Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bamboo Bike

Check out this bamboo bike at http://www.bmeres.com/bambooframe.htm

It looks really cool and it should be flexible and light.

For some time now, I have been fixated with the idea of building my own bike. I discussed this with Rohan and we are trying to figure out what materials to use.

I am thinking of fibre-glass since carbon-fibre seems very expensive. But now even bamboo seems viable. I am planning to start by building a frame for a road-bike so any ideas are welcome !!

Disc Brakes !!

For the past few weeks I have tried to configure my disc pads to not touch the disk while riding. But try as I might, I couldn't get it to work. Plus, the front disc when engaged, would cause the front wheel to twist to one side.

I then removed my front brakes that the rear brakes should be enough :-)
I couldn't get the brake lever off since I need a small hex key to get it off. The front wheel rotates smoothly now. Initially, it was a bit scary to ride the bike since it took longer to come to a stop. I hope to replace it with V-brakes once Rohan gets his shop up and running.

The freewheel is also giving me some problems and I plan to open it up soon once I get the right tools.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Wayanad bike trip

I went motor-biking to Wayanad a couple of weeks back with colleagues and Clarissa. I was supposed to go without Clarissa since she could not bunk work on Saturday morning to leave early. But girls being girls, she did not let me go since she did not want to be alone for the weekend.

So my colleagues left on Saturday morning while I went to play cricket :-( . After lunch, I called up my colleagues who had just reached Wayanad. On a whim, I decided to leave for Wayanad immediately. So I called up Clarissa, packed up a few things, picked her up at BMTC and set sail for Wayanad.

Alas, Bangalore traffic did not let me escape and i managed to get out of Bangalore only at 4pm. After that, it was a great drive to Mysore. The roads are straight and well laid. We reached Mysore at 7pm. It was another 120km to Wayanad. It was already dark and we did not want to cross Bandipur forest at night. So we stayed over at a ramshackle motel in Nanjangud.

The next day, we started off at 6.30am. The drive through Bandipur forest was amazing. There are bamboo forests on both sides of the road. We reached Wayanad at 9am. We had breakfast and then went pedal-boating on some lake nearby. After that, we set off for Calicut, another 50km. A brief stop at Calicut beach and then back to Wayanad. By this time, my ass was killing me and I had to ask a colleague, Gabbar to ride my bike.

Back at Wayanad, we could get down to the important business of getting stone drunk. True to form, I passed out early. I was amazed by Gabbar's capacity to hold his booze. He always had a beer bottle with him whether it was 7am or 11pm.

The next day we started back for Bangalore. On the way, we visited Edakkal caves. The roads are very steep and my Yam kept jumping up in first gear.

We had a Pulsar 180, CBZ, Fiero and my Yamaha Rx-135. I tried out all the bikes on the way back. A quick review:

1. The CBZ has absolutely no pickup. It touches 105 but takes an awful lot of time to get there. But, it is very stable and the drum brakes had quite a bite.
2. The Fiero was the only bike which reminded me of my bike's pickup. It pulls really well all the way up to 100. The road grip was better that my bike, but not in the CBZ or Pulsar class.
3. I got to ride the Pulsar after dark so I couldnt push it all the way. But I was very comfortable to ride at 100 on Mysore road at night. The disc brakes are very good. when it comes to pickup, it was in the same league as the Fiero.

The final rating IMHO (very disputable) from best to average:
Stability (Road-grip): CBZ, Pulsar, Fiero, Rx-135
Pickup: Rx-135, Fiero, Pulsar, CBZ
Top speed: Pulsar, CBZ, Fiero, Rx-135
Ride Quality (Bikes I enjoyed riding): Pulsar, Rx-135, Fiero

PS: Another colleague crashed my bike on the way back. Thank God, it was a minor accident. Maybe a road trip is never complete without one.


Check out what Curtis DeForest has created, HyperBike.
Talk about thinking out of the box !! And NASA is going to fund further research. Imagine Mars crawling with astronauts on Hyperbikes.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sex - Women - Marriage

I was chatting with a colleague over lunch. The conversation veered towards his principles and ideas about women. He has a very interesting theory for this:

All women can be categorized into 3 brackets depending on their sexual experience:
1. Sluts (more than 3)
2. Experienced Women (1 or 2)
3. Virgin (do I need to explain this)

A woman should only marry a guy in the same bracket for marital bliss. Note that men are not categorized since all men are opportunistic.

Assuming an arranged marriage setting, when he meets a girl, he will explain to her which category he falls in and request her to reject his proposal if she did not belong to the same category. He would not judge her based on her reply.

I couldn't believe that this could be done practically. The whole idea of going up to a girl and asking her is she is a slut (no matter how you put it across) sounds fraught with danger. The word "slut" maybe the most disrespectful word that you can say to a woman.

He has actually discussed this theory with women although they supposedly beat his ass for it.

I cannot figure out why sex could be the most important factor for a marriage's success. I agree that it is very important and the lack of it or mismatch between the individual's sexual appetites could lead to problems.

Any man would gladly have a fling with a more experienced woman but would feel insecure to marry her.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hero Octane Review

I have been bitten by the cycling bug and as a part of this, I plan to review as many Indian bikes as I can get my hand on.

I'll start off with my own bike, Hero Octane 26T.
My colleague Rohan Kini has also reviewed my bike. Read it at Rohan's blog

Lets start with the bike parts. Check my previous post for a picture of the bike.
Cost: Rs 9600 with VAT (I obviously got cheated)
1. Aluminum frame,
2. Narrowest seat ever (I actually like this)
3. Has a carrier (I carry a laptop and spare clothes to work and this makes a huge difference)
4. Full (Front and rear) suspension
5. Disc brakes
6. Shimano 24 speed gears.

1. Rear suspension ;-)
2. Ugly carrier sticking out
3. Build quality (the pedal reflectors fell off on the first ride)

Rear suspensions are a bad idea if you plan to use your bike only to commute to work. They cause the bike to bob up and down when you pedal which not only feels weird but wastes energy. In traffic jams, I ride on the footpath and the rear suspensions are useful here. Rear suspensions help only when you go off the road unless you buy one with anti-bobbing suspension.

The carrier although butt ugly is functional. My backpack weighs about 7kgs with the laptop and spare clothes. I find it very difficult to breathe while cycling full tilt with the bag on my back.

The Octane is actually heavier than the Thunder but still lighter than steel frame bikes. The extra weight is due to the rear suspensions.

Right now, I have a plethora of problems with the bike:
1. The disc brakes touch the sleeves.
2. The front gears do not shift to the lowest gear.
3. The front chain rings are either bent or not aligned correctly.
4. The chain touches the front dérailleur in some gear combinations.
5. The disc brakes have a lot of play and do not feel so responsive.

Overall, I am not impressed with Hero Octane's build quality or the dealers servicing.

Another thing, this bike has quick release knobs for the tyres and seat. Although this is very helpful, it also makes it very easy to rob the bike's parts.

This bike is lighter than my previous bike, Hero Swing.
The handle bars are very close to the seat and reduces stability.
The rear gears shift cleanly but the front gears feel clunky. The front gears also slip off the chain ring when I try to shift to top gear. But I think this is due to faulty installation.
The freewheel does not spin cleanly.

The bike is better than the Hero Swing but not worth the extra money. Th Firefox Target will retail for Rs 10,200 at Rohan's soon-to-open shop. But more about that later.

Guide to buying a cycle in Bangalore

I decided to visit Majestic, SP Road and Commercial Street, in that order, to find out more about Hero Thunder Racer

A. S. Char street is close to Majestic and has a long line of cycle traders. Initially, none of the traders I asked had ever heard of this bike, finally somebody pointed out a shop called Jayant Cycles at the end of the street who were supposed to be the largest dealers around.

The owner of Jayant Cycles, a dude called Hemant Shah, seemed to be a jovial dude, passionate about cycles. He not only had my bike but also had showrooms for Firefox and Trek bikes. The Thunder Racer costs 6500 bucks without gears and 7,900 with gears. He then talked about the Hero Octane and praised it no end. He did not have any of these bikes assembled so I had to just evaluate them according to pictures and tech specs.

I finally had the following choices:
1) Hero Thunder Racer (with gear) - Rs. 7,900
2) Hero Octane - Rs. 9200
3) Firefox Target - Rs. 11,500

The Target seemed too expensive so I had to stack up Octane vs Thunder. Octane has disc brakes, full suspension and Shimano 24 speed gears. Thunder Racer doesn't have any of these and would be fitted with 6 gears of some local brand. So I decided to buy the Octane.

The moment I saw the assembled bike, I regretted my choice. It had a weird looking frame and the carrier was sticking out. But it was too late to do anything since I had already paid.

The first time I rode the bike, the reflector on the pedals broke off. I had to ride back through busy Majestic and couldn't get the hang of the bike since the gears felt very different.

I can't stop regretting my decision. I had set out to only find out more information about road bikes and ended up buying an MTB instead. I hope the Octane proves me wrong !!