Product Reviews: Cycle Tracker Pro – iPhone Application for All of Us

Earlier in the year I had the unfortunate experience of dealing with a pretty deficient product which I bought from — I wanted to get a bicycle computer to track my speed, distance etc stats while biking.  It was a bad experience for two reasons (1) I got the gadget as a gift for my birthday and (2) I spent a bunch of time trying to fiddle with the setup of the magnetic sensor (which I had to place on a spoke of my front wheel) and the rest of the system.   Long story short the computer portion of the overall system did not work – EVER!  I went out a couple of times and tried all sort of things and never got any readouts.  Needless to say after a conversation with Amazon I returned the product, but still had the unpleasant feeling of having lost my time…..

So then 5 months or so later I thought – surely there must be an application for an iPhone that may be able to do the same – my iPhone has GPS, has mapping capabilities so why not ?   Next thing I was checking on the iTunes store and within 30minutes of me thinking about while waiting for a friend after biking to a Starbucks, I had downloaded the application and completed the setup.  Then on the way home I start using it.   Now, let me give you a quick look of the setup:

Cycle Tracker Pro – download from iTunes;  I was able to download for free, but it appears it has gone back up to its normal price of $2.99

After downloading you have to setup your profile:

Home Screen

Settings Screen

Audio Prompts configuration screen

How to Share Data/Results

The Runtime Screen

The Results Screen

The Map Tool


My mountain bike - first 29inch for me

The configuration and usage of the program is really simple.  You enter your personal information:  Height, Weight, Age, and email address (if you want to share your results) and you are well on your way.

The only tricks and hickups I found are:

  • To Start the tracking for a given session (bike ride) you have to make sure you respond to a few questions – make sure you respond positively to "turn on GPS" (needed for the operation of the tool) and ensure the Start button has been pressed properly (you will get an audible prompt of having started the ride)
  • I found that the START and STOP buttons may need to be pressed a few times in a given instance to register the action.  So, again you will get an audible prompt of for example completing the ride and pressing STOP.

Other than those the program is easy to use and provide good information for most of us amateur biking enthusiasts.

Enjoy your ride!



Luxury Goods Are Selling Well in China and Japan but You Must Delineate Between the Types of Products

The general wisdom is that Asia / Japan and more recently China are geographies where high end / luxury goods sell well.  The status symbol of Prada shoes, Gucci, Channel, LV, Mercedes-Benz, Rolex, etc.  products is well documented in tons of media exposes and newspaper and Web articles.

The real question though is ARE ALL LUXURY BRANDS / PRODUCTS SELLING WELL in these regions?

The short answer is NO!  If you pay attention to the types of products selling you will notice that ONLY the products that highlight the consumers’ image — products that are very visible in the person’s life and among his or hers social and profesional circles are the products which will do well.  I.e. a purse, a pair of shoes, wrist watch, suits and other business or event clothing, motorcycles, cars, EVEN BICYCLES are all bound to do well and generate strong revenue for the luxury brands able to deliver such products.

If you are asking WHY IS THAT?  The answer is – the consumers in these countries / geographies are VERY STATUS oriented and aware.  They are willing to spend big $$$ to acquire the products that position them at a special place in society and among their friends, relatives and co-workers.  At the same time they spend almost nothing for their apartments furnishings and/or for products that are not visible immediately.   So good luck selling high-end socks in China or Japan 🙂 !!!

When you cannot buy a Hummer SUV...get a bicycle

Following that trend, GM (yes, the auto manufacturer) is marketing high-end looking mountain bikes in Japan.  And apparently they are selling WELL — the reason: They are HUMMER!  The Japanese consumer may never buy a HUMMER SUV, but they aspire to own a high-end product and the HUMMER Bicycle is the next best thing it appears!


How To – Building a Bike Storage Rack

Once you purchase your new bike, the immediate next step and task you will most likely face is storing it.  Over the years I have gone through many different storage options (and also no storage but just leaving the bike in my apartment or storage area) and have found different solutions that may work well.

Early on in my days of owning a mountain bike (actually, two — my bike and my wife’s bike) while living in an apartment I had decided that the bikes stay inside the entry way of the place, so I needed a storage option that allowed me to put the bikes along the wall of the entry way.  So that option was a vertical storage rack — the two bikes being on the wall.

So I experimented and came up with this design:

Do it yourself Wood Frame Storage Rack

Side View of the Rack

So how do you build this rack:  Here is a quick set of instructions:

Materials:  I used 2×2 wood from Home Depot (or Lowe’s or your favorite lumber store); wood screws; varnish to finish once assembled;

Optional: If you plan to be able to disassemble the rack you may want to replace the wood screws with bolts and nuts

Dimension wise — you will need to measure the size of the bikes you plan to store on the rack.  If you notice I have put different letters for the dimensions denoting the distances between the upper and lower rack arms, as well as between the lower arms and the floor or support beams of the rack.  If you own 26″ bikes then the dimensions are slightly smaller than if you plan to store a 29-inch bike.  Similarly dimensions will be different for road bikes vs. mountain bikes.

The other critical item to dimension properly is the angle C (on the images above) that defines the way the rack will lean against the wall.  This is a freestanding rack, so the angle C is important in terms of how it will push the actual rack against the wall and allow for self support.

Best option is for you to measure the sizes of your bikes and plan accordingly.  The rest of the project is just cutting the wood (you could ask the folks in the Home Depot to pre-cut it for you if you have done the dimensioning), then polishing the pieces with sand paper — yes, please do that as there is nothing more annoying then getting a wood splinter in your finger for example when you start using the rack….

Then you need to assemble.

In terms of where this bike rack fits — I have used it in my apartment entry hall, as well as in my garage years ago.  So, yes, it works also on carpet as well as on concrete surfaces.

Good luck and drop me a line if you have questions.


Have You Heard about the Franken Bike Swap Meet? Austin, Texas….of course!

Well, I am sure you have NOT heard of this yet another “Keep Austin Weird” event in this eclectic city…. The event is called FRANKENBIKE The Ultimate Swap Meet and it is held on a regular basis at various locations around Austin.

It is an event where you can find all sort of great stuff (spare parts to whole bikes) for your hobby — of course if biking is your hobby.

The future (this year) events are as follows:

Upcoming FrankenBike meets

May 26, BikeTexas, 1902 E. Sixth St.

June 30, Fast Folks Cyclery, 2513 E. Sixth St.

July 28, Jorge’s, 2203 Hancock Drive

Aug. 25, Cycle Progression, 2153 S. Lamar Blvd.

Sept. 29, Monkey Wrench Bicycles, 5555 N. Lamar Blvd., L145

Additional information is at the event’s web site.


Bicycles, Our Transport Infrastructure, City Roads and How Do We Make Biking Safer

The recent accident in Austin, made me think more about the various issues and aspects of how we all (drivers and bicyclists) are sharing the roads.  The reality is very strange — no matter that bicycles are one of the most efficient and wide used mode of transportation around the world, in most countries including the US, the road infrastructure and city infrastructures are not very bicycle friendly (to put it mildly).  Bicycles are becoming capable of reaching greater speeds, they are more comfortable, allow for a very good transportation / commute alternative to cars and motorcycles, yet, we probably spend the least amount of effort to ensure the safety and proper infrastructure and ensure even more people adopting them for heavy use.

The reality is that many of the bicyclists today are very much affraid to make frequent or long journeys even just inside the city….Why?  Because of the dangers our roads present….

That perception and attitude by the general population will continue until the cities around the US start implementing more infrastructure that is purposefully built for the biking community.  I remember how impressed I was to see bicycle lanes along the roads in the city in 1996 during my first visit to Phoenix (on a job interview).  Soon after that I moved to Phoenix, started a new job and started commuting by bicycle to work!  Why I did that?  Well I got the necessary help at work — my employer had safe parking spots for the bikes, showers (in the gym) to get in good shape before you walk into the office, etc. 

Since then I do not think the cities (whether Phoenix, or Austin, or San Jose/Bay Area just as a few examples) have done much more to further enhance their infrastructure.  Just recently I also heard about an initiative in Pittsburg — Pittsburgh Airport Now Accessible By Bicycle which made me wonder — airport accessible by bike?  Huh?  Is the idea that you can fly in and hop on your bike and go into the city or the near by parks via your bicycle?   That is a bit strange of an idea in my opinion…! 

Here is a brief audio commentary about it….Pittsburg Airport Link via Bicycle (from NPR)

While this may be a tad strange of a project (at least in my understanding) the good thing about it is that such developments stress the importance of bicycles as real mode of transport and increase infrastructure anyway.  

Happy biking! 

Debate Continues Following the Bicycle – Car Accident on 360/Capitol of Texas Highway Last Week

Heated debate continues on the Web following the accident last Sunday on route 360 in Austin.  On Thursday the city saw a rally / demonstration – here is the video courtesy of the Austin American Statesman:

I was surprised at some of the commentary in the Statesman (the Austin local newspaper) where there were folks who made statements to the effect of “…bicyclist do not abide the laws hence they get hurt when taking risks and not following traffic rules….”  Very odd.

Well, the reality is that in my days of biking around town I have not seen a bicycle breaking traffic laws so if some are — then those are very small percentage.

All in all, incidents like the one last Sunday are very sad and should be avoidable.  They require raising awareness across the population and making sure we all pay attention to each other.



Starting to Build the Databases for All of Us Bikers — Adding “How-To” and “Bike Trails” Resource Aggregator

As I mentioned in one of my first postings on this blog, my intent is to develop a good Web aggregator of biking resources.  Those will include videos on

So now that I have started the structure of the blog — the data is coming in — please check the links above.  I will continue growing the resources over the next weeks.  And of course, I welcome your input…

More on the Awful Accident and Fallout from It in Austin

Well folks, the accident that happened this past weekend in Austin created a whole lot of activities among the bike enthusiast and community in the metro area.  Here is a video from the local TV station KVUE:

The police in Austin is taking extra measures to ensure proper road behavior by both cyclists and drivers. I observed this first hand today (Friday) morning on Bee Caves road in Austin. I was driving together with quite a few cars (I often ride my bike on Bee Caves road). Several cars ahead of me was a motorcycle with a rider that actually was quite erratic (speeding up and slowing down) – and soon enough we came across a police officer on a motorbike observing traffic — oh, how quickly the police officer shot at high speed after the motorbike rider with police lights flashing — and by the time we reached the One World Theater on Bee Caves Road the motorbike was pulled over on the side of the road…I guess the new initiative by the police in action…

Well – please ride and drive with care for your fellow riders and drivers! Be safe!

Awful News of a Fatal Accident in Austin, Texas

Well folks, the reality of how dangerous our roads can be struck home again. On Sunday / Monday this week the news of a fatal accident in Austin, TX spread around fast. I was actually at work when I heard about the bad news. (Here is a link to the article in the Austin American Statesman: Fatal wreck on Loop 360 concerns Austin cycling groups)

Living in Austin, I have always thought that this is one of the best cities in the US to ride a bike — there are so many cyclists around — certainly the drivers are careful and cautious to make sure they do not cause any kind of accidents involving bikes.  But then accidents like the one on Sunday happen and you realize how vulnerable people are….I personally was in an accident while living in Phoenix, AZ — I was riding home after work, I saw a pickup truck waiting to merge from a small street onto the main road, and as it happened just when I was crossing in front of the stopped truck the driver decided to take off and luckily for me did not have time to gain speed.   The truck struck me but at a very low speed only managed to bruise my thigh and twist and mangle the fork on my mountain bike….

Since then, I have always thought about this and made sure that whenever I ride I wear jerseys / clothing that makes me very visible – i.e. bright colors, wear helmet, and most of all make sure I pay even more attention than the drivers on the road.

Here are some additional links associated with actions in different communities to raise awareness of both the accident in Austin and actions to heighten drivers attention.

Of course bikers are not always free of fault.  There are plenty of cases that you may see on the roads of bikers that run a red light, ignore traffic rules, etc.   Take a look at this article also from Austin, TX.

All in all — the lesson learned is “Always pay attention to traffic around you, wear protective gear, and be VERY VERY VISIBLE”


My Early Biking Days….Can you say 1988…and China?

This weekend I was thinking — which was my first serious bike as well as what was my initial long lasting biking experience? Turns out that was in the land of bicycles — China. In 1987 I found myself together with some other foreign students in Beijing. At the time majority of goods were strongly rationed – even for us foreign students, we had to use special coupons to get to buy a bike.
So in October 1987 I became the proud owner of the Long March bicycle — the Chang Zheng ZiXingChe – green in color and quite the machine…

Soon after buying the bike I was all over Beijing. The bicycle gave me “freedom” – I could explore and experience various corners of the city. And of course, how can you live in Beijing and NOT have a photo with the Chairman? So here is mine — me and a couple of my friends in Beijing on our bikes in front of the gates to the Forbidden City:

My early biikng experience -- in Beijing, China

Of course there was a lot of biking that followed — I need to think further about what it all amounted to but in my first three and a half years in China I must have clocked quite a few miles. In my next post, I will try to figure it out. See you!