Saturday, November 30, 2019

Garmin Edge 530

Recently, my old trusty Garmin Edge 510 cycle computer stopped working, as it could not be turned on at all. Besides, all the rubber bits on the Edge 510 were disintegrating. Seems like a good time to get a new cycle computer, since I already had the Edge 510 for more than 4 years. Warranty coverage has ended long ago, and it is probably not worth repairing an old electronic device, when I can get a new one with much more features and better performance for a good price.

I considered getting other brands of cycle computer, such as Lezyne, Wahoo, and other smaller brands. However, based on ease of use, and also my preference for the Garmin ecosystem, I decided to get another Garmin. Besides, I have so many Garmin mounts that will become useless if I change to another brand of cycle computer. I have good experiences with Garmin and so I don't really feel a need to try out another brand. In fact, I also wrote a more in depth review on the Edge 510.

The latest Edge 5XX series is this Edge 530, which has a lot more features that my previous Edge 510. Not that I will use all of them, but it is interesting to see what they offer nowadays.

The higher end Edge 830 or even Edge 1030 is much more expensive, and has too many features that I will not need to use. I also considered the cheaper Edge 130, but that one does not support Di2 integration, so it is disqualified from my point of view.

And that is how I ended up selecting the Edge 530 as it ticks all the correct boxes for me. This time, I decided to buy from the local bike shop to support them, instead of buying it online. There is a promotion going on, which gives a free sensor bundle (speed and cadence) when you buy the Edge 530 head unit.

I actually don't need the extra sensors, as I already have enough sensors, and I tried to get a discount instead of getting the sensors. However, that was not possible, and so now I have an extra set of sensors that I can attempt to use, or sell away.

Garmin Edge 530, with free speed and cadence sensor bundle.

Comes with various mounts and adapters, including the durable rubber bands.

Charging port (micro USB) is located at the bottom of the head unit. The Lap button is on the left, while the Start/Stop button is on the right.

On the left side of the head unit, the power button (red) is located near the top, while the Up/Down buttons are used to scroll through the menu.

On the right side of the head unit, the Back button is located near the bottom, while the Enter/OK button is located near the top.

For this Edge 530, physical buttons are used instead of touchscreen like on the Edge 510. There are advantages and disadvantages to both kinds of systems.

A touchscreen interface makes it easy to press the button that you want, but the on-screen buttons also takes up valuable space on the screen. The Edge 510 touchscreen interface seems to be pressure-based, which allows it to be used in rain or with gloves on, but the tactile feeling and sensitivity is poor. The touch feeling is nowhere like using a modern smartphone.

On the other hand, using physical buttons gives better tactile feeling, and the screen can display more items without the on-screen buttons taking up space. However, I need to remember where each button is and what it does, which is a bit tricky since they are all over the outside of the head unit where I cannot see the symbol molded on the buttons.

Comparing the old Edge 510 on the left to the new Edge 530 on the right. The screen technology looks totally different! Overall dimensions (length and width) are similar.

Edge 510 is slightly thicker than the new Edge 530.

When the Edge 530 is turned on, you can see the difference in screen size, even though the overall head unit dimensions are similar. Screen on the Edge 530 is much bigger and of higher resolution.

Edge 510 has the charging port at the back, covered by a rubber flap. The Edge 530 has metal contacts at the mount area, which allows it to be powered by a Garmin Charge Power Pack for super long battery life.

Edge 510 weighs 81 grams...

...while the Edge 530 is a tiny bit lighter at 78 grams.

Mounts without any problem on the Canyon Endurace. The big colour screen looks good! There is enough space between the head unit and the handlebar to operate the buttons at the bottom of the unit.

Testing out the sensors after linking them up to the Edge 530 head unit. Speed + cadence sensor working well, heart rate sensor from the Garmin Forerunner 235 working well, 4iiii Power Meter working well.

I am pleased with the new Garmin Edge 530 as everything is working perfectly. The screen display is big, clear and colourful, and the buttons are easy to operate, although I am still trying to remember the function of each button. Linking the head unit to all my sensors is no problem at all, the Garmin was able to detect all the sensors easily. Even linking the head unit to the Di2 system, to show the selected gear, is not an issue. I can still control the screen display of the head unit using the Di2 buttons on top of the Di2 road shifters.

Di2 gears clearly shown on the Garmin Edge 530 screen. 

My different activity modes for the different rides and bikes.

The head unit also starts up fast, much quicker than the Edge 510. GPS locking is fast as well. Battery life is also very good, compared to the Edge 510. I don't have any numbers to show how much faster the features work, or how much longer the battery lasts, but they are different enough that I can feel the improvement easily.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Feedback Sports Pro Elite Repair Stand

If you are looking for a premium bicycle workstand, this is one of the best that is available on the market. There are many other cheaper workstands available, but they are of different quality and strength.

For working on normal bicycles that are less than 15 kg, a budget workstand, such as X-Tools is sufficient for the job. I have been using the X-Tools workstand for the past 8 years and it works well. However, when a heavier bicycle is fixed onto the clamp, the whole workstand tends to bend alarmingly. Also, the spline engagement for fixing the angle of the bicycle is not very robust as the plastic teeth cannot engage securely.

The main reason for getting this Feedback Sports Pro Elite repair stand is to work on the Bike Friday Haul-A-Day. Being a heavy cargo bike, it demands a strong and robust workstand to withstand the weight and the stress. Let's see what makes it different from all the other workstands!

The Feedback Sports Pro Elite workstand is mainly made of aluminium tubing, making it strong and lightweight. It is rated for up to 38 kg of load due to the strong structure and tripod base.

Folds down nice and compact, similar to other workstands.

Red anodised aluminium, with a brushed finish that looks really nice.

It can stand on its own, even when the tripod stand is not deployed, making it easy for storage.

Weighs just 5.4 kg! Quite a bit lighter than most other workstands.

Steel quick release clamp to secure the tripod legs when deployed. Feels very high quality compared to the plastic clamps used on entry level workstands.

Wide tripod legs ensure stability in all directions.

Knob to allow adjustment of the clamp angle, and also to lock it in place. The aluminium knob feels very strong and spins smoothly.

Mechanism to lock the arm of the workstand to the vertical pole.

Arm of the workstand. This arm can be rotated to any angle, to clamp the seat post or the bicycle frame at your preferred working angle.

Red plastic jaws to clamp the seat post or bicycle frame. Or your handlebar or steerer tube if you need to cut them.

To secure the clamp, just push the end of the jaw inwards, and tighten it with the knob at the end. To loosen, you can do it quickly by just pressing the red triangular button to release the jaws.

Maximum height of the workstand! So far, I can't think of a scenario yet where I need to clamp something so high up.

Although this workstand is pricey, it is a really high quality workstand that feels and works really well. It is lightweight and folds compactly, enabling it to be carried around easily. It is also strong and rigid, and does not bend much even when holding the heavy Bike Friday Haul-A-Day cargo bike. The adjustment levers and knobs feel premium and work very smoothly, especially the knob for securing the arm to the vertical pole.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Canyon Endurace: GRX Rear Derailleur and Cassette

The most important change needed to convert a standard road bike to a gravel bike would be a new set of gravel tires. There is a huge difference when you ride a gravel trail on a set of slick tires, versus a set of gravel specific knobbly tires. I used the Panaracer GravelKing SK tires on a separate DT Swiss G 1800 wheelset, and it has worked well for me.

In order to have a separate gravel wheelset that can be swapped quickly with the standard road wheelset, it is necessary to have an additional cassette and disc brake rotors on the gravel wheelset as well. This way, the wheelset can be swapped in without adjusting or changing any other component.

In this case, a new cassette is needed on the gravel wheelset. If I were building a gravel bike from scratch, with a new frame, most likely I will go for a front single drivetrain, with a wide ratio cassette at the back. For example, a 40T chain ring with a 11-42T cassette at the back.

However, since I am modifying the Canyon Endurace to be a part-time gravel bike, I need to maintain the front double drivetrain that is needed for road riding. Just to recap, the Canyon Endurace is equipped with a full Dura-Ace R9170 groupset, with the 50/34T crankset and a 11-30T 11 speed cassette.

A front double crankset is actually pretty good for a gravel setup as well, as the small 34T inner chain ring can provide a low gear ratio for off-road riding. Usually, a gravel setup will have a lowest gear ratio of 1:1, to enable grinding up steeper slopes. In this case, since the small chain ring is already 34T, a 11-34T cassette will achieve a lowest gear ratio of 1:1, or roughly 28 gear inches with 700C wheels.

A larger 11 speed cassette would be 11-36T or even 11-40T, but it is probably not necessary with the low 34T chain ring available. Besides, the gear sprocket difference between the gravel wheelset (11-34T) and road wheelset (11-30T) should be minimized for better shifting performance, as will be explained later on.

Ultegra grade CS-HG800-11 cassette, 11-34T 11 speed.

The compatibility graphic on the packaging is a bit confusing, because this 11 speed HG800 cassette can actually be used on 8/9/10 speed freehub bodies, just by omitting the 1.85 mm spacer that comes with the cassette. A 11 speed MTB freehub is the same as a 8/9/10 speed freehub.

Ultegra grade finishing on the sprockets, but it is not classified under Ultegra R8000. Probably because the cassette structure is a bit different, as it can be used on 8/9/10 speed freehub bodies as well, not exclusively on 11 speed road freehub bodies.

Weighs 337 grams, including the 1.85 mm spacer. 130 grams heavier than the 11-30T Dura-Ace cassette.

Gear sprockets are 11-13-15-17-19-21-23-25-27-30-34. 

I don't like the large 11T to 13T jump at the top end of the cassette, as explained before here. That is the case if all the gears are used, such as on a 1x11 speed drivetrain where the full gear range is utilized.

However, I realized that on this 2x11 speed Di2 drivetrain, the cross-chaining is electronically limited. Basically, if you are in the small 34T chainring, the rear derailleur does not allow you to shift to the top two gears on the cassette (11T and 13T in this case). The reason is to prevent chain touching on the large chain ring due to the cross chain angle, and also to ensure that the chain capacity of the rear derailleur is not exceeded.

In other words, when I am using the small 34T chainring, I am limited to 9 gears at the back (15T - 34T). The top 2 gears on the cassette are only accessible when in the large chain ring, where it is hardly used as the gear ratio is usually too high for me. In conclusion, the large jump between 11T and 13T does not come into play at all, as it is not selectable (when in small chainring) or the gear ratio is too high (when in large chainring).

The 11 speed 11-34T cassette disassembled.

Rear view of the cassette with the large aluminium spider. Note that the largest sprocket is cantilevered out over the spider, beyond the freehub body. This is what enables it to be mounted on older 8/9/10 speed freehubs.

The largest 3 sprockets (27T, 30T, 34T) are mounted on an aluminium spider, and is specific to this cassette.

Next 3 sprockets (21T, 23T, 25T) are also mounted on an aluminium spider. This is different from other Ultegra cassettes which use carbon fibre for the second spider.

This second spider is also specific to this cassette only.

It has an aluminium lock ring, but then uses resin spacers instead of aluminium spacers of other Ultegra cassettes.

An additional 1.85 mm spacer is provided, which should be used ONLY if you are mounting this spacer on 11 speed freehub bodies.

If done correctly, the top 11T sprocket should protrude from the freehub body thread by a couple of millimetres.

If you miss out the 1.85 mm spacer when mounting on an 11 speed freehub body, the whole cassette will sit too far inwards, and the lockring cannot secure the casette properly. This picture shows the wrong setup.

In my opinion, branding the cassette as a non-series HG800 is correct, as it is a bit short of the Ultegra grade quality expected. Besides using resin spacers instead of aluminium spacers, the second spider does not utilize carbon fibre material, which is another difference.

With the cassette settled, let's move on to the rear derailleur. The Canyon Endurace is currently using the Dura-Ace R9150 Di2 rear derailleur, which is rated for up to 30T large sprocket and a maximum chain capacity of 33T. If I use the 11-34T gravel cassette, the total chain capacity required would be (50-34) + (34-11) = 39T.

If we discount the top 2 sprockets (11T and 13T) as it is limited by the Di2 system, the chain capacity required would be (50-34) + (34-15) = 35T.

In this case, the R9150 rear derailleur cannot achieve both the required max sprocket size and also the chain capacity. Therefore, a new rear derailleur is needed to match with the larger 11-34T sprocket.

Remember, my objective is to enable the road bike to be transformed into a gravel bike, just by a change of wheelset. The rear derailleur and chain must be compatible to both the road and gravel setup, without any adjustment required during the swap. My plan is to set up the rear derailleur and chain length to match the larger 11-34T gravel cassette, and this same rear derailleur and chain setup also needs to work for the 11-30T road cassette.

The Ultegra RD-R8050-GS (mid cage) Di2 rear derailleur is compatible with a 34T large sprocket, but if I'm going to make a gravel setup, I might as well use components from the new GRX gravel groupset. There are a few new GRX rear derailleurs, to suit different gravel setups (1x or 2x, mechanical or Di2 shifting). What I need in this case is the GRX Di2 rear derailleur for a 2x11 speed drivetrain.

Nice packaging graphic to signify the GRX gravel component.

4 types of GRX rear derailleurs available. I would be using the RD-RX815 which is the Di2 rear derailleur for a 2x11 speed drivetrain.

GRX RD-RX815 Di2 rear derailleur. Shadow construction, similar to RD-R8050, but with an aggressive outer link design. The design language is in-between road and MTB, which works well for gravel.

The aluminium cage is quite long, to achieve a max chain capacity of 38T. This is helped by the large 13T tension pulley at the bottom. Otherwise, the structure is similar to the RD-R8050 used on the Dahon MuSP.

Most importantly, this GRX rear derailleur is equipped with a clutch! This increases chain tension to minimize chain slapping and eliminate dropped chains. Already in use on MTB rear derailleurs for many years. This will be super useful for gravel riding.

Weighs 287 grams, which is 90 grams heavier than the Dura-Ace rear derailleur. This is expected as the GRX rear derailleur has an additional clutch, a longer cage, and does not use carbon fibre outer and inner plates.

Comparing the GRX rear derailleur with the Dura-Ace rear derailleur which is still on the Canyon Endurace.

Comparing them side by side. Similar Shadow construction, but the GRX rear derailleur seems to be the more capable one, with a larger chain capacity and a clutch function.

In order for this road/gravel setup to work, this new GRX rear derailleur needs to match both the 11-34T cassette on the gravel wheelset, and also the 11-30T cassette on the road wheelset. I will basically have to set up the rear derailleur B tension screw using the 34T sprocket, and hope that it will still shift well on the 30T sprocket on the road wheelset.

The chain length obviously has to be long enough to suit the 34T cassette, so a few links need to be added onto the existing chain. The extra chain length (+6 links) will not be an issue as the longer cage can take care of that.

Areas to take note is the indexing of the rear derailleur on the cassette, as each cassette's position might differ slightly. If they are close enough, shifting performance should be good enough across the two different cassettes and wheelsets.

With the 11-34T HG800 cassette and GRX rear derailleur installed on the Canyon Endurace. 

Using the GRX rear derailleur means that the Dura-Ace groupset is incomplete, as the Dura-Ace rear derailleur is no longer used. For me, this is OK as I am no longer obsessed with the weight of the Canyon Endurace any more, unlike previously when it was new.  Besides, using the gravel wheelset and tires already add much more weight than the little difference a change of rear derailleur makes.

Testing the gravel setup!