Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tron, graft & the Big Time

So to fund my bike expenditures and keep my kids in shoes and cereal I have a day job as a film editor, currently on Tron. So as with all things in life, worlds collide and synchronicity prevails.

To wit, friends have sent photos of a couple Tron-inspired bikes they've come across. They pay homage to varying degrees, and truth is if we fall short in our VFX budget maybe one of these babies could take up the slack. With the right sound effects it just might work.

Here's one found at IGN:

Quite respectable. Modern, minimal. Syd Mead would be proud.

Or this DIY version:

True to the spirit, with the enthusiasm of the hardcore fan.

But this next one falls a little short:


That one might also satisfy the hardcore fan (or even the softcore fan), but it seems to be about 5% loosely-connected Tronware and about 95% Tron Guy wishful thinking. However, at least now I know what those stem pads are for.

Also, today is a major milestone for the Bike Date blog and the entire Bike Date corporate family. We received our very first offer of free bike product to review. Yes, Bike Date is now "Big Time", and obviously this vendor can surmise the soon-to-be-established promotional power of the "Bike Date Bump".

Our accountants are currently looking into the ethical and tax implications of accepting in-kind, quid-pro-quo, you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours "review items". Obviously Bike Date's attorneys assure the various interested RICO investigators that graft promotional materials will be handled within the appropriate legal framework.

An honest review of these products will be posted once Bike Date R&D has conducted their thorough testing. Those guys are relentless. I know our readers expect nothing less.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rumors, changeable gears & Trekworld

I’ve been busy this week here at TrekWorld 2010 - amazing stuff. No doubt some memorable new designs and improvements. No doubt.

But there were rumors. There was something else Trek had to share, if only to a few.

And I got lucky.

Except for one blurry photo via BikeHugger, this most elusive protobike almost completely rolled under the radar. But Bike Date got a special viewing of this steampunk monster and I can say with confidence, there is nothing else like it out there in the realm of changeable-gear bicycles.

Consider yourself scooped Main Stream (bike) Media - here it is:

The Hill-Climber. A retro-tastic 3-speed shaft-drive screamer. Check out the solid steel foundation of the Hill-Climber, both breaking and making irrelevant every rule of modern frame design.

Sure the geometry is familiar, and the Shepard Fairey treatment breaks new ground as expected, but this bike’s glory is in the details. Let’s start with that insane drivetrain.

Trek’s work-in-progress promotional materials describe it like this: “a gear ratio of 86-51-36 that helps the rider up the hill, against the wind, and makes riding the bicycle a pleasure at all times.” Then this: “the only bicycle that gives the rider a variation of three gears.” You read that right. Three.

And then they drop the real science: “You shift gears with a small shift lever at the head within easy reach of the rider, AND IT STAYS CHANGED!”

You hear that Dura-Ace? I thought you did.

Bontrager has obviously stepped up their game for this outing with a from-square-one wheelset re-imagining. Fabricated from a top-secret wood-based alloy (no details were divulged, but it smelled like pine) they clearly had the Mavic R-SYS in their sights. Direct hit.

You can tell just by looking at it - pumping out the miles on this A-sym future-orb will be unforgettable. But this two-wheeler is not all “high-tech engineering” this and “exotic formulations” that. At its heart it's a work of art. And I can tell you, riding it makes you an artist.

From the head badge... the crank... the saddle.

Just when it seemed innovation was impossible, Trek simply says, “It’s possible.”

The “Wheeler Extra” saddle comes standard on the H-C. (As an accommodation to the marketplace they included the leather and gel cover seen above with it’s form-fitting “Spongy Wonder” comfort layer. But purists will undoubtedly want to rock it old school with the “Wheeler P2” - the “Pride of the Perineum”):

That ass dais will leave a mark - on your soul...

Much will be written as the Hill-Climber approaches rollout in 2010, but it will always remain an enigma - a nanotech reverberation out of the Industrial Age - the Keyser Söze of bikes. But for the lucky insiders invited to this preview one thing is for sure...

(For more dope on the Hill-Climber go here and buy his book here )

Monday, August 10, 2009

Idaho stops, vulnerable users & Scandinavian porn

Hey everybody! What could possibly be more interesting than a post about bike lanes?

OK... now that it’s just the two of us, I could post a few shots of Scandinavian bike infrastructure porn and let nature take it’s course, but let’s keep that private. But I do dream of such things - actual dedicated roadspace for my two wheels as some kind of payback for the substantial yearly contributions I make to our federal, state and local coffers. I can dream, after all.

Here in Santa Monica we have more bike space than other areas in LA. But it’s still half-baked, considering what a wonderful place this could be for more people to get around by bike.

Here’s one of the issues. From the city’s website there is this 2007 info: “There are 130 miles of arterial streets in Santa Monica. Bike lanes are designated on 13 total miles of roadway. Of these, 3.78 miles of designated bike lanes are on arterial streets. That means less than 3% of Santa Monica’s arterial streets have bike lanes, a figure which falls short of the city's 35% target for 2010.” They even had this graphic:

The good news is that we have some people in our local government that have recognized this state of affairs. The bad news is that even this info overstates the case. We ride 11th Street from our home in the southern part of the city to our kid’s school in the northern part of the city - about 2 1/2 miles each way. Here’s a photo of a representative section of 11th Street:

You can (hopefully) see the bike lane marked from the white car in the upper left and running down to the right. And as you can see the bike lane really only runs in the middle of the block - it ends about 100’ before and after each intersection. So while 11th street is shown by the city to have a bike lane, it really only covers about half that length. You are constantly being dumped back into traffic, and at the busiest parts of the road. So that 13 miles of bike lanes is not even accurate.

We need so many things to change this. “Vulnerable userslaws to protect non-car users of our public space. Livable “Complete streets” to make our streets safe and attractive. “Idaho stop” laws to make regulation fit the reality of riding a bike, not glom us in with laws meant to protect teh public from cars and the people driving them.

And most importantly we need to find a truce between car users, pedestrians and cyclists to make changes that really benefit us all. After all, we're paying for all those roads that treat us riders as an afterthought.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Twitter, Twitlegs & the Twitterati

My bike riding lately has been a bit un-postworthy, just my cruise to work which hardly even raises my heart rate.

Twitter followers of mine would already know that if I stepped up and built this DIY device that would automatically post my heartrate to Twitter. As the reviewer in that link says, “That way should you stop supporting the Iranian revolution, we will all know why.”

And speaking of Twitter, I’ve gone from one-toe-in-the-water skeptic to the cannonball of the convert. I find myself wanting to defend her, like a girlfriend that dresses like a hooker, but I know has a heart of gold.

Painter Natalia Fabia clearly understands...

The short version is, Twitter’s value isn’t in getting a running update on your friend’s heart-rates or what’s on their IPod (in fact I don’t know the people I "follow", except in about two cases). Twitter’s value is in following people far more connected to the outside world than myself, and who in turn connect me.

It’s like a CliffsNotes to the internets. Whether it’s political news from Markos Moulitsas, KagroX, Josh Marshall or Matt Yglesias; bike related posts from Bikejuju, BikeHugger or BikeIntel; insights on photography in the media from BagNewsNotes; random photos from the road from Silversun Pickups; the moving saga of families facing cancer from Pablove or Fat Cyclist; Rob Corddry, Diablo Cody or Jason Linkins pleasingly blackened wit; or Lance Armstrong’s steady stream of, well, what he’s listening to on his IPod.

It really is limitless - like Facebook-friending with a far wider reach. Tweetdeck (a Twitter web-browser of sorts) is now my first stop on the laptop. You need a guide to get started (I'll give you pointers if you're interested) but once you get your Twitlegs, it’s an indispensable tool...

...even if many people still assume it’s too trashy for polite company.