26 January, 2010


I love it when I discover something that is so much better than it needs to be. It could have been made as a simple functional item, and there's nothing wrong with that, but somebody decided to put in the extra time and effort to make it beautiful.

Wouldn't it be lovely if every manhole cover was a potential work of art like these from Japan?

As far as I understand each Prefecture has it's own design for the Fire Service and then another (possibly more?) design for other applications, often showing off local plants animals specialities or traditions.

Many are left plain as they are cast like this one.

Whilst other designs are coloured using tree resins mixed with dyes that fills in the areas of the design between the raised iron.

I don't know if they're as slick and potentially lethal in the rain for bikers as the plain cast-iron kind we get in Britain... but at least you're more likely to spot one!





25 January, 2010

Omnivorous engine

Lotus have been doing clever stuff developing a flex-fuel two-stroke engine that will run on a range of fuels. It maximises the benefits of 2 stroke power whilst creating minimal emissions.

They've created a brilliant interactive flash version to have a play with. You can adjust the engine speed and load or alter the fuel mix and watch how the exhaust gas scavenging and compression ratio of the head adjust for different scenarios.

It's fascinating stuff.

24 January, 2010

time to dust off the tinfoil hat

The expert font of Motorcycle Sport wisdom that is Kropotkin reports that Aprilia's WSB campaign will be sponsored by Al Italia.

This is proof that I'm either a far-sighted genius, or people have been stealing my thoughts... I don't know which prospect is more worrying.

A rational response would suggest Al Italia have a long-standing relationship sponsoring Italian motorsport campaigns. But that doesn't mean they aren't stealing my thoughts...

When I did the Photoshop version of my RSVR in Al Italia style above it was in homage to the ridiculous awesomeness of the Lancia Stratos, the news that the classic colours will be adorning the mental RSV4 is even more appropriate.

Both the Stratos and the RSV4 were designed to win in the motorsport arena (with some Japanese WSB contenders crying foul for just this reason) needing to sell a number of insanely focused road versions to homologate them. They're both tiny, concentrated on results to the detriment of comfort and sport a multi-cylinder V in the middle.

I cannot wait to see the finished bike, I reckon it could be so desirable it actually warps space.

14 January, 2010

mmmmm tea

Schmolke Carbon make high-end lightweight bicycle parts. They started getting a lot of attention when Jan Ulrich used Schmolke Carbon handlebars to take him to second place in the Tour de France. You can get an idea of just how high-end when you look at the attention to technical detail and then the prices for their stuff. €390 for handlebars, €480 for a seat post!

I love a bit of bling as much as the next overgrown boy, but you'd need to be seriously good to convince anybody that fitting carbon screws to your ride was a necessary weight saving and not just glorious ornamentation with a dash of techno-porn.

But that's okay because they have just the thing for me too - a snip at €175.

13 January, 2010

09 Clare Stages Rally

Presumably the driver in the Scooby didn't believe it was possible to get caught by a 1600 Nova.

09 January, 2010

coping mechanism

07 January, 2010

Dry and dependable

I always try to maintain the level 'Delighted and Devilish'

Taken from the always entertaining Awful Library Books