A brief weekend testing gadgets back in France

While the Interbike show was winding down Friday morning, I was skipping to the airport to make my flight back home.  Just a short jaunt you know, a 3 hour & a 10 hour flight.

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I actually rather like the longer flights.  In this case, I slept 8.5 hours of the 10 hour flight.  An attempt to make up some of the sleep lost while burning the midnight oil at Interbike.  The 3 hour flight was spent writing up Friday’s post.

On the plane I carried a host of presents for The Girl, notably, a sign she had made for her cupcakery opening shortly.  This is just a banner for tables and the like at events, and not the real store shop sign she’s having made (in Britain actually).

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With her presents complete, it was time to open mine.  Mine mostly consisted of a slew of items vendors handed to me at Interbike to try out.  It’s far easier to get them to me in person there, than navigate international shipping waters.

For example, the updated Power2Max power meter.  This addresses power drift issues and also adds a faux left/right balance measurement.  Faux in that it’s calculated/assumed, like the Quarq Cinqo does as well, as it doesn’t measure each leg independently.  That said, most folks buying the Power2Max are doing so for the lower price point, so I’m interested in seeing if this updated unit with temperature compensation addresses those problems.

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Regrettably, my vice grip wasn’t big enough (to remove the old unit off of the crank per their instructions).  And here in Paris, everything is closed on Sunday morning, so I have to go back and get a bigger vice grip Monday at the hardware store.

Next up, the Garmin Fenix temperature sensor – Tempe.  This $30 little footpod sized unit measures temperature away from your body.  Of course, I’m not convinced that the shoe is the best place to do it, but since it can clip on anywhere (back of backpack being an example) – you could remedy this other ways.

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On tonight’s run, I placed the Tempe on my shoe.  Interestingly, you can see where the temperature drops at the 8PM spot, which is exactly when it started to rain buckets, monkeys and elephants.  You can see it’s definitely better with changes in temperature than the internal temp sensors tend to be (which are very slow and look like big blocks, compared to the constantly changing below).

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Next up, another Garmin item – a pair of blue and green FR910XT wristbands.  These are not of the quick-release variety, but just standard FR910XT straps.  They’ll be available in about two weeks.

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I stuck on the green one, for your viewing pleasure.

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Speaking of brightly colored objects, up next is a decibel meter.  Yup, this little baby (actually, it’s rather larger, really large in fact) will allow me to tell you exactly how loud each of the trainers I’m including in the roundup is.

I’m working on defining a test to show off loudness at different levels.  I’m thinking about a 60-90 second plan with video showing the decibel meter and the speed.  Additionally, at 2-3 speed levels (i.e. 15MPH, 20MPH and 30MPH) – since on almost all trainers I have, speed is the primary factor in noise.  Again, current/rough thought.  Feedback appreciated.  Also, I’ve already been told I should set this for ‘Slow’ setting and ‘A-weighting’.  Noted.

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Last but not least is this muscle oxygen monitor from MOXY.  It’s a prototype, and still not final.  Like early beta.  They’ve been trying to get a test unit to me for months, but it’s strangely been stuck in French customers since August.  Go figure.

At any rate, it monitors the oxygen levels within your muscles, and is worn on your thigh.  It’s a bit bulky at present, and not even for sale.  Mostly within the realm of scientific and academic testing to see how the data could be used.  We did some test runs while at Interbike so I knew how to use it, and now I’m ready to start playing with it and gathering data.

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With my unpacking complete, we took a minor diversion and went over to some friends house in Paris.  In what I believe to be our first non-airport outing via taxi – we delivered cupcakes to them.  We didn’t have a good way to do it on our bikes without them becoming a giant house of cupcake frosting.

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While up in that area, we checked out a antiques market.  The Girl was looking for some new door handles for her shop.  Door-handles found, but the correct compatibility was not.  But, did you need a key?  Plenty below.

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After our visit with friends, we rode the bikes back and got ready to head out for a run.  It would be a nice evening run with The Girl on her 90 minute long run.  This would also give me a chance to test out the Tempe sensor footpod, seen to the right below.  The other footpod (standard ANT+ running speed/cadence footpod) on the left shoe, wasn’t in use this time.  Regrettably for reasons I can’t comprehend, ultra-running focused Fenix doesn’t support the running footpod.

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The run started out great – nice calm, and rather warm and humid actually, evening run in Paris:

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We were mostly just exploring.  We didn’t really have a set route, but rather were trying to piece together some known locations with a lot of unknown territory.  It mostly worked.

But around 8 miles, the weather gods decided that we’d had too much nice weather.  And they dumped on us.  First a sprinkle, then a gentle rain, then just outright downpour:

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Later on, it lightened up a bit – though the rain still continued throughout the night.

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When all was said and done, we had a nice 10.5 miler on the books.  A good easy run pace. 

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I used the new Fenix app to download the data.  The app connects to the phone via Bluetooth Smart, and then allows you to view your route.

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Which, is unfortunately all the app does (no pushing to Garmin Connect or anything else).  But, it’s a start, and more importantly – it’s sweet to see this sort of functionality growing on the Garmin lineup.

With that, the end to our weekend.  It’s a really busy week ahead, with me heading out mid-week to the mountains of Alberta, Canada to present at the ANT+ Symposium.  Oh, and run with Simon Whitfield.  You know…just another week. ;)

Thanks for reading all!

26 Comments

  1. Does the tempe sensor work with other garmin devices ? (i.e. FR310, FR910, Edge 500/800)

    Reply
  2. Nope, at this time only Fenix. I'm really hoping we see it added to others, and that it becomes a common sensor across most watches - just like a speed/cadence/HR sensor would be.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    Nice post, thanks Ray.
    The fenix Footpod confuses me. Why not release a new Footpod containing temp & cadence which is also compatible with their well recieved 'triathlon' devices like 910xt?
    Maybe garmin are planning a surprise Christmas stocking filler...

    Reply
  4. Woody

    I ask only because I'm curious. Was there a discussion about naming it a "Cupcakery" instead of "Petit Gateaux"? It seems like between the website and the banner, you're pretty english centric for a french first business. I know the world is flat and all that, but still, in my experience the French seem the most sensitive to that kind of thing.

    Reply
  5. Hi Woody-

    We did indeed look at that a bit. The thing we found is that surprisingly most everyone here understands 'cupcake'. It was actually funny, recently The Girl was working on the shop scraping paint. Out of nowhere she hears this gaggle of screaming girls - similar to if they had just seen Justin Beiber or something. Turns out, they had understood the word 'cupcake' as part of the little piece of paper she placed up in the window. That's it. They were ecstatic.

    The other item is the location is heavily touristed (being only about 75 yards from Notre Dame). We want to attract both locals and tourists, and many tourists wouldn't recognize Petite Gateaux, whereas popular culture has made 'cupcake' more known (even to others in other countries).

    As far as the website goes - we're definitely aiming to offer it in both English and French. By chance volunteering to help translate? :)

    Reply
  6. For your Noise Level meter set-up, I would advise you to:
    - use always the same relative position of your mic vs the trainer because noise can be very direction-dependant... e in steady condition --> obviously what you plan
    - use A-weighting as it should weight the noise as your ears are doing

    I would myself do the following:
    - different speed, different torques (depending of the availalbe test time...)
    - 3 measurement points (rear, left and right)
    - display the results as a pic from above with color-scaled dots showing the noise level)

    Enjoy and thanks again for your articles. I hope you enjoy France!!

    B.
    PS Should I recommand you to come cycling in the french alps in summer?
    B.

    Reply
  7. Hi!

    For me, the BaseCamp for iPhone App crash, every time I try to connect it to my fenix.

    Is it just me, or does anyone else have the same problem.

    I'm using i iPhone 4S (iOS 6.0) and a fenix (s/w 2.60).

    Reply
  8. Hi

    More interesting toys :-).

    How's it looking for a full-on review of the Fenix? And when you do is there any chance you can look at how well the route-following works in the extended (60 secs) GPS mode. I can't see it working too well, and on a twisty mountain track it could possibly be dangerous, taking a straight line round a gully rather than going round it, for example, if this came in the middle of the 60 seconds window.

    I'm trying to work out well it would work for long, navigated ultras or whether I'm better staying with my 310/PowerMonkey or etrex/spare AAs solutions.

    I'd also be interested to see how the latest Ambit software handles it too as that provides another option.

    Not asking for much, am I!

    Cheers
    flanker

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    You don't raise any eyebrows coming through customs with all those "new toys"?? OR is the import duty limit pretty high?

    Reply
  10. For the trainer noise test, I would put the meter in your neighbors house and get a reading =)

    I'm sure some of your readers would appreciate the noise impact that trainers have on neighbors.

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    Regarding cupcake travel options, there's a place in NYC, Sweet Revenge, that drops each cupcake into it's own to go cup with lid. Works really well for bumpy transportation. And while the frosty does get a little crumpled, it's much better than trying to manage a box with them semi-loose.

    This pic isn't the best, but shows what I'm trying to describe:
    link to s3-media1.ak.yelpcdn.com

    Reply
  12. I can't wait for the trainers test (planning to buy one soon). As noise is important, i would suggest you to add additional test point: in other room, behind the wall and with closed door. Mark has a valid point, it would be interesting to see how much noise each trainer emits a few meters and walls away.

    @anonymous... As a EU citizen you can bring to the EU (via airplane) goods in the value of around 430 EUR, while via post you can receive only goods in the value of around 22-23 EUR. For the higher value you have to pay VAT and/or import duty,. If you have for example a computer with you in a value of 1000 EUR and travelling to the US it is wise to register it with customs, to avoid problems when returning. If you are stopped at the customs, you have to provide the proof, eg. copy of the custom registration or proof of purchase inside of the EU. Otherwise you have to pay import duty + VAT. Even if article is used! However, it depends on the airport how much they check the passangers! I live in Slovenia, and on our airport you have extremly high chance to get checked if you have US check-in tab on your luggage. When I used to live in Paris, i never got stopped there when coming from the US or outside the EU. Regarding Ray, i would say he has easier way, as he is not a citizen of the EU, but only a resident... It is easier to get through at the airport (i guess he can just say this is for personal use and intended to be exported back outside the EU), but he is subject to procedure when getting goods through mail...

    Ps: i apologize for all typos and grammar mistakes... Ipad keyboard is killing me ;-(

    Reply
  13. stochasticflux

    @Micke I'm having the same problem here. I wondering if Ray just has the magic touch or if there's a trick to this.

    Reply
  14. Hmm, I wish I had a good answer there on the Fenix crashes (I've seen others note it as well).

    I'm on 2.60 on both Fenix units I have, and running the latest App available on the AppStore, plus running the IO6 on an iPhone 4S.

    I first go to the Basecamp sharing option on the Fenix, and then it shows the Bluetooth symbol as it's waiting. Then from there I open up the app and connect to it.

    Eek, I wish I had a better answer! I'm sorry!

    Reply
  15. Hi Ray, I am a French expat, currently living in Toronto, CA. I would be pleased and happy to assist with translation efforts if you and your wife need help. I am sure that you'll likely have plenty of local volunteers to do so, but I'd jump at the opportunity to repay, in any way I can, you for the amazing content of your site.

    Reply
  16. In all your research, what is the best power meter for swapping between multiple bikes? Assuming you have a road bike for training and a tri bike for racing (with a set of race wheels). The iBike or a set of Garmin Vector pedals would be the best bet, but I'm not a fan of the iBike and the pedals aren't coming out anytime soon!

    Thoughts?

    Reply
  17. Hi Neda!

    That'd be awesome. If you could shoot me your e-mail address, that'd be great: Ray@dcrainmaker.com

    We just have a few minor things to translate right now, so nothing big. Thanks!

    Hi Peter-

    It depends, the quickest swappability between road and tri is definitely a PowerTap. You can get a wheelset at under 1K these days. Beyond that, I can swap the Quarq Cinqo pretty quickly. The Power2Max seems to take me a big longer to swap out.

    It would take me longer to swap the Polar Pedals, than either crank system. Unknown on Garmin Vector swappage times.

    Hope this helps!

    Reply
  18. email sent :)

    Reply
  19. I spent some time at the Moxy booth and decided to test the unit in variety of environments. Having compression garments helps a ton, since no straps are needed.

    This is basically a beta version and much feedback is needed. Will touch base with them before Twin Cities Marathon.

    This may be a great gadgets for optimizing workouts.

    Reply
  20. lin

    Would you do a comparison of the Tempe in the shoe vs on the laces? Thanks..

    Reply
  21. Sorry, can you clarify when you mean 'in the shoe'?

    Reply
  22. Hi Ray,

    I really expected the Tempe to work with the Forerunner watches for better training data since it should be a software update unless I am missing something. I would pick one up for $30 as a no-brainer to go along with my foot pod. Since the foot pod is still working I would say that I prefer a separate cheaper unit for my other shoe versus combining it with the footpod which may make technical and business sense. I wish all my gadgets were built to last like the footpod. It just keeps going.

    Reply
  23. Bill

    Ray - any new info on the Moxy testing?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I sent back the prototype units back in January/February, as they were moving onto the next iteration of it. Right now it's a bit expensive I think for widespread adoption.

      Reply
  24. Ray - Any word from Garmin if they are going to implement Tempe in fitness devices? I would really like to see support for the 910xt as this is the device that I have.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I think we'll unfortunately continue to see limited adoption within Garmin fitness devices. You won't see a FR910XT update for it unfortunately.

      Reply

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