Category Archives: Reviews

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.

Jagwire Elite link cable review

I’m usually someone who likes black. Black bar tape, black saddles, black bikes etc. I was in such a shock when I received a set of gold cables for review that I forgot to weigh them (sorry, but jokes aside I need to source a new set of scales before I can post weights). Since I won’t be able to post weights, this review will mostly entail the installation and use. If you are interested in the weight, Art’s Cyclery cite a weight of 115g for the (complete) shift kit and 118g for the brake kit. Considering how much housing is supplied, these weights seem reasonable, and are comparable to BDOP’s kit. After cutting, I would suspect that these cables will come in at a similar weight to BDOP’s kit (if not lighter).

Jagwire elite link cables

Jagwire elite link cables

First things first, these kits aren’t compatible with full length housing, since the cables rely on splits in the housing to facilitate easy length alterations (unlike traditional housings which can just be cut to length). Having said that, there have been a few documented cases of this kit working with full length rear brake systems (see Krackor’s post). Jagwire do supply plenty of the inner housing, if you’ve got a frame with split internal cable routing, you should be able to make it a fair way into the frames with this inner, which should help in keeping the cables sealed against the elements.

Jagwire's take on the link system

Jagwire’s take on the link system

While Jagwire sell this as a ‘link’ system, these are quite different to other link systems on the market. They feature a pre-lubed inner housing, which the links ‘sit’ over in a head to toe fashion. Jagwire use a standard cable housing under the bartape, which connects to the inner housing either via a barrel adjustor, or a special link (both supplied). I’m guessing Jagwire do this to make internal handlebars slightly easier to install, and to avoid super tight bends with the link section.

Links do not 'bend' around super tight corners

Links do not ‘bend’ around super tight corners

Installation was actually surprisingly pain free, but not as easy as traditional cables. You first need to cut the section which goes under the bartape to length, and tape it in place. This wasn’t too much of an issue, but be careful to check if you’ve got the shift or brake housing as they look similar but are very different (they come labelled).

Jagwire use traditional housing under the bartape

Jagwire use traditional housing under the bartape

Once you have the bartape section done, you’ll then need to attach the rest of the housing to it. This can be done either with a barrel adjuster, or a special link. If you’re planing on using the barrel adjustors, Jagwire’s approach to this isn’t ideal. If you follow their instructions you’ll end up covering the barrel adjustors with your bartape, as illustrated in the photos below.

Notice the barrel adjustors under the bartape. Photo credit: Bikerumour

Notice the barrel adjustors under the bartape, this is how Jagwire set it up. Photo credit: Bikerumour

How I’ve set up the barrel adjustor, also under the tape

You can avoid this by running the bartape section housing longer (so it extends past the bartape) but this isn’t ideal aesthetically. For this reason I would suggest you avoid the barrel adjustor. The special link they supply sits much nicer under the bartape and provides a smoother transition from regular housing to link housing.

Alternative to the 4mm barrel adjustor

Alternative to the 4mm barrel adjustor

In terms of judging housing length, if you cut the inner housing cautiously this kit is actually quite forgiving, in that you can insert/remove links over the inner housing. When I installed this kit, I left the inner housing slightly too long so it extended past my cable stop, which is aesthetically not ideal, but means I can add links if I accidentally removed too many (which I have a tendency to do). The weight of the inner housing is pretty negligible, so I would rather be safe than sorry when cutting.

I've left some excess housing uncut to allow me to lengthen the cable, if needed.

I’ve left some excess housing uncut to allow me to lengthen the cable, if needed.

Out on the road the shifting was smooth, rivalling that of the polymer coated cables from Shimano. Compared to the cables found as original equipment of lower-mid range bikes these are definitely an upgrade, undoubtedly a level above the cheaper options from Jagwire. Even with the tight bend created by my 36cm handlebars I still experienced slick shifting, with no hint of cable friction.

The black coating on the cables no doubt aims to reduce friction, but can also improve the cosmetics of certain externally routed frames. Most frames these days have internal cable routing, so this is a moot point. However, for those who prefer externally routed cables, the black coating does help the cables ‘blend’ in more.

No, it isn't my poor photography, the cable really is black. Jagwire also supply a seal to use on the rear derailleur housing to keep grit out of the cable

No, it isn’t my poor photography, the cable really is black. Jagwire also supply a seal to use on the rear derailleur housing to keep grit out of the cable

Jagwire supply some rubber frame protectors you can slide over the links. Shrink wrap is a lighter alternative, but it’s nice to see details like this included in the kit. Also supplied are some clips to clip different sections of housing together, making it easier to achieve a clean look.  I found the hardest part of making the cabling look ‘clean’ was finding the optimum length, I couldn’t decide if I needed that extra link or not. In the end I decided to include it, though it’ll probably look cleaner without it.

The compressionless housing also helps in obtaining a tidy front end, you can shape the housings a lot more than with traditional outers. Having said that, the housings do shift around a fair bit, which is probably why Jagwire supply clips to help keep them from moving too much.

Apart from gold (and black), the housings are also available in silver red and blue allowing some customisation. I’d say all of the coloured options (red, blue, gold) are quite eye catching, and would look great on a suitable bike.

Jagwire supply frame protectors which slide over the links. Also supplied are little clips to hold different sections together

Jagwire supply frame protectors which slide over the links. Also supplied are little clips to hold different sections together

If you’re in the market for a lighter alternative these are certainly worth looking into. They’re no harder to install than traditional cable housings and certainly perform just as well as the stock Shimano cables. PowerCordz, and other designs will be lighter, but possibly more hassle. I would consider these cables to represent a nice compromise between outright weight and ease of installation. Perfect for those who are a little intimidated by more complicated systems, or simply want an easier system to install.

To conclude, these cables represent a nice aftermarket customisation for your bike, and are a significant upgrade over lower end cables. If you like the looks and weight reduction offered by link housing systems these are definitely worth considering, particularly if you’re intimidated by the complexity of other systems. Most Weightweenies are probably happy to spend a little extra time fitting lighter systems (or have a mechanic do it for them), so this is more of a ‘middle ground’ giving some benefits of compressionless link housing, while retaining the simplicity of traditional housing.

This product was supplied by Starbike for the purposes of this review. The shift cable kit and brake cable kit are available to purchase from Starbike.

BDop DIY Alloy Road Wheel Kit LT

There are a few websites offering DIY style wheel kits, they supply the rims, hubs spokes etc. for you to build yourself. Recently, BDop Cycling has begun to offer a DIY kit designed to offer a light alloy clincher wheel at an affordable price.

Like the cables that I reviewed earlier, the packaging for these wheels was also very plain – a simple cardboard box.

BDop packaging is plain

BDop packaging is plain

You may notice a dent in the upper right hand corner of the packaging. I was a little concerned about this when I was opening the box. However, BDop pack the kit very securely, with plenty of bubble wrap for protection. I was pleased to find that the sorry state of the exterior cardboard was not reflected in the internal contents.

Unboxing the BDop LT wheel kit

Unboxing the BDop LT wheel kit

Inside the cardboard middle section were the hubs, spokes and extras included with this kit. BDop do supply a spoke key with this build, which was handy in lacing the wheels, but I found it absolutely useless for tensioning and truing. Call me fussy, but I found the supplied spoke key uncomfortable to grip. I’d recommend the Park Tool SW-20 or SW-0, I personally used a Pillar spoke wrench, also available from BDop. It features good ergonomics, and I’ve never rounded off a nipple with it.

Apart from the actual wheel, you also get a spoke key and rim strips

Apart from the actual wheel, you also get a spoke key and rim strips

You will also need to supply your own truing stand and dishing tool. These tools can be improvised, but having the actual tools is a lot easier (Tacx T3175 & T4585 are two reasonably priced but quality tools). I find a spoke tension meter also helps to ensure even tension, but they can be quite pricey (I quite like the Park TM-1, it’s NOT accurate, but it’s very precise – which is more important for even tension).

Tools aside, I found building this kit was quite pleasant, lacing was made much easier by the internal spoke wrench (it grips the nipple well enough so you can insert it directly into the rim) and I didn’t have any weird hops at the rim joint. It personally took me around 4 hours to complete the build, expect less if you’re more experienced, and more if it’s your first time.

Onto the components, nothing jumped out as particularly heavy, or light (for the intended purpose of the kit). The most notable thing I found was that the front QR skewer had the logo printed upside down (if you like to mount the QR skewer pointing towards the rear wheel). The front QR weighs 50g, and the rear weighs 55g. They’re heavy but do a decent job of clamping the wheel.

Novatec logo printed backwards on front QR

Novatec logo printed backwards on front QR

The hubset weighed 303g, with the front weighing 60g and the rear weighing 243g. The rear isn’t particularly light, but the front is (referencing the BHS hubs). Both had smooth bearings out of the box, and a good finish. The rear hub has decent NDS spoke tension – about 45% of the DS spoke tension.

Front hub weight

The rear hub features the ABG (anti bite guard) design. Essentially, it’s a metal strip to prevent the cassette from biting into the freehub. From my past experiences with this model hub it works really well. I’ve had 10 000 km in another wheel using this freehub and the there’s no noticeable notching. I’ve had alloy freehubs which notched after only a few thousand km.

Rear hub weight

BDop pointed out that recently a batch of SL rear hubs were mis-labelled by Novatec, which is why the rear hub in this review didn’t have the SL logo. I asked BDop what the differences between the SL hub and the standard hubs were, in short, the SL hubs have more material machined off, leading to a lighter weight. Since the two hubs look so similar (the SL hub is *slightly* narrower) it’s understandable how this mistake occurred.

Moving onto the rims, my two rims averaged 422.5g, so they’re reasonably light considering the width. They’re lighter (but also narrower) than Kinlin’s XR-22T – 440g. However, they are heavier than Stan’s ZTR Alpha 340 rim which have similar dimensions. I would say the weight is about par.

Weight - 20h

Weight – 20h

Weight - 24h

Weight 24h

Just a word of caution, these rims scratch quite easily, I managed to scratch them with a spoke while lacing. This isn’t really a criticism (I’ve had similar experiences with Kinlin rims) but more a word of warning.

Rims scratch easily!

Rims scratch easily!

Since the spokes (Sapim CX-Ray) and nipples (Pillar alloy) are fairly well known I won’t write too much about them. All up, the front wheel weighs 581g and the rear weighs 791g (1372g total), without rim tape.

Front wheel weight

Front wheel weight

Rear wheel weight

Rear wheel weight

The rim strips supplied by BDop weigh 18g per wheel, they do the job, but if you want a pure weightweenie build, veloplugs are much lighter (amendment: I tried Red veloplugs but the fit wasn’t perfect). The included valvinator stickers were negligible in mass.

Rim strip weight

Rim strip weight

Scientifically, light wheels may not make you significantly faster, but they can make your bike more responsive and fun (subjectively). There are those out there who swear by aero gains, but I personally am a sucker for light wheels. I found these wheels rode like a light wheel should, they spun up easily and were very reactive to power surges. Stiffness wasn’t a let down either. I’m 58kg and I didn’t find stiffness lacking, and nor did my much heavier 76kg friend. I certainly couldn’t pick the difference in stiffness between the Ksyrium Elite wheels I had in for review earlier, but my heavier friend could – commenting that while stiffness wasn’t lacking, the Ksyriums did have an edge. He goes on to mention, given the weight the stiffness is fine. Given the above, I’d say BDop were spot on when they suggest that these wheels were “designed specifically for featherweight climbers”.

Towards the end of the testing month, I began to conclude that this kit would be great for a budget minded weightweenie who likes to tinker with their bikes. While some sites recommend that your first wheelbuild should be a sturdy wheel with lots of spokes (easier to bring into true), I can’t see why someone building wheels for the first time would struggle with this kit. The rear lacing pattern can be a challenge, but that’s a problem with any crossed wheel. If you sit down and look at a few diagrams/wheels you’ll be able to work it out. Perhaps the biggest advantage (and drawback) is that you don’t need to calculate spoke lengths. This is a skill I would recommend learning sometime, but it’s nice to know that the supplied spoke lengths are correct.

If you’re someone who likes brand name or boutique products this kit probably wouldn’t appeal to you (seriously, why are you still reading this review?). However, like the cables, if getting excellent performance for the price is important to you then these wheels are a good choice. They’re an excellent set of light alloy clinchers for a lighter rider (regardless of price). I must add, that you can get much lighter carbon wheels, especially if you go tubular. Having said that, carbon and/or tubular wheels may not be a good option for everyone, and so I would still be inclined to recommend this build kit.

Post Scriptum: After this review BDOP have updated this kit to feature straight pull spokes and hubs, rather than conventional J-bend hubs/spokes. I expect this choice of hubs to better compliment this kit, as the larger flange spacings suggest stiffer wheels. I was impressed with the initial configuration, and this new configuration appears better on paper. Should you break a spoke, sourcing a replacement spoke from BDOP shouldn’t be an issue.

We would like to thank BDop for supplying the DIY wheel kit for this review. You can read more about it here

BDop Elite Road Cable Kit Review

Cables can be an important consideration of your next build, a bad set of cables often means poor shifting quality and spongey brake lever feel. Having said that, the stock cables from Shimano and Campagnolo are often decent choices, with low friction and easy set up, but are there other viable alternatives? Over the last month, I’ve had the opportunity to install and test the BDop Elite Road cable kit.

The BDOP Elite cable kit arrived in a no fuss cardboard box.

The BDop Elite cable kit arrived in a no fuss cardboard box.

Unlike many brands, the BDop cable kit doesn’t have fancy logos adorning its packaging, rather a simple cardboard box with the website, and a small label. There isn’t too much to mention with the packaging, other than it was packaged well with plenty of bubble wrap

Inside the box, again minimalistic

Inside the box, again minimalistic

For once, I didn’t have endless instruction manuals in all the languages known to man to throw out before I started my build. With the unboxing relatively plain – no werid warnings to announce, I moved onto getting some weights:

Complete brake housing kit weighs in at 92g

Complete brake housing kit weighs in at 92g

The compelte brake housing kit weighs 92g, with the outer housing weighing 44g, the cable weighing 47g. The inner housing had a mass of 1g (pretty negligible considering I only used half of it).

brake cable outer

brake cable outer

brake cable inner weight

brake cable inner weight

Also included were some ferrules and cable crimp cap ends. Moving onto the shift cables, the housing set weighs 92g (like the brake set), with the outers weighing 52g and the cables weighing 38g. Ferrules and crimp cap ends were also included for the gear cables.

gear cable set weight

gear cable set weight

When cutting the outers, some of the yellow kevlar sheet becomes exposed, leaving a ‘fluffy’ cut. It looks messy, but it’s hidden by the ferrules so I wouldn’t call it a design flaw. You can file it off if you’re super pedantic, I didn’t bother. On the note of cutting, I didn’t need an awl tool to pry open the outers after I made the cut (I usually need to).

gear cable outer weights

gear cable outer weights

BDop claim that these inner cables don’t fray when cut. I didn’t manage to fray these cables while cutting, but using some spare cable from the FD to test, I was able to fray the cut end relatively easily by poking a few things with it. The uncut end comes with some sort of ‘tip’ to stop it fraying, which I found handy when I was poking around he internals of my frame. My advice there would be to not remove these cables once cut, if possible, and to avoid poking things with it once cut.

gear cable weight

gear cable weight

Most frames, including the one I installed this kit on (Swift Ultravox) have internal cable guides to aid in installing new cables. If your frame does not have these guides then the internal routing might be trickier, but fear not, as these cables have magnetic properties. I was able to replace the internal cable guides I have in my Swift using fridge magnets to direct the gear cable through the ports, and then sliding the replacement guides on over the top. I would comment that installation was a breeze, definitely no harder than standard cable installation.

I’m using 38cm (outside to outside) handlebars coupled with Shimano 11 speed shifters, which creates a fairly tight radius between the hoods and the tops for the cables to bend around. I have seen tighter bends on some internally routed bars, but I would suggest my shifter/bar combo still results in the sub-optimal cable bend. In spite of the tight bend, I did not experience sub optimal shifting or braking performance – suggesting that friction in this bend was minimal. I didn’t have too many other tight bends in my build, and there was plenty of leftover gear cable housing for the rear derailleur. I’m not sure if there’s enough housing for a full length build though (there should be enough for the brakes, not 100% convinced there will be enough for the gear cables, please check with BDop before purchasing).

These cables did stretch ever so slightly in the first few weeks (they claim to be pre-stretched). The amount of stretch was very minor though, and required only a slight turn of the barrel adjuster to compensate.

In conclusion I haven’t been disappointed with the BDop Elite cable kit. To be perfectly honest, they don’t feel too different from the stock Shimano Dura Ace cables. However, when factoring in the price these do become an attractive proposition ($39.99 USD). If getting similar performance for a lower price is attractive to you then I would recommend these cables.

We would like to thank BDop for supplying the kit for this review. You can view the product here

 

 

2016 Mavic Ksyrium Elite Review

The Mavic Ksyrium Elite are one of the ‘old guards’ of the Mavic lineup, with the first wheels to bear the ‘Ksyrium’ name dating back to 2000. 16 years later the Ksyrium Elite rims have gotten lighter and wider, with the current iteration featuring 17mm internal rims and a wheelset weight of 1583g.

Weight - front

Weight – front

1583g for an alloy clincher is hardly impressive these days, and I suspect that heavy spokes and hubs are to blame. With a recommended retail price of 639 euros these wheels are hardly cheap, especially considering the custom build options available. They can generally be bought a bit cheaper online. However unless you find a super crazy clearance deal, they’ll at best be on par (price wise) with a custom build.

Weight - rear

Weight – rear

The supplied skewers came in at 60g (front) and 63g (rear), considering that you can get a skewer set for around 50g these are quite heavy, but they do clamp the wheels well. The supplied tubes were 82g and 87g, not superlight but lighter than what I was expecting (100g). The tyres were 211g (front) and 217g (rear) which I consider respectable, given that they’re 25mm wide. It’s interesting to note Mavic recommend a tyre width of at least 25mm for these wheels.

Rear Skewer

Skewer – Rear

Skewer - Front

Skewer – Front

In terms of serviceability, the bearings are user adjustable and the tool (Mavic M40123) is provided. This tool also doubles as a tyre lever and a spoke key, so it’s a handy addition to the package. It’s certainly a good tool to have in the back of your pocket as it’ll cover most adjustments you’ll want to make on the road. Speaking of spokes, Mavic’s proprietary spokes can be sourced from your local dealer, or some online stores. However, they are very expensive, costing quite a few times more than either Sapim CX-Ray or DT Swiss Aerolight spokes. This does detract from the overall appeal of these wheels, but if you rarely break spokes it’ll only be a minor annoyance now and then. If you are hard on your equipment I would keep this in mind before buying.

mavic skewers

2x Mavic M40123 are supplied with the wheels – a thoughtful addition

The first thing I noticed about these wheels was how well they roll. I wasn’t expecting anything special from the Mavic hubs, but they rolled incredibly well. The freehub engagement isn’t as quick as some other hubs, but out on the road I didn’t notice this too much. On this test sample, a few of the aero spokes were wound up. Untwisting the spokes with an aero spoke holder didn’t result in the wheels going out of true so it was an easy fix. Still, something like this should be picked up in the quality control.

Mavic Ksyrium Elite WTS 2016

Mavic Ksyrium Elite WTS 2016

I was quite disappointed with the tyres and tubes which make up the WTS. Put bluntly, the tyres were pretty average. They were decently supple, but I had a sensation that the tyres were a little ‘dead’ under acceleration. Perhaps these tyres were designed to be more of a durable, high mileage tyre, rather than a super soft and light race tyre but I do think there are better tyres for either market. In essence, I wouldn’t describe the tyres as something that adds value to the package, rather they’re something to be replaced when the opportunity arises.

Mavic ISM 4D rim

Mavic ISM 4D rim

When I did replace the tyres with something nicer (24mm Vittoria Open Corsa SR) and swapped the butyl tubes out to latex, the wheels felt much better. I no longer had the ‘dead under acceleration’ sensation, and this package responded much better to surges in power. As noted before, these wheels do roll well with the stock rubber, but there was a sensation of ‘rolling forever’ with the above tyre/tube changes. On flatter rides, while these wheels won’t offer an aerodynamic advantage, they don’t feel slow. However, these wheels felt most at home in hillier terrain.

From a weightweenie perspective, these wheels are disappointingly heavy – it isn’t hard to build a 1350~1400g wheelset for this price (and even lower if you’re willing to buy carbon tubulars), but never once did these wheels feel sluggish on the climbs. They certainly feel much lighter than their (almost) 1600g weight might suggest. When climbing, these wheels were stiff under power and accelerated well. Coming down the other side there was no flex when cornering, and the bike never felt skittish with these wheels. The braking surface was well machined, and the braking was always smooth and consistent with the stock Shimano pads – they’re certainly a step above rims made by Kinlin. When I was just riding along I didn’t notice this, but down some steep, technical descents I really appreciated the consistent braking on offer, leading to greater confidence and (marginally) faster descending.

Summing up, these wheels performed solidly in a variety of conditions, particularly in hilly terrain. The tyres might suffice for solo training or commuting, but are less suitable for racing or harder group rides. For the price, the frugal shopper might be a bit underwhelmed with the on paper specs, but they don’t disappoint out on the road. Still, I wouldn’t pay the RRP for these wheels – shop around for a discount.

The author would like to acknowledge that these wheels were supplied by Starbike for the purposes of this review. The RRP (recommended retail price) was correct as of 26/12/15

Vittoria Rubino Pro 3 review

Vittoria Rubino Pro 3

Vittoria Rubino Pro 3 tyre – not to be confused with the standard Rubino 3

Most seasoned cyclists have a favourite tyre of choice, a tyre which they can rely on, representing the the ‘best’ compromise of all the characteristics they desire. I’m aware that many of us are not overly fussed with durability, and desire the best road feel. However, for myself, I want to be able to get through a year on one set of tyres. I want a set of tyres that can handle all four seasons, be durable enough for winter and fast enough for summer. Previously, this tyre was the Continental GP4000S. It had decent puncture resistance, and was quick enough for my fast group rides. Some say it feels a little ‘dead’, and yes it is a little dead compared to tyres such as the Vittoria Open Corsa, but it wasn’t any worse than tyres with similar durability. Now that Continental have updated this model, I felt the need to experiment a little with other tyres. Over the past year, I’ve been testing the Vittoria Rubino Pro 3 tyre, and it’s making a strong case as a solid alternative to the GP4000S.

Front tyre condition after 3000km

Front tyre condition after 3000km

Durability is an important consideration for me. While I don’t rack up the same amount of kilometers that the pros do, I train fairly consistently and do want an element of ‘set and forget’ so I can focus on my training. What this means is that I don’t want to be replacing tyres every couple of months, I want at least 6000km from my tyres. The Rubino ticks this box for me, keeping in mind I weigh 60kg so your tyres may wear slower/faster depending on how much you weigh. My point is, these tyres are certainly more durable than the Continental GP4000s tyres, which I usually expect 4000-5000km from. I’ve included some photos of the conditions of the tyres at 3000km. A few cuts have made their way through, but nothing too drastic, they’re certainly fairing better than I would expect from a set of GP4000s. Having said that, it isn’t in the same class as the Maxxis Refuse or Continental Gatorskins. I wouldn’t class this tyre as a daily hack commuting tyre, the casing is a fair deal softer and I find that I puncture much more often than I would expect than with the above mentioned tyres.

Rear Tyre Condition After 3000km

Rear Tyre Condition After 3000km

While it may not have the same low rolling resistance as the GP4000s tyres, the Rubino Pro 3 tyres are a good deal cheaper, they can often be found for around half the price of the new GP4000s II. This cost factor may not be such a consideration for some, but it’s always nice to save some money, provided the product performs just as well. What do I mean by this? Well, despite being slower, the Rubino Pro 3 maintains a decent level of responsiveness and doesn’t rob the bike of all life, like some tyres can (e.g. Maxxis Refuse). In fact, in terms of feel, the Rubino doesn’t feel any slower than the GP4000s, it’s only when I look at my power data and finding I’m consistently having to put out (slightly) more power for the same times up my local climbs did I begin to suspect something was amiss. It should be noted that that the difference is within error (3w difference in a 300w effort). However, more scientific and conclusive tests (such as Crr tests by WMW on the weightweenies forum) have ranked the Rubino Pro 3 slower than the GP4000s.

Crr tests performed by ruff (WMW) on slowtwitch. Full discussion can be found at: http://forum.slowtwitch.com/cgi-bin/gforum.cgi?post=4412701;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;forum_view=forum_view_collapsed;;page=unread

Crr tests performed by ruff (WMW) on slowtwitch. Full discussion can be found at: http://forum.slowtwitch.com/cgi-bin/gforum.cgi?post=4412701

I know some would be immediately turned off by the fact that the Rubino tyres test slowly, but as a training tyre it is acceptably fast, especially considering the high levels of feedback given by the tyre. It’s not anything groundbreaking, and there’s substantially less grip than a pure race tyre (I’ve worked that out the hard way…). However, the Rubino Pro 3 does offer a huge increase in puncture resistance and durability, and demonstrates that durable tyres don’t necessarily have to be ‘dead’. As a training tyre, which might get raced on (as a spare wheel on race day) it offers acceptable speed, and dependable puncture resistance.

Flexing the casing with my hands reveals a decently supple casing. Again, it’s not very soft compared to high TPI open tubular tyres but it does offer a similar degree of flex compared to Michelin Pro 3 race tyres. This correlates well to how they feel on the road, around the same ballpark as the Michelin Pro 3 tyres.

wear

Condition after 3000km, note the slight flat spot starting to form

If I had to use only one word to describe this tyre, that word would be ‘compromise’. It represents the middle ground, a reliable training tyre, which you can set and forget on your training wheels. If you don’t have the luxury of having multiple wheels, or the time to swap to a nicer set of tyres before race day, I’d be more inclined to recommend the GP4000s. If you’re not racing, or have a dedicated set of race wheels, the Rubino Pro 3 can do everything you ask of it in-between races. Whether that’s a long solo training ride, or a fast group ride the Rubino Pro 3 offers an excellent blend of durability and liveliness.

In my humble opinion, I see the Rubino tyres as a great training tyre. However, it isn’t for everyone. It’s durable and offers good feedback, but by no means is it fast compared to out and out race tyres. If you’re able to accept the durability of the faster race tyres then these tyres don’t make a particularly strong case. It’s only when you find the durability of these race tyres lacking do the Rubino pro tyres make a strong case. What they don’t have in pure speed, they make up for in durability. As a high mileage training tyre, this has got to be one of my favourites.

Giro Trans E70 review

For 2015 Giro updated their popular Trans shoe with a slightly different carbon sole and new designs. I’ve been riding these shoes for the past 3 months, here’s my opinion on them.

Giro Trans E70 shoes

Giro Trans E70 shoes.

Still featuring the same Easton EC70 carbon sole, the Trans E70 now has replaceable heel walking pads. The actual design of the sole has varied slightly, and the upper has changed from a glossy to a matte finish.

Different carbon sole designs. On the right is the new E70

Different carbon sole designs. On the right is the new E70.

The ratchet mechanism has also been redesigned for greater aerodynamics. However, Giro don’t make any claims as to how much more aerodynamic it is. It features a lower profile design which looks neater, but doesn’t function as well as the previous design.

New low profile ratchet found on the new E70 design

New low profile ratchet found on the new E70 design.

The new low(er) profile ratchet design I feel is inferior to the older, higher profile design. When releasing the ratchet, the new design only releases one or two buckles at a time, whereas the old one can release all the buckles in one go. When tightening, the old design can tighten anywhere between one and three buckles in one sweep, contrasting to the new design which can only tighten one buckle per sweep. This means the new design isn’t as fast when you’re trying to make on the fly adjustments. I personally value faster on the fly adjustments in contrast to aerodynamics, so I fitted the old ratchet mechanism onto my new E70 shoes.

Old ratchet design isn't as aerodynamically slick, but is faster to use on the fly.

Old ratchet design isn’t as aerodynamically slick, but is faster to use on the fly.

As you’re probably guessing, not much of the actual fit has changed much. The shoes still feature Giro’s Supernatural Fit Kit, with Aegis topsheet. My only criticism of the Fit Kit is that the Aegis topsheet looks a little cheap next to the X-static top sheet found in the higher end models, but it works just as well.

Two footbeds side by side, on the left is the Aegis topsheet and on the right is the X-Static sheet.

Two footbeds side by side, on the left is the Aegis topsheet and on the right is the X-Static sheet.

I usually find I have to swap the insoles of my shoes with Specialized Body Geometry SL insoles. However I’ve been pretty happy with the Supernatural Fit Kit, it offers the right amount of arch support for me and has a similar metatarsal button design. For reference I use a Red+ (low arch) Body Geometry insole, and I find the orange arch support (medium support) offered by the Supernatural Fit Kit similar in terms of arch support. You can obviously customise the Fit Kit to your needs. It’s a smart idea allowing Giro to supply a one size fits all insole, removing the complexity and added cost of having to buy an aftermarket insole to suit your new shoes.

The reverse side of the two footbeds, The X-Static footbed  (right) has black inserts, which prevent the footbeds from slipping and increases the stiffness of the footbeds.

The reverse side of the two footbeds, The X-Static footbed (right) has black inserts, which prevent the footbeds from slipping and increases the stiffness of the footbeds.

One slight difference in the fit of the E70 vs the original Trans is in the heel cup, the E70 has a much more supportive heel cup. The heel cup insert of the two models feels the same, however the E70 features more padding around the heel, which helps keep the heel planted.

Apart from the visual differences, the E70 (right) has a more supportive heel cup.

Apart from the visual differences, the E70 (left) has a more supportive heel cup.

 

You’ll find that Giro’s sizing is a little larger than most companies. For reference I run a size 42.5 Shimano and Bont, but I find the 42.5 a little roomy in the Giro shoes. I find the 42 a better fit, it’s similar to the 42.5 Bont shoes lengthwise, but doesn’t have the same wide toe box, which suits my narrow feet. In terms of Shimano I find the Giro 42 in-between the Shimano 42.5 and Shimano 42. I’d advise trying on half a size smaller than what you normally wear. Giro do have a shoe size conversion tool, which I found useful, especially the US Mens flavour if using Bont shoes as a reference point (size 42.5 Bont shoes are size 9 US, which correlates to a 42 Giro shoe).

Giro Trans E70 offers a smart looking shoe

Giro Trans E70 offers a smart looking shoe.

Another interesting thing to note is the low stack height of these shoes, a claimed 6.5mm. While this is still almost double the stack height of my regular Bont shoes (3.8mm) they’re much closer than most other brands (e.g. Spiuk). Despite the thin sole these shoes are still plenty stiff, I found them to be of similar stiffness to the higher end Giro Factor and other shoes from competitors (e.g. Bont A1, Shimano R241). These shoes are slightly stiffer than Shimano R170 shoes and Specialized Expert Road shoes.  I determined shoe stiffness by trying to flex the shoes in my hand (not very scientific, I know), but I find most shoes that flex a little, or not at all in my hand are adequately stiff on the road.

The Giro sole isn't as thin as the Bont soles, but is about half the thickness of the Shimano R241 soles (pictured left)

The Giro sole isn’t as thin as the Bont soles, but is about half the thickness of the Shimano R241 soles (pictured left).

On the note of the sole, like all carbon fibre soles they scuff easily, so if you want to keep them looking pristine you ought to be careful where you step. Things like rocks etc can do a lot of aesthetic damage.

Carbon soles are easily scuffed

Carbon soles are easily scuffed.

On the topic of aesthetic maintenance, the matte white finish is particularly hard to maintain. Road grit happily sticks to this surface so you’ll need to be vigilant, regular hot water and soap isn’t enough to keep these shoes looking clean.

The white finish is easily marred.

The white finish is easily marred.

The toe section doesn’t feature any protection so if you accidentally kick your tyre (it happens when you have toe overlap) you’ll find yourself with black toes.

Don't kick anything with these, the toe section is easy to scuff and make dirty.

Don’t kick anything with these, the toe section is easy to scuff and make dirty.

Giro do offer other colour options (such as high vis yellow and black) which may be easier to keep clean. But if you’re happy to put the extra effort in cleaning, the white shoes do look the best of the lot in my opinion.

Just like white bar tape, white shoes are hard to keep pristine

Just like white bar tape, white shoes are hard to keep pristine.

Cleaning gripes and ratchet swaps aside, I’ve been extremely pleased with the performance of the Giro Trans E70. Once worn in they’re a super comfortable shoe which are stiff and reasonably light. They offer a supportive footbed, and heel cup. Not having to buy an aftermarket footbed is a huge bonus, and really adds to the value of these shoes. The closure system, despite being simple, secures the foot well and evenly distributes the pressure. They might not look as fancy as some of the newer Boa or lace up shoes, but I’d be inclined to say they perform every bit as well.

Disclaimer: The author is not affiliated with Giro in any way. These shoes were purchased from a store for this test.

Sigma ROX 10.0 Review

Over the past few months I’ve been testing the Sigma ROX 10.0. It’s a solid device with an interesting feature set, namely the inclusion of “breadcrumb” navigation. Not to be confused with the turn by turn navigation featured on more expensive models from competitors (eg Garmin edge 1000) breadcrumb navigation is a simple representation of a path you should follow. A useful feature, but does the rest of the package stack up?

Unboxing the Sigma ROX 10.0

Unboxing the Sigma ROX 10.0

The short answer would be yes. It does everything you would expect a GPS computer to do at this price point (e.g. ANT+ compatibility, screen customisation, etc.). You certainly are getting a lot of GPS computer for your money.

In the box: manuals, bike mount and Data Center installation CD.

In the box: manuals, bike mount and Data Center installation CD.

However the user interface is a little cramped, it feels like Sigma are trying to pack too many features onto the small screen. This can be a little overwhelming initially, particularly if you’re coming from a Garmin 500, but it’s no more cramped than the Polar CS600. I would prefer a larger screen size, but I can understand why Sigma would want to spec a smaller screen size (e.g. cost, size). While I’m complaining about the screen, it scratches easily so I’d be careful about leaving it upside down (it happens more thank you think). On the plus side, the screen is curved so you’ll never get the sun reflecting in your eyes (a problem I’ve encountered with devices from other brands with flat screens).

Sigma ROX 10.0 size comparison

Sigma ROX 10.0 size comparison

While I’m on the topic of the Polar, just like the Polar, the Sigma comes with it’s own computer software (Sigma Data Center). While not quite as analytical as Golden Cheetah it’s nice to see that Sigma care about post ride data analysis.

Sigma Data Centre Dashboard

On the note of post ride data, Sigma don’t play nice with Golden Cheetah. You can export your data files, but the export formats available aren’t compatible with the current versions of Golden Cheetah. It’s a little annoying, especially if you’re addicted to Golden Cheetah. If you don’t know what Golden Cheetah is, or don’t have Golden Cheetah this could be the perfect unit for you. For those tech savvy readers, Sigma does export as GPX, which *should* work with Golden Cheetah, but they follow a different protocol than what’s accepted as the standard. Long story short, Sigma don’t export the time ridden in the correct format, and when Golden Cheetah attempts to read the file your duration is 0:00, not very useful if you want to analyse your ride with Golden Cheetah.

Importing rides into Golden Cheetah

Importing rides into Golden Cheetah

Sigma Data Center does allow you to upload your rides to Strava. It’s quick and easy to set up by clicking “Menu” tab and selecting “Share Data”. Just follow the prompts and log into Strava as you would on their website. Once set up you simply have to click “Share Data” to upload your rides to Strava. After a brief delay while the cloud does its magic your ride appears on Strava.

Sigma offers an easy way to upload rides to Strava

Sigma offers an easy way to upload rides to Strava

I’m not too critical of Sigma’s lack of compatibility since their own Data Center software should cater to the needs of most people. While it may not be as detailed as Golden Cheetah, Data Center does include the basics:

Sigma Data Center provides a useful summary of your rides

Sigma Data Center provides a useful summary of your rides

Most importantly, Data Center allows you to keep a training diary. It’s a nice touch, you can record details about your training partners, feeling/form, training type and an evaluation of the effectiveness of your training. If you’re dedicated you’ll love this feature, but I find myself being lazy and not filling the diary out. If you’re serious about your training you probably already keep a diary. Even if you already do keep a diary, this feature is useful as it integrates your diary and your data. If you’ve never kept a diary before Data Center provides an easy way to start, especially if you’re not sure what you should be writing in it.

Data Center features a training diary -  a nice touch

Data Center features a training diary – a nice touch

It may be a little gimmicky for those of us who are just riding for fun. But if you smashed a PB or rode your first double century, or placed well in a road race it makes it a little easier to keep track of those milestones. If you’re not into keeping diaries but would like to track how you’re responding Sigma has a useful feature which shows how your average heart rate is changing over time. If you’re overtraining you may notice your average heart rate dips or spikes. You can also keep track of how many “hard days” you’ve had, or when your last easy day was.

Data Center keeps track of your training load

Data Center keeps track of your training load

You can also plan your training using data center, by plan I mean you can plan your routes. It’s useful, particularly if you’re visiting a new city, or when you plan on exploring an unfamiliar part of town. The mapping is fairly accurate, Sigma decided to use open source mapping for this device (OpenStreetMaps). Making a route is pretty straight forward. You simply select the “create route” option in the top right corner (it’s the squiggly line that’s highlighted):

Creating a new route on Data Center is user intuitive

Creating a new route on Data Center is user intuitive

Once you’ve selected the “create route option” simply click on where you want to start (indicated by the green marker) and where you want to go (indicated by a red marker). Data Center will find a route for you, from green to red.

Data Center will create a route for you. Simple, isn't it?

Data Center will create a route for you. Simple, isn’t it?

Like all software sometimes Data Center has it’s moments. Sometimes, Data Center won’t recognise certain roads, if you try to create a route along the missing road Data Center will give you the following error:

Data Center error message

Fear not, because Data Center also allows you to manually enter your route, using the “create linear track” option. It’s the straight arrow next to the curly arrow (which is the “create route” option). It’s more time consuming, but it works. You can also change the settings of Data Center to avoid main roads, or to take backstreets but  sometimes Data Center may direct you along certain roads which may not be to your liking. You can override this by manually creating a linear track. The yellow markers are where I’ve created a linear track.

Data Center allows you to change your route preferences

Data Center allows you to change your route preferences

Apart from navigation, you can also familiarise yourself with the profile of a ride. You can access this information by clicking the “Altitude Profile” button (the two hills in the top right hand corner). Your course profile will be displayed on the bottom of your screen.

Data Center also displays a course profile.

Data Center also displays a course profile.

All these features are quite useful if you’re new to or unfamiliar with an area. All this information can be accessed on the fly on the ROX 10.0, albeit much less detailed and crammed onto a smaller screen. One drawback of the ROX 10.0 is you cannot create new routes on your device whilst riding (and even if you could it would be really painful on the small screen). However, it does have a “take me home” option, which essentially directs you back home by reversing the course you have ridden. It’s a useful last resort, but not particularly handy if you took the scenic route before you got lost. It’s better than nothing, but since most of us own smartphones with maps of some form or the other I recommend using the phone if you’re lost, particularly if you have taken a few detours along the way (the ROX 10.0 will direct you back along the same detours).

The Sigma ROX 10.0 is a feature packed computer, especially at this price point. On paper, these extra features would be the ROX 10.0’s greatest strength, and really set it apart from competing units. However, one can also argue that it’s greatest strength is also it’s greatest flaw. The screen size limits the usefulness of some of these features, particularly the navigation, though having some “breadcrumb” navigation is so much better than none at all. I do applaud Sigma’s ambition in packing the ROX with all of these features, and to be fair GPS computers at this price point all have a similar screen size. A little more refinement could make this unit a market leader. As it stands the ROX is a solid unit, it certainly trumps devices like the Garmin Edge 500 in terms of features, but lacks in the user friendliness department.

Pros: Data Center is well thought out, has more features than any other device at this price point.

Cons: Screen size limits functionality

Disclaimer: The Author is in no way affiliated with Sigma. The review sample was purchased from Starbike.

 

Review: Elite Cannibal Bottle Cages

The Elite Cannibal is an alternative to their race proven Custom Race cages. They’re inexpensive and relatively heavy, so why would you chose the Cannibal over the Custom Race?

Elite Cannibal - looks like a regular front loading cage, doesn't it?

Elite Cannibal – looks like a regular front loading cage, doesn’t it?

Well, if you’re riding a frame size/design which offers plenty of clearance to allow easy access to bottles you wouldn’t. Why deviate from the lighter, more proven design of the Custom Race? For one, the Custom Race isn’t very friendly if you’ve got tight bottle clearances. The Cannibal is likely to be marketed at those of us riding smaller and/or sloping frames. If you struggle with removing your bottle because your top tube or head tube is in the way then these cages are a dream come true.

Elite Cannibal cages help if you've got tight clearances

Elite Cannibal cages help if you’ve got tight clearances

Unlike traditional front loading cages you can load your bottle from the side, and unlike traditional side loading bottle cages you are not restricted to which side you can load from. Elite’s design allows easy loading from any direction, left, right, and front. This makes it a very versatile cage, especially if you’re ambidextrous in terms of bottle grabbing. Many of us may have preferences as to which hand/side they prefer to use to grab their bottle, and certainly after becoming accustomed to using a traditional side loading cage you become used to only using one side. However, being able to use both sides gives the rider more freedom, your bottle cage is no longer dictating which hand you must use to grab your bottle. It may sound gimmicky, but it’s surprisingly handy in some situations.

a traditional side loading cage restricts you to using one side.

a traditional side loading cage restricts you to using one side.

Design wise the Cannibal (slightly) resembles an inverted Custom Race bottle cage, and certainly this cage holds the bottle just as well as their Custom Race cage (which is very well if you’re wondering). Elite use a flexible, grippy tab for the centre section which not only allows some movement (in the cage) to better accommodate all bottle sizes but also holds your bottle tightly (Elite refer to this as their “A.R.S. design”). It is quite a tight affair getting the bottle in or out on the first few rides, but after the plastic tab has stretched slightly removing bottles becomes a breeze.

Elite Cannibal holds your bottle firm, even on the roughest of roads

Elite Cannibal holds your bottle firm, even on the roughest of roads

Over rougher roads the cage doesn’t let the bottle rattle around, it’s got a good firm grip on the bottle. This doesn’t make it impossible to remove the bottles though (about on par with Elite’s Custom Race cage). While it is harder to remove than a traditional cage, once you become accustomed to Elite’s slightly ‘firmer’ hold it doesn’t present any issues.

Elite also feature a tongue to further prevent bottle movement

Elite also feature a tongue to further prevent bottle movement

What really sets this cage out from many other cages (particularly many side loaders) is that bottle entry/exit is swift. Traditionally, with many side loaders it was a two part action, involving sliding your bottle in at an angle, and then straightening. With the Elite Cannibal cage no finesse is required, simply force the bottle into the cage, and the Cannibal will consume the bottle.

Bottle entry and exit is swift on the Cannibal cage

Bottle entry and exit is swift on the Cannibal cage

Also, should you be racing and the race presents a situation where you have to suddenly grab the handle bars whilst halfway removing your bottle you can be confident that the Cannibal has a good grip on your bottle. While I wouldn’t recommend riding around with your bottle half in (it does rattle out eventually), the Cannibal can hold your half in bottle briefly while you focus on getting out of trouble.

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Despite the awkward angle the Cannibal still holds the bottle firmly

Overall, the Cannibal does everything a bottle cage should do, and that’s hold your bottle without ejecting it when the road gets rough. Sure, it’s not super-light but it’s strong and a good budget cage that allows side loading. If you’re riding a larger frame I’d be inclined to stick with the Custom Race, however if you struggle with removing your bottle due to clearance issues this is a great alternative to Elite’s own Custom Race or other side loading cages. Frankly, this cage is now my favourite cage, yes it may be twice (or even three times) the weight of some super light carbon cages but it’s versatile in race situations and holds your bottle firm.

The Elite Cannibal is available direct from Starbike and as always, active weightweenie members generally recieve a 5% discount on all items. They’re available in 8 colours, ranging from a loud “neon/fluro yellow” to a stealthy “skin black” (essentially black on black). The colour featured in this review is black with white graphics.

Finally, this review is not a paid review and I have no affiliation with Elite. The cage was purchased with my own money at retail price for the purposes of this review.

Magellan Cyclo 105 Long Term Review

Whether you’re riding for fun, or training to race it’s important to track your progress, both instantaneously and over the long term. That’s why a bike computer is so useful, you can track and record your ride details so you can analyse them later. If you’ve thought about buying a GPS computer you’ve probably come across the Magellan Cyclo 105 (or Mio Cyclo 105). I’ve been using this unit for the past 6 months to track my training and record my races. If I had to summarise it in one sentence, I would say it’s a solid device, a great entry into GPS computers, however serious races should beware.

Magellan Cyclo105 – Size comparison

If you’re familiar with the Garmin Edge 500, this device has many similar features. On the software side, Magellan uses something called “CycloAgent” (much akin to Garmin Express) to upload your rides from your device to MagellanCyclo. This process is very similar to how the Garmin works, but beware, unlike the Garmin, you can’t manually extract the rides, you have to upload them online first, and then download them.

Magellan’s CycloAgent software. Very basic software which upload’s your ride to MagellanCyclo

Once uploaded, you can view your rides via MagellanCyclo. It’s a neat website, my only criticism is the data presented is quite lacking. It syncs with Strava, Training Peaks, Today’s Plan and Endomondo quite easily. If you’re using any of these websites it’s quite an easy unit to live with. If you’re not, you’ll find the software provided by Magellan a little lacking, this is all the data you see from your rides – it may be all the data you need, but for those who like numbers it is a little lacking.

MagellanCyclo software. This is the most detail you'll be able to get of your ride.

MagellanCyclo software. This is the most detail you’ll be able to get of your ride with Magellan software.

As I mentioned before it syncs quite easily with Strava, which is handy as it undos the little “recording errors” you get with this unit, note how the distances and elevation figures are a little different.

Viewing the same ride on Strava

Viewing the same ride on Strava

Overall, the GPS accuracy is decent, however it only records a position once every few seconds. If you’re riding a tight criterium circuit I wouldn’t trust the GPS figures. Magellan compensates for this by correcting it once you upload your ride – eg if it sees a trail which all your GPS coordinates lie on, it’ll change your route so you follow the trail. Also, I wouldn’t trust the distance/speed readings given by the unit unless you’re using a speed sensor. Defeats the purpose of GPS a little, but it’s accurate enough to upload to Strava (if strava segments are your thing).

The GPS correction software works quite well.

The GPS correction software works quite well.

On the hardware side the unit is ANT+ compatible, so you can use most sensors available. It can receive power data, I’ve paired it with a Rotor LT powermeter. It gives you very basic power data, things like instantaneous power, average power etc, but it won’t give you things like L/R balance. Another interesting thing to note, there’s no zero/calibrate option on the device, if your powermeter plays up and you’re getting weird readings you’ll have to turn your device off and on again.

You can customise the information displayed, you can display 6 fields per page, and can have a maximum of 5 pages.

The device is mounted with a quarter turn mount, which is compatible with Garmin mounts too (handy if you want to use an out-front mount). Battery life is fairly solid, from my experiences I would believe it’s close to the advertised 14-18 hours. The device charges via a MiniUSB cable (just like the Garmin). They advertise the screen as “anti-glare”. It’s as “anti-glare” as the Garmin 500, however at the wrong angles you still get the sun shining in your eye. I’ve experienced this issue when riding at around midday, and I experience a similar issue on other devices too. The only device which I haven’t had this issue for is the Polar CS600, which I’m guessing manages to avoid this issue with a curved screen.

Backside of the Magellan, with charging cable attached.

So, if it’s so similar to the Garmin 500, why would I  suggest that serious races should beware of this device? Well, there are a few subtle differences, which really do set the 500 apart from this device. If you’re not overly analytical with your data you probably wouldn’t notice, but if you like numbers you’ll notice that this device isn’t fully compatible with Golden Cheetah. If you download your ride to GC, you’ll notice that it doesn’t display your heart rate and power data. This is especially annoying for me as I like to be able to break my data down, and GC offers a free, user intuitive summary of my rides. I contacted GC about this issue, apparently it’s being fixed in version 3.11 but it’s an annoying issue nonetheless, but thankfully it’s software related and can be patched. If you’re interested, see the post here: https://github.com/GoldenCheetah/GoldenCheetah/issues/1208#issuecomment-68131041

Having said that, the Magellan Cyclo 105 ticks all the other boxes. It’s a solid, dependable unit which will work for cyclists who aren’t data geeks. Overall, I would recommend this device to those who just want to record their rides, without being overly analytical (eg for things like strava). However, if you want to break your data down and like using Golden Cheetah I would avoid this unit. It’s a really good unit for certain types of cyclists, and a waste of money for other types. If you’ve never had a GPS computer before, this would be a good first computer as it can give you a great overview of your ride and is accurate enough to be useful, however if you’re replacing something like a Garmin, Navi2Coach or any other high end computer, and know your numbers this device won’t be able to deliver those numbers.

Pros: Well priced, well thought out unit

Cons: Lacking in the data department.

Disclaimer: The author is not in any way affiliated with Magellan. The review sample was purchased from a store.