Helios Bars: The Arrival of the Smart Bike

By Humans Invent on at

In congested cities like London, the bicycle can be one of the most efficient ways of getting about the place. The issues of safety and theft, however, have put many people off this mode of travel.


Smart handlebar

San Francisco-based bike enthusiast, Kenny Gibbs, has sought to resolve these problems with his Helios Bars that replace the bike's original handlebars.

Helios has three inbuilt lights, one at the front which is five times brighter than a standard bike light, and two on the end of the bars, which can be used as blinking indicators when you want to turn left or right. Helios Bars also turns your two-wheeler into a smart bike that can be connected to the Helios smartphone app via Bluetooth, giving it a number of other functions, including a light-based speedometer and turn-by-turn navigation.

Gibbs explains to Humans Invent, "You type in an end location (into your phone) and the bar ends will start flashing, letting you know which way you need to turn to get to your destination."



The end lights also change colour as you increase your speed -- though this system still needs tweaking.

Gibbs says, "We are still in prototyping phase on that so we are trying to get a good middle range of what users want. Right now we are basing it on 5mph increments. So basically, 0-5mph is red, 5-10 is yellow, 10-15 is green, so you constantly see it changing and you recognise which increment you are moving into."

The fact that the lights are in-built means an opportunist thief can't rip them off and, if they decide to take the whole bike, they can be tracked down easily because Gibbs has installed a GPS device into the handlebar. All you need to do is insert a SIM card (pay as you go is fine) into the stem. If your bike is stolen, you can text the SIM card and it will send you its coordinates.



It has also been designed to make it very hard for the thief to rip out the tracking device. Gibbs says, "The GPS chip, which has a reserve battery, is built right into the stem and we provide security Allen screws -- it's easy to install but requires a specialised tool."

Another nifty feature is that its lights come on when you approach the bike and you can choose from a variety of colours for the rear lights to suit your mood/aesthetic proclivity.

Helios Bars successfully raised money on Kickstarter this month, nearly doubling their pledge goal. The handlebars, which come in traditional drop and bullhorn styles, cost $199 or about £130.

Watch the video below to see Gibbs illustrate Helios Bars' capabilities:

 Humans Invent is an online space dedicated to celebrating innovation, craftsmanship and design fueled by our most natural instinct – the pursuit of invention to help solve a human need. You can read their original article here.