Cut up by a car? Carve your name on the side

Not on a lovely metal car, of course, one of these wooden ones:

Udo Haase, a wood carver from Kiel in Germany, created a 1:1 replica of a Mercedes 300 SL last year and then went and trumped it by later making a Ferrari 250 GTO.

Unlike the beasties with engines, these two benign vehicles can’t go very fast. But, should making cars out of wood catch on, at least we could punish any bad driving by using an Olympic-style parabolic mirror to let the driver know he’s upset us.

Mind you, that could inflame, ahem, the war between cyclists and motorists. There are now so many wooden bikes, a special splintering-and-burning clause would have to be placed in Bike Snob NYC’s proposed peace treaty between cyclists and motorists.

Save the planet: cycle into the sun

Now, if only US eco-retailer Gaiam could scale up this solar reflector and attach it to a real bike…

“Swivel the adjustable solar panel on this unique lamp toward any direct light source and watch as its artful bike rider instantly starts pedaling toward a sun-powered future.Whether you turn on its conventional lamp to provide illumination or simply place it in a sunny spot as a fascinating mechanical object d’art, it puts the promise of solar power on creative display.”

Mind you, as it stands, this is a cute, planet-friendly gizmo for your windowsill. A snip at only 49 bucks!

TfL’s cycling viral: genius or rip-off?

STORY UPDATED: Watch this video short commissioned by Transport for London, and produced by The Engine Room (warning: spoiler below):

This is a rip off. The original ‘gorilla and basketball passes’ video was produced in 1999 by Professor Daniel J Simons in the US. It’s sold as a DVD instructional video by Viscog Productions.

TfL’s version of the video uses a bear instead of a gorilla but this isn’t perhaps enough to prevent a claim of plagiarism. It’s interesting to note that a YouTube version of the Engine Room’s video was deleted by YouTube following a complaint, although it’s now back on the site.

Now, to the content. Why did the ad crew – who didn’t contact Prof Simons to ask permission to use the idea – switch to a moonwalking bear? All that was needed was a figure to walk between the basketball players. Why wasn’t this figure a cyclist in black kit and wearing a helmet? Not weird enough? That would at least have made the content fit the brief.

This video will go viral – known as Black Swanning in the ad trade – but will it work on drivers? It might raise consciousness for a while but then the bad habits will kick in again. Cyclists are “invisible” to drivers not because drivers have lots of distractions and need to concentrate on just the route ahead, but because cyclists cannot squish drivers. It’s a brute force thing.

When a car smashes into a cyclist in the UK and the US this will be traumatic for the driver – and perhaps fatal for the cyclist – but the long-term ramifications for the driver are few and far between.

Not so in many European countries where the EU Fifth European Motoring Directive holds sway. For insurance purposes, motorists are automatically deemed to be at fault in “traffic accidents” unless they can prove otherwise. This has the very real potential of hurting the driver in the pocketbook, the reason why there was such an outcry when the British media thought the UK could be about to adopt the Fifth European Motoring Directive.

Writing in the Daily Mirror, columnist and author Tony Parsons poured scorn on the Directive and lambasted adults who cycle: “Bicycles are for children…[they are] like masturbation – something you should grow out of. There is something seriously sick and stunted about grown men who want to ride a bike.”


“How long have you been playing bike, Frank?”

The motoring media has been lovingly reporting on the Car Music Project, a band that plays music on instruments made from car parts. Composer Bill Milbrodt’s musical instruments can now be seen on TV ads for Ford. Milbrodt has been likened to the late great Frank Zappa.

But where Milbrodt plays car, Zappa played bike.

Zappa was way ahead of his time. His first TV appearance – sans his famous facial hair – was in 1963 on the iconic US chatshow The Steve Allen Show. Zappa was given 20 minutes of primetime to play two bicycles, much to the amusement of Allen and the studio audience.

ZAPPA: I believe that a lot of people have actually played bicycles from time to time. When they’re young they take a piece of cardboard and a clothes pin, attach it to the rear wheel and when it goes around it makes that noise and you’re playing a bicycle.

ALLEN: How long have you been playing bike, Frank?

ZAPPA: About two weeks.

ZAPPA: It’s similar to the effect of the uh, cardboard and the clothespin.

ALLEN: Like the uh, steel drums of Jamaica and uh, Trinidad . . .

ZAPPA: And you can also bang on the frame, and if you’re lucky enough to have a bicycle that has a squeaking seat, you can squeak the seat.

WordPress woes as white turns blue

Are there any WordPress experts out there who can help me? All of a sudden the white words at the top of the screen have turned blue, as have the site’s hyperlinks.

I’ve not changed anything, that I know of. Any ideas? TIA.

Building bikes: it’s not rocket science

Actually, it is. Sort of.

At the trade-only Core bike show, held in Northamptonshire earlier this week, Chris Hewings, European sales director of the American Bicycle Group, let slip that Litespeed was making the legs for the latest NASA Mars lander.

“There aren’t many companies that can work with such thin titanium tubes,” said Hewings.

Litespeed, now owned by ABG, was born in the early 1990s, growing out of Southeast Machine, a ti-specialist which made underground tanks for liquid gun powder for US government agencies.

NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander, launched on 4th August last year and will land in the far north of Mars on 25th May.

It will use a robotic digging arm and other instruments during a three-month period to investigate whether icy soil of the Martian arctic could have ever been a favorable environment for microbial life. The solar-powered lander will also look for clues about the history of the water in the ice and will monitor weather as northern Mars’ summer progresses toward fall.

It will then go on a Grand Tour of Mars, notching up PB’s and palmares as it goes.

Beckham’s Boyzilian mainstreams bloke’s leg waxing

Funny, but there’s not one mention of cycling in the Guardian’s recent leg waxing article for men.

However, those male cyclists who want their quad and calf muscles to look their best can rest assured that their desire for depilatorial perfection is now almost normal.

According to The Guardian, more and more men are wandering into salons for wax treatments.

Full on Brazilian waxes – a bikini-line wax with knobs on – are not yet popular with men (why ever not?) but clean legs are definitely in, says The Guardian.

“Most of my clients are men…They come from every walk of life and profession – accountants, stockbrokers, teachers, boxers, models – but I’ve noticed that a lot of my clients are in the building trade…A year ago I was doing three men a week. Now I am doing three men a day. I don’t know why it has suddenly become more popular, but when people come in they do mention David Beckham. Now that celebrities like him are open about waxing, it makes other men feel more comfortable about it.”
Kim Lawless, Brazilia Waxing Studio in Upminster, east London

RANDOM CYCLIST LEG WAXING VID (warning: includes grown man cussing, he should have sugared, instead):

Pix: Taken at the Cape Argus Pick N’ Pay Expo in South Africa.

Cheap car vs expensive bicycle

India’s $2500 Tato Nano – the world’s cheapest new car – has been all over the media. But at the same Delhi Auto Expo where the Nano was launched there weren’t hordes of paparazzi on the FireFox Bikes booth.

FireFox is the Indian distributor of Trek bikes. It was exhibiting the Madone 5.2…which costs exactly the same as the Nano.

FireFox MD Shiv Inder Singh said:

“Madone 5.2 can take you to places where the Nano cannot and with its 20 high-speed gears, it is much faster than the small wonder [that is Tata Nano].”

The Nano has a 650cc engine and could lead to a lot of Indians becoming car owners for the first time, not a prospect welcomed in the West: do as we say, not as we do.

“In a few years, you will have to dump your car for a cycle to travel. With the number of vehicles on Delhi roads crossing the five million mark, maybe this is just the time?” sighed Singh.

It’s the start of the Christmas repeats

Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman has been shown on British television every year since 1982. Nobby Holder is wheeled out every year because of Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody from 1973. Could the bicycle world’s equivalent be last year’s wonderful composition commissioned by Specialized?

The US bike company commissioned experimental musician – and cyclist – Flip Baber to produce a short orchestral piece to accompany an animated rear cog. And, yes, the road and mountain bike used for the twanging, banging and plucking were from the big squiggly S.

Flip Baber – aka Johnny Random – was commissioned to write the Christmas card piece in November last year.

He said: “”I recorded all the takes at different points during one day since there was construction going on near my studio. The next day I edited the sounds and took the best takes and then everything was interpreted and composed within about 4-5 hours, including the mixdown.

“I came up with some really far out sounds in my bike recordings, but couldn’t use them on this project because they were either too dissonant or weren’t easily recognizable as ‘bike’ sounds.”

The ‘happy holidays’ card and music still lives on the Specialized website. The piece is a glockenspiel-free rendition of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ from ‘The Nutcracker Suite.’

The glockenspiel and clarinet melody was created with spokes. The cello and violin pizzicatos were created with plucked derailleur cables. The tingly triangle was a bash on to a disc brake.The percussion was a medley of shifting, coasting, finger over turning spokes, chain pulls, braking, clipping into pedals, back-spinning, and air pssssing out of tyres.

This isn’t the first time bicycles have been used in a musical composition. In 1980 Godfried-Willem Raes first staged his Second Symphony for ‘Singing Bicycles’, an “open air event scored for a minimum of twelve cyclists with their own bicycles.”