SAN FRANCISCO — Sometimes even a great idea falls flat at first. Take Pump-Hub, a self-inflating bike tire gizmo. It was rolling along at trade shows and getting lots of good press before the financial crisis of 2008 sidelined the project.
Now its creator, engineer Kevin Manning, is getting back on track with a new team behind him and plans to expand his original idea — an automatic, adjustable, tire-inflation system housed in the hub of a bike wheel.
For cyclists, the Pump-Hub means no remembering to check the tire pressure or pack a pump, no fiddling around with the valve and then racing to put the cap back on before the air wheezes out and your aching arms have to start all over again. It inflates the tires to the proper pressure while you ride, making a gentle clickety-clack sound reminiscent of spoke cards from childhood days. When the tire hits the designated pressure, the fluttering sounds stop. If you get a flat, just upend your bike and spin the wheel until pressure is restored.
“It’s like how using a Macintosh is easier than using a command-line interface,” Manning says, turning his Gunnar bike upside down on the Embarcadero to show me how the Pump-Hub works. If you really boil down all the technology behind his invention, he adds, the main advantage basically ends up being “it’s easier.”
Fresh photographic equipment stole the show this week, but we also got wind of some great new outdoor gear (and some stuff for desk jockeys).
First the camera news: Sony is coming on strong with the amazing R100 III camera, while Nikon’s most exciting new gadget is an underwater flash. On the outdoorsy front, San Francisco is gearing up for summer with new bags from my favorite bag makers Rickshaw and Waterfield, and if you’re out in the warm/cold spring on your bike, you might like to do it wearing the beautiful Vulpine merino wool cycling jersey. If you’re not the outdoors type, we have you covered too — you can stay home and organize your desk with a handsome wooden pen and phone holder.
Here we go: Just as the spring eases into the seasonal throne and forces winter to curl up and pretend to be a footstool for the next three months, along comes the Allo, a combination bike mount and speaker for your iPhone. It’s a Kickstarter project, but as the expected delivery date is May, you should get one in time for summer.
This lovely retro-style bag is made to carry over your shoulder, or on your bike. Made by the Goodordering Company of Hackney, East London (in England, for those of you who may still be half asleep), the bag can be quickly converted between shoulder bag, pannier (“saddlebag”) or handlebar bag.
Commuter 2.1 byRickshaw Category: Bags Works With: iPad, MacBook Price: $180 as tested
I’m a huge fan of Rickshaw’s bags. Pretty much everyone in the Rickshaw office cycles to work, and it shows in the design of the bags. They’re well made, practical and light, but still full of clever design details. The Commuter 2.1 is no exception, somehow managing to offer a huge collection of pickets and cubbyholes, and yet remaining light enough to be more comfy on the shoulder than many more simple messenger bags.
Wahoo has added yet another low-power Bluetooth sensor to its range of bike fitness gadgets. The RPM is a cadence sensor which works without magnets, or bulky attachments on the frame, and talks direct to compatible apps on your iPhone.
What would happen if you took a dork-o-lithic nylon “Executive Laptop Case” and tossed it onto a (giant) blender with a Chrome messenger bag? Well, I guess the blender would choke and break, but if you used a metaphorical blender then you’d end up with a slurry that could be turned into the Boa Nerve, a bag designed to take you “from the conference room to your bike.”