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….
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…
Two bikes definitely worth considering – and I am doing so seriously!
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
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 information
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;
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)
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;
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!
Is the Apple Watch the Ultimate Fitness Tracker for Cyclists?
This is the title of an article I came across as I was searching for others’ experiences with the Apple Watch. The article was well written and certainly touched on many of the desires and issues I looked for and experienced with the device. All in all the conclusion of that article though was VERY far off from my own experiences and conclusion. The statements made were
So while the Apple Watch is probably not the ultimate fitness tracker for all cyclists (namely those who are serious about using it as a tool to track metrics, compare performance on particular segments and improve their overall riding), it’s definitely the ultimate fitness tracker for me
I appreciate the candor of the author – i.e. for him the Watch is acceptable… Well that was not my experience and conclusion. I had the following pet peeves which though were followed by giving kudos to Apple for handling my dissatisfaction with great appreciation for the customer (me)
I thought the watch needed to:
Do much better job in gathering useful information / statistics about the exercises being tracked – I was really surprised that the apps on the watch were SO rudimentary…
The measurements that were taken were / are OFF by too great of a margin, I could have been OK with 10-15% error / variation of the readings. The issue is that in my case those readings were off by 50+%
Have more applications for the amateur sports person – I was very surprised at the weak set available….May be soon enough there will be more. I hope so
Net-net, I like the idea, I was disappointed in the execution and product ultimately made available to us, the consumers
Well, it has been a while since I added a new category of bike to my blog. While I focus on mountain biking, this new category of a bicycle is actually a close relative of the mountain bike and certainly one each cross-country or mountain bike enthusiast should consider – or at least I believe – should evaluate.
What are Gravel Bikes? In a summary – they are a combination of a road bike and a cross-country one with some elements ‘borrowed’ from the mountain bikes as well. Turns out there are plenty of gravel roads out there – I certainly have come across them in pretty much every US National Park – just earlier yesterday I published a brief summary about two good bike friendly National parks – Acadia in Maine, and Zion in Utah – and surprise, both of them offer miles and miles of gravel roads to enjoy and explore.
What else is special about the Gravel Bikes?
Relaxed posture / frame geometry
Hydraulic disk brakes
Longer wheel base (to go with the relaxed geometry)
significantly increased tire clearance – to be able to navigate in a stable way obstacles you will encounter on the gravel roads
I am going to start building the database of manufacturers offering the Gravel Bikes and as usual structure that via the Bike Reviews option on this blog. The Gravel Bike category is already live – you can follow the link to it. Next will add the manufacturers like Salsa with their Warbird model, Raleigh, GT to name a few. So check the blog out soon again.
Apple Watch – why am I writing about it on a biking blog? Well, very simple – it is a nifty gadget that actually, I believe, can be a useful addition to the gear for your bike rides.
Why? OK, not a bad and a very valid question. What are the key features of this watch that can make it useful to the biking community…?
So let’s go ahead and review how the Apple Watch behaved and performed on a mixed road and mountain bike tracks:
First of all – the watch is highly intuitive – I promise you, you will not need to mess with its setup or do much to get it going – just put it on your wrist (once it is all charged up and paired with your phone)
With regards to biking, it comes preconfigured with the “Workout” application – native to the package of OS and actually an easy to use application.
There are only some minor issues with the watch and the “Workout” application
It does not have the ability to distinguish between road and mountain bike
When I read the calories – both in the middle of a hour long ride and towards the end – the count was about 1/2 of that of the application running on my iPhone – it looked like the Workout application is calibrated for a road ride – with a road bike.
There was no way to show more than one screen to the front face of the watch – so in order for you to see calories, time, distance – you had to move between screens manually – no way to see an aggregate screen of information
I do not recommend you move between screens while you bike especially if you are on the single track…you will most likely have trouble doing both. Just let the watch do its tracking and look at the summary stats at the end of your ride or if you stop for a short break.
In summary, the application is not bad – it allows you to ride with the watch and get basic stats and as long as your ride is not going overboard time wise – i.e. you stay within a reasonable couple of hours on your bike, your watch battery will be good as well…
Overall, I would recommend the Apple Watch – and not only because I have one 🙂 but because I see the useful side of it – and guess what !!! This Fall new OS is coming with some additional features. Apple has started hinting about those on their Web site…
Just when you thought that the world of mountain bike designers, manufacturers and brands is getting saturated – here comes another, brand new, actually startup company – Bold Cycles.
The company offers a very innovative approach to building a fully suspended mountain bikes with frames that allow us to use both 29-inch and 27.5-inch wheels. The main innovation though is that the rear shock has been entirely integrated in the frame / seat post tube. I have rarely ridden on a bike with rear suspension – why? I prefer the hardtail bikes as they provide a whole lot more control and less fish tailing on a trail. The rear suspension in my opinion adds to the soft feel / mushy feel and less feel of control on most trails. Now with the integrated rear shock and the more precise timing of how forces are distributed in the rear part of the bike – the company promises a better experience.
Bold Cycles promises both stiffness and 5-inch / 130mm travel suspension which certainly should add to our comfort of going over obstacles.
Additionally, the enclosure of the shock should provide for protection against dirt and stones – with only one question from me — NOT SURE HOW YOU WOULD GET ACCESS TO THE SHOCK FOR MAINTENANCE AND CLEAN-UP.
Another aspect to highlight is that shift cables and the rear brake line are internally routed – a nice touch overall.
CES 2015 has been certainly the year of connectivity. Gone are the days when the stars of the show were 60-inch, then 80-inch, then 105-inch flat panel TVs…Those are now well underway to the homes of many consumers.
This year, it seems like transportation has invaded the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) – all sort of smart cars and…..wait….gadgets for bicycles as well. In previous article I talked about the Car-to-Bicycle Communicating Helmet, and now we have a pedal that allows the bike it is part of to be connected. A French company Connected Cycle, has developed this pedal which notifies you any time the bike is moved and also provides you with the location of the bike.
The pedal has integrated GPS functionality that creates the tracking and prevents the bicycle from being stolen – a significant plus in a big city or part of a bike sharing program.
In addition, the pedal records the bike’s speed, route, incline, and calories burnt and of course those will be stored and accessed via a cloud service. So overall, useful and interesting.
Volvo, the automotive company most of us associate with safety has gone ahead of the class again! They have put in product car-to-bicycle communicating helmet for bicycle riders. This is not just a lab experiment and something that works on “a Tuesday morning if it is sunny, and you are peddling your bike really slowly…” but a real product instantiation — in a real SUV.
Volvo has implemented communications link that allows drivers to communicate directly with bicycle riders and avoid collisions on the road. The solution is a GPS tracking application where the helmet (worn by the bicyclist) establishes a two way link between the rider and the driver, calculates the position of both the SUV and bicycle and ultimately the driver is notified via the Volvo dash information system, while the cyclist gets notified via a helmet mounted light.
You can also take a look at another very interesting concept (already funded on Kickstarter.com) bike — a connected bike which counts your spent calories riding, provides navigation guidance (via integrated lights and your smart phone GPS system), uses integrated proximity sensors to detect approaching vehicles and notify via vibration of their approach. Here is a video by the developers:
Well folks, I was surprised to see something I did not expect – a mountain bike with a carbon frame for under $1000! As you probably expected, the company bringing you this deal is no other than AMAZON.COM — I guess enough said? No, not really as the bike is actually coming in pretty well equipped. This does not appear to be a cheap knock-off….
When I noticed it on Amazon.com I decided to do some comparisons and see what else is in that price range. It looks like if you wanted a 29-inch mountain bike then Diamondback bike with mechanical disk brakes 🙁 is the option or you will have to consider a Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29 but with Tektro brakes (I have used them 2 bikes ago – they were very noisy) or the better outfitted Trek X-Caliber 7 but still in both cases you will be in a heavier aluminum frame and somewhat lower components.
Here is a link to the bike on Amazon.com:
this is for a 19-inch frame (there are also 17-inch available)
I researched the company that manufactures the bike and it turns out it is a Chinese OEM based in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. I have visited the place many times since 1988, but have not found the bike factory, so given the type of products they have designed and are marketing now globally, I should make an effort to visit them – will plan for my next trip
Finally, back to the bike – I will add its detailed description as I research this further but in the meantime, here is the summary from Amazon:
Carbon Fiber MTB, with Speed 27/Hydraulic Braking/Pneumatic Front Fork/Whole Bike Weight of 10.75KG, is a symbol of BEIOU lightweight bike series
It reads well and multiple reviews on amazon.com point to so far happy customers. Will check it out further and report.
Recently there have been a bunch of new mountain bikes that have been announced that are catching my attention as being different (in a good way of course). So, I decided to add a posting on the topic. After all, all of us biking enthusiasts are always on the look out for the next great bicycle.
With that in mind – let's take a look…
The first one that was announced is the Silverback Signo Technica 650b/29er; The manufacturer is preparing a new Web site here and for time being detalils on the new products are limited. The Shtutgart Germany company demoed the new product at Eurobike and here are key aspects of the machine: It combines a 29-inch wheel at the front with a 27.5-inch in the rear; A dual-position Rock-Shox fork provides the ability to use two different travel lengths on the shock based on whether you are going down a slope or climbing a hill. The two settings are a 140-mm for the more comfortable ride and for the fast climb you can switch to the 110-mm setting.
And here is a YouTube video on this bike:
Then there are the new mountain bikes from Canyon — the one that appears good and versatile bike for us the amateurs is the Spectral AL. Of course this one is a different bike overall – being with full suspension, and available with 650b and 29-inch wheels.