Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Tech News: Watchdog System connected disc lock

If there's one thing that motorcyclists fear apart from dropping their bike, it's having their bike stolen. Manufacturers incorporate solutions such as immobilisers or transponders that you carry around with you - usually as a key fob - to their products to make them harder to steal. One can also buy a variety of alarms, disc locks, security chains, padlocks etc. At the end of the day, though, all of these devices are simply deterrents designed to slow bike thieves down; though as the saying goes, "where there's a will, there's a way" and a determined bike thief will steal your pride and joy, however hard you try to make that impossible. One answer to this is to fit your bike with a tracker so that police or private security firms can follow the criminal's trail and recover your bike - and sometimes bikes stolen from other unfortunate motorcyclists.

Back in the Seventies, the French had a popular saying: "On a pas du pétrole, mais on a des idées*". The French startup Watchdog System has definitely had a very clever idea indeed and has developed a high-tech disk lock that is connected to a smartphone app that informs you in real time about things happening to your bike. This is done by means of a complex algorithm that uses machine learning techniques to recognise various situations, such as somebody trying to move your bike, a bike toppling over, or a bike being lifted off the ground. The alert is not only sent to you, but also to all other Watchdog System users in the area, the idea being that if you can't reach your bike, some Good Samaritan can.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Gear News: Fuel Downtown jacket

The main problem about stylish gear aimed at café racer/scrambler/bobber riders is that in order to have The Look you need to compromise on protection. Which is a bit silly, really: you're just as likely to have a moment on your "built, not bought" machine as you are on a high-tech sports roadster (or any other kind of bike, for that matter); and from my own personal experience, road rash is painful. Motorcycle jeans have been around for a few years now, as have casual and more formal footwear options. Motorcycle jackets however, have lagged behind when it comes to combining chic with protection. But with many European countries contemplating legislation making it mandatory to wear proper protective clothing when riding a powered two-wheeler, manufacturers are starting to get the hint.

Helmet? Umm yeah, whatever!

Enter the new Downtown jacket by Barcelona-based Fuel Bespoke Motorcycles. When this handsome garment was brought to my attention by Constance Diaconu of Codi & Co. and Barcelona We Ride fame, my first question was "does it have body armour?" Yes, I admit it: as I get on in years I'm becoming more and more of an ATGATT* bore. When Constance replied that it did have body armour, I decided it was time to take a closer look.