Saturday, March 26, 2022

Wolf Tooth vs ZTTO Portable Chain Link Tool

I recently came across this ZTTO Portable Chain Link tool, which looks almost the same as the original Wolf Tooth Pack Pliers. Check out this link for the original article that describes this tool in detail.

As the ZTTO chain link tool is only 1/5 the cost of the original Wolf Tooth version, I decided to get one for my other bikes, and compare it with the original version.

At first glance, they look the same!

The aluminium centre bolt is available in many colours.

Here is the first difference. The Wolf Tooth version has a bolt and nut to tighten the two arms together, while the ZTTO version has a threaded hole on one arm, for the aluminium bolt to thread into.

Tip profile for opening or closing quick links look similar.

At the other end, the tire lever shape and Y-shaped slot for Presta valve cores are the same design.

The internal slots and magnet for storing extra quick links are the same as well, with the capacity to store 2 pairs of quick links.

View from the back, looks the same.

Side profiles look the same as well.

In summary, the ZTTO chain link tool only differs in the middle area, where the fastening method is different. Otherwise, functionally and appearance wise they are the same. Of course, we can see that the ZTTO version is a blatant copy of the Wolf Tooth version. However, at 1/5 the cost, the ZTTO version is a much more affordable version.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Shimano Dual-Sided SPD/Flat Pedals: PD-A530 vs PD-EH500

Around 10 years ago, I started using SPD pedals on the Dahon Boardwalk, and one of my favourite pedals is the PD-A530 SPD/Platform pedals. I like them because they are so versatile, as I can ride the bike on either flat soled shoes such as slippers or running shoes, or SPD shoes such as the RX8 gravel shoes. Also, they are relatively lightweight and look pretty good.

However, they have recently been discontinued, and replaced by a new model, the PD-EH500. Let's do a comparison and see what changed, and whether it is better or not.

This is the PD-EH500, which retains the same axle and SPD design, but has a redesigned platform area.

These are the PD-A530 pedals, I have used so many pairs of them on many of my bikes.

The EH500 has a chunkier platform and comes in only one colour, instead of silver or black for the A530.

Biggest difference is that the EH500 pedals can accept pedal pins, which will improve shoe grip if you need them. This was one of the issue with the A530 pedals, where the platform side gets too slippery when wet.

16 pins are provided with the EH500 pedals, for 8 on each pedal.

The A530 platform looks wider, as the EH500 platform tapers off more towards either end.

Same 6 mm Allen key installation method is available, in addition to the 15 mm flats for a pedal wrench.

Different platform cross-sectional shape, but similar stack height as viewed by eye.

EH500 has a big curved shape from the side, almost like the hull of a boat.

Hollowed-out appearance looks a bit strange to me.

Axle design is basically the same, although the internal dimensions may have changed.

EH500 pedals weigh 376 grams (excluding pedal pins), which is practically the same as the A530 pedals which weigh 380 grams.

In summary, the replacement EH500 pedals kept all the good features of the A530 pedals, and added the option of pedal pins for those who need more shoe grip. I would say that this EH500 is a worthy replacement, being at least equal in quality to the outgoing A530 pedals. One minor gripe is the greenish-grey colour used, as it does not really match many cranksets. Usually people will choose black for a stealth look that matches any bike, or the silver spec for more classic bikes.

Deore XT M8020 vs GRX ME700 SPD Pedals

One of the most durable SPD pedals you can find is the Deore XT SPD pedals, where it is tough and literally unbreakable, unless you are involved in a heavy crash where the pedal is the least of your concerns.

It is not as expensive as the XTR version, but is probably more durable as it is not as lightweight as the XTR version. That said, it may still be a bit too costly for some, so there is a cheaper version, the newly launched GRX ME700 pedals.

These ME700 pedals are loosely associated with the GRX gravel series, although it is not tagged as part of the GRX groupset. It is basically a non-series dual-sided SPD pedal that looks very similar to the PD-M530 pedals.

PD-ME700 with a bold edgy appearance.

Weighs 240 grams on one side, giving a weight of 480 grams for a pair. The claimed 540 grams on the website is wrong.

Deore XT PD-M8020 is lighter at 200 grams per side, giving a weight of 400 grams per pair. Quite a significant difference. XTR PD-M9020 is even lighter at 372 grams per pair.

Side by side comparison. The platform on the ME700 is bigger, but this also means higher weight.

Usable platform width on the ME700 is wider, due to the larger platform and also the different axle design.

The Deore XT pedal has a sleek pedal axle design which I value very much, compared to the cheaper design which tends to collect dirt easily.

Platform on the ME700 is wider, and note the difference in axle design.

Finally, the ME700 uses a smaller Size 6 Allen key, while the Deore XT axle takes a Size 8 Allen key instead.

The Deore XT pedal can ONLY be installed with the Size 8 Allen key, while the ME700 pedal can either be installed with a Size 6 Allen key or the standard 15 mm pedal wrench. I prefer installing pedals with the size 15 pedal wrench, as it is easier to tighten and loosen the pedals, compared to using an Allen key.

However, in this case the aesthetics of the higher end pedal axle wins out for me, as I much prefer the slim and clean looking axle on the Deore XT and XTR pedals, instead of the other axle design.

Given a choice, I would choose the Deore XT or XTR pedals every time, just because of the axle design, unless there are other factors involved. Function wise, I think the ME700 pedals would be just as good as the Deore XT version, just with a less premium appearance.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

PRO Stealth Superlight vs Off-Road Saddle

PRO Stealth saddles come in many different versions. Just the road type comes in 3 to 5 different versions, which can be quite confusing. The differences are mainly the shell material and saddle rail material, as the saddle shape is generally the same. These differences affect the weight and thus the price, but I believe the saddle feel should be similar.

After the bike fitting session at LOUE Bicycles, I have installed the PRO Stealth Superlight road saddle on the Focus Paralane, and the PRO Stealth Off-Road saddle on the Cervelo Aspero. These saddles are wider (142 mm) than the Selle Italia saddles (130 mm) that are replaced, and a lot more comfortable due to the additional support.

Although both are PRO Stealth saddles, the Superlight and Off-road versions have quite a lot of differences. Let's check it out in detail below.

PRO Stealth Superlight road saddle

Large cutouts in the middle, with a smooth top layer.

PRO Stealth off-road saddle

Center cutouts does not go through, while the top layer has a rougher texture.

Generally the same shape, with different cutout designs.

Difference in graphics can be seen here. Both are subtle black/grey designs which I prefer.

Texture difference can be seen here. The road version has a smooth surface, while the off-road version is matte with a rough grain.

Road saddle width is 145 mm, a bit wider than the 142 mm spec.

Off-road saddle width is spot on at 142 mm.

Road saddle length is 250 mm.

Off-road saddle is shorter at 240 mm.

Completely different saddle rail construction, as the road version uses a one-piece molded type with the shell.

Carbon rails integrated directly into the shell.

Both have the accessory mounting holes under the saddle.

Carbon rails are 7x9 mm oval shaped, while the stainless steel rails are a ciruclar 7 mm in diameter. Recommended adjustment range is the same.

Top shape is the same, with a slight upward curve at the rear.

Due to the different saddle rail construction and also padding thickness, the off-road version will appear a lot taller compared to the road version.

Normally when we swap saddles, the seat post height also needs to be adjusted, as each saddle has a different height (or stack) from the saddle rails to the top of the padding. Unless it is exactly the same saddle model, there will be some differences that needs to be corrected by adjusting the seat post height.

Padding on the Superlight road saddle is thin and very very firm.

Padding on the off-road saddle is much thicker and also softer.

Superlight version is 157 grams, over the claimed weight of 145 grams.

Off-road version is 195 grams, exactly as claimed.

The weight difference is not that much between these two saddles, even though one is the expensive Superlight version, while the other is the off-road version that is much cheaper. To me, the off-road version is well manufactured, as it has an accurate saddle width and weight that is exactly as claimed.

There are also a few other PRO Stealth road saddles that seem a bit strange to me as they are heavier than this off-road version.

Anyway, I prefer these two saddles with all black/grey design, instead of some models with white stripes along the saddle. Depending on your usage and budget, there is a suitable saddle for everyone. Of course, the saddle shape will not suit everyone, but I am glad it is suitable for me.