Feeds

Saddle up for the Tour de Firmware

Build a BONKERS BICYCLE laden down with gadgetry

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration

Lots of techies ride bicycles and it is not hard to see why: both pursuits involve the creation of heavily customised and finely-tuned machines coaxed to peak performance after arcane preparations and exhaustive effort, often at odd hours of the day or night.

The overlap looks even more likely of late, because bikes now pack in plenty more technology. Building plenty of it into a bike won't necessarily help you over the 3,664km of this year's Tour de France, which kicks off in Yorkshire this weekend, but will give you the chance to indulge in an unusual build.

One bit of kit you'll find built into some bikes these days is an electronic gear-shifting system. This kit isn't the equivalent of an automatic transmission. Instead they offer small motors to shift gears in ways said to be more precise than is possible with cables.

Such contraptions have been around for decades but went mainstream a few years back when colossal bike brand Shimano introduced the Di2 for its high-end Dura Ace range. The company has since reduced the price to around $2,000 or $3,000, a level at which serious hobbyists can consider the Di2. Those with a passion for things European and more cash to spare may prefer Italian firm Campagnolo's EPS system. Campagnolo is a venerable brand that can proudly point to the fact that NASA once asked it to machine some components, a pedigree that may appeal.

Whatever you buy, it has upgradeable firmware so you sysadmin skills can be put to work improving a bike's performance.

Electronic shifters rely on a USB-rechargeable battery. There are plenty of bike-mountable batteries out there, and plenty of smartphone mounts too. But when one is on the road it is ideal to bring a power source along for the ride.

Enter The Plug, a USB outlet that replaces the headset cap (the bit that holds the handlebars to the forks). Cunning wiring inside a bike's frame can pipe electricity generated by a dynamo into The Plug, and from there into your smartphone or the plethora of USB-rechargeable lights on the market.

The plug bicycle outlet

The Plug III bicycle USB outlet

While we're on USB-rechargeable lights, it's worth mentioning Fly 6, a USB-rechargeable rear-light-and-camera-in-one. Plenty of cyclists carry front-facing cameras to gather evidence of a fun ride, or a dodgy driver. Fly 6 offers the same chance to shoot a ride, albeit facing backwards.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Next page: Snot patches

More from The Register

next story
Nice computers don’t need to go to the toilet, says Barclays
Bad computers might ask if you are Sarah Connor
4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles
Have your say with Ofcom now, before Freeview becomes Feeview
YES, iPhones ARE getting slower with each new release of iOS
Old hardware doesn't get any faster with new software
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
PEAK LANDFILL: Why tablet gloom is good news for Windows users
Sinofsky's hybrid strategy looks dafter than ever
You didn't get the MeMO? Asus Pad 7 Android tab is ... not bad
Really, er, stands out among cheapie 7-inchers
Apple winks at parents: C'mon, get your kid a tweaked Macbook Pro
Cheapest models given new processors, more RAM
VMware builds product executables on 50 Mac Minis
And goes to the Genius Bar for support
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?