Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cateye Strada Digital Wireless - With Heart Rate and Cadence Sensors

One of my main reasons for getting a road bike is to try and see how different it is compared to my road-bike-like folding bike, the Dahon Boardwalk. Besides the general feel when riding the bike, it will be useful to have some form of measurement, such as the cruising speed or max speed on these two different bikes.

Therefore I needed to get a new speedometer for my Merida Scultura 5000. With the wide variety of options available in the market, there is no shortage of good speedometers or cycle computers. The difficult part is choosing which is suitable for you, and what features you are looking for in the cycle computer.

In my opinion, Cateye is the current market leader for cycle computers. They have many different models of cycle computers to suit different riders and price points, and they are always reliable.

Garmin is another brand that is rapidly gaining market share in the cycle computer market. The main draw of Garmin computers is the ability to link up to the phone or internet, and to locate or navigate using the in-built GPS. The large amount of data available makes it super useful for training, where numbers and statistics are important. The downside is the high cost of owning a good Garmin computer. At the entry level there is the Garmin Edge 200, with very basic functions, which is available for about $150. Those who want good connectivity and additional sensors can look at the Garmin Edge 510, which costs $450 locally inclusive of the cadence, speed and heart rate sensors.

Due to the high cost of the Garmin cycle computers, I decided to get a cheaper Cateye cycle computer instead. This model does not have GPS, which I don't need anyway.

Cateye Strada Digital Wireless CC-RD430DW. This model includes the cadence/speed sensor and a heart rate monitor chest strap.

The standard functions of a Cateye cycle computer are all there. Additional features include a 2.4Ghz wireless frequency for lesser interference.

Comes with cadence/speed sensor and HR sensor

The model number of this Cateye cycle computer.

Chest strap with HR monitor unit

Cadence/speed sensor with rubber mount and cable ties

This unit will be mounted on the chainstay for measuring both the cadence (using the crankarm) and the speed (using the rear wheel).

The parts of the cycle computer. Magnets (crankarm and spoke) are shown in the bottom left corner.


Magnet for the spokes shown on the left, magnet for the crankarm shown on the right.


The computer unit. This page shows the speed on top, the heart rate at the bottom left and the cadence at the bottom right. This configuration can be modified.

The reset buttons of the different sensors

Using 2.4 Ghz will avoid interference from other cycle computers and bicycle lights, but may be prone to other sources of interference such as Wi-Fi or microwave ovens that operate near this frequency range.

It is possible to use the cycle computer on two separate bikes, each with its own sensors.

The large sheet of instructions that are typical of Cateye cycle computers. Mostly confusing and difficult to interpret.

Installation of the sensors and cycle computers are easy, if you have set up Cateye computers before. If not, you will need to take some time to read the instructions carefully and figure out how to mount each part properly. I have installed Cateye cycle computers on 3 other of my bikes, so this is no problem for me.

The cadence/speed sensor is mounted on the left chainstay of the Merida road bike. The position is mostly determined by where you place the magnet on the left crankarm.

Use the rubber mount and the cable ties to fix the sensor securely to the left chainstay.

The long arm of the sensor detects the speed by reaching towards the spokes of the rear wheel.

Install the magnet on the spoke, at a position where it will move past the sensor. The sensor arm can also be adjusted if it is too far from the magnet.


For the magnet on the left crankarm, you can install it this way without using cable ties. Just stick the magnet directly to the spindle of the left pedal. 

I did not use the crankarm magnet that is provided with the package. In order to ensure that the magnet will stick securely to the pedal spindle, I bought some powerful neodymium round magnets (12mm) and stuck it to the pedal spindle. Since your spindle is made of steel (unless you use expensive pedals with titanium axles), the magnet will stick securely to your pedal spindle. It is very secure and will not drop off even when cycling over bumpy roads. This method eliminates the unsightly cable ties on the left crankarm.

With the powerful neodymium magnets, the cadence sensor can be located slightly further away and it will still work properly.

Cycle computer mounted on the handlebar

In order to make some space for the front light and my Topeak phone pouch, I actually went to get another Bar Fly Bracket for this new Cateye cycle computer.

Just sufficient space for the Cateye cycle computer, the Moon Comet Front Light and the Topeak Smartphone Drybag 5".

After testing it for a couple of weeks, here are some of my findings for the Cateye Strada Digital Wireless cycle computer.

Pros:
1) Small and lightweight.
2) One battery will be able to last 1 year, and does not need to be recharged frequently unlike Garmin units.
3) No interference by the Moon Comet front light, which will cause interference to the older Cateye Strada wireless cycle computer if placed too close to the computer unit.
4) Automatic linking of the cadence/speed sensors and HR monitor once the computer is activated by pressing the screen on the cycle computer.
5) One of the more affordable and reliable cycle computers that includes cadence, heart rate and speed sensors.
6) Simple one button operation

Cons:
1) No data logging by the computer. The cadence and HR that you see on the screen is the current reading, there is no way to record it against time or distance.
2) No backlight, which makes it difficult to read at night if the street lighting is dim.
3) No GPS for route logging or navigation.
4) No way to link or upload data to the computer.

In summary, this is a good cycle computer for those who just want to see data in real time, and don't need any post-ride data. The display shows the current cadence and heart rate which I find useful in helping me to control my efforts and achieve the target heart rate and cadence. As for those who want to record their cycling route or study the ride data after the ride, you will need to look at higher end cycle computers from Garmin, which will log down all the ride data for post ride study. Ultimately there are different cycle computers to suit different users and purposes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lezyne Pressure Drive and Lezyne CO2 Trigger Drive

It is always a good idea to have the tools and spares to fix a puncture. Apart from the spare tube and the tire levers, a good portable hand pump is also essential. There are many different brands and types of hand pumps out there, but most of them are not that reliable or powerful enough for road bike tires. Road bike tires require high tire pressures of at least 100 PSI, and this is usually not achievable on normal hand pumps.

With the exception of the Lezyne Micro Floor Drive and other pumps of similar construction, all other hand pumps are unable to reach the high pressures required to pump up a road bike tire properly. However, an 80% inflated tire is better than a totally flat tire, as it still allows you to get somewhere even though it is slower and with more risk of getting a pinch flat.

The Lezyne Micro Floor Drive is powerful, but it just seems too big to fit nicely on the Merida Scultura 5000 road bike. Therefore I decided to get a slimmer and more compact hand pump for the road bike.

I have tried the Topeak RaceRocket Pump before, and this time I want to try a Lezyne hand pump. I selected the Lezyne Pressure Drive as it looks sleek and simple, and is not too expensive.

Lezyne Pressure Drive. Rated up to a maximum pressure of 120 PSI.

It comes with a bracket for mounting the pump on the bike, using the bottle cage bosses.

Ingenious way of storing the hose inside the pump body itself.

The pump is about 190mm in length before extension

The hose is stored inside the pump cylinder itself, and can be accessed by opening a rubber cap at the top.

The hose can be pulled out fully. There are two ends of the hose for Presta and Schrader valves. One end attaches to the valve while the other end attaches to the pump body.

For example, if I am pumping a Presta valve, I will attach the Schrader end to the pump body by screwing in the hose to the bottom opening of the pump.

What I have done is to extract the hose from the top part of the pump, and screwed it into the bottom part of the pump. The hand pump is now ready to be used!

When fully extended, before compression, the pump length is actually very long!

The supplied mounting bracket is actually commonly used across many different models of Lezyne hand pumps.

The mounting bracket comes with a velcro strap as shown to secure the pump tightly to the bracket.

Weighs 103grams with the mounting bracket.

Weighs 91 grams without the mounting bracket. This also means that the mounting bracket weighs 12 grams.

Ultimately, whichever hand pump you choose, the pump needs to be able to reach the minimum pressure required by the tire. On a MTB tire this is no problem as the pressure is much lower at 30-60 PSI, although it will take many more strokes. However, on a road bike tire where the minimum pressure required is usually about 90 PSI, this will be very challenging.

To test out the capability of the hand pump (and my arm strength), I tried to inflate the road bike tire using the Lezyne Pressure Drive, from zero PSI. At the start it was easy, but at around 50 PSI (estimated), it started to get really tough. It required a lot of strength to push one full stroke of air into the tube. I finally maxed out at 80 PSI (checked with a floor pump gauge) using this hand pump. Given my arm strength, I could not put in any more air as I am unable to compress the pump any more.

The 120 PSI rating on the pump refers to the quality of the seals in the hand pump, and that theoretically it is possible to reach 120 PSI if arm strength is not an issue. Realistically speaking, arm strength is the limiting factor here, as it comes a point where you will not be able to pump in any more air. Asking your buddy to take over and continue pumping may get a few more strokes of air in, but it will still be very tough.

Testing the max PSI that can be achieved with my effort alone.

Overall I would say that this Lezyne Pressure Drive hand pump does its job adequately, without being exceptionally outstanding. Given its lightweight construction and the compact size, I cannot possibly expect too much from it. Being able to achieve 80 PSI should be sufficient for me to continue riding after fixing the puncture.

Besides the Lezyne Pressure Drive hand pump, I will also be carrying the Lezyne CO2 Trigger Drive. This is a CO2 cartridge system that is used to inflate tires rapidly with minimum effort. It is popular among road cyclists due to it being more lightweight than hand pumps, and the quick inflation possible. The downside is that if you use the CO2 cartridge wrongly, it will be wasted, with the CO2 being discharged uselessly into the air. This would be a mini-disaster if you don't have a hand pump as a backup.

The Lezyne CO2 Trigger Drive comes with one 16 gram CO2 cartridge and the trigger. I bought an additional 16 gram cartridge as a spare.

This is the trigger that links the CO2 cartridge to the valve. It allows the flow of CO2 to be controlled so that the tire can be inflated properly.

The trigger needs to be used properly by attaching it to the valve and CO2 cartridge in the correct order, to avoid wasting the CO2 cartridge.

Weight of the CO2 cartridge. Although it says 16 grams at the side, this refers to the amount of CO2 inside the metal cylinder and not the weight of the CO2 cartridge.

The weight of the trigger is 26 grams, and the weight of the CO2 cartridge is 57 grams, giving a total weight of 83 grams. This is only 20 grams lighter than the Lezyne Pressure Drive + bracket shown above. There isn't really any significant weight savings if you choose a CO2 inflation system over a traditional hand pump.

However, the CO2 cartridge will be able to inflate the tire to 120 PSI when the pressurized CO2 is fully discharged from the cartridge into the tube. This will be better than the hand pump in the sense that it can achieve the required high tire pressure without any pumping effort.

I have not used a CO2 cartridge before, so this is new to me. Hopefully I will not need to use it, but in case I do, I hope I am able to use it properly! In any case there is always the hand pump as a backup.

In summary, with the combination of the Lezyne CO2 Trigger Drive and the Lezyne Pressure Drive hand pump, I will be able to deal with any punctures that may happen along the way. Overall these two systems add less than 200 grams to the bike weight which is still acceptable, given the importance of the hand pump and the CO2 system.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Topeak Universal Chain Tool and Topeak Mini 9 Multi Tool

What tools and spares do you carry on your bike? Most people will say to carry a spare tube, as a puncture is the most frequent malfunction that we are likely to encounter while riding a bike. Together with a decent hand pump and tire levers, these 3 items are the minimum spares and tools that we should carry on every ride.

For the more paranoid (or better equipped), they will have at least a multi tool. The multi tool will have the common Allen key sizes and a Philips screwdriver head. This will allow adjustment or tightening of almost all the bolts and screws on the bike.

On certain unlucky days, the chain of the bike may give way and break or get damaged. Although this is a rare event, it is a major malfunction, as a broken chain basically reduces the bike to a push bike as you cannot pedal any more. If you are far away from a repair shop or transport, this will mean a long long walk.

In my portable tool kits, I will have a portable chain tool to remove a broken chain link. With the chain tool, I will be able to remove a broken chain link and join up the broken ends. This shortens the chain a little bit, which means that I will not be able to use the front top (53T) and rear low (28T) combination. However it will repair the chain and enable me to continue cycling.

The smallest and yet effective chain tool that I have come across is the Topeak Universal Chain Tool. Not only is it powerful enough to actually be able to break and join chains, it can also be disassembled for even more compact storage.

Simple packaging of the Topeak Universal Chain Tool

Small chain tool but packs many features!

Small size but with good length on the metal handles for sufficient leverage.

Metal clip to hold on to the chain, in order to reduce tension at the chain link which you are trying to join or break.

Hollow metal handle can be used to store extra chain pins

Can be disassembled into 3 parts for more compact storage

An example of how to store the separated chain tool compactly

The chain tool shown on the left is the older version of the chain tool, which has a longer handle. However, the older version does not have a compartment for spare chain pins or a metal clip.

Weight of the new chain tool

Weight of the older chain tool. Just a bit heavier due to the longer handle.

With the chain tool, I can rest assured that even if there is a problem with my bicycle chain, I will be able to repair it and continue on my way. I have tested it in actual conditions while out cycling, and it works nicely to break and rejoin a chain. Highly recommended for those who are prone to breaking chains or for those who want to be well prepared. Very useful for overseas trips where there is no transport and you need to be fully self sufficient.

I noted that the chain tool is not recommended for use on 11 speed chains. From what I understand, it is OK to break an 11 speed chain with this chain tool, but it may not be able to join an 11 speed chain properly. This is OK for me as I will be joining the chain with a KMC Missing Link for 11 speeds and not a chain pin.


Topeak Mini 9 Multi Tool

Another useful tool for the bike is the multi tool. This is necessary if you want to tighten loose bolts on the bike or adjust stuff on the bike. For example, you may need to adjust your brakes while out riding, and the Allen key and screwdriver on the multi tool will allow you to do that.

I chose a very basic one that has only a few Allen keys and Philips screwdriver. There are larger multi tools with many more functions, such as chain tool, tire levers and such. However I have tried and found that integrated tire levers or chain tools are difficult to use and are often much less effective than dedicated chain tools or individual tire levers.

The Topeak Mini 9 Multi Tool is one of the smallest available, and weighs only 92 grams. Another thing I like about Topeak multi tools is that most of them come with a nice neoprene pouch to protect the tool and also protect other items in your saddle bag from the multi tool.

Topeak Mini 9 Multi Tool. Comes with Allen keys sized 2 to 8mm, A Torx T25 bit and a Philips head screwdriver. Sufficient for 95% of all bolts and nuts on the bike.

Nice pouch for the multi tool

Small but strong tool bits. The size 8mm allen key comes as a hollow bit that goes onto the 6mm Allen key.

I have used the Topeak Mini 9 multi tool before on my other bikes, and it can get the job done reliably. Small and simple, but effective. One downside that I noticed is that it tends to get rust spots if you handle it with sweaty hands, which is likely if you use it while out riding. However, this does not actually affect the function of the multi tool at all, just the appearance.

These 2 new tools, the Topeak Universal Chain Tool and Topeak Mini 9 Multi Tool were bought for the new road bike, as the road bike will require its own tool kit. They are tried and proven tools that I had good experience with previously, which is why I bought them again. Also, they are small and lightweight which will minimise the weight of the tool kit on the road bike.

In the next few posts I will be reviewing and showing the new tools that will be carried on my Merida Scultura 5000 road bike.