Here's a nice and fun-looking velomobile that also doubles as a boat. You've got to love the ambition, but it seems to work better on land than on sea. Being a swimmer, I'd rather park my HPV and swim to my next destination. Still, one can dream.
Things go smoothly until the rider drives it uphill -- always tough on a 'bent anyway -- and out of the water. Presumably the tires skid or get stuck. I'm not sure how I would ever use this?
Human Powered Velomobile Bikes over Land or Seahttp://www.inhabitat.com/2009/10/13/human-powered-velomobile-bikes-over-land-or-sea/
NYC Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2009 Robert Matson
A quick note. Was talking with folks at Volae about trailers.
Volae is discouraging Volae owners from touring with BOB single wheel trailers. Now, I own and love my BOB, but apparently, at high speeds -- e.g., downhill -- a heavy BOB can cause steering problems on a Volae. This might be due to the fact that Volaes are designed with about 60% of rider weight towards the rear wheel. Instead, Volae recommends two-wheel trailers, e.g. the Burley or Croozer, or loading the bike with panniers.
I personally own both a BOB and a 2-wheel Burley flatbed. I've used the Burley trailer regularly for hauling things to storage, back from the grocery, and once with a heavy load for a video shoot in car-free Prospect Park. It's been a reliable design for me, so far, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. Moreover, it should be easier to adapt to most SWB 'bents, given that you need not use the special quick release skewer as one must with a BOB. Even better, you don't have to sacrifice your Pitlock skewers to use it.
The "Croozer" brand also looks good. I've seen it in person and spoke with an owner but haven't ridden with it as of my writing this today.
I rec'd this note from Adventure Cycling. I helped in a small way to make this happen by hooking them up with Bike NY for a meeting space. Should be interesting to hear about updates to the national bike route system.
We'd like to invite you to a special Adventure Cycling regional gathering in Manhattan on Thursday, October 22 from 6:30-8:00 pm.
Our Executive Director, Jim Sayer, will be in town and will be sharing the latest news on bicycle travel and adventures in North America (and perhaps beyond!). He'll be looking to the year ahead, with new routes, trips, and policy and outreach initiatives to improve bicycling and bike travel in the U.S. There will also be time for you to share your thoughts, ideas and stories. Refreshments will be provided.
Join us at the historic HI-AYH building on the Upper West Side (also headquarters to Bike New York). It is located at 891 Amsterdam Avenue (at West 103rd Street). The subway is nearby on the #1 train at 103rd Street.
Please RSVP by October 19th by responding to this email or calling me, Beth Petersen, at 800-755-2453 x 211. We also encourage you to invite friends or family. We are looking for a few volunteers to help with the event by picking up some snacks and beverages, and prepping the gathering location.
Fall is always a time of change in my business, where bicycle sales start to fall off, but the new bikes and bike technologies begin to arrive. At the same time, the creative side of my business begins to pick up, as if everyone is madly catching up on the time lost during the hot summer months.
The weather is better -- cooler -- for riding and hiking, though the leaves are beginning to fall, hiding the potholes and glass shards and making the wet, oily NY streets yet more slippery. However much I like Spring, Fall may be my favorite time of year. The time of change. And "change" is always a nice place to be. Besides, with bike sales falling off, I suddenly have more time to ride again, and that is so nice, indeed.
Today I took time to study the details of the HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx: the frame and clamps and springs and braze-ons and the myriad of quick releases and the other details that make these bikes the masterpieces of engineering that they are.
People often ask what could possibly be the difference between an excellent bike, like a Volae, which is really everything a person could reasonable want from a road bike, and an HP Velotechnik, which might be two or three times the price and triple the wait for special orders.
Although the question falls into the category of "you simply have to own one to understand," today, an explanation began to vaguely take shape: it's in the details of the darn thing. Unfortunately, this is a used cliche, but it's perfectly apt.
HPV engineers have thought carefully and intelligently about each one of the tiniest details. There is nothing misplaced, neglected, forgotten, misaligned. Quite simply, it seems to me, the HPV team set out to create the absolute best human powered vehicle that their collective intelligence could fabricate. And they succeeded.
Everything seems perfect. Everything is easy. Everything is right. Everything is complete. But, it's a complex piece of machinery. The user manual, for the bike alone, not counting the manuals for the lights or suspension or Magura hydraulic disc brakes, is 72 pages long (in half letter-sized format). And that's only the English language version. But it's easy to read and it's useful; it's not merely a marketing piece in disguise. It's a manual, truly written for the rider. And, as I looked through it, I realized how well it answers many of the questions new riders have. Not all bikes are this complex, but it would be nice if every manufacturer invested in creating a user guide like this. If nothing else, a good manual helps remind riders of the importance of taking care of the bike and how to recognize wear and tear. (Photo of table of contents for Grasshopper fx manual, below.)
There's only one way to describe the Grasshopper fx: it is a masterpiece. There are other great bikes, Volae's Century ES foremost among them. But of masterpieces, there are very, very few.
I keep searching for a comparison, something that most of us can relate to. What is this like? What is this extraordinarily good, and that many of us are blessed to have experienced? What is wonderful and fascinating and perfect in a way that -- surprisingly -- is calming?
Try this. Imagine the most perfect day of your life, the day when everything goes your way. Imagine every ingredient of that perfect day. Imagine the feeling of total perfection of the day, as if everything fits snugly and perfectly. It's the day we each aspire to obtain, but by all rights, can not ever exist. It is unreachable within the imperfection of life. Or, if it happens, it's by chance; a fluke; an oddity that could only happen once.
Or, maybe it could happen, if you could only control each and every detail of the day -- or, rather, by entirely giving up control over every detail of the day. A day, built entirely of flow, and peace. A day of such evenness that you feel thoroughly alive, eager, alert.
The Perfect Day is the nearest description I can offer for this bike. And, like the perfect day, it oozes life energy. Some things are so fine you don't dare touch, taste or use them; they're intimidating; what good is a bike that's so beautiful that you're afraid to ride it? Grant, from Rivendell Bicycle Works, wrote a piece in early 2009 describing exactly this phenomenon; that of the conflict between pride of ownership and fear of usership. What's so wonderful about a Grasshopper is the way it embraces you, instead of intimidating you. You just want to ride it, no matter where or how. I've even zip-tied a plastic milk crates to the rack, like the cheapest ghetto cruiser, to carry heavy junk across town. I treat it like a truck as well as like a sports car. It just wants to go.
For me, the Grasshopper increases my yearning to take it on a trip; it feels like a good companion, for you can see and feel all the attention that has gone into making the bike complete. It's a bike with soul. It's a good friend in those quiet moments.
In this way, like anything that is extremely well made, it transcends its existence of merely being a bike. Truly, it is a vehicle, a vehicle for experiencing some of the richness of life.
Neptune's rig (photo by R. Matson).
Oh, by the way, all those on-line "experts" who say it's heavy and slow? Don't believe them. Ask for a photo. They're probably weak and out of shape. It's an aerodynamic frame, goes as fast as you want, and weighs only about 7 pounds more than my Brompton folding bike. Heavy, my eye.
A friend's Dutch-style upright, made by NYC Bikes/Spokes and Strings was stolen this evening from in front of Mark Morris Dance Company / BAM (Bklyn Academy of Music).
Admittedly, she might have been using a stronger lock. But still, I'm irritated. We had it nicely fitted out with Danish running lights, new steel handlebars, a large Wald basket, a nice seat, 3M reflective tape, and a few other practical niceties.
The lesson remains what I've known for a long time: use a lock made from hardened steel, no matter how heavy it makes your bike. One has to spend at least $80 for a lock that will discourage a professional thief. Also, get locking skewers for your wheels and seat and a locking Ahead bolt so your front fork can't be stolen.
Here is a good article at Slate, including lock reviews that consisted of breaking them open. Among the surprises was that a Kryptonite U-lock that I've used for a long time and believed to be strong, is not. The writer sawed it open in a New York minute.
In case you were wondering what it looks like when HP Velotechniks arrive, here's a photo.
These are the first of the 2010 HP Velotechniks, ordered at Interbike 2009: a Grasshopper fx and a Street Machine Gte, both with a full commuting and touring fit-out. The SM has HPV's new seat (photo below).
When the arguments are in and weighed, I shall likely remain in favor of me and my loved ones wearing helmets when we bicycle, even though some research suggests that the act of wearing a helmet actually makes us more likely to be hit by a passing vehicle.
According to a September 2006 BBC story (link below), research demonstrates that "Cyclists who wear protective helmets are more likely to be knocked down by passing vehicles, new research from Bath University suggests."
Still, I shall continue to wear a helmet, because I stubbornly believe that if, or more pessimistically, when I am in an accident, it will help protect my head to some degree. And, if nothing else, by wearing a helmet I am showing my wife that I want to see her again, even if we just had an argument. And I am promising to my nieces and nephews that I want to see them again. And I'm promising to my clients and customers that I'm going to come through on my promises. And I am promising to myself that I'll take the precautions necessary so I can compete in next season's masters swimming events. In other words, I'll wear a helmet because I take myself seriously, I care about my well being and I care about other people.
After years of cycling in New York City, and witnessing the habits of other cyclists, I have come to strongly suspect that it is the act of caring, and having safe riding habits, rather than the presence of a helmet on the cyclist's head, which results in cyclist safety. Too bad once again motorists have to spoil the party -- as well as the environment -- by driving yet more dangerously around helmet-wearing cyclists.
Unfortunately, those who would legislate bicycle helmet wearing seem more concerned with winning their argument than with saving lives or protecting cyclists' health. Presumably they make money if they win their argument; no other force is powerful enough to distort simple evidence or widely accepted notions of self-determination.
The most typical argument, as it is revealed in public anyway, goes something like this: In the first place, helmets protect the head. In the second place, facts show that when cyclists are hit by motorists, fewer of those who wore helmets end up dead; and, in contrast, more of those who were NOT wearing helmets, DO end up dead. Therefore, helmets must provide the cyclists with safety.
However, it is a causal assumption, and precisely the sort of superficially convincing argument put forth by a person who is more concerned with winning arguments (and making money) than with being right (and saving lives).
I would imagine that in and among the many cyclists who are hit by cars every year, there are some who are tragically or mortally injured someplace other than the head, like, perhaps, the spine or the internal organs. It is obvious that a bicycle helmet does not prevent a car from hitting a cyclist in the first place. Add to this the research demonstrating that, rather than protect the rider, the presence of a helmet INCREASES the likelihood that the cyclist will be struck.
(Foot note: one wonders if it's better to wear no helmet at all, rather than one that fits improperly or is incorrectly adjusted, since an ill-fitting helmet provides little protection and the act of wearing a helmet increases the risk of being hit by an over-taking car.)
Being as I live in America and no longer so naive, I believe the insurance companies likely have a hand in advancing the cause of helmet wearing laws. For one thing, who else would care. It can't be mothers, because Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) are...against drunk driving. I can't imagine doctors and dentists objecting as a mass political force; after all, it gives them more work, and some of it probably pretty interesting. That leaves perhaps the unions of school teachers, compelled to mass march because they're fed up with their math and history lessons going down the drain when their ex-students are hit by cars. Right? I don't think so.
The weather vane points to the insurers -- motor and health insurance, at least. The logic is so simple most dunces could follow the money trail: when (not if) motorists -- drunk, tired or distracted -- hit cyclists, the insurance company of the driver will be called upon to pay damages to the injured cyclist or the family of the killed cyclist. The insurance company will be compelled to pay LESS money to a less severely injured cyclist than to a more severely injured cyclist (and presumably still more to the survivors of the dead cyclist). Furthermore, the health insurance company of the injured cyclist will be looking at a smaller average medical bill from cyclists -- dead or otherwise -- who were protecting their heads, but larger average medical bills from those who were not.
From the perspective of insurance companies who are involved in the equation, obviously, the financial incentive is to pay as little as possible for claims. That's been proven often enough. Therefore, insurers would naturally prefer there to be laws that require all cyclists to wear helmets. And not because it will save lives.
The question I wish to raise is this: if motorists drive more dangerously around cyclists who wear helmets, why are not more helmet-wearing cyclists killed?
Presumably one reason is because when they are knocked off their bikes, they suffer fewer brain injuries. But I don't believe that's the main reason. The main, overwhelming reason is that those riders who care enough to wear helmets to begin with are simply more inclined to ride cautiously; they care more about their health and well-being and they're motivated to take safety precautions to protect themselves. ...Like wearing helmets, yes, but also, precautions like not running red lights, using lights at night, getting regular tune-ups and checking their brakes before each ride, etc.
About a year ago, I mentioned this notion to a researcher in the automotive industry whom I met at a transportation conference here in New York. (His name was John, he had a PhD, he was from Michigan, he worked for Ford, and he also happened to be a touring cyclist.)
In reply, and in support of my theory, he relayed a true story about Volvo cars, which are famous for being particularly safe. And why are they safe? John's story went along the lines of this: transportation researchers were looking at video footage taken from above a roadway to observe how much space motorists were allowing between their own car and the other cars on the road. As the data accumulated, an intriguing fact began to emerge: on average, drivers of Volvo cars, in comparison to the drivers of other makes, put more space between their car and the car in front.
In other words, the operators of Volvos drove more cautiously. Their cars didn't FORCE them to drive more cautiously. They, simply, drove more cautiously. Now, Volvos may well have features that make the cars safe. But could it ALSO be, that Volvo cars, through successful marketing, particularly appeal to drivers who are inclined to drive cautiously? And is it too far-fetched to argue that cautious drivers have fewer bad accidents than incautious drivers? I think not.
I shall go out on a sturdy limb and suggest that cautious cyclists are less likely to have accidents than incautious cyclists. And cautious cyclists are more likely to wear helmets. And are more likely to behave, overall, in ways that decrease the likelihood they will have an accident.
Generally, when I see a cyclist riding like an idiot -- riding the wrong way down a one-way street, running red lights, swerving through traffic, talking on a cell phone while riding, riding with ear phones in their ears, riding at night without lights, riding an inappropriate or ill-fitting bike, and generally riding carelessly -- they are also rarely wearing helmets.
Conversely, I rarely see cyclists who are wearing helmets but also riding like idiots (I have indeed seen it, but in my experience, it's simply more rare). One can even see this casually, for example when a newspaper publishes an article on-line about some contentious cycling subject. In the reader comments, one will sometimes read multiple criticisms of those who would ride like utter fools "without even wearing a helmet" as if the helmet will protect the idiot from his idiocy. It would be odd to find the perpendicular observation: of cyclists riding idiotically but at LEAST while wearing helmets.
I have no faith that it's the helmet that protects me. But I am a safety-centric cyclist and I shall continue to wear a helmet, even if it compels drivers to drive closer to me. To ward them off a small amount, I put reflective tape on my helmet. And I wear a high-viz highway workers safety vest (research shows it wards drivers away a bit more).
To keep out of the hospital, I shall try to keep from being hit in the first place. If nothing else, I am confident that the mere fact that I think at all about things like safety tape and driver behavior will increase my chances of survival.
Should my efforts to be safe fail to ward off every single one of the millions of terrible drivers in New York, it is my hope that if a driver still manages to hit me -- in spite of the helmet, the high-viz vest, the good cycling habits and the adherence to traffic rules -- that I'll have provided my lawyer with a much better foundation for securing a judgment that adequately pays for my medical needs and/or the needs of my loved ones left behind.
If insurance companies continue to hold the reins of power, one can anticipate future laws that are meant to decrease the insurance payouts but not intended to save lives: cyclists must wear helmets. And cyclists must not wear high-viz safety vests or use bright lights at night. For the insurers, there's more profit to be earned from blaming dead cyclists for their own deaths.
Obviously, from my perspective, I do not consider that an acceptable state of affairs.