FlyKly electric bike wheel

Axle-pin-780x519Where I previously was interested in the Copenhagen wheel, the FlyKly, is available now.

FlyKly has been in the works for a while. Originally a Kickstarter project that raised $700,000 (its goal had been $100,000), the electric bike wheel project is now available to everyone.

Electric bicycles are nothing new. But FlyKly’s approach is different — use your own bike, the company says, and just buy our wheel. That’s an attractive proposition if you’ve got a bike you love but want a little electrical propellant to get you where you’re going without building up a sweat.

The FlyKly isn’t cheap. The hub alone — which contains the product’s motor, battery, electronics, sensors, and Bluetooth antenna — runs $1,000. If you want it on an actual wheel, it’s $1,100. And you can also buy a FlyKly-fitted bicycle from either MSC or Linus for $1,500. The wheel comes in a 20-inch, 26-inch, or 28-inch rim.

The company’s not the first to try the removable electric wheel, with a similar approach in the works with the Copenhagen Wheel. But FlyKly is first to market, Klansek said.

Lest you wonder, the FlyKly system is not meant to provide every bit of forward motion as you ride. That’s called a motorcycle. Rather, this is “pedal-assist,” Klansek said. That means that once you start pedaling, the motor turns on and boosts your acceleration, but you still have to, you know, pedal.

The obvious questions are about battery life and power boost. Klansek explained that a fully charged battery should deliver up to 60 miles on a single charge if you maximize the system’s settings (though the FlyKly app, naturally) and pedal backwards as you go, which both brakes and recharges the battery a bit. With no tinkering of the settings, and no backwards pedaling, you’d get about 30 miles, he said.

Happy Maps for Biking

I watched this video and was reminded of my last TransAm, the section on the East Coast, where a couple of groups wanted to catch up to me, and they did.  They cut the chords of a route that meandered.  Sure, they rode long days, and so did I.  But on my path I encountered friends and adventures and met people not on bicycles that I would meet again.  I learned more about myself, and had so much more to learn I couldn’t even see it.  I am not saying they made a wrong decision, theirs was to be the adventure of speed, the camraderie of pouring over maps in a chase that wound before them every day. 

Life is like a bike trip.  All paths are different, even if you are on the same map tracks, one minute the road is empty, the next full.  One minute you meet someone you will know for a long time, and others you have chance encounters that you recall and faces you can’t.

Mapping apps help us find the fastest route to where we’re going. But what if we’d rather wander? Researcher Daniele Quercia demos “happy maps” that take into account not only the route you want to take, but how you want to feel along the way.

Is FreeAirPump Something Or Nothing?

Welcome to FreeAirPump.com, an ever-growing list of places that provide free air for tires.

Are you fed up with paying $0.75 to $1.00 just to fill up one of your tires? Do you think it’s ridiculous to have to swipe your credit card in order to get access to something that should be free? FreeAirPump.com provides a map of locations, mainly in the U.S. and Canada, that offer free air for tires.

The FreeAirPump.com map contains plenty of gas stations that have free air for autos. For bicyclists, you can also find numerous bike repair stations or stand alone bike pumps listed. If you know of a place in your neighborhood that provides air for free, head over to the Add a Location tab and submit your own free air location to help others across the nation.

Check out our blog for helpful hints on increasing your mpg, green energy news, and anything else that can help make your life easier. Find helpful and friendly bike shops on our map that not only offer free air, but an array of products and services to keep you cycling longer. Free air is not a thing of the past!

This list is mostly user-generated, and by no means should be considered definitive. Those of you living in Connecticut already enjoy the sweet serenity of getting free air at gas stations, so the only spots on the map in that state are for bicycles, be it a standalone bike pump, or bicycle repair/fix-it station. In California, free air is the law, but only for paying customers. Californians, I need your help! Please use the Add A Location page to report readily available free air. For the rest of us, check out themap and find free air for tires near you! Save money! Save gas! Save the planet!

Prepare Your Motorcycle For Winter

Hey, it is a bike too.

Winter is coming, and preparation is particularly important when it comes to making sure your motorcycle is ready for the coming cold.

Before you put your pride and joy away until warmer days, there are some initial measures you should take to ensure you don’t face nasty surprises when you go for that first ride of the new season. Checking oil, antifreeze, gas, spark plugs, and lube will go a long way towards preparing your ride for storage. Don’t forget, also, to clean your batteries’ posts and charge your batteries before storage. Some people like to leave their batteries constantly charging during storage, which is fine; just don’t forget to use a battery tender to prevent overcharging. Check tire pressure and place your bike on a stand to keep the tires off the ground. If you don’t have a stand, remember to rotate the tires every few weeks.

When it comes time to store your bike, put an exhaust plug in your exhaust pipe to keep mice and other rodents away, and make sure to use a protective, mildew-resistant cover. Always store a bike indoors if possible. If you don’t have a garage or a friend with one, consider asking around about month-by-month storage options.

If you’re the type of person who likes to brave the elements on your motorcycle, the following guide will also provide a checklist you should follow before you ride off into the cold. Whether you’re storing or riding this winter, you can’t afford not to read this infographic!

MotorcycleWinterization

Run to Stay Young

via NYTimes

Running may reverse aging in certain ways while walking does not, a noteworthy new study of active older people finds. The findings raise interesting questions about whether most of us need to pick up the pace of our workouts in order to gain the greatest benefit.

Walking is excellent exercise. No one disputes that idea. Older people who walk typically have a lower incidence of obesity, arthritis, heart disease and diabetes, and longer lifespans than people who are sedentary. For many years, in fact, physicians and scientists have used how far and fast someone can walk as a marker of health as people age.

But researchers and older people themselves also have noted that walking ability tends to decline with age. Older people whose primary exercise is walking often start walking more slowly and with greater difficulty as the years pass, fatiguing more easily.

Many of us probably would assume that this physical slowing is inevitable. And in past studies of aging walkers, physiologists have found that, almost invariably, their walking economy declines over time. That is, they begin using more energy with each step, which makes moving harder and more tiring.

But researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder and Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., began to wonder whether this slow decay of older people’s physical ease really is inexorable or if it might be slowed or reversed by other types of exercise and, in particular, by running.

Happily, Boulder has an unusually large population of highly active older people, so the scientists did not lack for potential research subjects. Putting the word out at gyms and among running and walking groups, they soon recruited 30 men and women in their mid- to late-60s or early 70s.

Fifteen of these volunteers walked at least three times a week for 30 minutes or more. The other 15 ran at least three times a week, again for 30 minutes or more. The runners’ pace varied, but most moved at a gentle jogging speed.

The scientists gathered all of the volunteers at the University of Colorado’s Locomotion Laboratory and had each runner and walker complete three brief sessions of walking at three different, steadily increasing speeds on specially equipped treadmills. The treadmills were designed to measure how the volunteers’ feet hit the ground, in order to assess their biomechanics.

The volunteers also wore masks that measured their oxygen intake, data that the researchers used to determine their basic walking economy.

As it turned out, the runners were better, more efficient walkers than the walkers. They required less energy to move at the same pace as the volunteers who only walked regularly.

In fact, when the researchers compared their older runners’ walking efficiency to that of young people, which had been measured in earlier experiments at the same lab, they found that 70-year-old runners had about the same walking efficiency as your typical sedentary college student. Old runners, it appeared, could walk with the pep of young people.

Older walkers, on the other hand, had about the same walking economy as people of the same age who were sedentary. In effect, walking did not prevent people from losing their ability to walk with ease.

More surprising to the researchers, the biomechanics of the runners and the walkers during walking were almost identical. Runners did not walk differently than regular walkers, in terms of how many steps they took or the length of their strides or other measures of the mechanics of their walking.

But something was different.

The researchers speculate that this difference resides deep within their volunteers’ muscle cells. Intense or prolonged aerobic exercise, such as running, is known to increase the number of mitochondria within muscle cells, said Justus Ortega, now an associate professor of kinesiology at Humboldt University, who led the study. Mitochondria help to provide energy for these cells. So more mitochondria allow people to move for longer periods of time with less effort, he said.

Runners also may have better coordination between their muscles than walkers do, Dr. Ortega said, meaning that fewer muscles need to contract during movement, resulting in less energy being used.

But whatever the reason, running definitely mitigated the otherwise substantial decline in walking economy that seems to occur with age, he said, a result that has implications beyond the physiology lab. If moving feels easier, he said, people tend to do more of it, improving their health and enhancing their lives in the process.

The good news for people who don’t currently run is that you may be able to start at any age and still benefit, Dr. Ortega said. “Quite a few of our volunteers hadn’t take up running until they were in their 60s,” he said.

And running itself may not even be needed. Any physically taxing activity likely would make you a more efficient physical machine, Dr. Ortega said. So maybe consider speeding up for a minute or so during your next walk, until your heart pounds and you pant a bit; ease off; then again pick up the pace. You will shave time from your walk and potentially decades from your body’s biological age.