Thursday, February 05, 2015

Efneo - 3-speed front bicycle gearbox

While biking regularly to work in the UK, I can't tell you the countless issues I had with my front derailleur. An interesting innovation in the biking World caught my eye a few days back called the Efneo. They call it a "planetary gearbox" where there is one chainring rotating at three different speeds on each gear instead of the traditional derailleur where three chainrings of different sizes rotate at the same speed. It is an equivalent to a 28/40/50T front crankset.


The new gearbox claims to get rid of some of my biking pet peeves. For example, you can reset the gear to 1st while on a standstill and start from first gear. This is often an issue with the traditional gears when you have to come to a sudden standstill while at higher gears - resetting to 1st gear is not possible unless you start riding again. They also claim that the gear shifting is much easier and quicker. It definitely does look smooth in their videos. They also claim to reduce maintenance as well.

There are some limitations: It will not work properly with a fixie bike that has no freewheel in a rear wheel and is not meant for off-roaders.

Check out their Indiegogo campaign which has raised 47% of their $30,000 goal sum.

Also visit the Efneo website for more information.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Pavements and cycling paths in Malaysia

Pavements are non-existent near my current house and we have to watch out for cars and motorbikes as our gate opens up to a busy main road. Where there are pavements, they are full of obstacles - utility poles, uneven and cracked paving and some wise guy has even planted trees right in the middle of the paths at the side of his house. There is no way I am going to allow my kids to cycle around the neighbourhood with their friends like they did back in the UK.

However, this is a very old locality and I expected the new developments to be better planned considering the growing ageing population, moving towards a developed nation status, etc. but was left disappointed after looking at some of the new property developments in Malaysia. Apart from a few upmarket projects, most seem to have done away with pavements (or sidewalks as the Americans call it) - forget about cycling paths. So I guess these developers expect people to walk on the roads or not walk at all - only use cars and vehicles. What about cyclists, elderly and handicapped people on wheelchairs?

Putrajaya and Cyberjaya are probably the only places in Malaysia which have taken these issues into account. Recently the Government has been talking about healthy lifestyles - about the need to encourage people to walk more and cycle but these new developments indicate otherwise. I seriously think that the Government needs to put in some kind of regulation in place that new developments need to have pavements and pedestrian friendly housing areas. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Non-payment of loans by older generation hurting future generations

It is a bad time to be a fresh University student in Malaysia today. The National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN)has announced loan cuts of 5% for students in public institutions of higher learning and 15% for those studying in private institutions of higher learning. This came into effect last weekend.

Apparently the main reason is that many borrowers have not repaid their loans. I know that there is a similar situation in the UK as well. According to PTPN Chairman, Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah, the total PTPTN loan repayment received up to August 31 this year was RM5.37 billion or 45.62% instead of the RM 11.77 billion, the corporation was supposed to receive.

I know a number of fresh graduates either do not have a job or are poorly paid, if they do and they have an excuse. However, I suspect that there are several people earning huge salaries who have not bothered to pay off their debts. I am not sure what are the reason but if you are one of them, please pay off your loans as you are seriously hurting the prospects of future generations.

And for guilty Muslims out there, if you are concerned about the issue of petting dogs, wearing hijab or other current issues, you should be aware that Islam also takes the matter of debt very seriously and Muslims are urged to avoid it as much as possible.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A sad day and why I will not ride a motorcycle

As I was driving to work this morning I noticed this motorcycle weaving in and out between traffic and driving quite fast. Then there were these cars changing lanes without giving signaling. A recipe for disaster, I thought to myself.

A couple of minutes later, there was a huge traffic jam on the expressway and immediately I guessed that it must be an accident. I was right and I passed a body on the road covered under white sheet, a motorbike crushed by a car. I do not know if it was the same motorcyclist but this is the third serious accident I have come across recently, one just happening before my eyes - a biker crashing into a car parked by the road. All cases involved motorcycles.

This follows the recent Karak highway accident last Sunday, which left two motorcyclists dead and one seriously injured.

In fact, according to news report early this year, 59% of all deaths in road accidents were motorcyclists. Of course this may be due to the high number of motorcycles in this country (almost 50:50 ratio with cars).

What can be done?

Special motorbike lanes, access to personal protective equipment including riding clothing and most important of all, education.

I had toyed with the idea of getting a superbike and riding everywhere but not anymore.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Back in Malaysia 1: Housing and Driving

After eight years in the UK, we packed our bags and moved back to Malaysia. It has been slightly more than a month now and our years in the UK already feels like a dream.

Our first priority was to find a place to live. The first few weeks were pretty hectic. We were in my in-laws and lived out of our suitcases until we finally found a house to rent nearby after looking at several condominiums and houses. The agents wanted to know all kind of personal information, namely our ethnicity, our occupation, number of kids, etc., etc. Apparently, several landlords will not rent out their places to people of a particular ethnicity. This was something shocking as we did expect this in multi-ethnic Malaysia. We did not have this kind of issues a few years ago. Maybe an area of research interest for my sociologist friends. Compared with our small house back in Coventry, the house is massive and some rooms are still empty. Unlike other Malaysians, we did not bring back furniture and have to buy everything new.

Skyscrapers have come up everywhere. New highways and flyovers as well. I now need a sat-nav while driving as I am not familiar with some of the roads any more. Some of our favourite hang-out places have disappeared or have moved while others have not changed at all.

Talking about driving, it may be my imagination and years of driving in the UK but the drivers now seem to be more aggressive here and will break the traffic rules if they can get away with it. I have a huge issue with people who simply do not use their side indications while changing lanes or cutting into your lanes. One of my friends told me that a lot of drivers are so selfish that they speed up when you indicate to change lanes or move in from a side road. I do a lot of defensive driving now and will give way to other drivers, sometimes annoying my wife a lot. May be I am more mature now and I just want to take it easy and get to my destination and home safe.

Noticed a lot of foreign auto brands on the roads - I may be mistaken but seems to be more Toyotas and Hondas on the roads as compared to Proton cars now. And every 2nd car is a Perodua Myvi - the most popular model for now. Also seems like there are a lot of luxury brands - mostly older model Mercedes. But the fact is that there are lot of cars on the roads. I noticed that some houses have 5 cars parked out in the front. We have 2 in front of ours - my dad's car which I am using and my wife's new car, which we just got day-before-yesterday. Until the public transport improves, I guess more and more people will be using their own cars. A trip from my in-laws house to our house just 7 minutes away, can sometimes take up to half-an-hour. Definitely cannot rely on the estimated times given by my sat-nav.

Anyway, that was in brief about the housing and driving issues we faced. I will be blogging more about life here in Malaysia.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Israel and Palestine









Though, it sounds great, a democratic Israel where Palestinians and Jews live peacefully is not going to happen. Personally, I feel that the only solution is the two state option. Palestinians have to recognise and accept Israel and stop the rocket attacks. Israel has to pull back from the occupied territories and help the Palestinians build the infrastructure, help build their own country. Stop the blockades, release the prisoners and stop the collective punishments.

All this tit-for-tat revenge will never end and we have younger generations who hate each other. Israel needs to recognise that World opinion is going against them. Making peace with the neighbours and the Palestinians would be their only way to survive in the long run. I know it is easier said than done and the eagles on both sides would try their best to prevent this from happening.

Peace.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Vintage Swiss Army ladies watch

This is one of my eBay bargain finds.

It is a vintage Swiss Army watch. I am not sure about the model but it is a ladies quartz watch. Found out that it has been discontinued by VICTORINOX, owner of the Swiss Army brand. Looking at various websites, I estimate that it from sometime back in the 70s.


When I bought it on eBay it did not have a strap, the crystal was badly scratched and it was not even running. Opening up the rear of the watch was extremely tough and I can see from the scratches on the back that previous owners had faced the same issue.




I finally got it opened and changed the batteries and found out that the watch works fine - keeping perfect time. That's Swiss quality for you.

I then polished the mineral glass crystal and realised that the lume on the watch is really good. Even brighter than most of the newer watches I have.


I then bought a Nato strap on eBay. It was ideal for my wife but she did not really like the watch. My daughter asked if she could have it but the strap was too big for her. Searching further, I finally found an eBay seller in the US who sold replica straps which look exactly like the original. This is the 14mm Gilden Swiss Army Style Nylon & Leather ladies watch band (US $ 20.48 with postage).

Looks great.



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