Bare bar riding: Ditch the devices and start riding free


2 years 7 months ago

I disagree.

Before riding with a GPS, I always rode the same repetitive bike lanes for safety. In France, car & trucks drivers are not used to bikes on open roads, you can get passed very closely by trucks (and their drag…). So, GPS planning and guiding has allowed me to explore new roads pre-vetted by other bikers. Safety wins, adventure too.

Also, I'm a lightweight and out-of-shape guy. Riding with HRM allows me to know how far I'm pushing myself and gives me the ability to manage the effort to be able to finish the ride. HRM and apps also tell me that my 80 km ride has burnt more than 3000 kcal, which is more than what I eat on a regular day (my BMI is 17.5…, 3000 kcal off is not something to take lightely).

Now, I'm a software developer and tech/gadgets/apps give me no thrill. It seems I'm one of the few people left who can have a smartphone in the pocket and not take a look at it for 2 days without experiencing withdrawal syndrom. So I use all these toys in a purely utilitarian fashion.

Nevertheless, having GPS and HRM has allowed me to try new stuff I wouldn't have dared before, in a relative safety. So, maybe you don't need them if you had the opportunity to start biking seriously before roads got so busy, and you know your body, your limits, and all the roads around your home, but for guys like me, who had no mentor and started alone, they are of great help to get a baseline of what we are able to achieve without harm.

2 years 7 months ago

While the basic premise of this feature (that it can be more fun riding without worrying about stats) is reasonable, I'm not convinced the rest of the argument follows. Yes some people use a head unit to track their stats, and this may be linked to power monitors, heart rate monitors and the like (I note that those supplementary devices would not take up any additional bar space). 

However, GPS head units can also be useful for navigation - that is certainly the main reason I use mine (although I admit the rides do then get uploaded to Strava...). 

But getting rid of the GPS wouldn't leave me with bare bars, and pretty much everything else on my bars are for safety. Looking at the devices in the header picture of this article, you have lights and cameras - both of which I use for safety (admittedly a camera might not prevent accidents occuring, but it can be useful to report dangerous driving to the police, and to have evidence if the worst should happen). I don't take the cameras for exclusively off-road riding. I also have a bell, which is useful on shared paths or trails.