Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Options for alternative "last mile" commute connectivity

Towing Kangoo to scrapyard
It's been 1 year since I scrapped my van and since then I have been using a combination of Taix/Uber/Grab with Bus and MRT. Depending on the timing, location and urgency, I will choose the most effective way to get around. Overall it was definitely cheaper but I must admit it took sometime to adjust to.  One of the irritation to me was the last mile connectivity, the last part of your journey which is just maybe 800m to 1 km away from the MRT or bus stop.
The bus feeder is bad... and really a time waster. Walking is fine, but you will surely sweat abit - bring a small towel. Yes, I know it makes you looks very "uncle" but it will be so much more pleasant. 
So.... being a designer and a person who like to think of solutions to problems. I went about to try find existing products that can make the last mile connection easier. Its not too scientific, I just went and tried things I already have. 
They are :
1) Pacific Cycles CarryMe 
2) Alecoa Scooter from Giant super market 
3) Momo Kiddo scooter - which I broke the pivot by standing on it... so pls don't try. Its really for kids
4) Arcboard which I recently acquired and trying to get my skill level up enough to use. 
5) Long board

From the left, Carryme, Scooter from Giant super makes, Momo 3 wheel scooter, Arc Board and long board
Carryme which I have had for several years VS long board 
How it looks from a normal perspective. Left is the long board, middle is Arcboard and right is a normal skate board from Toys Ris(momo one... really) 
Negative illustration.... feared covered foot wear
Ongoing testing (28th Dec 2016) 
1) Carryme 
Its a nice combination of bicycle and packability. The foot print is the SMALLest. The folding needs practise to do it well. Also a strip of velcro can help keeps things together. The bike always draw conversations. Many cannot believe its actually rideable but it really is. 
The bike handling is initially twitchy but with time, you can get used to it. During wet weather, the wheels can feel vague and u need to be ultra careful in tiled flooring and metal plates. 
2) Alecoa Scooter from Giant super market 
Compact and fast. I wish it came with a brake. This was my girl toy and I just tried it.  I think this option will be good if ur distance is under 1 km and generally flat. 
The fold down mechanism is very hard and I had difficulty pressing it. 
3) Momo Kiddo scooter
Plus: Its nice and stable. Very light too!
Neg: Its for kids and NOT for Adults. DONT step on it... it will break. I BROKE IT.  :( 
4) Arcboard 
Plus: Its cool! You just stand on the board, try to balance while the motor do all the work for u. The motor is a powerful one so please take it easy.... (for a newbie at skateboard like me)
The penny board size is really very portable. Weighting in at 4kg, its ALOT lighter then any Eskooter. 
Neg: Its quite pricy and you can probably get a decent ESkooter in that price range. 
5) Long Board. I got the shop special from LongboardloveshopSG
Not branded but very good quality and it goes very fast. 
Plus: Fast and stable. I need more time to handle the board. 
Neg: Its a long board and more bulky. 

I will continue to mix this combination and try them out. Sharing my observations in another month time. Let me know if u like me to try out other options. 
Whats your way to solve the last mile connectivity? I like to hear from you! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

First ride on the arc boards

Came back from work and went down to my void deck to try the Arcboard out.  The compact size of the board makes it really easy to carry. I wore the helmet and re-read the instructions just to be safe. Gingerly I stepped on the board and slowly turn the throttle. Its fun and quite enjoyable really!  Think of it as a honda cub with VMAX capabilities!
The motor is powerful and please treat it with respect. If you find the speed too fast, u can reverse throttle and it will act as a brake. 
Here's their website if you are looking to order one. 
Wear helmet 
Press the silver button to power on
Video link here 

Arcboard arrives!

After seeing the cool dudes at Carfreesunday zipping around on their E-penny boards, I signed up for the #Arcboard back in Aug and today 21th Dec, it was delivered to me personally by WeiDe in the evening.  
From a concept for his final year at Design school, Hung Yi continued to refine the idea using rapid prototyping, showing up every where with his board. And now with his team and pushing many many hours into development, it's into production stage! 
As they say in it Singapore.... "Jin Steadyyy!" Well done folks!!! I am really very happy for you. 
Here's how it rolls, the Arcboard team did several test to ensure mileage and it can go up the hills. 

Here's how mine looked..... stay tuned as I get some time on the board and do a more detailed product and ride review! 

Nice robust packaging with very nice words. I like. 


Seating there pretty and happy
Machiam machiam can... but I am really worried haha 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Cycling for everyday

Singapore is under going some big shifts in transportation. One of which is the use of bicycle. The usual perception from friends whom I chat with is this....  that cycling is something you do for fun and during the weekends. However, with the all day access on the MRT, I have noted more riders are begining to do the bike/MRT/Bike. Its really a good way to move around. Here's some of the riders who I see on Lovecyclingsg Facebook. 
It's looking good! These early adopters are leading the way to shift public perceptions of cycling as a alternative commuting mode. 
Thats cool!  Do try it! 
This is my experience with my Carryme. Will be trying with other bikes too. Stay tuned!

Al with his ticket

Thursday, December 15, 2016

All Day access for folding bike and PMD on MRT is on Trial!

In case u live in a cave and not gone out several months...  
The All day access for folding bikes and PMD is now on. Till 31st May 2017.  
Do try it out and take care while u wheel ur bike in the MRT. Your actions can help change perception and behaviours. 
Here's my bike to work experience which u can read.
And if u want to super nice about it, u can also bag the bike up. 

You can see this at the MRT entry point!  Photo by Jason Gabuya

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Solving the Garmin "Pengarang" route naming.

I shared my frustration on the Garmin auto naming with fellow cyclists at Lovecyclingsg and it seems many have the same issue. Then Boo had a recommendation. Set it to "manual". Follow her instructions and tried it today. Yes! No more confusing pengarang (Malaysia town) on my route!

Notice no more "Pengarang"?

Now... how to name it automatically in Date format....

look under "Activity Names" 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Garmin auto label goofup

I have used Garmin Vivio-active HR over 8 months and its really been helpful for me to keep healthy and relatively fit. However there's a irritating bug thats not too helpful. The auto labelling for activities keeps using Pengerang instead of my home - Punggol.  At first I thought it was just me but apparently its bugging ALOT of people.
Garmin,  I love your product BUT .... Please help improve your auto labelling functionality. Thank you.

This is my usual morning ride... and u can see Garmin SW label it Pengerang 

Even my morning walk is labelled Pengerang.... why? 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Home,Cycle, MRT, Cycle, Office - with a Carryme!

Today I tried mixed multi commute to work. 
With the 6 month trial to allow folding bikes, PMDs into MRT in unlimited hours, I have to support and try it out. Turns out to be pretty awesome!

The route is as followed. From Punggol field, I cycled to Punggol MRT, took the train to China Town MRT, cycled Peck Seah Street.  
It took me about 45 mins including a short breakfast at Maxwell market.  

I "real time" shared my trip experience with Lovecyclingsg folks and it gathered almost 100 likes!  Not too bad for a small joker bike!
Small bike that can
The bike I used is the Pacific Carryme. It's more of a walking alternative really and while it's looking comical, the bike works.  
Best part of it is that the "footprint" is as big as both ur feet area. 
Its tiny! This is how it looks folded up. 
Pro tip: use a velcro strap to hold all the dangly bits. Colour matching is for style points
I used the Carryme as I wanted to have the most compact fold and just something I can cycle easily to the MRT without waiting for the feeder bus or the slowish LRT service.  When folded up, I could easily manuver the bike around. I took extra care to be nice and moved to the first carriage to make it pleasant for other commuters. No one seem to mind abit which was good. 
The peak hour senerio inside MRT 
lost my way around Chinatown area... but having fun nevertheless

Quick brekkie at Maxwell market
My new work place at Peck Seah Street. 
In summary, the train at peak hour(morning and evening) is really really packed. I think you need a lot of confidence and practise folding ur bike before attempting this. But it is really quite possible. Just be nice, take it slow and be super considerate.  
Overall I quite enjoyed the experience. If I would do it again. Yes! Definitely. The bicycling brought a smile to my usual boring commute. And I will also bring a small hand towel to dry my sweaty head :) ... Maybe I will do it tomorrow!

ps:  It's quite ironic as my new workplace, I have a city direct bus 666 which is a godsend.  But... I think I like cycling!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The updated Mobike and Mobike lite

I like to share Mobike innovation from a hardware/bicycle perspective.  Poking around Mobike blog. Here it is in english summarised. The first gen is a nicely design, monocoque alumium frame. The drive train is encased with the rear arm.  Runs on solid tyres which do not flat and cast alum rim. Sensible side stand, simple to use lock and a controversially a non adjustable seat height. I thought it was a good compromise, given the bike is for getting around places but Mobike must have feedback from their customer base.  
The first Gen Mobike  Photo credit Mobike
They have now a newer version! Visually keeping sleek lines of the former bike. It comes now equipped with a front basket so u don't have to fumble with ur stuff, groceries. It also makes for a more pleasant riding experience.  
And tahdahhhhh.... an adjustable seat post like all normal bikes. 
I am so curious how they can make it tamper proof. If there are someone in china who happen to see this version, pls share with me. Thanks!
Updated Mobike  Photo credit Mobike 
For the budget conscious, there is also the Mobike lite. Half the price to rent. I read it was more for the suburban areas which might be more price sensitive. Ok, its no so cool from a product design perspective but I think it's still pretty neat and sensible.  What do you think? 
The Mobike lite Photo Credit Mobike 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

My encounter with Mobike

I went to Shanghai late Oct for work and it was quite a hectic time for me. Nevertheless the cycling bug in me is still very strong and invariably, I found myself staring at a nice looking bicycle which reminded myself of a cool designer project. That's the Mobike. 
enroute to my workplace
Initially I was impressed by the physical bicycle design but not too impressed by bike share concept. It was well designed. Comes with concealed drive train which means less maintenance. No adjustable seat but from the looks of the users, I think they went for a fixed position to reduce abuse. It will not please the cycling but no-one seem to really mind. I think its a good call. It even comes with nice looking mudguards which most style conscious folks will not put on their personal bikes. Having ridden alot, I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of the mudguards. Its not cool but its damm useful.
In my mind when I first saw it...  I had this thought... "Ptttthhhh.... That's another designer ego trip and how many nights they must have sweated the details.... but really?? Do we need another bicycle?" 
I was in Shanghai for 2 weeks and what I slowly realized is Mobike is not your usual bikeshare.  I saw many locals using and it was EVERYWHERE.  That's when I started talking to my local friends on this... 
The bikes get parked every where

1 RMB for 1/2 hr. Thats like 20cents! 
So the Short of it. It's like Uber on 2 wheels.  The concept is that you register to use mobike bicycles via the smart phone app and then using the app, locate the nearest bicycle that is available.  
The bicycles are GPS enabled and this means you can see the whole fleet online. And more importantly...those that are near you. 

When u see the bike, you take a QR code and send it in(via the app).  After confirming your order, the lock releases and you take it for a ride. 

When you reached your destination. You dismount, find a safe place to park and lock the bike. Locking the bike closes the "order". 
Then you just do your thing and carry on your daily activities.  When you require another bike to go home. You go to Mobike app look for the nearest bicycle available. I was told, u can even book in advance!
This is not your usual bikeshare which requires you to put the bike into specific booths.  You just ride and "chuck" it.  That's the cool bit. 
Fundamentally, it taps on a very important element of humans. Laziness and Convenience. 
Customers just want to reach their destination easily. They are not too concerned on how, what it is but the solution must be easy, quick and cheap.  From the way the Shanghai locals are embracing mobike, I feel it is going to be a game changer. Like what Uber did to Taxis. 
I recently also read in Straitstime Mobike  are now considering Singapore entry. I wish them well and I can't wait to try it here. 
Hope with more bicycles (bikeshare or just regular bikes) on the road, it can make our environment more green, more accessible and safer for cycling. Who knows Singapore can even be the model country for cycling in Asia Pacific? Exciting times ahead! 

* More reading of mobike here
Not so good an experience but if you can thrive in China...