Why electric bikes could be the next mountain biking

I should declare my interests early. As the managing director of one of the major UK e-bikedistributors I am obviously going to talk the sector up. That said, I have been in the bike industry for well over a quarter of a century and many in the trade who know me will testify that I am not one for hyperbole and I say what I think. So heres my state of the nation address on e-bikes.
When Saracen was sold in 2008 we already had our eye on the e-bike market. The European figures have been talked about again and again (probably too much) but even if we dont follow the same pattern as the Germans, etc it definitely shows e-bikes have a strong position and there is an entirely new customer group out there who need an e-bike. This new customer group could represent the next leap forward for the cycle trade as other sectors approach saturation and begin to slow.
However, the sector is not growing as fast as some people had hoped for, myself included, and although strong momentum is being gained there are two barriers that as an industry we need to bring down. Cycle-specialist retailers need to capitalise on this market soon or be in danger of losing out to other sectors and be left wondering why they didnt act sooner.
Modern e-bikes, with lighter, more efficient reliable motors and smaller high-capacity batteries are virtually unrecognisable from what
many people think when e-bikes are mentioned. So the first problem is educating the public, hardly a new issue, but one of our major hurdles. When a customer expresses an interest in e-bikes in a bike shop we know they are often asked the question; why on earth would you want an e-bike? However, with fuel prices on the rise, the need for an alternative to commuting by car or public transport and the modern e-bike offering an efficient, fun and reliable way to get about the question should be; why on earth would you not want an e-bike?

The second barrier is lack of understanding of the sector and customers. E-bikes are not all the same, and just as different cyclists have a variety of needs, so will a potential e-bike rider. So a store needs to understand its customer base and be ready to encourage an entirely new customer group. We have seen the emerging e-bike market begin to grow and segment into three clear groups. This growth is fuelled by new customers joining the traditional grey-market, which continues for e-bike sales. Firstly there is the commuter or value end. This customer may or may not be using the C2W scheme, but they are certainly on a similar budget. They require leading edge technology, solid design, but perhaps no-frills as they are very much a utilitarian user.
Secondly, there is the enthusiast who will be looking for performance with cutting edge tech. Finally there is the style-conscious with design at the forefront of their needs. They will be looking for something with drop dead gorgeous looks. Both enthusiast and style customers will be prepared to pay for either of these traits but they rarely combine the two needs.
We are so confident that we have these segments right weve built our range around it. EBCO (our house brand) offers great value for money, the TranzX system works well, the bikes are reliable and comfortable. Great for utilitarian riders. AVE all feature Bosch centre-drive motor (recognised as leading the field) and the range includes models that can cope with on and off-road. This is the enthusiasts bike. Finally Solex, developed by Pininfarina (think Ferrari and Maserati) has the looks that will turn heads. If its aesthetics a rider is after, weve got the best available.
All these brands are backed up with solid marketing, a UK-based reliable service centre and good after-sales support. This is comforting for the customer and imperative for the dealer.
So, want to know where the e-bike sector is? Stop looking to the continent and look whos outside your front door. The e-bike market has matured into a serious sector and needs to be taken seriously. A well thought out and targeted strategy for e-bikes will deliver significant sales, as some of our retailers can testify to already.
More: http://www.freyebikes.com/news/the-next-mountain-biking.htm


Baroness of beer loves the footy

Brewing royalty is about to touch down in New Zealand for the semi-finals and final of the Rugby World Cup.

The secretive Dutchwoman Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, who has a controlling stake in one of the world's most recognisable beer brands and is said to be the richest woman in the Netherlands, is coming to see the business end of the world cup.
Heineken is one of three RWC 2011 major sponsors.

She rarely talks to media and Marnie Kontovraki, Heineken International's brand consumer PR officer who arrived in New Zealand today, said de Carvalho-Heineken ''in general, does not do interviews''.

''Her visit in New Zealand is for hospitality purposes only.''
It is understood the London-based de Carvalho-Heineken enjoys rugby and would not want to miss the most exciting part of the tournament.
Heineken, the world's third largest brewer, has more than 170 premium brands sold in 65 countries.
Brewing equipment
It is also the world's leading premium beer brand and New Zealand's number one premium European lager. It has been the official beer of the 1995, 2003, 2007 and now 2011 Rugby World Cup tournaments.

A significant percentage of Heineken's global volume is consumed in the major rugby playing nations.
Heineken has been the title sponsor of The Heineken Cup - Europe's premier club championship - since 1995 and has been involved in the International IRB Rugby 7s tournament.
DB Breweries began brewing Heineken under licence in 1994.
The 57-year-old inherited a 25 per cent stake in the Dutch brewer in 2002 following the death of her father, Freddy Heineken.
Beer Brewing
The brewing company was bought by Freddy's - born Alfred Henry - grandfather Gerard Heineken in 1864 in Amsterdam.
Forbes magazine last year estimated her net worth to be about US$7 billion ($8.82 billion).


Broward schools to showcase magnet programs


Students and their parents can get a taste of some the innovative and magnet programs offered in Broward County public schools at the district's annual Showcase on Wednesday.

The event will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.

Representatives from various programs will be on hand, including Nova schools, Broward Virtual and magnet programs.

Students and their parents will also hear about a new magnet program at six middle schools. STEM -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- will be available at Apollo, Lauderhill, Parkway, Margate, McNicol and Silver Lakes middle schools.

All Broward students in kindergarten through 12th grade are eligible to apply to a magnet program. Applicants to middle and high school magnet programs should bring a copy of their recent report card and standardized test scores (FCAT). The application deadline is Feb. 16, 2011.

For more information, visit www.browardschoolsmagnetprograms.com or call the Innovative Programs Office at 754-321-2380.

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Hillary Clinton strategist quits amid Colombia trade flap

By Ellen Wulfhorst
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (Reuters) - The top campaign strategist to Sen. Hillary Clinton, under fire for his meeting with a Colombian diplomat to discuss a free trade deal that the presidential candidate opposes, quit his post on Sunday, the campaign said.
"After the events of the last few days, Mark Penn has asked to give up his role as chief strategist of the Clinton campaign," Clinton's campaign manager, Maggie Williams, said in a statement.
She said Penn and his polling firm Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates Inc., would continue to provide polling and advice to the campaign.
News of Penn's March 31 meeting with Colombian Ambassador Carolina Barco Isakson, in which they discussed a free trade deal, first surfaced on Friday.
Penn apologized for the meeting, which he said he held in his separate role as CEO of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide, a lobbying firm hired by the South American country to help win the approval by the U.S. Congress of a free trade agreement with the United States.
But the issue plagued the campaign of the New York senator, who is vying with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to become the Democratic nominee to run against Republican John McCain in the November election.
A Clinton campaign source said the candidate had been "disappointed" over Penn's meeting.
Over the weekend, Penn decided he should step down, and "Sen. Clinton agreed with him," the campaign source said.


EBR magnets get high marks on evaluation by LSU teacher

An LSU professor gives the East Baton Rouge Parish school system’s magnet program high praise in a new external evaluation.
Eugene Kennedy surveyed parents, teachers and students and interviewed administrators, as well as reviewed a variety of in-house surveys and student testing data for the 13 magnet sites operating in spring 2007. In August, the school system opened a 14th magnet site, at Westdale Middle School.
Kennedy found that the magnet program has “generally attracted and provided an enriched educational experience for participating students.”
“While some programs are less successful than others, the majority appears to be effective educational environments,” he concluded.
Kennedy said the most successful magnet programs were the ones at Baton Rouge Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, and Dufrocq, Forest Heights and South Boulevard, Westdale Heights, as well as those at McKinley and Sherwood middle schools, and Baton Rouge Magnet and Scotlandville high schools.
Magnet schools were created to draw students from a mix of racial backgrounds to attend mostly inner-city schools via the lure of specialized programs and, in many cases, higher admission standards.
Kennedy studied East Baton Rouge Parish’s magnet schools during the spring, submitted his report to the school system in October and presented his findings to the School Board on Thursday.
“I want to thank you for pointing out that the magnet program is definitely on the right track and doing the right thing,” board member Darryl Robertson said after hearing Kennedy’s presentation.
Kennedy found the following:
Magnet students, both black and white, significantly outperform non-magnet students on standardized tests, even when “adjustments are made for prior achievement.” But some programs lag behind in some subjects. For instance, Istrouma High magnet 10th-graders improved as much as the evaluators expected compared to their prior achievement, while Istrouma ninth-graders declined compared to their prior achievement.
Parents, teachers and students generally have positive feelings about their programs.
The programs have been implemented largely as planned and schools had the resources they needed to be successful.
Word of mouth from satisfied parents was the best way to recruit new students. Kennedy conducted his external evaluation just before a settlement in the school system’s desegregation case expired in July 2007. Kennedy divides much of his data between black and non-black students, as was common during the desegregation case.
But with the case over, the school system has rewritten the magnet admission rules so that socioeconomics, not race, is the key determining factor.
School Board member Derrick Spell said that in future evaluations the school system should break out results by student poverty not race.
“I think we need to look at in terms of advantaged and disadvantaged students,” Spell said.
Kennedy’s findings were not completely positive:
Some programs struggled to fill their seats with a diverse set of students, probably because “public perceptions, transportation constraints, as well as the perceived academic reputation of the program.” Most of the schools with recruiting problems are concentrated in north Baton Rouge.
Recruiting and keeping good teachers — “especially those with technical skills” — have been difficult. Teachers leave for jobs in the private sector, other schools and other magnet schools in the system.
Administrators listed problems publicizing their accomplishments as their most significant barrier for recruiting. When asked what they’d like to see changed, parents in the magnet program suggested more field trips, improved building conditions, more computer resources and less homework.

Camouflage Your Fridge With Leave Magnets

By Andrew Liszewski
Even if your fridge is already energy-efficient and eco-friendly, here’s one more way to make it truly ‘green.’ Originally designed by Richard Hutten to be used on the office ceilings of the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, these plastic leaves have a small magnet at the base allowing you to attach them to any metal surface. Besides using them to spruce up a filing cabinet or other metal faced appliances, they’d also come in handy for hiding that rusted out Chevy sitting in the backyard you keep meaning to ‘fix-up’ one of these days.
The Leave Magnets have supposedly been put into production by an office furniture maker called Gispen, but I can’t find any information about them on the company’s website.

Make Regina Leader-Post my start page

MEGA Brands Inc. said today it will conduct a voluntary global recall of its MagnaMan Action Figures and Magtastik and Magnetix Jr. pre-school magnetic toys after more than 44 reports of magnets coming loose in the United States.
The recall is being done in co-operation with the U.S. Consumer Safety Product Commission.
The cost of the recalled products is approximately $7 million, which will be reflected in the company's fourth-quarter results for 2007, the company said in a press release.

The danger leading to the recall is that magnets found by young children can be swallowed or could get caught in the child's wind pipe, the company said. And if more than one magnet is swallowed, the two can attract each other and cause intestinal perforations or blockages. These can be fatal.
MEGA Brands said it was aware of 44 reports in the U.S. of magnets coming loose from the recalled toys, including one report of a three-year-old boy receiving medical treatment to remove a magnet from his nose and one report of an 18-month-old toddler found with a single magnet in his mouth, which was not swallowed.
Consumers are being instructed to stop using the recalled toys and to return them to MEGA Brands for a free replacement.
The design of the recalled product lines is no longer in production.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is warning consumers to return MEGA Brand Magtastik and Magnetix Jr. Pre-School Magnetic Toys.
Nearly four hundred thousand sets have been sold in Canada and more than one million have been sold in the U.S.
Magtastik and Magnetix Jr. toy sets have been sold widely at Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us, K-Mart and other toy stores from January 2005 through December 2007 for between $10 and $40.
The company is also voluntarily recalling MagnaMan Magnetic Action Figures. The toy figures, Futuristic Warrior or Ancient Warrior, have body parts that attach with magnets which can be swallowed or aspirated.
There have been 90,000 MagnaMan sets sold in canada, with seven reports of magnets coming loose. No injuries have been reported.
In the U.S., there have been 25 reports of magnets coming loose from the figures, with no injuries reported.
Both toy sets being recalled are made in China and distributed by MEGA Brands America Inc., of Livingston, N.J.
With files from Becky Rynor, Canwest News Service