    Some of these things go farther than being a solution in search of a problem. They create the problems, requiring others to find solutions!

    On a serious note, does that helmet have an outer surface that slides or does it grab Mr. Pavement and potentially cause the head to be snapped around? In other words, does it mitigate both impact and rotational forces like those MIP helmets are supposed to do?

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