Physics for Your Feet

A new shoe promises more efficient running by taking a page from Isaac Newton

1.) The Idea

Running Shoes
TOPDOG Illustration

By utilizing Newton's Third Law of Motion—for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction—Newton Running shoes (newtonrunning.com), which will debut their first models this spring, think they've come up with a more efficient mechanism to capture and transfer energy (see right).

2.) The Stride
Using Newton shoes correctly requires a midfoot or forefoot plant rather than a heel-striking technique. This running form, which is actually more natural, is key to achieving maximum efficiency.

3.) The Innovation
On impact with the ground, Newton's Active Membrane Technology goes to work. Four "actuator" lugs stretch an elastic membrane and press it into air chambers inside the midsole. Newton claims the technology absorbs about 25 percent more shock than traditional running-shoe foam.

4.) The Reaction
As the foot rolls forward toward the toe-off phase, the resilient membrane thrusts the actuators back out of the chambers, transforming the impact energy into forward propulsion. Newton's tests (we have yet to try samples) have shown the forefoot returns 15to 25 percent more energy than traditional running shoes.

Two-Trick Pony

The next generation of rear shocks can handle bumps big and small

Rear Shocks
TOPDOG Illustration

Rear shocks today generally fall into two categories. Those with deep travel/slower rebound perform best on large obstacles (like three-foot drops), while those with shallow travel/quicker rebound excel on smaller, washboard bumps. The problem: Drop a cliff with your quick-rebound shock and you might get bucked—or, conversely, ride fast bumps with your slow-rebound shock and you'll get bogged down. The solution: RockShox's Vivid 5.1, due out in 2008, whose Dual Flow Adjust system promises to dole out the right kind of cushion regardless of terrain.

1) How It Works
Unlike most rear shocks, which have a single tube, the Vivid uses a twin-tube circuit. The addition of the second tube gives the shock's oil an alternate pathway, so it doesn't have to flow through the piston on rebound. The upshot: The compression and rebound adjustments are no longer linked, so you can fiddle with them individually.

2) Small Bumps
With the Beginning Stroke Rebound Adjuster (red knob), you regulate how quickly the shock returns from small bumps. This adjustment is isolated from the rest of the shock, allowing the rear suspension to hug the ground in quick, teeth-rattling sections. Essentially, it turns the beefy Vivid into a shorter-travel shock that won't slow you down.

3) Big Drops
You'll stay in the saddle after landing a big drop, thanks to the Ending Stroke Rebound Adjuster (manipulated with a 2.5mm hex). It tweaks the rebound speed to keep the shock from quickly popping back—and bucking you off the bike. Using both adjust-ments, you can create a system suited to your riding style, your weight, and the terrain.

4) Compression
RockShox plans to install factory-set, nonadjustable high-speed compression on the Vivid, but riders can fine-tune how it behaves on smaller, quicker drops with the Low Speed Compression Adjuster (the blue knob)—without affecting rebound. With this last customization, compression can be adjusted for big, gnarly drops.

Power Camping

Go ahead, bring your DVD player for rainy days. Eureka!'s electric plug-and-play tents let you rough it in style.

Tents
TOPDOG Illustration

1.) Battery
The power source, dubbed the E! Power Pak, is a rechargeable battery enclosed in a polypropylene case. Charge it at home (viaa standard outlet) or in your car (using a 12-volt adapter cord). It takes 12 hours to charge and lasts up to nine hours using the E! Power reading light. An indi-cator light displays how much juice remains.

2.) Control
A power switch (located near the tent floor in two models, on the wall in a third) allows you to independently control all three outlets—without getting out of your sleeping bag. Separate indicator lights glow green when the power is on and go dark when the juice is off.

3.) Wiring
An integrated E! Power "harness" conceals the system's wiring, which comes factory-installed and doesn't interfere with setup or storage. The wiring can be removed by unfastening the hook-and-loop closures of the sleeves.

4.) Outlets
Three 12-volt DC electric outlets glow blue when the power is on. They're wired into three different areas inside the tent and require an adapter cord (included) for use with most devices.

The E! Power system is available in three Eureka! tents (N!ergy 9, N!ergy 1210, and N!ergy 1310), starting at $280. eurekatent.com

The Future of Float

A new material that's light, strong, and affordable could revolutionize the next generation of kayaks

Kayaks
TOPDOG Illustration

1.) Weight
Manufacturers expect MFT boats to weigh a third less than similar models made with traditional thermo-formed plastic. No MFT boats were available for testing at press time, but the material shouldn't diminish paddling performance. Legacy Paddlesports will introduce an MFT boat later this year (price TBD). legacypaddlesports.net

2.) Strength
Until now the material was seen chiefly in personal body armor, military vehicles, and race cars. How tough is it? A quarter-inch-thick MFT panel will stop a bullet traveling at 1,200 feet per second. So it should hold up to hucking off waterfalls and bumping through rapids.

3.) Construction
Polypropylene MFT (derived from the same stuff used to make long underwear) is made into a yarn that's triple-layered, heat-bonded, and pressure-molded. MFT's density is less than one, which means that unlike carbon fiber or fiberglass, it floats. And it's both durable and repairable. MFT won't shatter in the cold—in fact it gets stronger. Frayed or scratched MFT can be repaired with a little heat. Hold a lighter up to a flaw and it instantly melts back into the fabric matrix.

The Great Communicator

Apple's iPhone makes all previous smartphones look, well, kinda dumb

Smartphones
TOPDOG Illustration

From Left:

InnovationThink iPod on steroids, matched with a phone and breakthrough portable Web browsing. The iPhone, to be released in June (8GB, $599; apple.com), has a stunningly vivid 3.5-inch screen. And the slick touch interface eliminates the mass of controls that clutters the faces of most smartphones.

EntertainmentIn addition to being quad-band GSM capable (translation: international), the iPhone is like a pocket-size entertainment center with an 8GB memory and bright widescreen display. Watch movies and television shows, play games, and tune in to audio files.

InformationGoodbye, guidebooks. Hello, instant answers. With advanced Web browsing through Safari, the iPhone incorporates Google Maps so you can view maps, satellite images, traffic information, and directions on the large screen. It can also upload podcasts with travel info (hotels, restaurants, museums, etc.) through iTunes, and with Edge and Wi-Fi connectivity you'll stay connected from Barcelona to Sheboygan.

More Gear

Big. Crazy. Opinionated.

Thank you!

Pinterest Icon