Thursday, June 23, 2011

Creative marketing for Bromptons

Recently, I've been very impressed with 2 videos about the British Brompton bicycle. The first one is done by a Japanese Brompton owner on 3D animation.

Another one is a feature video about niche bicycle companies in the UK by the BBC, "Made in Britain". It shows the commuting Brompton flying around BMX style ridden by stunt riders. Very entertaining indeed. I was delighted to see many of the Bromptons waiting to be exported had the Diginexx label on it, headed for Singapore. Kudos to Steven for his role in helping many people to discover the joy of being Bromptonites in the Lion City.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It fits!

After our regular ride today to Pt Walter, K came over to my house to see what is the best way to pack his folder for our upcoming Thai Mekong ride in 3 weeks time.

I remembered an old suitcase with airline approved dimensions I had in the shed. Removing the seat post and the 2 wheels, we were pleasantly surprised that the Ventura fitted straight into the suitcase with no worries. However to be extra safe, I suggested dismantling the RD and wrapping it up in bubble wrap, just to be sure. It took all of 5 mins to put everything together again.

Looks like K is all set to go because it fits!

ps: Those of you going for the trip, I hope you have practised packing your folder. Mine is all set and ready to go!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Police cracking down on Melbourne cyclists

The good news in Melbourne is that more people are turning to bicycles as their form of transport. Ranked consistently as the world's top 10 liveable cities, you can imagine the traffic jams. I have been to beautiful Melbourne several times and the last time, I took my Bike Friday Tikit to roam around the city. Beats taking expensive public transport and much, much faster. They have great bike paths there. However, even then I encountered a bit of a bicycle jam while crossing a traffic light intersection at peak hour!

The bad news is that as more people take to cycling, more rules are being flouted and today I read an article about the police targeting errant cyclists. My first reaction was oh no, police bullying the small fish once again but I realised that it is for the safety of the cyclists and fellow road users. It is heartening to know however, that compared to other road users where 80% flout the rules, only 5% of cyclists do. The fines are not cheap here in Australia:

Bike-related laws to be enforced include failing to wear a helmet (a $146 fine), not having lights ($146), failing to obey a traffic light ($292) and riding in a tram safety zone ($292).

One particular law that I support is the use of helmets as I'm beginning to see many cyclists especially school kids here in Perth who dangle the helmet on the handlebars, and wear them only if the authorities are around. Yes, my wife who is presently in Amsterdam tells me that no one wears helmets there but I'm a firm believer in the safety of a helmet. I have experienced how a helmet saved my life first hand, and seeing it protect a friend's head too. More about helmet protection here by TreeHugger.

Another area of concern is motorists opening their door carelessly and causing cyclists to crash into them, resulting in serious injuries. I hope the Police look into this aspect of safety as well.

So for those cyclists who ride safely and obey the laws, I think we have nothing to worry about as far as the Police is concern.

Disclaimer: Just in case I give the impression that I'm always the perfect law-abiding cyclist, I have to confess that I'm not.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The most stylish folder?

I owned the Strida 3.3, some years ago. It is a brilliant design by Mark Sanders, a renown UK bicycle designer and it appeals with its simplicity. 3 poles put together in a triangle. Slap on 2 wheels and a greaseless belt-drive system and voila, presenting the ultimate lifestyle commuter. Never before has a bicycle look so pleasing to the eye. There is remarkable beauty in its uber stylish design but is it just looks and no go?

First, the bad news. The main reason why I no longer own it was because it used a plastic crank and BB then and its squeaking drove me nuts. Truly a design flaw but the good news is that it has now evolved into the Strida LT which promises to put "squeaky" to rest.

Its weaknesses are probably the handling which takes getting used to, mounting on and off the bike is not the easiest and its limited luggage capacity.

That out of the way, all things considered, they are a small price to pay for the most stylish design folder available now and for its ease of handling when folded. The Strida for all its quirkiness begs to be ridden, is certainly high on the fun factor and user friendliness. You just want to be on this bike somehow! It is geared to cruise a leisurely 18-22km/h which in all fairness, is a decent clip. What is the hurry anyway?

And opps, did I forget cleanliness too, with its greaseless belt that takes the yuck out of cycling. Goodbye greased stained pants! You can now wear your expensive designer jeans for the ride to get your Expresso fix, looking as cool as can be with no worries. Gee-Jay in this video did a comprehensive analysis of the Strida that is worth 6 mins of your time.

The best news is it retails for a very reasonable US$590 in Singapore and though it understandably won't be everyone's cup of tea, I think its certainly one stylish stick-folder that deserves to be in my already crowded fold once again.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pedalling to "Korea"

A good friend who runs the Phill Bean Korean Restaurant in Shelley Hub needed some urgent help tonight as she was short of staff. It was the perfect reason to go out for a bike ride and capture the beauty of the setting sun. Winter can be deary as the sun sets at a very early 540pm. A quick skip across Leach Highway and I was along the Shelly Foreshore bike path.

This ride never disappoints with its delightful river charm. I rode past two men fly fishing, a couple of kayakers, saw someone water sking and many joggers with their dogs in tow. It was also therapeutic to see a Pelican glide along the river and I have even seen dolphins here before. Such is the rich wildlife of this place and I cannot believe its at least 15km from the sea as the crow flies.

The 5km ride ended too soon. I performed the Brommy magic and placed the package at a corner of the restaurant, totally invisible.

One of the kitchen hand rides a bicycle too and she has to park it outside, at the risk of it getting nicked. No such problems with a foldie!

One of the perks in helping a friend out in a restaurant is that she always let me try all the wonderful dishes Phill Bean serves. Its great that at least I had a mini-work out to ease the guilt. I was wanting to ride back but being blessed with food to take home and no panniers, the kind boss drove me home with Brommy in the boot. She remarked, "Wow, your bike is so small".

Getting to eat delectable Korean food and riding along awesome scenery is life as good as it gets. I hope she calls me again to "Korea".

Friday, June 10, 2011

Brompton Gallery

The passion and love Brompton owners have for their foldies are well known. This is expressed in many ways but none better than a photo gallery in the Brompton UK's own website.

Though the photos published are no way near the professional standards of EcoVelo (their pics are ALL brilliant), it is interesting to see the many different places and events Brompton owners have travelled with their beloved steeds around the world.

Worth a peep if you have some time.

See if you can spot the ones I've submitted!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bike Lanes - safe at all times?

Police Officers are generally a nice bunch of folks but this particular one from NYC is one of a kind. He booked this cyclist for not riding in a bike lane although bike lanes at times are blocked with parked vehicles etc.

As a cyclist, I think its important we use our brains and not follow the law blindly. Doing so may cause injury and even death...

Thanks Matt for pointing me to this very informative video. The guy who is making his point is truly a great entertaining stuntman. Does he conduct classes on how to fall off our bikes?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Go fly a Kite!

There is something magical about boys flying a kite. That feeling of harnessing the ever changing wind, the challenge of launching the kite properly and the skill in keeping it in the air, and perhaps just reliving the joy of our childhood again. We did just that this morning in a most perfect day at our usual ride to Mandurah and had a delightful time.

Everyone took turns and the person who enjoyed it the most was Grandpa Ken, who was laughing with glee. Just look at the pic below! What fascinated was the local Little Corellas (parrot family) were not happy with the presence of this strange colourful "bird" and started to attack it. First in 2s, then 4s, then 8s over a couple of sorties.

Ken had been eyeing Kenneth's new Ventura foldie since last week as he too is considering getting a better bike. I warned you that Foldinitis is infectious. A test ride of 24km today convinced him to get the same.

This being winter, it was really a challenge to get up at 530am in 6c to go cycling. It was freezing and fortunately, I had the chance to try out some new winter ride wear called Skin, a compression type sportswear.

It is basically made of special tight fitting material to retain heat and yet provide unrestricted movement. I was doubtful at first, but after riding in the cold with it, I was very impressed. For those interested in the marketing hype, here it is.

Ongoing studies of elite athletes prove that Skins BioAcceleration Technology creates marked improvements in lessening the build-up of lactic acid immediately after periods of high exertion. You experience less fatigue, minimize soreness and recover faster wearing Skins. Recommended and endorsed by Australian Physiotheraphy Association.

Now there is another reason to ride our foldies.... to go fly a kite!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bringing Brommy to Wave Rock, Hyden

6 of us decided to spend the long Foundation Day holiday weekend with a drive eastwards towards the famous Wave Rock at Hyden. I've visited 13 years ago and was not too impressed with this tourist attraction then. But since my Brommy has never been there, that was a good enough reason to drive 4-5 hrs, 350km to see that rock. It was also the first time for my friends so I decided to organise the trip and we drove in a comfortable Toyota Avensis MPV.

The drive was actually quite beautiful and its amazing how vast and huge the state of Western Australia is.

It helped that everyone brought along lots of coffee, cake, fruit and snacks and that was enjoyed during our stops in quaint small towns of Brookton, Corrigin and Kondinin. We checked into the Wave Rock Resort where stayed in a 2 bedroom newish chalet with full facilities. It was great it had effective heating too as it dropped to 5c overnight.

Our first evening visit started from Hippo Yawn and thereabout a short 2-3km walk though the magnificent bush to the Wave Rock. I pushed my foldie along the path as it would save the party from walking back as I could cycle to get the car. It was a pretty fun ride.

The lightning unfortunately was cloudy and deary so it was a disappointing time for photos.

Early next morning when it was still a cold 10c, I decided to cycle to the Wave Rock from the resort and it proved extremely enjoyable although the 15 min ride ended too soon. We were rewarded with brilliant sunlight which brought out the earth-tone colors of the rock and had a marvellous time snapping away.

I also chanced it and rode the Brompton to the Rock itself for the sake of getting a more interesting video. Apologies for the shakes as the path was not exactly smooth. Please do not watch with a full stomach!

After my camera got its fill, I went for a walkabout or rather, a "rideabout" to explore the surroundings. Brommy was fortunate to see its first kangaroo after being in Australia for 2 years and I was very glad the meeting seemed cordial.

The thought of cycling the long way back to Perth did cross my mind but perhaps, it is best saved for another adventure.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Foldinitis again!

Our friend Kenneth has been MIA for the past month from our rides due to a football injury and an overseas holiday to Singapore. He joined us this very wet morning with his souvenir from Singapore - a brand new shiny green folding bike. This is an impressive Ventura Speedtouring. Frankly, I've never heard of this brand before but the specs are very respectable.

Shimano 105 gear train with 24 speeds via a triple chain ring. Quick release hubs.

Cane creek headset. Aluminium frame - Dahon patented. Kenda 20 x 1.2 high pressure fast tires. It happened to be the time for the Great Singapore Sale (as well as the dealer clearing his stock) and Kenneth picked it up for a mere US$500. Great value I reckon.

Like any new toy, we boys got excited and did a thorough inspection upon meeting up.

It was another wet ride and we had to don our rain coats with the dark and looming sky racing towards us. It was a challenge to ride against strong headwinds and my raincoat acted more like a parachute and I got more than a workout.

We got pelted but we did have bursts of sunlight as well.

In all his excitement to ride his new foldie, Kenneth forgot to pack his morning tea. We had a very interesting conversation about the advantages that community offers, compared to just money per se. This was aptly demonstrated by all of us sharing our morning tea with Kenneth. Because of Koinonia, he did not need to spend one cent to buy an overpriced bagel from the nearby kiosk but enjoyed a delicious sandwich, fresh fruits, nuts and 2 different types of tea, served with bright smiles and glad hearts!

Looks like another one just contracted Foldinitis - a most healthy disease that those around me seem to get infected with! So once again, congratulations Kenneth. Wishing you great times on your new bike. I know this disease will do you good.