Biking redux

Finally time to get back to biking, so a quick refresh of gear:
Cyclocomputers
My cyclocomputer finally gave up the ghost. Loved the thing. A $130 computer from Campagnolo. Best thing was the integration with the buttons on the brake assembly. Really hands-on the stick sort of stuff, but the wires broke. I’ve tried lots since, el cheapo Cat Eye which is unreliable but only $20. Also had a Polar Power system, but that was pretty flaky. So now onto what Howie recommends, a Garmin 800 which is a touchscreen version of the 705. Reviews from DC Rainmaker show it is pretty good. Although Amazon folks don’t like it much. $500 for the unit for $650 with a cadence and heart rate sensor. Nice thing is that it uses ANT+ so can be used with other cadence and heart rate monitors (other than Polar that is 🙂
Cost wise for the Garmin, it lists for $699 and Bike Nashbar seems to have the best deal. $649 with nominal shipping charge and no tax to most areas.
And because it uses ANT+, you can connect it to your power meters too. SRM and others. Isn’t wireless great. Compared with my old wired system, it is much neater too and only 3.5 ounces.
And with the move to ANT+, you need all the accessories:

  • GSC-10. $33-37 for another speed and cadence sensor for your other bike. Cheapest from Erwincomp for $37
  • Quarter Turn Bike Mount. $10-14 so you can mount it. Cheapest from Amazon.
  • Foot pod. So that when you are running, you know your cadence. Part of the FR-60 bundle
  • Garmin FR-60 which is a small watch without GPS or the 310XT which is an ugly watch with a GPS. The bundle price is $170 which includes the foot pod, usb to ANT+ stick, a heart rate monitor. Pretty cool. It also links to your GSC-10 if you are on your bike.
  • Tanita BC-1000 scale. Yes a scale that talks with your watch if you have $270 to throw around 🙂

Power Measurement
I’ve tried the Polar system and it wasn’t super reliable in the first place and requires a dedicated Polar head end. It would be much better to have something simpler. But here are the folks. These things are really really expensive. DC Rainmaker has a great overview:

SRM. original and gold standard in the power industry world.  They measure power at the crank and crank spider on the bike (circled below).  They are used by many on the tour, as well as more recreational folks (comparatively).  They work with ANT+ head units, as well as with their own head unit. Their devices start at $2,200

Quarq is a relative newcomer to the field, just a few years old – but they are quickly gaining popularity and respect in the field. $1500 but you have to have the right cranks as they go on the chain ring.

PowerTap: They came into the scene earlier this decade and really shook things up with their cheaper-than-SRM model.  Instead of measuring near the cranks, they measure in the rear wheel hub.  This means there is a tiny loss of watts in the drive train (it takes ‘power’ to spin your chain), usually 5-15w.  But that’s a known quantity.  PowerTap’s start at $600 for a wired model, and $995 for a wireless model. 

iBike is the low cost alternative in the power world.  The measure things in an entirely different way, using airspeeds, altimeters and cadence sensors to determine power output.  So instead of measuring actual power output directly, they calculate it using a bunch of other known data points.  This has pro’s and con’s (incredible for perfecting aero-form in the wind, not as ideal for indoors on a trainer without additional accessories).  But, the big pro is that they start at $199, and $429 for a model where you can save your data for later.  There is a fair bit of debate in the cycling world as to the standalone value of the iBike in serious power training situations (due to variability), however there is little debate that an iBike coupled with any of the other power meters above gives one a huge amount of very valuable data. 

 

 

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