Thursday, August 27, 2009

Longer ride

Mostly, I've been biking around Boston and Brookline, but tonight I went to a meeting in Belmont. According to Google Maps, it was 7.3 miles each way. I'd figured it might take me an hour, given traffic, to get there, but it only took 45 minutes. On the way home, with no traffic and a big downhill on Belmont Road, it only took me 35 minutes. Both were much faster than it would have taken me by T.

I'm very glad that I bought a new high-powered front light yesterday ($45), because the way was pretty dark, and Belmont Road and Mt. Auburn have some pretty gnarly potholes. It also helped a lot on the Charles River bike path, which is pretty dark and narrow. (I sure do wish they'd sink some money into upgrading it. It could/should be a brilliant bike/pedestrian path, but it's got a long way to go.)

This was a good chance to check out my range, and ( think 7 or 8 miles one-way is very do-able for events. The weather was great, which made for an especially pleasant ride.

Bike Book Suggestions? Bike repain classes in Boston?

The chain broke on Noah's bicycle this week, so yesterday we headed to REI to pick up a new chain, chain lube, a chain tool, and a new light for my bike (we sunk about $100, but the light wasn't cheap). I normally prefer to use a smaller bike shop, or even a local chain (Landry's), but they all require a lot more riding in traffic, while the REI is a straight shot down the Riverway/Muddy River bike path, which is a lot easier with a nine-year-old along (plus it's near ice cream, which helps motivate my young rider. And me).

One of the things I like about shifting away from using a car and to using bicycles is that they are (theoretically) machines that I can much more easily repair and maintain myself. I'm even thinking about buying a bike repair stand, to make it easier to manage.

I find a lot of bike repair info on the web, which is great. Especially videos. But I'm a book guy at heart. I'd be interested in suggestions for a basic book on bike maintenance and repair. Please let me know your favorites. I'm starting from almost zero knowledge, but I want to learn.

Also, I'm considering taking a class on basic bike maintenance. Have any of you done this? If so, which ones did you try? Please let me know of ones you've tried.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Got to Drive a Truck (still loving Zipcar)

Yesterday, we rented a pickup truck from Zipcar to transport three bales of salt marsh hay over to our community garden plot. I LOVE that Zipcar has pickup trucks available. I was able to reserve this one with just one hour's notice. In two hours, Noah and I got bought the hay, laid it out in the garden, and returned the truck. (I think the cost was about $25 for the truck.) It was a Toyota Tacoma--it fit the bales perfectly, and it reminded me how much fun it is to drive a pickup. (Not that I want to own one.) It'd also be the perfect tool for an IKEA trip (hmm)--in fact there was even an IKEA shopping list left behind from a previous driver.

Having Zipcar around is really making the whole car free thing a LOT easier.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Revo (off road champion)

The South African built Revo is a perfect example of true innovation at it's finest.
It was built by, Achim Bergmann of Thompson Racing, for the Motorite Racing team.

The car is of a space frame construction with a fiberglass body. Tubing is 4130 cro-moly and uses a LS2 6l V8 engine coupled to a Sadev SC90 six speed sequential.

Shocks are American Radflo with secondary pistons in the coil-overs and an external bypass shock per corner. Wheel travel 300mm all round. A Works Bell Paddle Shifter NEO Universal is used to trigger up and down shifts controlled by a Motec M800.

A custom made dust seal was used to seal the paddle shifter from the extreme dust and moisture conditions encountered in off road racing. Up shift cuts ignition and pneumatically selects gear, down shift activates a pneumatic clutch, blips throttle and selects gear.. works very well.

This is Africa's first serious attempt at four-wheel drive Class A Special Vehicle. Power comes from an American built 500hp 6-litre engine and is delivered to all four BF Goodrich tyres via a 6-speed gearbox. Despite a serious air restrictor fitted to keep it in line with the other Class A entries it pulls strongly.

With so much torque on hand, ratios can be kept short but top speed is slightly limited when compared to some of the past competitors. A top speed of just over 180km/h is calculated, which might appear slow but trust me when you doing that off road and approaching a metre deep rut it is insanely fast.

Nigerian Armoured Vehicle

Nigerian Armoured Vehicle

A Nigerian made armoured car was on Thursday launched by President in this month of August 2009 at the eagle square in Abuja.

It is the first home made armoured car, with most of the materials used in its production sourced locally, while others were imported.

It was built by two Nigerian brothers who recently relocated from the United States of America. The brothers; Victor and Johnson Obasa, came back home to use their talent to boost security and also create employment in the country.

The brothers are based in Ekiti State and the duo own a company named Mobile Truck Technology where they nurtured and built the first Nigerian armoured car.

According to Johnson Obasa, the local production of the armoured car would help in upgrading the nation's security status. "It will promote up to 50 percent security in the country, it is something to protect the armoured personnel in their line of duty and it can work anywhere. It is designed to help the nation's security; we also did it to create employment," he said.

Also, Victor Obasa in a conversation with the press stated that they were in a better position to create this kind of cars since they are in Nigeri` and understand the Nigerian terrain.

He added that they were willing to do it for the government at almost half the price of importing it. "We would do it for Nigerians for almost half the price they get it outside," he said.

The truck which was tested with different kinds of ammunition, from a far range had little or no mark left on it, but from a close range left peripheral marks.

On how they created such a truck with products from Nigeria, Johnson said: "It's been a little bit of up and down's. When we encountered some challenges, the Senate president encouraged us and at the end of the day we were able to put this together."

The other brother Victor pledged that they would produce a vehicle carrier that would meet international standard at a reasonable price.

The Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Adamu Aliero who represented the president at the launch said it was commendable that Nigerians with talents will come home and contribute to the nation's development.

He disclosed that the President had directed the Inspector General of Police to meet the fabricators on what they required to produce the vehicle to specification.

He also called on Nigerians within and outside the country with such talents to come out and contribute to the development of their country.

"This is also to call on other Nigerians with similar talents to also come back home and join us to contribute their own quota to the country and for other Nigerians with this kind of talent to put it to use," Mr. Aliero said.

Present at the event to inspect the vehicle were top police officers and the Minister for science amd Technology, Al-Hassan Zaku who said the ministry would send a team of engineers to the base where the truck was fabricated to further examine the product.

"We will examine it thoroughly and work with the police to ensure that it is properly produced to the standard they want," he said.

courtesy of Elizabeth Archibong

Cairo car.

Here is the work of the Technical and Vocational Institute at the Arab Academy (for Science and Technology and Maritime Transport) in Alexandria Egypt.

This is Egypt's first electric car project, entitled the Cairo car.

Serious research to develop and create localized technology towards producing a fine example of Egyptian ingenuity. This research is based on reverse engineering as well as self innovation to help achieve a national goal of a purely made in Egypt quality product. Its a 4 seater, and the platform has being successfully been tested. No details on the possibility of the Cairo car reaching production.

The Harper sports car

The Harper sports car. (South Africa)

The companies vision for building this car is as follows.

To produce a stylish, safe, fast, comfortable, fun, low maintenance sports car to be enjoyed on public roads and on the race track.

A one-make series will encourage owners to test their driver skills as cars will be placed against like for like engines. The key is: "Drive it to the track, Race it, Drive it home".

The specifications are as follows.

Power Plant

Engine: Mid mounted 4AGE 20 Valve 1600cc Toyota
Gearbox: Toyota 5/6 speed
Brakes: Toyota (disc all round with adjustable limiting valve for rear brakes)
Total Weight: 650kg

Power Output 120kw (160hp)
Engine Management: Gotech MFI
Performance Exhaust: TNT High performance branch and silencer
Construction: Mild steel space frame with composite non-stressed fibre glass bodywork

Although owners can choose from a range of transverse engines/gearbox, (eg; Honda VTEC, Nissan SR20DET, VW/Audi 20 Valve turbo etc), we recommend the Toyota 4AGE 20 valve engine for it's performance, reliability, low cost and availability.


The MENARA is MOROCCO'S answer to the executive sports car. Entirely made and built in Morocco to very high standards.

The MENARA is a harmonious mix of technology and classic automotive design.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ka-Ching. Money in the mail.

The financial aspect was a big factor in getting rid of our car. That was brought home recently when we got checks in the mail with rebates on money that we'd already coughed up for our car. Our insurance company sent us a refund of our insurance (very promptly, I might add) for $436. And the town of Brookline refunded our excise tax to the tune of $25.

Besides buying pizza and ice cream (the default choice for any money that comes our way), I want to look into signing up for a class on bike repair and buy a bike repair stand and maybe a few tools. Being able to do repairs ourselves is a big advantage for us over owning a car (I wasn't good for anything but the very, very simplest repairs to our car, if any). Trips to the bike shop can add up, and now that they're getting more miles, it's important to keep them in good shape.

(I think there still will be some money left over for ice cream.)