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Week in Review–Sept 29th, 2018

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 and Facebook, 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 in the Past Week:

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

Monday: First Look: The $749 Tacx Flux S Smart Trainer (Direct Drive)
Monday: 5 Random Things I Did This Weekend
Tuesday: Interbike 2018 Tech Tidbits: Stages, Elite, Velosense, K-Edge, Minoura
Wednesday: Minoura Kagura DT Smart Trainer In-Depth Review
Thursday: TrainerRoad rolls out new forward looking calendar, planned workouts. Set to raise prices.
Friday: DC Rainmaker Cycling Kits (Finally) Now Available!

Heads Up – Solid Trainer Deals:

There are two pretty solid US trainer deals going on right now, both falling into the category of ‘until supplies last’.  They’re notable because while they are technically last years models, that’s actually a funny technicality that I’ll cover in a second.

Clever Training currently has both the Tacx Flux and Elite Direto trainers on clearance. The Flux is down to $699 (from $799), and the Direto down to $765 (from $849). We’ve never seen a direct drive smart trainer this low before to my knowledge.

Tacx Flux Sale: Starting with the Tacx Flux 1, this is the updated 2018 variant that includes all the internal tweaks for better performance/stability. The singular difference between this and the just announced Tacx Flux S is that unit has support for longer derailleur cages. That’s it!

Elite Direto Sale: Meanwhile, they’re clearancing out the 2017 variants of the Elite Direto, and have put them down to $765 (from $849, and previously $899). Technically there is a new version of the Elite Direto (2018) that now includes a riser block for the front wheel (which costs about $5-$10 on Amazon).  Also, Elite has increased the accuracy claim from +/- 2.5% to +/- 2.0%. Though honestly, most would say it was already at or above the +/- 2.0% level anyway.

Both of these are awesome deals for trainers that are available today, at least while supplies last. Keep in mind the Elite Direto was basically the trainer of the year last winter (and the Flux 1 held that position the winter prior). While neither is silent like the new KICKR CORE at $899, you are saving $150-$200 (and you can get it today versus the heavily backordered KICKR CORE).

YouTube Videos I Made This Week:

Here’s what hit the tubes over on the You of Tube, definitely don’t forget to subscribe there to get notified of videos the second they hit!

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.

(This is a bit of a round-up over the last four weeks since I haven’t done any Week in Reviews during this period)

1) Apple Watch Series 4 Teardown: I always enjoy tear-downs. Mostly because there are little tidbits of chipset knowledge to be gained. As much as I’d love to do tear-downs, I don’t have deep enough chipset knowledge to make it terribly interesting. Also, the way they do these teardowns is notable because they likely do two of them: One for video, one for photos.

2) Riding your bike at 183.9MPH: Let’s be honest, I have zero desire to ever have me and my bike go that fast while I’m attached to it.  But it sure is super cool to read about the woman who did it.

3) Identifying Fake Helmets: While I suspect most reading here are purchasing helmets through reputable sources, some interesting little tidbits in this article worth reading. (Thanks Colin for sending in!)

4) Life Insurance Company requiring wearables? There was a bunch of news over the past week or so about John Hancock apparently requiring wearable use to continue life insurance plans. It appears this was a communications snafu.  The company has since managed to get many outlets to correct their stories to note they’re only including wearables but the customer isn’t required to wear/use it. Still, even their own press release isn’t crystal clear on this front.  Ultimately I’m actually split on the issue. The reality is that if you have a population of healthier people, that lowers costs for all people in said plan. So encouraging capable folks to be healthier (read: be more active) is also financially beneficial for everyone – even those that may not be capable due to health conditions. I think in general for now, having incentives is still better than requirements. Ultimately, for whatever reasons more people tend to respond better to free big screen TVs and trips to Hawaii than saving $12/month on their insurance.

5) Bragi sues OnePlus in Europe over Dash naming: Apparently they already won in the US over this, so switching to the EU to settle that one is somewhat of a requirement from a trademark law standpoint. Still, I’m not entirely sure who would have ever been confused about this to begin with.

6) New Specialized Power Meter? Hmm, I’m not so sure about this one. This seems more of a patent filed by an engineer than anything else. Keep in mind that 4iiii currently does 98% of power meter development/engineering for Specialized. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.  Remember, big companies (especially tech-focused companies) file countless patents each year, many never make it to product states.

7) Will the Olympics include e-sports? Apparently the door has been left open. While the list of potential e-sports is quite wide in diversity, I’m not convinced any of them should be included.  On one end you’ve got something like Zwift (or variants thereof).  They’re actively campaigning to be included as an exhibition event in the 2018 Olympics. That at least has some element of cycling in it, but still, I think it misses out on key aspects of the sport (notably: crashing).  And then at the other end you’ve got something like traditional video games.  I know a lot of times the debate tries to get into the details about how one is no different than a sport, etc. But ultimately, I look at video games kinda like I’d look at inclusion of Theatre or other performing arts. Sure, there’s a physical element there (like most things in life), and there’s spectators, and there’s humans dedicating their life to it.  But if you asked 20 people on the street whether it’s a ‘sport’, I’d bet 19 or 20 would say ‘no’.  Until that simple test changes, then I’m not a fan of them in the Olympics.

8) Samsung LTE Smart Tracker: This $5/month tracker could have been cool and great for bike tracking (against theft), but with that only a 10-day battery life? Nah.  Now, it still could be interesting for other more active scenarios – akin to the good ol’ Garmin GTU10 tracker of years ago.  Also, it doesn’t appear to have GPS and instead uses cellular triangulation. That’s probably actually better in city environments, but mostly useless in the great outdoors.

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 are 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?  Oh – and if you want to get a head start on things, this page is a great resource for watching Garmin and a few other firmware updates.

(Kinda a quiet week best I can tell)

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Series BETA firmware update: Minor misc improvements and ‘music improvements’.

Wahoo KICKR CORE Firmware Update: This was set to fix issues that both GPLama and I saw in our reviews. I haven’t tested it yet to see if it does.

With that – thanks for reading and have a great weekend all!

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18 Comments

  1. Robert

    While not a deal on trainers per say, Wahoo Fitness has 0% interest, for up to 12 months, though Oct 31st. This can be an easier way to get a premium trainer and not have to cough up all the money upfront.
    As long as you qualify for the 0% interest that is.

    link to wahoofitness.com

  2. Onno

    “Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Series BETA firmware update”

    The final version (5.00) has already been released.

  3. Jamee Mikell

    Zwift as an exhibition at the Olympics, whatever. But I don’t think we need highly political, self-interested organizations like the IOC or UCI regulating Zwift racing, charging people to compete, etc.

    DOTA2, COD, etc., No. Not Olympic material. And from what I understand, they probably pay more to their winning team than ASO, so can’t imagine they want the IOC/WADA regulating their caffeine intake. 🙂

  4. Daniel Lhotka

    Suunto Released a nice update to their new mobile app

    “Customize the data you see on your watch during an activity directly via the Suunto app.
    Plan and create a route using Suunto app and sync it directly to your Suunto 9 Baro, Suunto 9 and Suunto Spartan.”

    link to play.google.com

  5. Francisco Araujo

    I completely agree with you about e-sports.
    I know the IOC won’t want to be out of that market, but it would make much more sense to have a separate e-Olympics.

  6. Paul S.

    This week and for one more I think the Chess Olympiad (a team competition between national teams which attracts most of the best players in the world) is going on. (I played chess as a youth, and the Internet has made it very easy to follow chess events. I was never very good.) There are often efforts to get the IOC to accept chess as a “sport” (you’ll often see it described as a “sport” on chess web sites) and have the Olympiad played as part of the Olympic Games. I’ve always been opposed; chess is a game (well, actually not in the game theoretic sense), not a sport and I wouldn’t want to see it in the actual Olympics any more than I want poker or bridge to be there. (I’ve never been very thrilled with equestrian events being in the Olympics; the horse is the athlete there, not the rider.) It’s true that the top end professional chess players almost always have an extensive physical exercise regimen, since it helps with mental acuity and the stress of playing for hours, but you can’t get fit from playing chess. So unless the e-sport actually involves physical activity, I’d be against. And besides, not everything needs to be in the Olympics.

  7. Jon S

    When there was a big push to get Bridge (definitely a game and not a sport) recognised as an Olympic sport a couple of years ago, I seem to recall the argument being about that being the vehicle to access national development funding (at least in the UK, with the lottery funding rules) and a wider platform. I argued at the time that the lobbying efforts would be better spent trying to effect change in those rules rather than further stretching the (already somewhat elastic) definition of what constitutes a sport.

  8. Rui Pereira

    Clever training Europe also has a good price for the Elite Direto. Been looking around for a good trainer in general and for Zwift specifically. Will I need a cassete for this one?

  9. Erin

    Hey Ray,

    Is there a specific code/link we can use for purchasing goodies via Amazon.co.uk that benefits you? Or perhaps Amazon.de?

  10. David Tucker

    I agree with you that e-sports don’t belong in the Olympics, but your analogy to theater is pretty weird. E-sports are still a competitive event and don’t share any attributes with theater or performing arts.

    They actually share quite a bit with sports in their preparation and competition but still have no place in the Olympics.

  11. Austin

    Whether or not e-sports are “sports” is a matter of semantics, and linguistic conventions are arbitrary and can change over time. But even if everyone right now agreed that e-sports are legitimate “sports,” they would not work at the Olympics. Most of the most popular e-sports (e.g. League of Legends and Dota2) are way too complex for any casual viewer to have any clue what’s going on. For the most part, the only people who can enjoy watching these games are people who have spent many hours playing those games.

    E-sports is a very segmented community. Attempts to create media equivalents to be the “ESPN Sportscenter of e-sports” have all been complete and total failures. There’s no such thing as a generic “e-sports fan” who watches and enjoys and has some awareness of all the major e-sports. “E-sports fans” generally just watch one or two specific games that they themselves play or know a lot about, and they have no interest or knowledge of the vast majority of all the other games out there. (Yes, there are some exceptions, but they are the exception rather than the rule.)

    The only majorly popular game that I think works for casual viewers who don’t play the game is Counterstrike: Global Offensive, and it’s literally a game about terrorists who are trying to detonate a bomb and counter-terrorists who are trying to stop them shooting each others’ brains out. Not a good fit for the Olympics which pit country against country. (Iran vs Israel anyone? USA vs Pakistan?) That just wouldn’t work for an international event that also has plenty of tension and security concerns about terrorism to worry about.

  12. Darrell

    I pulled the trigger on the Elite Direto. It’s actually amazingly quite, IMO, coming from the Tacx Vortex Smart. I guess the kickr core is completely silent but the Direto is very silent and then I have tv and fan on which are louder. My drivetrain is the noisiest thing

  13. John Caldwell

    This is incredibly random, but I figured I’d ask in case you know.

    1) have you used the Garmin S60 Golf Watch?
    2) do you know if it’s compativle with structured workouts? I’m specifically interested in strength and running workouts that I create and send to the watch.

    Thanks!

  14. Mark

    I do wish Garmin would release something like the GTU10, waterproof, ant+ capable and which hooked into their LiveTrack system. Doing this by phone so friends can track me during events is a right PITA.