Riding to Fabulous Downtown Vegas
by Byron on Jan 12, 2014 at 11:31 AM
Jason Harris from Nokia joined us for the Mobile Social CES and took these photos. When asked about his experience riding with us, he said
As I planned CES 2014 activities for Nokia, the idea of a bike ride sounded like a nice escape from the madness of casinos and regular Vegas activities. As we cruised the Strip on amazing Tern Bicycles, I felt my stress and anxiety about the week melt away. It was so amazing to get fresh air and see a side of Vegas you can’t see on foot or from a car.
The ride flowed perfectly – it was long enough to provide an escape yet short enough that our more novice riders felt right at home. Also, local Vegas cyclists join us to help shepherd our little flock and give insight into Vegas landmarks and cycling culture.
Mobile Social CES 2014 was perfect and I wouldn’t have done anything differently. The stop/turn-around point featuring tacos and beers outdoors provided solace for our the Nokia influencers I brought to Vegas.
Fabulous Downtown Vegas
We expect to ride with Jason and Nokia again soon, taking photos in Austin for our annual Mobile Social SXSW.
Everybody had fun
More photos, taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 and 1520s mounted on a bike are on G+. Video too.
Vegas with Cameras and Bikes
by Byron on Jan 11, 2014 at 12:01 PM
On the Strip with camers and bikes
In a city built to take your money during CES, the electronics industry’s Super Bowl, I wondered further why we rode out of the Aria valet lot into a Zen-like calm and happiness. A dozen people that had not met or ridden with each other before arrived on the Strip, started taking photos, and became fast friends.
Maybe it’s what Edwin Land said about the first Polaroid camera, the SX-70
… it turns out that buried within all of us–God knows beneath how many pregenital and Freudian and Calvinistic strata–there is latent interest in each other; there is tenderness, curiosity, excitement, affection, companionability and humor; it turns out that in this cold world where man grows distant from man, and even lovers can reach each other only briefly, that we have a yen for and a primordial competence for a quiet good-humored delight in each other: we have a prehistoric tribal competence for a non-physical, non-emotional, non-sexual satisfaction in being partners in the lonely exploration of a once empty planet.
Assembling for the ride in the Aria
Vegas can be a lonely place for me, unless I’m fortunate enough to have like-minded friends with cameras and bikes. Instead of shaking our Polaroid pictures until they developed, we instantly uploaded, and shared them on social networks. Same as it ever was, really, and the magic is just simply that bikes are fun.
Cervezas in the Winter Sun
More photos, taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 and 1520s mounted on a bike are on G+. Video too.
by Mark V on Jan 11, 2014 at 11:25 AM
This weekend the US National Cyclocross Championships are taking place in Colorado. With the snow lining the course continuing to melt, it looks as though the course will remain muddy and slick. The safest bet for racers is going to be a mud tyre to cut into the rutted corners and grab hold of the tricky off-camber sections. In the endless chatter this past year about hydraulic disc brake systems for cyclocross, tyres have oft been overlooked. And just as cyclocross brake development had seemed to be stagnant until the very recent past, so too have tyre tread designs evolved rapidly as of late.
Arguably the archetypal cyclocross tread is the Grifo. For several decades, the Grifo has carried champions to the filthiest victories in cycling. First made by the original Clément Pneumatici, the tread has remained visually unchanged since around the 1960s. In 1990 parent company Pirelli moved tyre production to Thailand before eventually leaving the cycling market entirely in 1998. The manufacturing assets were acquired by another Italian company but not the brand Clement. That company is now known as Challenge but the Grifo is almost unchanged in name and appearance.
The Grifo’s mélange of narrow & broad arrowheads, long knobs, and circular knobs has truly stood the test of time, all the more impressive considering that tread was originally created for 24-27mm casings. Over the years others have had similar designs (Wolber Cross), if not virtual clones (Dugast Typhoon). Vittoria’s all-circular knob Tigre was a noted departure, but that was eventually replace by the XG which is again a virtual Grifo clone. Czech brand Barum also had a circular knob design. Eventually the company came to be known as Tufo, and their design evolved into something like a Grifo with more squared knobs, no circular ones at all.
In contrast, mountainbike treads have evolved continually since the 1980s. A cynic might say that rapid growth in the mtb demographic pushed tyre companies to continually revamp designs in order to market their brand competitively, but certainly some of it had to be driven by frenzied technical innovations in mtb frame and suspension design. Early mtb treads often looked like scaled down motorcross treads, perhaps the ultimate being the Panaracer Spike. There were front and rear specific designs such as the front/rear WTB Velociraptor and the Panaracer Dart/Smoke combo. These had lengthwise knobs up front for cornering grip and lateral paddles in back for traction. The Specialized Ground Control, featuring square blocks and aggressive, reinforced side knobs was a trend setter. The low profile tread patterns with modest side knobs, like the Ritchey Speedmax, became popular as less technical courses became the typical arena for XC racing. Nowadays, cross country mtb tyre tread can roughly be generalized as patterns of square, triangular, or asymmetric chevron blocks in a spectrum from low-profile for hardpack to moderate height for general conditions. Prominent lateral paddles are less popular than before, and even modern mud tyres come nowhere close to the Panaracer Spike’s 8mm knobs of terror.
In the ‘00s, some of that XC tread philosophy found its way to CX rubber, particularly in clincher tyres marketed by companies that had not before had a strong presence in that scene. Cyclocross was the fastest growing segment of the market, so naturally companies were eager to enter that market. The original Michelin Mud fully lived up to its appellation with widely-spaced, small asymmetric chevrons. The Mud 2, more of an all-around tyre, has the chevrons sliced into pairs of squarish knobs that are slightly lower and closer spaced than before. The newer Specialized cyclocross tyre is similar (though in my opinion it does not perform nearly as well). Hutchinson treads such as the Toro and its predecessor the Bulldog have distinct, square knobs with concave tops. The Tufo Cubus has simple rows of squares, the ones on the shoulder being siped.
Eventually the traditional makers like Challenge and Dugast would respond with their own innovations. Recent trend in CX treads consists of lopsided wishbones like on the Challenge Limus and the PDX (from the reborn Clement brand) and acutely angled chevrons like on the Dugast Rhino and Small Bird.
Nowadays there is far greater diversity in cyclocross tyres than even a decade ago, but despite it all the Grifo (and the Typhoon, its clone by Dugast) are still heavily favoured in medium conditions. Cyclocross legend-in-his-own-time Sven Nys credited a recent victory to using his technical skills to allow him to run Grifo tyres while his main rivals resorted to slower mud treads. Why is this? Well, it is said that tyre pressure and casing construction have more effect than tread design. Dugast and Challenge are traditionally made tubular tyres with supple casings and can easily be ridden with PSI pressure in the low to mid-20s, which plausibly explains why pros love them more than stiffer tyres like Tufo and the new Clement. Also, the newer trends in tread seem to make more of a difference in muddy conditions. Perhaps for moderate conditions, the depth and overall density of knobs is more important than the shape of the knobs themselves. If so, then maybe the Girfo just hits a sweet spot from which it is difficult to add or subtract textural features without biasing the result for either firmer or softer conditions.
Then consider that cyclocross tyres are still relatively skinny. Unlike XC mountain bike tyres, cyclocross rubber must be 33mm or narrower for UCI racing. Compared to the typical 2.1-2.3” width of a XC model, there is just not as much tread to work with. The UCI scaled the maximum size down from 35mm to 33mm in the same set of rule revisions that formally authorized disc brakes. The rule was said to be a way of controlling equipment cost and logistics, as it was assumed that riders would feel compelled to have quivers of wheels containing both multiple treads and widths. That being said, the biggest reason to choose narrow tyres is sticky mud, largely because skinnier tyres make for less mud build up within the clearances of the frame. Forty years ago cyclocross tyres were typically 27mm or less, yet no one seems motivated to go anything close to that kind of skinny anymore. Drawing parallels to cross country mtb, XC racers have moved to slightly wider tyres since the early days even though the bikes have gone from full rigid to 100mm or more of front and rear suspension. And a 29er wheel is 11% larger in diameter than a 26” wheel. Arguably those changes would allow riders to run narrower, lighter tyres, but again the only time they choose truly narrow is for mud.
Meanwhile, everyone knows that cyclocross’ transition to disc brakes has been an economical and painless process. Just ask SRAM.
In the end, tread design is just one factor in cyclocross tyre performance. Rubber compounds, the suppleness of the tyre casing , and particularly air pressure may all be more important. Cyclocross’ elite still heavily favour traditionally made tubulars, but it is possible that tubeless tyre performance may someday supersede. On the other hand, changes in cyclocross frame design will be driven by brake and drivetrain innovations rather than tyres. While cyclocross geometry is optimized for the somewhat restrictive 33mm maximum tyre width and minimal frame weight, a new market category of “gravel grinder” bikes has evolved for distance riding and racing on unpaved roads and non-technical trails. This has very quickly led to a flood of 700C tyres in 35-45mm range in a variety of tread designs, far outside UCI regulations. If not for the UCI tyre width rule, one wonders what direction cyclocross tyre design may have gone.
In this piece I limited the discussion to medium condition and mud tyres; I should like to talk about cyclocross file treads and how they compare to the current crop of “gravel grinder” tyres. But that’ll have to wait till another time. As the cyclocross season reaches its climax, the courses are slick and muddy. There will be plenty of time to talk about file treads and gravel grinding later in 2014, as Bike Hugger will be exploring some dirt road riding later in the year.
A Mobile Social Moment
by Byron on Jan 10, 2014 at 8:31 AM
We rolled out of City Center
If I could package up moments like this on the Mobile Social, and sell them, a bike blogging gig would really pay off. Here we are in traffic, on the Strip, having fun during the Mobile Social CES. I think the magic maybe because you’re upright, instead of slouched in a car or stuck in a pedestrian maze being directed to a casino. Riding a bike and looking around, you’re moving with a sense of freedom. You can go fast too if you want, faster than traffic.
Whatever it is, moments like this are why we started with one Mobile Social in Vegas a year and are now scheduling three with Tern Bicycles and new partners like Nokia and others we’ll announce soon during SXSW.
More photos, taken with a Nokia Lumia 10 and 1520 are on G+. Video too.
Mobile Social CES
by Byron on Jan 09, 2014 at 12:17 PM
The first Mobile Social CES is today at 2:00 PM. We’re riding with Nokia, Tern, and a group of Bloggers, Instagrammers, and YouTubers:
- C.C. Chapman: @cc_chapman
- Carlie Butler: @CarlieStylezz
- Colby Brown: @colbybrownphoto
- Frederick Goodall: @mochadad
- Jennifer Quillen: @TheRebelChick
- Jim Higley: @jimhigley
- Kirsten Alana: @KirstenAlana
- Leigh Ann: @leighannsays
- Michael Manna: @MichaelManna
- Pei Ketron: @pketron
- Robert Fondalo: @Fondalo
- Shannon Lane: @cajunmama
- Steve Cook: @stevecook_32
- Sugar Jones: @sugarjones
It’s the same route as our rides on the Strip during Interbike and we’re leaving from the Aria. Posts and photos to follow in a magazine feature and more bike news from CES.
Fitbike and Wearables at CES
by Byron on Jan 08, 2014 at 10:37 AM
After writing about Google Glass and riding with it last year, here at CES looking for wearables and next-gen bike computers like the FitBike that won the ATT Hackathon. As the Nokia Developer blog describes it, FitBike is for “bicycling enthusiasts to make their experiences even more social by finding prearranged routes and rides, and people to ride with you.” The app also connects wearable sensors, notification devices, and LED lighting into a package that uses a GoPro for photos and a Pebble watch for ride metrics. That’s a lot of bike hacking.
I haven’t ran into them yet, but Recon is here in the Intel booth announcing they had thousands of rides uploaded with their HUD, and PR from the show featured Smart Earbuds than when paired record your ride and heart rate. There’s also a new type of smart watch that requires no tethering with its own connectivity and smart geofencing.
I’m spending most of my time in Vegas hanging out with Nokia, shooting photos with Lumias, and met Chris Weber at lunch yesterday. He’s a VP and board member who’s also an avid cyclist. As we learned years ago, when this blog launched, the bike is a connector across the tech industry, including Nokia. I’ve met many team members who are into the bike just like us and you.
Connectivity is spotty during CES, so I’ll get to uploading photos when the bandwidth permits, video too. Follow along on Twitter and Instagram, as we discover more tech and shoot photos with 10 and 1520 Lumias.
Trek Acquires Electra
by David Schloss on Jan 06, 2014 at 11:05 AM
Known for their wide range of townie and electric bikes, Californian company Electra has been acquired by Trek.
Founded in 1993 by Benno Bänziger and Jeano Erforth, the company turned $30,000 of savings into a company that helped define the cruiser and eBike market. The company was small enough to outflank and out-design the larger companies that sought to get into the market. Companies like Specialized and Giant have cruiser bike lines, but they’re not nearly as popular as Electra.
Electra created a line of inexpensive and attractive cruiser and “townie” bikes that have been tremendously popular with customers. Several self-described “non-cyclist” friends of mine have purchased Electra townie bikes and cruisers because they appealed to their childhood love of bikes.
In a press release today Trek has announced that the acquisition will allow the company to get the Electra line in more stores. “Trek will be able to provide financial, supply chain, distribution, and sales support…” said Trek president John Burke, “and [Trek] will stay out of their way when it comes to product and marketing.”
That’s good news, as Electra seems to be doing well on the design and PR fronts. We’ve worked with the folks at Electra on a number of occasions and they’ve got great vision and passion for what they do. As Trek is known for taking existing brands and relegating them to a branding tool (see: Bontrager, Gary Fisher) having Trek provide assistance for development and distribution but let Electra do their thing is great news.
The Electra line will also continue to be operated out of their California offices, rather than move to the Wisconsin headquarters of Trek. Again, this is probably a good move as the spirit of the townie bike is more rooted in the warm-weather comfort of California than in chilly Waterloo.
Trek isn’t strong in neither the crustier nor the eBike market, so this partnership with Electra will allow the company to capture a market segment they’re historically weak in without having to bring on staffing and tool up for new bike models. This move will reduce the risk on both companies as they go forward.
So what does the future look like for Electra? Well for one thing, it’s a pretty good bet that you’ll see them in Trek dealerships while they continue to push forward into other regions. Certainly this makes their eBike market look more long-lived and viable—if a company like Trek wants to invest in Electra then the leaders of the eBike world were right in their assumption that people want to embrace the enhanced bike market and are looking for alternative, green transportation options.
Schwinn Releases What Looks Like Worst Bike Accessory, Ever.
by David Schloss on Jan 05, 2014 at 7:49 PM
In the run up to the Consumer Electronics Show, Schwinn has announced that they will start shipping a device that uses bluetooth and lights to show you which way to go while you’re out riding. Engadget reports “The idea is pretty simple: Download the product’s iOS or Android app, put in your destination, choose the best route and then let the CycleNav point which way to go, using one of three LED arrows. ”
Holy Hell that’s a bad idea.
Let me see if I have this right? “Simply” download an app and put in an address and then stare at my handlebars while lights blink R2-D2 style and direct me into traffic? What happens when I come to an intersection with more options than right or left? What happens if I’m looking down at these lights when a Mack truck goes by.
This thing will cost $59.99, a price much higher than a good iPhone mount, a solution that would at least allow you to use the same iPhone you had to use to download the directions to navigate without so much confusion and possible death.
Please Schwinn, kill this product before launch.
More comedy from Schwinn here in their press release.
Best of Maui 14
by Byron on Jan 05, 2014 at 12:09 PM
I was in Maui just to ride after a very long season and didn’t take the bait when this Katusha Pro passed me twice. He said something that I think Pros say to each other in Euro pelotons, but I sat up, and just pedaled. Later I worked out a few scenarios in my head of what would’ve happened if I’d accelerated up to him that all ended badly. The Russian National TT champ, probably wouldn’t half wheeled me…
He wasn’t Upcountry when I was, which is good, cause I get angry after tall, thin dudes pass me on climbs. It’s the pleasure of just riding a bike that I was really trying to reconnect with on Maui and not turning myself inside out. Did plenty of that in 13 and posted about it here.
That’s the thing about Maui and why we enjoy riding there so much. You can ride like a tourist, have an epic day, or with their updated infrastructure, an errand ride to stock the vacation condo fridge for lunch.
Maui has also become a destination for cyclists and every year we see more on the shoulders and the roads we’ve ridden for years. The best of those routes I’ve mapped on Google and include
It never gets old riding the same loops, like to the end of Makena and back or from Kihei to Lahaina. We prefer to stay in South Maui and for tourist activities, snorkeling with Maui Snorkel Charters who offers a more personal experience with a highly-qualified crew that cater to all dive levels.
This road never gets old
For dinner, we shop at Costco near the airport and eat in mostly to avoid crowds, but did enjoy fish tacos at Monkey Pod this trip.
Our fav bike shop is West Maui Cycles who set up the Tarmac Pro up for us. I also stop during rides to get more water and visited with Maui Cyclery and Island Biker. That shop has been on Maui for 33 years, is a top Specialized dealer, and proudly displays a Roubaix decal on the door. Here’s a look inside the West Maui shop
For more photos from this trip, follow us on Instagram and on G+.
Back to the Mainland
by Byron on Jan 04, 2014 at 9:15 AM
Another Maui sunset
Today we’re traveling back to the Seattle, then a trip to CES, and I’ll wrap up this trip with an obligatory Maui sunset photo. Maui is one the best places to ride in the world and since we’ve been riding here has grown into a destination for cyclists. Once back on the mainland, I’ll share the best of the island with you, where we ride, stay, eat, the bike shops, and the routes.
Also, a review of the Tarmac Pro I had with me.
For now, it’s best described as like a power chord. Pedal and it’s right here, right now.
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