The Future of Helmets

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by Mark V on Aug 28, 2014 at 12:23 AM

2015 could be the Year of the Helmet.

In the past two decades since in-mould hardshell construction has become commonplace in helmets like the Giro Hammerhead, the only other design feature to have a comparable influence on helmet construction has been the RocLoc strap, an auxiliary support that snugs under the wearer’s occipital bone. The RocLoc, largely copied by all the major brands, greatly increased the range of head sizes and shapes that could be adequately worn by a single helmet mould. But on a high-end helmet costing more than $200, a fit that is just adequate isn’t enough. It’s not a problem that can be solved by adding more sizes of moulds, because the shape of each mould must be based on an assumption of what a normal head shape is. If you’ve ever tried on a bunch of helmet brands, you’ve doubtlessly noticed that the various brands each have a slightly different idea what the average cranium is shaped like, and obviously not all riders would be represented by a normalized shape.

The solution is to manufacture the helmet precisely for each individual rider. A rider would be precisely fitted for a helmet within seconds with laser precision, and that information stored in a digital format that is later used to accurately modify a foam helmet liner during the manufacturing process to fit a rider’s head (imagine something akin to CNC machining). This would avoid the cost of additional moulds, but since the fitting would be stored as digital information, it could be easily reproduced if a rider should need to replace the helmet in the future. It could even be applied to different types of helmets (think maybe full-face downhill and aero-road helmet).

From a manufacturing and marketing viewpoint, this would have been impossible twenty years ago, but this is already happening now…in motorsports division of Bell helmets. By the end of 2015, Bell and/or its sister company Giro will be offering this for their high-end road helmets.

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Pivot CX with the Vault

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by Byron on Aug 26, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Pivot in the Trees

Pivot this bike in the trees

I had only a few short rides on the Vault before Pivot needed it back for their demo fleet. During those rides, what I noticed was a bike that would do most anything, and go anywhere. Glance down at the tubes and they look overbuilt, thick. The frame is designed for stiffness and durability. The spec didn’t bring out the best in the bike. It was like going to a gourmet burger joint and on the table is Heinz ketchup and mustard when you’re expecting a chipotle aioli. Pivot is smart though, they built the Vault up practically, and at a reasonable $3,599 MSRP. I’d liven up the ride by swapping out parts from the stock FSA kit with Stan’s wheels. Put those on the “B” bike.

What attracted me to Pivot, a MTB brand, for CX is the work they’ve done with MTBs. If you’ve been following my return to the mountain, I’ve been on many high-end bikes, including their all-new Mach 4. I rode the Mach 4 at PressCamp 14, and noted the details.

Di2 Battery

Ready for Di2

The frame design anticipated Di2 with thoughtful cable routing, and battery insert. You’ll find the same thoughtfulness on the Vault, as seen here with the in-stay brake placement.

TRPs

Spec’d with TRPs

To the TRPs, they’re much better than mechanicals, and have never been recalled! If I had more time with the Vault, I’m sure I’d discover the nuances in handling. What it does bombing down a gravel hill, or dropping into a mud pit, and out the other side.

For now, it’s a recommend bike, and really one that’s distinctive, like all of Pivot’s dirt bikes. I was sad to see it go so soon.

More photos of the Vault are on G+ and Instagram.

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TL;DR

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by Byron on Aug 25, 2014 at 1:45 PM

TLDR

Too Long; Didn’t Ride or Too Short Didn’t, Ride

I was explaining micropublishing to writer and colleague David Quigg and finally said, “Here, TL;DR,” with this blockquote

Oh, right, our role: we are carving out a new, deeper niche for Bike Hugger. Our goal is to serve the under-served audience, one that seeks higher quality information and wants to be free of advertiser and retail bias. We write about what we ride, wear, and like. And we expect you to pay for the service.

from a Medium post I wrote about our magazine. Being the very literal person he is, got this reply and drawing…

TL;DR made me think of “Too Long; Didn’t Ride™,” which could either be the basis for A) an app featuring short but great crowd-sourced cycling routes for busy people or B) a T-shirt for long-distance cyclists (see attached terrible sketch).

That terrible sketch may lead to a new startup!

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BMW i3 at the USA ProChallenge

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by Byron on Aug 24, 2014 at 9:57 AM

The BMW i3 is at the USA Pro Challenge this week and that’s the 1st time an EV has been in a bike race caravan and allowed in a UCI Race. Here’s the Edmunds video review of the electric Bimmer and I’m working on more details of this story.

Also sure the racers appreciate not breathing smog from a tailpipe….

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On Medium: Cycling The Highlands

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by Byron on Aug 23, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Cycling the Highlands

And so with a year-long project having just wrapped, I left work for a few weeks. But rather than hiking the hills Wainwright so loved, I decided to reacquaint myself with one of my own great passions: my bicycle. The following is a journal I kept during that time.

A story about stepping off a roller coaster and onto a bike from Jeff Veen, a long-time, tech colleague of mine. Find more stories like this one in the Medium Bicycles Collection and our Magazine.

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Mammoth Flip With Cam Zink

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by Byron on Aug 22, 2014 at 2:29 PM


100 feet of airtime and finishes with an emotional wife and daughter.

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Mobile Social Interbike 14: Ride the Strip

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by Byron on Aug 21, 2014 at 9:02 AM

Moso

MoSo IB 13

The 9th annual Mobile Social Interbike meets on Thursday 9/11 an hour after the show floor closes. Once assembled (about 6:30 PM) we’ll ride the Strip to The Downtown Cocktail Room and The Beat Coffeehouse for beers, drinks, and lots of fun. Joining us this year @newbelgium, @ternbicycles, @Knog, @PureFixCycles, @revolights, @greengurugear, and you!

Fun Map


This year, around the block from the cocktails and coffee, is Las Vegas Pedalpalooza and the Crit.

It’s gonna be one of those stays in Vegas nights on bikes… We’ll ride, party, and then party some more.

Details

Note that this is a long MoSo, so we’ll get broken up by the lights. Don’t try to regroup, just ride on and meet at the party. We’ll see you when we all get there and will keep the beer cold.

As usual, the first 250 to RSVP get the schwag and drink coins. The details:

  • Registration at 6:00 PM in the Mandalay Bay Parking Lot. Exact location TBA.
  • Ride departs at 6:30 PM
  • Ride ends at The Beat Coffeehouse & Downtown Cocktail Room Map
  • New Belgium Drink Specials from 7-10 PM.
  • Free drink coins and schwag for the first 250 registered riders.
  • RSVP on Facebook or G+

For those new to the ride, this is a casual, social ride. We obey the lights, stick to one lane, and act like goodwill ambassadors during Interbike. Play nice with the cabbies and the rest of the drivers on the Strip think it’s all part of the Vegas experience.

See you there.

And here’s a edit from 2013.

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USA Pro Challenge Live Coverage

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by Byron on Aug 20, 2014 at 6:52 AM

It was rainy and cold during Stage 2

This time of year, our attention turns to Cross, but hey there’s still road racing like the USA Pro Challenge. On twitter, Follow @eFirstBank for live daily coverage of the USA Pro Challenge. Guests commentators will include: @JasenThorpe, @mmmaiko, @LennardZinn, @303Cycling, @SaraiSnyder, @Gavia, and @DirkFriel. Expect to have a good time, and to get more in-depth, interactive coverage than is possible from broadcast media alone.

If you’re a decent person, win stuff: In light of some of the less-than-fantastic fan/rider interactions at some races this year, USA Pro Challenge partner, @eFirstBank on Twitter has launched a contest to encourage fans to watch the race in a fun, but responsible and respectful way. Skip the selfie, leave the dog at home, don’t impede the racers… do have a really good time. Simple enough, right?

Here are the details and on Stage One a moto careened off fans into racers and back.

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Ellsworth Absolute Truth

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by Byron on Aug 19, 2014 at 9:55 AM

AT in the Gulley

Riding the Truth in Seattle

We’ve been riding in the mountains and on mountain bikes lately, much more than usual. The demo bikes we have in include the Ellsworth Truth. It’s been on the cross-country scene for close two decades and has gained a cult like following amongst privateers for its active suspension a durable alloy frame. Ellsworth has now taken the Truth and evolved it into the Absolute Truth with addition of 27.5 wheels and a carbon frame.

The heart of the Ellsworth Absolute Truth remains its suspension system. To keep tires in the soil, it employs Ellsworth’s Instant Center Tracking (ICT) suspension system. Ellsworth states that the four-bar linkage design provides zero-energy loss to suspension action. By aligning the instant center on the chain torque line and continually tracking the chain torque throughout the range of travel, the suspension remains active, without pedal induced action.

Breaking with the carbon theme of the frame, a key part of the ICT system is the CNC machined asymmetrical chain stays. The chain stays are box sections joined at the lower pivot by a machined yoke, while the rear pivot sits directly in front of the rear dropouts and connect with the seat stays. The seat stays are carbon to help reduce rear wheel flex and assure alignment of the suspension pivots. The 125 mm of rear wheel travel is handled by a FOX CTD shock with remote lever. Up front Ellsworth has equipped the Truth with a FOX 27.5 CTD 32 Float that produces 130 mm travel.

Around the bend and up a climb

Despite its 125 mm of travel, the Absolute Truth is intended for racing and features a low and aggressive rider position. The suspension is more active than other race machines, especially in its initial travel. This is hardly noticeable while in the saddle, but hard efforts are met with bit of a soft feel at the pedals. Switching the FOX CTD shock to the Climb is the only setting that really eliminated the initial softness.

Making good time uphill on the Absolute Truth is determined by the CTD shock setting. For everything other than the most technical terrain, place the CTD in Climb and leave it. In technical uphill sections the trail mode can be used. It results in a slightly softer feel, but also dramatically increases traction and reduces wheel spin. On fast single-track descents, the Absolute Truth is predicable and fast with the active suspension keeping the wheels firmly attached to the ground over small obstacles. Big hits are absorbed well with just a bit of ramp up at the end of the stroke. The overall feel of the Absolute Truth is super plush. The plush suspension also aids in cornering, with the wheels constantly in contact with the ground.

More photos of the Ellsworth are on G+. Also see Issue 15 for my take on getting back into mountain biking with bikes like this.

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