Backtracker, the radar that informs cyclists if a car is approaching

With the arrival of good weather we see how there are many more bikes on the road, since the sunny weather encourages you to use them. There is no doubt that they are one of the most vulnerable road users, which is why we offered some safety tips for cyclists and drivers a long time ago, since we can all do a lot to improve road safety.

However, the technology can also help in this regard. There may be distracted drivers (or vandals who do not respect the lateral safety distance), or there may be wind and cyclists cannot hear if a vehicle is approaching from behind. For these situations, there are already small rear-view mirrors and even rear-view cameras on the market… but there are also technological advances that have evolved over time, such as radars that automatically alert cyclists every time a car approaches them. These gadgets are known as Backtrackers and they are undoubtedly a very important ally of the cyclist on the road.

The first models

The first Backtracker models were developed by a team based in South Africa, led by inventor Franz Struwig, and went through a crowdfunding phase, where each bidder participated with 199 dollars (about 150 euros), if the final amount to be produced was reached. you could have yours. This collective contribution from the first batch of backtrackers allowed, on the one hand, for security to increase and for the market to be able to offer a greater variety of products.

Functionality

This device consists of two modules. One of them is mounted on the seat post, and consists of a 24 GHz radar antenna, a processor and a rear light. Through technology Bluetooth, communicates with the other module, located on the handlebars, in view of the cyclist. When brings a car closer than 140 meters from the back of the cyclist, the radar in the rear unit detects it and sends a signal to the front module, which alerts the cyclist through a row of LEDs. As you drive, your closest proximity will be indicated on that screen. At the same time this happens, the rear light also changes. It goes from being a slow turn signal to a faster one, in order to better attract the attention of motorists.

The module batteries are charge via USB port, and its manufacturers ensure that a single charge is enough for eight hours of use. The charge level of both devices is indicated through the front screen when the system is turned on for the first time. The company also indicates that cyclists will also be able to use their mobile phone instead of the front module (on one-way streets, we don’t really understand why).

Latest models

Today’s backtrackers keep the road safety purpose intact like the original innovative Backtracker and of course, remain an essential device for cyclists who want to be alert for vehicles approaching from behind. However, the latest models have incorporated new features and technologies to improve its performance and usefulness. One of the most significant advances is the integration of collision detection systems more advanced, which not only alert the cyclist about nearby vehicles, but are also capable of predicting and anticipating possible risk situations. These systems use a combination of radar sensors and high-resolution cameras to monitor the rider’s surroundings and provide early warnings about potential hazards, such as erratically moving vehicles or congested traffic situations.

Furthermore, modern backtrackers have improved their connectivity and compatibility with other devices and applications. Many models now offer smartphone integration through dedicated apps, allowing cyclists to receive real-time notifications about traffic conditions, weather alerts and optimal routes. Some devices even allow real-time video streaming over Wi-Fi, providing a panoramic view of the rider’s surroundings and greater situational awareness.

In terms of design and comfort, newer backtrackers have adopted more aerodynamic and compact shapes, making them less intrusive and easier to install on a variety of bikes. Additionally, battery capabilities have been improved, with models offering an extended runtime of up to 12 hours on a single charge, ensuring longer use on longer routes.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the backtracker industry is experiencing significant growth, with a variety of manufacturers and startups They offer a wide range of products with different features and prices. From affordable entry-level models to high-end devices with cutting-edge technology, cyclists now have more options than a few years ago to find a backtracker that fits their pocketbook and needs.

Model range

The Garmin brand is well known and has opted for electronic accessories for all sports and athletes and offers us its model. It varies: it has two purchase configurations that start at €199 in its simpler version. As an alternative we have another brand option Magene and its L508 model, in this case it is a cheaper version than Garmin which has a price of €119Yes, with less battery.

Whatever the model, this device is a gadget that pays for itself with each exit. As always, we ask for caution and respect when traveling near cyclists and when passing them.

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