The gas-guzzling engine of yore has been replaced by a 30 aH lithium-ion battery.
It takes a lot of guts to mess with a bellissimo Vespa. The iconic scooter, which was designed by Corradino D’Ascanio and released by Piaggio in 1946, is beloved the world over. In fact, more than 16 million Vespas have been made to-date and garnered one helluva loyal fanbase. But, that hasn’t stopped one India-based design firm from penning a disruptive new take.
Mightyseed’s electrifying concept reimagines the classic scooter as a modern battery-powered ride. Like its muse, the “Vespa 98” still has a simple silhouette, step-through frame and artfully concealed mechanics. It also exudes the same playfulness for which the original two-wheeler is renowned. But it’s been equipped with a spate of futuristic features to bring the bike full speed into the 21st century
The gas-guzzling engine of yore has been replaced by a 30 aH lithium-ion battery and hub-mounted motor. This not only gives the rider extra storage under the seat; it reduces the carbon emissions to zero. The rearview mirrors have been swapped for an intuitive LIDAR system, which is essentially a fancy sensor that allows riders to “see” what’s around them (road hazards, oncoming vehicles, pedestrians, etc.). And the seat has also been reduced in size.
Surprisingly, it’s the handlebar area where the designers have really switched things up. They’ve eschewed the Vespa’s signature round headlight in favor of a minimalist LED strip that sits atop the front fender, offering a futuristic digital display, which runs across the decidedly svelte bars. These features alone give the bike a next-gen feel that’s sure to appeal to tech-heads.
The scooter’s outer shell sports a pale blue gloss finish, which is juxtaposed by two neon yellow pinstripes that run down the backside. It’s not the most groundbreaking paint job, but it’s appealing nonetheless.
“The Vespa 98 project was an in-house self-initiated project and the inspiration was Corradino D’Ascanio’s adored Vespa,” Mightyseed’s co-founder and principal designer, Bonny Sunny, told Robb Report. “We added the flavor to look relevant for modern times.”
The firm didn’t divulge whether this Vespa will roll into production. But count us among those hoping to see this Vespa on the road.
It’s no secret that beach clubs have become a popular addition to luxury yachts, but the one that adorns the new megayacht Indah is unlike anything currently on the seas. In fact, it’s more like an epic waterfront entertainment venue, offering enough space for you, your friends and even your friends’ friends to enjoy.
The oversized beach club is the centerpiece of the 394-foot concept, which was penned by Opalinski Design House. The vessel sports a sleek steel hull, an aluminum superstructure and a wave-piercing vertical bow. It also features some nifty, origami-like engineering to give it more space aft.
The patented design is equipped with rotating transom bulkheads that expand outwards to reveal additional decking. These extended decks are then raised to level with the swim platform to create a sprawling beach club. This space features sunpads for seaside chilling, along with a gym and sauna that are discreetly hidden behind tinted glass. Seafarers will also have direct access to tenders, which can pull up next to the openings in the bulkheads.
The vessel with the rotating transom bulkheads closed. Opalinski Design House
Beyond the beach club, Indah, which means “beautiful one” in Indonesian, features a massive 5,500 GT interior and a myriad of luxurious amenities. She can accommodate a total of 24 guests across 12 cabins and the generous owner’s suite comes complete with its own dedicated aft deck balcony. She can also sleep a total 32 crew.
Elsewhere, Indah offers a foredeck jacuzzi with sunbeds and a retractable sunshade, a sizable aft pool that overlooks the beach club, along with a haul of water toys. Owners can also choose to add a helicopter landing pad and hangar for further exploration at sea.
The vessel with the rotating transom bulkheads extended. Opalinski Design House
Billed as a “true ocean-going vessel,” Indah will be fitted with a diesel-electric propulsion package for cleaner and efficient cruising. She will be powered by four MTU16V engines that together deliver a top speed of 24 knots and a range of 7,000 nautical miles. She will also have solar generating surface coatings and vertical wind turbines onboard to produce green energy.
Although Indah is just a concept at this stage, the firm is currently offering to license the rotational transom bulkheads to selected manufacturers. That means we may be seeing many more ginormous beach clubs in the future.
Our Sun is a normal main-sequence G2 star, one of more than 100 billion stars in our galaxy but although The sun may appear to be the largest star in the sky, that’s just because it’s the closest. On a stellar scale, it’s really quite average — about half of the known stars are larger; half are smaller. The largest known star in the universe is UY Scuti, a hypergiant with a radius around 1,700 times larger than the sun. And it’s not alone in dwarfing Earth’s dominant star.
The largest of all
In 1860, German astronomers at the Bonn Observatory first cataloged UY Scuti, naming it BD -12 5055. During a second detection, the astronomers realized it grows brighter and dimmer over a 740-day period, leading astronomers to classify it as a variable star. The star lies near the center of the Milky Way, roughly 9,500 light-years away.
Located in the constellation Scutum, UY Scuti is a hypergiant, the classification that comes after supergiant, which itself comes after giant. Hypergiants are rare stars that shine very brightly. They lose much of their mass through fast-moving stellar winds.
Of course, all stellar sizes are estimates, based on measurements taken from far away.
“The complication with stars is that they have diffuse edges,” wrote astronomer Jillian Scudder of the University of Sussex. “Most stars don’t have a rigid surface where the gas ends and vacuum begins, which would have served as a harsh dividing line and easy marker of the end of the star.”
Instead, astronomers rely on a star’s photosphere, where the star becomes transparent to light and the particles of light, or photons, can escape the star.
“As far as an astrophysicist is concerned, this is the surface of the star, as this is the point at which photons can leave the star,” Scudder said.
If UY Scuti replaced the sun in the center of the solar system, its photosphere would extend just beyond the orbit of Jupiter. The nebula of gas stripped from the star extends even farther out, beyond the orbit of Pluto to 400 times time the Earth-sun distance.
But UY Scuti doesn’t remain stagnant. Scudder pointed out that the star varies in brightness as it varies in radius, with a margin of error of about 192 solar radii. These errors could allow other stars to beat out UY Scuti in the race for size. In fact, there are as many as 30 stars whose radii fit within UY Scuti’s smallest estimated size, so it shouldn’t sit too securely on its throne.
Nor does UY Scuti’s large radius make it the most massive star. That honor goes to R136a1, which weighs in at about 300 times the mass of the sun but only about 30 solar radii. UY Scuti, in comparison, is only about 30 times more massive than the sun.
So which star would take UY Scuti’s place if it weren’t exactly 1,708 solar radii? Here are a few of the stars that might dominate:
WOH G64, measuring 1,504 to 1,730 solar radii. It is a red hypergiant star in the Large Magellanic Cloud (a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way). Like UY Scuti, it varies in brightness. Some estimates have placed its radius as high as 3,000 solar radii. Variations are due in part to the presence of dust, which affects the brightness of the star and its related radius.
RW Cephei, at 1,535 solar radii. This star is an orange hypergiant in the constellation of Cepheus, and also a variable star.
Westerlund 1-26, which comes in at 1,530 to 2,550 solar radii. If the upper estimate is correct, its photosphere would engulf the orbit of Saturn if the star were placed at the center of the solar system. The star changes its temperature but not its brightness.
KY Cygni, at 1,420 to 2,850 solar radii. It’s a red supergiant in the constellation Cygnus. The upper estimate is considered by astronomers to be dubious due to an observational error, while the lower estimate is consistent with other stars from the same survey, as well as theoretical models of stellar evolution.
VY Canis Majoris, ranging from 1,300 to 1,540 solar radii. This red hypergiant star was previously estimated to be 1,800 to 2,200 solar radii, but that size put it outside the bounds of stellar evolutionary theory. New measurements brought it down to size. (Some sources still list it as the largest star.)
History of The Sun
The Sun is by far the largest object in the solar system. It contains more than 99.8% of the total mass of the Solar System (Jupiter contains most of the rest).
It is often said that the Sun is an “ordinary” star. That’s true in the sense that there are many others similar to it. But there are many more smaller stars than larger ones; the Sun is in the top 10% by mass. The median size of stars in our galaxy is probably less than half the mass of the Sun.
The Sun is personified in many mythologies: the Greeks called it Helios and the Romans called it Sol.
The Sun is, at present, about 70% hydrogen and 28% helium by mass everything else (“metals”) amounts to less than 2%. This changes slowly over time as the Sun converts hydrogen to helium in its core.
The outer layers of the Sun exhibit differential rotation: at the equator the surface rotates once every 25.4 days; near the poles it’s as much as 36 days. This odd behavior is due to the fact that the Sun is not a solid body like the Earth. Similar effects are seen in the gas planets. The differential rotation extends considerably down into the interior of the Sun but the core of the Sun rotates as a solid body.
Conditions at the Sun’s core (approximately the inner 25% of its radius) are extreme. The temperature is 15.6 million Kelvin and the pressure is 250 billion atmospheres. At the center of the core the Sun’s density is more than 150 times that of water.
The Sun’s power (about 386 billion billion mega Watts) is produced by nuclear fusion reactions. Each second about 700,000,000 tons of hydrogen are converted to about 695,000,000 tons of helium and 5,000,000 tons (=3.86e33 ergs) of energy in the form of gamma rays. As it travels out toward the surface, the energy is continuously absorbed and re-emitted at lower and lower temperatures so that by the time it reaches the surface, it is primarily visible light. For the last 20% of the way to the surface the energy is carried more by convection than by radiation.
The surface of the Sun, called the photosphere, is at a temperature of about 5800 K. Sunspots are “cool” regions, only 3800 K (they look dark only by comparison with the surrounding regions). Sunspots can be very large, as much as 50,000 km in diameter. Sunspots are caused by complicated and not very well understood interactions with the Sun’s magnetic field.
A small region known as the chromosphere lies above the photosphere.
The highly rarefied region above the chromosphere, called the corona, extends millions of kilometers into space but is visible only during a total solar eclipse (left). Temperatures in the corona are over 1,000,000 K.
It just happens that the Moon and the Sun appear the same size in the sky as viewed from the Earth. And since the Moon orbits the Earth in approximately the same plane as the Earth’s orbit around the Sun sometimes the Moon comes directly between the Earth and the Sun. This is called a solar eclipse; if the alignment is slighly imperfect then the Moon covers only part of the Sun’s disk and the event is called a partial eclipse. When it lines up perfectly the entire solar disk is blocked and it is called a total eclipse of the Sun. Partial eclipses are visible over a wide area of the Earth but the region from which a total eclipse is visible, called the path of totality, is very narrow, just a few kilometers (though it is usually thousands of kilometers long). Eclipses of the Sun happen once or twice a year. If you stay home, you’re likely to see a partial eclipse several times per decade. But since the path of totality is so small it is very unlikely that it will cross you home. So people often travel half way around the world just to see a total solar eclipse. To stand in the shadow of the Moon is an awesome experience. For a few precious minutes it gets dark in the middle of the day. The stars come out. The animals and birds think it’s time to sleep. And you can see the solar corona. It is well worth a major journey.
The Sun’s magnetic field is very strong (by terrestrial standards) and very complicated. Its magnetosphere (also known as the heliosphere) extends well beyond Pluto.
In addition to heat and light, the Sun also emits a low density stream of charged particles (mostly electrons and protons) known as the solar wind which propagates throughout the solar system at about 450 km/sec. The solar wind and the much higher energy particles ejected by solar flares can have dramatic effects on the Earth ranging from power line surges to radio interference to the beautiful aurora borealis.
Recent data from the spacecraft Ulysses show that during the minimum of the solar cycle the solar wind emanating from the polar regions flows at nearly double the rate, 750 kilometers per second, than it does at lower latitudes. The composition of the solar wind also appears to differ in the polar regions. During the solar maximum, however, the solar wind moves at an intermediate speed.
Further study of the solar wind will be done by Wind, ACE and SOHO spacecraft from the dynamically stable vantage point directly between the Earth and the Sun about 1.6 million km from Earth.
The solar wind has large effects on the tails of comets and even has measurable effects on the trajectories of spacecraft.
Spectacular loops and prominences are often visible on the Sun’s limb (left).
The Sun’s output is not entirely constant. Nor is the amount of sunspot activity. There was a period of very low sunspot activity in the latter half of the 17th century called the Maunder Minimum. It coincides with an abnormally cold period in northern Europe sometimes known as the Little Ice Age. Since the formation of the solar system the Sun’s output has increased by about 40%.
The Sun is about 4.5 billion years old. Since its birth it has used up about half of the hydrogen in its core. It will continue to radiate “peacefully” for another 5 billion years or so (although its luminosity will approximately double in that time). But eventually it will run out of hydrogen fuel. It will then be forced into radical changes which, though commonplace by stellar standards, will result in the total destruction of the Earth (and probably the creation of a planetary nebula).
The Sun’s satellites
There are eight planets and a large number of smaller objects orbiting the Sun. (Exactly which bodies should be classified as planets and which as “smaller objects” has been the source of some controversy, but in the end it is really only a matter of definition. Pluto is no longer officially a planet but we’ll keep it here for history’s sake.)
Is there a causal connection between the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice Age or was it just a coincidence? How does the variability of the Sun affect the Earth’s climate?
Since all the planets except Pluto orbit the Sun within a few degrees of the plane of the Sun’s equator, we know very little about the interplanetary environment outside that plane. The Ulysses mission will provide information about the polar regions of the Sun.
The corona is much hotter than the photosphere. Why?
Interesting Facts about the Sun
The Sun is one of the millions of stars in the solar system. It is, however, larger than most (although not the biggest) and a very special star to us. Without the Sun there would be absolutely no life on Earth.
The Sun is 870,000 miles (1.4 million kilometers) across. This is so big it is hard to imagine, but it would take more than one million Earths to fill the size of the Sun!
The Sun is so big it takes up 99% of the matter in our solar system. The 1% left over is taken up by planets, asteroids, moons and other matter.
The Sun is about 4.5 billion years old. It is thought to be halfway through its lifetime. Stars get bigger as they get older.
As the Sun ages, it will get bigger. When this happens, it will consume some of the things close to it, and this includes Mercury, Venus and maybe even Earth and Mars. Luckily this is billions of years in the future.
The Sun is the centre of the solar system.
The Sun is 92.96 million miles (149.6 kilometers) away from Earth.
The Sun is made of a ball of burning gases. These gases are 92.1% hydrogen and 7.8% helium.
The sunlight we see on Earth left the Sun 8 minutes ago. This is the length of time it takes for the light to travel the distance between the Sun and the Earth.
When the moon goes around the Earth, it sometimes finds itself between the Earth and the Sun. This is called a solar eclipse and makes the Earth dark whilst the moon shuts out most of the Sun’s light. This only lasts for a couple of hours while the moon continues its rotation and moves out of the way of the sun.
In ancient astronomy, it was thought that the Sun moved. People believed that the Earth stayed still and the Sun rotated around it.
About 2000 years ago some began to think it was the Sun that stays still whilst the planets make a path around it. This only became an accepted theory around the 1600s when Isaac Newton proposed the sun-centric solar system.
The Sun is almost a perfect sphere. It is the closest thing to a sphere found in nature with only a 6.2 mile (10 kilometres) difference between its vertical and horizontal measurements.
The Sun’s core is extremely hot! An unthinkable 13,600,000 degrees Celcius!
The Sun has a very big magnetic field. It is the most powerful magnetic field in the whole solar system. This field is regenerating itself, but scientists are unsure how.
The Sun produces solar winds. These are a stream of particles from the Sun that stream out into space. This is why planets atmospheres are so important. They protect the planet from these solar winds.
The Sun rotates but not as Earth does. On Earth, the planet is rotating at the same speed no matter where you are. The Sun does not rotate like a solid object and is spinning faster at its equator than it is at its poles. It is complicated to say how fast the Sun is spinning but depending whereabouts on the Sun you are looking at it takes between 24 and 38 days to spin around.
The Sun has been both worshipped and feared throughout history by a variety of cultures.
Nokia is back. The brand is being used on phones again after Microsoft retired it on its own devices a couple of years ago.
Finnish manufacturer HMD Global Oy is releasing new Nokia handsets, this time loaded with Android, and we’re extremely happy to see the famous label once again back where it belongs. It is even tipped to be announcing a refresh of the amazing, classic 3310. Huzzah!
To celebrate, we’ve handpicked some of our favourite Nokia mobile phones from the last 30 years or so. We’ve also chucked in some stinkers too.
So here are the best and, frankly, worst and weirdest Nokia handsets we all remember, as we look forward to the Android Nokia phones of the future.
Nokia 3310 (2000)
Perhaps the most iconic of all Nokia handsets, the 3310 was the phone that really took the interchangeable covers craze to all-new levels. It was also a hardy device – we know as we accidentally lobbed a fair few of them across car parks and down streets, but they continued to work.
Nokia 6310 (2001)
Business types loved the 6310 and 6310i (and the similar looking 6210 before them). It was more professional looking than the 3310, but still offered a degree of customisation in an interchangeable plate at the bottom. The “i” version added a backlit screen and tri-band connectivity.
Nokia Lumia 1020 (2013)
Described as a Windows Phone 8-powered cameraphone, the 1020 notably featured a PureView Pro camera with a 41-megapixel image sensor. It was also the last Nokia phone made before Microsoft announced it would acquire Nokia’s phone business.
Nokia 808 Pureview (2012)
The 808 was Nokia’s last Symbian-powered smartphone. It was also the first phone to feature Nokia’s PureView Pro technology.
Nokia 1280 (2010)
Despite a clear demand for everything smart, Nokia went ahead with this affordable ultrabasic dual-band GSM mobile phone… in 2010.
Nokia N-Gage (2002)
The N-Gage was Nokia’s attempt to win over GameBoy users. It was a gaming device and mobile phone in one, though gamers scoffed at the phone and described it as looking like a taco.
Nokia N95 (2007)
Coming with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G connectivity, the Nokia N95 was a truly “smart” phone for its day. The battery took some bashing however, thanks to all the tech crammed inside, and it needed charging often.
Nokia N81 (2007)
The N81 was marketed as a mobile gaming device – similar to the N-Gage – and was notable for being the only N-Gage 2.0 device with special gaming keys.
Nokia 5300 (2006)
The 5300 was reportedly the most popular (in regards to the number of units sold) of all the XpressMusic phones, a line of Nokia phones that was designed for music playback.
Nokia N70 (2005)
The N70 was a 3G mobile phone. It was announced as part of Nokia’s brand new line of N-series multimedia phones.
Nokia 6280 (2005)
The 6280 was another 3G mobile phone. It had a slide form factor and 2.2-inch colour TFT screen.
Nokia 3250 (2005)
The 3250 was a unique mobile phone that featured a twist design, traditional phone keypad, camera, and dedicated music control keys.
Nokia 1100 (2005)
The 1100 was a basic GSM mobile phone. Nokia claimed in 2011 that the phone was once owned by 250 million people, making it the world’s most popular phone at that time.
Nokia 8800 (2005)
The 8800 was a slider phone. It was different in that it had a stainless-steel housing and a scratch-resistant screen.
Nokia N90 (2005)
The N90 was another phone under the N-series but stood out for its swivel design that transformed the device into four different modes.
Nokia 7710 (2005)
The 7710 was a smartphone widely known as being Nokia’s first device with a touchscreen.
Nokia 7280 (2004)
The 7280 was also called the “lipstick” phone. Announced as part of Nokia’s Fashion Phone line, it had black, white and red styling as well as a screen that transformed it into a mirror.
Nokia 7600 (2004)
The 7600 had a teardrop form factor. It was aimed at the fashion market and featured interchangeable covers.
Nokia 3300 (2003)
The 3300 was marketed as music playing phone but also featured a QWERTY keyboard.
Nokia 5100 (2002)
The 5100 was a rugged device with a rubber casing and built-in FM stereo.
Nokia 6800 (2002)
The 6800 was marketed as a messaging phone because of its unusual fold-out QWERTY keyboard.
Nokia 3600/3650 (2002)
The 3600/3650 was also the first phone in North America with an integrated camera. It was also different due to its circular keypad.
Nokia 5510 (2001)
The 5510 featured a full QWERTY keyboard and a digital music player. It even had 64MB memory for storing audio files. Tonnes of room, right?
Nokia 7650 (2001)
The 7650 was the first Nokia smartphone with Symbian OS.
Nokia 8210 (1999)
The 8210 was the smallest and lightest Nokia mobile phone available when it launched and reintroduced colourful, interchangeable covers.
Nokia 7110 (1999)
The 7110 is nicknamed “The Swordfish Phone” because it was used by actor John Travolta in the film Swordfish. It was also the first mobile phone to come with a WAP browser.
Nokia 3210 (1999)
The 3210 was notable because it introduced the idea of colourful, interchangeable covers. There are claims over 160 million units were sold, making it one of the most popular and successful phones in history.
Nokia 5110 (1998)
The 5110 was made with business-consumers in mind, though it’s most remembered today for being one of the first phones to feature an addictive game: Snake.
Nokia 9000 Communicator (1996)
The 9000 Communicator was a messaging phone and the first phone under the Communicator series. It is famous for being used by actor Val Kilmer in the remake of The Saint as well as by actors Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock in the film Bad Company.
Nokia 8110 (1996)
The 8110 gained notoriety as being the first phone with a slider form factor, but the design’s prominent curvature earned it the nickname “banana phone”.
Nokia 1011 (1993)
The 1011 is famous for being the first mass-produced GSM phone.
Nokia Cityman (1987)
The Cityman was one of the first compact phones. It became famous in 1987 when Mikhail Gorbachev, then-president of the Soviet Union, used a Cityman 900 to call Moscow during a press conference.
Nokia Mobira Talkman (1985)
From 1985 to 1992, Nokia manufactured the Mobira Talkman line of crazy-large cell phones you could carry with you (if your arms were strong enough to lift the massive block/suitcase attached to the phone).
Nokia 6 (2017)
The Nokia 6 marks the long-awaited return of the brand to the mobile sphere. Already available in China but coming to Europe in 2017, the 5.5-inch Full HD Android phone will be squarely aimed at the budget conscious.
Sex, drugs and ragtime music – Paul Douglas’ tribute to the hit TV series shows this unlikely combination translates into metal just as well as it does to the small screen.
You can change what you do, but you can’t change what you want
The man behind Peaky Blinders is Paul Douglas, who’s lucky enough to earn his living as the manager of a motorcycle dealership. With a lifelong love of scooters and access to some of the most powerful motorcycles on sale to the general public, it was only natural that he’d want to combine the two at some point.
“The original plan was to build a Guy Martin themed custom,” explained Paul. “At the advance planning stage I realised it had already been done and to a very high standard. There was no point repeating that so I needed to rethink.
“Although I’ve owned and built several customs over the years they’ve been mainly street racers and I was determined that this build would be a full blown muralled machine. Once I’d made that decision, to go with a Peaky Blinders theme, which is one of my favourite TV shows, was the obvious choice.
Set in Birmingham during the aftermath of the First World War, Peaky Blinders tells the story of the Shelby family and is multi-layered. On the surface it’s a straightforward and often violent gangland drama but look a little deeper and there are many sub plots including the damage inflicted to those who fought in the conflict, the breakdown of the British class system, women’s rights and political intrigue.
Although it received critical acclaim from the outset I must admit that before the photoshoot for this article it had bypassed me completely. If you’ve missed the TV show, starring Cillian Murphy, I’d strongly recommend it but be warned — it’s addictive and I’m not certain my wife was convinced that I needed to watch all three series back to back as research for this article…
When you plan something well, there’s no need to rush
For decades, Series 1 and 2 Lambrettas were regarded as the ugly cousins of the slimstyle model. More recently their ample curves and distinctive road presence have found a keen following, meaning that good examples are increasingly hard to find at a reasonable price. Paul said the basis for Peaky Blinders was particularly uninspiring: “One of the sales reps mentioned that he’d acquired a Series 2 frame and after a lot of nagging on my part he agreed to part with it. Then I gathered together the panel work and other components.
With the engine contracted out to tuning supremo Darrell Taylor and after the base coat had been applied by Paul Firth, it was to a local contact that Paul turned to for murals. “One of the best artists at the moment is Kev Thomas and he was my only choice for Peaky Blinders.”
Get yourself a decent haircut man, we’re going to the races
Having worked in the motor trade for most of his life Kev, based in Doncaster, has huge experience of vehicle refinishing but has only recently turned to airbrush work: “I was clearing out the garage a couple of years ago and found an airbrush that my son had got bored with. I tried my hand with it and was pleased with the results. My first commission was a helmet and things have grown from there. Paul’s shop took in a Judge Dredd themed Suzuki that I’d sprayed and he was impressed enough to get in touch and commission his Guy Martin theme.
“I’d got to the stage of producing advanced mock-ups for the design when Paul got in touch to say that he wanted a Peaky Blinders scheme. I couldn’t have been happier as it’s my favourite show and I knew exactly how it should look.” Unfortunately there was a slight difference of opinion when he outlined his plans to Paul in greater detail.
“We both agreed that it should be in monochrome but Paul only wanted to feature the brothers whereas I was convinced that it should tell the whole story and that other characters should be included.” Fortunately the pair came to an agreement and in Paul’s own words, “Kev’s done a fantastic job, the best I’ve seen.” Show judges seem to agree with Peaky Blinders taking ‘Punters Choice’ and four second places at its debut in Bridlington last year.
You’ve got to get what you want in your own way
With engine and paint under way Paul turned his attention to the fine details. “I’ve used Keith Newman’s K2 Custom Classics on several projects,” said Paul. “The quality and standard of service are second to none.” With Peaky Blinders as the theme there’s an obvious motif to use – the classic razor blade. Sewn into their cap peaks the humble razor blade gave the gang both their name and principle weapon of offence. From the rear mudguard to horncast badge via tap and choke levers K2’s accessories bring a sense of menace to the design with the polished stainless steel complementing the predominantly monochrome paintwork perfectly. Spattered across the design are splashes of red, blood red. Red seat covers lift the design perfectly. “Originally I’d planned for black seats,” said Paul. “They just didn’t look right though. I wasn’t convinced that red would work either but I’m very pleased with the result.”
Bringing the whole project together was Chris Swift. A ‘hobby’ scooter mechanic, Swifty is the only man Paul trusts to bring his scooter dreams to life – high praise indeed from a motorcycle industry professional. Although he’s the owner and builder of several custom scooters Paul is a reluctant showman and at Bridlington he actually denied being Peaky Blinders’ owner to avoid too many questions! “Although the scooters are based on my ideas I can’t take all the credit as they’re a team effort,” he says.
On thing’s for certain Peaky Blinders is a stunning tribute to the shown – even Thomas Shelby would struggle to take offence.
MAN & MACHINE
Name: Paul Douglas
Job: Motorcycle sales manager
Scooter club & town: Rotherham SC
How and when did you first become interested in scooters: I think all 14-year-olds in 1979 were influenced by Quadrophenia – following the older lads who had scooters, trying to fit in with parkas and suede boots – good days.
First scooter: GP150.
Favourite scooter model: SX200.
Favourite style of custom scooter: Anything that just says time spent on it.
Any stories: Riding behind my mate Hodgy we took a corner too fast and came across a humpback bridge with no time to slow down. The scooters were all over the place before we both came off. Hodgy couldn’t stop laughing.
Favourite and worst rally/event: Favourite is Bridlington, worst is Mablethorpe.
What’s the furthest you’ve ever ridden a scooter: Whitby, very cold.
What do you like about rallies/events: Seeing all the custom scooters and I enjoy the night life but get sent home early – I’m not good at drinking!
What do you dislike about rallies/events: Moaners.
Your favourite custom/featured scooter of all time: Top Gun.
If you had to recommend one scooter part or item of riding kit what would it be: Best helmet you can afford.
What’s the most useless part you’ve ever bought for one of your scooters: Stainless steel runner board protectors.
Name of scooter: Peaky Blinders
Scooter model: Lambretta Li125
Date purchased & cost: £1400 for spares.
Time to build & by who: Once we got all the bits together it took Chris Swift about three months but it was started 18 months ago just gathering parts.
Paintwork & murals done by: Base coat by Paul Firth and murals by Kev Thomas – fantastic job.
Is there any powdercoating: By Keith Newman at K2.
Is there any chrome: Quality Chrome Hull.
What was the hardest part of the project: Getting all the bits to fit!
Do you have any advice for anyone starting a project: Always dry build first!
Is there anyone you wish to thank: Chris Swift for putting up with all the crap I bought while he was doing the build. Kev Thomas for the best paint job I’ve seen. Paul Firth, Keith Newman, Stuart Gulliver, Ernie Richardson, and, of course, my wife.
PAINTING A BLINDER
If you’ve never heard of Kev Thomas don’t worry, such is his reputation that he’s not needed to advertise for many years. Although full resprays still pay the bills, Key is devoting an increasing amount of his time to custom work. A self-taught airbrush artist, his preferred technique is a mixture of freehand work and careful masking.
Are you the competitive type? Are success, status and prestige important to you regardless of whether it’s work or play? And are you ready to fight for it? Then we’ve got some disappointing news for you: some fights can’t be won. But you don’t always have to always win anyway…
Which Porsche do I buy if I’ve already bought over 200 of them? This is a question only a handful of people on this planet have the luxury of asking themselves. One of them is our good friend Erik Bötzle. Erik is the Managing Director of ESG EuropService, an international company specialising in the long-term rental of premium cars. Since Erik can remember he’s dreamt of Porsches – he calls himself “Porschista”.That quickly becomes apparent when you enter the premises of his company in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen – incidentally also the hometown of Porsche. Unobtrusive yet somehow ubiquitous: whether in the wardrobe, the picture frames on the wall, the display case, the magazine rack or in the fridge, everywhere you look, you will find Porsche memorabilia in the form of model cars, René Staud portraits, Christophorus magazines, t-shirts, baseball caps or jubilee champagne. But it doesn’t end there – you’ll find plenty of actual cars in the company’s various garages.
For Erik, Porsche is no longer just a car brand but a lifestyle. Intangible values such as the company’s history, service and countless experiences made driving previous Porsches are just as important as their raw performance, design and exclusivity.
As this isn’t meant to be an advertisement for Porsche, let it be clear at this point: Erik isn’t always completely loyal. Occasionally he drives a Bentley or a Range Rover, and he’s also got a model BMW 3.0 CSL and Lamborghini sitting on his desk.
The answer to the question posed at the beginning, “Which Porsche do I buy when I’ve already bought 200 of them?” is a particularly tough one, because the singular original has been replaced by a much larger range. Of course, the purest of all Porsches, the 911, represents the core of the brand and is probably the car most people have dreamt of at one time or another. It’s a desire as unreasonable as it is emotional, but maybe one day it’ll simply be the reward for your success.* However, we have to warn you that there’s a new Porsche model to add to your wishlist.
The new Porsche eBike X+ is an exclusive limited-edition eMTB with just 250 units available. It’s based on the Rotwild RX+, featuring a unique design and specced with only the best components that money can buy. It’s hard to believe, but it’s exactly this “Porsche” that fundamentally changed Erik’s life, as his wife Gabi tells us. Whether she sounds annoyed or happy is hard to tell. Both, perhaps. Since getting the eMTB, Erik has spent a lot of his evenings and lunch breaks in the saddle and it’s made him a more balanced and relaxed person. He has embraced this new world of ebikes full of enthusiasm and a childlike sense of wonder and curiosity, fiddling with the componentry and even buying himself a torque wrench for his workshop, his most proud acquisition. Yes, the stereotype that Porsche drivers are perfectionists, fascinated with mechanics and technology, is true. But Erik’s day to day life has changed in many more ways than that.
His Porsche eBike X+ beats a GT2 RS in a drag race – at least from 0 to 2 km/h. After that the GT2 RS pulls away! But his grin is the same, whether he’s in the GT2 RS going from 0-100 in 2.8 seconds or on his ebike going from 0-15 km/h in 2 seconds.
The new ebike has also allowed him to explore completely new terrain and travel in a different way. Peak traffic? No problem. Finding a parking spot in the city centre? No problem. A little cardio during the lunch break? Go ahead. Need to get out of the office for a bit? With pleasure. A quick ride after a long day at work? Yes, please. Take in the sunset? Of course. Enjoy the feeling of freedom. Absolutely. Play in the woods like a child? Yes… A change in approach can help you solve a long list of problems, stress factors and obstacles when choosing the right tool for the job – and often an ebike is the best tool!
“There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living.” Seneca knew how easy it is to forget how beautiful the little things and experiences in life can be when you’re too busy being in search of recognition, status and success. Quality of life has very little to do with your bank account balance. The true value of something is not measured by its price tag but by how much you’re able to enjoy and appreciate it.
Of course, sometimes Erik loads his bike into the back of his Panamera E-Hybrid and drives off to the Alps for a weekend of biking, but you don’t always have to travel far for worthwhile experiences. A short after-work ride on his home trails, a cold beer at the Bärenschlössle, the chirping of birds and the sunset on the horizon – it’s the little things that make life worth living!
But there’s more to it than that. An eMTB makes for a perfect practical SUV for the concrete jungle – safe, fast and sexy, attracting attention wherever you go.
The Porsche eBike X+ in detail
Erik is increasingly enjoying the things money can’t buy and appreciating what he’s already got. Sure, prestige is still important, but status isn’t everything to him any more. Erik has realised that the things he does and experiences in the moment are much more important than owning things or impressing other people. On his ebike, Erik is invisible and inconspicuous, yet somehow he also stands out amongst the crowds. People regularly look on with fascination, approaching him with interested eyes: “Is that a real Porsche?” “What does an ebike like that cost?” “Where can I buy one?” Yes. € 9,911. At the Porsche dealership and in select bike shops. You can tell he gets these questions a lot. During the time we spent with him in the city around the exclusive Breuninger shopping mall in Stuttgart, he was approached three times. Maybe Erik should change jobs and get into the ebike business too? From insiders at Porsche, he knows that Porsche plans to grow their ebike segment in the future.
Forks DT Swiss F535 ONE 140 mm Shock DT Swiss R535 ONE 140 mm Drivetrain Shimano XTR 12-speed Brakes Shimano XTR 203/180 mm Handlebar Crankbrothers Cobalt 2 760 mm Stem Crankbrothers Iodine 65 mm Seatpost Crankbrothers Highline 125 mm Tires Continental Mountain King Protection 29×2.3” Wheels DT Swiss 29 HX1501 SPLINE ONE Motor Brose Drive S Battery IPU.R.660 CARBON 648 Wh Sizes S/M/L/XL Weight 22 kg
I couldn’t have imagined that eMTBing could be so much fun and have such an impact on my quality of life. Ebiking is awesome – of course, driving a GT2 RS is too! said Erik, and quietly sped away…
The great thing is that ebikes are so accessible – you’re out in the open and fresh air, you’re more flexible, it’s a healthier way to travel and it’s much easier to get into conversations with people. And is that not what it’s all about anyway? It is an illusion to think that we must always have our guard up and project a certain image. True winners don’t need to prove themselves but find fulfilment in what they do. This is what projects authenticity and authority. If you understand that, you’ll always be a winner – no matter if you’re driving a Polo, a GT2 or riding your eMTB**.
** we have to admit: it’s particularly easy with an eMTB.
If you’re interested in purchasing a Porsche eBike X +, you will have to be quick as the limited run of 250 bikes is nearly sold out. You won’t find them at your regular bike shop, only through Porsche Centers in Germany as well as some exclusive bike shops. If you’re interested, you can send us an email at email@example.com, and we will forward you directly to Porsche.
The BATS plane is primarily intended, in its wingman role, to protect against electronic attacks
With every passing year, items of technology once confined to the realm of science fiction make their leaps from the pages of novels and comics and the silver screen of Hollywood into cold, hard reality.
The latest piece of futuristic technology to make the jump from the imaginary to the real is Boeing’s new unmanned fighter-like jet, developed in collaboration with the Royal Australian Air Force. The aircraft was revealed to the world in February 2019, and is called the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.
The BATS – also called the Loyal Wingman – was developed in Australia, making it that nation’s first domestically-developed military aircraft since the Second World War. Australia has been, though, a perfect place to develop the BATS plane, as this is Boeing’s largest base of operations outside of the US.
Australia also has a lot of empty airspace in which prototypes can be tested. The BATS project is thought to be Boeing’s largest investment in the development of a new aircraft outside the United States.
The concept of an unmanned plane is hardly a new one. Unmanned aerial vehicles, otherwise known as drones or UAVs, have been used in a military context since WWI, although the current crop of high-tech drones, based on technological advances made in the 1980s, differs radically from earlier UAVs.
What is significant about Boeing’s new autonomous fighter-like jet, though, is just how much more advanced it is than anything else in the drone field.
The BATS fighter-like jet is roughly the same size as a normal fighter jet – it is around 11 meters long (38 feet), with a body and wingspan roughly proportional in size to many current fighter jets used in the Royal Australian Air Force.
The reason it is referred to as a “fighter-like” jet is that the prototype has not been designed to be armed in the traditional manner of a standard fighter jet – although the possibility of arming a BATS plane with missiles and bombs in the future remains open.
Rather, the current focus of the BATS plane is to fly alongside manned fighter jets, hence the “Loyal Wingman” moniker. The designers envision, in one possible example, a squadron of four to six of their autonomous BATS planes flying alongside a P-8A Poseidon, E-7 Wedgetail or F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
The BATS plane is primarily intended, in its wingman role, to protect against electronic attacks as well as conduct surveillance and reconnaissance missions in places deemed to dangerous to send manned aircraft, but could very easily be modified to take on a more aggressive role. While it is unlikely that this model could go as far as getting involved in dogfights with manned jets, the possibility of arming it for a number of offensive missions is there.
One reason a large amount of money has been poured into the BATS project (Boeing has declined to say just how much) is because of the potential such an aircraft offers in terms of overcoming human-piloted fighter jet limitations.
If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about going fast, it’s the folks at Top Gear. And that doesn’t just mean in cars – as was evidenced when they set a Guinness World Record for building the world’s fastest lawnmower with Honda back in 2014. Unfortunately, they were dethroned shortly thereafter. Now, however, they’re looking to ascend again with the Honda Mean Mower Mk. 2.
To be driven in the world-record attempt by stunt driver, Jess Hawkins, this second iteration grass-cutter features some major improvements over the original. For instance, the output has been nearly doubled – that means 190+ bhp from the new 999cc SP1 Fireblade engine onboard. The team building it is also shooting toward a dry weight of only about 440 lbs, which means – when paired with the engine output – this lawnmower may be able to do 0-60 in under 3 seconds. Whether or not they shatter the record remains to be seen, but by all accounts this is promising to be an impressive machine.
Italian industrial designer Giulio Iacchetti gives a nod to the original 1946 Vespa with his concept for a sleek, minimalist electric bike. The beloved Italian scooter is reimagined as the Vespampère, with Iacchetti linking past and present for a forward-thinking vehicle designed for better riding in urban environments.
Over the years, the Vespa has become increasingly bulky, but Iacchetti’s proposed electric motor allows him to remove lateral side panels for a slimmed down version. This brings his concept back to the days when the Vespa graced the screen during the Golden Age of Italian Neorealist cinema. Yet, while cultivating this nostalgia, Iacchetti doesn’t lose sight of new technology.
A built-in smartphone holder recharges your phone while keeping it protected from the rain. And the speedometer, fuel gauge, and lights are accessed through a wireless app. At the same time, the designer maintains classic elements like the front circular headlight and cleverly integrates turn signals into the rear-view mirrors. Overall, Iacchetti has put an interesting twist on the Vespa, a classically Italian scooter born from the necessity for affordable transportation in post-World War II Italy.
Italian industrial designer Giulio Iacchetti has created a Vespa concept called Vespampère, which features an electric motor.
The cantilevered seat is a nod back to early Vespa designs, while the model has integrated smartphone technology.
The Vespa 98, which debuted in 1946, was a source of inspiration for Iacchetti’s revamped scooter.
Everest. So sprawling is the scale and macabre history of this fabled landmass, the name alone should be enough to give your brain momentary frostbite. Indeed, separating the myth from the mountain isn’t easy – but it is important.
Over 200 mountaineers have died climbing Everest in the past century. In 2015 alone, a record-high 22 climbers met their fate atop the massif (avalanches accounting for 29% of deaths, 23% for falls and 20% for exposure or acute mountain sickness, among other deadly factors).
Few know the dangers more than British explorer Matthew Dieumegard-Thornton. In May 2012, aged just 22, he became one of the youngest climbers in history to reach the summit. Here, he reveals the darkest parts of an Everest climb.
1. The ‘death zone’ makes you delirious
“The difference between Everest and most high-altitude climbs is that you need supplemental oxygen to reach the summit. An average journey takes five or six weeks, with much of the trek designed to help your body acclimatise. We had a good rotation, we didn’t get sick and we completed it on the first attempt within five weeks. But nothing prepares you for that thin air, it makes you delirious. They call the area where there’s not enough The Death Zone. Up there it’s all or nothing.”
2. There are a lot of crevices
“There are loads of crevices on Everest, many requiring you to traverse across them on ladders. Normally you start the journey with single ladders, gradually getting two ladders back-to-back and then eventually you get three ladders, like in this video I took [above]. I’d never climbed a horizontal ladder with crampons on before Everest, but feeling a little drunk on the lack of oxygen helped to ease any fears. On Everest, you encounter obstacles, tricks and techniques you’ve never had to solve before, and it all comes together on the same mountain.”
3. Sherpas can be crazy
“If I fell into a crevice nothing would probably happen as I’d still be attached by a rope. But the worst part is watching the Sherpas. They are paid by load/weight, so the more rotations they do the more they get paid, so they cut corners to go faster. They don’t clip in, they don’t wear helmets, they don’t do a lot of safety stuff. They’ll be walking across the ladders unclipped holding on with their hands. The day before we got to a big crevice past camp one we were told a Sherpa had fallen into it and died a day earlier. A rescue team had dragged his body up and he’d bled all the way up the icy face of this square crevice. There was no smell, it was just the sight of the blood. It was a lot darker than I expected it to look, and it made me feel physically sick. It put the climb into perspective.”
4. The mountain hides itself
“You can’t quite take Everest in. Not fully. It’s so far away that when you can see all of it that it looks like a painting, and close-up it’s so big that it’s not possible to know what you’re even looking at. It’s almost as if the mountain hides itself: you can’t see camp three until you get to camp two. Then you only see camp four once you’re going up around the side of the mountain. Even on summit day it looks unrelenting. The size is a huge problem to overcome mentally.”
5. You will probably see dead bodies
“Everest is littered with dead bodies. When you leave camp four and you’re on your summit day, it’s so high up there you can barely take yourself. You can’t take a heavy rucksack, so if you die up there then there’s very little chance anyone will be able to get you down, and so you encounter bodies. Some families do pay for teams to pick up a body and lower it down. For the most part everyone stays very positive, you don’t talk about this stuff, but you can’t help but notice the bodies because their clothes are still bright. You might see some bare flesh but you won’t see a skull as the skin is almost embalmed as if it’s been frozen in time, almost like a waxwork. The clothes are flapping in the wind and ultra violet light, each person with their own story.”
6. Debris is a constant danger
“Everest isn’t your traditional up and down mountain – it’s not a technical climb; K2 is a more difficult mountain to climb in terms of technicality – but you still need to watch your step. Due to Everest getting drier as a result of global warming, and not enough snowfall, the mountain effectively sheds a layer of ice and rocks which tumble down the mountain. Basically, you have to negotiate terrain that is trying to throw a lot of stuff at you, and these can be boulders the size of a car.”
7. Failure is a big fear
“One of the biggest challenges with Everest is funding. It costs over £40,000 to plan a trip, you need good marketability, and it’s harder than ever to stand out from the crowd. I contacted 2,000 companies, and in the end it was just luck – Yellow Pages were re-branding and wanted Everest as part of their messaging, so I was in the right place at the right time. You don’t want to let anyone down, and this added pressure of failing when people have invested so much in you can play on your mind.”
8. Reaching the summit feels like a horror movie
“I went into the climb imagining dying at the top of Everest would be quite a tranquil end – should the worst happen – because the oxygen is so low that you’d just fade out. But no, the summit is so windy and hostile – it’s simply not a nice place to be. It is extreme. You feel a long way from help and nobody is going to rescue you. The wind adds so much suspense I can only liken it to the sound of a horror movie. By the point I reached the top I was so hypoxic, or rather, low on oxygen, that I completely forgot about taking photos for all my sponsors. I only cared about myself in that moment as I felt so punch drunk. But when you’re pitting yourself against nature in a very raw way, thinking about yourself is no bad thing.”