Author Archives: istigatrice

Sigma ROX 11.0 Review

In February 2017, Sigma released an all new ROX 11.0 unit, aimed at replacing their aging ROX 10.0 unit. More than just a cosmetic update, the ROX 11.0 is feature packed, and a notable improvement over the ROX 10.0. I’ve been reviewing the new unit over the past few months, while it’s not as fancy as a Garmin it’s certainly a no nonsense unit.

Old vs new… looking silly for the sake of comparison

Before delving into the new software features, the hardware of the ROX 11.0 has been improved over it’s predecessor. The device now supports both bluetooth as well as ANT+, and has a longer battery life and more memory. There’s enough memory to store more than 50 hours of riding even when recording every second, and the battery life has been bulked up to a claimed 19 hours.

The improved battery and storage mean you can now go longer without charging and clearing memory. In addition, the bluetooth connectivity allowed the ROX11.0 to sync data wirelessly through compatible phones via Sigma Link, as well as display notifications. In my experience while the live notifications was useful, the wireless uploads were slow, each ride would take a couple of minutes. I also couldn’t get my Sigma Link app to sync with TrainingPeaks so in the end I preferred using my laptop.

However, having despite my issues with TrainingPeaks, I found these features useful when away from home, especially if there was no stable Wifi connection. I could upload my rides to Strava (via my phone) and view (roughly) how my training/racing went. I’d still need to download my rides after returning home to log them on TrainingPeaks, but I’d imagine if the whole package worked as advertised (and perhaps I just had some teething issues) then this would have been extremely useful for trips away.

In addition, once you’ve finished a ride, the ROX can also display some useful training metrics such as your normalized power, your TSS and your averages. Again you could view this on TrainingPeaks/Golden Cheetah, but when you don’t have access to a laptop it’s particularly handy for gauging how your session went. I enjoyed being able to view these stats between stages on multistage days. One criticism was that I couldn’t work out how to have heart rate TSS displayed, (the TSS option I found was for power) and I feel that this feature would be useful for those without a powermeter.

Post ride summary, ROX pretty much displays everything you would want to know, averages, totals etc.

You can now also customise the ROX displays, but only via Sigma Data Center (on a PC or Mac). I found this extremely useful, and doing it on a PC means you don’t have to scroll through endless data fields to find the metric you want. You can not only customise the display fields, but you can also customise the size, shape, arrangement and number of fields as well. Sigma provide a lot of templates for data display, and within reason there were no restrictions on how you can display your data. If like me, you like to have a certain metric displayed bigger, and in the top left corner you will appreciate this detail. Stating the obvious, I found this extremely useful for displaying exactly what data I wanted to see. This has been a gripe of mine with the ROX 10, since the customization was much more restricted.

Customising the pages on ROX 11, lots of options and very user friendly

I’m not well versed in how these devices locate a GPS signal, but I’ve found the ROX 11 to be much faster at locating a signal than the ROX 10. This made the breadcrumb navigation much easier, I wouldn’t have to wait 5 minutes to find a GPS signal. It’s worth mentioning that navigation with maps isn’t supported. Judging by the user interface and relatively low screen resolution, it appears difficult to implement. I would suggest that this would be the most noticeable feature lacking on the ROX, and I suspect Sigma neglected this feature to hit their target price.

Sigma haven’t compromised on the screen quality though. The numbers are extremely easy to read and I had no issues with glare no matter what time of day. The front plastic/glass is also reasonably hard so you don’t need to worry about it scratching in your bag. I haven’t noticed anything that would suggest a cheap build quality.

One annoyance I’ve had with this device is that it seems to stop displaying external sensor data once you’ve saved an activity. In other words, if you stop and save a ride and then try to start a new ride you’ll be left with no data from ANT+/bluetooth sensors for that ride. Once you restart the device (turn it off and on)  all the sensors work as normal though. Not a deal breaker for me, but just keep this in mind if you also like to keep your warmup file separate from your race file.

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Let there be power, heart rate and cadence… Had to turn my GPS off and on mid TT to register ANT+/bluetooth sensors

Sigma also offer the ROX 11.0 as a package with a speed/cadence and heart rate sensor, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this option if you don’t already have these accessories. Both bundled accessories are dual bluetooth and ANT+, so definitely future proofed. The heart rate strap is very comfortable, and I prefered it over the Garmin strap. The speed cadence sensor is an ‘old style’ GSC-10 like unit (uses magnets) and I personally favour this over the latest accelerometer based sensors (call me old fashioned). Sigma have designed the sensor well, allowing the speed magnet sensor to be adjusted independently of the cadence sensor, so it should work with all frames. They also flash red/green to signify that the speed/cadence magnets are within range. Through my review period I’ve found that both accessories performed (marginally) better than the Garmin counterparts they replaced

Speed/cadence sensor – solid weight, 17g incl. battery

Heart rate sensor + strap. Strap=28g, sensor=13g incl. battery

 

Finally, Sigma moved away from their proprietary mounting system for the ROX 11, and they now use a ‘standard’ Garmin quarter turn mount. I didn’t have any issues with the ROX 10 mounting, but out front mounts for Garmin are far more common, so I welcome this move. I used a Garmin mount with no issues for the whole of the review period.

Everything considered, I’ve been impressed by the ROX 11.0, it’s got all the features I need to train effectively and the screen is easy to read mid-race. It lacks the features (and price tag) of a Garmin 520 or Wahoo Bolt, but actually I find it more appealing because of this. Provided Sigma rectify the issues I had with TrainingPeaks and sensors dropping out, I’d consider the ROX 11 as a perfect fit for me. However if you want better navigation and smartphone/trainer integration this computer may be a little lacking. That said, I’m not aware of any options at this price point that offer these features. RRP is $259.99 for the set (tested) or $179.99 for the unit.

I’ve been a little bad in that I haven’t tried using Strava live segments with this device. However it is supported, and I haven’t seen anything from the other features to suggest that it’s poorly implemented. I’d like to thank Starbike for providing the review sample.

DT Swiss RR411 Rim

Solid, wide and reasonably light would be my summary of the DT Swiss RR411 rims. Released in late 2016, I’ve had the pleasure of testing these rims long term. They’ve been through everything, from casual commutes to racing state championship events.

While not very aero, these wheels are a solid option for almost everything. I thought I’d TT on them.

Since this is weightweenies I’ll begin with the most important metric: aerodynamics weight. I tested the 21.5mm wide front and rear specific rims. From my sample of 1, the front (symmetric) rim weighs in at 436g and the rear (asymmetric) rim weighs in at 465g. At first glance this weight seems quite disappointing, especially considering DT recommend using washers between the rim and the nipples (supplied) . However, these rims are slightly lighter than HED Belgiums, H+Son Archetypes and Easton R90SL, even including the washers. It’s worth noting though that the rims are shallower (21mm) than the above options, and in some cases narrower too (18mm internal).

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Front rim

Rear rim

Rear rim

Washers

Washers

While the lower rim depth could deter some buyers, it may have contributed to their stability. In some windy races I noted my competitors having trouble with their deeper rims, while I was able to relax and stay focused on the racing.  These rims were dead straight in cross winds and I was able to ride confidently through technical sections in gusts of over 60kmph. The high quality braking surface meant braking could be left late and combined with the cross wind stability made these rims an excellent choice for those looking for extra confidence. As an aside, the rims were also really well balanced, perhaps another reason why the overriding sensation on was of speed and stability.

Climbing was also fun on these rims and at no point did they feel lifeless or hefty. Stiffness was good, and I was only able to obtain flex when I went looking for it, throwing my bike around in a huge gear. When my form was good, I couldn’t get any movement even doing big gear starts. These rims responded exceptionally to accelerations and steady state riding. This was true for spinning a smaller gear and mashing a big gear, so it’s certainly not a rim designed solely for wispy climbers with good technique.

Between climbs and descents there was still an overall feeling of smoothness and speed, though you can argue that those sensations were due to tyre and hub choices. I didn’t notice any ‘lack’ of aerodynamics that the low profile would suggest when riding. Based on my times there may be an edge to deeper race wheels. However I’ve been riding these wheels through winter, where lower temperatures, stronger winds and higher pressure may have had more of an effect. These wouldn’t be my first pick as race wheels but at the same time I don’t feel held back. I’d be perfectly happy to race these at weekend club races.

Me (blue) race testing these rims.

Me race testing these rims.

Of course, not all of this excellence can be attributed just to the rims, had I built this with flexy spokes and poor hubs I doubt they would have shone. For the review I was supplied with DT240s hubs and DT swiss competition spokes. If this was my own money I would have picked the DT350 hubs, but I’m never going to say no to 240 hubs. I picked a 28/32 spoke count for this build, which is the highest spoke count DT offer. With the low spoke count trend I presume DT decided higher drillings wouldn’t be worth their while (I’ve nearly got double the number of spokes of Shimano wheels!). The competition spokes suited these rims well, not aero but a reasonable weight with good stiffness. DT Swiss also kindly supplied some alloy pro-lock nipples and tubeless tape.

For those interested the total build came in at 1682g, you’d be able to save quite a few grams by going to a 20/28 or 20/24 build and aerolite/cx-ray spokes. A mid/high 1400g, low 1500g build is certainly possible without any exotic parts. This is what I would have done if I wanted race wheels which I’m not afraid to train on, rather than training wheels which I’m not afraid to race on.

The RRP for these rims starts at $98.60 (USD), which is quite expensive compared to Kinlin rims, but when you compare with similar quality rims like the HED Belgium it’s reasonable. Personally, I’ve always been in the Kinlin camp, but that’s not to say I don’t appreciate the finish quality and roundness of these rims. The cheaper rims aren’t bad, these are just better finished (and more expensive).

Shallow rims on a modern bike, yes or no?

In case it isn’t clear by now, I’m suitably impressed by these rims. It’s a high calibre rim, and can not only serve racers looking for a strong, wide yet light training rim, but it would also be suitable for those wanting a classy Saturday best rim. The key to both applications (and anything in-between) would be an appropriate spoke count, and DT offer a wide selection (20/24/28F and 24/28/32R).

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test out the tubeless capabilities of these rims, but these rims have a very low profile hook so I imagine tubeless mounting shouldn’t bee too difficult. They’re also available in a disc specific version, which is slightly lighter at a claimed 410g.

We’d like to thank DT Swiss and Starbike for supplying the review sample.

Campagnolo Update Centaur to 11 speed

Campagnolo Centaur has been reintroduced by campagnolo as their entry level 11 speed groupset. While it doesn’t feature the more exotic materials of Campy’s more expensive offerings, there are still plenty of features which have me excited.

Campagnolo Centaur Crankset. Image courtesy of bicycleretailer

First the new four arm crankset features an ultra-torque axle. Campy appear to have abandoned power-torque and have released an aluminium ultra-torque crankset. While the ultra-torque design does carry a weight penalty (claimed 875g for compact 170mm cranks) it is much easier to remove than the older power torque design. Though Campy made some improvements with their latest power torque (found on the first release of Potenza) it appears as though Campy are looking to stick to ultra-torque, a welcome move in my books.

Campagnolo Centaur Front Derailleur (silver version). Image courtesy of bicycleretailer

Next on the list is the new front derailleur design, which takes cues from the higher end groupsets. The longer lever arm and steel cage borrows directly from the Revolution 11+ technology of Campy’s higher end groups. However, the rear derailleur does not ‘embrace’ the newer geometry of SR/Record/Chorus, instead sticking to a more traditional (but updated) design. What this means is that the RD angle doesn’t change across the cassette (like SR/Record/Chorus) but instead remains constant, simplifying the rear mech.

Campagnolo Scirocco, 35mm deep and 17mm wide (internal)

Campagnolo Scirocco, 35mm deep and 17mm wide (internal)

Also released was an updated Scirocco wheelset. The new wheels are 35mm deep, 17mm wide and have a claimed weight of 1654g (w/o skewers). If the wheels hit the claimed weight and are comparable in (market) price to the current Scirocco H35 wheels then I’d imagine they’d be a popular option. Arguably, these wheels have much better dimensions for wider tyres than Shimano’s RS81-C35 and Dura Ace C40 (assuming Shimano are sticking to the older ‘C35′ profile for the new C40).

Campagnolo Centaur Shifters. Image courtesy of bicycleretailer

Finally, the brakes, levers, cassette and chain are (mostly) what you would expect. Campy continues to use power-shift with the EPS like thumb shifter. While not ultra-shift, it does the job, and the thumb shifter is arguably more ergonomic. Moving on from the shifters, the cassette is only available in 11-29, 11-32, 12-32, and the crankset is only available in 50/34 and 52/36 chainring options. Initially, I thought this would be crippling, but then looking at my own gearing choices, I’d be perfectly happy with the 52/36 and 11-29 (I run a (not recommended) 53/36 with 11-28). I’d be gaining a lower gear but losing a little on my highest gear.

Campagnolo Centaur Rear Derailleur. Image courtesy of bicycleretailer

Some websites are labeling this groupset as a SRAM Rival and Shimano 105 challenger, though I think that’s a little unfair. At least with Shimano, every time I use their 105 groupset I can’t escape the feeling that it’s just a cheaper version of Ultegra. It doesn’t offer anything more, apart from a cheaper price point. Campagnolo Centaur on the other hand, offers a well thought out groupset which offers privateers a wide gearing range. It’s not Potenza trickled down with cheaper materials, but rather a distinct groupset designed with a purpose: To serve a budget orientated privateer.

 

New Mavic Open Pro rim

The ‘reference’ rim up until the past decade, the Mavic Open Pro rim finally gets an update. Last year, Mavic revamped their Ksyrium endurance wheelset range with wider, lighter rims and this year it appears as though their Open Pro rim is getting the same treatment.

Spotted on Instagram, Team Dream Team leaked a photo of the new Open Pro rim, claiming that it’s lighter and wider than the previous iteration. Judging by their Ksyrium rims, I expect the Open Pro rim to have a 17mm internal width. Also evident is the ISM4D milling pattern, and Exalith brake surface.

Image courtesy of Team Dream Team Instagram

The built rim appears to be a 32 spoke rim, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mavic only made 32/36 drillings. I think this drilling range is adequate, though I would like to see a 28h rim so lighter riders have the option of 28/32. Having said that, a 32/32 wheel would be great for riders looking for peace of mind and don’t mind the weight penalty of an extra 8-20 spokes. Judging by the low profile the rim will hopefully be lighter than the H plus Son Archetype, Hed Belgium etc but perhaps not as light as a Stans ZTR Alpha 340.

Image courtesy of Team Dream Team Instagram

Personally, I’ve been reluctant to recommend Mavic rims to people who are looking at building custom wheels. However if Mavic manage to hit 420g (or lighter) I expect this rim to be a great option (especially if the current Open Pro price remains). That said, the rim market has plenty of options for wide, light rims, most of which available in more drillings (e.g. DT Swiss RR411). I expect these rims to be more popular since they’re available in more drilling options but that’s not to say the Open Pro doesn’t have a place.

Image courtesy of jonesprecisionwheels instagram

For someone looking for exalith, 32h/36h rim, and perhaps a (slightly) lower weight than the RR411 this rim should tick all the boxes. I’d suggest that this rim would be perfect for anything inbetween touring and big races, a perfect wheel to take on cycling holidays, training and maybe lower priority races.

Looking towards the future I would not be surprised if Mavic also updated their CXP range. A 33mm deep, 23-25mm rim weighing 490g or less available in 20/24/28/32 would be an excellent ‘Light and Fast’ compliment to the revamped Open Pro. Though such a rim already exists… (just not from Mavic)

 

Update: According to social media the rims are claimed to be 435g, 19mm internal and will eventually become available in 24/28/32 source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BRY9NsPAPsL/

I’ll be trying to get this rim in for review when it becomes available.

Ding Bike Lights – a first look

It’s not everyday you come across a novel idea: Ding have produced a light that projects both forwards and downwards!

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Image courtesy of Ding

So why am I so excited about this new light? If you’ve ridden at night or in the early hours of the morning without the aid of street lights you’ll know the importance of a good headlight. Ding takes this one step further, not only does the light offer an excellent front beam, it also projects light around you, illuminating obstacles and improving your visibility.

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Image courtesy of Ding

The light itself is a competitive weight with other dedicated front lights, weighing in at 178g, just 2g heavier than the well regarded Supernova Airstream 2 light. In terms of brightness, both lights provided similar levels of forward illumination however Ding eclipses Supernova for side illumination.

In terms of bulk, this is where the Ding light loses out to the Airstream. The Ding light is much bulkier and is quite difficult to mount under the handlebars of typical road handlebars. Unlike the Airstream, which has a mount which ‘lowers’ the light under your cables, the Ding light attempts to ‘directly’ mount to your bars, and competes with your brake/gear cables for space.

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Even though on their kickstarter campaign they claim that this light can be mounted in complete darkness, I found it difficult to mount to 3 bikes of different sizes. The only solution which I found acceptable was the GoPro mount. Due to the downwards projecting light, you’re forced to mount the light under your handlebars (or stem), where your cables get in the way. I feel that this aspect of the design was missed by the design team and clearly requires a better approach.

Ding mount

Image courtesy of Ding

Ding’s solution to this issue is just to mount it close to, or over the bar tape, but with my cable routing I still found issues with cable clearance. If I mounted it over the bar tape, away from the cables the downward lighting was asymmetrical, which annoyed me more than it should have. Finally, due to the bulk, you can feel the light next to your fingers when you’re riding on the tops, even on 44cm bars.

However, if you have a GoPro compatible Garmin mount, or some sort of BDOP Dashboard Genie (or flat bars with plenty of space) this light will work fine. The GoPro mount weighs an additional 5g, and would be my suggested mounting method.IMG_1349If like me you don’t have a GoPro compatible out front mount etc. you’ll probably be severely disappointed that this light won’t fit your bike, but this light has huge potential to be a market leader, provided they sort out the mounting issues.IMG_1354

 

For $120 AUD this light is substantially cheaper than other market leaders and arguably offers better illumination. However, what this light lacks is the big budget testing bigger brands such as Supernova have. Unlike an Airstream I cannot confidently state that this light will fit your bike and perform as advertised (you can mount it on your bartape section but that defeats the purpose of the side illumination).

Finally, my pet annoyance with riding at night is other cyclists users using super bright lights which blind oncoming traffic, and since Ding make no claims about how much light is directed at the ground (vs directly ahead) I can only assume Ding would fail StVZO testing. Still, it’s exciting to see new ideas come out, and provided Ding can sort out the above issues, this light will certainly be an excellent product. I’ll be following their future developments closely.

 

Veloflex Master Tyre Review

If fine, supple, light tyres are your thing then chances are you’ve at least heard of Veloflex. Many hold Veloflex tyres in high regard, and after spending the last month training and racing on their Master tyres I can understand why these tyres are held in such high regard.

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Veloflex Master 

Veloflex describe the Master as an “all-purpose open tubular”. Featuring tan sidewalls and a 320 TPI corespun casing, this tyre adds a real ‘classic’ look to most bikes. I tested the 700×25 version, which measured roughly 24mm on a 17c rim – quite narrow by today’s standards. Weight was almost bang on claimed, with my two tyres weighing 207g and 201g, giving an average weight of 204g.

Veloflex Master weights

Veloflex Master weights

When unboxing the first thing that struck me was just how supple and thin these tyres are. The bead isn’t very rigid, and when paired with a flexible casing you can fold this tyre up quite tightly. I doubt this effects the tyres performance, though. It’s just interesting to note because I could never fold tyres from Vittoria, Michelin or Continental this tight (and that’s including the Vittoria Open Corsa range).

Very flexible tyres

Out on the road the suppleness of these tyres was immediately obvious. When paired with latex tubes and a reasonable tyre pressure, these tyres gave an impression of ‘gliding’ along the road. Despite only measuring 24mm, these tyres give the comfort of a (lesser) tyre measuring 26mm but also the reactivity of a 23mm tyre. They’re a step above ‘regular’ tyres in terms of road feel.

Veloflex Master tyres are incredibly thin

You’re probably now expecting me to suggest these tyres offer terrible puncture protection but in fact the puncture protection has been more than adequate – it takes more than riding over glass to get a flat, in fact the only flats I’ve had so far have been pinch flats (I was experimenting with how little tyre pressure I could get away with).

I often find cornering grip can make or break good tyres, and these tyres certainly corner well. In the wet and dry the tyres offered good, predictable grip and feedback. They’re better than the (now superseded) Vittoria Open Corsa line, but not quite as good as a Michelin Pro 3 (or 4). Perhaps I feel more confident on the Michelin tyre because I’ve had more kilometres on them.

From what I’ve described, it appears these tyres would make the perfect race tyres, they’re light, supple, corner and roll well. However, if I were picking race tyres I would probably overlook these because I can get sturdier tyres that corner just as well, if not better. Yes, the Masters offer decent puncture protection, but I would prefer greater reliability in my (road) race tyres. I feel at club level the ‘speed’ difference between this tyre and say a Conti GP4000s or Michelin Pro 4 isn’t going to be the difference between winning and losing, but puncturing is. It’s for that reason that I would pitch these tyres solidly at those aiming to enjoy cycling, and don’t mind fixing the odd puncture. Or perhaps those who are willing to risk puncturing more often, for a marginal performance increase. Unfortunately, I prefer to finish my races, and usually the difference between winning and losing comes more down to race tactics, or training rather than my equipment.

Conclusion: Light, fast and supple tyres that offer decent puncture protection. Great for fast, long rides, but perhaps not my choice for a racing clincher.

Local Racing: Tour of Bright 2016 Race Report

The Bright Brewery Tour of Bright (ToB) is considered one of the largest amateur/graded stage races in Australia. Featuring  a time trial and 2 (hilly) road stages, many Australians below national level target the ToB each year. This year I had the opportunity to race in Elite Men’s C grade.

Before the race I really had no idea what to expect from ToB. The decision to race was quite a late one, I didn’t leave myself very much time to prepare for the alpine climbs in the Bright region. I’m a lighter rider and generally perform reasonably well in hillier races, but the climbs featured in ToB are considerably longer than the climbs I’ve raced on. Still, I thought it would be a valuable experience to have, and a chance to represent my club at one of Australia’s largest graded road races.

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The view from Tawonga Gap

Stage 1 was a short, but hot 13.5km time trial. The course was reasonably flat so it suited a TT specialist, or at least someone with a high 15-20 minute power. I set a goal of finishing the time trial in 21 minutes, but I was a little off my mark finishing with a time of 21:41. I started a little too hard and didn’t finish as strongly as I would have liked. The C grade winner’s time was a fast 18:39, set by Laurence BASELL of Hawthorn cycling club.

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Me taking the first turn. You can view my Strava file here.

The second stage was a hilly, 91km road stage, featuring 2 categorised climbs, Rosewhite Gap (Cat 2) and Tawonga Gap (Cat 1). The bunch was fairly well behaved for the first 30km. I was able to sit in nicely without doing too much work, but at 30km the bunch began to accelerate, chasing down an earlier attack. I wanted to contest the KOM points at Rosewhite, but I was near the back so I spent most of the climb moving up. When I found myself towards the front a small group had gone clear and so I decided to bridge across to them, which in hindsight was quite a foolish move because I went quite far into the red and wasn’t able to recover. I was promptly dropped and rode the last ~40km solo. I lost a fair chunk of time, and finished just over 30 minutes behind the stage winner, Liam Garriga of Carnegie Caulfield Cycling Club. I somehow managed to fray my rear derailleur cable somewhere on the ride, luckily it didn’t snap until the ride home. I was able to obtain a new cable cheaply at a local bike shop.

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Climbing Tawonga Gap. You can view my Strava file here

The final stage was essentially an ascent of Mt Hotham (1533m elevation difference). I made a decision to try and contest the sprint points, because the points from stage 2 were split, and so a good performance on stage 3 could mean a top 5 in the sprint classification. However, the day started with mechanical issues because my rear derailleur wasn’t indexed properly from the night before. Luckily, I was able to select either the 15t or 17t without experiencing ghost shifts. I tried my best to contest the sprints with these ratios but I didn’t have the final kick to contest either sprint point. I think a few others had the same idea as me, so the sprints were hotly contested. With the sprints over I decided to stop and fix my indexing for the Hothan ascent. I finished 24:33 down on stage winner Liam Garriga, who also took out the GC honours. I think all the photographers had packed up by the time I made it to the top, so there aren’t any ugly photos of me. You can view my Strava file here.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my ToB racing experience. Kudos to those who raced and rode the fondo stages, and many thanks to the volunteers and sponsors who made this event possible. For more information about the event click here.

TriRig releases new Omni frame

Not exactly something for the ‘weightweenies’, TriRig have officially launched their new Omni frame. The design appears to draw inspiration from the Lotus 108 and 110 time trial frames of the late 1990s, albeit with more modern touches.

The seat angle is a steep 79 degrees, critical for triathletes looking to rotate forwards. It is unlikely that this bike will be UCI legal, however that is not the point of this bike. While only available in three sizes, TriRig offer a reasonable range of cockpit adjustment. From a shorter rider’s perspective, the stack of 490mm should be low enough for most. I personally would prefer lower, but I ride 12.5-50km time trials, not ironman distance triathlons so I am obviously not their target audience.

TriRig Omin Geometry

TriRig Omni Geometry

Despite not being part of the target audience I am still excited by this product because it represents what could be possible if some aspects of the UCI regulations were relaxed. The aero data for the Omni has not been released at the time of writing, but I would be very interested to see the difference between this frame and UCI legal Cervelo/UKSI designs.

TriRig aren’t the first manufacturer to design radically different triathlon bikes, Falco and Dimond have ‘V’ style designs focused specifically for non-UCI events. In terms of Geometry, all three of the mentioned bikes have a similar range between smallest and largest. Dimond offer 5 sizes for slightly smaller increments (but arguably this can be compensated for by stem lengths and spacers) and Falco offer slightly steeper seat tube angles (82 degrees).

The Omni is priced at $4990 for the frameset and $7990 for the complete build pictured above. It is interesting to note the choice of a SRAM 1x set up for the stock option. A surprising (but welcome) inclusion is the 4mm hex wrench from Silca which is required for the ‘quick release’ skewer. The complete build appears to be well thought out (though I can’t really say more without actually working on the bike). Nothing stands out as something that can be a major annoyance.

Before wrapping up I would be interested to see how TriRig have managed the internal cable routing. I would suspect a few tight corners inherited by the bike’s lack of down tube, but perhaps they’ve thought of something clever. If you’re running electronic this won’t be of much importance to you, though.

Not one for the weightweenies but I would suspect that most aeroweenies are impressed. I’m eagerly awaiting the aero results, how mast faster is this UCI illegal design?

Disclaimer: The author is not afiliated with TriRig and the images were taken from the TriRig website. For full details please refer to http://www.tririg.com/omni

 

 

NixFrixShun Ultimate Chainlube

Chain lube is something I’ve never paid much attention to. I’ve always just bought whatever the latest ‘fad’ was (e.g. Rock’n’Roll Gold, Triflow, etc.) without much thought. It never occurred to me that one chain lube would be significantly better than the rest, but that’s possibly because nothing really stood out, not even the ‘King of Lubes’ (Rock’n’Roll Gold).

Initially, I was quite skeptical about the claims NixFrixShun made about their chain lube, particularly how could you possibly get 10 000 miles out of a 2oz (60ml) bottle of lube? I’ve never gotten anywhere near that out of a (larger) bottle of Rock’n’Roll. Additionally, only applying 12 (small) drops to the chain was a foreign concept to me, I’ve always applied chain lube liberally.

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Nonetheless, I decided to try NFS lube after moving to a wetter climate, I got sick of lubing my chain after every rainy ride (which could be every day if I was unlucky). I stumbled upon the website after a few searches and despite my above skepticisms, I ordered a bottle. As expected, the bottles were quite small compared to other brands. However my initial skepticisms were rejected after the first application, 12 small drops were enough for just under 1000km of smooth riding in wet conditions. Impressive would be understating it.

Size comparison of NFS bottle to Stans 59ml sealant

Size comparison of NFS bottle to Stans 59ml sealant

Usually after a wet ride I’d need to reapply more lube, but not with NFS. Of course, I still need to oil my chain more regularly in rainy periods, but it will at least last me a fortnight before I need to reapply, rather than after every (longish) wet ride. Previously I was quite vigilant with lubing my chain, ensuring to lube my chain before a long ride, but now with NFS there’s no real need, applying a small amount of lube now and then is plenty.

NFS chain lube is easy to apply dropwise with their spout

NFS chain lube is easy to apply dropwise with their spout

5000 wintery kilometres later, I’m still impressed by how durable and smooth NFS lube is. I’d be able to count on my fingers the number of times I’ve had to re-lube my chain, and that’s something I’ve never managed with mainstream lubes (even in summer months). From this experience, I’d agree with NixFrixShun’s claim that their lubes are mostly lube (rather than solvent).

I’ve found that the 12-12-12 method mentioned on their website performs well. I’ve tried applying more, but in my experience more lube just ‘clogs’ the chain and attracts dirt, and if you spend more time wiping then you just wipe of the ‘excess’ anyway. Applying less than 12 drops, but more than 6 (after the initial application) does work if there’s still a decent amount of lube remaining, but I’d rather wait a little longer and apply the full 12 when the chain is a little drier. As you might guess, I find anything less than 6 drops to be ineffective in lubing anything but an already well lubed chain.

The consistency of NFS is thicker than others, and has a slight sheen. Like most lubes It washes off easily with soap. It’s also not so thin that it’ll flick excess lube/grime onto you and your bike if you don’t wipe every drop off. I also haven’t noticed any decrease in performance when  riding immediately after application.

The NFS solution appears to be quite hydrophobic, but also has quite a strong surface tension. This suggests to me that NFS is composed of medium/long chained hydrocarbons, or similar. Of course this is only a guess, but it would be in line with other lubricants. I would suggest that NFS performs better than other lubes because of its well formulated composition of ‘regular’ lubricants, rather than something drastically different.

NFS ultimate chain lube can be bought directly from the NixFrixShun speed shop. They also have a biodegradable formula, and other misc accessories. Fans of Silca may have noticed that Silca and NFS have collaborated to develop a Silca specific formula. I’m yet to test the performance of the biodegradable/Silca formula, but from my experiences of the Ultimate, NixFrixShun certainly have an idea or two about engineering efficient and durable lubes.

Pricing may be towards the more expensive side of the spectrum, but considering how effective and long lasting this lube is I would argue that it’s worth every cent.

Disclaimer: The author has no relation with NixFrixShun, and the lube was purchased at retail pricing.

 

Specialized S-Works Power Test

When Specialized first unveiled the Power saddle I immediately dismissed it as one that wouldn’t work for me. When riding I like to switch between sitting on the rearward half of the saddle, and riding on the rivet. However, when a friend offered to lend me his S-Works power to try I was curious. Now having ridden it for a few months I like it so much I’m not giving it back.

First things first, setting up the Power is quite different to other saddles. I’ve always positioned my (Selle Italia SLR) saddles so the nose is always a fixed distance behind the bottom bracket, but this won’t work when using the Power. Instead, I’ve found that a better guide is the position where the saddle transitions from ‘straight’ to curved. My experience suggests that placing the Power so the curved section aligned with an SLR resulted in an agreeable position. The picture below demonstrates how I set the Power in relation to an SLR (apologies for the dirty saddle – I swear I obtained it in that condition).

power crop

Specialized recommend increasing your setback by 3cm when using the Power. I found this recommendation vague, though useful. It is true that my setback increased by around 3cm (it’s a little under 3cm), so it’s a useful figure to start with, however I found more fine tuning was necessary. Perhaps changing from another Specialized branded saddle requires 3cm, but in relation to an SLR I discovered that aligning the ‘maximum curvature’ zone to be more practical.

It is true that I’m not able to slide forward on the Power, but after extensive riding I haven’t found this to be an issue. It’s not that I’ve got the saddle slammed forward, in fact my installation actually biases the rearward position. I’m not quite sure why I don’t miss the sitting on the nose, but one hypothesis is that I didn’t really ‘need’ to slide forward, rather it was just a bad habit. Now that I don’t have the option of sliding forward I can focus more on actually getting the power out, rather than moving into a position where I think I’m getting the power out.

In terms of what the Power feels like on the road, it is surprisingly similar to the Selle Italia SLR gel flow saddle (albeit with no nose to sit on). visually, the radius of curvature of both saddles is similar, though the Power is slightly wider (143mm vs 132mm) and shorter (~250mm vs ~270mm). The Power definitely feels supportive and encourages you to hold yourself steady in the saddle, minimising any rocking you may have. The Pro and S-Works model saddles are a little firmer than my SLR, but Specialized offer Expert and Comp level saddles which feature (slightly) softer padding. I personally preferred the firmer saddle (more on this later).

Despite being a new product the Power comes in 4 distinct models, with a Comp, Expert, Pro and S-Works model being available. ‘Distinct’ is a little misleading since the Comp/Expert and Pro/S-Works share the same shell/padding but differ in terms of rail material (so really 2 distinct models each with 2 rail options). I’ve been lucky enough to test both the S-Works and Pro model and I would suggest that both feel identical. If weight were of no concern I would save the money and buy the Pro model.

Speaking of weight, the Pro model weighs in at 211g according to my kitchen scales. I’m a little disappointed by the weight, my old SLR kit carbino saddles were around 135g and even the lower end SLR xp saddles were ~180g, both lighter than the Pro and S-Works model saddles. The inner weightweenie doesn’t like the saddle, but it’s proved itself over the last 6000km of training and racing. If pricing was more competitive I would have this saddle on all of my bikes.

power weight

Why don’t I think the pricing is competitive? The cheaper Comp and Expert models (despite sharing the same name) are actually very different saddles. If you view them in person, it’s obvious that they are much more heavily padded than the Pro/S-Works models, and I believe one of the major reasons why the design of this saddle works is the low profile padding. I find less to be more since less padding often provides greater support, rather than that uncomfortable ‘squishy’ feeling you get from softer, thicker padding. In essence, the cheapest (and only) Power I would consider would be the Pro model. The Comp and Expert simply don’t offer the same support as the Pro.

Now obviously I’m not suggesting that the Power will work for everyone, I’m more recounting  my experiences and opinions. The only way to know for sure would be to try it yourself. If you like the (old) SLR range of saddles, and dislike the Fi:zi:k snake and chameleon range, then (based on my experience) I would definitely give the Power range a test ride.

Saddles are not a one size fits all item, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Power saddles feature on more Specialized sponsored teams as time progresses. Despite only two width options being available for the S-Works/Pro models at the time of writing (143mm and 155mm ), I would argue that one of the two options should suit most riders. Just like their insoles, where there are only three options, compared to 3025 possible combinations offered by some competitors (see G8 Performance Insoles), most people seem to get on fine with a ‘stock’ option.

Disclaimer: The author is in no way affiliated with Specialized. The author was loaned an S-Works saddle for the test period and purchased the Pro saddle at retail during the test period.