• Going under the hood of UK Drivers

    For most of us, if not us all, our vehicles are central parts in the motors of our everyday lives. We drive to work and home at night, to get into town or otherwise away from the hectic rhythm of city living.

    Given their significance, it’s striking how little we know in general about fixing, repairing and maintaining our cars, which Halfords has quantified the extent of in a recent series of graphics titled the Car Maintenance Survey.

    There’s a spread of insights here that surprised and concerned us, but we’ve picked out five that we think are the most important and have given a little explanation why underneath!

    This one left us a little taken aback (no doubt as taken aback as the 16% of 25-35 year olds will be when they learn that it’s under the bonnet, like pretty much everything else). However, the knowledge gap we can sympathise with, to a (fairly limited) point; people leave everything for the mechanic to deal with. It’s more disconcerting, though, that this 16% of people are ones we share the road with!

    Driving with a chipped windscreen is not just a motoring offence; it puts everyone in the car at serious risk of harm from objects like stones dashing from the road at high speeds. Moreover, a small chip grows into a fully shattered pane at an incredible pace. In the event of a crash, a windscreen break can have lethal consequences; the airbag, for instance, may expand outwards through the broken screen, rather than forward towards the people inside, providing an absolutely insufficient protection in so doing.

    Again, some of the data that Halfords has gathered is mindboggling. You’re a serious risk on the roads when driving without adequate visibility, more to other people than yourself. It’s a selfish, reckless move and really surprising that it’s something that one in four people would choose to do, particularly, of all places, in London.

    There are pretty standard tests you can use to ensure that your tyres remain in fine, working stead. Halfords have compiled a nifty guide that anyone with any uncertainties should check out!

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  • Just Where Are The Best Deals on Wheels?

    When looking to buy a car there is certainly no shortage of choice. The UK has over 4,900 franchised dealers plus many more generalists. Car auctions, internet sites and private ads offer even more options but this still leaves many buyers wondering just where is the best place to get a really good deal.

    For most people, a car is likely to be the second most expensive single item that they will ever buy and so it is important to get it right. There is certainly plenty of choice and if you are looking to buy a used car in the London area, it is possible to find almost every conceivable make and model within a radius of a few miles. The first decision is whether to buy new or second-hand. New car sales are booming, fuelled largely by some of the new methods of financing them such as personal contract plans and leasing as new recruits to the world of motoring consider car ownership very much along the same lines as mobile phone contracts with a continuous monthly charge and regular upgrades being the order of the day. The canny buyer, however, realises that such a throw-away mentality results in some great cars appearing on the second-hand market and it usually means that the first owner has paid dearly for the privilege of new car ownership or lease. A car’s value depends on several things but one of the most predictable is its age and the depreciation curve is invariably steeper in its early days.

    By steering clear of the lure of new cars, a buyer may suddenly realise that his budget will now stretch to a much better specified car. Most car purchases involve the heart more than the head and even our London buyer may fancifully visualise cruising along deserted country roads with the roof down whereas, in reality, a nose-to-tail daily commute is probably much more likely with emission levels and congestion charges figuring highly in any car buying decision.

    There are undoubtedly some great bargains to be found but the risks should not be underestimated. Perhaps the ideal car could be almost new or fairly young, low mileage, well maintained and with a known history. An ex-demonstrator from a franchised dealer or an ex-lease car could probably fit the bill and some of those previously used by disabled people under the Motability leasing scheme can often be exceptionally good but the range of vehicles on offer may be rather limited. Buying ex-fleet vehicles is another option to be considered but some of these may have covered high mileages and a used taxi or minibus is certainly not to be recommended.

    Another interesting idea is to check what vehicles are available from car rental companies such as those offered under the Hertz Rent2Buy scheme. The idea that ex-rental cars have been roughly treated by uncaring drivers is simply not borne out by the facts and there are some real gems to be found. Hertz even allow for an extended test drive in the form of rental for a few days so there should be no unpleasant surprises here!

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  • Margot Robbie’s high-speed Monaco glide

    Watch this cool video of Wolf of Wall Street star Margot Robbie driving a 100% electric Nissan BladeGlider through the streets of Monte Carlo.

    The actress tested the Nissan BladeGlider – which can hit 62mph in less than five seconds – against an identical car on closed roads in the iconic French Riviera Principality.

    The three-seater prototype, which hits 100km/h in less than five seconds, challenges the conventional thinking of what an all-electric sports car could look like in the future.

    Showcasing all the fun and excitement of pure electric vehicles, the concept is part of Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility vision of how cars should be driven, powered and integrated into society.

    In the video, the Suicide Squad and The Wolf of Wall Street star is also seen demonstrating the drifting prowess of Nissan BladeGlider around one of the most famous corners in the world of motorsport – the iconic Fairmont Hairpin.

    “It’s a really exciting time for electric vehicles,” said Margot, Nissan’s first electric vehicle ambassador.

    “More people are choosing to go electric, leading the way to a more sustainable future and the Nissan BladeGlider hints at the future of smarter performance cars.”

    The post Margot Robbie’s high-speed Monaco glide appeared first on Automotive Blog.

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  • IR X RM Outback Motorcycle Shoes – Ridgemont Outfitters & Iron Resin

    The IR X RM Outback motorcycle shoes are an interesting collaboration between two South California clothing companies. Ridgemont Outfitters has produced boots and shoes for a while, while Iron and Resin sell a range of clothing for motorcyclists, skaters, and surfers. So now they’ve teamed up to produce something that looks good and works well for bikers.

    IR X RM Outback Motorcycle Shoes Ridgemont Outfitters and Iron Resin
    The IR X RM Motorcycle Shoes

    The result is the IR X RM Outback, which features genuine Horween full-grain leather sourced from their Chicago tannery. The main upper uses 2.5mm thick pieces in the construction, along with a super soft and durable oiled suede collar.

    In terms of practicality, the toe cap has been extended compared to normal Ridgemont boots to give protection from gear shift levers. And they’ve done the same on both boots to accomodate anyone with their shifter on the right side, for instance, vintage British bikes.

    On the bottom is a Vari-flex Bi Fit lasting board, which apparently has been stiffened from the heel to the middle of the foot in case you still have to deal with a kickstart. But the front is flexible enough for walking.

    There’s more protection with an internal nylon malleolus protector hidden in the suede collar to help look after your ankles, and a thermal plastic heel counter.

    IR X RM Outback Motorcycle Shoes Ridegmont Outfitters Iron Resin Diagram
    A photo of the IR X RM Outback motorcycle shoes. With some words and lines on it

    So here’s where it gets even more interesting. The existing Ridgemont line are reasonably priced for both the UK and US. But the companies have decided to test the demand for the new IR X RM Outback motorcycle shoes by running a Kickstarter campaign.

    If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s actually not bike-related. It’s what’s known as a ‘crowdfunding’ site, where interested backers can invest in a future product in advance, and usually get something extra for their support. Each project has a limited time to reach a set goal, and if it succeeds, they get your money, make the products and ship them to you. If they don’t reach the goal, then you don’t pay.

    There is a slight caveat to that, as you’re investing in a project rather than pre-ordering a product, and some risks are involved. But basically, you can invest and get a pair of shoes in your choice of Black or Brown Horween leather for $165, which is 45% off the planned normal retail price of $295. And $200 gets you a pair of shoes, a T-shirt and a leather key chain. The estimated delivery is June 2017.

    If you interested, the Iron and Resin by Ridgemont Outback Riding Shoes Campaign aims to hit $60,000, and ends on Saturday, February 18th, 2017. Each of the discount packages is limited to the first 100 or 200 backers. The IR X RM Outback Motorcycle Shoe will be produced in US mens sizes 5-12 with half size increments, and also a size 13, in a medium width. T-Shirts are in sizes XS-XXL.

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  • What Protects You While You’re Driving?

    Whether you’re working on it, walking on it or driving on it, staying safe on the road is essential. But what are the driving devices and roadway essentials which help to keep everyone safe on UK roads?

    In the Vehicle

    Automobile safety is an integral part of modern car design and a real focus for manufacturers. New innovations and improved systems continue to be developed in line with technological advances, with many safety devices now being incorporated as standard into cars:

    • Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) – this system prevents the wheels from locking during heavy braking, to help drivers to maintain control of vehicle. This helps ensure more effective stopping within average stopping distances and particularly upon skid-likely surfaces, such as wet roads or in icy conditions.
    • Electronic stability control – this system is the next up generation from ABS and includes a system of traction control. This corrects driver error by stablising the vehicle and reducing the risk of the driver losing control of the vehicle, for example in a skid. This system varies between vehicle manufacturers and may also be known as vehicle stability control.
    • Brake assist – this system ensures that maximum pressure is exerted when brakes are applied in an emergency. As manual emergency braking sometimes fails because drivers may depress the brake pedal insufficiently, so the brakes fail to engage on the wheels, brake assist technology assesses how quickly the brake has been applied and identifies if it’s likely to be an emergency. If it judges so, then brakes are fully applied via the hydraulic pressure system.
    • Lane keeping and adaptive steering – this system is a branch of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) which provides benefits such as cruise control. However, lane keeping and adaptive steering systems put greater emphasis on safety rather than comfort, specifically through aiming to maintain a vehicle’s correct position on the road by utilising lane markings at the side of the car. Any deviation from the correct position and the system alerts the driver so that correction can be made manually. Future development of this system proposes that it will work similarly to brake assist, with the system making the correction automatically.

    Many versions of these technologies are already fitted to modern vehicles and continue to be developed as part of a deal to provide better protection for road users, including pedestrians.

    On the road

    Roadways and surfaces themselves also incorporate safety devices for speed control, accident prevention and risk management:

    • Road humps – also known as sleeping policemen to reflecting their more manual speed-prevention origins, road humps aim to deter speeding by preventing vehicles from speeding up along flat roads. Road humps are commonly found in residential areas, but not main bus routes as the hump height causes passenger discomfort. The humps need to be spaced fairly close together to be effective and must be accompanied by relevant signage at each end of the hump run.
    • Rumble strips – this is the name given to a variegated road surface which is generally applied as a layer to the roadway. When reaching this stretch of the road, the driver is immediately alerted to the need to adhere to speed limits, through the in-car feedback from the suspension and driving wheel, which will sound and feel different, specifically with a low rumble. With their specific aim to alert drivers to reduce their speeds, rumble strips can often be found at the edges of vulnerable roadsides, on the approach to junctions and where faster sections of A roads enter residential areas. Rumble strips tend to be used in outlying areas of towns and villages as they literally sound as they are named and the rumble of a steady stream of traffic can cause a noise-nuisance to residents.  This road safety device is also deployed as transverse rumble strips, which run across the whole carriageway rather than just alongside it, whilst an additional version, known as Dragon’s Teeth, is applied along with a visible narrowing of the road, to also support accident prevention.
    • Speed cushions – as an alternative to road humps, speed cushions are a speed control method developed to cause standard vehicles to slow down, but allow emergency vehicle and public transport drivers through safely at normal speeds. Speed cushions offer an optimum size and placement so that smaller vehicles have to slow down to drive over the cushions, but buses and emergency vehicles are able to straddle the cushions and proceed normally. Cushions are generally installed at regular intervals along the roadway where speed reduction is required, such as in the neighbourhood of schools or pedestrian areas.
    • Pedestrian safety – pedestrians are encouraged to cross roads safely using designated zones such as crossings and traffic island refuges, which are highly visible to traffic.

    Roadside safety

    Roadside safety is additionally important as it needs to respond to the needs of road workers, as well as the public and road users. The mainstay of roadside safety is crash barriers, which tend to be deployed with safety and risk reduction, rather than speed reduction in mind.

    • Safety barriers – permanent motorway and roadside barriers aim to minimise risk through containment: keeping an errant vehicle on its own side of the carriageway. This method does include the risk of impact and crash injuries to the driver, but with the effect of preventing the vehicle from advancing to the other side of the barrier where there may be a greater hazard. As such, permanent safety barriers are installed only when it presents less risk for an errant vehicle to strike the barrier than to continue onwards at speed.  Permanent barriers of flexible steel construction have frequently been used to facilitate containment, but many have proven vulnerable over time. As such, there is a current move by the Highways Agency to replace many steel barriers with concrete barriers to increase containment, particularly where installed as a central reservation barrier.
    •  Temporary barriers – one example of a temporary barrier solution is the MASS (Multi-Use Safety System) barrier. MASS barriers are designed to actively absorb the impact of a vehicle and use this to stabilise the barrier, both reducing the vehicle’s speed and deflecting the vehicle along the barrier line. Because MASS barriers offer a stable but non-permanent fixing, they are quick and easy to install and reposition at short notice to keep users on all sides of the barrier safe.

    Finally, as these innovations continue to develop and change, one of the simplest road safety devices which is essential is road safety awareness: being aware of the roadway environment, conditions, restrictions and changes is a key way to make best use of all road safety devices and to help keep all road users safe.

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