July 23, 2006

Spyker/Koga-Miyata Aeroblade bicycle

Dutch carmaker Spyker produces some of the most unique vehicles on the market (their creative designs, some might say, more appreciated after a visit to Amsterdam). The Spyker C8 exotic sportscar line is exceeded in its uniqueness only by the upcoming D12 Peking-to-Paris “super sport utility vehicle”.

Spyker has now teamed up with Koga-Miyata to produce the Aeroblade, an astonishing creation of aluminum, titanium and carbon composites. The breathtaking cycles feature Spyker’s racing colors, are built-to-order in a limited edition of only fifty, and cost 12,500 euros.

I inherited a Koga Miyata from my uncle when he couldn’t use it any more, and can only assume the Aeroblade will ride just as smooth.

For additional photos and more information, go to Classic Driver or the Koga-Miyata website.

July 17, 2006

New Acer Ferrari 1000 & 5000 notebooks

The newest products of the collaboration between Acer and Ferrari are set to hit the market at the end of the month. This time around, Acer decided to go with two parallel models: the 5000 desktop replacement with a 15.4” widescreen display, and the 1000 ultra-portable with a 12.1” display. The new Acer Ferrari notebooks are set to be among the first on the market to utilize the new AMD Terion dual-core 64-bit processor.

The new laptops feature a slick carbon-fiber case with the Ferrari logo and red stripe. The 5000 comes packed with all the latest features, including a 160GB hard-drive, trick slot-loading HD-DVD optical drive, wireless a/b/g, Bluetooth 2.0, multi-format memory-card reader, and bundled VoIP phone. Meanwhile the Acer Ferrari 1000 itself packs an impressive features list into a compact 3.7- pound package.

The new models replace the 4000-series currently on the market, which in turn replaced the 3000-series. Some dismiss the Acer-Ferrari collaboration as a mere sales gimmick, but my experience has been otherwise: I’m writing this entry, like every other, from my Acer Ferrari 3200, which I acquired two years ago, having found its impressive features list a good value and the overall package a unique purchase. My experience has been a good one, and it turns heads like nothing else on the market (which can, mind you, be a liability).

The Acer Ferrari line has been around longer than the Asus Lamborghini or the Itronix HUMMER, and in my humble opinion, presents a better package.

Read the Acer press release at Rideroom, or view more pictures at LaptopLogic.com.

The Formula 1 Collection

While NASCAR has long been simultaneously promoting their identity and capitalizing on it through merchandizing, Formula 1 was missing the boat. The newly-launched Formula 1 Collection seeks to rectify the situation with a new line of merchandise, available exclusively online at formula1.com.

The collection is neatly divided into four lines by their construction: Cotton (t-shirts, polos, caps), Carbon (watches, mousepads, keychains), Leather (wallets, portfolios, photo frames), and Other (stationary, DVDs). The items on offer in this initial collection are tastefully designed with a discreet F1 logo and are by-and-large quietly understated. And while that’s a welcome approach amidst team merchandise that’s often loud and overstated, it doesn’t quite match the image of F1 racing.

Some of the products in the collections are quite run-of-the-mill, like the t-shirts and notepads. Others are completely pointless, like a carbon fiber mouse-pad. (When was the last time you used a mouse-pad?) Some are quite unique, like the Swarovsky crystal-embedded logo caps. The collection also includes some of the more mundane timepieces from the officially-licensed (and ironically-named) Jacques LeMans Formula 1 Collection, whose carbon fiber face notwithstanding, don’t seem like anything special (the full collection can be seen at Jacques-LeMans.com).

The entire collection seems to be built around the F1 logo, which is a nice enough design, but it hardly sends me searching for my wallet. All in all, although there are some interesting items, I struggle to find much in the collection that I’d actually want to buy. It is a nice enough collection to keep me watching for the next, though, in the hope that maybe they’ll offer something irresistible enough to separate me from my hard-earned cash.

See the entire F1 Collection at f1store.formula1.com.

July 16, 2006

Vertu Ascent Racetrack Legends phones

Even among the sleekest cell-phones on the market, Vertu stands out. Nokia's ultra-premium brand features artful design, high-tech construction and premium materials.

Vertu handsets are made from a special alloy called "liquidmetal" (purportedly developed for NASA), surgical-grade steel, silicon-padded top-stitched leather, sapphire crystal displays, and a scratch-resistant keypad supported by ruby bearings.

As it is – although I've personally never seen one up close – the Vertu Ascent (one of two lines offered, along with the slender Signature model) strikes me as one of the slickest gizmos money can buy. And in this case, it’s a lot of money, retailing in the neighborhood of $5000. (That's not a typo.)

Now imagine boosting the octane. The limited-production Racetrack Legends series is a gear-head's dreamphone. The special edition Ascent features rubber trim with a tire-tread pattern (instead of leather), a number plate and a laser-etched racetrack layout on the battery cover.

Six models are to be built in the series, each limited-production run of 1000 paying homage to a different race track. Only the first two are currently available: Monza (in red) and Silverstone (green), matching the track to its country's historical national racing color. (I'd speculate Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps in yellow, the Nurburgring in silver, and either Magny-Cours or Le Mans in French racing blue might be next in the series.)

The entire Ascent line hosts the usual barrage of features including GSM tri-band connection, Bluetooth, PC synchronization and all the rest. While you might expect that a $5000 phone would also include a camera and an MP3 player, there's something to be said for purity of purpose and design. (Especially when compared to my Motorola MPx220 that does everything, but nothing well.)

Visit Vertu.com for a closer look.

July 07, 2006

Pirelli PZero timepieces

In North America, Pirelli is another tire manufacturer, in the same vein as Goodyear, Bridgestone, or Michelin. In Europe, however, the Pirelli name means a great deal more. Pirelli produces such short films as The Call, starring John Malkovitch and Naomi Campbell, and directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Tears of the Sun). Pirelli's exclusive calendar each year features some of the world's most beautiful models in the most dramatic shots. And Pirelli offers a line of chic clothing, shoes and accessories (comparable to Prada, only more car-oriented than sailing).

In our very first article, Into Gear looks at what could very well be the most stylish car watch on the market today, part of the Pirelli PZero collection.

Made for Pirelli by the Swiss/Italian watchmakers Sector, the PZero watches feature a case constructed from stainless steel and titanium. However the most striking feature is the band, made from vulcanized rubber and formed into a unique tire-tread pattern, split in the top portion, coming together below a polished metal bar, and closing at the back with a steel “butterfly” clasp, the type normally seen on leather-band watches much farther upscale. The sapphire crystal features anti-glare coating on both sides.

The collection features a range of different models, featuring quartz, mechanical, chronograph and multifunction “Anadigit” Swiss movements. The watches can be had in a number of colors, including red, orange, yellow, blue and white, but the basic black is the truest to the tire-tread motif. Online watch merchants Tourneau.com (for example) sell the quartz chronograph at $690 and the Anadigit model for $790.

I was fortunate enough to acquire one for myself from a retailer in Belgium. The unique strap proved difficult to adjust (it took a professional watch repairman the better part of an afternoon to figure out, and then I had to send it in for service to get it done properly). The grief is well worth it, though, for one of the most striking watches on the market, at any price point.

Watch this space for future reviews of other items from the Pirelli PZero collection. For more information, visit http://www.pzeroweb.com/.

July 05, 2006

Introducing INTO GEAR

Welcome to Into Gear! Here you'll find new articles on all sorts of gear related to cars, including watches, jackets, scale models, driving shoes, automotive-inspired electronics...the works! Everything short of the cars themselves - there's already plenty of quality car blogs out there (Autoblog and ItaliaSpeed are a couple of my favorites).

What criteria determines what is featured on these pages? Simply put, I go by what appeals to me. Meanwhile your comments and suggestions are most welcome, and I hope this blog will continue to grow as a result.

Stop by often, check for new entries, and shift into gear.