Sit back, relax and enjoy the following hand-picked selection of the most popular cycling-related stories from our website in 2010.
|Top cycling stories||2010|
| It’s the knotty problem wrestled with by cyclists everywhere: You like the idea of owning a £140,000 Porsche GT3 RS, but worry it would mean less time on the bike. Luckily a team of designers has produced the greenest Porsche to date; a zero-emissions version of the GT3 RS built around a pedal car.
Sportscar builders such as Porsche and Ferrari make much of their plans to introduce hybrid technology, but these have as much to do with tough CO2 emissions targets and the threat of inner city bans on highly-polluting vehicles as they do a desire to produce environmentally-friendly cars. Everyone should have a pedal-powered supercar in their garage
| With the next James Bond film canned owing to a lack of cash, a new bicycle equipped with flame-thrower and ejector seat could be the ideal way for a cash-strapped 007 to get to work.
The flame-thrower fitted in the handlebars prevents overtaking motorists getting too close. The ejector seat disposes of thieves who beat the padlock and chain. And the bike – which would make Bond’s gadget inventor, Q, proud -also boasts a caterpillar track for smooth riding over pot-holed roads. More
| With London’s new ‘Boris Bikes’ hire scheme in full force, the number of urban cyclists on the increase and winter fast approaching this is the perfect time for designers in Sweden to have unveiled the Hövding – a winter jacket with an airbag helmet built into the waterproof collar which on impact inflates around the head to protect it.
In the event of a crash a motion sensor activates a small canister of helium, which inflates the airbag in one tenth of a second. The airbag has been fully tested and is intended to keep the fashion conscious happy, warm and at least as well-protected as those wearing a conventional cycling helmet.
The use of airbags now extends beyond those built into the steering wheel of every new car; motorcycle clothing can now incorporate an airbag that protects the collarbone and neck, and car manufacturers have developed a system that inflates on the exterior of a vehicle’s bonnet to protect pedestrians in the event of a collision. The advent of airbags in cars has improved safety for car occupants and the designers of the Hövding hope it can do the same for cyclists. More
|Automated underground parking for bicycles Japanese cities have limited space and cyclists are regularly fined the equivalent of £35 for illegal parking. Tokyo is increasing its parking space capacity with a graceful, high-tech solution; the bicycle is taken by lift and parked automatically and securely underground|
|Flying bicycles A cycle lane that takes a direct route and is never blocked by parked cars or rendered impassable by rubbish or broken glass may be no more than a dream for many British cyclists, but a radical new design by architect, Martin Angelov, is far more ambitious. Kolelinia – a contraction of the Bulgarian words for ‘bike and ‘line’ – is a design that allows cyclists with nerves of steel to soar up to 4.5 metres above motorised traffic and potholes by taking to a network of wires. The bicycle travels in a cupped track and is temporarily attached via its handlebar to a steel wire for stability. The cyclist dons a safety harness and then pedals as normal. More info|
|A new type of umbrella that you wear over your head claims to protect a cyclist’s head, face and shoulders from rain, wind, snow and extreme cold. The Nubrella costs £40 and uses a patented shoulder strap to allow it to be used hands-free. It bears a passing resemblance to the helmet worn by Buzz Lightyear.|
|An eight-mile bicycle wheelie completed this year by Aaron Stannage, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire earned the 14-year-old a place in the record books. It was the first time anyone had attempted to wheelie the longest distance within one hour.|
|Bicycle helmets that feature a synthetic scalp to reduce the risk of rotational head injuries are due to go on sale in 2011.Existing cycle helmets are little more than polystyrene encased in a plastic shell – working in a similar way to the skull by protecting against direct blows – but they are not designed to mitigate rotational injuries, which can prove fatal. More info|
|Neon lights for bikes Down Low Glow lights come in a variety of colours and are similar to the kits fitted occasionally fitted to cars, but feature shatterproof thermoplastic tubes for safety and rechargeable batteries for power. Kits start at around £82 and can be ordered directly from the manufacturer in America via Rock the bike More info|
| Self-heating gloves Motorcycle couriers who brave the roads come wind or shine have long used handlebar muffs, but they are not readily available for cyclists – the designers of the BarBra are hoping to change that.
The BarBra is a waterproof nylon wind guard that attaches to the handlebar stem to shield the rider’s hands from cold air and rain.
The Barbra costs around £30 (including postage from Canada) from the Barbra website
If you can’t see yourself using a BarBra, battery-powered, self-heating gloves cost from £12.99. They are designed with motorcyclists in mind and might be too thick for some, but it might be a price worth paying for toasty fingers on a winter’s morning.
|The latest designs of torch that project GPS mapping information onto any surface pave the way for bicycle-mounted sat navs that project route details onto the road ahead. The TamTam Flash concept GPS torch has been designed with pedestrians in mind. It allows its user the option of projecting either a street map view or turn-by-turn instructions. More info|
| The Brompton is popular with city commuters because of the way it can be carried on public transport and then quickly folded and stored under a desk, so it is surprising that there is currently only one supplier of child seats for the bicycle.
The SP Brompton Child Seat clamps around the saddle stem and the child’s saddle is supported by a rubber bung sitting on top of the Brompton frame tube. The whole assembly is kept pointing forward by a brace that runs forward to the frame clamp, which is adjustable to suit the slightly different frame lengths.
The child seat can be interchanged with a Brompton luggage carrier block. On a long wheel base model there is enough room to carry a small Brompton bag facing forward in the child carrier position. The seat is made to order by frame builder Steve Parry and costs £180. Contact London cycle shop Velorution for further details.
| Bamboo has been used to make bicycle frames for more than 100 years, but while the material is lightweight, environmentally friendly and cheap to produce, its use is usually confined to basic models for the developing world or prohibitively expensive designer bikes.
The latest range of bamboo bicycles from California bike builders, Masuelli, is ‘grown to order’ using a local supply of bamboo.
The bikes can hardly be described as cheap, but ‘All Black’ track bike costs £1,500 but promises to be far more exclusive than other bicycles at this price. The bikes are available in Britain from Rawbamboobikes.co.uk
| The current fashion for fixed gear bicycles is inspired by the pared down bikes used by couriers in New York, but designs based on the very earliest direct drive cycles of the 1870s are about to make a reappearance.
The penny farthing that has recently gone on sale for £499 may be a tiddler in comparison to the original bikes – its wheels measure 36inches and 12inches compared to the 60inch and 18 inch wheels – but it does at least boast brakes, a feature that was missing from the bikes ridden 140 years ago.
The rider of a penny farthing may enjoy an elevated view over hedgerows or traffic, but the high centre of gravity can result in the machine pitching forward if the bike hits a rut or pothole.
On the plus side, these bikes are extremely low maintenance. When Thomas Stevens rode a penny farthing 12,500 miles around the world in the 1880s, he reported not one significant mechanical problem.
| When Toyota entered the global market for luxury cars in the late 1980s with a new brand called Lexus, they relied on engineering excellence to take on heavyweight rivals Mercedes and BMW, and it’s an approach that the company has now applied to the electric bicycle.
Lexus has this week brought the electric concept bicycle to Britain for the first time, to publicise its sponsorship of the Great British Bike Ride, a four-day charity fun ride from Land’s End to London.
Every aspect of the Lexus Hybrid Bicycle is state-of-the-art. The bike boasts a front wheel hub-mounted 240W electric motor, a 25.9V Lithium-ion battery, an electric eight-speed Shimano internal gear system and carbon fibre frame. More
| It’s not legal on British roads, it costs £3,000 and you have to order it from Switzerland, but the Stealth Fighter electric bicycle is a strong contender for title of world’s ultimate off-road e-bike.
The Stealth Fighter has one gear for pedalling without electric power and another for pedalling with the motor at higher speeds.
The makers of the Stealth electric bicycle claim than slick tyres produce more noise than the motor. Because most other electric bikes are chain driven they still emit enough noise to be annoying.
A rear wheel hub-mounted electric motor does away with the need for a derailleur or chain tensioner and means the bike, unlike chain-driven machines, is almost entirely silent. More
| This new design of poncho/tent hybrid may look eccentric, but it is aimed at the many walkers and cycle campers who need waterproof clothing and a tent, but have to keep to a minimum the weight and volume of equipment they carry.
Hikers and cyclists already have a choice of tents that use a bicycle as their means of support, lightweight pop-up designs and waterproof sleeping bags, but the poncho is the first tent that can be worn as an item of clothing.
The way we travel and the efficiency of our homes have a massive impact on our carbon footprint so this ‘wearable tent’ is not only a useful bit of camping kit, but possibly the most environmentally-benign piece of clothing ever invented.
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Protect your bicycle in 2011
Every cycle insurance policy from the ETA covers against theft, vandalism and accidental damage (even at race events) and includes third party insurance, personal accident cover, bicycle breakdown cover and more…