Sunday, May 24, 2015

Using Cateye Strada Digital Wireless with Minoura Bike Trainer

Now that I have installed a new Garmin Edge 510 cycle computer on the Merida Scultura 5000, the previous cycle computer is now available for other uses. I had previously installed the Cateye Strada Digital Wireless cycle computer on the Merida, and now I will move it to the Dahon MuEX.

There are a few reasons for me to install the Cateye Strada Digital Wireless on the Dahon MuEX. The first is because there is currently no cycle computer on the bike, and I have found that I missed the info (speed, distance) from the cycle computer when riding the MuEX. The other reason is that this particular cycle computer has cadence and heart rate info too, which is really useful when training or exercising.

I had previously set up the MuEX on the Minoura Bike Trainer, mainly for indoor cycling and training. To improve the efficiency of the training, it is good to have a target cadence and heart rate to maximise the effectiveness of the training session. Speed and distance will not be accurate as the resistance on the bike trainer is different from riding on the road.

The difference between this Cateye cycle computer and cheaper cycle computers is that while most cycle computers have their sensors on the front fork, this Cateye cycle computer has the sensor mounted on the rear chainstay. This is because there are two parts to the sensor, the cadence sensor and the speed sensor. This combo sensor will detect the cadence from the crankarm in addition to the speed from the rear wheel. As the distance to the handlebar is greater, the sensor also needs to be more powerful in order to transmit the data to the computer unit on the handlebar.

One tricky thing is that not all cadence/speed sensors can be mounted on a small wheeled bike. Garmin also has a similar chainstay mounted cadence/speed sensor (GSC-10), but it will not work on the MuEX (and most small wheeled bikes) because of the sensor design. See below for the explanation.

Comparing the Cateye speed/cadence sensor (top) with the one from Garmin (bottom)

By comparing the distance between the crankarm sensor area and the wheel magnet sensor area, we can see that the distance between the two sensors is shorter on the Garmin sensor than on the Cateye sensor. The problem with a short distance between the sensors is that for most small wheeled bikes, due to the smaller wheel diameter, the rear wheel is further away from the crankarm. The result of this is that the cadence/speed sensor is unable to reach both the crankarm magnet and the rear wheel magnet at the same time.

When the cadence sensor areas are both aligned, the Garmin speed sensor has a reach that is about 20mm shorter than the Cateye sensor.

This 20mm is significant, as the extra 20mm reach of the Cateye sensor means that it can be used on small wheeled bikes! As you can see from the picture below, the Cateye sensor only just manages to reach both the crankarm magnet and the rear wheel magnet. I also had to place the wheel magnet all the way to the spoke nipple, and it only barely manages to reach the sensor.

The Cateye sensor is able to reach both the crankarm magnet and the rear wheel magnet at the same time. Wheel used is Wheelsport Sunny, a 20 inch 406 wheel with a low (~24mm) rim profile.

If a high profile wheelset (such as Wheelsport Smart 1.0, 30mm rim profile) is used, this will not work as the magnet still cannot reach the sensor. On the other hand, if a larger wheel is used, such as 20 inch 451 wheels, it will allow the rear wheel magnet to go closer to the sensor (closer by about 1 inch, or 25mm).

As previously used on the Merida Scultura 5000, I also stuck a strong neodymium magnet (Diameter 12mm) on the pedal axle, instead of cable tying the provided magnet.

Shown as mounted on the bike. The computer unit is able to detect the cadence/speed sensor even when it is mounted far away on the rear chainstay.

The heart rate and cadence shown on the computer screen will help to improve the effectiveness of the workout, by ensuring that I am training in the correct heart rate zone.

Not only is this Cateye cycle computer useful as a training aid, it will also be useful when I take the bike out for a ride as it will just work like a normal cycle computer.

So, if you are considering getting a cycle computer for your small wheeled bike that can also detect your cadence, this Cateye Strada Digital Wireless will work. On the other hand, the standard Garmin GSC-10 cadence/speed sensor will not work on most small wheeled bikes as the sensor cannot reach both the crankarm magnet and rear wheel magnet at the same time.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

New Garmin Speed Sensor

In a previous post about the Garmin Edge 510, you may have noticed that one of the bike profiles is that of my Dahon Boardwalk. Although the Garmin bundle comes with 3 sets of mounts, it only comes with one set of Speed/Cadence sensor. That sensor has already been installed on the Merida Scultura 5000 road bike, so how did I manage to link up the Dahon Boardwalk with the Garmin?

The easiest way is to not use a sensor at all. Using the Garmin head unit alone, it can use GPS to detect the position and therefore estimate the speed and the distance. Although using GPS works pretty well for overall distance, it is not accurate for instantaneous speed readings. Also, it does not work properly when cycling in between tall buildings, under bridges or anywhere where there is no good GPS signal.

A more accurate way to get speed readings is to get a second sensor for the bike. I don't really need cadence readings, and so a speed sensor will be sufficient. With speed, the distance and other parameters can be calculated.

What I need is actually just an ANT+ speed sensor, which can be found quite easily. However, all these speed sensors rely on a magnet on the spoke and a sensor tied to the fork. Although this works well, it also means that some setup is required and it is difficult to move the sensor from bike to bike.

Garmin recently launched a new type of speed sensor that comes with the Garmin Edge 1000 cycle computer. This speed sensor does not require a separate magnet, and is just a sensor on its own. Best of all, it attaches to the bike with just a rubber strap, which makes it easy to transfer the speed sensor across different bikes.

The new Garmin speed sensor

Easy-to-install, as stated on the packaging

The speed sensor embedded in a rubber cover, with a rubber strap for attachment around the wheel hub.

The battery compartment (CR2032 battery) is hidden at the bottom of the sensor. The hook for the rubber strap is located on the other side of the sensor.

Installation instructions for the new Garmin speed sensor. It basically tells you to wrap the sensor around the wheel hub, and that is all that is required!

I think this speed sensor works by using a gyroscope to detect its orientation. Every time the sensor flips from right side up, to upside down and then back up again, it will detect this as one revolution. Together with the wheel circumference entered in the Garmin head unit, this will give the speed of the wheel. It is a very simple concept that should work quite well. Mounting the sensor on either the front wheel or rear wheel will do, as long as it is on the wheel hub that is spinning.

Although installation is supposed to be very straightforward, it is not as simple to install on a small wheeled bike such as my Dahon Boardwalk.

I tried to install the sensor on the Novatec front hub, but the narrow 74mm OLD front hub means that the hub flanges are very close to each other, and the sensor cannot fit in between the hub flanges.

Next, I tried the rear hub. However, due to the larger diameter of the Chris King R45 rear hub, the rubber strap is not long enough to stretch around the hub and onto the hook.

In the end, I used a rubber band from the Garmin mount to extend the rubber strap of the speed sensor. Now it fits nicely around the rear hub of the Dahon Boardwalk.

With this new Garmin speed sensor on the Dahon Boardwalk, I am now able to move the Garmin head unit between the Merida and the Boardwalk easily, since both bikes have their own sensors. Also, this new speed sensor can be moved to another bike very easily. An example would be the Dahon MuEX. In just 1 minute, I can attach a Garmin mount to the bike, and also attach the speed sensor on the MuEX. The Garmin Edge 510 can then be used on the MuEX to track the cycling activity.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Garmin Edge 510: First Impressions + Installation

It is time for a new cycling computer! This time, I decided to get a Garmin cycle computer as it has many new functions that I want to try out.

All my other bikes are using Cateye cycle computers, so a Garmin is new to me. My Dahon Boardwalk and Dahon Vitesse are using the older Cateye Strada Wireless computer; the Avanti Inc 3 commuting bike is using the Cateye Strada Slim cycle computer, while the Merida road bike is using the Strada Digital Wireless with HR and cadence sensor.

I have plans to move the Strada Digital Wireless cycle computer from the road bike to the Dahon MuEX that is on the Minoura bike trainer. This cycle computer will help to keep track of the cadence and heart rate for a more efficient workout. At the same time, it can also track the distance pedaled on the bike trainer (although speed and distance are not accurate on the bike trainer). Therefore, I will need a new cycle computer for use on the road bike.

Why a Garmin? First, I wanted to try something different instead of getting another Cateye. Cateye cycle computers are good and reliable, but their functionality is limited even for the newer models. Also, I wanted to use ANT+ sensors, which allow the cycle computer to be moved around different bikes easily. It would also be useful to have GPS to log the route taken, and combine it with video footage taken with the Shimano Sport Camera.

From reviews, it seems that the Garmin is easy to use and has some really good functions that I can try out. There are a few models to choose from, the Edge 510, Edge 810 and Edge 1000. The Edge 1000 is too advanced for my intended usage, and it is also very expensive. Between the Edge 810 and Edge 510, it seems that the main difference is that the Edge 810 has map navigation functions, while the Edge 510 does not. Finally, I decided to get the Edge 510 as I think I will not be needing the navigation function.

Garmin Edge 510 Bundle

Also can be connected to a smartphone for even more functions and connectivity

The bundle comes with bike mounts, HR sensor, Speed/Cadence sensor

The head unit of the Garmin Edge 510

Comes with the full array of mounts, sensors and other miscellaneous stuff

HR sensor and strap, Speed/Cadence sensor, and the magnets

Speed/Cadence sensor with an extra rubber pad to fit different seatstay shapes

2 sets of basic handlebar mounts with lots of rubber bands, and an out-front mount

2 complete set of mounts for multiple bikes, with different rubber band lengths

The out-front mount with a 31.8mm clamp, and a rubber shim for smaller diameter handlebars  

What is great about the bundle is that it comes with all the ANT+ sensors and 3 full sets of mounts for multiple bikes. This saves time and money from having to buy additional mounts for your other bikes. Garmin expects users to use the cycle computer across different bikes and thus supplies the mounts for you to do so easily. It is also cheaper to get the bundle than to buy the mounts and sensors separately.

The rear of the head unit. The simple yet secure quarter twist mounting design that is unique to Garmin.

Rubber flap hides the mini USB port that is used for charging and data transfer, and also protects it from rain.

After starting up the computer, I followed the instructions as provided in the user manual, and fiddled around with the settings. With such a high tech cycle computer, it feels very much like the unboxing of a new smartphone, with lots of settings and customization available.

This new Garmin has a new way of setting up the computer, so that it is easy to use different settings for different bikes and rides. By setting a different bike profile for each bike, it lets the computer know which sensors to detect and what wheel size to use, if the bikes are of different wheel sizes.

Next, select the ride profile that you want to use. This determines what parameters to display on the screen. For example, when commuting, I would like to see the time of the day. I do not need to see cadence or heart rate when I am riding to work.

On the other hand, when I am riding fast on longer rides, I would like to see cadence, heart rate and perhaps average speed. By choosing a different ride profile, I will be able to choose what to display and what not to display on the screen.

The top row allows you to select the bike to track, and the bottom row allows you to select the ride profile and thus the parameters to display. You can also choose the colour to use for different ride profiles.

The ride profile that I use for commuting. Not many parameters are actually needed.

There are many more functions that I would like to share, but it will be in a future post where I give a more in depth review after using this Garmin for some time.

One thing to note is that the screen is pressure sensitive, which means that it requires some finger pressure to work properly, different from smartphones. This makes the operation slightly sluggish, but it also means that it will work even if you are wearing full finger gloves, and will not be affected by rain water on the screen.

The bike that I first installed the Garmin on is the Merida Scultura 5000 road bike. As you can see below, there is not much space left on the handlebar for the Garmin.

Squeezing in the Garmin beside the Shimano Sport Camera. With such an arrangement, the camera needs to be removed first, before I can twist off the Garmin from the out-front mount.

The camera has to be located on the right side of the Garmin. This is because the power button of the Garmin is on the left side, which means that if the camera is on the left side, it will block access to the power button.

Installing the speed/cadence sensor on the Merida. No problem here, quite similar to how I set up the sensor with the Cateye Strada Digital Wireless cycle computer.

Instead of using the supplied crank arm magnet, I just stuck a strong magnet on the pedal axle. This works just as well and looks way better than cable tying a magnet onto the crank arm.

Installation is very straight forward and quick. Pairing the ANT+ sensors to the Garmin head unit is also quite easy with no problem. Once the sensors are paired, they will automatically start transmitting data once there is movement. The head unit will also detect the data automatically, which makes everything work really seamlessly.

Currently I am still testing out the Garmin Edge 510, and figuring out how to use the more advanced functions. I will write a more detailed review when the time is right!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Serfas Helmet Tail Light

When riding a bike, it is always important to make yourself visible to other road users, especially at night when visibility is not as good. By using lights during cycling, it improves safety by making yourself visible or by lighting up the road at poorly lit places.

Other than the lights on the bicycle, it can be a good idea to attach a rear light onto the helmet. As this light is higher up, it will be more visible to other road users. I used to have a couple of X Light 4 LED helmet lights, but I have retired them as they are not working properly. Those helmet lights are quite bright, but the downside is that the battery life does not last very long, and it gets costly to replace the batteries as they are using CR2032 batteries. After a few rides in the rain, some of the lights and buttons are not working properly, probably due to some water getting through the rubber seals.

Recently, during a trip to the US, I found this helmet light at one of the bike shops, and it seems quite bright. I decided to get it and mount it on my helmet to try it out.

Serfas Helmet Tail Light

Uses 2 x CR2032 batteries. Although this light also uses expensive CR2032 batteries, the battery life for the flash mode seems really long at 175 hours, so it should be manageable.

Based on my quick and simplified estimate, this battery life should last me for quite a bit of cycling. Using an average cycling speed of 20km/h, having 175 hours of battery life will last for over 3000km of usage. Also, since this helmet light will only be used for night riding (it is not bright enough for daytime usage), this means that it should last for 3000km of night cycling, which is really a lot. Realistically, I would be happy to get half that amount of battery life.

The light comes with a velcro strap and a rubber block

Triangular light design with red LEDs at the three corners of the casing, and the on/off button in the middle.

The orange rubber block attaches to the rear of the light, acting as a wedge to adjust the pointing angle of the light.

For my helmet design, there is no central beam to fix on this helmet light, and so I have to fix it off-centre at the side.

Based on the angle of the helmet while riding, it should point somewhat horizontal towards the rear for good visibility.

This helmet light is really bright which is great for visibility.

With this new Serfas Helmet Tail Light, I now have a good rear light mounted on my helmet. A rear light on the bike plus a rear light on the helmet will increase my visibility on the road, which is always a good idea.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Avanti Inc 3: PRO Stem and Ergon GP3 Grips

Sometimes, an upgrade is just about making use of spare parts that you have lying around. Remember the time when I detected a broken faceplate on the stem of my Dahon Boardwalk? I managed to find a replacement faceplate from a PRO stem, which allowed me to continue using the stem.

More recently, I changed out the stem of the Dahon Boardwalk to a more well built Controltech Stem, which means that the replacement faceplate of the PRO stem is no longer needed. This means that the PRO faceplates can be reunited with the main body of the PRO stem.

Therefore, I decided to make use of this stem, instead of storing it or selling it away. Since I previously had a problem with a short handlebar reach on the Avanti Inc 3, I decided to install the 100mm PRO stem onto the Avanti bike to increase the handlebar reach.

100mm long, 31.8mm clamp diameter PRO PLT Stem with a 10 degree rise/drop, depending on which way you install it.

This stem weighs a healthy 126 grams which is really good.

Installing the stem is quite easy, as the open design of the faceplate means that the handlebar can be swapped in without too much trouble. Shown here on the stem is also the clip for the Topeak Smartphone DryBag.

The two pieces of faceplate that was previously used with the Dahon stem is now back on the original PRO stem.

Other than the stem upgrade, I also changed to a new pair of Ergon grips. My previous Ergon grips have a lot of scratches at the bar ends, as the bike has fallen over a few times. However, that is not the reason for me to change the grips.

The reason is because I am unable to clamp the bar end properly onto the handlebar. Even though I have tightened the clamp bolt on the bar end to the maximum, such that the clamp faces are already touching each other, the bar end will still rotate on the handlebar. I have checked that the handlebar is already inserted fully into the grip, but it is still not clamping properly. Not sure why is this the case, but since this is a safety issue, it is best to change it out.

New Ergon GP3 grips

This is the small sized grip which is suitable for me. The large sized grip will be too big for my hands.

It is available in 3 versions, with different grip lengths to match with different types of shifters.

The standard version is for me as I am not using any Gripshifters

Weight of the Ergon GP3 grips, 232 grams. A little heavy, but worth every gram of it for the extra comfort.

The older Ergon grip, previously called GR2. It looks very similar to the new GP3 grips. Weighs a little more at 244 grams.

Comparing the old and new grip, the new grip on the right has a cutout area at the clamping section.

Similar design, but different model numbers

One main difference is the end cap area of the bar end. The old GR2 has an integrated end cap, while the new GP3 has an open design with a separate end cap.

The new GP3 grip on the right has line markings to help you align the angle of the bar end relative to the grip.

The older GR2 grip actually has a higher recommended torque of 7 Nm, as compared to the new GP3 with only 5 Nm.

There is a special slot profile on the outside face of the bar end, to match with the Ergon end cap. This ensures that when installed, the Ergon logo is facing the right way.

The recommended grip and bar end angles for Ergon grips. 

During installation, I found that the new Ergon grips are slightly longer, so I had to loosen and move the shifters and brake levers inwards a little to make space for the new GP3 Ergon grips.

The new GP3 also has separate bar end caps which I think is better for installation. This is because with a separate end cap, I can see the end of the handlebar clearly, and ensure that it is fully inserted into the grip before tightening the clamp bolt on the grips. The previous GR2 grips has an integrated end cap which makes it difficult to see the end of the handlebar.

Clean and new Ergon GP3 grips!

With the Ergon end cap installed, and with the logo the right side up.

After changing the grip, I no longer have any problems with the grips being too loose on the handlebars. The gripping and resting areas for the hand are still as good and comfortable. A nice upgrade that makes the bike feel new again!