My Kickstarter rules and a GPS bike

When Kickstarter became popular shortly after its 2009 launch, I and many of you were amazed and thrilled with the awesomely creative crowd-funded bicycle projects available. Before long, however, we began to see funded projects that failed to deliver, and I cringe at some projects from folks with little to no obvious background in bicycles who sell product with possible safety issues.

These days, I try to limit Kickstarter product mentions for ideas that are truly innovative, or that come from people with a proven background in product design and delivery and provide value for the cyclist. The perfect suspension saddle, airless tires, Bluetooth handlebars, and supposedly theft-proof locks are a dime a dozen, as are people crowdsource funding for a container of cheap singlespeeds and space at the Port of Los Angeles to assemble and ship these discount bikes, assuming they haven’t been seized by U.S. Customs for failing CPSC safety requirements.

Hence, I’m happy to mention Mission Bicycle Company’s current Kickstarter for the Lyra, a basic bicycle with built-in lights with one-touch on-off, and a real GPS tracking unit.

Mission Bicycles Lyra

Mission Bicycle is an established brand that has been building bikes in SF for nearly a decade now, and they’ve successfully delivered on three previous Kickstarter projects on time (and even early in one instance). They’re more than just a handful of bros with a great idea: they know bikes, and they know manufacturing process.

The Lyra smartly integrates electronics into a bike built up from 4130 double-butted chromoly steel, Velocity Deep V rims, and basic but functional components built as either a singlespeed or an 8-speed Alfine hub.

The battery can be removed from the headset for easy recharging, so you don’t need to park your bike next to a wall outlet. The lights on the Lyra are integrated into the seatpost and the forks, which Mission claims provides 360 degrees of lighting. This removable battery keeps another backup battery topped off; the backup battery deep within the frame provides power to the GPS unit for up to a week, so thieves can’t bypass the technology merely by removing the battery.

Some low-cost tracking devices sold as theft-protection use Bluetooth LE and similar technology; in my testing, these “crowdsource GPS” units don’t work in the tech-heavy Silicon Valley. Mission, fortunately, opted for real, satellite tracked GPS from Comodule. The GPS module itself costs $150, according to Mission, and includes a one year subscription for the data plan required to ping the bike’s location. After that, the data plan will cost you $5 per month.

Three options are available at prices comparable to Mission’s existing lineup: $499 Frame and fork only, $999 singlespeed, $1450 eight speed hub. For all the details, visit Kickstarter: Lyra: A new Mission Bicycle with Lights + GPS.

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