Friday, February 15, 2008

The Different Types of Mountain Bikes

There are basically two types of mountain bikes: the so-called hardtail and the dual suspension. There are also, in general, two types of mountain biking: downhill riding and cross country riding. This article describes which type of mountain bike is more suitable for the type of mountain biking that a rider might participate in.

Cross Country Mountain Biking

Cross country mountain bike riding is simply riding a trail. The rider negotiates the terrain whether it requires climbing a steep incline or maneuvering the mountain bike down a long descent. Cross country bikes are typically lightweight and are built for fast trail riding. Quality cross country bikes have at least front suspension to help absorb the bumps on a rough trail.

Many bike manufacturers are creating so-called all-mountain bikes, or trail bikes, which have dual suspension. These types of bikes are great for long, casual or sporty rides on mountainous trails. The suspension is enough to help absorb the typical trail shock but not beefy enough to be a true downhill racing rig.

The only problem with full-suspension is the extra weight it adds to the bike making it more difficult to ascend hills. There are not many cross country racers riding full suspension, especially on very mountainous courses. However, sport riders tend to opt for comfort over the weight advantages.

Downhill Mountain Biking

Downhill mountain biking is simply riding your mountain bike down the hill or mountain. Much of the terrain on downhill courses are extreme so it requires a beefier cycling rig to manage the demands of the trail. The mountain bikes used are very durable and heavy compared to cross-country bikes. They have long travel front and rear suspension to absorb the bumps and drops from the obstacles on the downhill course.

Many ski resorts open their slopes to downhill mountain bikes in the off-season. The riders use the ski lifts to transport themselves and their bikes to the top of the slopes and then speed down the hill at maximum speeds. Downhill mountain biking requires more safety than typical cross-country riding. Downhill riders will typically wear a full face motorcycle style helmet as well as body armor, elbow and knee pads.

Best of Both Rides

Many mountain bike riders own both a downhill and cross-country mountain bike. If you enjoy both disciplines there is no way around it. It would be too difficult to try to ride your cross-country bike down a downhill course. You may in fact hurt yourself or damage your bike. Conversely riding a 40 pound dual suspension mountain bike up a mountain may not be very enjoyable either. The lightweight of a cross-country bike may be more advantageous. Manufacturers are building all-mountain bikes to try to serve both disciplines. The idea is to create a lightweight machine with dual suspension and that are durable for those moderate downhill trails.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Get Wound Up with Vintage Toy Robots

Toy robots are not just for kids. It seems adults are amassing their own collections of these wonderful toys. In fact, vintage toy robots have become extremely collectible items, especially vintage Japanese tin toy robots. Serious collectors prize them for their artistic value as well as their contribution to science fiction. Some can command very high prices in today's marketplace, even though they were inexpensive toys that originally sold for only a few dollars. A robot with its original beautifully illustrated box will fetch even more.

There is some debate as to the actual year the first mass-produced Japanese tin toy robot was manufactured. It is believe to be sometime between the late 1930's to the mid 1940's. A little yellow robot, named Robot Lilliput is generally thought to be the first Japanese tin toy robot.
Japanese manufacturers produced numerous fine tin robots using sheet iron material plated with tin and printed with a process called lithography. The first robots were friction or clockwork robots that could be wound up. They were followed by battery operated ones. These robots could perform various play actions, for example, walking, bump and go, moving head and arms, flashing lights, puffing smoke, operating tools or vehicles, shooting guns and turning gears, talking voices or making various sounds. Each style of robot had its own unique personality.
Many United States importers traded in them. The following is a list of the better known Japanese manufactures and some of the robots they made.

1. Asakusa - Thunder Robot

2. Daiya - Astronaut Robot, Laser Robot 008, Ranger Robot

3. Horikawa - Busy Cart Robot, Engine Smoking Robot, Excavator Robot, Mr. Patrol Robot

4. Masudaya - R-35 Robot, Gang of Five Robots

5. Noguchi - Mechanical Robot, Mighty Robot

6. Nomura - Musical Drummer Robot, Radar Robot

7. Yonezawa - TV Space Man, Buzzer Robot, Directional Robot, Easelback Robot, Moon Robot, Space Explorer Robot, Talking Robot, Winky Robot, Mr. Atomic Thinking Robot

8. Yoshiya - Chief Robotman, Chief Smoky Robot, Mighty Robot, High Wheel Robot, Sparky Robot

It is important for a collector to protect his valuable collection. Taking out batteries before storing or displaying robots to prevent damage caused by battery leaks. Care should be taken to shelter the robots and their boxes from direct sunlight to avoid fading. Also, they must be protected from excessive cold, heat and moisture. It is recommended to operate the robot occasionally not only to enhance the collector's pleasure in his hobby, but also to maintain the robot's machinery.

Vintage toy robots are able to stir up magical memories and feelings of nostalgia with people who enjoyed these toys as children. Many excellent reproductions are currently being produced. Which should allow waddling, blinking and beeping robots to continue delighting generations of children well into the future.