06-17-2012, 09:43 AM
I went riding with Thad (Barbaton here on RM) today. No pics, though. I did achieve this through careful driving to/from the trails and Thad's place:
06-19-2012, 08:18 PM
I decided my Camelbak Fourteener wasn't
ugly enough visible enough, so I went to town with some of the leftover tape from my top case decoration exercise:
06-20-2012, 08:51 AM
Is it possible to make the 29er a bit more commuter friendly? Fenders, rack, road tires and you'll be zipping up around 15+ mph... and faster before you know it!
Originally Posted by Toshi
06-20-2012, 08:54 AM
No eyelets for a rack. I could do the fenders and tires, but then I'd compromise it for spinning around the trails on the weekends.
I was already planning on retrieving the electric bike from Wyoming when I move to Seattle in a year (slightly less than a year now! woohoo), so this would just be pushing plans forward a bit.
06-23-2012, 08:19 PM
I had a most excellent day, filled to the brim with cars.
Not only was there a successful BRZ helmet test-fitting session this morning, but my wife and I test drove multiple Nissans at the NEXT Innovation Center Tour event at the NJ State Fair. This included the Nissan Leaf, too: the third
time attempt at test-driving one was indeed the charm!
The gist of the BRZ test-sitting is that my long torso and gigantic head + matching XL full-face helmet fit in the car in a proper autocross-friendly driving position. Finding this out made my day right then and there.
I admit that I've posted many a time about my once-and-present lust for 300ZXs, but a perusal of Autotrader revealed the unpleasant truth that the remaining Z32s are either trashed or ridiculously overpriced. Given both this and that there are a solid 20 years of engineering and safety advances between the Z32 and current designs, I think I must concede that if I want something just for fun/auto-x/HPDE events in the future it should be something modern, something like the BRZ/FR-S duo.
Although the Z32 lost its place in my plans today, not all Nissans suffered the same fate. Indeed, there were quite a few Nissans that were surprisingly good and several that could potentially have a future place in our garage.
First, the Leaf. We'd ridden in it before, of course, at the NYIAS, but had never driven it.
Driving it turned out to be a bit anticlimactic, honestly, as the driving impressions from various outlets' reviews combined with our own experience as passengers in it before pretty much summed it up: It's very quiet, very smooth, has good low-end kick thanks to the innate characteristics of electric drive, has low-rolling-resistance/easily-provoked-to-squealing tires, and feels planted and surefooted in general, possibly secondary to the low CoG created by the battery's low-slung bulk. Driving position is akin to that in our '06 Prius, which is to say that it's a bit more elevated than a typical "small car", outward visibility was excellent, and the interior had a great, light, airy feel to it.
All in all the Leaf's quite an attractive package, and one that'd be atop our list for our next car had my wife not taken a liking to the larger (especially of back seat) Toyota RAV4 EV. It may yet find a place in our home as a commuter car for me farther down the road even if my wife spurns it for the spawn of Tesla and Toyota.
The Juke was a car that my wife expected to loathe due to general oddness and poor anticipated outward visibility. On the other hand, I expected it to be entertaining based on its tiny size, boosted engine, light weight, and purported motorcycle influence. It turned out that both of us ended up concluding that the Juke was a riot, even with a CVT slingshotting away.
The little turbo-4 pulled well, the suspension felt planted, the limits higher than even I would dare to find on a test drive, and the visibility wasn't even all that bad. It'd be hard to envision a scenario when a vehicle with the size and packaging of the Juke would actually make sense, but if we did want a sporty, minuscule 5-door SUV-type thing with a useless back seat, basically no off-road ability, and torque-vectoring AWD then the Juke would be our choice.
The other three Nissans that I drove were the new Altima, Murano CrossCabriolet, and Quest. I'll lump them together since they all share the same 3.5L V6 + CVT powertrain, and their driving dynamics fall on the same spectrum, with the Altima the lightest in both feel and curb weight and the Quest the most ponderous. Although the actual layout of each vehicle's interior differs in accordance with their missions and floor plans, the overall interior impression was similarly positive for each. The new Altima's all-black interior, in particular, was quite classy even in the mid-trim SV model without leather or all the fancy optional bits.
I have no desire for a gasoline-engined standard midsize family car, but surely the many buyers that do would be well considered to include the new Altima on their shopping lists. (On that note, what purpose does the Maxima serve in the Nissan lineup? I can't fathom why someone would buy one over a 3.5L Altima…) I have even less idea why someone would want a 2-door 4-seat convertible SUV like the Murano CrossCabriolet (and the market agrees with me!), but if someone wants such a monstrosity and doesn't fancy a Wrangler then it'd be better than nothing, I suppose.
Finally, the Quest felt big but manageable, with good visibility despite a visually high belt line, excellent interior room thanks to its boxy Japanese-van lines, and acceptable if somewhat dull response from the powertrain. Due to its near-silent operation, quirkiness, and interior poshness compared to the rest of its minivan class, we've decided that we'll spring for it if we end up having 3 kids somewhere down the road and should the e-NV200 not come to fruition/commercial US availability. (With 2 kids or less we'll hold out and only drive two- or one-row vehicles.)
I suppose in a sense it speaks well for Nissan that three disparate products above seem perceptually to represent different points along the same spectrum due to their shared powertrains and styling cues. I think it's more significant to note that the two Nissans that we liked the most, the Leaf and the Juke, are those that depart the most from this corporate template.
Last edited by Toshi; 06-23-2012 at 08:26 PM.
06-27-2012, 06:29 PM
My latest creation:
I think I'll start a thread just for it in The Lounge.
07-11-2012, 06:00 PM
Originally Posted by dump
I bit the bullet a week or two ago when some WTB 700c x 32 tires came up for something like $15 per tire on steepandcheap. They arrived today… and my 29er mtb-sized tubes are way too big and floppy. Gah. I pinched one trying to stuff it in the tire + lever the tire on the rim and gave up, running to amazon to buy some properly sized tubes.
Originally Posted by Toshi
32 mm sounds wide from a road perspective but looks absolutely tiny. Running with those at 80 psi will give me a few mph, surely.
Here's how they look on an actual bike, not mine/via GIS:
08-10-2012, 11:19 AM
The tires indeed have given me a few mph. Now average speed is more like 14 mph rather than 12. To get that extra boost, though, I'll be getting the e-bike back. Yes, I was already planning on this, but my parents are leaving Wyoming sooner than they thought, so in the process of packing up their house and selling it off they'll send the bike to me here in NY.
In completely unrelated news, my parents dug up a video of me and another high school classmate performing a double concerto back in 1999:
Video equipment has come a long way since then, eh?
08-16-2012, 06:06 PM
On linear algebra, fictional TV characters, the price of guilt, old blog posts, and shifting priorities
As my wife was drifting off to sleep last night I mentioned that I think that the topic of personal transportation choices has remained interesting to me over many years because it's like math. She mumbled back in reply, "You're not Charlie," as in Charlie Eppes, the genius mathematician character from the TV show Numb3rs who sees the world in equations.
Well, in this case she was wrong about my motivations in uttering such a thing, as I'd posted about the link regarding math and cars back in 2009, far before having heard heads or tails of Numb3rs or its characters. NB: I've thought about photographic exposure in similar terms for many years going even further back, I'm not quoting the post in full, and the "safety" line item was a late addition in response to quadari's suggestion:
Although I've since learned to capitalize since then, har har, I still feel that what I wrote rings true. The thing about viewing car choice as a multivariate equation is that each individual's coefficients for all of the above, if you will, are unique, and they furthermore can vary in time. In less obtuse terms this is something that almost all young men have experienced in this whole "growing up" deal that I hear about: Think of fading desires for sports cars and flash as most people move from adolescence to adulthood.
Originally Posted by http://tinyurl.com/bwqe83b
The other implication is that there are as many "optimal" solutions as there are combinations of coefficients, which explains my "car [plan] emo-ness." Change one's priorities and the proper car that one should have (or set of cars, if near-equivalent or ambigious) changes as well. The only difference between me and "normal people," in this context, is that I tend to distill my thoughts down to actual proposed vehicles when I have a change of mind, and write posts about them.
Anyway, a few of these factors have been percolating in my mind lately: the price of environmental guilt, safety as it relates to vehicle mass, and drivetrain characteristics. I've ruminated about each of these topics individually but hadn't done so recently, in the era of modern, available electric cars. (At this point I'd direct the truly bored or dedicated reader to my earlier posts on the futility of the Prius and on vehicle safety.)
I think it's pretty clear that even following my realization of the futility of the Prius (and the corresponding "green lifestyle" that's associated with it) I still place a high price on my environmental guilt. It's not an infinite price, however, and in pricing out Tesla Model Ss I realized that it's actually quantifiable: Somehow it seems reasonable to me to pay $42k post-tax credit for an electric Toyota RAV4 but it seems unreasonable to pay $65k post-tax credit for a Model S optioned out as I'd have it. (It seems even more unreasonable to me to scrimp on the details of such a big purchase given that even the RAV4 EV-equivalent spec still carries a $11k price differential.)
So my guilt-o'-meter (or general cheap-o'-meter) says no to $65k electric sedans, no matter how otherwise perfect for me they seem on paper.
This apparent perfection of the Model S is a good segue into the other two factors, safety/mass and drivetrain refinement: With my semi-serious flirtations with 3-ton SUVs and my prior writings about vehicle safety (including quality time spent with the IIHS traffic fatality broken down by vehicle data) I clearly know intellectually that the safest place for one's backside is in a heavy, solidly constructed coccoon lined with airbags that maintains reasonable agility for accident avoidance in the first place.
The problem was that my mental weighting of my environmental guilt was previously too high to allow me anything heavier and more wasteful, as it were, than our <3000 lb. Prius. Enter the Model S: At 4650 lbs. and decked out with all the airbags one could imagine it'd be supremely safe in comparison to our bantamweight Prius, while also offering the extra benefits of guilt-free motoring (when "fueled" by clean Seattle hydro and wind power) and smoothness.
So at last, this brings me to my point, for whatever that's worth: Take away the need for environmental conscience-assuaging; keep the requirements for a supremely smooth drivetrain (so V8s, please!), high mass, agility, and a usable rear seat (make that large, V8 sedans), and advanced safety features (make that large, V8 luxury sedans then); riff off of similar old ideas (see my old Taurus post and then note that I liked the Taurus because it was on the Volvo S80 platform…); then mix in sufficient cheapness such that the vehicle's total cost of ownership inclusive of fuel significantly mentally undercuts something like, say, a Nissan Leaf, and you get the following short list:
1. 2003-2004 Infiniti M45. 3851 lbs. Roughly $8k used on the low end.
2. 2004-2006 Lexus LS 430. 3990 lbs. $15k used.
3. 2007-2010 Volvo S80 V8. 4142 lbs. $18k used.
Cliffs Notes: The Tesla Model S is perfect except that its cost doesn't sit well in my over-thinking brain. Enter cheap simulacrae-of-sorts that are smooth, heavy, and safe but just not green.
08-16-2012, 06:15 PM
The logical followup question to this would be "Why do you commute to work on a motorcycle and a bicycle given that you know this?" Well, one part of this is easy to answer: I'm selling my motorcycle before I leave New York. The reasoning for this is multifactorial as well (cue rimshot) but includes a) not loving riding in and of itself any more, b) vibration-heavy twin design, c) no real purpose for it in my life in Seattle next year, and d) my wife is pregnant and I'm doing a bit of growing up on my own, too.
Originally Posted by Toshi
The face of Thing 1, which is about 12.5 weeks along as of this posting.
The other part, of bicycle commuting, is something I'm still mulling over. On a population basis I'm convinced by the evidence that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risk of bodily harm. On an individual basis, on my basis, I'm not so sure. Certainly I don't feel that's true here in Long Island: The reasons I bike to work here are because of my hospital's horrid parking situation and our financial constraints. In more biking-aware Seattle the safety vs. risk equation well be different (although parking will still be a factor--$15/day!), and in any case I'll have the option of taking the bus should I not be keen on the 12 mile-each-way bike commute.
Last edited by Toshi; 08-16-2012 at 06:17 PM.
08-17-2012, 10:54 AM
Amusingly, I have converted my wife into a full fledged car person over the years. (She takes issue with this claim.) Over lunch we just debated the above car-choice topic for a solid 20 minutes. She's of the opinion that half measures (such as the three older best-compromise options above) aren't worth doing, and that I should just wait a bit longer and get something that I could potentially live with for the long(er) term. Hell, I guess that philosophy has worked so far in choosing to marry her
Anyway, this is amusing not only because I've converted my wife from her former attitude wherein she didn't know about or care about cars in the slightest, but also because it brings me back to square one post-futility of the Prius realization. Yes, that means the 3-ton SUV (LX) and the current gen LS are back on the list.
I'll have a hell of a time test driving all of these in 2014... Anyone following me from dealer to dealer will think I'm schizophrenic.
For Fool: I think Lexus is more socially acceptable in Seattle, as it were. It doesn't have the same "I work in finance" connotations as out here. I wouldn't necessarily come off like your NJ co-worker, I hope...
Last edited by Toshi; 08-17-2012 at 10:57 AM.
08-17-2012, 10:56 AM
So they had the bike and one of the batteries packed up and shipped yesterday. Just one? Yes: UPS won't ship the big lithium pack, period. Gah. Instead I'll make do with the smaller, more recently acquired NiMH pack until I can meet up with the parents on the west coast and make a car to car transfer.
Originally Posted by Toshi
08-19-2012, 04:34 PM
08-21-2012, 03:18 PM
Ramp Travel Index Geekery
The absence of RTI  values in reviews of ostensibly "off road capable" SUVs accurately reflects their predominant mode of usage: On-road, suburban, far from any rocks excepting those employed in a decorative fashion in the median of a tony boulevard or driveway.
I don't think this is right.
I think that one shouldn't just buy the appearance and fuel economy of an off-roader, as that'd be pointless. One should instead get something with substance beneath the veneer of toughness, and that's where RTI values come in: Anyone or any marque can claim that their vehicles are, say "Trail Rated," but the objective RTI figure reveals their lies clear as day. Thankfully, the editors of both Four Wheeler magazine and a few staffers at the Inside Line blog agree with me, and as a result there exist data regarding late model SUVs' RTIs that one can find on the web with just a little bit of legwork.[2-9]
First up are Inside Line's figures, noting that higher is better in this test:
908 - 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport 2-door, front swaybar detached, 33" tires, 3" lift
647 - 2010 Toyota Land Cruiser with KDSS
561 - 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport 2-door, stock with front swaybar attached
538 - 2011 Lexus GX 460 with KDSS
Four Wheeler's figures are next. Note that ones that should be the same (e.g. 2010 Land Cruiser vs. 2008 Land Cruiser) aren't, in turn signalling that something is awry just as I found to be the case with interior noise measurements over the past few days. Because of this discrepancy I'm not pooling the two publications' figures, even though they should be decent internal references, at least.
582 - 2010 Ford SVT Raptor
579 - 2010 Dodge Power Wagon, presumably with its front swaybar electronically disconnected
542 - 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser with KDSS
538 - 2009 Lexus LX 570 with Adaptive Variable Suspension
491 - 2010 Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition with KDSS
486 - 2009 Nissan XTerra PRO-4X
472 - 2008 Hummer H2
435 - 2011 Lexus GX 460 with KDSS
422 - 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee
400 - 2009 Toyota Sequoia
302 - 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee with air suspension at standard height
265 - 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee with air suspension raised to full height
Ok, so there are a bunch of numbers. Great. What's the purpose of this post, besides preserving them in one place for posterity and the great Google Index in the sky? Well, I think that one can draw some conclusions from this hot mess:
1) Jeep's current Grand Cherokee has awful articulation, and raising its air suspension to max height makes it even worse. While perhaps a bit counterintuitive, this actually makes perfect sense: To get good RTI scores a vehicle needs to relax its suspension's roll stiffness, so as to get full droop at one wheel and full compression at the opposite corner. Jacking up the pressure at all four corners, as is presumably done to raise the ride height on the Jeep, will severely impair upward wheel travel.
2) You get what you pay for in the Toyota lineup: There's a reason the bigger Sequoia is cheaper than its Land Cruiser stablemate. On the other hand, if you couldn't care less about RTI then there's no reason you shouldn't buy a Sequoia, if that's you're thing. It's also interesting to me that the 4Runner Trail Edition and the XTerra PRO-4X line up so closely--their product teams must have been using the other as a benchmark throughout development.
3) The Lexus LX 570 is actually on par with the Land Cruiser in RTI. While not surprising in the sense that both are based off of the same platform, it is surprising since their suspensions differ so greatly. While the Land Cruiser, like the 4Runner Trail Edition, has Toyota's Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (--think "automatic hydraulic swaybar disconnects" and you'd be close), the LX has a completely different air suspension setup called Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) with Active Height Control (X-AHC) . I was a bit curious as to whether it'd hamper the Lexus's performance as the case with the current-gen Grand Cherokee's setup, but this proved not to be the case. Go Lexus.
Actually, I think I can take it a step further yet and state straight-faced that the LX may well be a better off-roader (on paper) than its Land Cruiser cousin. How? Well, first off, let's ignore that both have huge, fragile plastic bumpers and are big and expensive enough such that most will never see a trailhead, as those factors are constant between the two of them. (Aftermarket bumpers are available for the LC, as seen earlier in this very thread, though, while the LX aftermarket is a barren place.) RTI is equivalent as per Four Wheeler's figures. Static ground clearance is equal as well, at 8.9", as are approach and departure angles.
What's the difference, then? Well, that X-AHC trickery seems to let the LX raise itself up on stilts whereas the Land Cruiser is stuck at 8.9". Behold: "once the 4WD shifts into low range [X-AHC raises] the vehicle 2.0 inches in front and 2.4 inches in the rear". But wait--there's more! "When Crawl Control  is enabled, the LX can be raised an additional three inches to prevent bottoming out in extremely rocky conditions."
Wait a minute.
If I'm reading this right and the English isn't improperly translated (a big assumption in and of itself) then max ground clearance is 13.9"! Even if "additional" is misused, that still implies 11.9". Sure, its articulation in that tippy tall setup would be horrific--Grand Cherokee-like, if you will--but that'd be a nice tool to get a high-centered vehicle free.
Ok, enough blathering from me. Enjoy the rare pictures of SUVs on 20 degree ramps, at least, from Inside Line's writeups linked below.
08-23-2012, 06:15 PM
Well, the e-bike arrived today, along with battery #2… and it turns out that battery #2 was/is lithium (as is the un-shippable battery #1) all along! Whoops. I didn't realize this to be the case. It's almost as capacious as battery #2, as well, weighing in at 48 V and 10 Ah vs the 48 V 12 Ah original.
Originally Posted by Toshi
The really good news is that things seem to work: after about two hours wrenching, swapping parts, routing cables, putting things together, etc. I got the Cycle-analyst to fire up and the wheel to spin under throttle. (It even spins up from a dead stop, which the old, post-rain damage sensorless controller and damaged Hall sensors couldn't do--had to be moving first.) Of course, the "speedo" via the CA is way off, probably because the new hub motor has more poles than the last, but it's a very positive start of things.
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