Saris Axis (2-bike) bike rack and other things

Saris Axis (2-bike) bike rack EU (or European) version

The difference between the US version and EU version is in their foot (US trailer hitch on the vehicle is a square pipe female shape type and the EU trailer hitch on the vehicle is a ball hitch male type). The US version can tilt (for ease of access to the rear hatch) whereas the EU sibling, seemingly a brother, is stiff and can not tilt (no innuendo intended).

If I had a vehicle that has a rear hatch opening sideways (like the new Suzuki Jimny, not sold in the USA, alas!), I would not dream of getting this Saris Axis EU version.

If I had a vehicle that has a rear hatch opening upward (like most of them on the road), I would hesitate to order one unless I have rear doors (like 4-door / 1-hatch design).

My beloved automobile is the Mazda MX-5 ND (4th generation) and its boot lid is tiny and very thin. I don't think (or I hope) opening the lid will not be hampered by this bike rack.

It is available from a couple of online shops here in Europe and also available on Amazon Germany.

Ones on the Amazon are out of stock for the moment and the estimated time of restocking is February 2nd, 2019. I can order it Today at this moment but won't be delivered to me for some time. I won't be charged either until they ship it to me.

Should I order it now? It won't hurt if I did now. If I order it now, I am on the waiting list and probably won't miss the opportunity. If I order after February, the EU stock might be depleted and miss the opportunity until the next restocking (the batch manufacturing schedule of Saris Madison, Wisconsin is not known to me at all).

Windows 10 might be needed

I am thinking of using Windows 10 for some specific small jobs like updating the firmware of some small devices I own. Some dash cams require Windows (7 or greater) to update their firmware.

I have extra PCs not in use. I can install it on one of my Macs.

Mac mini Early 2009


It is an ebay auction purchase and will soon arrive around Christmas. It will have one of Linux, Windows 10 or macOS (highest will be 10.11.6 (El Capitan). I will test it with various operation systems. I don't have a monitor for it now. I may try to use my LCD TV screen in the beginning.

It was a used (what else?) machine from the UK so that I won't be charged with so-called import tax by the customs authority here in Luxembourg. It does come with a wireless Apple Mighty Mouse (according to Macttracker, a great program, it is a Bluetooth mouse), two monitor adapters and 2 macOS media (Snow Leopard on DVD and Lion on a USB stick) including the power adapter.

The configuration of the machine is very low end. It has only 1 GB memory and a 140 GB HDD. The memory is too low to run El Capitan so I have already ordered 8 GB (2 x 4 GB modules) memory modules.

It is so-called Macmini3,1 (A1283) and it has a SuperDrive on it (DVD drive). Newer Mac minis don't come with SuperDrive anymore. DVD drives are not very useful these days. I may replace it with an SSD or HDD to get more internal storage.

The 140 GB HDD must be 10 years old and by now can break anytime so I won't put any important stuff on it, in fact I will replace it with an SSD (40 GB Capacity) to install one of those operating systems on it. This 140 GB drive will find some housing somewhere.

My intention was to play with it by installing other operating systems than macOS. I need Windows environment to run programs to update some firmware on some dash cams.

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ
[Saris Axis (2-bike) bike rack and other things]の続きを読む

テーマ:カー用品 - ジャンル:車・バイク

  1. 2018/12/10(月) 17:57:21|
  2. Bikes and related things
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Garmin (RV) Camper 660 LMT-D updated and how it is different

Garmin (RV) Camper 660 LMT-D

I have not uploaded the photos that I promised. I will do it later on.

I noticed something. It has more features than my former device (Garmin nüvi 2340).

For example, just a few moment before I am arriving at the destination (wherever it is), it suggests me to find parkings near the destination. There is a section on the screen where usually the name of the road to turn to appears. There appears a message that the device is ready to offer me parking options near the destination.

I know that finding a parking place for big RVs is difficult and sometimes for a small vehicle like mine (Mazda MX-5) can be hard in big cities. I may be using option when visiting big cities like Brussels, Belgium next summer.

I also noticed something. The destination selection screen is really different from that of nüvi 2340 (nüvi 2340 is a bit old so maybe recent Garmin devices may look similar to that of RV 660).

It does not have the option of viewing the map and then selecting a point as the destination, which can be a disappointment for me as most of my destinations don't have a fixed address. Most of them are some places on the roadsides in countrysides, mountains and such (bike race venues).

It (RV 660) does not have POI category icon. I was puzzled at first but figured out "Foursquare" icon was the one I was looking for. Under this option, I can search a lot of things.

It has, on the other hand, extra icons on the top screen like a camping site icon for example. A similar icon was under Top >> Lodging >> camping on nüvi 2340. It is like having a short cut icon for finding a camping ground, which I like.

I updated the map data on it (Camper 660). Let's see what happened.

CN Europe NTU 2019.20 Foursquare
CN Europe NTU 2019.20 All South
CN Europe NTU 2019.20 All North
Europe DEM

So now I have the newer POI data (provided by Foursquare), all Europe data (except Eastern Europe) in two segments (South and North) and this mysterious DEM data, which I imagine has something to do with the altitude data like a topology map. What does DEM stand for?


A quick search on Google pointed me at this. So it stands for Digital Elevation Model. Now I know. It does not have any time stamp or version numbers but I hope the data (plural form of datum) are current. Except for some volcanic areas in Italy, Iceland or else, the elevation of Europe won't change too often so my concerns can be irrelevant anyway.

Camping shower PortaShower from Hazelock

I got it from the local post office Today. It arrived last week but I was not home.

Anyway, I assembled it without looking at the manual (so easy) and tried it. It works. Basically, it is usable. The water comes out OK under mild pressure. It is strong enough to take a shower but won't be enough to wash the dirt on the bike. This is already anticipated so I won't complain.

It leaves something desired.
1. It does not have the function to hold the "Water Release (not the official name)". I may use some rubber bands to do the trick. When there's pressured air inside the tank, it leaks without holding the release, though.

I found that it was possible to hold the water release lever. I stared at the lever to see why I could not shut the water off when I used it the second time. Now I know how it works. I did not read the manual at all and that was why I was wrong to write what I had written above.

2. Its Pressure Cock (ditto) is supposed to be closed when pressurizing the tank and must be open when you take the shower does not have stop. If you turn loose too much, it drops off.

3. The carry strap is made of nylon or something. I want to take it off when taking a shower because it may get wet. The connection is made by two metal rings and it takes some time to take the strap off. It is not convenient at all. I will be needing two small carabiners (or similar products) to make it convenient.

4. How am I supposed to tack 2-meter long hose in when storing or carrying the device? I will need some velcro straps and another carabiner to do the job.

5. It does not provide any device to hook it up on the shower tent or so. I will be needing more carabiners (laundry clips?) and strings to do the trick.



In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [Garmin (RV) Camper 660 LMT-D updated and how it is different]の続きを読む

テーマ:キャンプ - ジャンル:旅行

  1. 2018/12/09(日) 00:05:39|
  2. GPS Navigation
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Rain, rain and rain. Rainy days in Luxembourg!

It rains a lot here in Luxembourg

Random thoughts:

I want to buy a Saris Axis (for two bike as it is a bit smaller and lighter). My Mazda MX-5 (ND) does not have a trailer hitch on its back as the manufacturer does not offer this option.

Obviously there is demand for that and some companies offer trailer hitches. In the USA, there is a cheaper DIY solution offered by a company (Google "Miata Hard Dog Hitches"). You can also find some pictures and blog sites showing how it could be installed.

In Europe, I found two separate sites (might be selling the same device) and one of them offer a full service (installation) and the other offers a kit so that a user can install it by himself (or herself).

The one that offers a full service is located in Germany and it is not far from Munich (or München) and also Austria. Kuppling vor Ort (www.kuppling-vor-ort.com) is it.

From Luxembourg where I live, it is around 600 km. So by the time I (if I ever) come back after installation, it wold be a 1,200 km round trip by car, of course. I would like to have it installed on my MX-5 by next Spring or before July when the Tour de France starts.

I have not made an inquiry (as I am too shy, haha!) but I have a feeling that the complete service (the device and the installation including the electric coupling for the rear illumination) would cost me a bit more than € 1,000.

Its site says that if a customer (with an appointment, of course) arrives relatively early in the morning, he (or she) can leave for home in the afternoon. If a customer needs a place to stay overnight, it kindly points to a hotel nearby (they also recommend waiting customers to relax at this Motel Istar where they offer buffet "All-you-can-eat Breakfast für 9,90 €" so written on their site in German).

So I am thinking of making a round trip sometime next year. I will leave early in the morning of Monday (24:00 or 01:00) and drive all night arriving there by 08:00 or 09:00 in the morning. I will have it installed by them while I doze off at Motel Istar's cafe. I will leave for Luxembourg Monday afternoon arriving home by 24:00 or so. I know I have to make as many stops on the way as needed.

I don't want to make this round trip when the road conditions can be snowy or icy. I want to make it on summer tires so April or later would be the time.

US version v.s. European version of Saris Axis bike rack

I am thinking of getting a Saris Axis. They (bike racks) are made in Madison, Wisconsin (right?). They are made in USA. There are US version (for the US type trailer coupling) and European version.

The difference is that the US version can tilt where European version won't. If my vehicle is one of those hatchback cars, I won't be considering a Saris Axis as a candidate. I don't think they are as popular in Europe as they may be in the USA because of the lack of tilting function.

For me (for my Mazda MX-5 ND) it won't be an issue.

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [Rain, rain and rain. Rainy days in Luxembourg!]の続きを読む

テーマ:カー用品 - ジャンル:車・バイク

  1. 2018/12/08(土) 17:04:14|
  2. Diary
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Free Public Transportation starting Next Summer? Really?

Luxembourg's public transportation gets free?

I was skimming through a Japanese site on Friday. I regularly visit this site not to lose sight of what is happening in Japan. Some of the news pieces interest me and others (Japanese entertainment sector and similar stuff) don't.

I was curious when I found a small headline that said that 'a small country in Europe to make public transportation free' (this was of course written in Japanese and this is a rough translation of it).

Which small country? There are Angora, Monaco (not completely an independent country), Vatican (ditto), Lichtenstein (ditto), Luxembourg and maybe one of those countries facing Baltic Sea may qualify as small countries in Europe.

I don't intend to insult those countries that I marked not completely independent by saying so.

I have to mention for example that if the royal family of Monaco fails to have a son (I don't know if adoption is allowed but anyway), France can take over the country as it was the one of the conditions that the Monaco inked with France when it got independent. I don't think that Monaco has its army to defend the country or before it began to use Euro as its currency it had its own currency.

Lichtenstein does not have the freedom to exercise it own foreign policy or issue its own currency; it relies on Switzerland for those needs.

Vatican is rich enough to do anything they want but they rely on Italy for many of their needs, I imagine.

I clicked on the headline and voila I found out it was Luxembourg, where I live (have lived in the past 8 years).

What the ****? I have not heard of it. For the last couple of weeks I have been occupied with this new job so I have not read anything about the local news.

It (the Japanese news article; its source is AP) read that Prime Minister Bettel (whom I see quite often in person in close range and greet quite often as he goes around the town without any kind of "Secret Service" protection) and his party suggested that the public transportation be free of charge to encourage people commuting daily from surrounding countries by car in hope that they would switch to trains and busses.

Wow!! How nice! I will keep my fingers crossed.

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [Free Public Transportation starting Next Summer? Really?]の続きを読む

テーマ:ヨーロッパ - ジャンル:海外情報

  1. 2018/12/07(金) 08:59:18|
  2. Info Luxembourg
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Garmin (RV) Camper 660 LMT-D and nüvi 2340

Garmin (RV) Camper 660 LMT-D and my old trusty nüvi 2340 comparison

Garmin nüvi 2340 had been placed in the left down corner of the front windshield just behind the steering wheel so my fingers can touch the screen with other fingers (and the palm) leaving the steering wheel.

Here's another look with the screen brightly shining.

This photo has been already posted. It shows the difference between the sizes of the two devices.

Obviously Camper 660's screen is bigger (6 inches diagonally and nüvi 2340 4.3 inches diagonally). I lowered the suction cup when I put the Camper 660 so that my fingertip can reach the screen and also because the added height obstructed my views.

It worked but had a small problem so I raised the suction cup position again a bit. There is a button (not physical but virtual) on the right down corner on the screen which enables me to choose the categories of information I want to show on the right side on the screen. The categories are as follows.

(photo coming)

Stop, Elevation, Traffic, Trip Data, Up Next,

The button was only accessible by sticking the finger from the inner side of the steering wheel and by doing o my left hand has to let go the steering wheel at the same time I had to duck to see that button. This was not comfortable and not safe. I don't want to say that manipulating the navigation device while driving is a good habit but I would like to access some of the information while driving.

The navigation software is different from that on nüvi 2340. For example, I noticed that Camper 660 suggests shortly before reaching the destination a parking place (or parking places?) near the destination. If I need the service, I have to press the button on the upper side of the screen.

Now I am curious. What happens if I am heading to a parking place (already registered in the map data so the navigation knows it is a parking place)? Does it still kindly tell me if I need to know the locations of parking places nearby? Most likely it will obligingly tell me if I need assistance just as it is programed to do so.

What if the parking place I was heading had no vacancy, were closed or unavailable for some reasons? I might still greatly appreciate the kind suggestion from the device.

Cleaning the air filter

I am using the K&N air filter on my Mazda MX-5 (ND). I swapped it (the genuine factory filter was there of course) soon after purchasing the car and kept it. Now I put the genuine factory filter back into the air cleaner box.

This sticker came inside the box (of the K&N filter). It is supposed to be here, on the air cleaner box so that the mechanic won't mistakingly dispose the expensive filter and install some cheap filter without letting the owner know.

I stupidly photoed the inner side (cleaner side) of the filters. I should have flipped them around. Mazda genuine factory part is white and K&N one looks dark violet.

I will vacuum the bottom of the air cleaner box as I recognized some fine sands and other fluffy objects (small mummified bugs and some plant seeds wrapped in fluffy stuff).

I checked the outer side where it gets dusty. I saw some mummified bugs and more fluffy seeds. The color (filtering agent looks dark reddish violet) is not so different on both sides but on close inspection I realized that some fine dust stuck on the sucking side surface.

It is no way clogged but it is better that I clean it now. I have driven over 18,000 km so far and most of the milage was done with this filter.

I have the genuine K&N cleaning / recharging kit at home. I have watched several cleaning and recharging videos on YouTube. Now it is Winter here in Luxembourg and the air is heavily damp so there is no chance of collecting dust on the filter. Humidity is one of the most effective agents that keep dust staying in the air, I guess.

I sprayed a degreaser on it and later using the shower (in the bathroom) I washed the filter from inside out. The accumulated dust was not so much. Now it is resting and will be dry in one or two days.

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [Garmin (RV) Camper 660 LMT-D and nüvi 2340]の続きを読む

テーマ:カー用品 - ジャンル:車・バイク

  1. 2018/12/06(木) 16:42:22|
  2. GPS Navigation
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