Week in Review–August 3rd, 2013

Week days signpost

The Week in Review is a collection of both all the goodness I’ve written during the past week around the internet, as well as a small pile of links I found interesting – generally endurance sports related. I’ve often wondered what to do with all of the coolness that people write, and while I share a lot of it on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, this is a better forum for sending it on to y’all. Most times these different streams don’t overlap, so be on the lookout at all these places for good stuff!

So with that, let’s get into the action!

DCRainmaker.com posts this past week:

Here’s all the goodness that ended up on the main page of DCRainmaker.com this past week.

Sunday: Week in Review–July 27th, 2013
Monday: A week of swim, bike, run in Seattle
Thursday: Bryton Cardio 60 GPS Multisport Watch In-Depth Review

Woot, check it out!


Interview with ‘Running with Miles’ blog.  The folks over there had a bunch of interesting questions around how I blend travel with running.  Fun stuff, go check it out!

Significant price reductions of note

This is probably worth mentioning up here.  On Thursday PowerTap (yes, that’s the organizational name now) dropped its prices for the PowerTap lineup pretty significantly.  Enough to cause what I’d consider to be a pretty big shift in the market.  Their PowerTap G3 hub is now $790 (as a reminder, the Stages power meter is $699), and their full wheel-set is only a $200 more at $999 (just the rear-wheel is $890, half-way in between).  These basically dropped $500 overnight.  No doubt this is in response to the Garmin Vector investor call announcements made this past Wednesday.  Given retailers around the world have been leaking out information there, PowerTap likely has a pretty good idea of what pricing might be.

With that, here’s where things stand for the current generation of direct force power meters on the market today:

ProductStreet PriceAmazon
PowerTap G3 ANT+ Power Meter (Full Wheelset)
$999 (full wheelset)
$999 (full wheelset)
PowerTap G3 ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)
$790 (hub only)
$790 (hub only)
Power2Max ANT+ Power Meter
$970 (no cranks)
$970 (no cranks)
SRAM Quarq Elsa & RED ANT+ Power Meter
$1,600 (with cranks, no chainrings)
$1,600 (with cranks, no chainrings)
SRAM Quarq Riken ANT+ Power Meter
$1,200 (with cranks, no chainrings)
$1,200 (with cranks, no chainrings)
Stages ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Power Meter

Oh, and obviously if you use any of the Clever Training links above you’d get 10% off your shopping cart with coupon code DCR10BTF, as well as free domestic shipping.  All of which supports the site.

Now, what’s somewhat interesting (and many people seem to have forgotten), is that these were actually the original PowerTap prices back two summers ago when they reduced everything ahead of the G3 launch.  Except, that never actually happened.  Instead things ended up stabilizing a lot higher.  You can see my post from June 2011 with the planned launch prices (and cuts to the previous PT Pro lineup) from back then as a bit of proof.  This time though, the prices have already been implemented.

So where does this leave you as a consumer?  Well, that depends a bit.  Obviously, this is heavily aimed at Stages – bringing the price to basically $100 more makes it a very competitive decision.  Though it’s still crank vs. wheel, so there are tradeoffs to make there (plus the accuracy side of things).  I think the most interesting next chess-move though is actually Quarq’s (SRAM’s technically).  As a number of folks have pointed out, you could basically get two PowerTap’s for the price of a Quarq.  For most folks, that covers race and training wheels.  I don’t think that Power2Max has any change to make (they’re sub-$1K).  And if the rumored Vector prices end up being accurate (as well as the product being accurate), I actually don’t think they have an immediate move to make either unless Quarq budges.  I think that ultimately people who planned to buy Vector (and waited) will probably still buy Vector as long as it meets the accuracy/durability bar.  Finally, I don’t see this having any impact on Polar’s solution until they get their Bluetooth Smart chip sorted out and a functional head unit.  And I don’t see any changes in the SRM camp either, at least until next spring.

Anyway…definitely lots of interesting times ahead, and no doubt, lots of interesting moves ahead in the coming months.

Stuff that I found interesting around the interwebs:

Here’s a not-so-small smattering of all the random things that I stumbled on while doing my civic duty to find the end of the Internet:

1) Building installs bike racks, cyclist uses them, cyclist gets ticket:  Yup, seriously. And the response gets even better.  Well worth your 45 seconds. (via Cyclelicious)

2) Garmin Vector out by end of September: Per their earnings call on Wednesday, the unit will be available within Q3 (ends this September).  Also per that call was that mass production is already underway.  Official pricing hasn’t been released yet.

3) The Secret Pro, post-TDF: Another good episode of this series from an anonymous pro-tour rider about the inner workings of the peloton.

4) Summing up running in a comic: From the person behind the Oatmeal comics, very well done.  And, it’s much longer than the single screen snippet below – in fact, it’s 5 pages. Yes, pages.  It’s like an encyclopedia of running comics.


5) A look at wetsuit testing: I thought this was pretty interesting.  There’s some good questions and answers in this Slowtwitch thread.  Some complained about brands being left out (they included 9 brands, yet there are likely 30+ wetsuit brands alone out there).  Having done these type of tests before with large numbers of devices and participants, I’d say that people generally underestimate just how complex they really are to pull off with the attention to detail that is demanded.  Really, it’s not as easy as it looks.  Be it weight scales, GPS accuracy, power meters (or wetsuits in this case), there’s so many ways to screw it up and that gets exponentially bigger with each product or person included.  Including a larger sample size is interesting, but I’ve found that when you expand test sizes getting folks that can follow extremely specific procedures repeatedly is actually more difficult than you expect.  No doubt, I’d love to have seen a couple more swimmers – but I think it’s a good first step.

6) A look at the TdF Closing Ceremonies – ‘Making of’: Until I saw this video, I didn’t even know what had gone on at the Arc post-race.  Given it was almost 2-miles away from the spot we were watching from.  Really cool stuff.

7) Waterproofing the Nike+ Fuelband for swimming: Interesting look at taking the same approach that’s been used on the iPod Shuffle to waterproof them, and applying it to the Fuelband. (via Christoph)

8) Oculus Rift + Kinect + KickR = Homage to Paperboy: This is a bit of a side project involving one of the Wahoo Fitness developers, that re-creates a virtual paperboy route of sorts.  Video below, more info at the site.

9) NBC’s Bullet Time Replay Rigs: How They Work and What You Can Expect: Some interesting detail on how these systems work.  Looking forward to perhaps catching a game or two with this technology while in the states next week.

10) Students hijack luxury yacht with GPS spoofing: Hmm…good thing I don’t have a luxury yacht. (sent in by Keith S.)

11) How to (re)-tape your handlebars with surgical precision: I think the title pretty much says it all! (via TrainerRoad)

12) App lets you trade leftovers with strangers: In case you have any half-eaten gel packets at the end of your next race.  (via Clair)

13) Spot releases new Gen3 device: A new release for the satellite-focused company, aimed primarily at wilderness adventure folks (though I’ve used it on long rides too).

Crowd Funded Projects of Athletic Note:

This is a bit of a new section. Most of this content used to be found within the main section, but I figured I’d just call it out up here and make it easy to find. I regularly sift through Kickstarter and Indiegogo (plus a few others on occasion) looking for sports projects. Note that as always with crowd funded projects, assume the project will be late and will under-deliver on features. Thus far, on the numerous products I’ve helped ‘fund’ (except a leather bike handle), that’s been the case.

FitBark- World’s tiniest wireless activity tracker for dogs: Yes Folks, it’s a FitBit of sorts for dogs…complete with Bluetooth Smart.  For better or worse, I lack a dog, thus no product review coming here on this one.

Rubbee – The electric drive for bicycles: Pretty interesting in that it doesn’t require a full new wheel hub like most other ebike designs.  That said, a wee bit pricey and big for me personally.

Paravelo – The world’s first flying bicycle: Now this is something I can get into!  Well, minus the whole £5,000 price tag.  Guess it’s back to Rubbee for me.

YBIKE EVOLVE 3-IN-1 KIDS TRIKE-BIKE: This kids bike converts from trike to balance bike all with just a quick adjustment. (via Eli)

Sports Technology Software/Firmware Updates This Week:

Each week I quickly highlight some of the new firmware, app, software and website service updates that I see go out. If you’re a sports technology company and release an update – shoot me a quick note (just one liners is perfect, or Tweet it at me is even better) and I’ll make mention of it here. If I don’t know about it, I won’t be able to post about it. Sound good?

Site/Firmware Updates:

Wahoo Fitness RFLKT Firmware Update: The unit got a boatload of updates, here’s (the post linked to) where things stand as of August.

GoPro adds new features: New firmware update for the camera, and new phone apps allow sharing of videos without plugging in.

Training Peaks launches new mobile platform: They’ve also detailed out some of their website plans as well.

Garmin Basecamp for Mac got updated: Looks like mostly just a slew of bug fixes.  You would tend to use Basecamp with your Garmin Fenix, other outdoor handhelds, and to a degree the Edge 800/810

Sport Tracks Mobi updated: The site adds new calendar related features.

iPhone/iPad App updates this month:

IMG_2301 IMG_2302

IMG_2303 IMG_2310



IMG_0177.PNG (2)

Android App Updates this week:

Screenshot_2013-08-02-21-03-31 Screenshot_2013-08-02-21-04-18

Screenshot_2013-08-02-21-04-00 Screenshot_2013-08-02-21-02-42


Windows Phone App updates this week:

No Windows Phone related sports app updates appeared on my phone this week.

Thanks for reading!

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  1. oldSAP

    love the comic strip.

  2. Well, shit, looks like I hung onto my old PowerTap I want to sell just a little too long.

  3. Vito

    you forgot to mention the Rotor Power Meter; I’ve recently bought one, and I think that with some firmware refinements it could a great instrument, considering that it’s in the same ballpark as Vector in terms of features and price, and below Quark&Srm.

    • Forgot…not entirely.

      I didn’t include it*, because at this point it’s in a weird state. As you noted, it needs some firmware updates. The challenge is that it’s been in that same state since January when it first started trickling out. And while I have no doubt that Rotor is working hard on it, ultimately, it’s not ready.

      I have yet to see a single positive** post from anyone…anywhere that says they’re having no problems with it. Whether it be here (a number of folks have posted on my past Rotor PM posts), tons of e-mails, and then the Wattage Forums. And while forums are always a bad indicator of issues (because happy people generally don’t post happiness on forums), the Wattage forums are somewhat unique in that eventually someone comes along and says “Hear Ye, hear ye – I declare ye Rotor perfect!”. Except, that hasn’t happened. Ever.

      Since a lot of folks ask why I haven’t tested it, it’s a bit of two items. One is that in some ways I really don’t want to spend time testing something that I know is broken. Meaning that my stack of things to test is literally covering three cabinets and desks around me right now – plus the stuff that doesn’t fit on a cabinet. And while there is always overlap (i.e. I test bike computers at the same time as power meters), in this particular case I’d have to remove a Quarq Elsa I’m testing, as well as the Stages PM (the one I bought). So there’s that aspect. Then there’s the cost to outright buy one, since Rotor is hesitant to give me one (obviously). And while that’s not a showstopper, it all kinda comes back to: “Do I spent countless hours, $2K, and still end up with a questioanble power meter and a review that says what I already know: It needs more work.”?

      *It’s not in my comparison tables because the only products that make those are ones that I’ve actually tested myself. It didn’t make the post because of the note above.
      ** I have seen a few comments from Rotor retailers, but honestly (and no offense to retailers), none of them have ever put up data showing it against others that show it as fine. The data I have seen looks like hell.

    • Hmm. That ended up longer than I anticipated.

  4. David

    Hmmm – Powertap. I have a G3 and the numbers reported have been good (meaning what I expect – who knows if that’s “right”). But, never buying another powertap product as the support / warranty has been crap. Pretty much 300hours use (normal use, nothing crazy) and the freehub has been notched almost all the way through the splines (Shimano). Do some research and find it’s known as an issue with the alloy they use. Ask for warranty replacement and get told that its an expected feature so nothing doing. For an £800 (at least when I bought it) product that’s just not on as far as I’m concerned. So, one £40 replacement part I’ll have to buy but one resolution never to shop powertap again. Minor point I know but that kind of thing just pisses me off.

    • Hi David-

      Interesting. Out of curiosity (since you used pounds), is the support folks you’re talking to from Madison, WI (in the US), or is it an international dealer?

      I only ask because I’ve actually heard nothing but great things about CycleOps support from the folks in Madison. And even in the one case I had an issue a few years ago with a Joule (and called under a different name), they took care of it literally overnight.

      Just curious. Thanks!

    • Eli

      The freehub is just notched? So when you take the cassette off you see notches on all/most of the splines but can still take off the cassette and put it back on or put on a new cassette without issue? All alloy freehubs have that issue and its a known issue, the work around is to ignore the matches as it doesn’t impact performance in any way.

    • David


      I’m dealing with Paligap – UK powertap importer (well actually dealing with them through the retailer – I tried to contact Paligap direct and got no response at all). And, yes, I’d heard nothing but good re powertap support which was one of the reasons I bought one. But my experience has not been so good and (as you do when you have an issue) I’ve been looking how others fared and (at least in the UK) there seem to be comments that support isn’t what it was. But, who knows if this is accurate – could just be a few other like me and most others may be loving the support but not saying it in forums / blogs etc).


      Yes and no. It does affect functionality in that shifting is affected (it’s “really” notched – I’ve had quite a few bikes/freehubs over the years and I know that alloy freehubs notch to a greater or lesser extent but I’ve never seen anything anywhere close to this). And, also sort of on the ease of cassette replacement (or on / off for cleaning) in that the only way to get the thing off no is to actually take the freehub off the wheel and then take the cassette off the freehub (and that’s bit a pain in the A and not sustainable and even then it’s not an easy process anyways). Trust me when I say that this notching is not at “they all do that sir” levels.

  5. Jon

    That Rubbee would be a lot more interesting if it didn’t make both a rear rack and fender/mudguard impossible. Those are pretty important on a utility bike, which is the only place I’d be mounting the thing anyhow.

  6. Jeremy Churcher

    Heard that the Vector release will be formally announced on Thursday and that the first units will be shipping the week after. Fingers crossed it has been a long wait!

    • Jeremy

      I guess Ray already knew but is good at keeping confidences, guess it is necessary if you are going to get early info on stuff :-)

  7. Tommy

    Finally Garmin has moved forward with the Vector!

  8. Dan S

    Loved your article on the stages power meter and like their price point. I currently have a powertap wheelset built on a set of Maviv Krysium Rims (built by a guy in Germany) but moving it around between 4 different bikes (Race bike, Travel Bike, Training Bike, TT Rig) gets annoying. I like the idea of buying 2-3 Stages cranks for the (TT rig, Race Bike perhaps Travel Bike). However, I’ve always heard having two different power meter systems is room for error and wondered if you have seen any of this in your experiments since you have ridden multiple systems? Or would it be better to sell the PT Wheel and cross over to the stages. I am currently a Cat 5 Racer if that makes a difference.


    I had the same issue you had with the Alloy PT Hub getting cut. I contacted PT and instead of getting another alloy freehub I switched to a steel free hub (steel 15mm shimano 10 spdfreehub body. Part number 19152) which I like despite the weight penalty.

  9. Eli

    Android 4.3 (i.e. BLE support) comes to the google play store version of the Galaxy S4 and HTC one: link to arstechnica.com

    • That’s really surprisingly quick for the S4 and HTC updates. Far faster than I would of expected. Good job things are looking OK with adding the code into IpSensorMan. I should be able to do a beta release next week with HR maybe the other profiles as well it will depend on the Viiiiva behaving well.
      Anyone know of a good bike mount for a Nexus 4?

    • Eli

      Its only the stock android ones, not the ones the OEMs modified sold by the phone companies. But still indicates the drivers are done (the hardware is the same) and might make it much faster for the others to get it

  10. Martin Anso

    Ray, I’m sure the Girl would approve you using a bunny to test the FitBark, if it meant she finally got a bunny…

  11. Eli

    You’re forgetting there was a Powertap Elite+ that was one level below the Pro but still Ant+. That hub seemed to have been dropped at some point, so wasn’t just that the pro got more expencive but they dropped the lower level too. I got a brand new Powertap Elite+ based wheel for just over $700 at around the end of 2009.

  12. loshko

    Hi Ray, in the PowerTap section, I think you meant to say that the rear wheel is $890.. instead of $790?

    “Their PowerTap G3 hub is now $790 (as a reminder, the Stages power meter is $699), and their full wheel-set is only a $200 more at $999 (just the rear-wheel is $790, half-way in between).”