Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Biria Touring City TC-Top 3

While not as well-known as the strange "EZ Boarding" series, this is an excellent utility bicycle. It is a purpose-built utility, not a hybrid with fenders and rack attached as an afterthought. It has an aluminum frame, 700c wheels with large 45c-wide tires (road bikes usually have 22-35c tires), a generator light set, metal chainguard, sprung seat, and handlebars well above the seat. The Birias have relaxed frame-angles, similar to an old roadster or english three-speed. The wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles) is long. Compared to a modern road- or mountain bike, riding a Biria feels like driving a truck, but in a good way. This bike makes one feel like a 12-year-old perched on a parent's three speed.

While the step-through frame is seen as a "woman's" bike style, it is useful when carrying large cargo on the rear rack. Mounting a "man's" bike frame with a large box tied onto the rack is not convenient - one has to sort of jump up over the top tube, instead of kicking a foot around behind the seat. Also, a step-through frame is easier to ditch out of during winter riding.

Lisa almost chose this bike, but decided on the Breezer Citizen instead. Posted by Hello

Sunday, October 24, 2004

I Heart Huckabees

When I first heard mention of the title of this movie, I assumed I'd hate it. L and I went to see it with no expectations, and I was pleasantly surprised. Despite its chaotic plot and loose ends, I liked this movie more than any other I have seen since Rushmore.

What sort of bike is Jason Schwartzman riding? I don't recognize it. It seems to have a Busch and Mueller 6 or S6 bottle dynamo affixed to the left-front cantilever boss, and a B&M oval headlight. The bike also appears to have an internal hub gear and 700c wheels. Note also that, whenever the Huckabees "logo field" appears, there are always at least one or two icons of a bicycle visible.
Posted by Hello

Friday, October 22, 2004

Waterbear Movie Clip

Above, another 'photomicrograph' from Martin Mach's website about Waterbears. I beseech all readers to go here and click on the image of the waterbear in the center of the page. This will load a 12-second long, 1.06MB video clip of an eight-legged tardigrade walking across the screen. The creature you see is under 1.5mm long, and yet moves like some strange, full-sized creature one would stumble across in a mangrove swamp, snuffling at tree-roots.

Mach describes the video clip:
I think this one will be nice to look at in particular for children because they will see at once that some water bears in fact look like living sweets. The clip shows an Echiniscus mediantus water bear from an old roof in southern France. I have downsized it from my original 70 MB avi. There is some loss when compared to the original; the eyes in the original have a more intense red and the "body jelly" looks more fascinating.

...ah, yes, children will want to eat the waterbears when they see them. A summary of Tardigrade habitats:
The most convenient place to find tardigrades is roof mosses, where they live in the water films around lichens and mosses. Other environments are dunes, beaches, soil and marine or freshwater sediments, where they may occur quite frequent (up to 25,000 animals/l). Scientists have reported their existence in hot springs, on top of the Himalayas, under layers of solid ice and in ocean sediments. Many species can be found in a milder environment like lakes, ponds and meadows, while others can be found in stone walls and roofs. It is possible to spend some time in mushroom-smelling forests, scrutinizing mosses on rotten trunks in a search for water bears until coming to the conclusion that they can be found virtually everywhere.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Lisa has made her own blog debut with Wackington, an erudite journal about Sanrio, cats, dogs, and sundry other topics. See the link on my sidebar. Do visit. Expect to see cat pictures.


The Waterbear, or Tardigrade, is a miniature animal which

— moves smoothly like a bear, has legs, claws, eyes, skin and muscles
— has the colour and surface texture of one of those sweet bear gums loved by children
— doesn't need to carry along a knife and fork as it has two in-built knives
— can revert to an "instant coffee"-dry state which resists storage in
liquid nitrogen, contact with mineral acids, organic solvents, radioactive radiation and boiling water. After this kind of brute "scientific" scrutiny the miraculous creature is still able to return to normal life—it needs only a small droplet of water!

More about these extraordinary animacules later...
Posted by Hello

Swiss Condor Tires

Detailed information about the pre-1995 Swiss Army bicycles is scarce on the web, at least in english. I wanted to know what size tires the bicycle used, to see if it was possible to purchase them in the United States. Stefan Schäfter is a former Swiss militiaman, and he has written one of the only articles about these bicycles that appears online in english. He writes:

The original Militarvelo tyres were produced by a company called Maloya using a bead system dating back to the end of the 19th century. They stopped production years ago. You can buy a Chinese Maloya clone, but the rubber feels like cheap plastic.

Andrew Muzi of Yellow Jersey, Ltd., a bicycle shop in Madison, Wisconsin, was kind enough to write to me to explain the Swiss Condor tire situation in detail:
That bike, like most of its era, uses true 'clinchers' ( the tire has no wire edge, it wraps fully around the tube and locks under the rim edge). It's a 26x1.5 clincher.Modern MTB series tires have wire edges and are 'demountable wire ons', not clinchers. The diameter is different. Please also note the commonly available Chinese 1.5 clincher tires are several mm smaller than the Swiss ones, and cannot interchange. The 1946 issue machine also uses 3/16" roller chain. Other equipment is generally standard to modern bikes.

Not very encouraging, but useful information. Yellow Jersey carries a variety of excellent European-style utility bicycles, from Kettlers to Birias. They even carry the archaic Eastman roadster bicycles, Indian-made clones of the venerable Raleigh DL-1.

1960 West German Army Bicycle

The machine has a generator light set, a chaincase, and a toolkit hanging behind seat. The bicycle appears to have an internal drum brake inside the front wheel hub. Compare to current German civilian city/utility bicycles, such as the Kettler "Jan" (http://www.kettlerusa.com/bikes/delta.gif). Posted by Hello

1960 West German Bundeswehr bicycle

This would make an excellent utility bike. Note the large, tubular rear rack. Note the insignia on the rear fender. Picture from http://www.flmvpa.org/.
Posted by Hello

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Weblog of Peter H. Cropes

Chapter 4
Dimitri was flying down the country lane. Corn plants were on
either side of him. They were blurred, he went so fast.

Suddenly, he ran over a body.


Dimitri knew better than to go back and see what was going on. Often
times such a situation is a trap where a body is thrown into the road and you
run over it, then when you go back a third person kills you.

He threw up a big rooster tail of dust and went tearing down the
lane. Soon he had arrived at his cousin's house and they ate corn bread and
spicy stew.

"How was your concert," said his cousin.

"It was good," said Dimitri. "Thank you for the food."

Meanwhile, on the country lane, an unseen hand pulled the body slowly back into the corn plants.

Mercedes Unimog 421 4-cylinder Diesel, available from www.swissarmyvehicles.com for $13,500 Posted by Hello

A Steyr Puch Pinzgauer 710k Radio Truck, availabel for $15,500 from www.swissarmy vehicles.com Posted by Hello

Pinzgauers and Unimogs

Bill points out that while Unimog is a more sinister-sounding name, the Pinzgauer vehicles actually look cooler. I concur. When I have a spare $13-15,000, I shall get one of these. I have read that they have circuit-breaker panels instead of automotive fuses, which by itself it enough reason to want one.

The Car Talk guys hate both of these vehicles equally.


Momovelo has been in existance for several years now, but I only discovered it last week. The site is cryptic and takes some getting used to, but is worth the effort. Kai, the proprietor, decided that he wanted to see people in Berkeley riding Japanese and European-style utility bicycles, instead of the fender- and light-less bicycles so common in the United States. He has imported at least one shipping container of discarded mamachari , or Japanese city bikes, and has reburbished and resold them as "momochari" to American customers.

Lisa has ordered a chattybell for herself, and an telephone orange bell for myself. It is orange! It is shiny! I can't wait.


I see that I have chosen the same blog design as Phillipe. Are rows of different-colored dots prevelent in today's web designs?

I am not five.

UPDATE: I can hardly see the background dots of this template on my laptop screen . If they do indeed look horrible, please say so.


I have found a company in Arkansas that imports surplus military vehicles from Switzerland - wonderfully boxy Pinzgauers and Unimogs, exactly the sort of trucks I remember from the beach scene of Richard Scarry's "Cars and Trucks and Things that Go". That was a great book.

In any case, I found this company while looking for sources of surplus Swiss Militarvelos, or army bicycles. I'm not looking for the version made after 1995, but rather the old single-speed bikes. The design is more-or-less unchanged since 1901, when "safety" bicycles were a relatively recent innovation. The front brake is a block of rubber pressed down onto the tire by a lever, the saddle is highly sprung leather, and the unladen bicycle approaches fifty pounds. Oh yea.

Swiss Army bicycle, pre-1995 type

A Swiss Army "Condor"-type bicycle. The first version was made from 1901 until the end of the Second World War. This is likely the version produced from 1946 until 1991. Several Swiss manufacturers made these machines under Army contracts. I forget where I stole this picture from. The original caption said that the bike was bought for 195 Euros. Posted by Hello

A Condor Swiss Army bicycle Posted by Hello

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