Additional Cycling Devices, Inventions, and Discoveries
Advanced technology allows us to accomplish our fondest dreams. The following inventions prove that technology is the answer to the cyclist's worst dilemmas.
Inventions to Deal with the Fear of Being Struck from the Rear
The LRVM (large rear-view mirror): It would seem very doubtful that the simple addition of a rear-view mirror could solve all the problems involved in being passed by motor vehicles, but this simple device surely does. The "L" in LRVM is certainly no exaggeration, as the mirror is four feet wide by six feet high and rides on an outrigger with its own set of wheels. This large size serves several purposes. First, it provides a wide, clear, and unobstructed view to the rear to deal with the cyclists' inferiority complex (I understand that the inventor's first intention was to mount the rider facing to the rear on the bicycle). Second, it insures that the motorist will pass at a decent distance from the bike, as everyone knows that breaking a mirror is seven year's bad luck. Third, for use at nighttime or at dusk, it can be adjusted to thrown the headlight beams of the motor vehicle right back at the MV operator, a sure answer to motorists who don't lower their high beams!
The Flashing Neon Light Display (FNLD) is intended to make the cyclist more visible on the road at night. It includes a sign with six foot high blue neon letters which spell "CYCLIST" and a series of bright red, interlocking arrows beneath that descend to point to the cyclist below. As an added safety feature, every five seconds, the entire light rapidly flashes off and on several times. At the bottom of the sign are mounted two floodlights, one on either side of the arrow, that illuminate the cyclist, dressed in a cycling jacket covered with sequins, brilliantly (in fact, blindingly). Unfortunately, this device eats up battery power at a frightful rate. It seems that the inventor lived in an area with frequent high-power powerline crossings and therefore did not see the necessity of providing more than a small auxilliary battery which would automatically recharge while passing under each powerline. The best solution seems to be a small motorized trailer to hold the sign and an electric generator. Such a trailer is now being tested, but, in my opinion, the small diesel engine produces undesirable exhaust fumes.
The Holographic Abrams M1A2 Main Battle Tank Simulator for Commuting Cyclists consists of a laptop, computer program, holographic projector, sound speakers, and smell orifices which surround your bicycle with a virtual, three-dimensional, frightful army vehicle. As you travel to work on your bike within your virtual Abrams field, you will have absolutely no reason to fear some motorist striking you from the rear or from any other direction. Indeed, as you approach a stop sign or red light, the motorists will run their cars off of the road to get out of your way. Not only does the Simulator provide a truly convincing 3D vision of a tank in action, but the sounds will also exactly match the tank's actions: turning your bike, for instance, will cause the tank to turn realistically with the accompanying turning sounds. In addition, the Smell Blaster -- the latest addition to the Sound Blaster series -- will reek of cordite and diesel fuel.
The Bicycle Commuting Motor Home will, at first glance, seem to have no connection to cycling. However, the floor of the motor home has been cut out, so you can pedal your bicycle all the way to work in air-conditioned comfort and total safety. As you steer your bike, servomotors will steer the motor home, and the acceleration and deceleration of your bike will control its speed. The motor home has enough room for a half-dozen scantily-clad members of the opposite sex to wipe your brow and attend to your every need. Large periscope mirrors provide excellent vision front and back. For those who lack the financial resources for the Bicycle Commuting Motor Home, the Bicycle Commuting Minivan is also available. While providing an opening for the bicycle to ride on the road and excellent control servos, the Minivan lacks such basic amenities as hot and cold bars, deluxe refrigerator, built-in sauna, weight room, and satellite TV, although it does include the stereo sound package and a beverage cooler.
The All-Encompassing Air Bubble provides the same type of protection for the cyclist that the airbag provides for the motorist. The real problem with a bicycle airbag is that there is nothing to attach it too. However, with the Air Bubble, the cyclist wears a plastic air bag suit which rapidly inflates whenever the cyclist experiences a sudden jar. The result is a ball (Air Bubble) about eight feet in diameter completely surrounding the cyclist. If a motor vehicle hits the Air Bubble, even if at high speeds, the blow simply harmlessly knocks the cyclist 50 yards or so. In fact, the only problem discovered with the Air Bubble so far is the tendency of the motorists to play croquet with it, sometimes knocking the ball down some steep mountain slope.
As an alternative to the All-Encompassing Air Bubble, the same manufacture has introduced the Off-Road Ride Bubble, for those who enjoy getting away from the madding crowd altogether, but who still don't wish to skimp on safety. Rather than inflating during an emergency, the Ride Bubble remains inflated at all times, and you and your mountain bike ride inside it. Now there is no more danger of hitting your head against a rock! As an added bonus, the Ride Bubble allows you to ride on very soft terrain that would bog down any other mountain bike. In fact, you can even pedal across a lake. The Ride Bubble has the added advantage of keeping you warn on cold winter days when the sun is shinning. However, it should not be used in bright sunshine during the summer, not at least until the air-conditioned model comes out.
The UAB -- Urban Assault Bicycle -- provides another solution to traffic problems. The UAB, based on the Swiss Army Bike, has a grenade launcher mounted on the rear carrier designed to fire the grenades just far enough to penetrate the windshield of a car that is following too closely. Grenades come in three types -- smoke, incendiary, or HE -- to suit your mood. Mounted to the front carrier is a submachine gun to prepare you for an on-coming, left-turning motorist, an on-coming, passing motorist in your lane, or an occasional "thrill-kill." Side protection, however, is lacking, deemed a serious weakness. For those willing to wait, the Spike Bike Signature Series will be coming out soon, which may correct this deficit.
The Stealth Bike is intended for night-riding only, for those who believe that lights and reflectors merely attract hostile motorists. The Stealth Bike is completely black, with parts either anodized black or painted with a special anti-reflecting black paint, designed to stop 99.9% of light rays. The cyclist wears a black cycling suit and a stealth face mask. In addition, the Stealth Bike comes with the Night Fogger, a device that gives carbon-black particles a high static charge and then blows them into a heavy fog surrounding the bicycle. With this protection, even when highlighted against a white wall by a rapidly approaching SUV, the Stealth Bike is unrecognizable.
For those who prefer to skimp somewhat on safety, The Helmet® provides the kind of protection that most bicycle helmets lack. The outside is a heavy steel shell that protects a cyclist on all sides down to the neck. It looks much like a diving helmet but provides two wide side eye ports backed with two inches of bullet-proof glass, allowing 45° of vision each (but not stereoscopic vision or vision directly ahead -- minor defects that need to be corrected). The steel has been especially hardened to resist 10,000 pounds of pressure, high velocity rifle fire, and a fall of 50 feet. Inside the helmet are several layers of foam, with the densest layer next to the steel. Due to the weight of the helmet, it is necessary for the cyclist to be strapped to the bike and for the helmet to be bolted to a seatpost extension. Mirrors attached to the helmet allow the cyclist to see to the sides, rear, and front. Plans are already underway to make this helmet mandatory. Work is also in progress towards developing a full armored suit to go with this helmet. Problems have arisen in pedaling and steering while wearing the armor, but the delay is considered temporary. The manufactures would like to see the new body armor become mandatory also, and their lobbyists have told them that getting the law passed is very likely to proceed quicker than getting the armor into production.
Inventions to deal with the task of climbing a hill
JATO (Jet Assisted Take Off) is famous for getting airplanes off of carriers. The much smaller BATO unit is designed to boost a bicycle over the next or any hill. It's important, however, for the user to match the solid fuel booster unit purchased to the grade and length of the hill; otherwise, it's possible to become airborne upon reaching the top. The BATO unit does come with a lifetime warranty; however, the buyer should read the fine print: the lifetime for the largest of these units is less than twenty seconds, and the warranty is good for the original purchaser only (doesn't transmit to the heirs and assigns). However, twenty seconds is still enough time to climb a good mile of steep mountain road. We did not personally test this invention.
The Bike Motor was a device that we considered less than completely satisfactory. This invention employs a chain saw motor to power the bicycle. We had problems with excessive frame vibration (and teeth vibration -- our teeth, not the teeth on the sprockets and cogs), rapidly wearing tires (the bike would leave skid marks whenever the Bike Motor was started), blue smoke (and excessive coughing -- on the part of the engine, but we coughed a lot too), and ear-deafening sound (air plugs are not adequate). In addition, the Bike Motor was heavy enough to take all the joy out of cycling on the flat.
The Accordion RSX, unlike the other inventions in this report, is no longer in production. It was designed and built during that cycling period when drilling was frequently employed to remove excess metal. In the case of the Accordion, every part of the bike that could be lightened in this fashion received this treatment, including the frame, so the bike was fully 50% as light as a stock bike with the same frame and components. Unfortunately, the Accordion was not a complete success due to two minor problems: 1) It was oversensitive to rust (with all the holes in the frame), and 2) it could not survive a crash. However, considering the lightness of the bike and the additional protection that its collapsing structure offers during a crash, we think that the Accordion should go back into production.
Helios, Inc. has created another method for climbing a hill. This company's invention employs a large balloon (filled with helium at the bottom of the hill) to lighten the bike for the trip to the top. We discovered several caveats: 1) Do not use this solution on a windy day, 2) do not use this solution if you will be passing under any power lines, and 3) be very careful about overhanging tree limbs. Actually, unless the hill to be climbed is very high, more time will be lost in fooling with the balloon than will be gained.
One of the simplest hill-climbing devices was invented by a touring cyclist who got one of his bungee cords caught in the bed of a passing truck. Needless to say, he made it to the top of the hill in record time. The Bungee Hook consists of a small grappling hook, a length of cord, an elastic bungee cord, and an emergency release (something sorely missed on that first trip). Using the device is simple. As you travel up the hill, swing the grappling hook so that it catches on the bumper of a slowly moving car or truck. Be sure to stay next to the vehicle that's pulling you up the mountain as having another motor vehicle pass between the two of you can create some unexpected difficulties.
Inventions for the bicycle traveler and camper
Two of the major problems that a traveling cyclist copes with are 1) finding a place to stop and pee and 2) finding a place to camp for the night. Fortunately, the same people who created the holographic Abrams tank have come up with a variety of solutions. Do you prefer a simple outhouse, a gasoline station with restrooms in the rear, or a simple screen of trees? The Holographic Rest Stop Simulator can instantly create the scene so you can pee in complete privacy. At night, there is an even wider variety of options with the Camping Site Camouflage Simulator. Do you wish to sleep behind or under an imaginary 18-wheeler, a rocky bluff, a stream or lake of water, or surrounded by a pack of vicious dogs (all barking and lunging outward)? With this assortment of holographic images, sounds, and smells, the cyclist can stop and camp in safety almost anywhere.
The "pop-up" tent has always been sadly in need of improvement. Now, new, high-pressure, air-inflated tents are coming into the market and are expected to replace conventional tents within a few years. Unfortunately, we found the Hollywood Mansion, Split-Level Ranch House, and Tudor Castle were all too heavy to be carried by bicycle; however, the much lighter Camping Trailer Popup, at only 20 pounds, fit the bill. Once this popup tent is inflated (just 20 cubic feet of air at 150 lbs. of pressure), the cyclist can camp within the realistic, but admittedly cramped confines of a miniature travel trailer (one of those with a ten-foot length and highly curved front and rear).
Carrying a full load of groceries for an extended stay in the backcountry used to make backpacking and bikepacking very difficult. The invention of dehydrated foods solved this problem but created a new need. How do you cook with dehydrated foods when you're out in a desert? Carrying water defeats the weigh advantage of dehydrated food. Fortunately, National Hydration Solutions, Inc. has discovered the answer -- dehydrated water. By carrying a few little pills along with you, your thirsty nights will be over for good.
These are all the latest inventions discovered to date, but this cycling reporter will keep up with new and promising inventions and add them to the list!