Bicycles and Trains – Progress

Fellow bicycle riders, progress continues… I am headed to Maryland and as a result wanted to check out the Maryland public transportation.  So I checked out the local trains and in the process came across a brand new press release — turns out the MARC Train service started to offer a special train car — allowing passenger to bring bicycles into the special train car.  Up to 16 bicycles can be loaded and later on the car can be expanded to accommodate up to 26 bikes.

 Bicycles and Trains   Progress

This is a great move forward for our ability to have flexible transportation.  Just think you jump on the train, and next you are arriving in Boston, you jump on your bike and pedal off to your local destination.

California, of course, is well ahead of the East coast in this endeavor — the Southern California Metrolink has had similar facilities on its train cars for a couple of years.  And its capabilities are extended across a 512-mile network of the train service.

Here is a link to the press release from MARC

 

LifeBEAM Smart Helmet – Safety and Use

Bike helmets are really essential.  I have written about that in the last year, after I took a big spill on my bike right outside of my house and truly cracked the helmet I was wearing.  Now I have come across the next best thing — the LifeBEAM helmet which offers a great combination of safety and sensor technologies and integrates with the smart phone applications I (and many other cyclists) use on a regular basis.

PACKAGE HELMET 3 150x150 LifeBEAM Smart Helmet   Safety and Use      EVA HELMET 1 150x150 LifeBEAM Smart Helmet   Safety and Use

The helmet offers heart-rate and calories measurements.  The product (per the manufacturer) claims to be the first of its kind that integrates body sensing during your bike rides.   And guess what !  The claim is that the technology used is the same one used for pilots and aerospace applications.  Pretty cool, right !

LifeBeam more 300x87 LifeBEAM Smart Helmet   Safety and Use

The helmet includes Bluetooth Low-Energy and ANT+ communications capabilities and the battery life it supports is up to 17 hours.  The helmet interfaces to multiple smart phone applications including Runtastic, Strava.   I had reviewed many of these applications in previous postings – links here.

So overall pretty neat set of capabilities.  I am thinking of giving it a shot some time soon.

Bike Innovation from China

dubike logo1 Bike Innovation from China  China is increasing its push towards innovation — and that is not a surprise. In order to ensure continuous healthy growth of its economy, the country’s businesses are embarking on increasing number of R&D projects.  The latest one I have come across is actually relevant to this blog and my hobby — bicycles and mountain biking.

Baidu (China’s answer to Google) is promoting a new smart bike it plans to release soon.  The bike is not motorized (although there are tons of electric bikes in China – and they are really dangerous as they approach pedestrians very silently and lethally) but includes a regenerative technology to support the many sensors and electronics capabilities it offers

Baidu Dubike1 300x172 Bike Innovation from China Baidu Dubike2 295x300 Bike Innovation from China

The bike offers integrated features like:

  • Health guide – based on analytics of combining heart rate, step rate etc sensors and providing feedback to the rider
  • Navigation – integrated in the bike handlebars including lights
  • Loss prevention – integrated GPS locator card allows you to locate your bike even when you forget where you left it

So, what’s next?  Well, I expect some (at least ) of the US designers and manufacturers to jump into the game and offer innovation along the lines of what Baidu is conceptualizing — and design future smart bikes

Mountain Bikes Carrier for Motorcycles – An Impressive Story

Have you seen a mountain bike carrier for a motorcycle??? Until today I had not!  But live and learn, right…!  Now I have seen that too.

Fellow riders – I was amazed to see a story published by salsacycles.com on a couple of avid mountain bikers and their journey via motorcycle and mountain bikes through 5 states in the Midwest…. The impressive parts of the story are multiple, but what really caught my attention was the clever way in which the mountain bikes were transported on the BMW (I suppose the brand of the motorcycle is not relevant) motorbikes.   Take a look for yourself — the photos below are from salsacycles.com

SalsaCycles BMW Bike Carrier 300x200 Mountain Bikes Carrier for Motorcycles   An Impressive Story

BMW motorcycle with a bike carrier

SalsaCycles BMW Bike Carrier2 300x199 Mountain Bikes Carrier for Motorcycles   An Impressive Story

Mountain bike carrier – another view

I have been experimenting with bike carriers for a number of years now – and I must admit this is my first for a motorcycle — very clever one indeed!

Screen Shot 2014 11 25 at 11.56.32 AM 300x162 Mountain Bikes Carrier for Motorcycles   An Impressive Story

 

(Note: All the images above are from Salsa Cycles’s Web site – I posted here as the site was having intermittent outages over the last several days including today (Dec.7th))

So now that I have seen that – I decided to search for the carrier on the Web and yes, it is a productized item – 2X2 Cycles Motorcycle Bicycle Rack – so for those of you who need it check their Web site – describing the rack developed by Garrett Blake.

 

 

Austin Biking in November

How is biking in Austin in November?  Cold?  Warm?  Well, turns out November is as usual a great month to explore Austin and the Hill Country with a mountain bike.   To prove my observations I have decided to co-opt a blog entry from one of my other blogs

BartonCreek Fall2014 e1417155048824 300x101 Austin Biking in November

IMG 2418 e1417155453316 300x110 Austin Biking in November

Here is the link to the article

Enjoy!

Beijing by Bicycle: University Run

Beijing is a city famous for many things – one of them being its circle of universities.  Those include Qinghua, Beida, among many others.  So one good use of sightseeing time is to jump on your bicycle and explore those place in a good pace.  Here is a recommended trail for your exploration activity:

Start at Wudaokou Bridge Cafe (Address: 海淀区成府路35号华清嘉园12号楼) on the map below I have put a circle around the general area and a green balloon identified it on the Google map of Beijing.  From here you can bike along Chengfu Road and turn right on Zhongguancun East Road heading mostly North.  Bike along this road until you hit Tsinghua (QingHua DaXue – 清华大学)

BeijingHaidianQu2 300x143 Beijing by Bicycle: University Run

 

You can bike around the university – go by various sports courts and interesting buildings of the various departments.  Eventually you need to find JinChun Lu and the Physics Tower and from there the JinChun Lake.  Then continue on Qinghua South Road until you come to ChengFu Road again.   You will turn right on ChengFu Road headed west towards BeiDa (北大 — Beijing University)

Soon enough you will encounter the East Gate of Beijing University (北京大学东门) – enter here and keep going West.  Soon enough you will see the University Library, then you will search for Weiming Bei Lu and here you will find a way to get to the Weiming Lake.  Then if you would like you can stop here and admire the serenity and beauty of the lake, flowers and plants….Or you can decide that you would like to explore more in which case, continue West and search for the West Gate of Beida on Yiheyuan Lu.

Then bicycle North and search for Qinghua Xi Lu near by from where you can continue and find the Yuanmingyuan – The Old Summer Palace.

This is probably enough of exploration for one day.   Now, how do you return the bike etc.?  Well, I advise a taxi icon smile Beijing by Bicycle: University Run  or based on your situation – a friend or bike back to your original destination.

Let me know with any ideas on this guide.  Hopefully it will be useful for you.  I will continue with another one next day or so.

Beijing by Bicycle

Have you traveled to Beijing ?  If you have, then you will know what I am about to say — getting around the city is a real hassle.  Why?  Because the roads are congested, the air is polluted, and the taxi cab drivers sometimes just refuse to take passengers (yes, I know that does sound strange but it is true).

So what is the alternative if you are just visiting the city and have time to spare – i.e. you are not rushing to a business meeting… Yes, you guessed it – the alternative I would recommend is taking a bicycle ride.

A photo from Beijinger Magazine Bicycle TheBeijingerMagazine 150x150 Beijing by Bicycle

Years ago, bicycles were ubiquitous in Beijing.  There were waves of them moving about the city…Then its citizens discovered automobiles.  The standard of living went up and so did the number of autos in the city – the number of vehicles grew so fast that today you have to wait for your number to be picked up in a sort of lottery in order for you to receive a license plate and even once you get that accomplished you will be able to drive only on odd or even days based on your license plate.

So. with that in mind in the next few postings will introduce you to some Beijing areas which are very comfortably seen and explored by bicycle.

Those include:

Will cover those sections in the upcoming posting.

Austin Biking in October

Well folks, Austin continues to be the place for all things biking related.  Why you may ask?  Well, simple — all you have to do is experience the weather here and you will know exactly what I mean.  It is October – but the weather continues to be perfect – day temperatures hovering around 85-degrees F, and that combined with clear, sunny days.

And just to make you feel it even more – just take a look at the photos below:

 Austin Biking in OctoberMay be it is that great weather that makes Austin bicyclist very nice…Just read (from Bicycling magazine):

When confronted with a difficult driver, some riders opt for the one-fingered salute, which doesn’t do much to help the situation. Austin cyclist Adam Butler, is all for the one-handed salute, but he’s making a movement for that to be a wave.

Butler is launching the WAVE campaign in his hometown in hopes to improve relationships between cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. “We need something to lube this big old crazy machine called ‘getting around’, and I think it’s waving,” Butler says.

Butler has been a cyclist for 37 years, and a driver for 25, so he knows both sides of the story. Six years ago he, his wife, and his three children downsized to become a one-car family and he became a full-time bike commuter. It was then that he realized how vulnerable you can feel commuting on a bike.

and the rest of the article here and see the video below

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Car Free Day – Recent Event

Every year on a day around September 22nd – a global organization drives an event with very interesting concept – the Car Free Day.  The event is truly global – people in various cities around the world gather on the streets and remind everyone that our cities are being over-run by motor vehicles.  Yes, this is easy for me to say as I drive in my nice car, right?  But I truly think that we could be leveraging both forms of transportation in our daily lives.

Bicycles are truly amazing form of transportation – they occupy much less space on the roads, and accidents on a bike (if no cars or trucks involved) rarely end up in serious damage to the riders.  Can you visualize how much space bikes take?  Well these guys in Latvia recently pulled off an interesting demonstration — they used light frames to demo how much space bikes vs cars take on our streets

latvian cyclists demonstrate bikes taking up as much space as cars 2 Car Free Day   Recent Event

The blog here provides more interesting photos from that demo;

If you are interested further in the concept of global traffic thoroughfares with fewer cars and trucks check out the Web site of the World Carfree Network;

There is another aspect of car ownership or its reduction — if you are living in a downtown area – you may consider the Car2Go option.  That alternative is being touted as the ‘new mobility’ option – why ?  Due to the cost savings and reduction of overall vehicles on the roads as people share….Below (courtesy of Car2Go’s web site) are the costs for leveraging the Car2Go vehicles:

what does it cost 3 Car Free Day   Recent Event

So, as you can imagine the option above is certainly a method for getting to a more car free / or near car free towns (where people share vehicles)….Oh, and saving on a vehicle will allow you to invest in more and nicer bike…YES!

 

New Mountain Bikes to Consider

I am yet to consider spending over $1500 for a mountain bike — after all – the biking experience is not coming from having the bike of magic but having the good skill set and physical endurance.  (Although I need to admit – my current bike was $1700 but I bought it on end of the model year clearance sale for $1200 — I considered it a GREAT deal)

But if you have inherited some big bucks recently or have come into a nice bonus — well, then you can consider some of the bikes I list below… I have test ridden some of them – for example the Giant Trance and must admit – it is a very nice bike….So here we go – the new best bikes below $3000!

  • Giant Trance – this is a 27.5″ bike — not the 29-inch bikes I like a lot, but as I said above, it is a very nice bike.  It comes outfitted with FOX Shocks and aluminum frameset – with aggressive weight-to-strength ratio – which is still very stiff and comfortable.

Trance 27 5 2 Black New Mountain Bikes to Consider Giant Trance 27.5-inch $2550 per giant.com

  • Jamis Dakar AMT COMP:  This is cross country and all mountain bike – based on an aluminum frameset; but the design adds a 150mm travel front fork X-Fusion and of course like the Giant – this is a fully suspended bike and given that it is also a 27.5-inch that makes sense.

15 dakaramtcomp New Mountain Bikes to Consider Jamis Dakar AMT Comp List $2599

  • Juliana Juno R: This is a bike for the women mountain bikers – not that Specialized or Trek are not offering women’s bikes… Now they do (for the last 3 years or so) but Juliana offers higher end bike in that type.  The men’s counterpart to Jualiana is Santa Cruz — also good bikes to consider

juno 34 my15 New Mountain Bikes to Consider Juliana Juno R $2599 starting for the D spec (the R-spec starts at $2799)

The bike offers dual suspension approach (given that it is also a 27.5-inch bike) with a 130mm travel front shock — RockShox Sector Gold RL Air Solo;  You can check the specs further here

  • Felt Compulson: This is an all mountain bike – and at this price range ($2699) also (as the rest of the bikes above) comes with an aluminum frameset; I was surprised to see a Suntour front fork on this bike – admittedly an advanced Suntour fork but I have been associating the brand with more low-end coil based forks/shocks.  Well, live and learn.  Here the Suntour offers 160mm travel and remote lockout.  The rear shock is RockShox Monarch -

felt bicycles compulsion 50 New Mountain Bikes to Consider Felt Compulson 50

Well, these are some of the newer bikes.  Enjoy!