2012 = Big year

2012 was a pretty massive year, not that you’d be able to tell from searching the archives here… The year kicked off with Angela and I finally finding a place to live, with us (eventually) moving to Katoomba the Blue Mountains in March. Then towards the middle of the year I took a change of direction with work, moving back to Saasu as Chief Design Officer. There were a variety of reasons, some of which I’ve outlined over at the Zumio blog. Shortly after starting at Saasu I also began tutoring at the University of Western Sydney, working with undergraduate students in the application of design research techniques. Then a trip to New Zealand, shortly followed by my graduation—having completed my Masters studies at RMIT.

With uni now done (and a break between tutoring stints), I suspect that I’ll be writing a bit more for personal benefit and pleasure, which is likely to fall over to this blog. I’ve also been writing a bit about my work over at the Saasu blog too.

In any case, it’s taken me a bit of time to clear the detritus that had built up in amongst all the busy-ness—a backlog of emails and mini-projects and just bits and pieces left undone. But it’s starting to feel like I’m ready to get into the new year. And it only took me a month!? :\

One of those projects that’s just kicking off is a little project/blog called Socoloco. The first cab-off-the-rank is Seasonal Saturday. The site has more about the background and intent of the project.

I’ve also been chatting with the folks at the Open Food Web Foundation about potentially assisting there. (I’m noticing a theme across those projects ;)) I’ve also joined a volunteer group to look at how the Winter Magic festival might be operated more sustainably. I’m looking forward to this not only from an intellectual/problem-solving perspective, but also as an opportunity to become more grounded in my (new) local community.

While there’s already a lot underway, a key goal for 2013 is to keep things a little bit more sane in terms of workload and lifestyle. I’m looking forward to more time to work on our new house, among other things. And to explore my new-found passion for mountain bike riding. And to get back to playing a bit more music, both personally, and with my good friend Kristian Jackson. We both have EPs in mind for this year. For mine, I’m not putting a date on—it’ll be ready when it’s ready. But I have already started working on some material left over from the Fuzu days that never got recorded.

Never a dull moment eh? 🙂

More on folding bikes

A friend of mine asked me recently about any tips I might have on folding (and/or electric) bikes. I emailed a response that I thought presented a useful round-up of my learnings, and thought it worth sharing here (slightly modified as well.

The 4 main folding bike systems/manufacturers I recall that produced bikes with wheels the right spec for Cityrail are:

The specs for Cityrail are:

Folding bikes are permitted on trains free of charge at any time, provided the bike is folded and carried in a bag before boarding. The bike (in its bag) must not exceed these dimensions: 82cm length x 69cm height x 39cm width with a maximum wheel rim diameter of 51cm. Free travel does not apply to CityRail bus services, including trackwork or NightRide buses.

There are a couple of other systems I’ve seen, the notable ones are:

Tern are a spin-off from Dahon. They have the same folding mechanism and are run by one half of the family that owned Dahon. The split tainted the Dahon brand fairly significantly in my opinion, as it seems that the folks behind Tern were a bit more entrepreneurial and innovative, leaving Dahon primarily as a manufacturer (rather than design-led) [Update 1-Feb-2012: See comments for response from Dahon]. I put my money on Tern—I have a Link P24h with electric conversion from Sydney Electric Bikes. (I’ve written about my experience before). If I were to do it over, I’d probably get the Link P9 (http://www.ternbicycles.com/au/bikes/link-p9), as the in-hub gear on the P24h has proven to be a bit of a pain in terms of maintenance, and in practice I never use it.

The Brompton is a neat folding mechanism that is very compact, but I think it would probably be too small for folks of my height (6″+). I’m personally not a fan of the Birdie’s design. The larger Montague’s are awesome, but fall foul of Cityrail’s guidelines.

If I were buying today, I’d be seriously considering the Conscious Commuter electric, as the weight reduction and inbuilt battery are significantly better than what I’ve got. Though they still seem to pretty much be in “Kickstarter” mode, and are an unknown quantity in relation to quality/durability etc.