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Product Review: Audio Bike is music to your ears
By Stephanie Chase
Date: 12/14/2009
Product Review: Audio Bike is music to your ears

Product Review: Audio Bike is music to your ears
AudioBike isn't just about music -  with the mounting platform and battery, iPhone users can hook their phones up to use GPS or programs like Map My Ride

A couple of months ago, I was heading home after a long ride. Fortunately Portland, Oregon is full of bike lanes and I was riding in a lane alongside mild traffic. Another cyclist was up ahead and as I approached him, I moved to the left and called out “on your left.” Almost immediately he swerved sharply to his left - the very left side where I was hoping to pass - and made a criterium-like turn, dropped knee and all. He cut across two lanes of traffic and zoomed onto another street.

The inner sailor in me came out and I yelled something that would probably make my mother ashamed. But the cyclist never turned back to apologize or see who or what was behind him, and as he swooped across the road I noticed a tiny, white bud in his ear, two thin white cords and an iPod clipped to his jersey.

But despite my foul-mouthed anger towards the iPodded-cyclist (or as the British have termed them “zombie cyclists”), I do miss training with music on the bike. Music can help push you through that final interval or serve as a soundtrack for an amazing ride. But putting earphones in and tuning out can be dangerous - unlike being on the trainer or in the gym, the road isn’t a controlled environment. I choose not to ride with earphones so that I can better pay attention to cars, trucks and other cyclists.

 A couple of weeks ago I got an email about a new product called Audio Bike, a small external stereo that takes the speakers out of your ears and puts them in your handlebars. These guys felt my pain; their product developer is an avid cyclist and knew the best places to put the stereo in the bike without compromising safety. Audio Bike is a good idea that will only get better as the company further develops their product.

First, the set-up: Audio Bike is a pretty contained system. It’s only a table-like mounting platform for your iPod with wires connecting to two bar end speakers.

Unwrap your handle bar tape, pop out the bar ends, insert the speakers in the bars, and re-wrap are all the installation requires.

iPod and Audio Bike set up on my bike. Photo © 2009 Stephanie Chase

On a side note, Audio Bike could use clearer instructions (Audio Bike - my rates are cheap!) Oh yeah, and to charge the speakers requires a USB port, which is kind of pain to haul your bike next to your computer. A standard electrical plug-in would be appreciated for ease.

The speakers do stick out from the handle bar ends and hopefully future versions might slim the speaker to fit inside the bars. If secured properly inside the handle bars, there’s no concern for the speakers popping out. Two tight bands hold your music player securely to the mounting platform. Update: A wall charger will be available soon on the Audio Bike site for  $9.95. It is good for 110V or 220V in both a 60Hz (Domestic US) or 50Hz (international).

Second, the ride: I rode both with groups and solo. Fortunately my cycling team didn’t mind the “Mamma Mia!” soundtrack accompanying our Saturday ride. My new soupped-up bike was met with some raised eyebrows but soon I was taking requests for music. Riding alone, I did feel a bit self-conscious pedaling through the city with LCD Sound system blasting out of my handlebars but out in the country it was great to have music for climbing. There’s nothing like DJ Girl Talk’s mash-ups to get the cadence up and ease the pain of the incline. Luckily my rides all took place during dry weather because my iPod isn’t rain-ready and the Audio Bike is exposed to the elements.

The Audio Bike isn’t just about music - with the mounting platform and battery, iPhone users can hook their phones up to use GPS or programs like Map My Ride to eliminate all that paper fumbling (“shoot, I think we were supposed to turn left on McNew road but I’m not sure because the map’s gotten sweaty”). There’s a lot of versatility with this product for both outdoor rides and indoor workouts.

And at $50, Audio Bike is a lot cheaper than paying doctor bills for a bicycle zombie crash.

It's a fun product.  It was great for solo training and I've been using during training workouts as well.

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