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  1. #1
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    Bike breakthroughs

    I was just looking at a bike at popularmechanics.com that had automatic transmission, integrated headlights, and a few other features. Most of these features are just to sell the bike, but not for much else.

    I was thinking, though, about improvements in bicycles that might actually happen in the foreseeable future that would be great benefits. Here are some thoughts.

    (1) Integrated full-function cyclometer, heartrate monitor, GPS + map, along with web/email access, all on a small, lightweight handlebar platform.

    (2) Puncture-proof tires. I mean, _really_ puncture-proof tires. If this could be acheived, it would be greatest liberation for cyclists since the derailler.

    (3) Still lighter materials for frames. Plastics, perhaps, or carbon fiber improvements.

    (4) Aero wheels that are comparable in weight, strength, and price to standard wheels. This could happen before long, I would think, given that what is required is just that materials necessary to make a strong tri-spoke design become both lighter and cheaper. If it did, aero wheels would be standard equipment even on Wal-mart bikes.

    (5) Improved batteries. Longer life for bright commuter lights, x>10W, with reduced weight. (Not likely soon. Someday, perhaps.)

    Any other thoughts?

  2. #2
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    seeing how i'm an audiophile, and that is my true hobby, i think they should put stereo's on bicycles
    Bruce
    AIM AutoAudio2

  3. #3
    Forum Admin lotek's Avatar
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    seeing how i'm an audiophile, and that is my true hobby, i think they should put stereo's on bicycles
    Until they put 2A3 tubes on a bike I'm not even gonna think
    about it...

    Marty
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  4. #4
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    nah, i think i'll just settle for like an mp3 player and some headphones or something... if i had the money anywho, for now i'll just sing to myself i guess.
    Bruce
    AIM AutoAudio2

  5. #5
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    1)Portable methanol fuel cells are about 5 years away from the market. No lengthy recharging, just pop in a new cartridge. Failing that, top up with a minature of vodka.

    2)e-paper mapping would be really useful, particularly with a moving map display (powered by 1.) Tourists invariably have to carry too many maps and guide books. My company has been making moving-map displays for several decades, but they are big heavy pieces of kit at the moment.

    3)The latest wonder material for composite construction is Zylon, and is already used for spokes in one wheel. It could make a great puncture-proofing material. Perhaps it may be overtaken by synthetic web.

    Id like to see a composite frame with a retro-reflective surface all over, internal hydraulic gear and electrical cables, integrated lighting, rack and fenders. Topped of with an integral carbon framed Brooks leather saddle.

    A lot of high tech stuff like aero wheels are only useful if you ride at racing speeds. Composites are also vulnurable to the kind of scratching that utility bikes get from daily abuse. Generally, the more high-performance cycling kit is, the less useful it is for everyday use.

  6. #6
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Although I am a hard-core techie (I design computer chips and teach the Verilog hardware design language to support my family and my hobbies), I cannot think of any advance in bicycle technology which would be as valuable as improved accommodations on our roadways and enhanced accountability and skill level for motorists.

    Lightweight, resilient, puncture-proof tyres would indeed be very useful. As much as I like the Tiptronic transmission in my car, I see no benefit whatsoever to an "automanual" or fully automatic transmission on a bicycle.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  7. #7
    Senior Member joeprim's Avatar
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    Aw come on what's neat about bikes is a lack of that techie nurd stuff. I design enough of that for the military. They waste money on that when they need simple stuff, but with no lobbie pushing for it. Remember the KISS principe. [Keep it Simple Stupid]. As for weight since I probably weigh ten times my bike I think worring about it's weight is worse than stupid.

    Some years back they were experimenting with eliptical chainrings ...

    Joe

  8. #8
    Devilmaycare Cycling Fool Allister's Avatar
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    Lightweight fairings for uprights as well as recumbents. Imagine riding in a perpetual draft....
    If we learn from our mistakes, I must be a goddamn genius.

  9. #9
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by joeprim
    Aw come on what's neat about bikes is a lack of that techie nurd stuff. I design enough of that for the military. They waste money on that when they need simple stuff, but with no lobbie pushing for it. Remember the KISS principe. [Keep it Simple Stupid].
    Well said Joe . If I wanted automatic transmission, fuel cells and all the other crap I'd just go out and buy a car. The reason I ride a bike is because I like generating all the power myself.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  10. #10
    It's the fight in the man Rich's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Chris L

    Well said Joe . If I wanted automatic transmission, fuel cells and all the other crap I'd just go out and buy a car. The reason I ride a bike is because I like generating all the power myself.
    Or like another member said " I am the engine"

    Rich
    Making New Zealand a safer place :)

  11. #11
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    Even if you use a generator to power your lighting, you still need some lighting to do roadside repairs by at night, maybe not in the city, but on quiter roads. Tourists need lighting for getting around camps by night, reading, and powering radios. These days people often carry other powered stuff like mobile phones.

    Most of the other high-tech toys like digital mapping and automatic or electronic gear changing are no real improvement over todays technology, but batteries are a real pain in the butt. They always run down when you need them most, you cant leave them charged for more than a week or 2, they are ful of toxic metals, and you need access to a power socket for recharging.
    Minature fuel cells solve all these problems, and can run on a sustainable biofuel. There are already prototypes powering mobile phones and laptops, and standard sized models have been in regular use for decades.
    I dont think they are a gizmo or toy, but a real improvement on what people are using now, with no downside.

  12. #12
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    1) Who the heck needs all that stuff? What are you, a cyclo-packrat?

    2) They already exist. They are called Specialized Turbo Armadillos. They are heavy, and most people don't like the way they ride. You want to spend $100/tyre for something completely flat-proof?

    3) Plastics-already been done. Big $$. Frames crack. Hard to paint.

    4) I happen to like spokes. They ride better. They are easy to replace. Do you really want throw-away wheels?

    5) Batteries haven't improved a whole lot in 50 years. Why not just get a dyno? Save the environment, and your money, too.

    Thoughts: stop dreaming about silly toys, and go out and ride!!
    Je vais vlo, donc je suis!

  13. #13
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    Improvements in two types of human brain: Type 1, the bike company marketing schlong--they need to realize that many bike technologies are past optimal and need to be put back ten or fifteen years.

    Type 2: the motor vehicle operator; self-explanatory.

  14. #14
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Michael W raised an interesting point regarding batteries. Economical electrical storage with a very high energy-to-weight ratio would benefit motorists, bicyclists, laptop computer users, etc.

    As for tyres, I use Specialized Armadillos on the Peugeot and the previous-generation Specialized "Armadillo Technology" turbo-S tyres on the Capo. Since both are resilient Reynolds 531 frames, the ride quality (at 90-100 PSI) is quite acceptable.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  15. #15
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    I need a lockable trunk (boot to people who drive on the left), so when I am on a shopping trip I dont have to carry all my previous purchases + helmet, pump, etc into every shop I visit.

  16. #16
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    GPS + map
    I like that idea. It would be great if a cue sheet could be entered into the computer and show up on the GPS map. Then your position would show up as a blip (small light). This way you could tell if you were on or off course.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  17. #17
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    My mother has a dream that car manufacturers will introduce a "Mustard Squirter." No, it's not for your burger, it's for logging trucks, offensive drivers, and other roadway nuisances (not bikes, of course). She has in mind something that will temporarily cover the offending vehicle's windshield with Grade A Dijon. Yes, she is aware of the many dangers that come with such a weapon.

    I suppose putting a Mustard Squirter(tm) on a bike would provide much cathartic relief, but might result in more harm than good.

    But, after having been cut off for the 54th time, one can, as my Mom does, yell loudly "mustard ***, mustard ***" and then pretend to squirt mustard to one's heart's content.

    Best of all, with a little imagination, we all have one already installed on each of our bikes!

    Cheers!

  18. #18
    Senior Member RacerX's Avatar
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    Everything you mention has already been invented.
    There are aero/ composite wheels that are as light as a standard wheel.
    There are aftermarket "dashboards" for bicycles (just hard to find in the USA)
    There are sophisticated drivetrains (like the simple but effective Nexus 3 and 7 speed or the Roholff ultra tech, ultra lite drivetrain)
    There are several different "no-flat" systems out there that are as reliable as any inflated tire from any other industry (car, aeroplane, etc)
    Portable gps and other computers can easily be adapted to bike use (some already do)
    Bikes are some of the most sophisticated tech items out there! Carbon fiber, titanium, exotic alloy blends. Painted, anodized, advanced appliques(stickers). Stainless steel, sealed bearings, etc all in miniature! Heart rate monitors, cadence, speed, etc, etc. Air drive shifting, etc etc.There is more tech in bikes than a $30,000 automobile!

  19. #19
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    Originally posted by RacerX
    Everything you mention has already been invented.
    There are aero/ composite wheels that are as light as a standard wheel.
    There are aftermarket "dashboards" for bicycles (just hard to find in the USA)
    There are sophisticated drivetrains (like the simple but effective Nexus 3 and 7 speed or the Roholff ultra tech, ultra lite drivetrain)
    There are several different "no-flat" systems out there that are as reliable as any inflated tire from any other industry (car, aeroplane, etc)
    Portable gps and other computers can easily be adapted to bike use (some already do)
    Bikes are some of the most sophisticated tech items out there! Carbon fiber, titanium, exotic alloy blends. Painted, anodized, advanced appliques(stickers). Stainless steel, sealed bearings, etc all in miniature! Heart rate monitors, cadence, speed, etc, etc. Air drive shifting, etc etc.There is more tech in bikes than a $30,000 automobile!
    I wasn't thinking of these items being invented as much as perfected for consumer sale.

    Though there is always a tendency for some suggestions in bike improvement to be met with a certain retro-grouchiness, it's worth pointing out that most respondents have newer bicycles, with newer shifting technology, bicycle computers, the latest clothing fabric, etc.

    Now, perhaps it is the considered opinion of these people that they just happen to live at the apex of bike development. A while ago, and things were signficantly less good. Any further along, and things will just get worse. But right now, here, in the present, is the perfection of bicycling.

    Suspicious, that. Perhaps some newer possibilities for cycling need to grow on their audience, much as those now widely enjoyed did.

  20. #20
    Senior Member RacerX's Avatar
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    retro-grouchiness...thats a good term!

    You lost me on the rest of it...were you typing in english 'cause it looks like english but I can't make heads or tails of it

  21. #21
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    I like the idea of an intergrated electrical/computer system. I would like to have easy to reach head and tail light controls. And what about a brake light that can change to winkie mode at night (or, when you want). And an electric horn, and have it second as an alarm.

    Another feature I personally would like to see is the computer beep to remind me to downshift when I slow down (the older I get, the worse problem that is, even though I ride now more that ever)

  22. #22
    aka Sir MaddyX MadCat's Avatar
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    Heated handle bars like on ski-doos. I'd set it up myself but i don't know how i'd power it. Heated gloves would work too but those hot packs, at 2 bucks a shot aren't worth it. I can catch a bus for that.

    Signal lights would be nice if I didn't end up looking like a dork. I feel like enough of a dork waing my arms around to hopelessy tell cars that I'm turning. Me and a friend of mine are pondering designing something this summer to suit the purpose.

  23. #23
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Generic Rider
    Another feature I personally would like to see is the computer beep to remind me to downshift when I slow down (the older I get, the worse problem that is, even though I ride now more that ever)
    Pardon my ignorance, but I totally and completely fail to understand this. I can't imagine trusting anything other than my legs to tell me when to shift gears.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  24. #24
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    When you approach a stop, its usual to downshift to a gear which is appropriate for starting, usually much lower than the one you need for stopping.
    Hub gears allow you to shift when stopped, but with derailleur gears, you are stuck in too high a gear. I get that when I make emergency stops.

  25. #25
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    i think some kind of high tech anti-theft bike device would be nice - like a radio tag or something - so you don't have to carry a lock with you - or face the choice of taking the bike in the store or bar or restaurant... i've always thought it would be cool to rig up some kind of electrical shock like in PeeWee's Big Adventure (OK, i hated PeeWee, but cool idea) - so i wouldn't worry... or have to buy insurance or whatever

    i'm in between a techie and purist... i like the HR monitor, cyclometer - bought altimeter last year and love it - and GPS (bought on last month for mountaineering - yet to use it for bike). lighter parts and suspension and all is great - to me the 'unpure' are things like using a car shuttle to ride downhill... i have no problem using all my gadgets cycling - i still enjoy the ride!

    and yes, most of these things mentioned above do exist, but they're too expensive or not refined enough for the 'average' user - sure you can buy a super-light frame but for $3000+ but "I" can't buy one...

    mountain bikes, clipless pedals, suspension forks, 27 gears, puncture-resistant tires, all these things are now mainstream and a real improvement in bike technology in the last 10 to 20 years.

    i agree with the original poster that i look forward to new stuff --- without being a super-tech-freak have-to-have-the-newest-thing guy - i believe the bike should suit the rider----- in college i had a piece of junk for $300 and toe-straps and an old sytro helmet and guys laughed at me at races until i beat most of them on their expensive bikes... on the other hand, i love my new Stumpjumper FSR XC full suspension...

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