[LINK] plug-in-hybrid-vehicles and grids

Glen Turner gdt at gdt.id.au
Sat Sep 12 18:23:47 AEST 2009

On 07/09/09 22:53, Karl Auer wrote:
> In spite of these apparent drawbacks, recumbents have been banned from
> all world cycling events for a very good reason. The last time they were
> allowed (many decades ago) they held pretty much every title. A
> recumbent holds the world cycling speed record, set at Battle Mountain a
> few years ago.

UCI road cycle racing is getting a bit like Formula One, with all
sorts of arbitrary design rules. This year there was a major
hassle about the amount of implied fairing aspects of the frame
were achieving. In the years before that frames were becoming
so high tech that a minimum weight was applied. Nowdays any
bicycle built from top end parts will come in under that weight.

So sadly you can't look to events like the Tour de France to
see the current state of technology in bicycling.  If you
have a look at triathlon (which isn't under the UCI) you'll
see more innovation, but even triathlon now limits cycling

The other annoying thing is that most high end cycles (as
opposed to most cycles) are purchased by 'weekend warriors'.
Commuters are very much second class citizens in serious
cycle stores. This leads to frames that lack pannier mounts,
the disappearance of the once-universal lighting mount,
fast-looking painting that is impossible to see at night,
and so on.  All minor annoyances to be sure, but they all
add up to make a modern road bike a poor commuter cycle.

And yet, if you ask for a commuter bike it will weigh a ton,
have substandard parts for the price and still won't come
with essentials like a pannier rack and lighting. There are
new 'hybrid bikes' some of which are road-specification
parts with a more upright (ie. less harsh) position, so
we'll see how they end up serving commuters (most hybrids
are currently aimed at a 'fitness' market).

We might see more interest from manufacturers in the commuter
space shortly. The decreasing cost of carbon frames has
all but removed alloy frames from racing, but the 'commuter'
and 'fitness' markets are not going to buy carbon, with
it's fragility when dented. So the need to appeal to the
'weekend warrior' when selling alloy framed bikes will disappear
in the next few years.

The one fine innovation which has happened in cycle racing
in recent years is the electronic derailleur (gear changer).
Once the price of that drops out of the stratosphere it will
make cycling a lot better, whatever sort of cycling you do.
At the moment there are all sorts of rules related to the
mechanical limitations of the derailleur (don't change whilst
stationary, don't cross the chain from the leftmost on the
front to the rightmost on the rear and vice-versa) and
electronic control makes a lot of those rules disappear
(change gear when stationary and the mechanicals won't
move until you set off).  There's even launch control
(for setting off from the traffic lights) and fully-
automated gears don't seem too far away.

I've tried a recumbent, and I can see how they are part of
the future of transport. But my view is that they are
complementary to the current bicycle rather than the
successor of it.

Electric bicycles and small motor bicycles are not complementary
but rather hostile to human power. Their average speed is
above that of a road bike, but their maximum speed is lower.
So they pass you going up the hill and then they don't hear you
approaching to overtake them going down the hill.  There's
more and more of these on the bikeways, and they are turning
into a bit of a menace.

Cheers, Glen
[who commutes to work on a road bike]

  Glen Turner   <http://www.gdt.id.au/~gdt/>

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