<img src=”http://www.gizmag.com/pictures/hero/8503_151207124106.jpg” alt=”MIT Supercomputer” width=”400/>GizMag.com reports that MIT have announced a bicycle powered supercomputer - sort of. Sure they used a machine that only draws 8 Watts, and maybe their cycling team only powered it for 20 minutes, but it’s still sort of cool.
Check out this awesome nighttime video of Dekochari – Japanese art bikes (Deko = decorated, chari = slang for bicycle). The bikes are ‘dressed up’ to resemble Dekotora, highly stylized trucks popular in Japan in the mid 1970s. Loaded down with flashing lights, boxes, mirrors, cup holders, hi-fi systems, everything – these bikes (and their bigger truckier cousins) are particularly impressive at night. There are several active dekochari fleets in Japan to this day.
This is another great example of bike culture evolving from established trends in the existing culture, promulgated by youth. (Yes, that’s a double word score if you’re keeping track).
As the great wiki explains:
Unable to drive the giant chrome-plated flashing trucks they coveted, children instead built plywood boxes around their bikes and attached chrome plating and lights. Almost all current Dekochari’s have elaborate light displays and many include hi-fi audio systems and cup-holders.
The Dekotora were popularized by the Torrakku Yaro (trucker) movies of Norifumi Suzuki starting in 1975. A great set of galleries from Japan here (most links are below “2006’N – explore a little, it’s worth it.). Night time galleries from Pink Tentacle are here.
The Dekochari are often difficult to recognize (big gallery at that link) as bikes in photos due to the huge amount of decoration. I can only imagine that these beasties are mostly popular in the flatter regions of the island nation.
All this raises difficult moral, ethical and logistical questions: Could I? Would I? Should I? Seeing that I live at the top of a hill, already have more personal bicycles than members of my family, and a job that expects occasional time away from aforementioned bicycles I think the answer is No. I’d love to see some of these art bikes showing up at next year’s Solstice parade , but I don’t think I’ll be doing the making.
So I just finished up with assembling the Kappa frame for my girlfriend. If she likes it, I’m gonna have the braze-ons for the sissy bar added to the stays and then have the frame re-powdercoated. Also, tomorrow the Redline straight seatpost will come in to replace the current layback post. Eventually, I’ll get a different banana seat and new wheels too.
How does it ride? AWESOME!!!!
This frame is a 20” BMX race frame with a 21.5” top tube. That’s about 2” longer than Old School race frames and at least 3” longer than an original Schwinn Stingray. The head tube angle is much steeper than the older bikes, which offsets the increased wheelbase a little. The fork and frame are in another league of stiffness compared to a Stingray. The net effect is that the bike tracks pretty wheel but is still pretty agile.
I’m pretty excited about the bike. I told her if she doesn’t like it, I’ll ride it. Keep in mind that I’m a road and track bike kind of rider, so a bike like this represents pure unadulterated fun.
Messrs. Hiller and McGrath (two of Cascade’s Bike Advocacy staff) will be at Tangletown pub Thursday Dec 20 starting a 7. They’ll be talking advocacy with you and anybody else who can make it. Please RSVP to Patrick if you’re planning on attending. I don’t think this’ll be your last chance, so if you’ve got another engagement (like the .83 Race of Champions ride/race) maybe you can catch them next time. Or, head down hill to Greenlake to watch the races!
I stopped over at Byron’s place Sunday and got a chance to ogle his stable of bikes. Of course the one I went to see was the Kona Ute. I’ve long been interested in the longtail concept - mostly for a short-haul option and trips to the store. I live on pretty serious hill, so for me the idea of a 50lb bike is p”robably a little foolish, but there is a local grocery that I’d love to have a quality longtail for (today I schlep messenger bags or tow the trailer).
Anyway it was raining so I didn’t get an extended test ride, but the Ute was awesome. It’s far more sturdy than the Bettie which has a decent amount of whip to it. The Ute just makes more gradual turns than a regular mountain bike, but it doesn’t have that unstable feel that you get on some xtracycles. The deck and the footpegs (standard? not sure) looked great and added a nice 2nd-passenger option. One of the nice points on the trim was the Hayes mechanical discs. I’m a big disc fan, but I’m easily disappointed by manufacturers cutting corners to save money. In a lot of lower-range bikes they use the Tektro disc setup. I love Tektro parts just not their disc brakes. The rotors warp too easily and adjustable they are not good choice by Kona for taking the high road there. The rest of the drivetrain was predictably predictable Shimano. The Cork grips were a nice touch too.
What would I change? I’d go with a Brooks saddle for that nice up-right position. I’d probably go with a slightly wider mustache bar and add some campus pedals - having that upstroke can be a good thing when hauling a load. Other than that it’s built pretty nicely. When I can convince the wife that I need one more bike…this one might be it.