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  • Posted Sep 17, 2003

gizmos and Accessories for the 21st Century and beyond

For those who haven't pedaled fast enough to keep pace with the biking world, the gizmos and accessories at this year's Hotter'N Hell Consumer Show are a far cry from streamers and cards for bicycle spokes of yesteryear. From tandem mountain bikes and socks to heart rate monitors and spandex, more than 65 booths at the show stocked the latest in bicycling equipment. Cyclists now have at their disposal gadgets like Global Positioning Satellite systems to track routes and print off aerial or topographical maps. Gauges - to measure distance, speed or temperature - are the in-thing with cyclists, especially those getting ready for rides like the Hotter'N Hell. Lucas Freeman, director of operations at www.endlesspursuit.com, displayed a calculator-sized device that clips onto the handlebars and monitors, well, everything. The little machine tracks elevation, speed and roughly 30 other pieces of data. After a ride, the information is put into a home computer, which spits out a variety of charts, such as heartbeat compared with elevation, Freeman said. "You can get data that was typically reserved for high-end cyclists, the stuff (five-time Tour de France winner) Lance Armstrong had at his disposal," he said. For $200, riders can even tap into the Endless Pursuit server, which allows them to view maps of the ride or share the exact route with friends. It's not all flashy electronic gizmos and gauges, though. Friends can ride a little easier on tandem bikes now, as DaVinci's patented design allows one rider to coast while the other pedals, said Rick Denman, road manager for the company. The bikes start at roughly $3,500. The tandems can now be transformed from mountain to road bicycles in a matter of minutes, Denman said as he popped off a skinny wheel and snapped in a rough, off-road one. Bike manufacturers are catching on to riders' complaints - from the tandem-pedaling problem to aching backs and numb wrists. "The industry is really targeting more comfortable rides for cycling, to keep people riding their bikes," said Kyle Carlson of Plano Cycling. Along with the tandem and new carbon fiber bikes, his company sells recumbent bikes, which look about as close as a rider can get to a recliner on wheels. Instead of the hard bicycle seat, a recumbent bike has a scoop-like chair with a back. The pedals are pushed forward, like you'd see on a tricycle, and the handlebars come to you. There's no leaning forward on your wrists. It looks different, but it's quite comfy. "For the area around here, recumbents have really gotten to be popular, especially for the older person, they're a lot more comfortable," said Jarvis Polvado, co-owner of Texoma Cycling Center. However, members of the younger crowd can find themselves riding faster because of the bike's aerodynamics. "They're all about comfort," said John Schlitter, a Kansas-based salesman for Bacchetta Recumbent Bicycles, average cost $1,500. "The Baby Boom Generation is getting older and some of us can't ride a regular bike." The bikes can come with a fairing - basically a windshield for bikes - or a variety of electronic gizmos, according to how much a rider wants to spend. Denman's Giant Bicycles model has the equivalent of a car's dashboard, with digital gauges for speed and distance. Business reporter Angel Riggs can be reached at (940) 763-7536. By Angel Riggs/Times Record News http://www.timesrecordnews.com August 23, 2003

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