Monday, March 17, 2008

A few neat things from Taipei...

Road bikes are road bikes, mountain bikes are mountain bikes, ho hum, yawn. Fun to ride, but they're a dime-a-dozen and they all look the same except for paint color and decals. What was fun to see were some of the commuter/urban/e/transportation type bikes.

The name on these bikes was Novo. I like the simplicity and the location of the battery pack. The models with the battery pack integrated in the rack seems like a little bit too much weight too high on the bike, but overall, I liked the style.

The wiring was pretty clean hiding withing the confines of the fender...

...and through the frame.

That little spring thing attached between the down tube and the fork was fairly common on a lot of the similarly designed bikes at the show. I hadn't seen it before, but it seems to be some kind of a system to keep the front wheel straight. The bars still turned freely. It would be interesting to see how it worked in a riding situation. Actually, on second thought, it might be a good addition for a lot of road and tri bikes to keep them on the straight and narrow. A kind of anti-squirrel feature.

(Rant on)
I don't know why it happened or why it seems to have stuck, but the spec'ing of suspension seatpost, adjustable stem, and suspension fork on these types of bikes is really a disservice. Those suspension seat posts are heavy and klunky with a simple spring inside them much like a pogo stick. Most seats that are perched on top of suspension seat posts have more comfortable travel than a suspension post. The suspension seat post just adds unnecessary weight to the bike.

Adjustable stems. Does anyone adjust them in any position except bolt up-right? Why not use a fixed stem? There's plenty of adjustment within the quill extension. All those bolts and adjustment pieces on the stem just add to unnecessary complexity and possible problems.

A nice aluminum rigid fork would save a bunch of weight. Most of these types of bikes have such a rearward weight bias that a suspension fork does little. In addition, those cheap suspension forks for comfort or trekking bikes usually feature a rust-prone upper legs and very little sophistication in the suspension system. Again, the suspension system usually consists of pogo-like springs. The cheap suspension fork (while looking cool on the sales floor) is a huge disservice to the bicycle industry. Not usually serviceable, difficult to replace after the initial sale with a nice rigid fork. Heavy. How many asphalt roads/paths are so rough that a suspension fork actually offers a performance benefit?
(Rant off)

This contraption looked pretty neat. His and hers bikes that can be ridden separately or that could be joined together for a nifty tandem.

By removing the front wheel of one bike and attaching the fork into the QR block just above the rear wheel of the front bike...instant tandem. The wheel that was just removed from the trailing bike can be stowed on one of the bikes in the "dropouts" that you see on the frame.

This sweet little design was probably the coolest bike at the show. I couldn't find much about the GoCycle on the internet except what was noted in today's Bicycle Retailer. Magnesium frame, battery pack that fits into the main frame "tube," and wheels that are interchangeable front-to-back, back-to-front. The "fork" and rear stays are single sided. All it needs is some sort of nifty rear rack and bag system that matches the design of the rest of the bike.

And last, but not least, I give you "Brownish Bugs." These little guys were available for NT$ 200 or about US$ 6.25 at one of the Taoyuan International Airport duty free shops.

(What's playing: Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water)