New Mountain Bikes for 2014

Well folks, we are well into 2014 already, so I thought that I need to take a look at what are someo of the new and promising mountain bikes for this year.  My usual recommendation still stands — if you want to buy a new bike, you can research quite a bit on-line, read postings on this and that forum, check out blogs like this one, but at the end of the day, it is best to head to your local bike shop and test ride the bikes you are considering.

Why?

Because no advice and review will come close to the experience you will have test riding the bike by yourself and then once close to the decision, getting the recommendation and adjustments from the pro-shop….

OK, so with that in mind, lets look at the new bikes – in this posting, let's look at the best options for a 29er all around bikes — for those of us (me included) that want a bike that can ride well on the trail and downhill….

  • Specialized Camber 29

Specialized Camber 29er Solid built bike from Specialized.  The price tag has gone up with the entry point for the Camber 29 being at $1850 but for that you get a dual suspension 29er with hydralic brakes and very good Shimano shifters — which could be very important when on the trails.

  • Kona 111 DL

‚ÄčKona 111 DL This Kona bike appears to be a very good all around bike

Cannondale Trigger 29 And this is the best of the bunch — very solid bike with a good option availabe on the front fork – the ability to select between 80mm and 130mm travek on the fork availabe to you on a flip of a switch;

For the more versatile, cross country 29er – please check out the recommendations:

  • Scott Genius
  • Santa Cruz Tallboy:  this is definitely a bike to consider!  Why?  Becase you wll make it to the big league with such a proficient bike – period!
  • Niner RIP

 

New Category of a Bike Shop in Austin

I did not know but now I do — Austin has approximately 50 bike shops — according to the new shop which opened recently in the city's North side to provide a new type of service — namely, to enable bike users in Austin to be able to trade in efficiently with their used equipment.

Here is a map to the new store:

The name of the store is Shift Gear Exchange.  It sounds like a great initiative to provide a trading platform for us bike riding crowd to be able to efficiently sell and buy used equipment

Check the store out — and I wish them good luck – may be soon enough I will be taking advantage of their services.

Bike Sharing Program in Beijing

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a summary on the bike sharing programs in Brussels, Belgium – a very well structured and what appeared as well used system of bikes, rent stations and of course people ready to leverage the service regularly.  

So, on a recent trip to Beijing, I decided to take a look at the options for bike sharing in this city.  This is actually an important topic.  Why?  for many reasons – As Beijing has grown, we have seen the following issues:

  • Our ability to catch a taxi cab has become increasingly small — very frustrating experience indeed.  Cabs appear to be fewer and fewer – in reality the population seeking their service has grown drastically
  • Congestion on the city roads has become hurrendous — the various loop roads in Beijing resemble more and more a parking lot each morning and evening
  • Because of the previous two bullets, might as well forget motor vehicles as a reliable transport for everyday small tasks!

So then we have to rely on the subway and…..bikes!  Hence a bike sharing program is very much a necessity…

How does it work in Beijing?  Well, here is the summary:

  • You need to have a valid "Beijing Public Transport IC card"
  • The card looks like Beijing Transport Card
  • You have to have enough funds in the card to be able to support a deposit of RMB400 plus fees for the ride each time; 
  • You have to your card registered for the program at one of these subway stations: TianTan DongMen, DongZhiMen, ChaoyangMen
  • The fees for renting a bike are: first hour is free; RMB1/hr thereafter with a max of RMB10/day

There are apparently 14000 bikes for rent in the city.  They are located at many stations throughout the city

 

Bike Share    Bike Share   Bike Share Terminal Beijing

I hope this program continues to operate in the future and grows.  It is certaintly (I think ) badly needed in cities like Beijing.  One observation (and some photos to attest to it) though — it was very disappointing to see non-program bikes being parked in the area of the bike sharing.  

Non-program bikes those are NOT the program bikes….People using the space for their bikes…

 

Shimano Camera – a New Camera – Trying to Steal the Leading Spot from GoPro

I like my GoPro camera!  I like it a lot!  It comes with me on bike rides and (no matter how rare) goes with me in the water snorkeling or otherwise exploring interesting to see places….I got my first GoPro camera in 2012 and soon after that added this entry on the blog…and since then I have used it well.  

But now there is a new contender for the primo spot of the lightweight compact ease to use sports cameras — NO, I am not talking about a Sony camera, but about Shimano!  Would you have imagined??? I did not expect it – but yes – Shimano has a new camera

Shimano POV camera    

The camera has some great characteristics that caught my attention quickly:

  • waterproof operation down to 10-meters of water 
  • ability to interface with your Android or IOS device !  For both playback and controls 
  • 2-hours battery life — that is one aspect of the GoPro camera I have which is not something I find satisfactory – a very short battery life.  The 2 hours of the Shimano one appear better.

So overall this camera is not a bad choice for those of you who have not decided on one yet.

Bicycles in European Cities

The winter is very cold this year across various regions of the United States.  Guess what, it is very cold in many places across Europe.  I just returned from a week long businss trip across several European countries and in the process was certainly exposed to pretty cold weater.   However, I was also very surprised to see a relatively heavy use of bicycles in both Stockholm and Brussels even while the temperatures were constantly below 0-degrees Celcius!  

I was visiting a large electronics company and saw a bicycle parking lot which had a large number of bikes in it parked….. IN the SNOW!  Having seen that, I asked one of the hosts – "are people using the bikes even now, in the winter?"  The response was – "Yes, of course!"  

A couple of days later I was in Brussels and while there was no snow on the ground at the time, I saw even more use of the bicycles in this city (as well as in near by Antwerpen).  I came across not one, but two bike sharing programs in the city – which is a further testament for the good use those bikes get.  The two programs I came about are Vilo! and Blue Bike 

  • Blue-bike – this is a program associated with the Belgium Rail system; Bikes are located at 40 stations across Belgium and apparently more are being added.  The process for renting a bike from this program is simple – you become a subscriber at the cost of 10-euro/year; Then you use the membership card to get bikes from one of the many stations. The bikes are available for rent between 7:00 and 19:00 every day.  The rental is for 18-hours per day and one membership card enables the renting of up to two bikes each time — i.e. you can share the card with a friend and encourage them to use bicycles.  A good idea!  The actual rental is 3-euros for the day.  Payment is monthly.

 Blue-bike bicycle sharing in Belgium   

  • Villo! Bicycle Sharing Program: This is another bike sharing program available in Brussels with stations located approximately every 450-meters throughout the city.  The stations are open for renting 7-days a week 24-hours a day — i.e. since they are automated – they are always accessible and available.  The rates are listed here – per Villo! web site

  Bicycle sharing program Villo!

All in all, this was a very impressive setup – next time I am in Europe and if in Belgium, and if I am a tourist, the bike ride is in my plans!