Mountain Bike Deals Coming…

Mountain Bike Deals – New Models with Aggressive Pricing Coming

2017 may actually become the year when mountain bike deals come calling and …you do not have to sell one of your cars in order to get into a performance and feature rich mountain bike from a well recognized brand / bike designer.  If we use the recent announcement by Marin Bikes, which may be a precursor of what is to come in the 2017 model year, we may have a great, fun filled (read kid in a candy store) year of selecting competitively priced performance bikes

Marin-Bikes-Hawk-HillHere is what Marin Bikes just announced:

  • Pretty Good Pricing $1500, which gets you
  • The same frame as the Series 3 6061 alloy frame with light weight and added stiffness
  • This is similar frame to the hardtail Indian Fire Trail 7.8 – a $2419 but the new model also adds new capabilities – e.g. the rear air shock;
  • Additional info:  Wide-range 1×10-speed drivetrain with Shimano Deore Shadow Plus rear derailleur and 11-42t cassette; Deore shifter
  • The bike comes with double-wall alloy rims w/27mm inner width, wrapped in Schwalbe Hans Dampf 27.5” x 2.35” tires
  • The front fork is a 120mm travel air shock; and then as stated earlier you have the rear shock as well;
  • The only potential issue some of you may find is the use of 27-in wheels rather the 29er approach;

All in all a potential good sign for promising prices to come  – mountain bike deals are coming

 

Beijing – Running but not Biking

I have lived a large number of years in China and Beijing specifically.  Beijing is a huge metropolis with now very cosmopolitan population – as a result (I think) the city has largely moved away from using bikes to any significant degree.

Years ago, the streets of the city were clogged with bikes – as those provided the main means of transportation.  Today, everyone has jumped in a car or in the subway and the bikes are few and far in between on the city streets.

After a recent outing to the Beijing Olympic park though, I have some hopes that the situation may change.  Why do I say that?   Because both the city as well as its residents are starting to pay increasing attention to exercising and enjoying ecologically clean means of doing so.  The city is also spending large sums of money for maintaining the park and as a result I have hopes that they will start investing also in bicycle friendly streets and areas of the city.

Here are some photos from the Beijing Olympic park on a recent Sunday afternoon….

Beijing-Olympic-Park Olympic-park-Running

The park itself I can use also some paths for biking – there is certainly enough space based on the loading of runners I see – i.e.not that many, and given its large size can offer good opportunity for at least some exercise and learning to navigate a bike in the outdoors.

China-Beijing-Runners-World-Olympic-Park

Beijing-China-Olympic park

 

 

 

 

 

At any rate, I do think Beijing can benefit hugely from large usage of bicycles so any steps in encouraging that will be helping the city reduce pollution and congestion.

Texas Bike Trails in April – Continued

Last weekend I posted a bunch of photos from the great trails in Texas – if you like mountain biking, the spring in and around Austin, Texas is a great time to experience nature from the bike seat… You get to see great colors, may be even encounter some wild life on the trails.

This April has been wet – tons of rains in the area – resulted in greenery everywhere and of course tons of wild flowers.

As a result of the rains, the local creeks are also running wild – so you may need to be careful on some of the trails.  Lucky for me – by this Saturday the trails along Barton Creek (photos below) were almost dry with only some areas that were still under water – but easy to bike through on your bike.

I think the photos speak for themselves – April is a great time to go out and ride the trails.

Austin-Texas-Mountain-Bike Austin-Texas-Mountain-Bikes Texas Austin Mountain Bike Austin-Texas

 

Texas Mountain Bike Trails in April

Gallery

This gallery contains 6 photos.

This winter and spring have both been fairly unpredictable and actually not cold.  As a result both the trails and the actual biking conditions have been rather pleasant if not a bit muddy. Yesterday, we had the opportunity to hit … Continue reading

New Experiences on the Trail and New Bikes

New Experience and New Bikes

Well, the weather is getting better every week and as a result we can get more and more mountain bike ride time on the weekends.  The trails always bring some surprises and so they did this time around – I came across a Great Impressive Swirly Tree on the Barton Creek trail….

Trail Views

In the spirit of the new discoveries – I have come across also a new goal – new bike to go after.   The Following from Evil Bikes.  I started a page for these bikes – you can check it out here.  At any rate, more to experience…

Evil-Bikes Evil-Bikes

Two bikes definitely worth considering – and I am doing so seriously!

Mpow Seashell Bluetooth Headphones

There is the long standing question as to whether bikers should listed to audio while on the bikes.  The issue at hand is safety.  While you are biking you need to be well aware of the conditions and events around you.   Whether it is a car approaching you or animal or someone is asking you to stop – there are many examples why you need to have a pretty good hearing and focused attention while on your bicycle.

Runtastic Mountain Bike Having said that – it is also very pleasant to have the companionship of a good playlist while you are on the bike.   Multiple biking exercise tracking programs offer good integration with your audio player.   I use Runtastic Mountain Bike PRO, and it does provide for integrated access to your audio library and playlists.

You can see the front panel/dashboard of Runtastic and can see the icon (notes) for music player, which is interfaced to your Apple Application

So then the question becomes, if you are safe on your bike, what earphones should you use.  The regular wired earphones are fine but still you get to deal with the mess of wires

Bluetooth HeadphonesEnters the Bluetooth earphone set – nice alternative to wires.   Recently I tested the Mpow Seashell Bluetooth headphones.  The idea and the convenience they offer is good.

You get good and clear sound from the buds and can even make phone calls – you have an integrated remote control for the volume control and an integrated microphone.

Now, about the negative aspects of these headphones:

  • while the sound quality is OK, you are more than pre-occupied adjusting the microphone and the overall fit of the headphones in your ear.
  • Turns out – based on my experience – the headphones body that is suposed to fit in your ear, is actually too bulky and too heavy forcing constant adjustments and push
  • I believe one session with the headphones will make you see
  • The designers have strived to make the headphones very simple to use and this shows.  They are good – UNTIL it comes to vigorous exercise.   In that condition, the headphones naturally want to come out….As a result one has to constantly adjust the heardphones and push them snug into your ear canal.
  • Here is a video snippet covering the Mpow

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Well, you be the judge – but I will pass on this heaphones set.

Bicycle Riders Behavior on the Road

There is tons of writing on the web from bicycle riders who feel wronged by car drivers while on the various roads in cities.  While this may be a real situation – I have been on my mountain bike while a car had driven by with a passenger or the driver screaming for me to get off the road or at the least making gestures of various kinds …

Today, though I saw the opposite – while driving on one of the busy roads in Austin, a road bicycle rider decided to do a stupid thing.  The road I am talking about is a divided one (with a grassy median) and posted speed of 60miles per hour.   The road is busy and especially so at its various exits to street in the city.   On one of those exits, the rider I am talking about here stayed on the shoulder of the road for a long enough time to make me (and I think other drivers) think that he will be taking the exit.   Furthermore the exit was to a street which is also frequented by bicycle riders – I know – I ride there as well.

Then in the last minute without any signal he decided to swerve and dash for the main road – i.e. cross the exit lanes to get back on the main highway.   Fine, he wanted to be on the main highway and fine, he stayed too long on the exit lane, bud DUDE, signal!!!   That is one of the reasons you have arms and hands.  You would expect a car driver to signal that he/she is changing his mind and changing lanes… So should a bicycle – especially on a busy road!

But then again, may be he is one of the drivers who does the same maneuver in his car as well without signaling driving others to react with urgency….

Oh, well, hopefully not to many do this stupid action so all of us – bike riders and car drivers are safe on the road!

Happy biking!

Apple – What is Going On

Apple – What is the issue with their new products?

This blog is focused on mountain biking and all things related to that activity.  Nevertheless, from time to time, I tend to post on some adjacent observations and/or topics.  This time it is Apple TV.  Earlier in the Spring, Summer, and Fall of 2015 I wrote several articles about my experiences with Apple Watch – and more specifically how it applied (or did not live up to the expectations) to mountain biking and exercising.

Later today I am going to return to the store another of their products.   My 4th generation Apple TV… Don’t get me wrong – I like Apple products – at home we have 3 MacBook Pro laptops, 2 third generation Apple TVs, 2 iPhone 6/6Plus and 1 iPhone 6-Plus-S phones, 2 iPads, several iPods (from different generations) and….guess what still working iBook G4 laptop and PowerMAC desktop.

Having said that – I think my most recent experience with Apple products has been less than glowing.  You can read my feedback (which I have left also on the Apple Support Web sites) about the Watch.   Now is time to write about the Apple TV 4th Generation.

I have used the previous generation for a couple of years at least on two TVs in my house.  So I replaced one of the two 3rd generation one with this new one and had high expectations that the experience will be great…. Well…..

  • Configuration – was great!  Using the NFC technology – configuring the Apple TV with your iPhone 6 is a breeze!  It picks up all the WLAN configuration, passwords etc. in a blink of the eye and it is DONE!
  • Applications: here is where the disappointments started – not too many to select from!  I purchased a new Samsung 4K TV at Thanksgiving.  I was amazed at the number of applications available there – and NOT on the Apple TV…So first strike against the Apple TV.
  • Remove control and Siri:  Voice enablement is a great idea.  That is the main reason my family decided to splurge and buy the more expensive new Apple 4th generation box  – the result though was disappointing.   Siri just did not work well for us.  My daughter is a whizz with Siri on her iPhone, but on Apple TV it was lacking…More importantly if you had to do a search we had to do that via typing individual letters.   The remote control itself was not great either.  The sliding motion to scroll was annoying…Overall I did not like the remote – same for my family
  • Playback – This was the BIGGEST ISSUE.  As I mentioned earlier – I have used two previous generation Apple TVs with the same networking configuration at home.   This 4th generation box did not perform well — video content was constantly buffering while attempting to watch HBO or SHOWTIME or YouTube…Very Annoying.  I am not sure what the issue is – I really DO NOT like troubleshooting such an expensive product.  The sad part is that the old 3rd generation Apple product did not have this issue…

So, with that experience and annoyance that I have to waste my time returning products – the Apple TV is going away – back to the retailer !    What I am more concerned about is – given my experiences with the Apple Watch and now Apple TV, what is going on with Apple’s new product development cycle…May be a lot, but not in a good direction…

Comments?

CES 2016 Bicycle Products

This year I was able to spend 3 days at CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas.  This event is usually crazy – tons of exhibitors and hordes of people all over the place, hence my hesitation to attend, but my the projects I have been working on in the last 12 months and those that will be on my plate in 2016, required me to attend.   So, I jumped on the plane and joined the throngs of people at the show.

While I had to spend a lot of time with customers and partners, I was able to allocate some time for visiting various exhibits.  The show was heavily dedicated to automotive products – but there were some interesting new products for bicycle enthusiasts as well.  The product that caught my attention was the Garmin Varia Vision Headset – the headset has some very interesting capabilities

  1. It allows you to view statistics about the ride – ride in your field of vision – i.e. without have to look down (to the stem or handlebars mounted smart phone with Bike Applications);   The display provides the essential stats right in front of your eyes  – thus acting also as a much safer way to show you informationGarmin Varia Vision

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) When paired with Varia Rear View Radar it provides you with the necessary information on approaching traffic.  The display can show you approaching traffic and warn you of potential issues on the road;
Varia plus Rear view radar   Overall a very clever contraption and in my opinion useful application all around.   The device warns you of approaching traffic as far as 140-meters away (per Garmin.com)

 

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The headset is also integreatable with your smart phone.  Garmin will provide you with the compatibility list.    I have not tested that feature – eventhough I hat my phone with me on the tradeshow floor – I did not test the ability of the feature;

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Ultimately, safety is a huge factor for most of us cyclists and to this effect these new products appear to address it in a fun and cheerful way.

Please let me know with your thoughts on these new gadgets – I think they are a great steps forward on safety!