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


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


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

Biking in Bulgaria: Bansko Around Town

Biking in Bulgaria

You may have read already some of my postings about biking around Bulgaria – Sofia, the Pirin mountains….Now let’s quickly talk about Bansko, and going around the town specifically.

Bulgaria-Bansko-Clock-TowerBiking around the new and old town could be a nice way to explore the area and is not strenuous – the area is relatively flat or just a gradual ascent and descent.  So, if seeing the town is your objective – hence biking in this case is just mode of transportation – the challenge level low, and the level of absorbing history, Bulgarian architecture, local culture, very high.  Here are some view from around the old town to give you some idea:



Riding around the old town can be bumpy as you go along the multiple cobbled streets, but overall should be plenty exciting and allowing you to experience Bulgaria a whole lot better.   So jump on your bike and head downtown!

Bicycles and City Living

I have been paying attention to bicycle infrastructure in cities ever since I started using a bike in Phoenix, AZ.  In reality I became convinced that bikes have a future in big and small cities alike in the late 1980s while living in Beijing and Shanghai, China.  The bicycles were indispensable and actually provided for a much faster mode of transportation than cars or buses during the day due to the sheer number of people on the streets and the resulting congestion.

Naturally, I was very curious when I saw the recent survey and rankings of the best / bicycle friendliest cities in the world, and was even more surprised to find for a first time a US city in the top 20!!!  Minneapolis is ranked #18 in the 2015 list, which is shown below – leveraging the link provided Copenhagenize Design

Bike Friendly Cities1. [2] COPENHAGEN
3. [3] UTRECHT
6. [9] MALMÖ
7. [6] NANTES
9. [7] ANTWERP: follow this link for more information…
10. [4] SEVILLE
11. [17] BARCELONA
12. [10] BERLIN: We have our own write ups for the new Berlin…
15. [11] DUBLIN
17. [19] PARIS
19. [20] HAMBURG
20. [14] MONTRÉAL

The ranking for 2015 and several previous years is here

Now, I am sure you can observe this in the list above – but isn’t it strikingly surprising that a large number of the best cities for bikes are also cities located in very cold climates. And “yes” -have observed in Finland, in Denmark, people continuing riding their bikes even in the cold months of the snow covered roads

Antwerp Bicycle

Bike Innovation from China

China Baidu smart bike  China is increasing its push towards innovation — and that is not a surprise. In order to ensure continuous healthy growth of its economy, the country’s businesses are embarking on increasing number of R&D projects.  The latest one I have come across is actually relevant to this blog and my hobby — bicycles and mountain biking.

Baidu (China’s answer to Google) is promoting a new smart bike it plans to release soon.  The bike is not motorized (although there are tons of electric bikes in China – and they are really dangerous as they approach pedestrians very silently and lethally) but includes a regenerative technology to support the many sensors and electronics capabilities it offers

Baidu China Bike China Baidu Smart Bike

The bike offers integrated features like:

  • Health guide – based on analytics of combining heart rate, step rate etc sensors and providing feedback to the rider
  • Navigation – integrated in the bike handlebars including lights
  • Loss prevention – integrated GPS locator card allows you to locate your bike even when you forget where you left it

So, what’s next?  Well, I expect some (at least ) of the US designers and manufacturers to jump into the game and offer innovation along the lines of what Baidu is conceptualizing — and design future smart bikes

Austin Biking in October

Well folks, Austin continues to be the place for all things biking related.  Why you may ask?  Well, simple — all you have to do is experience the weather here and you will know exactly what I mean.  It is October – but the weather continues to be perfect – day temperatures hovering around 85-degrees F, and that combined with clear, sunny days.

And just to make you feel it even more – just take a look at the photos below:

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May be it is that great weather that makes Austin bicyclist very nice…Just read (from Bicycling magazine):

When confronted with a difficult driver, some riders opt for the one-fingered salute, which doesn’t do much to help the situation. Austin cyclist Adam Butler, is all for the one-handed salute, but he’s making a movement for that to be a wave.

Butler is launching the WAVE campaign in his hometown in hopes to improve relationships between cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. “We need something to lube this big old crazy machine called ‘getting around’, and I think it’s waving,” Butler says.

Butler has been a cyclist for 37 years, and a driver for 25, so he knows both sides of the story. Six years ago he, his wife, and his three children downsized to become a one-car family and he became a full-time bike commuter. It was then that he realized how vulnerable you can feel commuting on a bike.

and the rest of the article here and see the video below



Fly6 Camera and LED Light

Fly6 Camera and LED Light  – New Gadget and Safety Tool

I just came across the newly available Fly6 taillight and HD Camera combination product.  The idea of building such a device is really great!  Why – well, because it will provide cyclist the world over with a very good safety device.  Here is a view of the product from

Light and HD Camera Excellent Lights and Recording Gadget

This video from the company itself is a great description of the idea that drove the product:  all in all, drivers are often careless and do not really pay enough attention to the dynamics of the road.  Why do I know this?  Because of my personal experience.  I have been involved in accident where the other party was a truck driver who hit me as I was going along a main street in the city and he was stopped at a street corner waiting to turn onto the main street.  After he hit me the guy swore he never saw me (on a bright sunny day i.e. in full daylight) — I guess he did not BUT THE MAIN REASON was that he was not paying any attention….but just decided to turn onto the main street and I happened to be there…Too bad for me right…?  Well with this new gadget many such situations will be well documented and will drive awareness and attention across all of us…

The other interesting aspect of this gadget was the STRONG interest in it – its creation was funded on Kickstarter in only a couple of months.  This diagram is sourced from and shows results from user surveys:

Fly6 camera

In summary, I really like the idea behind this product.  Will look into getting one – and will post here my experiences soon enough…


Mountain Bike Cost – What is Rational

Mountain bikes have been growing in wheel size — for example, 29-inch wheels came into broad use very quickly — and in cost.  It is increasingly common to see $2000-plus price tag on a large portion of most manufacturers’ portfolio.  The reality is that in most cases the price tag has very little to do with your enjoyment on the trail.   The $1200 bike at full retail is probably the top of the sub-prosumer bikes.  You can get the “last year” bike model for that price as the top of the line pro-summer bikes are about $1700 and often discounted to $1200 during a model year change.

At the same time, those pro-summer bikes will provide you with a lot of useful exercise, keep you in good form and all this for about $4-$6 per ride if you use the bike each weekend throughout the year.   So not a bad return on your investment…

I will elaborate on this tomorrow…after my Labor Day ride…


Bike saddles and airplane seats

Who said bike saddles are not important – turns out they could become even more so to a larger population – namely all air travelers.

turns out Airbus is toying with the idea of bike style posture and seats for plane configurations….


Saddle seat for airplane Airbus As you can tell from the other photos from the patent application filed by Airbus, the future of economy seat is even more aggressive than what we have today.  Yep – only one way to generate profits in the airline business I guess – offset high fuel costs with even more passengers per flight.  

For all of you who are bike enthusiasts – you know how comfortable a bile style saddle could be on a 2+ and above ride….NOT AT ALL!  So then you need to think what would a flight like this feel like – I can give you a hint – VERY UNPLEASANT!