At this time of year I spend way too much time over morning coffee deliberating about how many, and which layers to wear. For those that have not been following this has been a really LONG winter. So much so that the beginning of Spring has been ear marked with yet another “Winter Storm Warning” and 30 degree temperatures. So I figure anything that can abbreviate the decision making process and give me better odds against bailing on the ride and hitting the trainer is good. Up to this point I have been doing the “Pajama Test” (taking the dog out in the morning and seeing if I can last more than 5 mins outside). And so it was with great interest that I downloaded and opened the What To Wear Cycling App on Sunday morning over a fine Grimpeur Brothers brew (honest this is not a product placement post – just how it was). I was first asked “Are you riding now or tomorrow”. The App then pings the local weather and pulls together a list of appropriate items based on where you are. There is also a nice little personal feature that allows you to customize “Do you usually run hot or cold” (I am a bit like a Haussler in this respect and often ride without gloves because my heart is pumping so bloody much I can melt bar tape). Post ride the recommendations were pretty much spot on (it was also pretty much what I would have chosen myself but taken an hour to do). I figure once you put your faith in it and dial in your personal temperature it is a nice fun way to plan your ride the night before or mess with your riding buddies by saying they all run cold. Now I wonder does it take in altitude….
CATEGORIES: Design,Digital Things
Now this is a great piece of technology, although a better name would help, The Spy Bike Covert Bicycle GPS Tracker. The original tracker was created for motorcycles, but the company soon realized the opportunity to open up the platform, and have developed one for your bike. The tracker itself and the battery are hidden inside your steering column, underneath your stem cap. If someone starts messing with your bike the motion sets of the tracker and it automatically sends you a text message along the lines of “get your ass back to your bike before someone nabs it” (not sure what the actual message says – but that’s what I would say). Fear not, if you are too late and the bike is already gone the tracker will send a GPS co-ordinate to the tracking site every 20 seconds, drawing a big red line right to the thief’s den. Call the Police, retrieve bike, and cart off mystified bike thief to jail. The beauty of the device is in its disguise. Stashed under the cap you wouldn’t even know it was there, and at 0.14 lbs or 0.067 kg it is hardly heavy. The running cost is pretty cheap, as it uses GPRS to upload the GPS data and is quad band so it works everywhere when you travel. The battery can run for a couple of months without needing a recharge as long as you turn it off when riding.
If you have a bike you really love and live in an urban area that means you are at risk of loosing your wheels, at $150 this is a really good investment.
More info on Spybike here
CATEGORIES: Digital Things,Rides
There is barely a ride goes by where we don’t comment on the wind. Cross wind, tail, head…I often check before I head out to see which direction it is blowing. Head wind on the way out, fast and in the back on the return. Well this map makes it a lot easier for riders in the US. At a glance you can see the wind patterns all over the country. Check out the zoom for your area. Amazing. It is kind of hypnotic.
CATEGORIES: Digital Things
I will say one thing about surfers (apart from the fact I think half of them are bloody insane) they sure know how to put a film together. No it is not about bikes, but I challenge anyone to sit back and watch this and not be impressed with: 1) The skill and guts it took to do some of the rides in this film and 2) The beautiful way they are captured. I want these guys to make a film about riding.
At least that is what the French are claiming. So what do we do with all of the data from our rides (other than collect it in Excel sheets for end-of-season self gratification)? Well in Lyon they have used it to prove that biking is a more efficient commute than driving in the urban environment. Fast Company highlight the work done by the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon in France on the original bike share program.
They have taken 2 years’ worth of data pulled from the bikes in the cities Velo’V bike share program and analyzed a staggering 11.6 million bike trips, using the start and finish times and the overall trip time. Their conclusions are interesting:
- During rush hour, urban riders set an average speed of 9mph (the usual average speed is 6mph). This was faster than the average car speed during rush hour, and showed that between 7.45am and 8.45am the need to get to work made riders put a little extra effort in, and the bike beats congestion (although the average speed outside of rush hour could also be accounted for by riders making more stops as they weren’t just heading to work).
- Apparently in France there is a tradition that women stay at home on Wednesday mornings to look after their kids, resulting in the Wednesday morning riders pool being mostly made up of men. This logic “appeared” to push up the Wednesday morning average speed. Around here I would get an argument on that one – this is not my opinion, but the study’s assumption (it sounds like most of the women I ride with would kill most French male commuters any morning of the week). There is also the “Hump” theory that Wednesday is the hump of the week, and you are at your peak of activity.
- The fact that these riders were faster than cars over similar distances was all done with ZERO bike lanes. So we suspect that there was a little bit of stop signal breaking, and bus lane riding going on, but imagine what could be done with a bike lane network.
Although I am not really surprised by the last point, it is nice to see all the collected data being used to build the case for urban bike networks, and bike share programs. With the much talked about New York bike share program in the works, it would be nice to plan in advance to use the data collected to build a case for continued growth. Maybe we could get a sponsor to take on a smaller number than the talked about 10,000 bikes, and use that data to bring in more sponsorship opportunities for expansion.
So they do this the week after I come back from LA? Google Maps directions now with bike routes included. This is a very cool addition, as I find myself using the “where the hell am I?” button quite a lot on Google Maps. Now the question is, are they going to add a Pro, Cat 1 or “on my fixie” filter that will adjust the journey time? One feature which I love is the crowd sourcing of the routes. They have put their best wheel forward at making suggested directions, but offer up the functionality for local riders to email in suggested changes to improve the quality. One feature missing though, is showing the best coffee and bike shops en route. Then you are talking about true technology for riders. Imagine this coupled with the Copenhagen wheel we posted earlier (http://elcyclista.com/2010/02/the-copenhagen-wheel/)….that would be pretty damm cool.
CATEGORIES: Digital Things,Routes
I have been watching this product for a while with great interest. One of the things I enjoy most about riding is the physical exertion, so isn’t a bike with an engine a scooter? Although, there is something nice in the idea of being able to just flip on an extra 30watts in the last 20 meters of the State line sprint. Joking aside, I understand that this type of product is not aimed at me, and if it succeeds on getting more people out on bikes – then that is an excellent thing. Who knows where that could lead, and it does make a very good option for a daily commute in bike friendly cities. Potentially more interesting is the technology developed within the wheel hub itself, that if adopted could apply to us all. The hub design allows sensors to collect data as you ride. Not the usual stuff we all collect already (speed, distance, watts, elevation..) but data on your actual route like carbon monoxide, NOx, noise, ambient temperature and relative humidity. This in itself is not so interesting but when crowd sourced with other rider’s data you start to build up a very different view of the environment that you ride or train in. Or as the developers call it “fine-grained environmental information”. On a personal level I would love to know in New York summers where the lowest pollution levels are in a city, in real time as I ride. But on a planning level if it could impact city policy and planning on where the best place to put bike routes are, now that would be something. The hub functionality is controlled from the handlebars via Bluetooth and a smart phone and allows you to view the data in real time. It can also be used as an electronic shifter to change gears, and amazingly lock the bike. Genius. So now I am thinking of a product partnership between Apple, Powertap and Shimano to make a race version of this. Sign me up.
CATEGORIES: Design,Digital Things,Routes
Every so often a product comes along that changes an industry, or in this case a sport. The MetriGear Power Meter when it hits the market in Q1 2010 could well be the ipod for the bike industry. If this thing works like they say, then everything else won’t matter. Every other brand will spend the rest of their days trying to copy it, just like the ipod or the iphone. What we know from Interbike. They have been working on this for 5 years and already have working prototypes. It will be priced around $1000, compared to $3500 for a wireless SRM. It is swappable between bikes, by just swapping your pedals. It weighs in at 219g for the complete package, compared to 919g for the SRM. It can measure the power output from both legs with 38 points a second, compared to a combined single measurement on the SRM. It is being developed with the now established ANT+ wireless platform to work with a selection of head units. They haven’t settled on how to translate the data to the head unit, but they have it working by ANT+ to a fob housed in a water bottle for field testing – I love this shit! The measurement technology fits inside the axel of your pedal, which means that today it can really only be used on Speedplay pedals (lucky old Speedplay). If you aren’t following their progress you need to be, they are posting test ride data to their blog. This is going to be good to watch!
CATEGORIES: Design,Digital Things,Kit
Joby are probably best know in cycling circles for their very innovative camera handlebar grips, but not really for frame manufacturing. Now I have no idea if this bike is actually ridable and I am really not sure I would want to take the risk of trying it out on the hills around here. They have taken a Kona frame and chopped it down to the key lug joints and rear triangle and inserted the Joby grips in place of tubing. Now if it folds in half then it could be interesting as a travel bike.
CATEGORIES: Digital Things
The new Garmin Edge 500 moves Garmin away from maps on your bar top, to a high-end GPS enabled bike computer. The form is a much smaller and sleeker design (although I am not sure about the durability of a white and blue computer) that has the now tried and tested ANT+ technology allowing you to wirelessly connect to your Power Meter of choice. No info on the materials but the blue back seems to be rubberized which would be a nice feature. Other added features over their other devices include a thermometer and a very smart “you are moving and your computer isn’t on!” alarm. How many rides data has been spoiled by not hitting start again after the coffee shop? It also has a longer battery life than the 705, and saves nearly 2 ounces. It is estimated to hit the market in December this year and retail for around $250. Photo courtesy of Garmin.
CATEGORIES: Design,Digital Things,Kit