Sunday, 19 February 2017

Photos of You / Your Brompton Wanted!!

What seems like many months ago now I put out a request for you out there with your own Brompton to send in a photograph of it. I would very much to revive this and see how many new ones are sent through.

The email address to send them to is:

You can send a photo of just your bike or you with it. Also send a brief outline of where the photo was taken and why you like your Brompton.

I will check this email once a week and any I receive will go straight up as soon as I can.

Many thanks! 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Beeline navigating adventure along the Thames Path

Early this morning armed with my camera, P-type Brompton and Beeline navigation device I headed out the short distance from darkest South Kensington and simply put Thames Flood Barrier into the Beeline app and I was off.

I was up an out quite early and unusually for a Saturday morning, things were pretty quiet. It was also mild and even though there were no signs of condensation on car windows, there was a high mist in the air.

With the roads being quiet I just followed the arrow and travelled wherever I fancied. I had not really looked at the route the Beeline app had suggested but I am sure that I did not follow it strictly at all. I just cycled in the general direction it suggested.

On restaurant was getting ready for its clientele later on and there were furtive efforts to clean the many lights that only hung on one side of said restaurant.

Near Wapping a lone and extremely territorial Mute Swan was no in any way mute. It took quite a dislike to me hissing, swimming over to me and flapping its wings. Believing what every says about the power of a swans wings being able to break an arm, I made a tactical withdrawal.

Also out for a proper test were the new gear/derailleur shifters. As reported in my blog post a few days ago, they are a marked improvement over the older ones. I don't think that they are any quicker - perhaps as I need more time to get fully used to them - but they are much nice to use.

The Greenwich foot tunnel under the Thames was all but empty which allowed me the chance to take a few photos. I did have the village idiot telling me that I was not allowed to cycle in the tunnel. I pointed out that I was not cycling and taking some photographs!

A rowing eight were out and trying to keep a stroke. I suspect they were either first timers or just a group of people who hated each other and could not/would not work as a team.

The Skyline was busy as usual. I hope that it stays put as it would be a shame to lose it from this part of London.

The Beeline brought me quite happily to the Thames Flood Barrier. I am liking it a great deal. I did move off course several times - on to very quiet roads - but always found it easy to simply follow the arrow. It is certainly a different way to do things and I can see myself using this quite a bit, especially when the weather starts to get better and I fancy a random adventure on two wheels.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Beeline - Smart Navigation Made Simple...

What seems like ages ago - October 2015 - I saw that there were a Kickstarter campaign being established for a new and altogether simple bicycle navigation device. I pledged my support and backed the campaign with I think about £40 (I cannot remember the exact amount). As I got in so early I would not have the pay anything else.

Since then the people at Beeline have been really good at emailing updates about how things were going. This was great, being carried along their journey.

The concept was very simple. The device when paired to a smartphone app would navigate a route by displaying a direction arrow as the crow flies. That's it. No audible alerts, no maps no fancy HD display but something that was minimalist and uncomplicated. I suppose the one thing that attracted me to it was that simplicity and the idea of just following a direction arrow; being able to just take in my surroundings and not stick to a rigid route.

I have had my Beeline for a few weeks now and feel in a better position to tell you what I think of it. The device itself is as I have stated very simple. The green silicone case - there are other colours available but early backers got the special green colour - holds the device as acts a mount to the handbags or stem of your bike.

The grove sits on the bar and then you fold the case front on itself so it sits in place. The strap has some give in it and I have fitted it to stems and handlebars without an issue.

The technical bits sit inside the silicone case and the display is white on black. In sunlight this works really well and at night there is a small backlight to illuminate the direction arrow.

Battery life is excellent lasting for a few weeks between charges. In addition it is able to withstand the rigours of British weather. 

The display with its compass direction arrow is very easy to read while cycling and it is supposed to be more accurate than that in your phone in terms of interference. 

The packaging is worth a mention for following the minimalist theme and as well as being functional was environmentally friendly.

Also included in the pack is a triangular piece of polished metal which allows you to attach it to a bunch of keys and almost carry it like a keyring. Very clever.

The Beeline app is easy to use and as well as being the conduit for loading firmware updates to your Beeline device, it also is where you put in where you want to go. When opening it your location is shown of the map and you have the option to tap somewhere on the map or input the details of a location.

A route is calculated almost instantaneously and then you ride, following the all important arrow. It works pretty well and I had no difficulty in following it. For me I see this as being used for recreational use, when I don't necessarily know a particular route but want a little adventure or variety. For this it works really well. If you want to get from A to B you can but for me it did seem to take the pressure off following that rigid route. When I got lost or wanted to make a different turn as it looked more interesting, I could. The navigation arrow just kept reassuringly pointing in the right direction.

The Beeline pairs with your smartphone via bluetooth and once the initial set up is done, apart from turning on bluetooth on your phone connection is very quick.

I would imagine that as more and more people give this a go, user feedback will filter back to the makers and additional features will almost certainly be rolled out. For the time being I am more than happy with it as a way of directing me on interesting routes. I have to add that the routes do seem to be bicycle friendly, so there is no need to worry that you might end up on the M25!

Stickers included in the box

The Beeline is available from their website at £99 with a choice of three colours at the moment for the case - grey, red or blue. I am of course hoping that they come out with an orange one!