Archive for October, 2009


Oct 09, 2009

Flowers? Phoeey! Say you love her with a £10k diamond-studded ti bike


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This year’s Cycle Show was extra special for Digi Foo-Kune. She was taken to the show by her husband and, to her surprise, she was presented with a custom-built titanium bike, personalised with inset diamonds and 18ct gold parts and trim. Foo-Kune Elle, you could say.

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Digi’s trin-mad husband Lee had promised her an Enigma frame after her bike was stolen but he then secretly commissioned award-winning jeweller Nicholas James of Hatton Garden to customise the bike to create a unique wedding anniversary gift.

After months of labour the British bike bling was unveiled on Enigma’s stand to the unsuspecting Foo-Kune: “Nicholas James is my favourite jeweller; I love their contemporary style and attention to detail, so this really is the perfect present. I’m a very keen cyclist and ride daily. I’d just come to find some parts for the frame so this is amazing. The finish is perfection; it’s truly a work of art but one that I can take out on to the open road.”

However, Foo-Kune will have to wait a little longer before getting in the saddle as the bike will be on display at Nicholas James’ showroom in Hatton Garden until the end of December. Bugger.

More pix here.
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Spec:
Enigma ‘Elle’ frame 50cm with mirror polished logos
2 x Collection quality diamonds (D flawless) in the top tube
3 x 18ct gold badges by Nicholas James
18ct gold plated Campagnolo Centaur carbon Group Set
700c hand built wheels: Ambrosio hubs, Mavic Open Pro Rims
& 32 x 18ct gold plated spokes per wheel
Continental GP 4000 gold tyres
Carbon fibre seat post
‘Elle’ ladies handle bars by ITH
San Marco Ladies Saddle
Easton Carbon Fibre forks



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Oct 04, 2009

Is this the Holy Grail of bike-cams?


The new X170 from Drift Innovations: A rugged all-in-one bike-cam with a small screen. Could this be it, could this be the perfect extreme sports video camera?



The X170 from Drift Innovations is so called because of its 170 degree wide angle lens. The screen lets you line up your shot - a brilliant feature for a bike-cam - and you can watch your video masterpiece there and then without hooking up to a computer.

The camera is an inch longer than a Garmin GPS and can be fitted to helmets and handlebars with the included straps and mounts. Or, screw off the shoe and you’ll find a standard tripod thread.

Noticed the black dot yet? It’s caused by the curvature of the ultra wide angle lens. There’s nothing you can do about it but will only appear when you’re shooting into the sun. The company told me in an email: “This was a compromise we had to make to get the 170 degree wide angle lens.”

The X170 can shoot 5 megapixel stills or hi-res video at 720 by 480 pixel quality, 30 frames per second.

There’s some onboard memory but fit a 16 GB SD card for grabbing your footage.

The dead easy screen menu lets you toggle tons of stuff, like recording to AVI or MP4, or auto switching off the screen after you’ve lined up your shot. The X170’s screen is a boon, of course, but it’s a battery hog. Power is supplied by two AA batteries.

The lens rotates so you can fit the camera to any plane and still line up the shot correctly.

The X170 can be started and stopped with the included wireless remote control, dead useful for when you strap the camera to your helmet or when you’re in stealth mode, ten metres from your bike.

The camera’s auto exposure control is very good, switching quickly between contrasty scenes. The 170 degree lens is nearly but not quite a fisheye lens and there’s some barrel distortion of vertical objects.

In use, the X170 has been childs’ play to operate. The controls and menu are intuitive, the screen is a dream and - black dot aside - the video quality is top-notch. The X170 costs a touch under £200 and is available from ActionCameras.co.uk.



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Oct 01, 2009

Putting a new spin on learning to ride a bike


Gyrowheel

I’m all for ridding the world of stabilisers (US = training wheels). They prevent children from learning how to ride their bikes. The Gyrowheel wants to change all that.

I can’t say that it will. Learner ‘running bikes’ are much more fit for the purpose, of which the Like-a-Bike is still the cream of the crop despite many and varied imitations.

The Gyrowheel is a child’s bike wheel stuffed with electronics, a battery and some seriously clever gyroscopes. It ain’t no Segway but at $100 a pop, it’s a lot cheaper.

But at one hundred bucks it’s about eighty five bucks more than most people will pay for a child’s front wheel.

Sadly, I can’t ride the 12-inch Gyrowheel. Even though I’m small, I’m not that small. However, at Interbike, I was able to feel the wheel and can report that it’s pleasingly odd to hold. It wobbles and wants to pull out of your grip.

Alongside Cannondale’s Simon, a neat piece of electronic suspension vapourware, the Gyrowheel was possibly the most innovative product at Interbike. And for innovative read ‘interesting’, ‘head-scratchingly different’ and ‘who’s gonna buy that?’.

The Gyrowheel press release makes some high claims for the product:

Gyrowheel replaces the standard front wheel of a bicycle and is installed the same way as a standard bike wheel.  When powered on, Gyrowheel’s inner disk spins up. It then senses unbalanced riding and re-centers the bike underneath the rider’s weight when the bike starts to wobble, whether riding straight or turning. This action not only helps to keep riders from falling over, it also fosters and reinforces correct riding technique, resulting in a natural and smooth transition to conventional two-wheeled riding.

Gyrowheel comes equipped with internal rechargeable batteries and a charger. It operates with one button and has three stability settings – high, medium and low. As a rider’s skills and confidence improve, the stability setting can be adjusted. When powered off, Gyrowheel behaves like a standard bike wheel.



I was prepared to whizz by the booth, laugh at the product, and move on. That I stayed awhile had everything to do with the product and nothing at all to do with the fact the booth was staffed by cute women.

“The vast majority of children who tested Gyrowheel learned to ride in less than an hour,” said Gyrobike’s marketing director Ashleigh Harris.

That’s all well and fine but that’s how long it takes to teach even a four year old child how to ride a bike using the scoot-weeee-scoot method. I use this method at a local primary school and offer a one-hour guarantee: if the tot isn’t pedalling independently by the end of an hour, they can come back for another hour.

Gyrowheel balancing solo

I’ve taught lots of kids. Just a couple have required that second hour. However, there’s a brilliant niche for the Gyrowheel, a type of student I find it hard to teach. Kids with balance problems or learning difficulties take much, much longer to get stable on two wheels. Some I’m still teaching. The Gyrowheel could be perfect for these kids.

At the moment the Gyrowheel comes only in a 12-inch version but a 16-inch version is in the works. I’d also like to see a 24-inch version and perhaps even an adult version.

A bike with a Gyrowheel fitted can just about balance by itself for a few metres, as demonstrated in the pic above. It’s a clever wee thing and could be an excellent training tool for hard-to-teach children but, in the meantime, the method I outline below in my ‘Family Cycling’ book (click the pages to flip through on Issuu.com) works fine for the majority of newbie nippers.



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Oct 01, 2009

New Amsterdam


From 1624 to 1664, New York was known as New Amsterdam. Take a look at the video below for a glimpse of how the modern New York could - given the will and the cash - become as bicycle-friendly as old Amsterdam:



This is an inspiring film on so many levels. The ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots show what’s possible and how even an auto-centric city can be - partially - transformed when urban politicians and city planners wish it so.

Streetfilms reports that the ‘Budnick Bikeway’ has boosted the number of cyclists using the Manhattan Bridge bridge from 800 to more than 2,600 each day. And no more need for bravery medals.

It. Can. Be. Done.



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