Gear Shed

Q:

Hiod One: The Good Stuff

It would be neat to have something that would allow me to communicate with the guys I ride with and track my speed.

    Photo: Bob Parks

A:Good communication while riding is underrated. When I used the Bluetooth devices from Hiod with a friend last weekend, it felt both safer and more convenient. For about half the time, my riding partner Michel was hammering the ride and I could barely hold on. But still, he could feed me directions and upcoming turns from 100 yards back. When I finally caught up with him, we were riding against a 20mph wind, so I drafted and we could still talk freely. The sound quality is so good it’s like chatting on a land line in a quiet room, the type of clarity where you can hear everything. We found that the units typically work about 100 yards away because the range is impacted by obstacles, such as the rider’s body and any trees between the units. If the units are held perfectly line of sight, we found we could talk as much as 300 yards away.

In the second half of our ride, I asked that we slow down and enjoy the Western Massachusetts countryside. It was a chance to talk about family, kids, and work. But with the Hiod units, we were able to ride single file, which always feels safer on narrow rural streets.

The Hiod was easy to setup. With the press of a few buttons, you can program in your name, then the names of your cycling partners show up on the Hiod’s small amber screen. Just press a button to immediately talk to any one of them (unlike walkie-talkie systems, you can only talk to one person at a time).

It was nice to access the simple interface on the handlebars with gloved hands. There were many points in the ride where music at low volume was appropriate (straight country road, good visibility), but I’d never want to fiddle with my cell phone screen to locate the Play button. The Hiod let me turn it on and off at will. Likewise the HIOD provides a simplified interface to start and end a call (though there’s the question of whether we need more distracted riders when there are so many distracted drivers in the world).

The hidden killer app in the Hiod is its ability to double as a simple cycle computer. It won’t give you any serious metrics like cadence and power, but it exploits the GPS in your phone to deliver accurate distance, speed, and current time. Sure, any $20 bike speedometer will do the same thing, but it’s nice to have the feature on the high-contrast OLED screen.

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