Connecting and converting: Finding balance in a busy world

By Jeffrey Stern

We all know them, those friends that appreciate the convenience and simplicity of integrating more bike riding into their daily lives, but rarely do it.

Why?

It’s hard to put a finger on one reason why and pin it down as the end all, be all for all of our once in-shape adventure buddies turned lazy, drive everywhere around town people. Bikes are not just for kids and we all know that. The holistic health benefits from the cardiovascular system to the release of the well known happiness chemical dopamine, make it clear: cycling and exercise in general can be addicting.

C’mon, who doesn’t want to feel happy?

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I can point to many rides throughout my life that perhaps started a bit melancholy. Maybe it was a fight with a friend, a disappointment at work or just general stress from life. Getting out the door and on my bike was the last thing I felt like doing, but was the absolutely necessary thing I needed to be doing. Not only for my heart and my head, but for my general pleasantness around other people. Moods can be contagious after all.

Too often these days, our technology driven society finds solace in a screen – from large TVs, to computers, tablets and phones (the latter getting bigger every year). We’re addicted to hits of dopamine from love through a screen; likes, comments, any type of virtual high-five you can imagine. This hooks us more than how we’re spending the time engaging with the world around us and people in our lives.

I recently read a great story about mountain biking legend Mark Weir in Adventure Sports Journal where he said empathically, “I’ll be out on a good rip with some younger guys and every time we stop for a break, they’re pulling out their phones. It makes me want to pull out my phone, but I don’t want to pull out my phone. I hate my phone. It drives me crazy. I yell at them to put their damn phones away and look at each other. Talk to each other. Communicate with each other. We can’t lose this most elemental form of being a human.”

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It’s amazing to see how quickly generations can change, molded by advances in technology, in some ways for the better, but in others not so good.

The young adults of society want to wander, not beholden to a normal job or one mountain town, but the freedom to point a compass in the direction of something beautiful and just go.

For many of us, the moments in life when we feel most fulfilled are those which find us moving towards something new; albeit a challenge, location or the unknown. Right now, the unknown is the health of the bike industry.

With more and more generations turning away from bikes to their phones and other technologies that absorb our time, where will be in ten years from now?

Stagnation amongst the users with dusty (not from the trails) tires waiting to be ridden needs to be stifled in order to help change the winds. Sometimes the best way to connect with a lost passion, is to disconnect with whatever may be currently consuming us. It’s that first step that can be the hardest, but nothing beats the wind in your face heart pumping joy of a spin around town. Except maybe bringing a friend along with to enjoy the ride. Screen time can wait, just get out and ride. Even if it’s just to the grocery store, on the cruiser bike, I guarantee you won’t regret it.

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LeEco Introduces Android-Powered “Smart Bike”

LeEco is a Chinese company that specializes in a vast array of “smart” lifestyle products. They’ve most recently brought their latest invention to the U.S.—a pair of smart bikes, one designed as a road bike and the other a mountain bike.

These bikes are powered by the Android OS, and include an integrated touchscreen display that helps cyclists track rides and their performance. The 4″ screen displays turn-by-turn directions tailored for cyclists, online and offline music playback, walkie-talkie communication with other LeEco smart bikes, and ride tracking. The bikes also include a vast array of built-in sensors, including GPS, a compass, accelerometer, barometer, light level, wheel speed, and crank speed. They are compatible with third-party heart rate sensors and power meters as well.

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In addition, the bikes include built-in lighting (front, sides, and rear), a horn, and a security alarm. When the alarm is activated, the bikes can be set up to automatically notify their owner, and their location is tracked via the integrated GPS.

All the built-in electronics are water-resistant.

The road bike features a carbon frame, fork, bars, seatpost, and wheels, and is equipped with a 1×11 drivetrain. The mountain bike is also built around a carbon frame, with an SR Suntour XCR Air front fork, 1×11 drivetrain, and a 27.5 wheelset.

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Price points for these bikes have not been released yet, but word is they should be available for purchase by the middle of 2017.

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Bicycle Times Issue #40 is here!

Two-wheeled travel has always been a lightning rod for innovation. Steel tubing, ball bearings and pneumatic tires can all trace their origins to bicycle applications. By the late 19th century a full one-third of all U.S. patent applications were for bicycle-related designs, according to the Franklin Institute. Some interesting ones we found include a sail-powered bike (Patent No. 6932368), a double bicycle for “looping the loop” in circus performances (No. 790063) and a wild one-wheel bicycle with the rider sitting inside the wheel (No. 325548).


Get a copy: You can order Bicycle Times Issue #40 here.


Of course the bicycle builds on inventions that came before it. The wheel is seen as perhaps the greatest invention of all time, and its creation is a far more complex tale than the bicycle’s. In this issue we excerpt a portion of Richard W. Bulliet’s book, “The Wheel,” that documents how there are actually three distinct types of wheels, each with its own origin story.

Since the “ordinary” design with two wheels of the same diameter was introduced in the 1870s, the bicycle has largely rolled along an evolutionary path. But now with the introduction of so many new technologies so quickly, will the bicycle be radically transformed from the simple, mechanical form we know it as today? And how will our experience interacting with it change? See some of the interesting examples that could represent the future—or failure—in this issue.

And what about the bikes themselves? How are they changing? We got our hands of one of the most distinct bicycles in years, the new Cannondale Slate, for our lead product review. Its unorthodox and distinctive suspension fork is derived from mountain bikes, and it might take you places on a road bike you could never go before.

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The best thing about technology is that it is always expanding. Old technologies are rarely lost. Bicycles are still being ridden that are generations old, but still bring a smile to our faces and wind across our cheeks. Whether your interest in technology celebrates the new or the old, the bicycle has something for everyone.

In this issue

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Inventing the wheel

The history of wheeled travel is diverse, opinionated and often circumspect. In this excerpt from “The Wheel,” by Richard W. Bulliet, we learn how something as ubiquitous as the wheel isn’t as simple as you might think.

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Wear with care

Proper cycling apparel is an investment, and if you want it to stay functional and comfortable for the long haul, you need to take care of it. We discuss textiles and apparel care with the experts.

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Bikes in paradise

On the tiny Marshall Islands there are no private vehicles, so bicycles are the only way to roll. And just as Darwin would have predicted, there they have evolved some distinguishing characteristics all their own. By Jordan Vinson.

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Bike to the future

The cycling industry has always drawn entrepreneurs and innovators. Take a look at some of the ideas that could change the way you ride. By Adam Newman.

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How LED Lights Work

Learn how these tiny diodes can emit such powerful light. By Karl Rosengarth.

Plus

Catching up with Charlie Kelly

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Product reviews

  • Cannondale Slate
  • Felt V55
  • Scott Sub EVO 20
  • Faraday Porteur
  • GT Traffic 1.0
  • Bike lights
  • Commuting gear
  • Shoes and pedals
  • Electronics
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