Friday, February 27, 2015

News: Legislation Proposed for a Federal Ban on Traffic Enforcement Cameras

Image courtesy of USAToday
I am not yet sure what to make of this, but earlier this month, Ed Perlmutter a legislator from the state of Colorado, proposed legislation to put in place a federal ban on the use of traffic enforcement cameras, including both red light and speed cameras. The motivation comes from the belief that the cameras are not used in the interest of public safety, but rather to fill the coffers of local municipalities to the detriment of the pocketbooks of local drivers. In the city of Denver, traffic enforcement cameras have netted more than $34 million in revenue. Having had my share of experience with these cameras while living in DC, I can certainly attest to the fact that I am no fan, but a full-on federal ban might be a bridge too far.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Product Review: Samsung Galaxy Gear Live

You might be wondering why are we featuring a product review for something that seems to have little or nothing to do with bikes, cars, or motorcycles, but I argue that it has much to do with all of them. For the past six months, I have been utilizing the Samsung Galaxy Gear Live Android Wear watch as a part of my daily routine, using it to enhance my life on two wheels and four. It was originally intended as a trial purchase to see if I would be purchasing a Moto360 as a gift, but I ended up enjoying it enough that I kept the Gear Live for myself as it suited my needs well. In particular, it offered me an unprecedented flexibility to make use of some of my phone's capabilities to enhance the riding experience without needing to actually access my phone.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Editorial: The conundrum of the millennial car buyer

It is not exactly news that millennials have a very different approach to many things. Whether it is how they choose places to live or conduct themselves on the job, the younger generation that is now making their mark on adulthood have made it clear that they like to do things their way. This also applies to driving and car ownership. Much has been made in the last year about how the automotive industry continues to struggle to find ways to attract a younger generation of drivers to the dealers to make car purchases, new or used. Some of that has been attributed to a whole different attitude towards driving, others posit that graduated licensing laws have made the desire to drive less imperative, while yet still others theorize that the recession and its lack of job opportunities means that the younger generation simply has less disposable income to spend on a luxury purchase. Research dollars continue to pour into the subject, but with seemingly few tangible conclusions. As a member of the millennial generation, as much as I would like to deny it, allow me to offer a few of my own thoughts on why automakers are continuing to struggle to appeal to younger buyers.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Long Term Test: 2007 Honda S2000 post #4

Update #4
Current Mileage: 71,177

This post marks the fourth year I have owned my 2007 Honda S2000. Honda's S2000 had always been a dream car of mine, and a car that I promised myself I would own some day. After graduating from UC Davis, I began saving money for the day that I would be able to put a down payment on an S2000. Four years in and over 30,000 miles later, my S2000 is running strong.

With East Brother now back in Southern California, we decided to trade cars for a week to see how we would get about on our daily routine with each other's cars. I previously wrote about my time with the Acura TSX and now East Brother shares his experience with my S2000.

Honestly, I adore the S2000. When my brother first told me he had found a smoking deal on one, I was jealous of his good fortune as my own search for one on the East Coast had pretty much turned up nothing but poorly maintained, horrendously abused, or ridiculously overpriced examples. There is a purity to how the S2000 drives, even this slightly more advanced AP2 version, that is difficult to match without spending nearly double the cost. However, it is becoming increasingly evident that my tastes and expectations have changed over the years because nowadays, as much as I enjoy the S2000, I am not sure I could live with it as a daily driver as West Brother does. Allow me to explain.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Test Drive: 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X GSR

Here at East-West Brother's Garage, our test drives are usually on newer cars. Every now and then though, we come across something that is simply too good to pass up a test drive of. While driving to work one morning, a blue sedan with a big wing caught my attention at the local Honda dealer. Upon closer inspection, it was a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Having never driven an Evo before, I made it a point to stop in and check out the rally bred sedan for myself.

Tucked away in a corner of the local Honda dealer's used car lot, the Octane Blue Pearl Lancer Evolution GSR caught my attention, not just because of the big wing, but also because the shade of blue was very similar to my own S2000. As I got out to inspect the Evo, the first thought that popped into my mind was, "I really like how Mitsubishi can take such a ho-hum looking car like the Lancer and turn it into something aggressive and sinister looking like the Evo." As I continued to circle the car, a salesman came over to introduce himself and offer a test drive of the Evo.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Crazy of the Week #4: Theft in Broad Daylight

Image courtesy of Auto-Fail
We are back with our "Crazy of the Week" series with something that is actually more stupid than crazy. First, let me start by saying that we at East-West Brother's Garage do not condone theft of any sort. Having something stolen from you sucks, especially knowing that you will either never see it again, or will get it back in pieces. With that out of the way, we present to you a man who attempts to steal a motorcycle with...not so wonderful results. To find out what happened, check out the video below:

As you can see from the video, some genius tries to steal someone's Triumph Daytona in broad daylight. But it is not just the fact that this guy is trying to steal a motorcycle in broad daylight that makes him an idiot, it is the fact that he is doing it near a busy city street in front of a building full of people. Lucky for the Daytona owner, the thief is thwarted as a security guard eventually makes it outside to stop the would be potential theft in progress. Unfortunately, it seems the thief did manage to get away in a waiting get away car.  Um..."A" for effort, I guess?

Again, we at East-West Brother's Garage do not condone theft, but if you are going to try it, at least be smart enough to do it at night away from a busy street and away from a building full of people.

You can read the original article here on Ride Apart.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

News: Volvo and Jaguar-Land Rover introduce car safety tech to protect cyclists

It warms my heart when I see automakers doing things to make cycling safer. As cars and bikes continue to increasingly share space on public roads, the addition of new technologies to allow the two modes of transport to coexist. Many of these technologies simply focus around awareness, making drivers more aware of the presence of bikes in their immediate vicinity or cyclists more aware of upcoming cars. Primarily, Volvo and Jaguar-Land Rover have created new tech that they hope to incorporate into future cars to help drivers and cyclists to be safer together.

Volvo's approach is a two-way communication system that requires both technology in their cars as well as technology in cyclist's helmets. By allowing the helmets to communicate with the cars, it is possible to make drivers aware of the presence of a cyclist, helping to reduce accidents that result from drivers failing to notice a cyclist in their blind spot. Additionally, since the communication happens in both directions, the helmet will also warn the cyclist of the presence of a nearby car. The technology relies on Volvo's cloud network that links their vehicles in order to feed the data to the cars or apps which the smart helmets would be linked to, so it is likely that some kind of subscription may be required. And while this technology sounds like it has great potential, the relatively small number of new Volvo cars on the road today in the US means that we will likely see limited effectiveness of this technology unless other manufacturers also begin to adopt it.

Jaguar and Land Rover, however, are taking a totally different approach. Instead of relying on a two-way communication system, JLR's setup, known as Bike Sense, uses the various sensors already in the car for various existing safety tech and adds a layer of notifications on top specific to cyclists. For instance, if a cyclist is nearby, the car will notify the driver by playing the sound of a bike bell through the audio system. If a cyclist is detected in the blind spot, the car will use the air bladder in the shoulder bolsters to tap the driver on the side that the bike is approaching from. In addition to audio and physical cues, visual cues are incorporated as well using a series of LED lights hidden in the pillars and upper door panels that change color as a a cyclist approaches. And in a stroke of absolute genius, JLR has also incorporated door handles that vibrate if a cyclist is approaching, helping to reduce incidences of dooring. Best of all, the tech is calibrated to work with not only bicycles, but can apply to motorbikes as well.

While this kind of technology is still fairly rare, it is great to see that the automakers are recognizing the importance of their 2-wheeled compatriots on the larger transportation landscape. This kind of technology investment, especially as cars become increasingly aluminum intensive, and thus more costly to repair, should help cyclists be better protected, but should also help car owners to protect their investment as well. Plus, the added bonus of making our roads safer for everyone is a reality that cannot be ignored. As an avid cyclist, I am excited to see how this kind of technology continues to develop and hope that the increased awareness by drivers can lead to even bigger systemic changes in the future.

Click past the jump to read more about these exciting new safety technologies.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Road Trip: Sierra Madre, CA

The faces of everyone in the car were tense and screwed into all manners of of contortions. White knuckles were visible in my peripheral vision as my passengers gripped the handles scattered throughout the cabin. Not a word was spoken as I danced the nose-heavy sedan down the twisty canyon road, deftly dodging small patches of slippery sand and oncoming cars to make it into the relative safety of the freeway where everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief. It is hard to imagine that not three hours ago, we had been strolling down the few blocks that comprise the tiny town of Sierra Madre, set in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. As we pulled the car into a parking spot just outside of Pasadena city hall, the adrenaline having drained from my system, I reflected on the rather eclectic day that had just passed.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Test Drive: 2014 Chevrolet Volt

Before finalizing our decision to acquire the Focus EV, several other plug-in vehicles made it into our decision matrix, including the Chevrolet Volt. In fact, the Volt was the first remotely economy minded vehicle to make it onto the list, in large part because the incentives available on it resulted in some seriously enticing advertised leases. Add to that the fact that all plug-in hybrids in CA can get single person access to the HOV lanes along with several other nice perks (e.g. free parking, available free public charging, etc.) made the idea of owning something so slow a bit more tolerable. Of course, as much as there is to like about a car like the Volt, it is not without its own unique set of faults, which ultimately led us to pursue a totally different direction.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Editorial: How Can the Aftermarket Get Out of its Slump?

Image courtesy of Mustangs Daily
Working in the cargo and logistics industry, you tend to get a pretty good gauge on how business is doing for various industries that import their products from other countries. One of the industries I happen to have some customers in is the aftermarket auto parts industry. Being a car nut, this is an industry that I am pretty interested in. For the last few years, the aftermarket auto parts industry seems to be in decline. One of my customers, whose company sells aftermarket suspension parts for import cars, has noticed the slump and shared some of his reasons behind why he thinks the industry as a whole is slowly dying.