Exciting New Ideas for Transport and Commuting

There has been a lot of discussion in various media outlets about the fact that many people — VERY large number of people — would prefer to have options for commuting other than the one based on driving cars or riding public buses… Many cities are implementing light rail systems – even in the US!!! but that is not an economically easy proposition – the investments required are huge and the ROI on those under big debates. 

So what then?  Well, several cities around the world are proposing new forms of infrastructure to enable commuters — veloways that are connecting in a safe way large portion of the city.

The idea is to develop a network of surface roads with SAFE bike lanes which in turn are connected to a high speed elevated bike highways… Here is the latest proposal from Australia



Separately an interesting proposal has been made for the city of London in the UK as well:


What do you think?


Ladies’ Mountain Bike Shopping–The Conclusion

More mountain bike shopping excitement!  I went back to the bike shop a few days ago to see if I could try out the bikes that they had been holding for me since last Sunday, when i was prevented from doing a test ride due to soggy conditions.  This time, I felt a bit more educated due to my previous week's test rides, and I had a bit better idea of what i was looking for.  The first bike I tried was the well-rated Trek Mamba.  I had been very excited about trying this bike out, due to the excellent online reviews I read.  However, to my dismay, I found it just wasn't very comfortable.  I attribute that to the fact that it was a men's model I was trying out.  Not having a single ladies' Trek Mamba in any of their Austin stores, this was the best they could do.   I'm sure it was a great bike, but it didn't work out for me.  Disappointed, I asked again which ladies' bikes they had available in my size, and I was encouraged to try a Specialized Myka Elite Disc 29.  At a MSRP of $880, this was one of the less expensive bikes that I tried, and according to the bike shop guy, its cheaper price was due to its lower end components.  However, the fit of the bike was great, and I found it quite comfortable to ride.  It was perhaps a little lower end than what I had been planning to get, but its great fit to my body proportions made it a contender.


So, at this point, my two favorite bikes were both Specialized ladies bikes, but their prices and specs were quite divergent.  You might remember from my previous post on this subject that I had tried out a Specialized Jet Comp and had been very impressed.  However, at $1449, it was a bit steep for my tastes.  And I really liked the Myka Elite Disc 29, but it seemed a bit on the low end for me.  Luckily, it turns out that there was a midpoint bike between  the two:  The baseline Specialized Jett. Running a more palatable $1099, it had the same great frame fit as the other two Specialized bikes, but it also handled better than Myka Elite without the steep price tag of the Jett Comp.


On the baseline model Jett, everything felt right.  On the men's bikes, I felt too far off the ground when the seat post was at a appropriate height, and my arms felt like they were straining ever so slightly to reach the handlebars.  On both models of the Specialized Jett that I tried, everything seemed to fit my body better, from the comfortable ladies saddle to the specially shaped handlebar grips.  The Jett Comp, at $1449, felt a little better than the baseline Jett, but to me, the difference was not worth the extra money, especially for the more modest gentle trails and roads that I was likely to use it on.   So I am happy to say that I finally made a decision and went with the baseline Specialized Jett 17 inch, and I'm glad I did.  After an exhaustive and careful fitting at the bike shop, I brought the Specialized Jett home today and I went for my first ride.  The difference from my old Giant ATX 750 was quite stark.  The 29 inch wheels of the Jett powered me up the hills and the bike felt marvelously responsive.  At least on Day One, I couldn't be happier.

Day 2 of the New Mountain Bike Shopping — Pouring Rain — No Progress!

Well folks, we were all set to go and attempt to close a deal on a new bike today.  However the weather had different plans for us.  The day started with a heavy overcast.  The morning was so dark, we can hardly believe daybreak was there by the time 8 o'clock struck…. And by 9am the rain started!   And it continued to rain ALL DAY LONG!

As a result we could not do anything but just discuss the bike options verbally and look further at photos and specs.  Around 2pm one of the sales guys from the bike shop called us to let us know they have received the bikes we had asked to test ride today — with the 2012 TREK MAMBA among those.  But they relly could not let us ride the bikes in the rain — official store policy.  

Here are some more photos of the bikes we tested yesterday:

So, we will continue this exercise next weekend!


Shopping for a Ladies’ Mountain Bike

Well, today one of my front shifters broke, and I decided to take it as a sign that it was time to upgrade to a new bike.  It had been six years since I last bought a bike–a Giant ATX 750 in Beijing, China–and I was excited to see what kinds of exciting new bikes were available.  After looking at some bike reviews online, my husband and I headed off to our local bike shop to check things out.  First, I wasn't quite sure whether I should opt for a ladies mountain bike, or just go with a men's bike.  I had always purchased men's bikes in the past (a Giant Iguana in 1993 and the aforementioned Giant ATX 750 in 2006)–in fact, I don't even remember ladies mountain bikes being an option back then.  But they are clearly quite popular now, to judge from the number of models available in stores and online.  With great excitement, I gave the first bike a try–a Trek 4300 Disc:


It was certainly a step up from my current bike, but the bike felt a little stiff, and the model that they had available wasn't the right size for me.  It was a shame, because it was on sale, and it was the cheapest mountain bike there.

The next bike I tried was the Trek Cobia:


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Buying a New Mountain Bike — The Experience

Today we are going to buy a new mountain bike — the old Giant is finally showing its age and problems started to appear.  First to go were the gear shifters.. That you would think is one of the more durable components on the bike but alas it was not the case on this Giant 750 ATX

Giant 750 ATX   The red bike is my Giant ATX


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My Next Set of Applications for Bicycle Navigation to Review

I have been writing several summaries on the Cycle Tracker PRO iPhone application for bicycle navigation.  Now is time to expand my horizon 🙂  and try some new ones in order to check out new features and functions.

So here is my list of possible ones — based on searching through the offering from several developers:

  • BioLogic BikeBrain  — available for a Free download
  • Cycle Watch — available for $1.99
  • cyctastic — available for $5.99
  • iMapMyRIDE+  — available for $1.99
  • BikeMateGPS  — available for $2.99
  • Cyclemeter  — available for $4.99
  • Ride the City  — available for $2.99
  • B.iCycle — available for $9.99
  • Bike Maps  — available for $0.99  — this one appears to be for offline maps

So over the next few weeks I will test several of those — need to decide where to start…and of course I will keep on look out for other possible applications


Adding a Smart Phone Holder to My Bicycle – A Way to Use Cycle Tracker Pro

I have been posting about my experiences with the Cycle Tracker PRO which is the alternative I use for a cycling computer.  Until now I was just placing my iPhone in a pouch after I turn on the GPS tracking on the phone.  Yesterday, after using the program on my iPhone for about 3-4 months now, I decided to add a holder for the phone on my bike.  

I looked around at various options on the Web — they all have very different ways in which the holder attaches to your bike.  Some use just spring loaded mechanism which is supposed to grip the handlebar of your bike, others have more substantial friction based approach.  

Here are the ones I saw on Amazon for sale:


I personally went with the Delta model.  It looked most sturdy and secure to ensure that the phone does not go flying off the bike if and when I hit a sizeable bump…

Here are the photos from my installation. 

Delta Smart Phone Caddy on my bike   Delta Smart Phone Caddy – Another view – It is very sturdy

Delta Smart Phone Caddy – Just installed — Next need to put my iPhone in it   Delta Smart Phone Caddy with my iPhone-4 in it – ready to go…

Now the bike is ready to go  

The actual installation was very easy.  All I had to do is remove the cap and bolt from the stem of my bike handlebars, take off the cap from the bolt, and replace that with the base of the Delta Caddy.  Then I gently tightened the bolt into the stem securing the holder of the Caddy.  Ideally you want to have a wrench which allows you to measure about 4Nm force when tightening the stem bolt, but if you do not have that wrench you can just feel it.  

Once the base was attached to the stem, all I had to do is attach the rest of the Caddy to the base by using the provided bolt and nut.  Then you just need to fit your iPhone or other smart phone into the Caddy and you are ready to go…!



A Glitch in the Cycle Tracker PRO or Super Speed on My Bike

Last week I posted a quick update on my 29-inch HardTail Rockhopper mountain bike and the high speeds it can achieve as a result of the nice 29-inch wheels… This week I did my usual morning ride to meet a friend and fired up the Cycle Tracker PRO software to record my to and from treks. Well I did have a nice ride with good speeds (als as a result of the good hills along the way) but on the way back it turns out I hit EXTRAORDINARY speeds !!! 

Take a look at the snap from the Speed Graph 

Crazy Speed on a Recent Ride Do you believe this? Cycle Tracker PRO snapshot

I would say that is a glitch in the Cycle Tracker PRO tracking algorithm….or else I have gained magical capabilities 🙂  

Who knows?!?! May be I have 🙂




My Bike After (Almost) Two Years — What are the Impressions for my First 29er – Specialized Rockhopper

In December 2010 I decided that it is time to try the new type of mountain bike — the 29-inch one. So after about 20-years since my first bike I decided to checkout again the Specialized ones. Surprise, surprise, the Rockhopper — which I was familiar with from the early 1990s is still there as a brand! So I tested a bunch of different ones – Trek, Giant, and zeroed in on the Specialized Rockhopper 29er. Here it is:

29er Rockhopper My Year+ Old 29er Specialized Rockhopper   

Today I decided to summarize my view on the bike — since 29ers are becoming more popular as time goes by.  Startiing with the few (yes, very few) negatives:  

  • The Rockhopper 29er brakes have a strange issue – they make lots of noise when used !   Well documented issue — you can search on Google and will find references to the problem.  The rotors have a problem — I had mine adjusted by the shop where I bought the bike (Bicycle Sport Shop – I am  not affiliated with them – just like their service) and most of the time things are OK. I still would have liked Specialized to have proactively fixed the problem rather than me chasing it….but….
  • The bike is heavier than similar components type bikes…but then you pay for the 29er size!

Now the positives are much greater:

  • Climbs great — great gear ratio and available settings
  • At the same time — yes — it Descends well
  • Durable bike – I have taken a few tumbles and it is in good shape…
  • Fast !!!

Yes, the bike is FAST!  The benefit of the 29er is in its downhill speed.  Without pushing it I have been able to get to 30+ miles an hour speeds which I believe is fast for a bike like that one.  And on one of my road rides I hit 42-miles per hour!!!! Yes on Bee Caves Road in Austin near OneWorld Theather…. if you are from Austin or have ridden on Bee Caves Road you will know what I mean.   So the Rockhopper 29er is FAST!

Here are some snapshots from my brief ride this morning – the snaps are from my Cycle Tracker PRO software (split the ride in two halfs):

Snapshot of a part of my ride Cycle Tracker PRO  The Map of the Ride Brief Ride Map

Speed Graph from Cycle Tracker PRO My Speed Profile  

And then, there is other folks' commentary on the Specialized and the 29er bikes.  Here is one:


At any rate, I think the Specialized Rockhopper 29er is a great bike for the money I spent.  Would recommend it for both casual riders and for mid-skill ones.  The only gripe I have are the brakes — they work great but make that not so pleasant noise…