INTERBIKE 2011: Two different takes on bicycle sound schlepping: action ear buds or a boombox in the shape of a vinyl toy.

Audio in; audio out

Boom Botix of San Francisco and Yurbuds of St. Louis, Missouri, are at Interbike selling sound transfer systems, but with radically different aesthetics and company philosophies.

For Boom Botix, a "bootstrap start-up," said the founder and CEO, it’s the first time at Interbike. Yurbuds were at the 2010 show and having secured distribution via 600 tri, running and bike shops – as well as Apple stores and some big-box retailers – are now ready for export and is seeking distribution in Europe.

Yurbuds are action sports earbuds that stay put. Boom Botix produces speakers that attach the handlebars, rucksacks or pockets via a belt-clip.

Boom Botix is based in the fixie-haven that is the Mission District of San Francisco. It was founded in 2009 by 27-year old Lief Storer.

"The idea came when I was working at an LED lighting company. I was in Taiwan when I discovered these vinyl toys. They were cute but they didn’t have any functionality," said Storer.

"I was already customizing skate-decks and sneakers on the side. I bought one of these toys, cut one in half, stuffed the guts with audio kit and added a walkie-talkie clip. That was my first prototype. Over the year, all my friends loved it so I made 35 of these hand-made speakers and decided I needed to figure out how to mass produce these things."

The first production model – a wired-in speaker – was released in April 2010. It was loud, water-resistant, and drop-tested. It sold into fixie bike shops in San Francisco.

The company now produces a $65 bluetooth-model so no need for wires. 

The next step for Boom Botix is to link up a number of speakers.

"We’re not just doing firmware and hardware but also software solutions," said Storer. 

"One of our dreams from the very beginning was to make it a social device; headphones isolate people. We met with a group of developers who write software that will allow us to share music within a proximity via GPS and to stream audio to multiple devices. On group rides, up to five people with Boom Botix speakers can share the same music out on a trail. It creates a crazy surround sound effect anywhere."

Storer (pictured above) said Boom Botix speakers were collectible art pieces, with limited edition models and snap-in accessories such as ‘eyes’. The company has distribution in 14 countries.

Yur Buds have distribution in the US and Canada and is now seeking distribution in Europe, said Yur Bud’s business development manager Emly Rudd.

"Yur buds are guaranteed not to fall out, guaranteed not to hurt your ears, all while giving excellent sound quality and at the same time being sweat and water resistant," she said, demonstrating how speciality retailers can ‘size’ ear holes for the right size of ear bud, "although big box retailers and online could buy the Ironman set which comes with two sizes of ear buds."

The Yur Bud ear pieces lock into place with a twist and are made from a grippy soft silicone. 

"Even if it gets tugged on, it won’t budge," promised Redd.

"You can hear ambient noise so you can still be safe while riding your bike with your ear buds."

The base model costs $30. The Ironman set costs $50.

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