Friday, January 08, 2016

Friday News And Views

Yo! Wheel change here!
Leadville 100 Announces Riders To Get More Support:

There's a newsy bit out the other day saying that Mavic will have its famously yellow vehicles out on course supporting Leadville 100 riders. So, if you win the lottery to get into that event, maybe you can lighten your load now and not have to carry stuff to fix a flat tire anymore.

However that might work out for riders in reality, it was a certain comment about the proposal that I found very interesting. It came from a well respected mountain bike magazine's Twitter feed, and stated that this would send up Leadville's status to "a real race" level. Okay, that's a comment from a mountain bike magazine. Really?

I remember when mountain biking and self-sufficiency went hand in hand. Heck.....I can remember when all mtb events were accomplished on one bike! Boy.....we've come a long way away from that ideal! I'm cool with the different tools to get the different jobs done, but all the creeping in of things to make racing easier is really sucking the spirit of the sport out, in my opinion. Especially when it comes to mountain biking. Yep, it would not at all surprise me to see Mavic getting the nod to do neutral support at a gravel road racing event sometime in the future either. Maybe they already do here in the US. (No.....Strada Bianca doesn't count.)

Well, there's that.......
The idea of a variable speed crank isn't a new one

Wave Transmission: A New Bicycle Drive Train For The Future?

Bicycle innovation has been ongoing for well over 100 years now, and since there are many old ideas that weren't possible to produce due to manufacturing and materials technology limitations, we sometimes see things resurface. The idea for a variable speed crank without using multiple, fixed chain rings, isn't new, but it wasn't really possible to manufacture back a century ago. 

As an example, I got this e-mail the other day concerning a "new" transmission for cycling. It's a "proof of concept" exercise at this stage, so you'll have to look past the crude, industrial, "works" nature of the component, but click the video here and watch what this does. It is pretty crazy.

Some of you might remember the Browning Automatic, or as it is known now, SmartShift. This isn't like that, although they both claim some similar benefits. The Wave Transmission does its thing by an expanding sprocket. I cannot comment on exactly how the system works, because the fellow behind this is trying to sell the idea to a bigger company to have it produced. He's guarding his secrets until that time.

I gotta say that it is pretty cool, but I am not sure it has an application for much of the cycling I do. I also have to say that my first inclination was that something maybe not quite as "wide ranging" could be used in tandem with an internal gear hub or gear box set up. Changing the initial drive ratio slightly in tandem with 14 to 18 internal gears might become something interesting for several applications, like cargo bikes, ultimate touring fat bikes, and the like. 

Chris Holloway, a student at London's Brunel University, developed this variable ratio crankset in 2010
 Again, the above is not anything new, not as far as the concept goes. A bit of  "innergoogle" searching turned up another prototype by a student engineer from the UK. How long will it be before we see a variable ratio crank set without multiple chain rings? Well, we already have. 

Think about the Hammerschmidt, the Patterson crank, or the Schlumpf Speed Drive. All attempts at putting a variable ratio on a crank/bottom bracket without multiple chain wheels. Then you could even throw in the Pinion gear box system into this conversation, although it doesn't necessarily have to be a bottom bracket/crank mounted system. 

Will anything like these examples supplant the traditional multiple chain wheel/front derailleur set ups prevalent today? Will materials technologies and manufacturing processes become advanced enough that these alternative ways of driving a bicycle will become competitive in terms of efficiencies and weight?  

Well, that's the thing, innit? The derailleur drive train surely has the fewest moving parts, lightest weight, and highest efficiency of any of the alternatives. Maybe someday we'll see a takeover, but there is a pretty solid reason we've seen the drive trains the way they have been for so many decades, and it has nothing at all to do with marketing.

Gizmo alert! A Bell Super with a 360° camera?
Bell Introduces A New Integrated Camera/Helmet Concept: 360 FLY

You can't get it until Fall of this year, and no one knows exactly what it will cost, ("Expensive" would be a good guess), but this new helmet/camera product should be the wave of the future for active sports video capture fans. No more funky looking "box on the head" craziness. Or so it is hoped.

Okay, as a concept, I like this idea. It's streamlined, looks great, and makes a lot more sense than what passes for helmets and cameras these days. But the technology that this set up promises is radical. By the way, Bell is doing this on a MX motorcycle helmet, a road motorcycle helmet, a snow sports helemet, and this mountain biking version. I can't imagine that at some point a road cycling helmet option wouldn't be offered, but that isn't in the cards for now. Anyway, check out the list of what it is claimed to do:
  • 360° perspective video capture
  • Shoots video at 2880 X 2880 @ 30FPS
  • Also Shoots Conventional 16 X 9 Video
  • Developed In Conjunction With 360fly
  • Uses 360fly's Mobile Ap To Stream Live Video To Social Media
  • Built In GPS Sensor, Barometer, Altimeter, Accelerometer  
  • WiFi and Bluetooth Enabled
  • 2hrs Battery Life
  • AutoPilot action tracking – Allows users to track and follow the main subjects in their videos, making it easy to create dynamic edits with the rider at the center of it all.
  •  Collision Avoidance Alert – Senses and automatically notifies the rider of potential oncoming dangers that are outside the rider’s natural field of vision
  •  Live Streaming -- For professional, commercial or advanced users looking to live stream 360-degree video, the integrated camera pairs with its Micro-HDMI accessory base (sold separately) and is able to output a real-time full 360-degree HD video stream 
I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords. (<===HA!) No....I'll probably not be getting one of these, but I think you can expect to see the lowly bicycle helmet become a device sooner than later. In fact, just this week Garmin announced a HUD display unit that can be used with any eyewear you might have. Oh, and did you see that Nikon sports camera? Yeah......cyclists could end up looking like a rolling Robocop sooner than you think!

Now.......where did I leave that USB cord? I have to plug my helmet in for the night!

That's all for this week folks! Stay warm and roll those wheels when and where ya can!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Iron Cross had a SRAM car on course for Neutral support.