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.

COMPETITION! Weightweenies Gallery

In case you weren’t aware the staff at Starbike are running a gallery competition for you to share your bikes. Share up to 12 photos of your bike to be in the running to win some unique weightweenie goodies for yourself and your bike! You have until the 4th of October to submit your bike to the gallery (you can still submit after this date, however you won’t be able to win the prizes).

All top 50 contestants receive weightweenies kit, with the top 15 submissions winning an awesome custom weightweenies edition AX-Lightness saddle (pictured below). The winner will be presented with a custom carbon fibre trophy, thanks to Berk composites.

WW_CUSTOM

For full details of how to enter, login to your account on the weightweenies forum, a banner should appear at the top of the page. Make sure you read the guidelines (attached below and on the banner).

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 10.30.35 am

A summary on how the competition will progress:

The 'click here' link is supposed to link to: http://the5thfloor.cc/2013/03/27/bikecheck-the-66/

Here is the fine print on the competition:

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 10.20.24 amGood luck to everybody who enters!

 

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.

Inside Scoop on Macini, Boutique Australian Brand

In the 1980s Macini was one of the most popular frame manufacturers in Adelaide. Renowned for their quality, many top athletes rode Macini. However, over the years new brands started appearing on the market and the Macini name fell by the wayside. That is until 4 years ago, when Brad bought the name from the original frame builder and started producing custom carbon fibre frames. Today, I was fortunate enough to speak with Brad, owner of Macini bikes about the brand and his future outlooks.

Macini Road Classic - a bike designed for long days in the saddle

Macini Road Classic – a bike designed for long days in the saddle

Another Macini Road Classic, this time in a more stealthy colourway

Another Macini Road Classic, this time in a more stealthy colourway

Brad is taking the calculated approach to reviving the Macini name. He’s content with a small, direct to customer business, but wishes to expand to a distribution model as Macini grows. Brad works closely with his customers, ensuring they get a bicycle that is made for them. On his desk were neatly organised spreadsheets with the measurements of each customer, each bike is fitted to the customer and the attention to detail is second to none. Brad has a full array of different stems, saddles and handlebars, ensuring you get the perfect fit straight out of the box.

Macini TT - built by Brad to fit the needs of his customer exactly.

Macini TT – built by Brad to fit the needs of his customer exactly.

Buying a Macini means buying quality. Brad regularly inspects the quality of the frames coming from the manufacturer. He ensures that all frames, forks, stems and bars are independently tested and approved by third party inspection companies to comply with the specific EN approval standards. These independent authority’s ensure compliance to the specifications and requirements and provides a full report of the undertaken tests and the results. Which means that Macini  customers can buy with confidence. When asked about the quality of his frames, Brad says that he’s every bit confident that the quality of Macini can rival the quality of other boutique brands.

Up close and personal with the Macini paint - you won't find any flaws on these bikes

Up close and personal with the Macini paint – you won’t find any flaws on these bikes

A quick inspection reveals that these carbon fibre frames are not rebranded “cheap chinese” carbon fibre frames. The frame shapes are distinctly different, you won’t find these frames on Aliexpress or eBay. Instead, Macini have done their homework and chosen a reputable carbon fibre frame manufacturer in Asia, who make frames for other well known brands. Brad visited the factory and negotiated a few designs to achieve the desired look and ride characteristics. He refines these designs to his own liking, with constant communication between himself and the manufacturer. Currently in development is a new fork for their Track Classic, and an improved cable routing for their new road disk model. Brad isn’t happy with settling for anything other than the best.

An early prototype of a new disk road bike. Brad is currently working on improving the cable routing for better performance and aesthetics

An early prototype of a new disk road bike. Brad is currently working on improving the cable routing for better performance and aesthetics

On closer inspection, we observe that the paint detailing is meticulous. The bikes look impeccable in person, but Brad admits that it hasn’t always been the case. Brad shows me a few earlier frames where subtle details were missed in the artwork, if Brad hadn’t pointed out the “mistakes” I wouldn’t have noticed. It’s pretty obvious that Brad harshly criticises his own work, to a degree where it almost becomes an obsession with perfection. Brad even produces stems and wheels bearing the Macini (Prophecy) logo, just to make sure the stems and wheels match the aesthetic of the rest of the build.

Macini can produce custom painted frames to match any team kit

Macini can produce custom painted frames to match any team kit

Not afraid to admit Macini is a small company, Brad realises he’s in a niche market and doesn’t try to be everything to everyone. Macini are for people who want something different, something special. There’s pressure to try and cater for all different markets, but Brad stands firm to supplying custom built bikes for the racing cyclist. He even supplies teams with custom painted team bikes for the pro look.

Two custom painted McNeill Logistics Team bikes

The future outlook for Macini is bright. Their bikes are receiving rave reviews in cycling magazines such as Bicycling Australia. High profile cyclists including  Jay Sweet are riding Macini track bikes at the Bendigo Madison. Brad’s even looking at partnerships with National Road Series teams.

Macini Track Classic - Jay Sweet will be riding this frame in the Bendigo Madison

Macini Track Classic – Jay Sweet will be riding this frame in the Bendigo Madison

Acknowledgements: We’d like to thank Brad from Macini bikes for taking the time to talk with us about Macini bikes. The author is in no way affiliated with Macini. For further information on Macini bikes see their website http://www.macinibikes.com

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 road 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.