If you’re serious about cycling, you’ll want to track every ride. How far you went, the amount of calories you burned — that sort of thing. Until now, that’s meant equipping your bike with a slew of third-party sensors and a less than sleek cycle computer on the handlebars. Not so with SpeedX. The Chinese startup is building carbon road bikes that integrate all of these components in a clean, blemish-free design. Its latest creation, the Unicorn, takes the concept one step further with a new, detachable “SpeedForce” computer that runs on Android and — in a first for the cycling industry — a built-in power meter to measure your effort on the pedals.
At CES, I was able to hop on the bike for a brief moment. I couldn’t ride it, because I was in a hall packed with curious visitors, but that didn’t stop me from pretending I was Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana for a few seconds. The new computer was underwhelming, because it didn’t turn on — the bike was merely a prototype, so I could only imagine what its various screens looked like. Lame. Otherwise, it’s quite the looker. All of the break cables are hidden inside the frame, so it feels like a complete, considered package. It’s the cycling equivalent of an all-in-one desktop, basically.
SpeedX is also touting a new “Vibration Control System,” which uses different carbon fibre blends to give the frame some flex. For now, I’ll have to take the team’s word that it works — the show floor was caked in carpet, with not a single pebble or discarded paper plate to test its effectiveness.
The concept isn’t for everyone. If you’ve already sunk hundreds of dollars into a top-end road bike, you’re probably better off buying the ride-tracking parts separately. It’ll be cheaper and easier to upgrade when you decide to switch them out. For novice cyclists, however, or people that are ready for an all-new rig, the SpeedX Unicorn could be worth considering. The only problem is getting one — SpeedX is using Kickstarter to crowd-fund its various bikes, and doesn’t have a good track record for shipping them in a timely manner. With the Unicorn, maybe that will change — but seeing some unfinished prototypes today didn’t fill me with confidence.