New Toys!

1:30pm Monday 27th February 2012

By David Brown

I'm back! I'm not really sure where I've been but the last few weeks have been a bit of a blur. So, what's happening in the world of cycling? Quite a lot actually!

We've had a successful track cycling World Cup round at the new Olympic velodrome where we picked up a bundle of medals.

Like a lot of athletes at an elite level it can be difficult to maintain performance and often they will choose an event during a year, or even longer, to aim for and schedule training to peak for that particular event. Let's hope that no-one was peaking too early and that we can repeat or even improve on the medal haul from the last Olympics!

Cycling and in particular cycling safety is a hot topic at the moment, it's being discussed in parliament and the Times is running a cycling safety campaign. To be honest, I think it's about time, cycling is good for the individual and the environment and as the cost of motoring is continuing to rise the number of people taking to cycling is also going to increase. Anything that can be done to make cycling safer is a good thing.

My main topic for this week is quite obvious from the title; I've got some new toys! The first thing I've bought is a helmet camera; I've gone for a discreet "bulletcam" which sits neatly on the side of my helmet and just records directly to an SD card.

When you speak to a lot of people about helmet cameras they recommend the Go-pro range of cameras but as these are generally in excess of £200 they were more than I wanted to spend.

I've gone for a Mini HD2 720p bullet camera from sport-cam.co.uk at a cost of just under £100. It's not a full high definition camera like the Go-pro range but it's fine for what I want to do.

It's still early days and I am experimenting with camera positioning and mounting, but the hour or so that I've recorded so far has really impressed me. I will be including some footage in the very near future so that you can see what the quality is like.

There are a number of reasons for buying a helmet camera, the primary one being that I just wanted one! I don't have to justify the purchase; it's a toy, but a very useful one. I plan to use the camera when I'm commuting as I often see interesting things and it will be nice to be able to show other people.

In addition, video footage taken by cyclists has been used in court to convict motorists of dangerous driving so given that amount of dangerous driving that most cyclists encounter on a daily basis it could come in very handy!

I also plan to use the camera when I'm mountain biking and riding just for fun as it's just nice to capture these moments. The first ride wearing the camera was on Saturday cycling to the library with my daughter and it's nice to watch back and listen to the conversation discussing the cloud that was shaped like a top hat and the three legged dog!

My second new toy was a birthday present from my sister (thanks Sarah!) and this is an Airzound. To quote the website an "Airzound is a fantastic and immensely loud bicycle horn. Bin that pathetic bell now and get one of these 115 decibel, rechargeable air horns."

Having watched a number of YouTube videos showing other riders using the Airzound I decided that I wanted one for the commuter bike. The Airzound uses compressed air which you can pump in via a bike pump up to a recommended 80-100 psi. When fully pumped it can emit a very loud warning honk and should last about one minute before it runs out of air.

On my first ride with my new Airzound fitted I was fortunate, or perhaps unfortunate, enough to get to use it twice. It's interesting to see the reaction of motorists when they hear it. Despite knowing that I was next to them, having just pulled alongside me and then moved across into my path, their first reaction on hearing the Airzound was to look in the mirror to see if there was car behind them.

I'll report back on how useful this new toy is, although I won't be using it to alert pedestrians as I think it's just too loud!

My last new toy hasn’t' arrived yet, but is due any time, it's an Exposure Spark Mark 2 helmet light. I know that mornings and evenings are getting lighter so I've missed out for this winter, but I'm still looking forward to seeing how much difference this light makes. When riding in unlit areas it will point wherever I look so should make riding offroad at night a little easier.

I am most interested to use this when commuting; the ability to make eye contact with other road uses in the dark and make 100% sure that they have seen you is likely to be very reassuring. I've lost count of the number of times that I'm just hoping a driver has seen me and this should help to keep these situations to a minimum. As before I will report back once I've had the chance to fit and use it.

It seems like me new toys are a bit like buses, I haven’t had any new bike related toys for ages, then three come along at once!

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