BikeCommuters.com

technology

Video: Bikes Make Life Better

Our friends at Peopleforbikes.org tipped us to a new video they’ve posted on YouTube. It combines bicycles and light art, two of my favorite things, and is really quite enjoyable. Seeing as how National Bike Month is in full swing around the country, the video is certainly worth sharing.

In their words,

We all know that when people ride bikes, life is better. In this short video, we bring this idea to life as riders trigger projectors throughout a city, transforming an urban environment into a vibrant, colorful world. A world made better, by bikes.

Check it out and tell us what you think in the comments below.

Product Review/Sneak Peek: Planet Bike Super Flash….TURBO!

(STAFF WRITER’S NOTE: Due to technical difficulties, this post was delayed…A WHILE)

I arrived home from work the other day to find a small brown box addressed to ‘lil ol’ me!

Oh! What could it ever be!?!?

Planet Bike

Mark from Planet Bike sent out a new product to try out that will be released this  Spring!

<INSERT DRUM ROLL HERE>
Introducing the NEW 2011 SuperFlash TURBO!

Planet Bike Super Flash Turbo

Here is an into from the ‘wordsmiths’ at Planet Bike:

In 2006, our introduction of the Superflash tail light ushered in a new era of innovation in bicycle lighting.  Building on our tradition, we are now proud to introduce the evolution of bicycle safety: the Superflash Turbo.  We paired our time-tested design with a powerful 1 watt LED, then added the new attention-grabbing Turbo flash pattern. It’ll give you peace of mind riding day or night.

Superflash Turbo tail light (#3070)

  • 1 Watt Power LED plus 2 red LEDs for visibility up to 1 mile
  • New attention-grabbing Turbo flash pattern
  • Soft-touch power switch accesses flashing or steady mode for up to 100 hours of run time on two AA batteries
  • Ultra compact vertical design is weatherproof, lightweight and durable
  • Includes bike mounts and clip mount for multiple mounting options

MSRP     $34.99

In my initial inspection of the light I couldn’t find any major differences. The Turbo is the exact size of the tried and true original Super Flash. The housing is identical, with the exception of the red “TURBO” printed on the clear face and the big RED Super Flash lense

Since I had just ridden home from work, my first chance to test this light out would be on my next trip to and from work.

The next day, I suited up and clipped the Super Flash Turbo onto my bike. It was a bit overcast, so ambient light was at minimal levels. I felt as if I was being followed by a group of glow-stick swinging club kids! The TURBO light pattern is definitely more eye catching…

(side by side comparison of the Turbo & Standard Super Flash light pattern)

I am excited to say I was one of the most visible people out on the wet streets of Portlandia!

Many more miles of commuting ahead of me… I’ll give you an update at a later date…gotta ride!

Breezer Uptown 8 — First Impressions

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, we took delivery of a Breezer Uptown 8 for testing. The folks at Breezer were kind enough to let us hang onto the bike for a couple months so we could really get a good feel for it. I’m not quite ready for the full review (that should appear here in a couple weeks), but I wanted to share some of my first impressions with you.

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Overwhelmingly at the top of my list is that despite the Breezer’s complexity — it is absolutely loaded down with every bell and whistle a commuter could possibly ask for — riding it is utter simplicity.

Say what? Look, it’s like this: this is a bike you simply jump on and go…no checking whether lights were installed or left on the kitchen counter at home, no running out of battery power midway through a ride, no rolling up pants legs or using one of those trouser clips, no funny “clickety-clack” shoes, no chain maintenance and no worrying about the delicate shifter parts getting gummed up or knocked out of place. Simply step through the frame, flip the switch to activate the generator-powered lights and off you ride! This is INCREDIBLY liberating…what was once a task of a few minutes getting any of my other bikes ready to go (lights, batteries, tires, lube, pants/cuff/shoes) has been whittled down to, “got enough pressure in the tires? Good enough.” I am sold on the concept of hub generators and since I started riding the Breezer, I’ve been fantasizing about equipping all my other commuter bikes with them.

DSC05567s

We’ve tested a number of bikes with internally-geared hubs on Bikecommuters.com in the past, so there’s nothing new to report with the Breezer and its Nexus Premium 8-speed rear hub. It works nearly flawlessly, can be shifted at a standstill or under load and allows Breezer to spec a full chaincase — not just a chainguard — to seal the chain away from the elements. I’ve heard tales of Breezer owners going for several years without ever servicing their chains.

DSC05568s

Riding the Breezer is comfortable and stable, with the upright stance typical of this class of city bike. Everything fits and feels just right. You won’t be setting any speed records aboard the Uptown 8, but then again it wasn’t designed for such riding. Things are looking good for the long term!

Please stay tuned for the full-scale review, which should be along shortly. In the meantime, check out Breezer’s urban lineup by visiting their website.

A Bike Share Solution from Israel

Here’s a neat article one of my coworkers turned me onto…as bike-share schemes grow in interest and more cities adopt them, that growth leads to a number of problems. For one, popular spots around a given city with a bike-share program will have too many or not enough bikes available at checkout stations, and this can lead to user dissatisfaction. To combat this issue, researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel have come up with a potential solution:

About seven percent of the time, users aren’t able to return a bike because the station at their journey’s destination is full. And sometimes stations experience bike shortages, causing frustration with the system.

To solve the problem, Dr. Tal Raviv and Prof. Michal Tzur of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Industrial Engineering are developing a mathematical model to lead to a software solution. “These stations are managed imperfectly, based on what the station managers see. They use their best guesses to move bikes to different locations around the city using trucks,” explains Dr. Raviv. “There is no system for more scientifically managing the availability of bikes, creating dissatisfaction among users in popular parts of the city.”

To read more about this mathematical model, please click here for the rest of the article.

A Look Back at 2010

Well, whaddya know…only three weeks late with this one. What can we say — we’ve had a lot of stuff to report on!

2010 was a good year for the staff here at Bikecommuters.com. We got to test a lot of great products, we were able to attend a number of wonderful events and we met a few new faces in the bike-commuting community. Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights, shall we?

We got to test a pair of e-bikes in 2010, namely the OHM Cycles Urban XU700 and the Urbana Current. As the e-assist market and its attendant technologies mature, we’re going to see a lot more of these kinds of bikes in the commuting realm. A lot of folks are up in the air about bikes that offer electric assistance, but regardless of how you feel about them, they’re getting folks out of cars and onto two wheels, and these bikes are here to stay.

RL got his hands on the Soma Double Cross DC frameset to test…and it’s fair to say that he LOVES this frame. The frameset won one of our coveted Editor’s Choice awards at Interbike 2010. RL has ridden this bike in every conceivable condition, and it asks for more abuse. Good stuff!

soma

Speaking of Interbike 2010, that was my first trip to the big bike throwdown held in the Nevada desert. “Overwhelming” is the word I’d use if I had only one word to describe the experience. In addition to going to Interbike, I experienced a couple of personal “firsts” with the trip: first visit to the West Coast, first time seeing (and touching) the Pacific Ocean, and the first time I got to meet RL and Moe in person. Yep, you heard that right — while we’ve talked on the phone and emailed each other many times a day, I had never actually met them face-to-face. Needless to say, it was ten times better than I even hoped! We had a blast together and I look forward to traveling with them (and the great staff at our sister site Mtnbikeriders.com — Art, Khoa, Priscilla, Joe and all the others) again in the future.

boys

In our recurring commuter profiles, we got to meet Evan, Miriam (Miriam’s going to do some guest articles for us…stay tuned for the hilarity!), Peter, Hilary, Gene, Andrea, and John. Nice to see more women in the mix — you’re woefully underrepresented on too many bike blogs — and happy to learn more tips and tricks from all of our profilees. Thanks again, everyone, for submitting yourselves to the harsh light of Internet celebrity.

We dropped our old Facebook page and started a new “fan page” in 2010…and the thing grew like gangbusters! There’s some exclusive content over there, some interesting discussions and the occasional contest. If you are an FB user and haven’t done so, swing on over to our page and say howdy.

We printed up a run of t-shirts…our first tentative steps towards our goal as a bike-apparel juggernaut…and shirts are still available to order. You too could look like this:

shirt

On a final, personal note, I was chosen as one of Ergon USA’s 2011 Ergon Commuter Team — one of 12 North American riders selected out of an applicant pool in the thousands. Thanks Ergon! I’ll be testing and reviewing a number of their commute-friendly products right here and also on our Facebook page.

Thanks for sharing 2010 with us, and we look forward to meeting more of you in 2011 and having some interesting conversations here. As gas prices keep rising, there are going to be a lot more folks ditching their cars and hopping on bicycles, and we should all welcome them with open arms!