Phone mounts for bikes have been around for a few years, but a new one that just hit Kickstarter puts a few twists on the idea. It’s called Bycle, and it’s a clever little mount with an equally clever app that can be used for both navigation and recording (and sharing) your bike rides.
What you’re really paying for with Bycle is the hardware. The mount is water-resistant and works with all iPhone 6 and 6S phones. You can still use your phone’s touchscreen through the clear plastic covering, and the home button will supposedly even work with TouchID. The standard version of the mount will retail for $70, and a version with a built-in 3,000mAh battery will run for $100. Discounted prices for each version will be available to early backers. (The company launched and quickly suspended a Kickstarter for the same product earlier this year, refunding its backers while admitting that it needed more time for R&D.) Bycle mounts will ship by September or October if the campaign is fully funded.
At a glance, the Bycle mount doesn’t appear to be much different from others on the market. It lets your phone lay flat so that you can use the screen for things like navigation. One big thing that makes Bycle different from other mounts is that it uses a prism on the underside of the housing to let your phone camera — which would otherwise be pointing down at the ground — see and record what’s in front of you.
A unique way to make biking more connected
This is where Bycle’s app comes in. Users can record videos of their rides in the app, which can also overlay telemetry (like speed or distance traveled). Those videos can be saved and shared in full, made into a timelapse, and — if co-founder Miguel Hidalgo has his way — even broadcast live to Facebook or Periscope. The app will also map your ride, and when you play the video back you can scroll through the whole thing by scrubbing your finger along the actual route that you traveled.
The Bycle app will also pair up with services like Strava or MapMyRide, and will work with Apple’s HealthKit, too. Hidalgo also plans for the Bycle app to have a fairly deep social component to back all this up. You’ll be able to share videos and stats and routes with friends or other bikers, and even create private groups to plan events and rides.
"We wanted to create a product that was somewhere in between social sharing and a nice fitness application, something that was also more than just a map," Hidalgo says. "It’s like Garmin meets GoPro meets Nike Plus."
There’s certainly room for an app like Bycle, because the kind of niche social network that Hidalgo is suggesting with it doesn’t really exist right now for biking — frequent or even casual bikers are instead served by a number of different overlapping fitness and social-sharing apps. Like how Waze serves people who do a lot of driving, the Bycle app (and mount) could let users see the world through a social lens that’s focused on biking, one that offers real-time information like the best user-suggested routes, hazard warnings, and more.
But that doesn’t mean Bycle is without competition. Garmin just announced a new version of its bike computer that can track up to 50 friends in real time, and you don’t have to put your phone in harm’s way to use it. Hidalgo thinks tech like that, as well as a lot of the existing biking apps, is really geared at cyclists. "People don’t identify with the word ‘cyclist,’" he says. "That’s why we called it Bycle, not Cycle."