Sunday, October 26, 2008

Got Something New

Tim, new dad and one of the many talented engineers we have at Felt, ran into Felt's all-around-good-guy and smack-dab ace wrench, Michael Queliza - aka: Q (shown above) - while he was building a particularly swift looking bike the other day. Turns out it is a special Felt DA we put together for Kozo Shimano, another all-around-good-guy who happens to be Shimano no. 1 son and is now enjoying a little free time after running Shimano USA for years. What is particularly cool about Kozo's new DA is it is sporting Shimano's "Lance Edition" Dura-Ace components including polished black & yellow graphics and carbon cranks. Apparently there are only two such groups in existence, Kozo's and you-know-who's.

If you think about the relationship that Kozo has with virtually every bicycle company in the world, it is pretty flattering that he choose a DA to hang such a distinct one-off group from. Plus, now he's got a Felt TT bike to go with his Felt road bike, a SC1.

So there you go - everybody has something new! Kozo has a new bike, Tim has a new baby, and Q has his picture on this blog!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Mile-a-Minute" Murphy and MPG

There is a loose rivalry between bicycles and automobiles that dates back almost to the inception of the motor driven vehicle. Over 100 years ago non-horse driven transportation was in its infancy with railroads being the preferred mechanized method for travelling from point A to B. Railways had their limitations and automobiles looked poised to be able to expand points A and B to all points in between. Like today's speed demons, as soon as a type of vehicle was invented, some had to see how fast they could make it go. Automobiles were terribly inefficient at the time and the ride was far from thrilling.

In this era, when automotive races were conducted at 2-6 mph, Charles Murphy claimed there was no limit to how fast you could travel on a bicycle, provided something just ahead of you was moving at the same speed. Basically put, a cyclists' speed on the bicycle was determined by the gear, surface, and a pacesetter, but not limited. Charles Murphy was an amateur cyclist and his bold claim in 1887 was somewhat substantiated when he pedaled a bike in a 64" gear almost 46 miles per hour - on a stationary trainer. He reasoned that if the air was still; sheltered by a moving vehicle, reaching that same speed in motion would be just as easy as it was when stationary. He became the laughingstock of the world, but continued riding and became an accomplished competitive cyclist. In 1895 he held seven world records; seventeen American records; and twenty-nine state records. Finally in 1899 he had his chance to prove his claims behind a specially crafted shelter on a Long Island Railroad passenger train and some covered railroad ties. The goal was to be the first to clock 1 mile in under 60 seconds. Cars hadn't yet attained this mile-a-minute speed. Airplanes hadn't yet left the ground. A frist attempt proved even the locomotive could not reach the needed speed and Charles rolled comfortably covering 1 mile in 1:04.8. A new machine and a new attempt finally netted the result: 57.8 seconds elapsed to cover a measured mile. It would be three years later, when another daredevil cyclist climbed in a automobile, one of Henry Ford's early machines and was able to reach a similar speed over the same distance. Berna Eli "Barney" Oldfield and Charles "Mile-a-minute" Murphy became two famous cases of thrill seekers accomplishing the impossible and claiming their moments in history. It would be about 40 years before anyone was able to eclipse Murphy's record bicycling speed, while the automobile raced faster and faster with each passing year. The torch had passed.

As our rising gas costs and environmental concern build interest in alternative means of transportation, we rekindle the rivalry between car and bike; encouraged that everyone will rediscover the joy, efficiency and responsibility in two wheeled transportation and the original speed demon and thrill seeker machine.

The global market meets the local market

So the last 4 months we've been travelling the globe, from Spain to Taiwan back to the USA. From California to Missouri with stops in Utah; along the way shows in Eurobike in Germany and Interbike in Las Vegas, our schedule has taken the Felt team around the world. During these travels it is amazing to see the impact cycling has all over the world. In some arenas bicycles have remained unchanged as daily transportation for decades, and elsewhere, the very pinnacle of technology is used by professional athletes to gain an advantage over their rivals.

The 2010 product development has begun in earnest, the 2009 models are filling the stores and we are looking again at all of the latest innovations to incorporate. Some of the ideas are used on the aforementioned utility bikes that have undergone few changes over the past couple decades others will need the latest composites, shaped with wind tunnel development advanced nano resins and materials and radical assembly methods. What remains unchanged is the bicycles' place in our world. It is a wonderful constant.