Wheelies news since 2013

Monday, 30 December 2013

Thank you Wheelians…

What began as an interest in electronic recreational wheels from a group of four friends earlier this year had evolved into a sizable online community site where people with common interest in electronic recreational wheels congregates. So far, we have garnered more than 300 Facebook likes in a short span of 3 months from people of all walks of life and many there are others who joined up with us in our weekly event over numerous locations in Singapore; West Coast Park, East Coast Park; Sentosa Cove; Esplanade.

While there were many fun and laughter along the way, the success is totally down to the hard work from dedicated volunteers and supporting friends giving us a helping hand. To generate funds to support our activities, we also started selling some products, namely the Wheelies Unicycle and Patgear. There was no paid advertisements or full time staff as it is our intention to keep our prices as affordable as possible. It was not all business for us. There were other involvements too by the Wheelies as we try to garner online donation support for Philippines, which was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in November. A little effort goes a long way and we hope we have directly / indirectly helped in the relief efforts.

As 2013 winds down, the Wheelies team would like to thank our friends and supporters for making this journey an exciting one. Your support serves as a motivation for us to do better. While we do not claim to be the best, we will try harder to make sure we reach there. We hope to see you soon in 2014. Wishing you a prosperous 2014 for you and your family.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Of food, gifts and.... Wheelie!

This time of the year is always the time for gatherings, parties, overnight mahjong/poker sessions etc.  And being Singaporeans, the topics during the parties usually revolves around food.  The Wheelies got ourselves invited to a Christmas party recently (read: gate-crashed) under the pretext of delivering a set of Wheelie to our first lady customer.

Not your typical Santa Claus
Arming ourselves with knowledge of where to go for best supper, brunch etc, we were pretty confident of not ending up as wallflowers during the party.  The party went on as per our expectation, with food, COE prices and property cooling measures being topics of the day until the gift exchange started.  All the guests were eyeing the “big, red, angry bird box-set” until our gracious host dropped a bombshell and announced that the angry bird box was a surprised Christmas gift for her partner. 

Knight with his shining White Wheelie!
After everyone exchanged their gifts, a “test-drive” of the Wheelie by the new owner is in order.  Off we go to the nearby playground and being a breezy afternoon that day, there were quite a fair number of people in the playground, from doting grandparents running after their grandkids to domestic helpers standing around while the children played catch with their friends.              

Our new owner zipped around in his new toy attracted a lot of attention and the afternoon suddenly turned into a mini demo day for the Wheelies. 

A typical day at the playground, that is until the Wheelies arrived
If you are organising a party and need help to keep your guests entertained, you know who to call.  Our charges are very reasonable – a cup of kopi, and lots of laughter.  That's all we ask for. 

To all who stopped and chatted with us during our weekly Sunday demo days, happy holidays and have a “wheelie” good one!  Hope to see you wheeling around soon!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Zhng my bicycle!

SINKAPO-RAN: “Wah, your ride zhng until so nice. Sibei Beng leh!”
Non SINKAPO-RAN: “Huh?? Zhng? Beng?”

Before you start scrambling to your Webster dictionary to search for the two foreign sounding words you had just heard, I must explain the two words are basically part of Singlish, an English-based creole language spoken in Singapore. Thus, it is unlikely you will find the meanings of them in a traditional English dictionary.

So what do they really mean? According to Wikipedia, Ah Beng is a stereotype applied to a certain group of young Chinese men in Southeast Asia who is typically a young Chinese man and usually lacks cultural refinement. Ah Bengs are also associated extensively with zhng-ed cars (modified), often in the boy racer style, and are stereotypically seen as excessively flashy and materialistic.

To a certain extent, being Beng is cool in local automotive aftermarket context. The culture of zhng-ing the car, or also commonly known as “Pimping my ride” has more or less reach out to the masses here. Zhng-ing the car is very popular in Singapore. If you look out on the streets today, there are many modified cars. They simply love expressing their individuality through the different modifications they did on their car; customised decals, disco lights, loud bass, soup up engine, shiny rims, racing seats, loud exhaust and many more. The automotive aftermarket products has more or less spawn into a sizable industry in Singapore. 

Style or Beng?

Big Furby fan?

All that glitters is gold

More power

What about zhng-ing my bicycle? Cycling has become increasingly popular in Singapore in recent years. Singaporeans not only cycle for recreation, but is also used it as an alternative option for short-distance within the neighbourhoods and MRTs. With the growing addressable market, there are too, many aftermarket products for the bicycle enthusiasts in Singapore. There are many things you can choose: changing the colours, brake pads, titanium frame, basket holder, air horn etc.

If you are still looking for something to individualise your bicycle, you might want to consider Monkey Light Pro. So what is a Monkey Light pro? In short, Monkey Light pro creates stunning images and animations within a bicycle wheels. 

How does it really work?

According to Technewsworld.com, Monkey Light Pro consists a set of four bars with 256 colours LED lights attaches with bolts to the spokes of the rider's bicycle wheel. The lights rotate along with the wheels, creating an image. It uses a theory called Persistence of Vision whereby an afterimage illusion is supposedly generated by the brain and eye, creating a complete picture from a series of images. Four magnetic sensors and a two-axis accelerometer track the speed, upwards position and rotation direction. A chip enables the light to create bright, still or animated images that fill the entire wheel. 

There are currently 3 different versions of the product available; M210, M232 and Pro. Based on the specs, the products are differentiated on number of LEDs and colours used. The more LEDs and colours, the more realistic and colourful images and animations you can create. Monkey Light Pro does not come cheap though as it cost USD895 (excluding shipping). 

Having a Monkey Light Pro installed on my bike will definitely increase my Beng-ness. As much as I like to zhng my bicycle, I would probably hold back the decision for a more competitively price product to be available. As there is still a ban on flashing neon lights since 1972 in Singapore, interested buyers should also check with the laws too before installation. 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

To the future and back!

Growing up in the 80s, there were so many things from that time that only a 80s kid could understand. From the dynamic pop stars like Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Michel Jackson to unforgettable cartoons such as He-man/She-Ra, Transformers, M.A.S.K to stylish sports gears such as L.A Gear, Reebok Freestyle, Nike Air Jordan, to classic TVs program such as the Muppets Shows, Sesame Street and iconic movies such as Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Terminator, Top Gun. The list is exhaustive...

With the 80s now a distant memory, one of the pop culture still freshens my mind and get me excited was “Back to the Future”. As a fan of the sci-fi genre, there were no words to describe the feeling of amazement and fascination watching the movie back then in 1985. Back to the Future was included as the Top 100 Greatest Movies of all Time by Total Film.The main theme centers round the lead protagonist Marty McFly trying to change his own future with the help of a time machine "DeLorean DMC-12" by going to the future and back to the past. One of the more memorable scenes was from part II of the trilogy where Marty traveled to the future on October 21, 2015, which is approximately 2 years from now from the time of writing of this article.

In that scene “in the future”, we had a glimpsed of the future based on the predictions 24 years ago during the time the movie was shown. Interestingly, many of the predictions about the future are correct. They are (not in sequence) video chat; playing video games without using controllers; watching multiple channels on TV; computers that take command via voice controller; 3D movies; computer glasses and many more. Out of so many predictions from the movie, the one still stand out was the chase sequence which involved the use of the hoverboard, a product which got many children (including myself) excited and wanting one during that time. So what is a hoverboard? A hoverboard is a skateboard without wheels and it hovers above the ground. In short, it’s a flying skateboard. Imagine how cool it is if you can zip through your neighbourhood in a hoverboard. The only downside to the hoverboard according to the movie is "it’s not going to work on water, unless you got POWAH!” The movie also introduced No Tech, Pit Bull and the Rising Sun as other versions of the hoverboard, which are basically enhanced hoverboard powered with rockets.

The hoverboard is currently available. If you search through Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Mattel-Back-Future-Hoverboard/dp/B00ADNJQXQ), you will be able to find an exact replica of the hoverboard by Mattel. While the board you are getting does look exactly the same in the movie, it still falls short of expectations as it “does not hover above the ground”. So don't expect it to fly over the ground with it just yet!

Many scientists had tried to replicate and create the effects of the hoverboard using magnetic repulsion. While there had been progress using this technique to create the levitation, it was still not able to carry load. http://www.ehow.com/how_4449192_build-hoverboard.html

While most of the prototypes work on magnetic repulsion theory, a Marty McFly's kind of hoverboard where you can move in all directions will not be possible unless there is a breakthrough in room-temperature superconductor that would allow objects to float one foot above the surface. Till then, while we wait for the hoverboard to become a reality, you might want to spend your money elsewhere and consider other alternatives to a hoverboard. Here are some for your consideration.

Electric Unicycle

Electric Skateboard



Honda U3-X

Toyota Winglet

Friday, 6 December 2013

Want to cycle? Balik Kampung la!

Singapore is a “FINE” city indeed! From a city where you can be fine for jaywalking, stealing wifi, feeding bird, bringing durians into public places, you would not want to bet against a law depicting fine for cycling. 

According to the Road traffic Act, Chapter 276, Section 140, Road Traffic (Bicycle) is an entire section dedicated for rules for cycling in Singapore. How many cyclists are aware of the details? I bet many wouldn't. Are you aware that you need to carry a lamp showing to the front a white light visible from a reasonable distance? Do you know a child below the age of 12 years may be carried on a properly constructed seat or carrier affixed to a pedal bicycle? What about the no load rule on any two-wheel bicycle that shall weigh more than 18 kg or be of such dimensions as to cause or be likely to cause danger, obstruction or annoyance to persons using the road, and every load shall be properly and rigidly secured to the bicycle. Limitations of height, etc. of load. The list is simply exhaustive and some mind blogging. So, don’t play play! You might had found yourself inevitably broken the traffic laws! 

You cannot cycle too. Please appear in court for your transgression!
So, with all these laws in place to ensure best behavior on the roads for cyclists, does it makes us a top bicycle friendly city? The answer is no. While we have laws to try to curtail bad behavior and cultivate good cycling habits, Singapore is still a long way from being a bicycle friendly city.

You might have wonder what actually makes a city a bicycle friendly city? According to the Copenhagenize index, a city is judge based on 13 categories:
  • Advocacy – Any NGOs initiatives?
  • Bicycle culture – Is it a main tool for commute?
  • Bicycle facilities – Bike ramps, space allocation for bicycle on public transportation?
  • Bicycle infrastructure – Separate bicycle track
  • Bike share program
  • Gender split
  • Modal share for bicycle – what % made up of cyclist
  • Modal share increase since 2006
  • Perception of Safety
  • Politics
  • Social acceptance – How do drivers and community regard cyclist
  • Urban Planning – How much emphasis on bicycle infrastructure
  • Traffic Calming – What efforts to lower speed limits
Below are the top 10 cities ranked by the index

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Copenhagen, Denmark
Bogota, Colombia
Curitba, Brazil
Montreal, Canada
Portland, Oregan
Basel, Switzerland
Barcelona, Spain
Beijing, China
Trondheim, Norway

In the true tradition of Singapore where we aim for everything number one, Singapore will probably fall out of the top 100. The recent few high profile spats between cyclist and motorist probably indicates there is still a lot of work we need to do. 

Many cyclists in Singapore are facing he lack of cycling track for them to cycle in a safer environment and have to risk their lives by cycling on the roads in the current situation. In order to be a bicycle friendly city, more investments are needed for the bicycle infrastructure such as dedicated bicycle lanes, ramps, parking facilities. Currently, cycling in Singapore is only limited to the 200km park connectors developed by Nparks, which means that there will be significant risks if the cyclists decided to go onto the streets. According to traffic police data, there were 16 deaths and 557 injuries among cyclists in Singapore in 2010 alone. 

While we agree there is still a lot of improvements to be made, Singapore is not resting on its laurels. According to a latest government announcement on October 2013, there could be possibility that by 2030, cyclists could ride from their homes in the suburbs to work in the city via a comprehensive, island wide cycling-path network that stretches more than 700km. The aim is to provide "a seamless cycling experience," said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew when he unveiled the master plan, which maps out Singapore's future land transport landscape. For more details of the master plan, you can visit http://www.lta.gov.sg/content/dam/ltaweb/corp/PublicationsResearch/files/ReportNewsletter/LTMP2013Report.pdf

Let’s hope by then, Singapore can indeed transform to a much more bicycle friendly city than today. In the meantime, if you really need to motor vehicles risk free cycling, you can take a bum boat from Changi point to Pualu Ubin and cycle there!! As the title suggests, balik kampung la!

Dedicated cycling lanes for cyclist!
Protected from vehicles!
Parking facilities for bicycles!

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