Ms. High Viz in traffic, commanding the lane
The Sorry, Didn’t See You Mate article from London Cyclist raises a lot of interesting points and we’ve seen some of them before in cyclist visibility studies ; as well as that YouTube video with the basketball gorilla . It also reminds me about a safety focus, or lack thereof in the industry. Related too is a product like the ICEDot , that’s seeking community funding. Because, I guess, the product is a nonstarter with helmet manufactures.
We are the result of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. Our eyes, and the way that our brain processes the images that they receive, are very well suited to creeping up on unsuspecting antelopes and spotting threats such as sabre-toothed tigers.
These threats are largely gone and they’ve been replaced by vehicles traveling towards us at high speeds. This, we’ve not yet adapted to deal with.
The London Cyclist article convincingly makes the point that drivers don’t see us for evolutionary reasons. Humans aren’t built to go that fast and see that much; especially a slim object like a cyclist on the side of the road. The ICEDot phones home when the sensors detect a hard impact. I’ve been in an unusual number of crashes this year and one left me immobile for a time on the ground. Colleagues like Patrick Brady , Cruftbox are hurt too, a teammate broke his neck, and Wiggo just got hit by a van.
ICEDot Sensors phone home
Sure, cycling injury statistics are low in comparison to driving. I’m not arguing numbers, but anecdotally do get asked about safety. Why I’d ride downtown or in traffic.
Considering this further, I’ve asked why commuter bikes don’t ship with running lights connected to dynamo hubs, a proximity detector to alert a cyclist to a car closing in, or other safety features like a phone home? There are reflectors in the box when a bike ships and I never see them on a bike outside of a bike shop. Lawyer tabs too that get filed off.
There’s either no market or a reluctance to admit there’s danger riding in traffic, as so many more cyclists are doing. Would mass-marketing a product like the ICEdot alleviate concerns of a worried potential cyclist? Don’t know, but it’s worth asking and discussing. It’s time for a next-generation safety bike . This bike would focus on the daily commute, like how the last one replaced one big wheel and a little wheel with the double-triangle design we all ride today.
Riding safe on a safety bike with few cars around
Note: I don’t want to set off a helmet debate here, that’s a personal choice, and ICEDot devices are also placed elsewhere on the body or bike.
I have posted a few of Ben Wilson’s pedal powered creations in the past. His designs like the ARTIKCAR , the SeeBikeSaw , the Bike_Kar , and the Pocket Rocket 2 may have been one-off art projects, but his latest bike is a product that you can actually purchase. The 20 inch wheel, 3-speed Donky Bike features a heavy duty steel frame with front and rear racks. Though the racks are an integrated part of the frame, they are removable for storage. According to Wilson, “In the future, Donky bike will offer further accessories which will be able to clip onto the frame.” Check out the website for more information about the bike. You can also purchase one there if you are so inclined.
Another bicycle that caught my attention recently is the Metropolitan , by Italian motorcycle accessories company Rizoma. The seat tube free frame design reminds me a bit of the early monocoque Kestrels that we sold in the bike shop where I worked in college. I still have a lingering affinity for those vintage Kestrel frames, so maybe that’s why this bike intrigues me a bit. Some of the design details are pretty interesting too… particularly the handlebar/stem assembly (see detail shots of that and more here ). At €3,700 though, this is definitely NOT an urban bike for the masses…and I won’t get into the sizing and step over clearance issues that this type of frame introduces. It does look nice though, as you might expect for a bike designed and manufactured in Italy, so if you have that kind of money burning a hole in your pocket…why not?
I stopped on Sunset Drive in Monterey, got my iPhone out, started riding again, and recorded an audio note. TheMclaren Venge test ride was such a complexity of emotions, I wanted to make sure I captured what I was thinking before riding other bikes at the Specialized Global Launch.
I was blown, elated, and amazed. Indicating my state of mind, at the end of the recording I thanked myself – I think for the bike attack I made (on myself) up Carmel Hill. Between loud breaths and the drivetrain, you can hear me blabbering. Also cursing.
Note: Contains NSFW language.
I’ve experienced religion just a few times on the bike. DFL at Nationals (CX), riding in India, China, medaling and riding the Mclaren Venge. It feels like what millions of dollars spent in an F1 lab does. It’s dialed. The bike feels literally glued to the road. It feels like there’s ground effects going on and just propels you. Could’nt have been a better test experience to hop from group to group that were dealers testing. I just f’ing railed it and uh, went so hard I blew up. So I needed more fuel. More horsepower for that ride.
I’m a 44 yr-old, Cat 2 Masters Racer. I can drive a line, bridge a gap and finish mid pack. I looked down at the speedo while jumping between groups and I was going 31.5 mph with a slight sidewind and not at full effort. 15k? Really for that sensation and speed, I’d pay more. That go-fast rush is what we train, ride, and watch the Tour for on TV. It’s those moments when we feel like we’re Thor bridging gaps and going onto win. The test ride was perfect because Specialized dealers were on 17-mile drive riding bikes and I bridged between them. The bike jumps well and when you get it up to speed, the magic happens. Just like aero wheels that produce lift, this bike goes from 24 on up very quickly. It’s noticeable. I think aerodynamically, that’s known as being slippery. If I actually owned this bike, I’d call it the Salmon because it’s out there fighting the currents and is very determined to get to where it wants to go.
Is the Mclaren Venge attainable? Not for most and Specialized has a stock version of the Venge. I rode that too. It retails for $8800 with SRAM Red. The Venge is not your best, overall, everyday race bike. I’d ride my Davidson Hotspur for that and Specialized has their SL4. I also rode the Tarmac and will review it later.
This bike is for the roleur, as Chris D’Aluisio, head of Specialized Road R&D tells us in this video.
You want the Venge for the circuits, flats, and rolling terrain. I’ll need to ride the stock Venge again in a crit to double check on how it’d do flying out of twisty, bumpy turns. It may buck you off the saddle like a bronco or dive and turn like a Seabird in Puget Sound.
Using a famous Sinyard quote, “you feel every cigarette butt in the road.” Bandaids too. Even the spit and sweat the guy in front left on the road. Be careful, cause you’ll come up on him fast. The ground effects are real. In the various groups I rode with, before punching out of them, I’d roll up on the wheel in front of me without pedaling.
The difference between the two Venges? It’s like a Glenfiddich Scotch Single Malt 30 Year Old v. the 12. Both are quite good. The 12 is outstanding, but the 30 is wow, smooth, refined, and much more expensive. You save that bottle or bike, if you can afford it, for the special occasions.
In the next few weeks, I’ll write follow-up technical posts with more on the Venge, why it looks so good, and goes so fast. Also see my initial thoughts on the bike posted to G+