Thursday, April 25, 2013

Welcome to Malaysia Dr David Hon..

The main man: Dr David Hon riding a Dr Hon Jifo folding bike
I heard it through the grapevine...

So, I called the guy in charge of Dr Hon Bicycles go pick up a Dr Hon Mu P27 for review.
He said he had a meeting with Dr David Hon and his entourage from Dr Hon Bicycles.
"We are having a regional meeting for the distributors here in Malaysia la...
"I will be very busy and my colleague Danny will see to it that you get to try out the Mu-27,"
said my friend.

Tight schedule..

The guy also told me that David Hon will be on a "tight schedule" and will not be able to meet any of the bicycling journal and news portal people here.
I don't know if this is true, or rather the space was given to magazines like "Cycling Malaysia" who knew next to nothing on folding bikes, but nevertheless, I take this news in good faith.
"Eh, I talked to my big boss and try to get you an interview spot for, but no time la..," my contact said.

Good Public Relations Practise..

Well, way I see it, the Dr Hon Bicycle reps here should make an effort to introduce David Hon to the cycling community here in Malaysia. 
The least I can say is that if Dr Hon walks down the street, he could be recognised for his contributions to the cycling fraternity here in Malaysia..
To a certain quarters, David Hon's visit here to Kuala Lumpur is a real big deal. But, seeing as it is, I guess nobody really cares because he is just "another bicycle manufacturer"..

The long wait..

A despatch from the Tern guy... 

After the departure of the dude who took care of Tern bicycles here in Malaysia, he was replaced by a younger fella.
I corresponded with Joshua Hon of Tern Bicycles over the possibility of getting a Tern Eclipse X-20 imported into Malaysia.
And at the same time, get another simple bike, the Tern Eclipse P9 for my wife Michelle.
Everything was set for March this year, but it was a no show.. 

The much-anticipated Tern Eclipse X-20
Anyways, seeing as it is, there are some 'nagging' issues like how much this bike would cost and getting more bikes means having less space in the house.
I've already blown a chunk of cash on my Canon EX600RTs and the ST-E3-RT transmitter including my lighting rig.
So, if there should be a purchase, it would have be the third quarter of the year.. 
Then, I contacted the new guy handling Tern.. And here is what he had to say...

 Hi Sam,

Sorry to inform that the Tern Eclipse X20 will postpone the delivery due to some taxing issue. Estimated 4th quarter of the year.
Eclipse P9 already stop production so we cannot order. I knew that you have reserve 1 piece of Eclipse X20 from Josh, will update you when the shipment comes.
Really sorry about the delay.

Thanks & best regards,

Come what may, all I can do is to wait and see. 
If it gets too laborious, I might as well drop the whole idea of getting more bikes as I am pretty much satisfied with what I have at the moment..

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Some fun with the EX600RT flashgun

Tabletop photography

I am a huge fan of tabletop photography.
Recently, I acquired the Canon EX600RT flashgun and an ST-E3-RT radio-controlled transmitter.
These integrated well with my Canon EOS5DmkIII and are the most powerful flashguns in the business.

My simple set up

Umbrella rig

To get the most out of it, I set up an umbrella light modifier to get a soft lighting effect on the subject.
The umbrellas at RM20 a piece, are dirt-cheap.
Now, to hold it in position, I needed to get the Manfrotto umbrella mount. These are used with a set of 'nano' stands.
Dump all that in, the rig becomes a little bit more expensive compared to all the China junk that is available in the market.
So, having said that, I used the two EX600RTs and mounted them to the umbrella rig.
A couple of test shots yielded some really decent results, but I need to work on the diffusion techniques to achieve an even more softer lighting effect.


I am pretty happy with the overall results.
Did a little bit of post-processing on the Adobe Lightroom 4 and much of the desired effects of a 'soft' lighting approach can be seen on the shots.
The details are also stunning as I used an aperture value of F11 for the shots with a shutter speed of 1/200sec.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A tough call..

People ask the darnerst questions...

Through time, I received some really interesting questions.
Most of these queries centered around the procurement of a bicycle.
New or old, people want to get a bang for the buck...

Nobody likes to get ripped off

Here's the hard truth: Cheap bikes are never good, good bikes are never cheap.
Even on the secondary market, a decent-condition bike would fetch a good price unless its owner is looking at recovering the minimal amount.
Let's say for instance, you bought a folding bike for RM2,200, the most you are going to get back is roughly around RM1,400 or less -- depending on the condition of the bike.
Pricing also depends on the supply and demand situation.
And older bikes seldom appreciate in value. That is a fact that is hard to swallow.
Then again, its a 'willing buyer, will seller' situation.
Some deals are so great, you find bikes for price of a song..

It all starts with a good bike

My take on this - get a good bike, do your research, don't be afraid to ask around.
Patience will land you the right machine.
Ask yourself what you want to do with the bike because there is no such thing as a bike that does it all.
As for me, the most crucial factors are: performance, reliability and ease of maintenance.
You don't want to end up with a bike that goes back to the workshop so often, you end up spending a bomb.
And when performance is a factor, the quality of components count.
Lucky for me, I've had a good run with a few reliable machines. They hardly failed me.

The new brands on the block..

The last two years saw a surge in new brands of folding bikes coming into the fray.
I see that the more mature crowd are willing to spend.
There are Brompton and Moulton peer groups, mostly among the elites and very wealthy crowd.
A normal guy like me would be contented with my Dahons.
I am thinking of getting at least two Terns by the end of this year. Or maybe never.
Recently, I met a young man on his Tyrell folding bike. 
Its really fancy and he paid more than RM8k for it.
Good for him, but I think he paid too much. It also didn't help as the people who sells these bikes are morons.
I can say the same about the Doppleganggerer bikes.
Nice ring to the name, but what you get, is a piece of junk.

Credentials matter...

If you are bent on quality, look for a brand that is recognised by being awarded by the bicycle industry in terms of quality and innovation. 
You can't go wrong with that.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Little bricks with an awesome imagination...

I am a big fan of the Lego Technic series.
These are the most challenging toys ever to be produced by the company and I must say that it'll give you a run for your money.
My first brush with the Technic series were the "Bionicle" action figures.
These are now highly collectible and are no longer in production.

The little Unimog..

I found the Technic 9390 kit for new builders fascinating.
Its called the "Mini Tow Truck", based on a Mercedes Unimog 400.
Now, I am a huge fan of the Mercedes Unimog or UNIversal-MOtor-Gerat which is known around the world as a utility workhorse.
This vehicle is so well-respected, most 4WD enthusiasts would know about its existence.

Lego's entry-level kit for the Unimog fan

Hunt for the Mini Tow Truck

For some strange reasons, Technic sets are far and few in between off the shelves.
And each year, new sets are introduced.
I believe the Mini Tow Truck has been in the market for a year or more.
So, looking for this one from retail stores is out of the question.
Having said that, my best bet is through on-line dealers and I found one for sale in Ebay Malaysia.
I contacted the seller who had put this up for sale at RM60 and traced him to a housing estate in the greater Cheras.
A meet up with him had sealed the deal.

Work in prgress: the Unimog and its instruction sheet
Constructing the U400 mini

Right out of the box, the kit contains parts in two plastic bags.
There's two set of instruction booklets for the builder to follow.
It too me about 15-minutes to build the vehicle chassis and another 15-minutes to complete the kit.
Rather than fitting-in the crane and winch, I decided to leave it bare.
What I like about this small kit is the free-wheeling hubs and the steerable front wheels.
The overall built and quality of the Lego Technic Unimog U400 is commendable.

The finished Unimog minus the crane and winch
Since this kit is meant for beginners, I would rate the level of difficulty at 'easy'.
Simply follow the instructions are you will be fine.. 
What's more exciting is the larger Unimog U400 that comes with a power motor kit and this big fella is also a premium-priced item that can hardly be found off the shelves.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cool beans from Tom Bihn

A decent recommendation.. 

I have never heard of Tom Bihn bags until someone gave it a mention recently.
In today's context, its very hard to find bags that are made entirely in the USA.
Tom Bihn is one of the exception.
I logged into their website and found a variety of products and one particular backpack caught my attention.

The Synapse 19

This is a small backpack which offers plenty of room for everyday carry items.
Its also highly regarded by bag owners around the world.
Tom Bihn's Synapse 19
The pack came with plenty of compartments and I must say that its really well laid-out.
Plenty of thoughts have been put on this design which I think is a versatile performer.
It retails at USD$140 or RM430.50 a pop.
And there's also options for the buyer to purchase additional organizers and pouches.
I bought the Synapse 19 for my wife as her birthday present.
It took about a week for the backpack to be shipped from the US to Malaysia and I must say that Tom Bihn's customer service is simply amazing!

More pix of the pack..


I am pretty pleased with the pricing, overall fit and finish on the pack.
You can't get a decent product at this price anywhere in Malaysia as most backpacks are made in Southeast Asia.