Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.
When you get an opportunity to go fly a 1.5 million dollar electric personal submarine that looks like a Formula One car, but operates like a quadcopter in reverse, on beautiful Lake Tahoe, California, damnit you take that opportunity. Even when you're ten pounds heavier than the maximum weight it's designed to handle. Even when the sub's stabilization software isn't finished yet and the team is still in preliminary testing. Gizmag joins pioneering submarine engineer Graham Hawkes to drive the Deepflight Dragon, a submarine so idiot-proof even Loz Blain can drive it.
If you’ve ever scanned the comments section on an electric car or bike article, you’ll be familiar with this complaint: "that’s not green, it’s just a coal-powered vehicle." Well, not this one. The Immortus is an electric car built to generate its own power through some 7 sq m (75 sq ft) of solar photovoltaic paneling. You can charge its battery off the mains if you have to, but if conditions are sunny, the inbuilt solar panels alone will let you drive at more than 60 km/h (37 mph) for an unlimited distance.
The electric bike segment must be such an exciting opportunity for budding motorcycle designers. Instead of making window dressing for an increasingly complex combustion engine, you're dealing with an incredibly simple, compact motor and a flexibly shaped battery package. Plus, nobody has decided what an electric motorcycle should look like yet, so you're free to experiment with all sorts of funky ideas that would simply never fly in the gasoline-powered bike world. Case in point: the e-raw from France's Expemotion, which features a floating seat made from 80-odd layers of wood laminate, and uses an iPhone as a dash.
At US$8,600 in America, it's easy to see why the brand new Ducati Scrambler line has been a massive sales success. It's charming to look at, painfully retro-fashionable and totally approachable. It would also be incredibly easy to ride if it wasn't for the over-aggressive throttle mapping. It harks back to a time before motorcycles were separated into road, dirt and sports categories, when one bike had to do the lot, and Loz found it a lovely experience on our short road test.
We love our tilting vehicles here at Gizmag, but we’ve never seen anything quite like the Swincar Spider before. It's a remarkable tilting 4-wheeler concept that boasts absolutely ridiculous rough terrain capabilities. Each wheel has its own electric hub motor and is independently suspended on a spider-like limb. The result is a vehicle that leans into fast turns like a motorcycle, but can also happily go up or down a 70-percent gradient, ride across a 50-percent gradient that puts the left wheels a couple of feet higher than the right ones, or ride diagonally through ditches that send the wheels going up and down all over the place like a spider doing leg stretches. It looks absolutely bonkers.
The Scrambler is a radical departure from the sleek, expensive high-performance machines Ducati is known for these days. It's a small, humble, retro dual-sport machine with an 800cc engine, a modest 75 horsepower and a look so American you'd hardly believe it was designed in Italy. But this bike has been Ducati's biggest success of the year, single-handedly boosting global sales by more than 20 percent, so we've been very keen to get our hands on one. Last week, the stars aligned, and we had a chance to ride it. And yes, the Scrambler is nothing like any other Ducati in the range.
Red Bull and GoPro need to get their act together, because the #1 craziest extreme promo video on the internet today belongs to a shoe company. Representing DC Shoes, Australian motorcycle daredevil Robbie Madison has dropped into a massive Tahitian wave and surfed it – on a lightly modified KTM dirt bike. This is one of the most supremely ridiculous and jaw-dropping things we've ever seen.
China’s DJI made a gutsy move with the release of the Phantom 3. The Phantom 2 Vision+ was still clearly the best all-in-one prosumer camera drone on the market, so the Phantom 3 could easily have been an incremental upgrade. Instead, it's a total overhaul, and an amazing piece of aerial camera gear that equals gear that costs twice as much (like DJI's own Inspire One) in many areas. But is it perfect? No - and not by a long way. There's some pretty clear areas for improvement, even if the Phantom 3 Professional is still miles ahead of the competition.
The minute you connect a car to the internet, you’re exposing it to the risk of hacking – and even if it’s only the entertainment system that’s supposed to be online, a skilled hacker can now remotely take control of just about any electronically controlled part of your car, including the steering, throttle and brakes. And this isn't some distant thing to worry about in the future. One Wired reporter just had the terrifying experience of having his Jeep Cherokee taken over by hackers while he was on the freeway. Like a scene in a horror movie, he found himself a helpless passenger in his car as he lost control of its functions one by one.
Two-strokes are far simpler machines than four-stroke engines. They’re also lighter, easier to work on, and downright angrier, pumping out a lot more power per cubic centimeter of displacement, which has won them a lot of fans. But they’ve had a reputation for belching out a fair bit of smoke and unburned fuel, a situation that just couldn’t fly alongside tightening emissions regulations around the world, so they’ve fallen out of favour. But now there’s a glimmer of hope. Earlier this month, Honda submitted a patent application for a brand new two stroke motor that uses direct fuel injection for a cleaner burn and better piston cooling. We may yet see a resurrection of the ring-dingers.