Thursday, January 31, 2008

Riding solo to the top of the world.

Via a tip from Honky tonk dragon:

(link to clip)

"Riding Solo... is a film about filmmaker Gaurav Jani's solo motorcycle journey from Mumbai to one of the remotest places in the world, the Changthang Plateau in Ladakh, bordering China. The film is even more extraordinary for the fact that Jani was a one-man crew who loaded his 200 kg motorcycle with over 100 kgs of equipment/supplies and set off on a journey to one of the world's most difficult terrain"

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Axle electric hybrid SUMO scooter.

"Japan's Axle Corporation has unveiled a prototype electric scooter powered by a hybrid magnetic motor, which is purportedly capable of 93 mph, with a range of 112 miles between charges. The EV-X7 uses a hybrid magnetic motor dubbed the SUMO (for Super Motor, of course), located within the rear wheel and good for 121 pound-feet of torque (not bad, really, considering the EV-X7's reasonable 420-pound weight). The company claims the bike is seven times more cost-efficient than a comparable gasoline-powered scooter. No word on production plans or projected price, but we think this one looks (and sounds) like a winner."

you-tube link here

The Cuban Motor Bike.

From Streetuse:
"What an elegant design. A wonderfully sleek bicycle is given a motor and gas tank in Cuba to make a motor bike. A close up view with annotations shows a different home-made motor bike in Cuba, collected by Ernesto Oroza. The detail of the soda bottle gas tank is wonderful. This design uses the motor's rotor to directly power the tire"

Tom Swift.

Tom's a smart lad, his first book and his first choice of transport-a motorcycle.
"Tom Swift is the young protagonist in several series of juvenile adventure novels which began in the early twentieth century and continues to the present. Each such series stars a hero named Tom Swift who is a genius inventor and whose breakthroughs in technology (especially transport technology) drive the plots of the novels, placing them in a genre sometimes called "invention fiction" or "Edisonade". Some of the later heroes might be considered the same character after a rebooted continuity, but in at least one series, Tom Swift was identified as a relative of the original Tom Swift. The first books were outlined by Edward Stratemeyer and his Stratemeyer Syndicate, written by ghostwriters and all credited to the house name of Victor Appleton."

Monday, January 28, 2008

T.V. flashback: Then Came Bronson.

Then Came Bronson is a short-lived adventure/drama television series that aired on NBC from 1969 to 1970, and was produced by MGM Television. The series, created by Denne Bart Petitclerc, began with a movie pilot on Monday, March 24, 1969. The series was greenlit for one year and began its first run on September 17, 1969. The pilot was also released in Europe as a feature film.

The series featured Michael Parks as the protagonist Jim Bronson, a newspaperman who becomes disillusioned after the suicide of his best friend Nick (Martin Sheen) and, after a heated argument with his editor, "working for the man."

In order to renew his soul Bronson becomes a nomadic vagabond searching for the meaning of life and experience what life has to offer (this information is revealed in the series pilot). During his travels he shares his values with the people he meets along the way and lends a helping hand when he can. Bronson rides a Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle and, as such, was viewed by some as a modern version of the solitary cowboy meandering the American west.

Curiously, though the opening promised a journey of self-discovery, the premise of each episode was that Bronson entered someone else's life at a crucial point and acted as a catalyst for change. When Bronson enters an Amish community, for example, a local boy becomes enraptured of the outside world and steals Bronson's bike to run off to Reno, Nevada. And in another episode located in Reno, Bronson meets his cousin Eve on her wedding day and lends her money for the wedding service, she runs off to the casinos and blows it.
Yet, Bronson was committed to pacifism and often deflected a competitor's anger into self-examination. Always, like a true catalyst, he rolled out of every episode unchanged.
The show sometimes faced the perception that it was a knock-off of the movie Easy Rider, but in actuality it preceded the release of that movie.

Scenes were mostly shot outdoors, which made for spectacular views, and Michael Parks employed the low-key "James Dean" method of acting. Some shows were funny, some sad, some serious.

Bronson's bike figured in the many episodes; Harley-Davidson Sportster 1968 XLH 883. In one episode he entered several bike races; in another, he made an emergency run to fetch a doctor. But in some stories the bike was only mere transportation."

The all-seeing eye on Bronson's gas tank

Vintage 2001: BMW C1.

The winner of the best name for a scooter contest-The C1 "Family Friend"

"Initially, we thought BMW's C 1 future scooter was no more than an attention seeking prototype, the motorcycling equivalent of a fashion designer wrapping Claudia Schiffer in saran wrap and calling it a dress. Maybe an over the top gimmick calculated to blast through the hyped-up, crowded clutter of motorcycle shows. Although BMW presented the C 1 concept in 1992 at the IMFA in Cologne, few paid any attention as it was dismissed by some as yet other silly looking futuristic prototype never to see the light of day -- particularly in the U.S., where scooters are situated only a tiny link higher than golf carts on the transportation food chain.

The C 1 will be built in Italy by Bertone Carrozzeria, a specialty manufacturer, but BMW claims credit for the C 1 concept and design -- something the Italians probably don't mind. What the hell are you supposed to call this thing? BMW's press kits suggests calling it an "Urban Personal Commuter," a CityMobile or a MotoMobile. A German car magazine labeled it a "Car Scooter."

The C 1 is an attempt to combine the advantages of a two-wheeled motorized transportation with the strengths of the automobile. According to BMW design briefs, the C 1 will offer weather protection and safety comparable to that enjoyed by cars without foregoing the pleasure of riding a motorized two wheeler. The C 1 does look to be light and agile, measuring a little more than six feet in length and weighing 375 pounds dry. It will guzzle about a gallon of gas every 80 miles or so, and BMW promises it to be cheap in terms of retail price, tax, insurance and service. Also, because of its 125cc displacement and 15 bhp output, the C 1 will avoid the myriad of rules, regulations and restrictions thrown up by the European Union, and potential consumers will be able to qualify for the C 1 without taking any additional tests.

The C 1's most innovative design feature is its emphasis on safety. It will be the first two wheeler in the world to offer a high standard of passive safety. BMW claims its crash tests have showed that in a head on collision the C 1 offers a standard of accident protection comparable to modern small cars. The C 1's unique safety concept hinges on the vehicle's chassis set in an aluminum spaceframe configuration with bars welded to one another at specific connection points and, along with a double rollbar, protecting the rider in a surrounding safety cell. The frame and suspension configuration will help ensure a specific, staggered absorption of energy in the event of a head on collision, much like with today's modern cars. The C 1 will also offer a crosswise seat belt system consisting of one two-point and one three-point safety belt. BMW claims this combination of safety cell and seat belts will eliminate the need for helmets, and is currently pushing to exempt the C 1 from helmet laws. A feature planned, but not yet feasible, is an airbag.

Other C 1 features include a full size wind screen and windshield wiper. The rear subframe can double as a luggage rack or as a rumble seat for a passenger -- although the passenger, exposed to the wind, elements and concrete will have to wear a helmet and protective clothing. Optional equipment will include ABS, heated handlebars and seat, a radio and CD player, navigation system, mobile phone holder and an anti-theft warning unit. Unfortunately, BMW has forgotten the cup holder. BMW has a clear vision of the potential target purchasers for the C 1. And, go figure, Americans are not included.

BMW will market their new vehicle to riders of scooters and small motorcycles who place great importance on wind and weather protection and a high level of personal safety; riders who appreciate the practical benefits of two wheeled motorized transportation but who are afraid of the risks; and those who, for ecological and economic reasons, do not want to purchase another car. In fact, the centerpiece strategy in BMW's marketing plan is to push the environmental benefits of the C 1.

Since owning a car is as necessary to survival in the U.S. as electricity, and since most Americans consider motorcycles to be toys, some of the first casualties in the war on internal-combustion engines may be larger displacement motorcycles and their horsepower producing, emissions spewing aftermarket jet kits and pipes. With the C 1 it's clear that BMW plans to capitalize on next-century environmental consciousness. "

Deviant Art: Nancynismo's Biomechanical Motorcycle.

Conceptual Artist "Nancynismo's" biomechanical motorcycle from his deviant art page.

Planet Racers.

"Godman" Falcon's Fitts Planet Racing #23 Bike
"PLANET RACERS: Book One: Life Cycle introduces readers to the world of Planet Racing. It's the year 2999. Trillions of race fans in thousands of star systems tune in to the weekly foldspace vidcasts of the United Systems Planet Racing Association's open-class championship race series. These huge two-wheeled monsters are operated by two-person teams (pilot and navigator) from all over the galaxy.

All eyes are on the two Koyoshada factory team riders -- points leader Tripper Nitro and close second "golden boy" Godman Falcon. These teammates are also fierce rivals... no love is lost between them.

But halfway through the season, a horrible racing accident on Darthon-7 results in Godman Falcon losing his factory ride. All seems bleak for the "golden boy"... until an encounter with Methania Fitts of the Fitts Racing team gives him a second chance. Together, Godman and Methania will contest the championship for the remainder of the season.
Page 1 of chapter 1
"Planet Racers Creator Jim Lawson graduated with a BFA in Illustration from Paier College of Art in New Haven, CT. He has worked as a writer/artist on the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES comic books, and as a designer of several figures and vehicles for the TURTLES toy line. Co-creator Peter Laird has been a professional illustrator since 1976, a career he began shortly after graduating with a BFA in Printmaking from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. In 1983 he co-created, with Kevin Eastman, the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES. Since then, his life has been mostly TURTLES"
Biker Boys-creators Jim and Peter

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The atomic bike.

Art print produced on a heavy 310 gsm, acid-free and watercolor textured paper. $36.98 from For a look at the complete series of these charming illustrations (and posted before allposters released this print..humm) go to meine kleine fabrik.


From Confederate's site:

"In many ways it is the machine we wanted in the beginning. At its heart beats 90 degree water cooler GM based engine architecture. The machine is an entirely fresh modern direction consistent with past brand experience and the structure of our enterprise as extrapolated from our vision and value system.

Conceived by the leader of our conceptual design team, Mr. Ed Jacobs, the motorcycle is at once primitive, bohemian, and yet highly technical. She is skeletal, i.e. she showcases human crafts work. The machine is minimal ; using the fewest pieces, moving parts and systems to accomplish her dynamic mission. She is uncompromised, light weight, possesses enormous torque, is capable of extreme performance, yet has maximum real world streetable active safety. She is graceful in motion, yet potentially brutal. She exudes inner beauty through absolute follow through of truth of concept. She has great proportions, holistic brand gestalt, is original, impactful, alluring and elegant. The Driving concept was the creation of a conceptually flexible foundation to allow a place for growth and further iteration; a utilitarian modular flexible foundation.

This Confederate team interpretation of American industrial and mechanical design rebirth is first and foremost supremely confident and, therefore, demure, sophisticated, eclectic and open."

The motorcycle in cinema-aachi & ssipak.

In case of wonky you-tube problems go directly here for clip.

"aachi & ssipak (Ssipak" is pronounced like the English words "she pock" run together) is a 2006 animated South Korean film, directed by Jo Beom-jin and featuring the voices of Ryoo Seung-beom, Im Chang-jeong, and Hyeon Yeong. It screened at the 2007 Seattle International Film Festival.

In the future, all energy sources are depleted, except human excrement. To reward production, people receive addictive, popsicle-like "Juicybars". Aachi and Ssipak are street hoodlums who struggle to survive by trading black market Juicybars. Through a chain of events involving their porn-director acquaintance Jimmy the Freak, they meet wannabe-actress Beautiful, whose defecations are rewarded by exceptional quantities of Juicybars. For that reason, Beautiful is also wanted by the violent blue mutants known as the Diaper Gang (led by the Diaper King), the police (most notably the cyborg police officer Geko), and others"

Marco Facciola's wooden bicycle.

What do kids know anyways?-quite a lot. Marco Facciola, a 16-year-old high school student, constructed this wooden bicycle to fulfill a class requirement.

"As a 16-year-old high school student in the International Baccalaureate program, I am required to complete a 'personal project' on a non-academic topic that is of interest to me. I have always enjoyed woodworking and design, so I decided to build a functional wooden bicycle. There was to be no metal used in its construction, only wood and glue. I wanted a project that would be a challenge.

This project came to mind as I was reflecting on the many stories my opa, Case Vandersluis, told me about his adventures in Holland during World War II. Opa was roughly the age I am now when he had to build wooden wheels for his bicycle, as rubber was scarce during the war.
I wasn't sure my wooden bicycle would actually work. I quickly realized the first pieces of the puzzle I needed to figure out were the chain and the sprockets (gears), since the design of all the other components depended on these.

I was mostly concerned that the wooden chain would break. I researched the strength of different types of wood and built jigs to test the stresses that each of the chain's components would undergo during use. First, I used my weight (150 lbs) to see if the wood could endure this amount of force. Then, my father would stand on the jig. I calculated that my dad's weight would be twice the force each chain component would need to withstand. I made the specs high to ensure the chain and sprockets would work even if the wood had imperfections. During testing, I made adjustments to the chain's components, and once I had it figured out, I realized that completing the project was within my grasp." the rest here:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Men with dolls...

"1:6 scale modeling (aka Playscale Miniaturism) is a hobby focusing on the customization of commercially produced 1:6 scale action figures, accessories and, even, dollhouse furniture, frequently, for use in dioramas.

Playscale miniaturism originally represented the domestic, urban or civilian expressions of the scale, especially when coed, and not, usually, exterior genres, like military and adventure themes. As such, it came to represent cross-genre miniaturism, as well, which routinely includes elements from the former. Miniaturists who focus exclusively on exterior themes tend to prefer the protologism sixthscale. The terms playscale and sixthscale are better received by text-based search engines, like Google, Yahoo & MSN, than numbers and punctuation are, such as "1:6" or "1/6."

This scale is fairly new to the modeling world, having been standardized in the early 1960s through Barbie and G.I. Joe. Most of this style of miniaturism is constructed around posable figures made of plastic. The average 1:6 figure stands roughly 30 cm (12 in) tall, representing a 1.8 m (6 ft) tall human, but they can be as short as 20 cm (8 in) representing a scale 1.2 m (4 ft) tall adult. Figures can be outfitted in a wide variety of mass produced, limited production, and custom clothing and items. Some people undertake vehicle projects ranging from tanks, helicopters, jeeps-and of course motorcycles.

Talented "customizers", miniaturists specializing in construction of one-off and limited production items or the extensive modification of stock products, are limited only by their imagination.

A significant focus of these miniaturists is military subjects of many different eras, but some focus on science fiction, fantasy, pop culture, or civilian topics."

like we see below...

Isis from MGBB's action figures.

1907 Isle of man T.T. rider from by Greg3 from The U.K. 1/6 scale collectors club
(The overall winner of the first T.T. was Charlie Collier riding a single cylinder Matchless and the twin cylinder class was won by Rem Fowler on a Norton -he also set the overall lap record despite having crashed twice and having to stop ten times to make various repairs- You can read Rem's own account of the race here)
Steve McQueen in 1/6 scale from Outlaws Movie Figure

Max Turn has created this pair of bad girls.

Hiba (above) and Trinity from Dawgstyle

Friday, January 25, 2008

Astro Boy, boy racer.

"My first AstroBoy tintoy, circa early 1960s. A gift from my Grandma after returning from a trip to Japan." Via: Astroboy Blog

Take the telegraph's musical motorcycle challenge.

Under the baton: bikes are often perceived as a nuisance, but could they be harnessed to make sweet music?
From the
"The composer Karlheinz Stockhausen might have been regarded as radical for his love of discordant noise, but you don't have to be a paid-up member of the musical avant-garde to appreciate the characteristic sound of a Ducati or the meaty roar of a Harley-Davidson, so distinctive that the company actually tried to patent it. Motor manufacturers are very aware that our relationship with engines has always been both psychological and physical and far more complex than a simple appreciation of the motive power required to take us from A to B. They recognise the significance of sound in what is sometimes an illusory experience of speed, and a great deal of time, effort and money is spent in creating the right exhaust note. The technology might be available to make vehicles as silent as cats, but they would be dangerous for all road users, especially pedestrians. What's more, they would be no fun. Who wants a Ducati (or a Ferrari 430, a Jaguar XK or a Mazda MX-5 for that matter) that sounds like an electric milk float?

The sonic appeal of motorcycle engines was certainly not what the aristocrat Jens Henrik Jespersen had in mind in 1862 when he built Sølyst, a secluded lakeside hunting lodge in Jyderup, Denmark. But 145 years on it has become a centre for intercultural dialogue and the Sølyst International Art Residency (SAIR) programme, and as a participating artist with an interest in all things motoring, I was about to give Jespersen's ghost a loud wake-up call by instigating the Rush exhibition, aiming to celebrate the ritual territorialism of local youth as they mapped out their home town on their beloved scooters.

Beyond the picturesque Sølyst, which locals call "the castle", Jyderup is a small town consisting of neat rows of modest houses built on completely flat terrain around a series of interconnecting car parks and discount supermarkets, with a single-track railway slicing noisily through its quiet heart. In such an isolated place, where the cinema was turned into a washing-machine shop several years ago, my sympathies lay with the baggy-trousered teenagers who let their neighbours know that there was still some life in the town. Their two-wheeled displays were regarded as nothing more than noise pollution by many residents, but to the kids they were a song of liberation.

One element of the exhibition would be filmed in the grounds of Sølyst, where the scooter engines would be played at full throttle to explore their musical attributes. This would be contrasted with a presentation of the scooter boys and their bikes in almost static video portraits, conveying a stately dignity reminiscent of formal 19th-century photographs of Danish nobles and their hunting dogs.

As an outsider who spoke no Danish, creating such an event was a huge challenge. I not only had to win the disaffected youngsters' trust but gain access to the disused interior of the railway station where they usually congregated, obtain permission to hold the exhibition there, design posters and frame pictures, edit video footage, blag projectors and monitors, all on a zero budget. It would have been impossible without the support of SAIR's ever-enthusiastic Tina Bundgaard Qudenbaum, her industrious assistant Henrik Andersen and Mr Fixit, Svend-aage Larsen of the Art Workshop of West Zealand.

On the appointed day, my arrival at the railway station with journalists from Danish radio and the local paper, Folkebladet, in tow was pretty embarrassing. Despite their initial interest, none of the scooter boys had actually turned up. Frantic phone calls established that the promotional posters had been interpreted as a police trap for illegal machines and riders, as a recent local crackdown had already led to arrests and the confiscation of several mopeds.

Yet amid the chaos, against all the odds, the scooter boys were eventually persuaded to emerge and participate, scoring several firsts: the first art exhibition ever held in the town and the first opportunity to find positive potential in something that had been regarded as a social problem.

Nature has blessed other towns with more spectacular landscapes and better climates, but the true test of a place and its people is when you're up against it, have no money and can appeal only to the inhabitants' imagination, generosity of spirit, tolerance and co-operation. My sincere thanks therefore go to Hans Erik Baagland, who backed the concept from the start and gave access to the upper floors of the railway station for the exhibition, sealing the deal with minimal fuss and a firm handshake, to the Experts TV shop's Anders Baagland, who supplied all the audiovisual equipment, to Folkebladet's intrepid reporter Mikkel Schou, to Trina of Danish radio, who kindly covered the whole escapade, to the SAIR programme and, most of all, to the young scooterists of Jyderup.

And if they can do it, so can you. Do you have the throttle control to make your engine sing? Can you, your friends or club come together as an orchestra of internal combustion?

If so, The Telegraph wants to hear from you - literally. Record the national anthem (for copyright reasons we can't accept anything else) and send us your performance and we will publish the best of them online.

We're not expecting anything as impressive as the Renault Formula One engine programmed to play God Save the Queen (although it must be possible to improve on its hilarious rendition of La Marseillaise - you can hear both in the 8/7/06 recording here, but who knows what musical motorcycling talent might be out there? Give it a go.

Thunderdome-the childs fashion statement.

These great Mad Max styled (Thunderdome?-we think so.) inspired Diesel kids collection ads come via a posting from the great Ectoplasmosis site. How far have we come?...perhaps far enough to see the end of the civilized world and the beginning of the glorious big dirt clot fight that will be the kid-centric post-apocalyptic future.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Boba Fett-the Cafe Racer.

If the Star Wars villian had this bike perhaps he would have learned to get along with others better..

This stunning Boba Fett inspired BMW comes via the bcsportbikes forum. Owner "Tattoodles" picks up the story;

"I took advantage of the winter down time to do some fun custom work to my bike- and I'm a huge Star Wars fan. I especially have a Boba Fett (great fansite here) fetish. I've never seen a bike painted up as a tribute to Star Wars before, so I thought I'd take a stab at it. The bike is painted to replicate Boba Fett's space ship Slave1.

The tank paint detail of Boba Fett's emblem from his armor chest plate ...

The quality of detail in the paint by Harald at Toxik design lab is absolutely incredible. There's small seems with highlights and lowlights, there's rust and oil stains, blaster marks, small logos from the movie, score marks and vents and louvers.

...The matching paint on the helmet visor's visibility isn't great but it's doable."

Why is this man smiling?- Boba Fett.

Your little moving picture for the day.

This dear little little bit of animation comes via its creator yatudlabiereicit. Brief and elegant it's more of a visual Haiku-brilliant.

Heroes: The San Francisco Motorcycle Emergency Response Corps.

Surely it could never happen here?-Kobe, Japan.
"The Motorcycle Emergency Response Corps hopes to save lives by moving personnel and supplies around the city in the event of a disaster.

MERCury will be coordinating with the Office of Emergency Services and San Francisco Fire Department to provide trained citizen volunteers who can safely and efficiently move through the congested, and possibly damaged, streets of the City after a natural disaster such as an earthquake, or an act of terrorism. They will ferry supplies and rescuers, make damage assessments, and work with the Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams.

Members of MERCury will be trained in First Aid, light search and rescue, amateur radio, and advanced motorcycling skills. They also will participate in twice-yearly disaster drills in concert with the Fire Department, Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT), and the bicycle-based Courier Disaster Response Team. In addition, they will be trained in motorcycle-specific First Aid."

Our friend in Italy: Obiboi's amazing concept's.

These very handsome renderings come from NCRS reader Obiboi's (oberam bezzi design) great blog Motosketches. Full of incredible concept designs, his work is clean, well though out and very well grounded. Our personal favorite is the Great Chaparral racer-based work. (above)

The world weeps that Audi has never considered building a bike, and that Obiboi has not been asked to design them-yet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Motorcycles have a Second Life.

From slgames:
"You can imagine my excitement when I discovered that not only can I get a free motorcycle in Second Life. Let me tell you, first, about my bike. Well, truth be told, it isn’t technically a bike at all. It is an Elemental, or more precisely a Meta Elemental Multiform Craft. The Elemental is the brainchild of Kage Seraph who has built a craft that can transform: not only into a motorcycle, but also into a sports coupe, a submarine, a jet, an airship, a helicopter, a speedboat, or a hoverpod. It has all sorts of features (including weapons that will get you banned from many sims), but the best part is that it is free (just go here)."
Its fast, it flies, it safe and its free...

Messenger bags-A history.

Girl messenger arriving at the Foreign Office with an Admiralty despatch-pict from the Yorkshire Film Archive

  • The single-strap shoulder bag as used by messengers is really nothing new, in the scheme of things. Such a design is almost universally seen through history on the shoulder of almost any type of messenger, whether it be Pony Express, postmen, running messengers in many an early civilization, or bicycle messengers from the era of the telegraph messenger boy to the present.
  • The messenger bag as we know it today, however, originated in the 1950s or thereabouts, being produced as a bag for telephone linemen, by Globe Canvas/De Martini in New York. The linemen needed a bag they could easily access while climbing telephone poles, and this design worked perfectly. New York bicycle messenger companies picked them up sometime in the 1970s, and initially were purchased one color per company, as identifiers of a sort. For a long while, NYC was the bastion of the messenger bag - until things started to spread in the 1980s.
  • Manhattan Portage lists their start-up date as 1980, and while I've not seen their early bags, the basic design of their modern bags is, like most everyone else's design, directly traceable to the De Martini bags. They claim as their firsts the use of Delrin buckles (rather than metal loops) to close the bag flap, and the use of Cordura (rather than canvas duck) as exterior material. Both claims have also been made by Zo Bags in San Francisco, which started in 1984, directly influenced, again, by De Martini. Zo Bags can, however, securely claim the introduction of one-piece construction (of the outer covering; previously, makers like DeMartini and Manhattan Portage constructed the flap as a separate piece, which necessitated a seam across the top of the bag), as well as the 3-panel bag design (currently used by Timbuk2), and the waist strap. Courierware, in Boston, started up in 1985, but never seemed to gain the same popularity amongst the messenger community as the other early/mid-80s starters.
Eric Zo's web page letter to the world...
  • 1989 brought the beginnings of San Francisco-based Timbuk2 (originally called ScumBags) and Toronto-based (now in British Columbia) Pac Designs. These 2 companies were the forefront of the 3rd generation of modern messenger bags, inspired by their own interpretations of the DeMartini design as filtered through the lens of Manhattan Portage, Zo Bags and Courierware. Pac ushered in the blossoming of the highly-customized messenger bag, taking a leap from the very basic "big bag with a shoulder strap" to offering bags that converted from single to dual shoulder strap arrangements, and a whole spectrum of add-ons, pockets and subdividers
Chrome's med sized messenger bag
  • The early 90s brought Bailey Works (Portsmouth), Push (Toronto), Chrome (Denver, now SF) and Roach (Vancouver - one of the first, if not the first to introduce a 2-strap backpack-style bag) hot on their heels, initially with mostly local appeal (used to be that if you saw someone with a Bailey, they were almost certainly from Boston or Minneapolis; someone with a Roach was nearly always from BC - the advent of CMWC and the Internet changed that quickly enough...) They were followed by a host of other manufacturers from across North America, Europe, Australia and Japan, all working hard to satisfy the unique demands of bicycle messengers everywhere. regardless of whether they prefer simple single-shoulder bags, super-custom shoulder or convertible bags, or dual-strap backpack-style bags.
  • Frank DeMartini passed away in early 2000, but his bags continue to be made to the same pattern they always have been, by a former employee who bought the company shortly before his passing. I often wonder if he knew the lasting influence on a subculture his creation had, some 50 years down the line...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Brazil's bike messengers demand respect.

By Mauricio Savarese From Reuters
"Fast, furious but vital....

That's Sao Paulo's "motoboys", the army of motorcycle messengers who deliver the documents that keep Brazil's financial capital ticking, even if it means terrorizing other road-users.

Reviled for kicking cars, breaking rear-view mirrors and beating up drivers who cross them, the motoboys are nonetheless essential for companies that need paperwork or other items transported quickly across traffic-clogged Sao Paulo.

Now they are up in arms against planned measures to regulate their trade.

Last Friday, a protest blocked streets in Sao Paulo and more actions are planned in coming days and weeks, threatening to bring commuter chaos to the world's third largest city.

"This is a historic moment for our profession. We want to stop being just a bunch of people and to be recognized," said Aldemir Martins de Freitas, president of the Sindimoto union.

In all, there are about 650,000 motoboys, mostly poorly educated lads from the slums surrounding Sao Paulo.

Their anger is centered on government plans for higher mandatory insurance and to ban them from the express lane of Sao Paulo's main urban highways, the notorious Marginal Pinheiros and Marginal Tiete. They will also make protective gear compulsory.

However, the new scheme would also create an exclusive lane for motoboys on another key artery, Avenida 23 de Maio.

Union leaders hope to meet with Mayor Gilberto Kassab this week. He has said the new measures are just an experiment and if they do not prove successful, they might not be implemented.

"The animosity between motoboys and other road-users is growing each day," Folha de S.Paulo newspaper said in an editorial on Monday headlined "The War of the Motoboys."

It is dangerous work. In 2006, about 380 motoboys were killed and 9,000 injured, according to the Brazilian Motorcylists Association. It's common to see a motoboy sprawled prone on the road after a smack with a car.

Despite the danger the motoboys face, other drivers are not sympathetic.

"I'm tired of having my car kicked as they change lanes. If you argue with one, five others come out of the blue to threaten you. We think of them as bandits," businessman Eurico Ferreira said.

Benjamin de Souza, 26, has worked as a motoboy since 2005 and rejects the bandit label. A father of two girls, he sees the resentment as part of Brazil's social divide.

"Society denies us support. They don't want to share space with bikers, who are poor. We are exposed and drivers have lots of iron around them."

"What is the problem we cause? Falling and dying? That's a bigger problem for us, believe me."

Monday, January 21, 2008

The electronic pony express.

By James Brooke from the NYtimes:
"In this village on the edge of a primordial forest, where the occasional oxcart creaks down the red earth main street, townspeople were debating one recent afternoon what to say in their first e-mail transmission.

''I think we should send a message to the governor, asking for land titles,'' said Kim Seng, 53, who owns a mud-floor restaurant, as his wife listened from a hammock. Conjuring up the power and prestige of a letter sent by computer, he added confidently, ''The governor will pay attention to our issues.''

Without wires for electricity or telephones, this village of about 800 people has nevertheless joined the online world, taking part in a development project set up by an American benefactor to connect 13 rural schools to the Internet.

Since the system went into place last September at the new elementary school here in Cambodia's remote northeast corner, solar panels have been powering three computers. Once a day, an Internet ''Motoman'' rides a cherry red Honda motorcycle slowly past the school. On the passenger seat is a gray metal box with a short fat antenna. The box holds a wireless Wi-Fi chip set that allows the exchange of e-mail between the box and computers. Briefly, this schoolyard of tree stumps and a hand-cranked water well becomes an Internet hot spot.

It is a digital pony express: five Motomen ride their routes five days a week, downloading and uploading e-mail. The system, developed by a Boston company, First Mile Solutions, uses a receiver box powered by the motorcycle's battery. The driver need only roll slowly past the school to download all the village's outgoing e-mail and deliver incoming e-mail. The school's computer system and antenna are powered by solar panels. Newly collected data is stored for the day in a computer strapped to the back of the motorcycle. At dusk, the motorcycles converge on the provincial capital, Ban Lung, where an advanced school is equipped with a satellite dish, allowing a bulk e-mail exchange with the outside world.

The Motoman program is sponsored by American Assistance for Cambodia, a group based in Phnom Penh and run by Bernard Krisher, the Far East representative of the Media Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Media Lab gives technical advice to the Motoman program, which offers third world schools a way to cut costs by sharing one dish and one uplink fee.

To some, the Motoman system is a cumbersome compromise, made necessary by a government that makes money through monopolies that inflate the prices of satellite dishes and uplink fees far beyond the means of villages like this one, where individual incomes average $1 a day.

''The 50 poorest countries in the world get more money from telephone access fees than anything else,'' said Nicholas Negroponte, a founding director of the Media Lab. An advocate of an Internet bridge to rural Asia, Mr. Negroponte spoke outside a computer-equipped, online school he and his wife, Elaine, pay for 120 miles west of here. Almost as he spoke -- in early January -- police were raiding Internet cafes in Phnom Penh, confiscating equipment for making Internet telephone calls. The cafes charged as little as 5 cents a minute to call the United States, far below the government-mandated minimum of 96 cents for phone calls using conventional technology.

In Phnom Penh, dozens of Internet cafes offer access for 50 cents an hour, and 20 stores sell used computers imported from Japan. About 1,000 Netizens a day log on to the Web site of King Norodom Sihanouk, A used desktop computer can be bought for about $30 -- the monthly wage for a schoolteacher -- while used laptops can be had for as little as $50.

About 75 percent of Cambodia's 13 million people, though, live in rural areas, and smooth roads and utility lines usually stop at the edge of the provincial capital. The village of O Siengle, a collection of wooden houses on stilts, is emblematic of life for the millions of Asians who live on the unwired side of the digital divide.

From this village to Ban Lung, the capital of Ratanakiri Province, is only 18 miles. But even in the dry season, it is a jolting two-hour ride in a sturdy Russian-made jeep.

Users say the Motoman system is starting to change lives.

''It helps us with our diagnoses,'' Chanmarith Ly, deputy director of the provincial hospital in Ban Lung, said of the telemedicine project that allows him to send photographs of patients, X-rays, ultrasounds and electrocardiograms to specialists in Boston at Partners Telemedicine, a program of the Partners HealthCare System. Doctors from the staff of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School review the files and send diagnoses, all pro bono.

Joseph C. Kvedar, a Partners doctor who directs the Boston end of the telemedicine project, saw the value of the effort when he visited the eight doctors at the Ban Lung hospital in November.

''The Cambodian doctors know how to do malaria, tuberculosis, chronic tropical infection conditions like diarrhea, dengue fever,'' he said by telephone from Boston. ''But diabetes, hypertension, the diseases of the modern world, are just not in their lexicon. It is a perfect fit.''

Still, once-a-day e-mail service has its drawbacks. A few steps from Dr. Ly's hospital office, Kuy Sothy, a 21-year-old teacher, lay on a hospital bed, recovering from a severe bout of malaria.

''I sent the e-mail to the hospital,'' she said, resting on a woven rattan mat.

Bunthan Hun, the project's local technology director, interjected, ''We got the e-mail, but you got here first.'' Indeed, the same motorcycle that carried Miss Sothy to the hospital carried the Wi-Fi box with her e-mail message.

The Americans behind the project hope that e-mail will also bring economic benefits by connecting rural people and their products to wider markets.

In Rovieng, where Mr. Negroponte finances his school, women weavers sell their raw silk scarves and ties through, a Web site operated by Mr. Krisher's group. Once marginalized, these traditional weavers now have among the town's highest incomes. Here in Ratanakiri, a land-locked province bordering southern Laos and the central highlands of Vietnam, Mr. Krisher hopes to market local products eventually through an informational Web site he maintains,

For the younger generation, the new school computers are like magnets. While the shelf of donated books gathered dust, the computers gathered knots of students, dressed in blue and white uniforms.

''I very much want to go to high school, but I don't know if I can because we are poor,'' said Chenda Prom, 15 years old. Studying the keyboard, she added, ''I want to learn computers for my future.''

Angel Lussiana's Ducati special.

Angel's resin-cast "lighthouse" style headlamp.

Ah, another french custom..this time from designer Angel Lussiana. Sadly there is limited information on this amazing Supersport 900 based bike. What we do know is the frame is unit formed aluminum that is lightened the weight of the bike to a little over 3.5 k. At this time there is no link to Angels work so far but follow the link to see more samples of his brilliant work at

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The kings is dead...

The harvest is ready to be sewn-ernte fashion.

Deliver us from "classic" anything, and in peticular motorcycle jackets. Dean, Brando and Fonzie are dead, so lets move on. Warren Ellis's new body manipulation blog (and directly its from contributor mk13a) gives us a glimpse of the future with a link to ernte fashion systems.

Ernte is Evan Sugerman and Tiffa Novoa, with DM Kishi providing visual andgraphical support. Based primarily in Bali, we are a design studio and an in-house production facility with a team of 19 tailors and craftsmen. Originally establishedas a multidisciplinary art unit, EDFP, it was re-imagined in 2003 and metamor-phosed as Ernte, the German word for harvest. To this day, beyond fashion, Ernte remains committed to the production of various works, from theatrical performances to kinetic installations.

No, they are not padded, safety checked, armoured, sold at participating Cycle Gear stores or even tested by the tedious wags at Motorcyclist magazine. Because motorcycles, fashion, art and life should just be kept a just little dangerous...

Lionboogy's Cosplay Xenosaga bike.

We live in the future. As a child baseball cards in the spokes were nothing short of incredible-and today this.

This pict above (taken by Amanda Nanawa taken at the Anime Expo 2006) has always yielded a lot of questions about the origin of this amazing bike. Inventive cosplayer propmaker "Lionboogy" has recreated the character KOS-MOS's Hoverbike from the video game Xenosaga.

Lionboogy says "its the largest most difficult prop I've ever made and yes, it is a real (but no longer functional) bike, stripped down to just the rear wheel and frame and then heavily modified with new skeleton and external panels and whatever it took to make it ridable, able to quickly assemble and disassemble, and light enough to carry up on stage for the Masquerade." lionboogy has created other cosplay bikes, but we'll just leave those for another time.

Vintage 2003: The Bombadier EMBRIO.

Via Final Sense
"This hydrogen fuel cell powered, gyroscopically balanced, one-wheeled recreational and commuting vehicle provides an extraordinary vision of the kind of personal transport we could be using 20 years from now.

The design brief for Bombadier EMBRIO Concept was to "create highly innovative, functional and exciting products to exceed people's recreational needs" and find the "next thing" in recreational vehicles. The result is a futuristic and minimalistic one-wheeler that is as about far away as you can get from the conventional image of a uni-cycle - a mode of transport normally associated with circuses and street parades.

The riding position will be similar to a motorcycle with a complex series of sensors and gyroscopes balancing passengers on the single wheel. The rider activates a trigger on the left handlebar to accelerate and turns are made by shifting body-weight rather than actually steering.

When the EMBRIO concept is at rest in "stand-by configuration", the front wheels deploy to the ground like landing gear on a plane to increase longitudinal stability. The landing gear retracts when the vehicle speed reaches 20 km/h but even without the landing gear, the EMBRIO would be stable when motionless because of the gyroscope.

The EMBRIO concept's main power source is a hydrogen fuel cell and additional advanced technologies including a high-performance braking system, active suspension, night vision, a digitally encoded key and robotic assistance would be incorporated into the design.

The Concept is constructed from lightweight materials including Polypropylene, Santoprene, nylon (injection moulding), aluminum (stamping, die casting and robotic assembly), magnesium (casting) and the use of fuel cell technology and recycling of aluminum and polyethylene is designed to make the Bombardier EMBRIO an eco-friendly design throughout its life cycle.

The Bombardier EMBRIO concept is one of several concepts proposed by Canadian based Bombardier Recreational Products and it received the Gold Award at the 2003 Annual Design Awards (Industrial Design Society of America & Business Week Magazine)."