Time and Space Warp Bike Commuting

So, every once in awhile, I decide to take a little trip down memory lane to my times as a bike commuter in Honolulu. Especially when it’s butt-ass cold for a sissy Californian like myself over here in Portland, Oregon. What the isht are we going to do in January, cycle peoples?

PDX butt-ass cold
Oh man, mad props to Elizabeth for all-year commuting in Chicago…

Lucky for me, some time-traveling crystals were on super sale on Amazon.com. I installed those suckers on my Schwinn le Tour II so I can time and space warp bike commute my way back to Oahu…
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… where I may have encountered a walking Shrimp Monster or something. I checked the GPS app that came with my crystals, and it pinpointed me smack dab in the middle of Honolulu. Turns out I wasn’t lost afterall, just in the middle of a Shrimp Monster protest night. Frickin’ keep calm, and cycle on – the wall told me.
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So what’s a confused and befuddled time-and-space-warping cycle lady supposed to do in a time like this? Three things, obviously:

1. Steal a lavender beach cruiser from your nearest friend or aquaintence.

2. Bike to Waikiki using the new and somewhat improved bike lanes.

3. Jump in the water to clear the fog and warm up!

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Maybe there were some other bikes at the beach too… Bikey friends of the coaster brake/fatty tire variety. Even a $1.25 craigslist score that the lifeguard bragged about!

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And what’s a trip back to Oahu without some takoyaki at Shirokiya? Totally worth all the money I spent on those bike crystals just for takoyaki.

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Until next time, Honolulu.
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News Flash & Preview: LOCK8 – the World’s First Smart Bike Lock

Bike Commuters with a love for all things techie, edgy, smart, and sleek: LOCK8‘s kickstarter campaign is coming along with England’s one and only “Smart Bike Lock!” We took a looksie over at their kickstarter page  to check out how this crazy gadget all began, and it goes a little something like this:

“At University both our bikes got stolen multiples times. So over a coffee on a sunny day in England, we started talking about bike theft. Surprised that there wasn’t a technologically advanced bike lock on the market, we decided to build one ourselves. We installed our own little workshop, decided not to tell anyone and started drawing, machining, soldering and testing. One year later we are extremely excited about the launch and would like to thank everyone who has supported us! Particularly our families and friends!

Since September ’12 we have been refining LOCK8.”

Unlucky for those two University students, long, long ago, but lucky for SCIENCE! Bike Commuters will be receiving a sample to test out ASAP. This lock seems like it’s a product for a bike commuter that’s riding in areas teeming with thieves, bandits, or pirates. The price point seems TBD… but the concept sounds more bulletproof than anything else on the market.

And here’s the obligatory spec run for those readers who are not into clicking links:

  • Keyless: No more keys! Use your smartphone as an e-Key to easily lock and unlock your smart bike lock. We will also provide a keyfob in case your smartphone runs out of battery.
  • Integrated GPS: the integrated GPS/GSM chip makes LOCK8 fully internet connected and is the first truly smart lock. Your bike is able to transmit its location at all times. If you lend your bike or forgot where you put it, or if it gets stolen, you can track it in real time.
  • Alarmed: LOCK8 has multiple theft deterrents, such as a motion sensor, gyro-accelerometer, temperature sensor and hot-wired cable. Any tampering with the lock will trigger a painfully-loud alarm and trigger a push notification to your phone. Alerts can also be sent to friends or the community.
  • Share: You can easily share your e-Keys with friends and family, or share keys with particular groups on Facebook. LOCK8 eliminates the need to physically hand over keys, just send your e-Key with your bike’s location.
  • Rent: Clicking the ‘offer’ button allows you to rent out your bike to verified LOCK8 app users or Facebook friends. Earn money with your bike.
  • Induction Charged: Best of all, LOCK8 is constantly charged through induction while cycling. We will provide spoke reflectors with built-in magnets, so every time the bike moves, the battery charges.

Hopefully we will get our hands on a sample of one of these mo-friggy high-tech bike locks to test out in the name of bike commuting SCIENCE!

My dumbphone and I will not be participating in this little experiment… maybe we’ll test the Ghost Rider by sending him a sample LOCK8 and fake stealing his bike in the middle of the night. Muahahahahahaaa!

Check out the LOCK8 website for more details.

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LA Times “Roadshare” series

The Los Angeles Times has had a running editorial series called “Roadshare” that is pretty compelling. If you are an LA or SoCal resident or you just want to read a great series on how a large city is coping with increased bicycles on the road…the triumphs and pitfalls, go no further than this page.

Although I am not a SoCal resident, I’ve watched LA’s slow transformation from congested car-centric city to burgeoning bicycle-friendly community from afar. It’s been a fascinating ride, for sure. The city has made great progress, but still have such a long way to go. The editorials and opinions in the Roadshare series help move that conversation along in a positive way, and many of the articles are worth a read.

IRS and Bike Share

If you are an urban commuter and hope to claim your bike-share expenses as tax-exempt, you’re out of luck:

Along with other unpopular things the IRS has done recently, you can add treating bike share benefits as taxable…The IRS concluded that expenses an employee bears participating in a bike share program do not qualify for the favorable tax treatment provided for qualified transportation fringe benefits.

Read the full article by visiting the original Forbes page.

Divoom Bluetune Bean Review

This was sent to us to review recently — it’s called the Divoom Bluetune Bean. It retails for $29.99. We agreed to test this because I know there are many of you, including myself, who enjoy listening to music…especially when riding.

Here are the features so you can understand what this is:

    Pocket sized speaker
    Built in Microphone
    Big wireless sound
    Clip on design
    Built-in rechargeable battery
    Sporty look

Bluetune bean

The contents of the package reveal the Bean, clip, USB cable and instruction booklet.
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With the clip, you can pretty much attach this thing anywhere, such as on your backpack or your basket.
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Here are the specs just in case that kind of stuff tickles your fancy:

    Output: 3 w
    Speaker Dimensions: 68L* 45W* 92Hmm
    Frequency range: 80Hz-20000kHz
    Impedance: 4 Ohm
    Charging Voltage: 5V
    Charging Voltage: or AC/DC,
    adaptor=4.2B ; 0.3A

So let’s get down to it. The Bean is cute, it’s pretty durable for what it is. I’ve accidentally and purposely dropped it in my kitchen, on my back porch, and on the street to see how well it would hold up. So far so good. The Bean is still playing music. What’s surprising is how well the sound is coming from this little Bean. The bass is pretty deep and the treble isn’t so high that it distorts at higher volumes.

What caught my attention with the Bean are the Bluetooth features and microphone. I liked that I didn’t have to attach it with a cord to listen to music. Plus I liked the idea that I could take phone calls with this and use it as a speaker phone — that is what sold me on it. Before I go on, I do want to mention the music quality on the Bean is superb! Bluetooth connectivity is pretty easy and battery life is also impressive. They rate it at 6 hours between charges. I’ve had it on at my desk for going on 8 hours and the life indicator still shows about 1/4 left.

The only down side to the Bean is the microphone’s capability. What the caller will hear is a loud buzzing sound. In fact, one of my friends called me on it and he asked if I was shaving. I said “no, why?” He explained that it sounds like I’ve got an electric shaver on. I wanted to hear what he was talking about, so I called my cell phone from my home phone. Sure enough…BBBBBZZZZZZZZZZ. It was pretty loud and the actual mic levels were pretty low. This means that whoever was talking with the Bean would have to raise their voice a bit louder just so the other person can hear you.

If I were to rate the Bluetune Bean from a scale of 1-10, I’d give it around a 7. Like I said, sound quality is excellent, but it was the buzzing sound where the Bean lost points.

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