Bikes Bikes Bikes – Leg power all the way

Recently a group has started forming due to a good friend of mine and this group’s mission is to ride bicycles. Some I am sure have already had a go at bikes before whether as kids or recently to get fit or consistently because they just love it. One thing is for sure, riding in a group can be more fun as you work off each other’s energy and get going together. In there it is inevitable that the skill of said rouser of people was much higher than expected and you also find members who maybe haven’t given it a go yet.

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The last time they may have ridden it probably felt something like this. Hmmm how about no – azbouncepro.com

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Getting on the fitness train… next stop any town that isn’t here

This is going to be a primarily text post because I am not into taking pictures of myself in the mirror for everyone’s amusement, apologies ladies. I have had the good fortune to make a friend of a person who has inspired me to make a change in my own weekly routine (take that how you will). You see, normal for yours truly generally involves go home maybe do some light exercise and then shower and play games and/or read with dinner punctuating that. Weekends are filled with more games and possibly riding of the motorcycle all of which requires next to the square root of zip calories burnt… not good.

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New Bike! Not for me, for my buddy – KTM Duke 390

I have been a motorcyclist for 3 years now which isn’t that long I know, as I had a scooter before then for about a year. Since I got my 2-wheels moto license a friend of mine already had his and he started with a scooter too, which he has kept until now. He cites not needing anymore than what he has to get from A to B which is admirable but incredibly boring. I would probably be the most affected by his stoic belief in “what I have is enough” as we trundle, not blaze home on the commute to the suburbs.

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Motorbike Diaries: New Levers… and other stuff

I have been absent recently from the blog and for that I apologise up front. Honestly I love writing when something happens and recently not a lot has been going on… except that isn’t true because plenty has happened and I have just not been actively thinking on it. I purchased my first baby present for the new addition (due December) to my buddy’s new family. The gift in this case is in delivery mode from Apple and is a Withings Baby Monitor.

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It plays lullabies and is a night light, room temperature and humidity sensor and a camera streaming to your iPhone or Android device.

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Wise men and their two-wheeled implements

It all started with a test message from a longtime friend “Want to go for a ride?” received at 11:05am on a Saturday. If the message had originated with a comely friend who didn’t own a bike then this message would have meant something different but alas it did not.

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I thought to myself all I have done so far is get up at a stately 10:10am and brushed my teeth picked up some fruit and thought “eeeeuuuch” never again have apple just after brushing. There was the text highlighted in yellow because texts from everyone are yellow and my texts in the conversation are blue on the Samsung Galaxy S4. And like the colour so did my outlook on the rest of the day look, much brighter and all the better for it (because contrast from black text to yellow backgrou- ok this isn’t the point).
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Electric Dreams: eBiking, another thing to add to the ‘do want’ list

Everyone commutes right? We all love to buy stuff so we need money meaning we need to work so unless you’re self employed from home you need to walk/ride/drive/pub/cycle or if you’re real special, fly. Two-wheeled transport has been somewhat of a thing for me of late and I enjoy it very much. Cutting through traffic or rapidly disappearing from the pack at the lights is akin to magic. It’s like I was never there and yet I make a huge din with the super loud exhaust (that’s another story). What if there was another way to enjoy the ride, what if I could have a similar profile except there was no noise and therefore no emissions or racket? I could save on fuel and tolls since they opened up the motorway to cyclists again. Let me take you through 2 new bits of kit that could help you in your commute too, say if you were within approx 60 kms of work and you want to ride what seems like a bicycle on a bike path and go scorchingly quick all without breaking a sweat. Sounds like you? Read on:

Let me preface this with I like my kit to look good and function well. This is especially for two-wheeled implements because they are that much more personal and if your personality says bike designed for boardwalks on the beach or “I ❤ Trees” then you and me probably won’t get along too well but I will share laughter with you when I pull away as a mix of power, torque and mass affect the air in such a way to suspend particles of dust in the spaces previously vacated by me. The cool thing about these bikes is that they don’t scream eco-mentalisim or hemp-is-what-all-my-shirts-are-made-of and that might be the coolest thing about them.

Greyp: G12
This is the first bike that caught my attention for eBiking. It has great swoopy lines that remind me of Santa Cruz DH bikes and it has triple crown forks plus rear suspension to keep you from shattering your vertebrae, a useful feature because you can get this guy up to 80km/h on the flat with an astounding 120km range. All that and it still has pedals just in case you run out of juice but don’t worry because a full charge takes 2 hours. One of the neatest features is the dashboard which looks like a Samsung note’s hardware was stuck on and it provides you with a great view to speed, battery remaining, power modes and time etc. it also has a fingerprint scanner to store the various power modes from ‘Street’ to ‘Eco’ to ‘Power’ (1 finger per mode), secure as well as smart. The G12 is what seems to be the electronic proving ground for Rimac who are looking to release their ‘Concept One’ electric car vying to be the fastest in the world. Even so I think the Greyp will be more than that and will most likely be their primary business, should the market take off. Electric bike with supercar roots? Sign me up for a white one please!

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The Greyp G12 – smooth lines and DH geometry. Greyp are touting this as an offroad and on road machine. Not sure about the rear suspension geometry which looks like a Target special. Disc brakes recharge the batteries.

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The dashboard looks good and gives you everything at a glance, by far one of the best features save for the moving without pedaling function.

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Fingerprint scanner for security – iPhone 5S proved that it could be thwarted. The other reason for the scan is the performance levels which are activated depending on the finger you use.

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Nice crank, you can see the quality of the welds and the rear swingarm from here. Less Target special now eh?

Stealth Electric Bikes: Bomber

There is a degree of national pride here because the Bomber is Australian. Built, designed and conceived here and it shows with it’s rugged good looks and no nonsense components. If the G12 was a nice exercise in design with some exotic materials to boot the Bomber says Mad Max was his hero and salad is eaten only by it’s food. Being green was probably further down the list then the guys at Stealth Electric Bikes put the plan for high speed electric domination together. The Bomber weighs in at 53kg and also does a rapid 80km/h with a max range of 80km (probably not at full speed) and full charge at 2 hours like the G12. The coolest thing about the Bomber is the look, you can’t picture a more radically aggressive looking bike which is no wonder the US military is looking at obtaining a few of these for scouting. The Cristalite motor is also virtually silent with all the gearing internalised in a 9-speed sequential gearbox rather than external derailleurs. Bomb proof bomber may not have the range of the G12 but it has it on components, build and it’s already on sale so what are you waiting for, go faster and green or black.

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Simple usage meter. Not as fancy as the Greyp but it’s enough to know how you’re consuming the battery and what’s left – electricbike.com

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It looks purposeful and not to far from the look of the usual super tough downhill rigs hence the name Stealth because nobody knows you are just pretending to pedal. The crank setup is very unlike anything I have seen before. Suspension geometry looks proper for the use. Brakes are regenerative like KERS.

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Hydraulic 9-speed Suntour Vboxx gearbox for strength, compactness and whisper quietness. Heavy though at 4.52kg

I have to admit one of the most enjoyable things I think will happen on bikes like these (before legislation takes over) will be passing cars on the bike lane in peak traffic and pretend-pedaling at 60-80km/h. Don’t worry I will be wearing a full face helmet hiding a massive grin on my face… as long as the charge holds all the way to work.

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Grand Theft Auto V: In Brief

I haven’t posted as usual, Friday around midday. The reason for that is GTA V the game I have been waxing lyrical for the last 2 months. The game that makes me write about other games to write about GTA. This is borderline obsession but how can you not be worked up about “the next GTA” on the demonising or praising sides of the fence? I, thankfully love the game, I always have enjoyed and immersed myself into the offerings from Rockstar with the GTA titles. GTA V has not disappointed me one bit due to the vast, vibrant setting and interesting characters to boot, you feel a part of the world they have sculpted so carefully with the technology pushed right to the limit, I cannot praise the level of detail and thought put into everything you can see and interact with.

What I am not going to do now is review the game because I am no super-gamer and I don’t finish games hyperfast and then go online to write up the awesome guides and tips. What I do is take the experience in reasonable sized pieces with gaming sessions around 4 hours long, even then I don’t get through that fast so for me it’s all about taking it in (as I write I am at around 47%). And because I am taking it in I hope I can give you some info on the different way things work for someone as “relaxed” as I am with the pace (No pictures this week, I don’t know how to snap photos on PS3):

Driving/Cars/Motorcycles
I love cars, everyone who knows me knows I don’t like cars, I love cars, just not in some sicko sexual way, I like to drive and think and talk about cars, my name is Shaun and am a petrolhead (Hi Shaun). GTA V is car lovers heaven, high end sports cars, off-road pickups, modern and classic US muscle cars, sleek convertibles and all others because most of it is cool… are represented here. For the first time the vehicular line up is extensive with multiple models from manufacturers (moreso than GTA IV) but also the detail and the diversity on the streets of Los Santos is astounding. I am nearly halfway through the game and I am seeing some cars for the first time in the game. The first foray you would have gotten/get is in the Obey 9F (an Audi R8 amalgam) did what GTA IV did when I first tried it out… it sucked. Why, well it was far too twitchy and turned unnaturally quickly, in the amount of control it had as a handler it was out of control and I disliked it. Since then I have had the chance to drive nearly everything else and I love it. The feeling is definitely like a Need For Speed or Burnout with easy handling and fun easy dodging, however making you work a little to get the drift happening right. So far the highlights of my offline garage is the Vapid Sandking XL (Ford Raptor on roids), Inverto Coquette (Red, carbon bits, looks like 2014 Corvette), Bravado Buffalo (2013 Dodge Charger, Franklin’s default car) and an Imponte Phoenix (70s Pontiac Firebird, Custom for Trevor).

I am rambling but you should know:
– Cars are modifiable, if you modify your default car (for Michael, Trevor or Franklin) the car will always be modified. Find a Los Santos garage and drive/ride in.
– Things you can modify on your car: Suspension (Lows), Armour, Braking, Performance (Turbo, Engine, Exhaust, ECU), Body (Bumpers/Splitters/Diffusers, Spoilers, Wheels, Tyre Smoke, Tint, Colour, Roof, Roll Cage)
– Playing the game I notice adding a turbo seems to negate the need for engine or transmission modifications as the turbo maxxes the acceleration stats (is there any benefit to adding other stuff?)
– Rockstar seems to be on the pulse of car culture, their choice of wheels, cars and modifications shows it. They included wheels that look like Volks and SSRs… WOOHOO!
– Bikes are modifiable too, I love my Bagger (Harley Road King) in matte black.
– You can lose your car if you park it at your character’s home garage. So far Trevor’s parking lot at the strip club (kinda spoiler) doesn’t have this problem. I have lost approx 3 cars and 1 bike this way over all three characters. Luckily I wasn’t too fussed about the cars but that could get annoying if you bought something for a fair bit of change and then lost it. The most secure way to retain cars is by putting them in the large storage facility type garage.

On Foot
Walking around is not such a bad way to get around these days, with the sprawl of the city or the waves on the beach I can’t take in everything fast enough. Shooting and evading baddies and cops has improved somewhat. Aiming with the auto aim function is well executed and when you get shots on target in quick succession you feel like a badass. I haven’t started a triathlon yet but I am assuming I will have fun with the biking, running and swimming events.

Flying
This is the one part that falls down slightly. I remember getting in a chopper in GTA IV and loving the idea of getting around quickly and deadly like in the annihilator. I was the king of the sky until I hit something like a power pole or skyscraper. In GTA V the same excitement was had when I approached the helicopter, then on take off everything was fine until the turbulence from all the strongest winds around the world decided to hit me at once and from every direction. I get that flying isn’t an easy thing to do but the hipster living in Silver Lake, LA can’t drive for peanuts but I bet he’s having fun driving in Los Santos. I am not sure why R* decided to make driving better but flying worse. The same goes for planes where flying is a constant correction and adjustment exercise with what feels like constant turbulence. Are they trying to stop us from flying too much?

Money
We all like money, tricking co-workers into thinking they won the lottery is a low thing to do, it also reveals everyone needs money. The game really makes a big deal of making money and lots of it, items are sufficiently priced to drive the need for lots of cash. Making money in the first half of the game is sparse except for the first heist. I was stupid with this heist so I didn’t make much (no spoilers just make sure when the crap gunman drops the loot, ride over it to pick it up as Franklin). There is a great glitch where you can find an underwater case of money and immediately switch to another character and then switch back to collect again and again until you have enough to buy that house/business/car. Apparently you make a load of cash around 50% (nearly there!) so fear not, you can get everything you want eventually.

Stock Trading
i thought this deserved a section on it’s own because it’s very much like gambling except you can influence the outcome. I don’t profess to be some super trader dude so I rely on the tips everyone else has. You can influence the ups and downs of stock by just being destructive or through the assassination missions where if you get the intel before you start the mission you can get all 3 guys bought into a particular stock with a guaranteed profit after the assassination mission is over. Generally you are killing company execs, developers or jurors so you can see where this is going. I highly recommend you leave these to after you do the big union depository job as you can bet big and make a load more than I did by playing them and putting in all I had at the time (~$800K per character)

The Law
One leap I am happy with is the Police. They are more accurate with the gun and fast with the driving. This is usually a bad thing for the aspiring criminal however what they have also done is make line of sight realistic.
What I mean by this is best explained by comparison with GTA IV:
– Running up wanted stars is easy in GTA IV and GTA V – I was t-boned by a cop car in V as I pulled out and then immediately got 2 stars. IV would have let that go. Walking near to people setup in locations i.e. a picnic or around a camp tends to make them want to call the cops for no reason. Makes me stay away.
– Hiding in a carpark in IV would spell trouble if you were still in the “dragnet”, no matter how well you were out of the public’s view, the cops would turn up and surround you, choppers were near impossible. In V as long as you were one turn ahead and then out of sight down an alley cops would convert to “point of view cones” on the map and as long as you kept out of their “view” you were safe and then you would lose your wanted level after long enough.
– Swapping cars in IV did nothing to stop the chase, in V it dropped the amount of stars as long as you were out of sight.
– Police AI in IV was quite simple, in V they have your number and will work hard to get you and your friends

San Andreas: The town the country and the vibe
I truly enjoy the sprawl and lights, I have always wanted to visit LA and this is the closest thing to that so far. You watch the movies, the tv shows about LA and there is a made up vision of the city and what is there. R* captured the gritty monumentalism of New York for Liberty City and almost in a complete opposite they got sunshine and urban sprawl as well as outback country of Blaine County just right this time around. Downtown and then the dusty plains and undulations feel like completely separate parts of America. Once again I don’t know what real life LA is like but my word, LS feels authentic, glitzy glamour and dilapidated projects have never looked or felt so right together. Buildings are not simply copy pasted round the place, every building feels individually constructed to be unique, if you want some tips on architectural design then walk around Franklin’s Vinewood home on the hills. Roads are textured and varied, it all looks sunburnt and a cool feature is they even got the ripple strips along the side of the highways to make that noise you get from driving over them. Draw distance has also changed somewhat with nearly all of the surrounding city completely visible and defined even at distance, this turns up the realism from GTA IV’s draw distance although I will say in my first foray there was one or two instances of a whole building popping in from what would have been less than 50 metres away from the character.

Online
Can’t wait to try this out, the game has had some issues with the online system dropping out for hours at a time (BAWSAQ, Social Club) probably as R* is ramping up the GTAO servers and such, if the response to the start of GTAV is anything to go by they will most likely be beefing up their servers to contain the overwhelming demand for game servers when everyone, no doubt would have finished the story and be vying for the 500 missions with their own custom character.