Friday, July 30, 2010

The Btwin Hoptown 20

Recently , we received our new stocks of Btwin bikes. The stocks included a few first timers in TBA. But none is more interesting than the Btwin Hoptown 20 - a 7 speed folding bike with 20 inch wheel. Interesting , because of the promise it brings as a affordable no nonsense folding bike. The time of launch is interesting too , with Dahon set to launch in a month. Accessories like side stand, fenders,chain guard, rear racks, ergo grips, rear LED light(not a blinkie though) comes as standard along with the bike. Some innovative design means there are 2 small wheels on the rack, which are supposed to aid you roll the bike along while still folded. It is too early for me write a review of the bike based on a 2 min ride that I have taken, so just some pics for now.

The Hoptown20, folded and unfolded

The first fold is right at the top of the headset

The seat post slides down

Folds at the centre of the frame.

Pretty compact once folded

The pedal uses a press fold mechanism. Basically, you press the pedal in certain direction to release the lever, and fold it

The rear rack , the luggage strap, the LED non blinkie, fenders - all part of the package

The ergo grips are very comfortable, and looks much better than what you see in this pic. The 7 speed shifter feels different, but shifts smooth.

Plush saddle with nice graphics

The 20 x 1.75 Kenda Quest

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Night Trails and the Sigma Karma Pro

Note : This ride was done in the May 2010. Somehow could get it posted only now.

We have been dying to try out the Sigma Karma Pro that we received a week back. This is one of the high end Sigma Black Series lights. The website calls it 'The attractive night ride specialist'. Well, at 35 lux of light output, it has to be much brighter than anything that I have used till date.

The Tiny Sigma Karma Pro

The light came in an attractive box packing and contained the following

• A lithium ion battery pack that can be attached to the frame using a velcro attachment (included).
• A battery charger to charge the Li Ion battery.
• The Light itself, which is surprisingly tiny , and uses the patented click assembly mounting for attaching itself to the handlebar.

More details can be found at

The least that a light like this can do is to open up an hitherto unexplored territory – Trails at Night. Karthik, Saravanan, Girish and Devraj were game. Devraj had a powerful enough light with him, and each of the other 3 bikes were set up with whatever other backup lights we had.. Plan was to ride to Osmansagar, taking the trails as much as possible.

The Li-Ion battery pack

9 pm : Ride started from The Bike Affair store, and in no time Saravana was guiding us through some pitch dark trails towards gachibowli, which I had no idea of. This part of the trail started around 500 metres from TBA store , and was dusty at times. We soon reached gachibowli and went the Microsoft way. Once passed Microsoft, we took the trail again. It felt very different riding a bike under the stars. It wasn't one of the full moon nights and there were a bit of cloud cover too, meaning you can't see much apart from the areas lit by your light. That intern added to the fun.

The Sigma Karma Pro was doing its job splendidly. A few observations on the Light.
1. The beam pattern consists of a very bright spot at the centre, followed by a dimmer and bigger circle encompassing the central one. The bigger circle was lightning up the edges of the trail.

Karthik's rockrider lit by the Sigma Karma Pro (high power mode)

2. Although the eco mode is just about enough on half decent to decent tarmac, the trails need one of the other 2 modes.
3. In the high power mode, the light was very bright and was lighting up the unevenness of the trails pretty well from a distance. Meaning one can maintain a decent speed and still ride with confidence.
4. The light tends to get heated up if kept in the ‘Power’ mode( the high output mode) for long time. But this was generally less of an issue because based on the terrain I was switching between the different modes.

By 10.20 pm we were at Osman sagar. In between though, we had stopped quite a few times for snaps, and Devraj was the voluntary cameraman. At Osmansagar, we were the only souls. We enjoyed the cool breeze for some time and then reluctantly headed back. It was a Sunday night, and everybody had to go to work the next day.

The group lit by Karma Pro from around 10 metres

This time, Karthik guided us through a slightly different trail, and this was one of the nicer parts of the ride (sadly on one of our follow up rides we discovered the trail is about to give away to a nice tarred road). This part of the trails, although rocky, was firm, and we enjoyed zooming through it. Some places it had sharp turns, and I would by instinct look towards the turn only to realise the light is not following my vision :). That’s when I realised the need of a helmet light.
We were back at the starting point little after midnight. It was a great ride, and we hoped the next one wasn't far away.