Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

An ageist bike and a new mag

I drive an old man’s car – ie, with an automatic gearbox. However it is a car for old men who appreciate technology. The auto-box is light-years away from the power-hungry “slush pumps” of yesteryear and incorporates two conventional clutches which ensure very speedy changes up and down the six gears. If I flick the lever sideways I can change (and hold) gears manually, useful when travelling down steep winding roads.

Amazingly Honda now offer such a box for their heavier touring bikes. I admire Honda but this may be a step too far. An important feature of bike-riding, apart from a willingness to fall off every now and then, is the speed and ease with which one can change gear. A veritably sensual experience which even old men should not be denied. I foresee a mouth-foaming reaction from one biker who isn’t even old – Avus, are you there?

NEW TITLE Wired is a successful American magazine devoted to technology (plus Ideas, Culture, Business, according to the strapline). Now there’s a UK edition which, most recently, tests slim laptops, the ultimate chair, and “lawn mowers vs. sheep”. Major features include the search for dark matter, the physics of skateboarding, trials riding and free running, and an explanation of synthetic biology. Another major feature – which I avoided – explored Richard Branson’s greenness.

I like it because it slots in underneath pure science for which I lack the education. But I worry about its sustainability. The emphasis is cutting edge and I’m not sure there’s enough of that to go around. I hope it doesn’t lurch into history or repetition. A Christmas present?


Spadoman said...

If I could keep sheep in my yard instead of a lawn mower, I would, but I'd prefer goats.

Motorcycles are becoming more and more high tech and user friendly. All fuel injected, syncro mesh gears, the crapola you mention about the Honda is a good example, (they have a Gold Wing with reverse!). Harley has come out with a trike for those of us really old and still want to ride in the wind.

Actually, I just purchased a 1967 Chevrolet pick up truck.


Barrett Bonden said...

Reversing? Then surely it's no longer a bike. Next thing they'll be adding is a cab. A world away from my old Speed Twin. I blogged about it ages ago and left a link in a comment on your blog. Just in case you didn't see it, here it is again.


Julia said...

Until I read Spadoman's comments, I thought Honda had created a 12 speed automatic bike. The type with push pedals for locomotion. I nodded my head, hmmed a bit, and decided it was a bit of an extravagence but could help cut down on tricky gear changing accidents.

Or is it only my family who can't remember to peddle when they change gears and drop their chains every bike hour or so?

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia: Sorry; pure indolence on my part. In fact there is a way round your problem. Rather than what you've got (known in the trade as a dérailleur gear-change) it is possible to acquire a hub gear-change, known in Britain at least by its trade name, Sturmey-Archer, which has only one cog at the rear and thus is far less likely to unship the chain. Should growing irritation and a distaste for oily hands lead you to this solution, please email me again and I'll tell you about this system's disadvantages.

Rouchswalwe said...

The subject of dark matter is fascinating. Dunkle Materie. How does one search for something that is the absence of something else? (I might have just slipped into philosophical matter). Although matter is matter, albeit dark, and thus must be detectable. Somehow.

Barrett Bonden said...

RW (zS): Oh you Renaissance person, you! From Japanese art to poetry in English and German (and no doubt Japanese) to beer brewing to physics' knottiest problem. You've put your finger on the right button. That's why the two projects described are at the bottom of very deep mine-shafts, shutting out all extraneous info. I'd send you scanned pages of the article except it seems you know all about the topic.

Ein fest' Burg is unser Gott,
Ein gute Wehr und Waffen,
Er hilft uns frei aus alle Nott
Das hat uns jetzt betroffen.

By Gott I am not referring to the capricious Jahweh, rather to the god of revealed knowledge.

Rouchswalwe said...

BB ... I'd love to read the article (one knows only that one never knows everything about a subject and that the Gork ~ God of revealed knowledge ~ reveals through reading in part). My email is just my R name at gmail.

Avus said...

Not foaming, BB. I have seen the auto Honda motorcycle and read road tests. It's OK and one day, I suppose, there will be many of 'em. But I do like that quick flick of throttle as one down changes and swoops through the bends. I did 350 miles on my BMW yesterday and came home elated and invigorated. (I said "hello" to Devizes in Wiltshire where, 53 years ago, I was a raw army recruit).
Autos are very much OK in my book on scooters (of which I have a 300cc Honda) and this prompts me to do a post on the subject soon.

Barrett Bonden said...

RW (zS): You've endowed me with an acronym - I'm sure Gork will go far and wide. I'll be famous and I'll owe it all to you.

Avus: In fact auto two-wheelers go back a long way. When I was moped editor of what was then called "Cyling and Mopeds" (now "Cycling Weekly") there were several mopeds with intermediary belt drives and infinitely variable gearing: some were based on a widening drum and others (according to some principle I never bothered to fathom) involved a container full of magnetic particles.

Avus said...

Well, well. I remember when "Cycling" became "Cycling and Mopeds" and we cycling clubmen all thought it was going to the dogs! (Adapt to survive, I suppose).
I remember, but did not own such an automatic moped. They were pretty dreadful, even by the standards of their time.