Thứ Sáu, ngày 01 tháng 1 năm 2016

Love of the water leads to Ocean Springs SUP business for Coast native

It's almost like walking on water" is how Mississippi Gulf Coast native Amanda Mavar-Schmidt describes standup paddleboarding, a cross between surfing and paddling.

She's enjoyed the waters of the region her whole life and says it's in her blood to be on the water.
After Hurricane Katrina, Mavar-Schmidt moved to the Florida Panhandle where she saw the sport of paddle boarding "explode." The popularity of the sport she now calls her passion wasn't lost on her, so when she returned to Mississippi, she opened Paddles Up Paddleboards and More in Ocean Springs in July 2013.
At first a mobile business, she bought eight paddle boards, rented them out and gave lessons. Then, she began selling her boards, basically "out of my garage."
She opened a location at 1018 Washington Street in Ocean Springs in July 2014. And business is good.
"People get on those boards and fall in love with it," she said. "It's a great way to get out on the water."


She particularly enjoys paddling along Front Beach in Ocean Springs where she frequently sees dolphins. She also likes to put in across from the yacht club in Biloxi and paddle over to Deer Island.
"We take a cooler, lunch, snacks. We have a lot of fun," she said. "You can paddle to the south side of Deer Island and it's beautiful. It's a nice place to get away for the day."
Mavar-Schmidt says she sees a lot of wildlife while on the paddle board, almost like sneak-ing up on them when you're paddling quietly Though, one paddler fell in while watching a four-foot alligator, scaring the gator off.
"She got back on her board very quickly" Mavar-Schmidt said.
Stand up paddling is growing in popularity across the country Paddlers have been participating in stand up paddling, or SUP, since the 1940s in Hawaii. It's similar to surfing, but can be done anywhere there's water.
It's considered to be a great workout for the legs, arms and core, and it's a sport people can enjoy at any age.
In the past decade, the popularity has grown significantly. A report from the Outdoor Industry Foundation showed it was the most popular outdoor activity among first-time participants in 2012. That maybe because it's easy to learn.


"When people are interested in it, they are determined to get on the board and stay up," Mavar-Schmidt said. "Once you get it, it's like riding a bike. You can't unlearn it."
She puts first timers on a board that's 11 to 12 feet long and 32 to 34 inches wide, depending on their size and height. The boards weigh about half what a kayak weighs and, like a kayak, can hold coolers or fishing equipment.
Paddles Up rents boards, dropping them off and picking them up at designated locations. The business also takes on average three guided trips a week, though it is now entering a slower season.
They offer lessons, and for the Christmas season have layaway for purchase of the boards. A good quality board and paddle costs about $1,100, though soft tops can be purchased for about $800.
Like any other industry, "you get what you pay for," Amanda said. "It's worth it, if you really like paddle boarding, to get a good board."

She also sells used boards throughout the season, she said, as well as longboard skate boards and Penny boards, the smaller skate boards similar to those sold in the 1970s, that are gaining popularity.

2016 RTM preeride 250 two-strokes for Euto Folks

My first reaction to the original KIM Freeride 350 was to greet it with a hearty yawn. This might seem unfair, but the 350 four-stroke Freeride concept instantly made me think of plodding around on a machine that, though fun looking, would ultimately have its limitations when compared to a full-on enduro machine like the KIM 350 EXC. In my opinion, the soft power delivery of the original Freeride 350 (released only in Europe more than 18 months ago) coupled with the concept of a hybrid-trials-based bike has confused people as to its use. But with the introduction of the new Freeride 250 R in Europe, I had to take a second look at this platform to see if the addition of a two-stroke motor could allow this bike to stand alone and compete with the enduro bikes as an everyday, multi-use machine.



The simplicity of the Freeride 250 is evident from the first glimpse. The 250cc engine is particularly simple in design, with electric starting and no power valve. A small exhaust port and timing aimed at bottom-end power are both key to the trials-type delivery. The six-speed, two-stroke engine is nearly 4-1/2 pounds lighter than the enduro engine, and the torque figures produced from this simple and seemingly bulletproof design go beyond those of the Freeride 350.


The 250 runs with close-ratio gears from first to fifth, with a wide-ratio sixth gear for longer sections of flowing trail. A 28mm Keihin carb delivers the fuel, which is mixed at an amazing 80:1 ratio! This means that 80 parts of fuel need just one part of two-stroke oil. Smoke is virtually eliminated at this kind of mixture, so the clean-burning nature of the bike is another positive point from an environmental side of things. The capacity to carry the mixed fuel is about 1.8 gallons and the tank is clear so you can check fuel level easily. A tunable ignition with soft, normal, and more aggressive power choices allow for some tweaking of the power delivery.


The motor is cooled via a single radiator with a fan, while the exhaust pipe is well tucked away. Other cool chassis points include a WP 43mm fork, a PDS rear shock, adjustable footpegs, and a polymer subframe. Trail Tech provided the new digital "dash," while the tires are the all-new Maxxis Trial-Maxx pattern. These resemble full-on trials tires and feel like chewing gum, but the difference is the higher knobs and spacing for greater mud clearance and all-round grip in the terrain the bike is aimed for.


With the Italian home of the infamous Hells Gate extreme enduro in beautiful Tuscany as my playground, I was keen to experience the gnarly terrain on the 250. As with every bike I test, I look for a blend of power versus handling, and the light feeling of the Freeride came across with every flick of the throttle. The two-stroke response from the super-sharp motor and chassis encourage attack on absolutely every type of terrain, and the only time traction was a slight issue was straight after a rainstorm in some slick mud. Iran the motor on the soft power setting to begin with, and it soon became clear that my trail riding pace was going to be a little hot for this setting. I'm sure there is a place for this lovely, smooth power mode to be used, but I don't want to go there--that would bring back the yawn. Back on the normal power mode, the difference is very pleasant as the bike creates a feeling of strength from below the lowest rpm range I have felt on any two-stroke. There is a massive amount of smooth torque that continues throughout the powerband.


The bike sits higher than the previous Freeride due to stiffer springs, so it even felt comfortable for my 6-foot-2 human form. A high handlebar with just the correct amount of sweep adds to the initial feeling of comfort, and the transfer from seated to standing is not too much to handle. The early going was wet due to the previous night's rain, and the feedback from the bike was balanced both in the motor and the chassis. Taking into account that the suspension on the Freeride is a slightly modified KIM 85 fork and shock, the setting is actually pretty good for most normal-sized riders. Descending is the most fun thing to do on the Freeride; it's like a turbo-charged factory downhill mountain bike, with the added pleasure of taking you straight back up the mountain for another go. However, the Freeride 250 still feels twitchy, and without some trials background it would definitely be a bit difficult to ride well in the really nasty, snotty terrain.


So to answer my own question as to the ability of the Freeride to stand as your only bike, I believe that for the hard-core off-roader the Freeride 250 would not be enough on its own. Don't get me wrong; the bike is superb, and the fun and experience of riding it in the correct terrain is amazing. But from a personal point of view my choice of a Freeride would be as a second playbike to hone and develop high-level skills or to use it as a learning bike for less experienced off-roaders. Of course, the difficulty and expense of buying a Freeride in Europe and shipping it to the United States may make this a moot argument, but it's still fun to explore what's out there and to see what the boys in Austria are doing to advance two-stroke technology. These bikes are at the beginning of their journey, and the fact they can be used by every level of rider to improve and enjoy themselves is a testament to KTM and its quest to offer its customers something fresh and exciting.

Thứ Năm, ngày 31 tháng 12 năm 2015

Drawing the line: hyperbikes

If motorcyclists think about hybrid automobiles at all, these thoughts aren't exciting. Hybrids might be green and politically correct, but they also tend to be relatively heavy and slow. It's much more fun to think about how motorcycles leave most cars--hybrid and conventional alike--in the dust. But recently, a new type of car has appeared that could challenge our thinking on hybrid performance potential.

The motoring press has nicknamed these hybrid supercars "hypercars," and they are best described as hybrids with serious attitude. Electricity is treated as a power-adder--not a replacement for internal combustion. Ferrari, McLaren, Porsche, and Acura have all announced hypercars, and each company does it differently. All use different percentages of electric power relative to internal combustion, from a low of 20 percent to a high of 46 percent. Range possible in all-electric mode varies from zero to about 20 miles.

Ferrari's (unfortunately named) LaFerrari, slated to appear in 2014, is the most extreme example of this breed. Combining an internal-combustion V-12 with an electric powertrain, the LaFerrari produces 950 hp. Scaling around 3,450 pounds, that's approximately 3.8 pounds per horsepower, after adding a driver and fuel. A power-to-weight ratio like that makes even Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-14R, which carries 4 pounds per pony, look a bit anemic (though Ducat's Panigale, with its 1:2.8 power-to-weight ratio, still shines). Suddenly, hybrids are looking like the hottest thing on four wheels. Should motorcyclists be dreaming about hybrid bikes?

Cars need hybrid drive systems to approach motorcycle performance, but do bikes need to gohybrid? Not until fuel efficiency needs to improve. But still, it's interesting to consider what such a hyperbike might look like. Adding an electric powertrain will make weight and packaging a major chal-lenge--there's never enough room on a motorcycle for extra stuff. A compact engine like the turbocharged, 588cc parallel twin in the recent Suzuki Recursion concept bike, said to produce 100 hp with strong torque, might be a good starting point.


A 30-hp electric motor and a 2.5 kW-h battery might add 80 pounds. If the whole package weighed less than 500 pounds, it could be an exciting motorcycle--not exactly a hyperbike but a step in that direction. A true hyperbike that's both faster and more efficient than a current superbike would require even more focused study of weight and packaging. And a lot of software.

One hybrid car that warrants a closer look is Volkswagen's XL1. Powered by a 50-hp, 800cc diesel paired with a 27-hp electric motor, acceleration and outright performance are closer to a conventional hybrid. But the XL1 outcompetes hypercars in one area--fuel efficiency--delivering a remarkable 261 miles per gallon. Aerodynamic efficiency is so good that it requires just 8 hp to maintain 62 mph.

A motorcycle would need to be fully enclosed to match the XL1's impressive 0.19 coefficient of drag. I've discussed enclosed bikes like the Peraves Monotracer here before but not in the context of hybrid power. The Monotracer currently uses BMW internal-combustion power, though the company has won an automotive X-Prize with an electric prototype. What sort of fuel efficiency might we see from something like the Monotracer with a sophisticated hybrid drivetrain similar to what powers the Volkswagen XL1? Perhaps 350 mpg?


Now, rather than an economy-minded hybrid, consider an XL-based hypercar: During a recent presentation to engineering students at the Vienna University of Technology, Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech revealed an illustration of what was reportedly a racing variant of the XL1, called the XL Sport. The 800cc diesel would be replaced by the 1,198cc V-twin from Ducati's 1199 Panigale superbike, tied to an electronic powertrain. That's exactly the sort of hybrid technology that performance-hungry motorcycle enthusiasts will get excited about--and somewhere inside that project might be the makings of the first true hyperbike.