Monthly Archives: May 2015

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.

 

Velocite Syn Testing Program Now Active

As many of you may be aware, I’m a sponsored Velocite rider and I thought I would share some exciting news with you.

If you’ve been following Velocite over the last few months you would have noticed a few pictures floating around of their new Syn bike. It’s a new aero road bike designed to accommodate disk brakes, ahead of the anticipated shift towards road disks. Over the last few months Victor and the R&D team at Velocite have been developing preproduction prototypes and are now making some available for select members of the public to test. What does it mean to be a “select member”? Well, typically someone who rides a L sized frame, and has a spare $699 USD + Shipping (Shipping is estimated to cost $180, depending on where you live).

To apply please get in touch via Velocite’s contact form here: Contact us

Here’s what Velocite had to say about the bike:

Those of you that have already registered or expressed interest in participating will have received an email message outlining the program details and the basic terms and conditions. A limited number of size L Velocite Syn 3rd generation prototype frames will be made available to successful test program applicants. The test program aims to gather user experience feedback on the performance of the Velocite Syn, starting from the ease of assembly, all the way to how it makes you feel or perform as a rider. Your feedback will allow us to make a better product.

Velocite Syn prototype in red, side view

For those not familiar with the Velocite Syn road bike, here is some background information. It was developed entirely in house with the sole purpose to be the best road bike on the planet, according to Velocite’s interpretation of what “the best” means. So, what does the best mean, in Velocite’s language?

1. It is aerodynamic – aerodynamics matter at any time you are moving forward, but really start making a difference at around 25 km/h apparent air speed. This does not mean that the Syn is intended to be just an aero road bike, but that it is more aero than any high performance general duty road bike on the planet. Think Pinarello Dogma, Giant TCR (or even Propel), Specialized Tarmac and Venge, etc. It is especially more aero if you use standard or even long round water bottles mounted on the downtube and seat tube as a means to deliver hydration. The patent pending Velocite Syn downtube in particular was designed to deliver optimal aerodynamics in that situation. We spent 6 months of development just on aerodynamics. We are very serious about aerodynamics. It is not just a styling or a marketing exercise to us.

Velocite Syn downtube CFD simulation with water bottle showing attached boundary layer and low downstream turbulence.

2. It is stiff – in fact the Velocite Syn is stiffer at the head tube and at the bottom bracket than the likely stiffest road bike on the planet, our own Velocite Magnus. The numbers are:

Chainstays: 61 N/mm
Head tube: 132 N/mm
Bottom bracket: 187 N/mm (!)

This means that you will move forward about as soon as you think that you are moving forward. The response is instant. The stiffness is further helped by the use of 12mm x 142mm through axle on the rear dropouts and 100mm x 15mm through axle for the fork. This stiffness does not come with a weight penalty as the raw frame in size L comes in at 950g. We achieved this the same way as we have been achieving this since Velocite started – by knowing how to use carbon fiber composites.

3. It s comfortable – this is why the seatpost is round. “Aero” seatpost does nothing of benefit to the rider and we chose not to sacrifice comfort in the name of expectations. You see, we have significant volume of data from research conducted in Germany (cannot name the institutions as this is their internal data) that show that most of the rider comfort is derived through wheels, tires, and the seatpost. The same data also indicates that in order for the frame to start delivering significant amounts of comfort, that frame would render the bicycle almost unrideable due to unfavorable handling characteristics.

The Velocite Syn also handles well, and is full of small touches that enhance the riding performance: seatpost clamp is a removable three piece wedge type made of aluminium and steel (yes, two metal types to ensure durability), the seat tube is capped by a silicone weather shield that also features a large “bumper” which serves as an elastomer to dampen the seatpost movement and high frequency vibrations, all cable routing is internal and weather sealed at the bottom bracket, the bottom bracket is PF30 so the frame is compatible with the vast majority of cranksets in the market.

Oh, and the first test versions and the first Velocite Syn bikes will be disc brake only. Why disc brakes? Because they work really well in diverse conditions, and allow safe use of deep profile carbon fiber wheels. We are also testing disc brakes first as making a disc braked frame is a little more difficult than making a rim braked frame. This means that the rim braked Velocite Syn version will not follow far behind this original disc braked version.

To the test program then, this is what we are offering:

Velocite Syn 3rd generation safe to ride test prototype frameset size L (top tube 570mm) which consists of frame, fork, front axle, seatpost clamp, and various fittings in matte black finish with all Velocite Syn decals as well as a special “Velocite Test Team” decal on the seat stay.

Price: US$ 699 + shipping. The price paid for the Velocite Syn will be credited towards your purchase of the final Velocite Syn, in case you want to upgrade sometime in the future.

You may also need the wheels as the Syn uses disc brakes and rather large axles.

Filament wound Venn Rev 35 TCD tubeless carbon clinchers: US$ 418 /set +shipping

or

Venn Alter TCD tubeless carbon clinchers: US$ 435 /set + shipping

More information about Venn here: www.venn-cycling.com

You will be able to purchase the Syn once we process your application. After that is done we will send you a hidden link to our website that will allow you to use PayPal or a credit card to pay for your order.

Here are some renderings of what the special edition Velocite Test Team Syn looks like.

Velocite Syn Velocite Test Team edition side view

Front View

Top/rear view

I’m quite excited about this product, not because Velocite sponsor me, but because it’s one of the first aero road bikes with disk brakes.

Stay tuned for further updates!

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.

Mavic Update Ksyrium Elite, New for 2016

Some say, you’re not a true weight weenie unless you hate Mavic wheels. If you’re new to the sport, it’s hard to understand why, especially when Mavic make a wheel like the Ksyrium Elite, a respectable weight, respectable durability for a respectable price. Sure, their hubs aren’t the best in the market, and their cosmic carbone line of aero wheels are a few generations behind on the aero game, but overall if you’re buying a Mavic wheel you know you’re not buying a bad wheel. If anything, they represent the safe option, they’re not particularly good value for money, nor are they particularly cutting edge, and for the weight weenie crowd, not being either of those options (and having proprietary parts) gets you shunted.

Mavic continue the tradition with their new Ksyrium Elite wheelsystem for 2016. With a recommended retail price of 630 EUR (vat included) and a claimed weight of 1550 grams they’re not particularly cutting edge, in fact, if you look at the previous Ksyrium Elite S wheelset, which are cheaper and 1520g you might ask what’s the deal?

Mavic Ksyrium Elite 2016

Mavic Ksyrium Elite 2016

Looking at the finer details we observe that Mavic are using a wider rim. Sure, wider rims are old news but what’s particularly exciting is that Mavic are bringing their ISM 4D technology down to this wheelset, meaning they’re able to make incredibly light weight wide rims. Mavic are claiming a weight of 405g for the rims, which is very competitive to the other wide rims on the market today (generally in the 440-500g range). Mavic are keen to emphasise that the rim is a complete redesign.

New ISM4D Rims

As you can see Mavic are still quite keen on their proprietary spokes, and selling the wheel as a wheel system. This may be a deal breaker for some (particularly those who are confident working on their own machines), but for the majority of cyclists (especially those who are not confident with wheel maintenance) it shouldn’t be too much of a concern. We also notice that Mavic (not surprisingly) continue to insist on their Isopulse spoke lacing. According to Mavic it’s supposed to make a more “balanced” wheel (evens out the spoke tension). However, in practice radially laced spokes aren’t as effective as transferring torque, requiring a stiffer (heavier) hub body.

Notice the radially laced spokes on the drive side of the wheel - characteristic of Isopulse

Notice the radially laced spokes on the drive side of the wheel – characteristic of Isopulse

It’s interesting to note that Mavic recommend a minimum width of 25mm for these wheels, and supply their own 25mm tyres with the rim system. The rims are still 24mm (front) and 26mm (rear) deep but now feature a toroidal shape for (slightly) improved aerodynamics.

I understand for many of you this is quite a boring topic, especially since wide (and reasonably light) rims have been around for a while, but for Mavic this is a huge step, and in my humble opinion a step in the right direction. I hope that we see a wider Cosmic Carbone wheel, using this Ksyrium rim as a platform in the near future.

And of course, Dan Martin likes them

And of course, Dan Martin likes them

Expected them to be available with Starbike within the next few months, and as always, active weightweenie members will receive a 5% discount on items purchased from Starbike. I’m currently looking at getting a set in for review so stay posted for my review on these wheels.