Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Trickling in... Round TwoThe lights from Cat Eye arrived today. They sent out both the Double and Triple Shot lights. The Double Shot is helmet mounted and the Triple Shot is handlebar mounted.
As their name implies, the Triple Shot has three Luxeon 3 Watt LED's and the Double Shot has two Luxeon 3 Watt LEDs. Both lights use Cat Eye's OptiCube lens technology to optimize the light output. Both lights have simple on/off switches.
The first thing that struck me was how small the lights are. In pictures -- to me at least -- the lights look kind of bulky, but in reality are really small. The light heads are made of cast aluminum and are finned to improve there heat sink capabilities.
They look to be a nice set of lights. We'll see how they perform as soon as possible!
Posted by James at 9:35 PM
The first of the LED based lights has begun to trickle in. First up is the Nite Hawk Emitter. In the box are a helmet mount, a handlebar mount, the light head, the battery holder and neoprene sleeve and four alkaline AA batteries. The light is based on a Luxeon 1W emitter.
Right away I am impressed by the brightness of the light. It is almost as bright as the Light and Motion Vega with both at full power. The beam is narrower on the Emitter, though, but it is also much whiter. Definitely a better helmet mounted light than handlebar, it seems. We’ll see in the coming weeks.
The light is purported to get 9 hours on a set of alkaline AA’s at full power. I hope to report back soon with images of the beam and first ride report.
Posted by James at 9:47 AM
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
This time of year, when I ride, I ride with lights. Even if it is daylight when I begin, chances are it won't be by the time I turn around and head home. Over the years, we've reviewed a number of headlights from Light and Motion, Planet Bike, Nite Rider and more. The limitation is, and always will be, the battery. You could make a light that can rival anything on a car, but powering it for any length of time will prove difficult. The ultimate in batteries at this point are Li-Ion batteries. They've been used in cell phones and laptops for a while, and have been used in high end lighting systems for the last 3 years, or so.
Now, however, there is a new startup company called A123 Systems. They have a new Lithium battery that is capable of serious power. How powerful? Their first customers will be power tools. Power tools, that are more powerful without a cord than their corded counterparts!! That, my friends, is power. According to this article, they are capable of producing 3,000 watts of peak power. Just think of the lights you could power with that battery! Checkout the image below for a comparison of the A123 battery technology to current technology.
Posted by James at 12:24 PM
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Sounds of LifeTonight as I was out riding my mountain bike I heard -- for the first time -- coyotes howling. Now, I've seen coyotes from time to time. I've seen a bobcat, turkeys, more deer than I can count and owls, even some very noisy porcupines. I've heard hawks and owls, but I've never heard the coyotes until tonight. It was very cool.
One of the reasons that I like to ride is to get off of the beaten path. Riding at odd hours, either at night or early morning, further removes me from the crowds. I don't have to be on a mountain bike either. Remote roads offer the same solitude and the same chances to see wildlife.
There is more to see than wildlife too. On my commutes to work through the forest I've seen logging operations in progress. Man they use some cool machinery! I've seen burn piles dotting the hillside after dark. All something that I wouldn't have seen had I taken the road.
Cycling, in all its forms, puts you out in the elements. It puts you in nature, rather than insulate you from it. How cool is that!
Posted by James at 7:31 PM
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Just a quick post today, since I am supposed to be banging out some CAD drawings at the moment.
James Huang has done nice write up on the state of the current full squish frame biz. Check it out at Cyclingnews.com.
Also, once you've started killing time there, head on over to PezCyclingNews for a good read about Andy Hampsten. "Who," you ask? Only the first, and only, american to win the Giro d' Italia.
Why stop there! Now that your morning is shot to heck, kill the afternoon reading about Greg Lemond over on Velonews. Inpiring I tell you. As much so as that other american tour winner.
You can thank me later for getting you fired. Don't worry, you can get some work done tomorrow... maybe.
Posted by James at 9:02 AM
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
I am a gear geek. Really. And not just with cycling stuff, I like electronic gadgets -- I post from time to time from my Treo 650, the greatest smartphone ever -- I like car stuff, I like motorcycles, I like technology in all its forms. I like anything made from carbon fiber, whether it is better than the metal counterpart or not. I like new stuff. But sometimes... sometimes, I want things that simply work... period.
My main mountain bike is a Cannondale Jekyll. I love the bike. I love the nearly 5-inches of travel that it has. However it is prone to creaking. I have to maintain it, putting time in away from riding, not that I mind wrenching, but these days it seems that I have enough to do between rides. My road bike, another Cannondale, works everytime I throw a leg over. More than once I have ridden on the road rather than off simply because it was simpler. I don't need to climb any hills if I don't want to, and the bike is simpler to maintain.
I also have a single speed. It, too, works. Always. It is fully rigid. I'm of the opinion that if you laud the simplicity of going Single, but run a suspension fork, you are missing the point. On my single speed I lube the chain -- with my homebrew lubricant of course -- and maybe adjust the brakes. Does the bike complain? Nope. It begs for more.
There are two areas, however, that I will not give up, disc brakes and tubeless tires. Why? They are so much better than their traditional counterparts it isn't even funny. On my Jekyll I am using the Hayes El Camino brakes. They work so well, braking isn't even an issue, regardless of my velocity. Once in the past 5 years of running disc brakes have I had a failure. I made a hasty fender install and ended up kinking a hose. Rather than fix it, I rode the bike as it was. About three rides afterwards, that hose burst at the kink. It wasn't at a horrible time, and I didn't crash, but it ended the ride. That was my fault though, and I wouldn't hesitate running them on l-o-n-g epics, and have in fact, for 70 miles.
Similarly, tubeless tires have been a boon for me. I've suffered less flats, can change tires faster and have more traction. Are the tires heavier? Yep. Are they more expensive? Yep. But I feel that the plusses drastically outweigh minusses. I used to run my tube-tires down at about 28psi, but I would rip the valve stems off. Now I don't have that problem.
Shortly I'll have a new commuter bike, it'll be another Cannondale -- what can I say, I like the way they ride! -- and it'll have disc brakes. Too bad it can't have tubeless tires. You see, in my commuter, I need equipment that works. Like my road bike, like my singlespeed.
Posted by James at 8:05 PM
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
OK, I've been slacking a little on the daily updates. I apologize to both of you. I do have a couple of tidbits though.
First off, we are going to be doing a comparative review of high power LED lights. So far Cat Eye, DiNotte and Blackburn will be participating, with a solid maybe from Nite-Hawk. These look to be the real deal, good enough to replace halogen. As the lights trickle in, I'll be previewing them here.
As a bonus, DiNotte will also be sending us a new tail light to review that is supposedly brighter than anything else out there. Can't wait to see it.
Next up, I am working on a review of the Rudy Project Kalyos with the Impact X red lens. This lens goes from 50% transmittance to 21% transmittance. What does this mean? Check out the image below. The dark lens has been in the sun for a few minutes. The color is actually purplish and makes blues and greens vibrant. It's a great lens color.
Look for the completed review soon at GearReview.com.
Posted by James at 10:40 AM
Friday, November 04, 2005
I was recently checking out M2 Racer's website and discovered this little gem.
At first I was taken aback by how silly it would be to use it to attach an iPod to your handlebars -- an iPod was in the image on the front page -- since that could seriously mess up the electronics of the device. However, it shouldn't damage any solid state devise -- ok, you can use your
shiny scratched up new iPod Nano -- so it would work well for GPS recievers, cell phones, or anything else you would like easily visible.
Posted by James at 11:16 AM
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
If you are a cyclist -- and I am assuming you are, or know someone who is or else you wouldn't be reading this -- weather is a big deal for you. You know prevailing wind patterns. You know temperature trends. You know what clouds are likely to dampen your spirits. Heck, I use my Treo for my alarm clock and have a program that collects the weather for the National Weather Service for my town and then wakes me up. I always check the weather in the morning. Just like the lingo cyclists' use, there are terms for weather that are good to know. Some of these have tripped me up in the past, being a novice weather person, so I'll include them here.
Wind Direction: This has always bothered me, so I finally learned the correct terminology. A South wind is out of south, while a Southerly wind is out of the north.
%RH stands for Percent Relative Humidity. This number is temperature dependant and is related to the Dew Point. If you find yourself sweating, I mean dripping with sweat, but it isn't cold out, take a look around. Is it foggy? Is the ground or local flora damp even though it hasn't rained? Chances are the air temperature is near the Dew Point. Your sweat won't evaporate if the air can't hold any more water.
Barametric Pressure is the atmospheric pressure. At sea level it is roughly 15psi and it decreases as you gain elevation. Changes in atmospheric pressure indicate changes in local weather. USA Today has a good explanation on how pressure effects the weather. Basically, higher pressure is associated with better good weather and low pressure is associated with cloud formation and rain.
There you have it. Sure there are more details, but that will get you started in your quest to know the weather like a guru.
Posted by James at 9:30 AM
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
A few days ago, I was talking about how you need to maintain your bike in order to enjoy winter riding. Well, I had to fix that flat so I thought it'd be a good time to clean and lube the drivetrain. You see, the drivetrain on that particular bike is as old as the bike is... roughly 15 years old. In the last year I've put on over 3000 miles on the bike, almost all of it in incliment weather, and I've noticed some funny business going on in the drivetrain of late.
Let me pause here for a minute. You see there are a number of reasons that I haven't swapped out the chain, or cogset for that matter, in all this time.
A) I'm lazy.
B) Wearing the drive train together means I have to replace it less often.
C) I never thought I'd be using the bike this long.
D) None of the above, but I like multiple choice.
E) All of the above and I like mulitple choice.
The answer is, of course, E. So, back to my tale.
As I am inspecting my chain I notice that I am missing the rollers in two links. That explains the funny feeling I am experiencing. I also notice that the rest of the rollers are badly mushroomed.
As the drawing -- I love MS Paint -- shows, my chain's rollers are all in very bad shape. Why is the chain still together? I can only assume that it is due to the fact that it is a 7-speed chain and therefore impervious to grit, dirt, nuclear bomb and years of neglect. I am finally beating it into submission by riding it exclusively in the worst of conditions in the hopes that it will get off of this independant "I don't need your care" streak it's been on and be more like my 9-speed chains that break if you look at them funny.
Moral? Clean your chains and replace them every 1000 miles or so. Check your chain for wear and chain stretch and if you replace the chain before it gets bad, you won't have to replace your cogset and chainrings, too.
Posted by James at 7:17 AM