Giving Cyclists Eyes In the Backs of Their Heads

Bike-mounted radar unit warns cyclists of approaching cars

Jul 1, 2014
Outside Magazine
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Backtracker, a rear-mounted radar detector for bikes, might keep cyclists safe from distracted drivers.    Courtesy of iKubu

A recent Bike League report found that 40 percent of cycling fatalities occur from rear-impact collisions. With help from electronics design firm iKubu, cyclists might soon be able to outsource their fear of being sideswiped to radar Backtracker.

Backtracker’s rear-mounted sensor, which has a range of 153 yards, monitors how close cyclists are to cars in their rearview, as well as how quickly those cars are approaching. That information is conveyed wirelessly to a handlebar unit that notifies the rider through light pulses: Slowly blinking lights mean cars are approaching, while frantic pulses mean you might soon see bright lights from inside a dashboard.

The South African team behind iKubu (composed of hobby cyclists with high-tech day jobs) is looking to raise $226,000 through crowdfunding and manufacturing startup Dragon Innovation and hopes to ship Backtrackers as soon as December. The first 92 funders can get their setup for $149, after which point the Backtracker costs $199.

If it works, the Backtracker is well worth being able to keep your eyes on the prize instead of behind you. However, endurance cyclists should take note of Backtracker’s eight-hour battery life. Ask if they'll give you a discount for buying three.

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