Popular Mechanics September 2019

Discover the latest in technology, engineering, and tools with Popular Mechanics. Plus, get essential advice on your home and car, useful DIY ideas, in-depth explanations on how things work, and more!

United States
10 Issues

in this issue

3 min
1 my pop life

ANDREW DANIELS How-To Editor More popular than mechanic: Can’t fix a flat, but I was on the prom court. FAVORITE WHISKEY Impossible question. I’ll go with my latest love: Kentucky Peerless Straight Rye. It’s sweeter, brighter, and more robust than most ryes—a suitable swap for bourbon fans. The Best Money I Ever Spent $250 for Draper, a mixed-breed mutt from Alabama and the best friend I’ll ever have. All-time favorite band When I wear pants: Wilco. When I dig out my Dickies shorts: Less Than Jake. Current passion project I play in a band with my college buddies called Sammy and the Cosmos. Stream us on Spotify and make our dying dreams come true. THE BEST THING POP EVER TAUGHT ME To quickly make a bottle opener, drive a nail into a board so the head stands proud ½ inch. Bend the…

2 min
embrace the humiliation of ordering your furniture

MY WIFE AND I assessed what we needed: a media console, a bed frame, a coffee table. I thought the same thing that most of you reading this publication would probably think: “I’m building at least one of these things myself.” A few days later, that thought died. Specifically, it died when I clicked Complete Checkout, for two articles made of the cheap particle board furniture that anyone handy, or seeking to become handy, is supposed to denounce. I even had access to expensive tools and expert colleagues that could guide me through a satisfying project. Instead, I bought a TV table from—good God—Urban Outfitters. Now I’m waiting for Bob Vila to show up and take away my tape measure. I know I’m not the only one who caves and buys against…

1 min
celebrating trails, connecting with nature

On June 1, 2019, Popular Mechanics and the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference joined forces to celebrate American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day®. This purpose-powered annual event is designed to encourage outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels to gear up, get out, and give back to our national trails. More than 300 readers and outdoor adventurists took part in our National Trails Day® Open House festivities, featuring guided hikes and stewardship opportunities at Ramapo Valley County Reservation.…

3 min
macbook air (mid-011)

PRODUCED: CHINA TIME TO DISASSEMBLE: 4 HOURS, 56 MINUTES NOTES:On stage in 2008, Steve Jobs pulled an entire laptop out of a manila envelope. It had a full-size keyboard, a screen, batteries, ports—everything most of us would need from a laptop, all somehow fit into a case that was 0.76 inch at the thickest point. It was a technological triumph that would go on to dictate the design of every portable personal computer that came after. Apple updated the Air once in 2010, but otherwise left the basic design alone until last year. As much as its external aesthetics, the Air’s internal layout demonstrates the design brilliance that helped Apple dominate the consumer technology market. NUMBER OF PARTS: 508 How to open and update an older Mac. THE EASY UPGRADE: RAM / The Air was…

3 min
the amazing silent speedy electric dirt bike

ACCORDING TO social media, the Rockingham traffic situation is a disaster. The Friday night crowd coming to the first-ever Epicenter Festival, a three-day concert in rural North Carolina, has overwhelmed the local roads, leading to backups miles long. I scored cheap tickets for the next two days, but I’m wondering if I’ll end up spending my weekend idling in gridlock with angry Korn fans. So on Saturday morning, I head to the venue to do some recon, armed with perhaps the ideal vehicle for this mission: the Zero FX, an electric dual-sport bike. I figure if I get stuck in pavement-bound traffic, I’ll just find a path through the woods. That’s the theory of the dual-sport—it’s a dirt bike with a license plate. The FX, like Zero’s street bikes, is scary-quick…

1 min
the hot swap

The FX comes in a ZF3.6 Modular option, with a swappable battery that has only half the capacity of the 7.2—also half the horsepower and range—but you can pair two of them to match the 7.2’s output. This isn’t the solution to an electric road trip, but it could be great at an off-road park, where you could keep a battery or two charging while you’re riding. It takes less than a minute to exchange them and get back on the trail. But you have contend with price. A 3.6 with one battery is the cheapest FX ($8,495), but an extra module costs $2,895, plus a $600 quick-charger. That tallies $11,990, while a ZF7.2 is $10,495. And to gain a range advantage, you’d need to buy extra modules. But still,…