DC Rainmaker https://www.dcrainmaker.com Fri, 14 May 2021 19:18:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.18 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/images/2017/03/dcrainmaker-dc-logo-square-40x40.png DC Rainmaker https://www.dcrainmaker.com 32 32 KOM Cycling RPV2 Full Motion Rocker Platform: In-Depth Review https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/05/kom-cycling-rvp2-rocker-plate-review.html https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/05/kom-cycling-rvp2-rocker-plate-review.html#comments Wed, 12 May 2021 20:26:26 +0000 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=125679 Read More Here ]]>

Double-cheeseburger. That’s what the new KOM Cycling RPV2 rocker plate is, or at least, looks like. This double-decker rocker plate essentially takes their existing popular RPV1 rocker plate (which tilts side to side), and adds a new forward/back sliding sensation – in the same vein that Saris’s MP1 plate does.

The concept behind rocker plates is to give you indoor training sessions more movement, which in turn roughly translates to more comfort. Out on the road you’re constantly shifting slightly on the saddle as the bike moves – but indoors you’re riding a brick that rarely moves meaningfully. Thus, you’ll mostly notice the difference on longer rides. But still, on shorter rides you’ll simply notice that you’re not a brick. However, an astute cycling tail watcher will also notice that you ‘invert’ the way you sprint indoors on a rocker plate. And yup, I’ll cover that too.

The transition from single to double-cheeseburger has doubled the price though, from $449 for the RPV1 to $799. So, not exactly double, but getting there. Still, that’s some $400 less than the equally woody Saris MP1. So…how do they compare? Let’s dig in.

Note that KOM Cycling sent me a media loaner of the RPV2 to test out. After this review they’ll have to figure out how to get it back to them. That’s just the way I roll. If you found this review useful, consider becoming a DCR Supporter, which helps the site here and basically just makes you awesome.

Unboxing & Setup:

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The KOM Cycling Double-Cheeseburger arrives in one large piece, looking like the top of a paper airplane. Albeit, a heavy one at 66 pounds/30kg.

To make your life easier later, position the box label-side up, and then remove the top of the box. Assuming everyone did their jobs correctly, you’ll have the top plate of the rocker plate looking back at you.

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You can now pretty easily slide (or rip) the plastic bag off, and then slide the cardboard out from under it. When all is said and done, you should find yourself one rocker plate double-stack, and one oversized Ziploc bag with balls inside.

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Inside that bag we have four deflated balls. We’ll only use two of them, the other two are in case…well…I guess in case you screw up somehow and blow up your balls. You’ll also find a pile of 7 straps, a level, and a cheap inflation pump. Frankly, the red level might be the best party freebie of this entire kit.

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Setup is silly easy. If you can pump up a soccer ball (or, football), then you can set up RPV2. I mean, at least assuming you don’t go all Tom Brady on it.

Essentially, you’re gonna use the pump to inflate two balls, inserting them into the two round ball-shaped holes. These will act as the resistance for left/right tilt. You’ll be astounded just how big these balls will get, despite being made of super-thick rubber (or silicone or something). You can see below I’ve inserted one ball into the left and right sides, and have put a bit of air in the right side. I’m just starting to pump up the left side.

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When you do this, it’ll behoove you to ensure the inflation holes of the ball are centered. First, it’ll look pretty later, but second, it’ll mean that as they inflate, the ball hole won’t go somewhere harder to reach later for inflation or deflation.

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You’ll want to also ensure that your balls stay centered below deck as you blow them up. Thus, you’ll reach around and adjust your balls to provide for consistency between them, ultimately ensuring the situation is level.

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In my case I used the level most of the time throughout this process, and eventually you’ll add the trainer too. The goal here is that when you stand on either edge of the platform, you’ve got enough air that the two platforms ‘just touch’. If you have too little air, then you could hit the boards together when you tilt. That wouldn’t likely damage anything, it just wouldn’t feel terribly awesome. Inversely, if you have too much air, then it’ll feel too stiff.

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What’s arguably the most impressive part here is just how darn big these balls get below deck. Check this out:

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They’re massively larger than the above-deck ball size.

And with that, it’s time to throw your trainer on there. Doing so is quick and easy. You can use the straps to get your trainer nice and centered. There’s seven straps, and I used three on my KICKR. And then one more for my front wheel. You’ll see grooves throughout the platform, allowing you to connect up just about any trainer or smart bike you can think of.

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And then up front you’ll use a strap for your wheel. Pro Tip: Don’t put the buckle on the center point of the wheel, instead situate it off to one side. First, it’s not good for the carbon/material, but second, it’ll create scratches or noises if it moves across the edge.

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In my case, I used the platform almost entirely with a Wahoo KICKR. But it’s compatible with basically everything out there. They officially claim compatibility with the entire Wahoo KICKR lineup (including CORE & SNAP), the Tacx NEO/Flux/Flow series, the Saris M2 series, and “most other trainers”.

Realistically speaking, basically everything is compatible with it. People have tossed on KICKR bikes too. Though, that’s a bit iffy, but hey, it works. It also works with the KICKR CLIMB, I did that too for one ride. In that case you can either free-style it on the front without a strap (your weight is more than enough), or, you can use two straps together. The only downside to straps (I didn’t use straps) is that it can slightly restrict the tilting base of the KICKR CLIMB, so don’t pull it too tight.

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Finally, two random spec things. First is that the bottom of the plate actually has small rubber feet on it, to keep it from scratching your floor. In my case, I placed it on a trainer mat anyway. And lastly, the max allowable on-deck weight is 425lbs/193kg. So that’s even enough to accommodate a KICKR Bike + most riders.

How it Works and Usage:

KOM-CYCLING-RPV2-Rocker-Plate-Back

With everything all set it’s time to get atop the platform and your bike. The first time you do this you’ll probably assume you’ll tip over and die. And while that’s always a possibility, it’s mostly an unlikely one. To demonstrate this, here’s me on the platform, leaning quite far to the wall side (without touching the wall, you see my hands being held up).

KOM-RPV2-Full-Lean

Now mind you, if I were to lunge harder, I could probably take the whole thing airborne, but that’d be stupid. And I only do stupid things on Friday. Today is a Tuesday, thus, free of stupidity. But before we get to all the tilts and slides, lets step back and briefly talk about the non-slip surface on the edges. You’ll see this in all the places that both the trainer/wheel is likely to sit, as well as where you’re likely to step. Though, some smaller riders might find the gap nearer the crankset (where it says “CYCLING”) lacking in grippy stuff. In my case, it wasn’t where my feet tended to land though.

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Somewhat surprisingly, while the Saris MP1 anti-slip grippy stuff is more grippy, I actually like the KOM cycling material better for cleaning purposes. The Saris stuff is hell to clean if you actually get something on it (like gel or squished Haribo). Whereas the KOM material is easier to clean while still being grippy enough.

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Now aesthetically speaking, I love the KOM Cycling red/black look – because it matches my bike…and my shoes…and my kit….and my water bottles. Also, my Apple TV remote case. But looks are individual, and some people may prefer the more woody look of the Saris MP1. To each their own.

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However, I haven’t seen any issues with the wood surface and sweat, despite letting sweat just pool up there post-ride and leaving it there. Perhaps long term, but I also haven’t heard of issues there on other plates that have a protective coating applied as this does. So, boring stuff done, let’s talk movement.

The RPV2 moves in two main directions: Side to side tilting, and front/back sliding. It’s the front/back sliding that’s unique on the RPV2 compared to the RPV1 (which only does tilting).

In the case of front/back movement, the platform is essentially rolling on flat metal tracks, one at the front and two at the rear sides (like airplane wheel bays). This interaction occurs between the base and the middle platform. There’s then two sets of springs that extend outwards from roughly below your crotch towards the sides. These apply a force that bounces the plate back in place when moved forward/back. Here’s the tracks:

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Also, about now you’re noticing it’s a bit of a dust magnet underneath. On top it’s not too bad if you remember to wipe it down.

And here you can see the springs.

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Here’s roughly where the two springs are:

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Now these rails and springs are notably different from a front/back standpoint than the Saris MP1. In that case, it uses a curved track (seen below), to basically provide that resistance using your body weight instead of springs. And in fact you’re really talking the total weight of your body + trainer + platform to drive the rollers back to the center point. As a result, the MP1 has a slightly more natural feel.

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The other difference is that you’re more likely to hit the edges (front/back) on the RPV2 than the MP1, during a sprint. That’s because while the track lengths aren’t that different, it takes far more effort to move it the full extent on the MP1 than the RPV2. Now, is that worth the price difference? Meh, probably not for most, but, it’s probably the single biggest difference.

Still, if we set aside the sprint edges, for normal riding, you’ll get very gradual front/back movement as you apply slight bits of acceleration or deceleration. This is the main difference between this (or the MP1) and any other platform on the market that’s just side to side. Effectively it means that every pedal stroke generates a very slight bit of 3D movement – front to back as well as side to side. Just as you’d generate 3D movement outside on a bike (even if that movement is slightly different here).

Next, we’ve got the side to side tilting motion. In this case the platform is leveraging the resistance provided by the air-filled balls for that movement. The tilting occurs between the top platform and the middle platform. Thus, the middle platform acts as the base and doesn’t tilt itself, only the top platform tilts, as seen below:

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You can effectively control the amount of tilt by the amount of air you put in the balls. Unfortunately, without a pressure gauge on the provided pump you’re entirely freewheeling it. But, if you’ve got a needle for your bike pump, then you can get more precise about it. The top two panels are connected using five rubber isolation mounts that give it its flex. You can see these down the center of the platform in black:

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Following their instructions, this gives me a total max platform tilt of 7° at the base of the platform, which is most easily found by simply standing on the edge. Realistically speaking, you won’t tilt this much sitting on the bike unless you’re about to try and tip it over.

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I then placed the level up higher – on my saddle. Would that result in any greater tilt angle (given the higher altitude)? Yes, a bit, it recorded 9° up there:

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Why is it more though, shouldn’t it be the same? This is something I saw with the Saris MP1 as well. And in thinking about it now, it’s likely because the trainer itself provides a very slight amount of tilt, that when weighted to the side will add that extra 1° or so.

Still, this is short of the official 13° of official movement per their current spec sheet. However, that’s because the official 13° of tilt is actually the total left/right range (at 6.5° each), which frankly seems a pretty wonky way of measuring that.

As noted earlier, the platform is pretty darn stable – even for me, a tall dude on a tall bicycle. I leaned as far as I could towards the wall on the bike, and it wouldn’t tip there. Which isn’t to say you couldn’t get it to tip ever. I’m sure someone with more balls than I would do some jiggling and such while leaning obtusely towards the wall to get it to flip. But again, I reserve my stupidity for Friday, and today is not Friday.

Ok, so with all that explainer and stuff covered, how does it actually feel? Pretty darn good. At least, as usual with these sorts of plates – if we’re not sprinting. As I mentioned earlier, the main appeal with rocker plates in my opinion is really just long rides and lots of saddle time, specifically introducing that slight bit of movement that makes it not only feel more realistic but also gives your ass some relief due to those micromovements.

Now, one issue, just like with the MP1 (and every other rocker plate) is sprints. In this scenario, the movements indoors on the rocker plates are opposite what happens outdoors. Like opposite day. See, outdoors when your right foot/leg goes down, your bike/body will naturally lean to the left. But on a rocker plate by default, the opposite happens, the bike leans right – it’s hard to see it in a still shot like below, but super easy to see in the video at the start of the post.

KOM-Cycling-RPV2-Sprint

As anyone in the rocker plate community or industry will quickly remind you, you can fix this by ‘learning’ how to sprint indoors on a rocker plate, which roughly involves using your arms to counterbalance. And that’s OK– to an extent. But I’m going to repeat exactly what I said in my original Saris MP1 review:

I think it’s completely fine that the experience of sprinting indoors is different on a rocker plate than the real world. Just like racing a crit in Zwift is different in various ways than racing a crit outside. There are things you must account for inside in Zwift that you don’t account for outside. And vice versa. So, if one wants to learn how to sprint properly indoors – that’s totally cool.

However, where I have an issue is when a company/individual represents a rocker plate product as being “just like outdoors”. Which, it isn’t. That newly learned skill to sprint/climb indoors won’t translate outdoors – because your body already knows how to ride a bike outdoors (hopefully). Thankfully most companies these days don’t actually make any claims like that here. Most reputable companies are open that there’s differences between the two.

And again – don’t misunderstand me: Go forth (if you want) and learn how to sprint on a rocker plate. I have zero issues with that. Just don’t tell other people that they “need” to learn how to do that. Got it? Good.

Finally, in the miscellaneous category, a few random things. First off, the RPV2 does make a bit of noise when it’s rocking around. Like doing the horizontal shuffle on an older bed, you’ll hear the springs below the platform more loudly in certain more aggressive movements. But you’ll also hear them slightly with just gentle movements. This is because they’re constantly expanding and compressing, and for whatever reason, they aren’t absolutely silent. It’s less noise than your bike drivetrain likely is, but it’s not as virtually silent as the MP1. Additionally, the bearings that are within the rails aren’t silent either. Again, very minor amounts of noise, but worth pointing out.

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Still, despite these minor quirks – overall it’s a really good option. The overall feel is is good, especially for more steady-state riding. If you’re like me, who doesn’t hard explosive sprint a ton (except of course in the last 5 seconds of a group ride to move from 98th place to 97th place), it’s a great option. Whereas if you’re someone who is constantly sprinting pretty aggressively and is a heavier rider (like me), you might find the springs reach the end too often and too abruptly.

But for everyone else, especially triathletes who are more steady-state in training, it’s a great compromise to save $400 compared to the Saris MP1.

Product Comparison Thoughts:

There are roughly three types of people in this world:

A) Those that want to build their own rocker plates
B) Those that just want to buy a pre-made rocker plate
C) Those that want nothing to do with a rocker plate

For the first category – more power to ya. KOM’s initial rocker plate, the RPV1, was essentially a rebranded RideNow plate – offered under many other brands/names too. Arguably, KOM Cycling’s paint job and marketing was what sold it more broadly in the US. However, the RPV2 is fully new to them at this point, though also from RideNow based on some of their social media posts. It appears to be sold directly from them in some Asian markets, but t’s a bit fuzzy exactly.

Either way, when it comes to the home-built crowd, for the most part it’s heavily in the tilting side to side realm. Some have done more complicated designs, but very few. It’s one thing to add some tennis or inflatable objects to a few pieces of wood, but it’s an entirely different ball of wax to also have fore/aft movement. Again, some impressive peeps have accomplished this, but that list is very small.

So that then gets you to ready-made options. In the side-to-side tilting market, there’s tons of options by tons of companies. However, once you add forward/back movement, that gets slim quick. In my case, I’ve only tested two units that fall under that category: The Saris MP1 & the KOM RPV2. Thus, I’m not going to make comments about other designs, because I simply haven’t ridden those other designs.

In terms of comparing the Saris and KOM offerings though, they’re similar – yet clearly different. The build quality of the KOM RPV2 is perfectly fine, quite good in fact. But it’s also clear that the build quality of the Saris MP1 is definitely higher. There’s no slight squeaking of springs below-deck, nor any balls to inflate. And they include a front wheel block to ensure perfect alignment.

Would most people notice however? Probably not – except for the harder stop on the ends of the sprints, as I noted.

But inversely, I actually preferred the grip material on the KOM Cycling unit, as well as the strap design. And while the Saris MP1 strap design is clearly a better engineered solution, for someone like myself changing around trainers somewhat frequently, the KOM unit is actually easier in that regard. But if you’re leaving your trainer on there all the time, then the Saris design is great. Neither ever moved on me though.

Like I said, the differences are minor – so ultimately you’ve just gotta decide what features you prefer the most and what you want to pay.

Wrap-Up:

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Overall, I’m pretty happy with the RPV2 in terms of overall ride feel and the full motion aspects. As I keep harping on, the value here is really more of the flowy movement as you work your way through a ride, rather than ultra-realistic outdoor sprint replication. But with that flowing movement with small accelerations and shifts in the saddle comes a feeling of realism, because it’s a feeling of movement. Even if in some cases it’s not as realistic as it technically should be.

In some ways it’s the same thing with overall indoor trainer road-feel realism. Sure, companies can replicate the inertia as best as possible, but even in the best of bikes and trainers I’ve tried, that doesn’t mean it entirely tricks your brain into thinking you’re outdoors. After all, you’re still not dodging cars and having to fix flats. But each layer you add in does contribute to either increased enjoyment of riding indoors (especially long rides), or in some cases, increased ability to ride longer indoors if required (due to those micro-movements on the saddle).

In the case of KOM Cycling, they’ve found a strong middle-ground between the slightly higher-end Saris MP1 motion platform of similar overall feeling, while finding places to reduce the cost without sacrificing huge elements for most people. You can then take that $400 and spend it on other indoor cycling gear, or just a lot of Ben & Jerry’s. Or a Trainer and Chill mug or t-shirt. Your call.

With that, thanks for reading!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

If you're shopping for the KOM Cycling RPV2 Full Motion Rocker Plate or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you use Backcountry.com or Competitive Cyclist with coupon code DCRAINMAKER, first time users save 15% on applicable products!

Here's a few other variants or sibling products that are worth considering:

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

If you're shopping for the KOM Cycling RPV2 Full Motion Rocker Plate or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you use Backcountry.com or Competitive Cyclist with coupon code DCRAINMAKER, first time users save 15% on applicable products!

Here's a few other variants or sibling products that are worth considering:

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

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How To Use a Cycling Power Meter With a Garmin Vivoactive or Venu Watch https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/05/how-to-use-a-cycling-power-meter-with-a-vivoactive-or-venu-watch.html https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/05/how-to-use-a-cycling-power-meter-with-a-vivoactive-or-venu-watch.html#comments Tue, 11 May 2021 09:34:18 +0000 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=125612 Read More Here ]]> DSC_4674

Officially, power meters are not supported on Garmin’s Venu & Vivoactive watch series. That’s because (in Garmin’s eyes) the target market for those watches is a more mainstream consumer that doesn’t have $1,100 cycling power meters on the bikes in their garage (or $299 power meters). Essentially, it’s the same target market as an Apple Watch or a high-end Fitbit. In fact, in a recent discussion with Garmin about the Venu 2 that just launched, they noted the most popular timed activity recorded on a Venu series was a walk.

No matter the case or reasoning, that doesn’t keep people from wanting more power. Or, some power at all. So, here’s how you can record power meter data on your Venu or Vivoactive series watch. In fact, this actually works on any Garmin watch that supports Connect IQ Data Fields (so, that would include something like a Forerunner 230/235 series).

To be clear upfront, while this solution does very much work and thousands of people have used it – it’s not perfect. The main limitation is that not all 3rd party platforms properly see the power meter data afterwards. For example, TrainingPeaks does, but Strava doesn’t. Garmin shows it themselves, but it isn’t used for things like wattage personal records or such. But hey, even the DCR Analyzer shows it. But we’ll get into all that later and you can decide whether that matters to you or not.

Setup Difficulty: Easy
Setup Time: 3-5 mins (one-time)
Requirements: Your watch, plus either phone or computer

With that, let’s knock this out

Getting it Installed:

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The first thing you need is a compatible device. I’m not going to list the dozens upon dozens of devices here (they’re all listed here), but essentially, if you’ve got anything halfway new that’s not a Garmin Instinct, you’re good to go. Note that if you have a watch that’s capable of recording power (like a Forerunner 745/945/etc…), there’s almost zero reason to use this data field. The only reason you would use it is if you wanted to record a *SECOND* power meter concurrently.

Here’s the link to the app on the Garmin Connect IQ App Store, it’s called simply enough “ANT+ Power Meter”, by Takura87. More interestingly, it’s actually one of only a handful of apps to go through the ANT+ device profile certification process, with ANT+ themselves. Meaning, it complies with all power meter communication specifications.

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Tap to download it, or, if on mobile it’ll swing you over to the Garmin Connect IQ app to install it (via phone or desktop computer). Quick and easy, shown here via desktop:

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It’ll then tell you that it’ll send the app to your watch the next time it syncs. If you’ve got Garmin Express on your desktop computer, then you can hurry things up by connecting the watch physically. Or, you can force a sync with your smartphone. Or, you could just wait and it’ll settle out. Your call.

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And at this point, you’re done with getting it installed on your watch. But you’ll still need to configure your data fields to include it, otherwise it won’t record the data. In the next section I cover that, as well as my recommended configuration.

(Side note: I’ve actually used a variant of this app for years in some of my testing, including one version that allowed you to record multiple power meters. These days, you can do that instead with secondary named versions of the app running as Connect IQ data fields. This allows you to record multiple power meters to the .FIT file.)

Using it:

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Now at this point, if you’ve only got one power meter (remember, a smart trainer also broadcasts as a power meter), then you can open the app up and it’ll just search for the nearest ANT+ power meter and pair to it.

But in my case, I’ve got…umm…a lot of power meters and trainers. And in fact, even if you only have one, I’d put the ANT+ ID in, because the app will technically scan each time – so if you go for rides with a friend, or a partner has a bike/trainer nearby, it might accidentally pick up that one. Versus having it manually set, it’ll use that each time. But again, your call, it’s easy.

There’s two ways you access this – on your smartphone with the Garmin Connect Mobile app, or desktop computer with Garmin Express. For the heck of it, I’ll choose desktop computer with Garmin Express. Open up your watch, and then tap apps, and scroll all the way down in your app list to “ANT+ Power Meter”, then hit the little “…” next to it:

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Next, we’re gonna fill in a single field with your ANT+ ID. You can find your ANT+ in a variety of locations, most notably simply on the side of most power meters. It’s a 4-5 digit number in most (it can technically be 1-6 digits, but it’s almost always 4-5 digits). For example, on a Quarq power meter, it’s etched near the battery cap area, on Garmin Vector pedals it’s on the left pedal near the crank arm. On a smart trainer it’s often not written on it, but you’ll find it in any apps you have, such as Zwift or such, or the company’s own app will display it.

Then, go ahead and tap two of these three things to on:

A) Set Replace Power = On
B) Set Replace Cadence = On
C) Set Pause Search = Off

I’ll explain all three of these after the screenshot.

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So setting the ANT+ ensures it only connects to your power meter or trainer, and not to a BFF’s or such.

The Replace Power and Replace Cadence options are important, because they tell apps like TrainingPeaks that this is legit power and cadence data, and not just some random app recording an unknown data parameter (like ‘Beers Consumed’ or something).

Finally, the Pause Search option is interesting, because it tells the app to keep looking after the two-minute search period, even if it can’t find your power meter. This is useful if you stop somewhere or if your power meter simply isn’t on yet. Note though, that this will increase battery burn slightly during use, so keep that in mind.

With that, click ‘Save’ and call it done!

But wait, we need to simply add this to our bike profile, like any other data field. Go into your data field settings and add it to a data page of your choosing. If you’ve never customized anything in here before, then Data Page 3 is likely not used/enabled, so you can add it there and remember to toggle it to enabled.

vivoactivepowermetersettings

And then go into the data fields, and look for the category called ‘ConnectIQ Fields’:

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And then inside that you’ll find the power meter field:

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Also – as a reminder, if you’re riding both inside and outside, those are technically two different sport profiles with two different data field sets. So remember to add it to a data page there too.

DSC_4644

With that, we’re ready to rumble. Now, let’s ride! After your power meter wakes up, you’ll see it’ll send data over to the Connect IQ Data Field, showing your power numbers. It’s really as simple as that. On the upper right corner you’ll see the ANT+ ID that you’ve entered, along with your current power/wattage. To the right of the power, you’ll see your cadence.

In the below example the values are:

54715: My power meter ANT+ ID
142: My current watts/power
73: My current cadence
92: My current heart rate

vivoactivepowermeter

You can see how in this case I’m on an indoor stationary bike paired to a pair of power meter pedals, that are also concurrently broadcasting to Zwift on an iPad via Bluetooth Smart. Two for the price of one!

vivoactivepowermeterzwiftpower

Now, keep pedaling until you’re done suffering, and then save as normal. There’s literally nothing else to do here, it’s quietly collecting all of your power meter data behind the scenes for your ride.

Afterwards Data:

So, with our ride complete, what kind of data do we have? Well, first off, we won’t see any power summary data on the Vivoactive/Venu watch itself. This is because, frankly, the Vivoactive/Venu series barely tells you anything as it is post-workout, let alone power. Instead, you’ll need to crack open your favorite (or not-favorite) apps to get started. Starting with the basics, you’ll see power and cadence listed as a graph within the list of charts:

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You’ll notice these have the little ‘IQ’ icon/logo after them. This means the data came from a Connect IQ App, versus natively recorded by the Garmin, as the heart rate (which was using the optical HR sensor) doesn’t have that icon. But in terms of the data in those charts, you can use it just the same.

What you won’t notice here is a summary field down below with your power. On a ‘normal’ Garmin device that’s natively capable of recording power, you’d see things like average or max power in this section. You’ll notice off to the side it’ll show the Connect IQ app listed though:

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The data is similar on Garmin Connect Mobile. You’ll notice the “ANT+ Power Meter” app listed on the first page of the activity summary. If you’re missing that post-ride, that means you didn’t add it to your data fields for that profile. In the main summary screen though, you won’t see power summary like you would on a ‘normal’ Garmin power meter compatible device. But, you can see the power and charts shown on the graphs page below:

GCM1 GCM2 GCM3

For many users, this is perfectly fine. But, just to be clear, there are other Garmin-specific caveats here for not having it natively recorded, they include:

– No power/wattage personal records or achievements: You won’t get notified of your ‘Top 20-minute power’ or anything akin to that, since this isn’t recognized as power within Garmin’s realm.

– Any power-based reports or dependent feature won’t show-up either: This includes things like FTP calculation, since the Vivoactive/Venu doesn’t support power, and it’s not reporting it as true power, no go here.

– No training load/recovery support: In the incredibly quirky scenario where you have a newer Garmin Edge device but for some odd reason don’t want to record with that – it won’t contribute power data to that. I can’t honestly think of any logical scenario that you’d not record on the device that does power, but hey, just being clear. Reminder: The Garmin Vivoactive/Venu series doesn’t support training load anyway, so this is purely for *OTHER* Garmin watches/devices (which already support power meters).

Ok, so next, let’s look at other apps. First up, TrainingPeaks. Here’s that workout over there:

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Then there’s Strava. Simply put, no, Strava won’t recognize this power. They could if they wanted to, but they don’t re-map a declared power value atop Garmin’s native fields from Connect IQ.

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Today’s Plan. No, this doesn’t seem to work, at least not at first glance. Today’s Plan typically has the most robust underlying data support of all the platforms, so it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s some trick to getting the .FIT Developer fields to enumerate and I’m just missing it.

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DCR Analyzer. Of course it works. We support all .FIT Developer fields (even ‘Beers Consumed’), so you can easily see it there. You’ll see both the cadence data (in purple) and the power data (in teal).

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And here’s a comparison showing the data plotted again in the DCR Analyzer comparing a PowerTap P1 to Peloton Bike (non-Plus), showing the typical inaccuracy there.

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In fact, just last week we quietly rolled out an update to the DCR Analyzer that now lets you compare *ANY* data fields under the ‘Developer Fields’ chart. Geeky, I know, but this means you can compare a drop in cadence to why a power meter drops out. Or such. Not really related here, but interesting nonetheless.

If you want to try out a test file yourself on the platform of your choice, you can download my Vivoactive 4 .FIT file here with power data and upload it to your account/platform to see if it supports it or not.

Wrap-Up:

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And with that – you’ve now converted your Vivoactive 4, or Venu, or Venu 2, or Forerunner 245, or whatever watch is power meter capable. Simple as that.

Now, whether or not that makes sense for most people is an entirely different question. If you’re a daily power meter user, then honestly this probably doesn’t make a ton of sense compared to having a device that fully supports power natively. But if you need or use power sparingly, then this would probably fit the bill quite nicely. For example say your gym or hotel has indoor bikes that broadcast power out via ANT+, and you simply want to record that while travelling – this is perfect.

Still, it’s the perfect example of where Connect IQ can fill in the gaps of the platform, and expand upon it too. For example, this can also be used to record multiple power meters. Such as for regular power meter users that want to occasionally record and compare their trainers and power meters without having to purchase multiple units or run a slew of different apps on tablets or phones concurrently. This takes all the data and pulls it into a single cohesive file. Handy!

With that – thanks for reading!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase. These posts generally take a lot of time to put together, so if you're shopping for the Garmin Vivoactive 3, Garmin Vivoactive 4 or Garmin Venu 2 or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you use Backcountry.com or Competitive Cyclist with coupon code DCRAINMAKER, first time users save 15% on applicable products!

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

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Quick Hands-On: Wahoo Adds Music Controls to Rival Watch, Plans for TrainingPeaks Workout Support https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/05/quick-hands-on-wahoo-adds-music-controls-to-rival-watch-plans-for-trainingpeaks-workout-support.html https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/05/quick-hands-on-wahoo-adds-music-controls-to-rival-watch-plans-for-trainingpeaks-workout-support.html#comments Fri, 07 May 2021 08:26:28 +0000 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=125513 Read More Here ]]> Wahoo-Rival-music-controls-Review

Over the last week Wahoo has quietly rolled out a firmware update that adds music controls to their Wahoo Rival multisport GPS watch, enabling it to changes songs on your iOS device. For those on Android, Wahoo says music control there “will be part of a future firmware update”. So for this post I’ll quickly cover how it works. It’s not too complex, so this won’t take too long.

However, Wahoo also announced that its “next planned firmware update will incorporate planned workouts from TrainingPeaks” – marking the first time the RIVAL has structured workout support of any type. This functionality will largely mirror that found on their ELEMNT series cycling units (ELEMNT/BOLT/ROAM), but of course now supporting more than just cycling workouts. While there’s no specific date for that yet, I don’t expect it to be too far off. Wahoo has noted recently they wanted to get into a higher cadence of smaller updates for RIVAL, and you’ll remember just a few weeks ago we got the running track mode update.

Music Controls Overview:

As far as the music controls go, it’s actually a slightly unique take on things. First of course you’ll update your watch, if you haven’t already. Simply crack open the Wahoo ELEMNT app so it’ll tell the watch to get the latest version. You’ll need firmware version 1.39.72 (or later) on the watch – and you’ll need the Wahoo ELEMNT app updated and in the background somewhere.

Next, open any iOS supported music app. In other words, any app that also shows music controls from the lock screen. My guess is that’s every app you’d probably ever use. In my case, that’s Spotify. When you open Spotify and start playing, it’ll automatically add (and open) a new controls page on the RIVAL:

Wahoo-Rival-Spotify-Control

You’ll see the app name up top, followed by the artist name, track title, and then the time remaining + time progress bar.

You can use the top right button to skip tracks, and the middle right button to pause music. Meanwhile, if you press the bottom two buttons together, it’ll open up the volume controls to increase/decrease volume:

Wahoo-Rival-Music-Volume-Control

This page is then accessible like any other data page, so it’s accessible from within a workout by just tapping the bottom buttons to iterate forward/backward through the data pages, including getting back to the watch page.

And…that’s it. Simple and straightforward.

With that, looking forward to digging into the TrainingPeaks structured (and scheduled) workout implementation once it’s ready. Thanks for reading!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase. These posts generally take a lot of time to put together, so if you're shopping for the Wahoo RIVAL GPS Watch or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you use Backcountry.com or Competitive Cyclist with coupon code DCRAINMAKER, first time users save 15% on applicable products!

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

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Peloton Tread Screen Falls Off Mid-Workout, Peloton Says to Fix It Yourself (Photos and Story) https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/05/peloton-treadmill-recall-ordeal.html https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/05/peloton-treadmill-recall-ordeal.html#comments Thu, 06 May 2021 19:10:15 +0000 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=125493 Read More Here ]]> image

While most of yesterday’s Peloton treadmill news was focused on the higher-end Tread+ and safety risks to kids, there was actually a secondary story at work – the recall of the cheaper Tread units (without the + after their mode name). Those models were recalled because their display consoles were falling off. That model is about $1,800 cheaper than the Tread+ and features a standard treadmill belt as opposed to a slat-design belt. It’s also smaller and has a smaller screen, but it wasn’t recalled for the same reasons as the Tread+. You can see the two units below for comparison:

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This story is about what happened to one customer that had the display fall off their Tread unit, and then the subsequent customer service journey they’ve gone through – which included the user struggling to get Peloton to actually respond, Peloton then telling the user to install the display themselves, then canceling their account, bricking their treadmill, and then telling them they could pay $13/month if they wanted to continue using Peloton.

The Front Fell Off:

Destkopfullprism

After yesterday’s story, a DCRAINMAKER reader from Canada actually reached out, as mid-run their Peloton Tread unit decided to ditch the front screen mid-workout, initiating what the reader called “an impromptu hurdles session”. In this case, the individual – an avid triathlete and runner – was able to jump over the flying display without injury. She is one of six known customers that have had the unit breakaway mid-run. Some have suffered minor injuries as a result, according to the CPSC. In total, 18 Tread customers in the US, Canada, and the UK have had issues with loosening displays, of which the aforementioned 6 units had the display separate entirely mid-workout.

Rebecca Gardiner of Ontario, Canada ordered her Tread the day it was launched in Canada, on February 9th. It arrived a week later on February 16th. It was 3 weeks later on March 9th that it fell off mid-workout. She had just completed a 45-minute run session with instructor Selena Samuela. As you can see, that went without incident:

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After completing that workout she started a 10-minute cooldown run, also with Selena Samuela. That run lasted less than 30 seconds. Out of the middle of nowhere the screen started to wobble. She thought to herself “Oh the screen does move like the one on the bike” (which is true), and a split second – the screen completed her train of thought and separated from the treadmill. You can see the workout record below, at least as much as the screen (which also acts as the computer) killed itself.

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With the display no longer attached, it fell downwards, hitting the belt, and then traveled with the Tread belt ultimately resting against the wall behind the treadmill. Rebecca had to hurdle the display as part of that, but, was uninjured. Here’s a photo of the Peloton Tread, its decapitated display, and the location of the treadmill during the incident. She moved the display in front of the treadmill in order to make it more visible in a photo:

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Here, the Peloton Tread with its front having fallen off:

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It would turn out, her hurdling session wouldn’t be the only hoops she’d have to jump through with Peloton.

A Support Nightmare:

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She called support, where she spent hours being passed around without any real resolution. She said that it was clear Peloton didn’t seem to know how to handle it. Peloton refused to book a technician to come fix the Tread, but said someone would call “by the end of the week”. A week later, nobody had contacted her from Peloton.

She called back again and spent a few more hours on the phone being passed around. Ultimately, Peloton decided to simply send her a new screen and told her to install it herself. They sent her the service videos that Peloton has for their own on-site support technicians and essentially said ‘good luck’. Here’s the support e-mail with the instructions on how to install it:

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The instructions state to have two people install it together, along with a torque wrench:

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Neither requirement is huge, but notable that only two screws are used to attach the heavy display to the treadmill handlebar frame:

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Two days later (Mar 17th), the display arrives via FedEx. Rebecca attaches it, but it doesn’t power on. She contacts customer service again. This time they agree to a technician coming out 11 days later – on March 28th. She’s now lost three weeks of usage.

The technician (singular) arrives and fixes the problem, which was due to the wrong socket being used during re-installation. While the solution was quick, the technician noted (paraphrased) to the customer that ‘while the handlebar part of the treadmill looks pretty it isn’t that sturdy’, and that she should ‘check the screws on the display’ every other week to ensure a repeat incident doesn’t occur. There was no special attention paid to her case from Peloton support, Peloton corporate headquarters, or any other Peloton entity. In their mind, the situation with a few new screws was resolved.

From there until May 5th (yesterday, the day of the recall), Rebecca used the treadmill without incident. However, that morning at 9:30 AM when she went to use the Peloton Tread yesterday, it would not start.

She contacts Peloton via a 45-minute long chat support who walks her through a hard reboot of the machine, which seems to fix the issue. Whether or not it’s tied to the recall isn’t clear. After getting it going again, she asks what she should do, or if Peloton is offering any compensation for people willing to wait.  She isn’t given any options. Concurrently, she was also waiting on hold via phone, to find out about scheduling a repair or a refund.

Ultimately, she’s offered to wait for a repair, or opt for a refund. She tells support that she’ll take the refund, given that she’s “played this game before”. An appointment is booked for next Wednesday, May 12th, for Peloton to retrieve the treadmill in the meantime.

Peloton has stated in their FAQ page they hope to have a solution/fix for the Peloton Tread owners in the coming weeks, likely some form of hardware bracket enforcement. Note that they did not offer this to this customer, simply offering a refund, or a repair at an unknown time.

“Peloton is implementing a voluntary recall for the Tread in cooperation with the CPSC. We are already working to develop a repair for your Tread touchscreen console and hope that this CPSC-approved repair will be available soon. Until this repair is available, Tread owners can either wait for the repair to be approved in the coming weeks, or they can request a full refund.”

You would think the story would end here, but it does not.

As part of the hardware refund process they automatically canceled her and her family’s Peloton accounts and memberships. This came as a surprise to her, as she and her daughters had planned to continue using the digital app until she could order one. Peloton then offered for her to continue using the platform at $13/month.

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She replied back to that support e-mail noting that this felt like a “slap in the face” given the dozens of hours she has spent with Peloton support, the weeks without a functional treadmill, and all ignoring that she was one of only six members to join the Peloton Hurdlers Club.

Shortly thereafter, Peloton sent a template subscription renewal e-mail that seemed to imply that her membership has been renewed without charge, but she’s received no communication if that’s the case or not (or for how long).

At no point during this entire process has Peloton reached out to her in any capacity. She’s initiated every exchange, and always had to wait hours on the phone, or long chat sessions, to get assistance. Despite all this, she says she’ll be back to purchase another one, saying:

“The bummer of it all is that when it worked, I really liked the treadmill. The classes were great and made running inside WAY less boring. It also motivated my daughters who can be hard to get moving at times. And, believe it or not, if they fix the problems I would really like to buy another one.  Just might wait a while – have learnt my lesson on being a first mover!”

She just wished Peloton would have had better support, and would simply reach out to her and others that actually had the issue with something more than a boilerplate response. Given Peloton has re-considered many treadmill decisions as of late, perhaps they’ll re-consider this one too.

Thanks for reading!

(I reached out to Peloton’s PR department for clarification on what, if anything they were doing to more directly contact/support those with broken treadmills. But they have not yet responded.)

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Peloton’s Bad Day Explained: Recall of Tread & Security Leak Discovered https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/05/peloton-tread-recall-explained-discovered.html https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/05/peloton-tread-recall-explained-discovered.html#comments Wed, 05 May 2021 19:26:32 +0000 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=125459 Read More Here ]]> DSC_8491

Hump day is not going well for Peloton this week. After a successful annual ‘Homecoming’ event last weekend where they made a slew of product announcements, the company announced today they’re recalling Tread & Tread+ treadmills, due to safety issues (which led to the death of one child). This, following weeks of the company resisting calls from the CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission) to issue a recall of the Peloton Tread/Tread+, and of course, following the incident in March that led to the death of a 6-year old child, after they were pulled under the treadmill.

However, Peloton’s bad day actually started prior to that, before most in the company’s headquarters in NYC even woke up. A story ran on TechCrunch, which outlined how security researchers had stumbled onto a bug that allowed some activity and profile details to be seen for private profiles. More important to the story though was honestly the fact that it took researchers multiple attempts and eventually involving a media outlet to get Peloton to pay attention to the security researcher’s claims. The actual data leak itself though would probably be classified as relatively minor, in the grand scheme of leaks (more on that in a second).

Let’s just do a quick round-up of both of these. However, for those that are skimming – I’d strongly encourage you to understand the treadmill safety issue here, because frankly, this doesn’t just impact Peloton treadmills.

Peloton Treadmill Recall:

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Peloton currently offers two treadmills, though, they were both named the same thing at one point. The two models are:

Less expensive – $2,495: Peloton Tread
More expensive and bigger – $4,295: Peloton Tread+

However, up until last year, the Peloton Tread+ was the Tread, and then they offered a less expensive version, and they renamed the Tread to the Tread+. It’d be like if Apple decided to change the name of your product after you bought it, giving it a +/Plus. It’s confusing.

And in fact, adding to the confusion is that there are actually two different safety issues. For the Tread+ (the bigger one), the main safety concern is that pets/children/objects can be pulled under the treadmill if not properly supervised. The CPSC released a video showing how exactly this occurs with a toddler. The video is hard to watch (the child eventually walks away), but I think it’s super important anyone with a treadmill watch it, as this isn’t limited to just Peloton treadmills:

Again, while Peloton is getting all the attention here, this isn’t limited to Peloton treadmills. The main issue is the gap at the base of the treadmill. And just about any belt or slat system will pull objects under it, especially given the forces and weights these machines have. For example, my treadmill (at the DC Rainmaker Cave) isn’t much different in height or gap, and would likely pull things under it too. Here’s an older image I found in my files of it, showing the gap:

However, some treadmills have bars or covers in place to prevent this. For example, just randomly pulling up Woodway’s main treadmill page, you’ll see how these specific models have bars in place that prevent most objects from being pulled fully under the treadmill. And that’s the key piece here. The main goal isn’t necessarily to prevent belt-burn or such, but rather, to prevent the child/pet from being *pulled under* the treadmill.

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Versus below, for the Peloton Tread+, you can see there’s no block in place, yet there’s still enough of a gap to then have the belt/slat system pull the object with it, not just to an initial bar under the treadmill about 12” back (like mine above), but likely significantly further along because there’s no secondary blocker that some units have.

Meanwhile, for the Peloton Tread (the cheaper one), somehow the display can fall off and end up injuring the person on the treadmill. How this occurs is relatively mind-boggling to me, but obviously, it’s happened. Whether this is an assembly quality issue or an engineering issue is somewhat beside the point, it’s apparently happening. Here’s the exact wording from Peloton on this one:

“Peloton, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, is recalling the Tread because the touchscreen console on the Tread can detach and fall, posing a risk of injury to consumers.”

Like, that’s literally the definition of ‘the front fell off’.

On the bright side, very few Peloton Tread (non+) units have been sold – at least in the US. Peloton says 1,050 Peloton Tread units were sold in the US, as they were only on a small pilot program there within certain US cities. Instead, those units were largely sold in the UK & Canada. Peloton has not sold any treadmills in Germany (their other market). Peloton has ceased sales globally on all treadmills. They’re also working on a fix to keep the front from falling off:

“Peloton is implementing a voluntary recall for the Tread in cooperation with the CPSC. We are already working to develop a repair for your Tread touchscreen console and hope that this CPSC-approved repair will be available soon. Until this repair is available, Tread owners can either wait for the repair to be approved in the coming weeks, or they can request a full refund.”

Meanwhile, for the Peloton Tread+, there were 125,000 of those sold in the US. For those folks, Peloton is essentially giving two options:

Option 1: A full refund. Any Peloton Tread+ owner can request a full refund, until November 6th, 2022.

Option 2: Peloton will send someone out to relocate your treadmill to a more safe  (non-kid) location in your home. Remember, this unit is about 500 pounds, so it’s not easily moved by yourself.

Regardless of which option someone chooses, Peloton is also going to roll out a software PIN code. This is in addition to the hardware key that’s required to operate the treadmill. Meaning, ideally, someone would take the key out of the treadmill and put it in a safe place – which prevents the treadmill from operating. But a software pin is a much better solution. The treadmill will automatically lock after use, and then require the PIN code to operate it again. This protects against scenarios where perhaps a parent has to abruptly leave the treadmill mid-workout (to perhaps settle a multi-toddler dispute), and then doesn’t get back to the unit to remember to take the key out.

Peloton says they are working on a hardware modification to the Tread+ as well:

“We are working to develop additional modifications to the recalled Tread+ that will address the hazard of adult users, children and pets being pulled below the Treadmill and suffering serious injury or death. These modifications will be incorporated presented to the CPSC and if approved, will be introduced into the product before Peloton resumes sales. We do not have any additional information about the modifications or any proposed timeline right now.”

Undoubtedly, this will be some form of bar or cover over the back area. But in looking at the existing treadmill back area, this isn’t going to be an easy fix to roll-out, on a product that’s designed to be as sleek as possible. Never mind having to roll this out to 125,000 units (or a portion thereof).

Peloton Data Security Leak:

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Oh no, we’re not done yet today. We’re only halfway there.

Earlier in the day, TechCrunch reported on how a security researcher was able to access profile information for members that were private, as well as access profile information for public members without authorization. The researchers have detailed their work here.

The details that were accessible were: User age, gender, city, weight, workout stats, and whether or not it was the user’s birthday (today).

These are essentially the same stats that are viewable from a user’s profile page, split into those that are seen within a workout, and those that are seen outside a workout. For example, above you can see my Peloton profile page. You’ll see my username (dcrainmaker), my city that I’ve entered manually (Amsterdam), plus all my workouts. Do note that the city is not your actual billing address, it’s just what you put in that public field. Some people don’t put anything, some put random things, like filling out a MySpace profile, it’s not super concrete.

The age and gender are the same as displayed when you tap on someone’s profile from the normal Peloton leaderboard. Here’s an example of a random person I just tapped on right now from a leaderboard of a class this very second:

20210505_210045

You can see that the person has specified themselves as a female, under 20, and living in Toronto. And in this pretty rare case, they also listed what is presumably their full name. Or, it might just be a pseudonym and they might be a 45-year-old dude in Germany. Who knows. Here’s an example of a pile of names from a leaderboard this past weekend:

You’ll note though that one’s actual name isn’t displayed anywhere, nor was their actual location, nor anything else beyond what is normally public information. Except whether or not it was that user’s birthday or not today. The other detail that’s somewhat irrelevant right now, was whether or not the person was taking the class in a Peloton studio, or at home. Given all Peloton studios have been closed for a year, that doesn’t matter too much today.

However – the main gap here is that this was *ALSO* accessible for private profiles, using the Peloton API (or, sorta-API, it’s not really a truly official API).

But that’s also ignoring the fact that it took more than 90 days for Peloton to respond to the security issues, and even then, they were only fixed after TechCrunch reached out to Peloton’s press office, which got the ball moving. According to TechCrunch and the security researchers, it sounds as if the main security lead at Peloton was new to the position and things were still getting put in place.

Undoubtedly, it also sounds like Peloton didn’t have in place procedures to raise security-focused bugs from customer service/support channels to the right internal teams. That’s an important piece for software and hardware companies to have in place, to train support staff to understand when a security researcher (or anyone else) is trying to disclose a security vulnerability. Else, it can get lost in the noise of typical tech support cases.

Peloton provided the following statement to TechCrunch:

“It’s a priority for Peloton to keep our platform secure and we’re always looking to improve our approach and process for working with the external security community. Through our Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure program, a security researcher informed us that he was able to access our API and see information that’s available on a Peloton profile. We took action, and addressed the issues based on his initial submissions, but we were slow to update the researcher about our remediation efforts. Going forward, we will do better to work collaboratively with the security research community and respond more promptly when vulnerabilities are reported. We want to thank Ken Munro for submitting his reports through our CVD program and for being open to working with us to resolve these issues.”

Again, it’s never good to disclose profiles that are set to private, as public. But, in this instance, the severity of the data here is more minor than most data leaks we tend to see. Certainly far less critical than if one’s Strava profile were public when otherwise set to private, as that has very specific details about exactly where someone runs/rides, and likely their exact address information (no, Strava hasn’t had a data leak of that sort yet…and no, people forgetting to add privacy zones doesn’t count. Also, yes, dear god, make a privacy zone around your home, and don’t start your runs/rides from your home – start them a few hundred meters away).

Of course, all of this Peloton’s Bad Day™ will likely be forgotten tomorrow, as conveniently it’s their quarterly earnings call. Undoubtedly they’re going to announce another blockbuster quarter – probably selling more bikes than ever before, with higher subscribers than ever before. Make no mistake, there’s a reason this is announced today, and not tomorrow. By tomorrow, it’ll literally be yesterday’s news.

With that – thanks for reading!

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TrueKinetix TrueBike In-Depth Review https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/05/truekinetix-truebike-review.html https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/05/truekinetix-truebike-review.html#comments Wed, 05 May 2021 12:12:57 +0000 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=125439 Read More Here ]]> DSC_4444

There’s a strong chance you’ve never heard of the TrueBike by TrueKinetix, despite it being a full functioning, shipping, and retail-available smart indoor bike that works with any ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart compatible app out there, like Zwift, TrainerRoad, and plenty of others. The reason for likely not knowing about it is somewhat simple: They’re a small company with relatively limited distribution today, only within a few countries in Europe – the Netherlands and Belgium. However, later this year they’ll start expansion into North America and the rest of Europe. As such, it’s always interesting to look at smaller options from time to time to see how (or if) they can compete with bigger players, and as you’ll see here, cases where they can be a bit more scrappy to implement things others might be hesitant to.

The TrueBike is unique in that there’s an actual drivetrain with an actual chain, inside the gearbox. It’s also got a large battery to be able to operate without a power plug, plus it’s got a smallish screen up-front. Oh, and it has WiFi – something that somehow most other smart bikes don’t have.

For this review, I’m going to focus on my most recent month or so with the TrueBike. But I also spent a month or two last year with it as well on an earlier near-final edition. These days, the unit is in full production and shipping normally – so that’s the experience I’ll focus on.

In the world of indoor cycling bikes, there are essentially two categories. Those indoor bikes that ride atop fully open standards and allow connectivity and control to/from any app (e.g. Wahoo/Tacx/Stages/Wattbike), and those that utilize proprietary platforms and closed ecosystems (e.g. Peloton, NordicTrack, etc…). In general, I prefer the open standards variants, but there are pros and cons to each. The TrueBike is fully in the ‘open standards’ category, but it also has an app that runs on the bike itself, allowing you to do structured workouts there, without the need of other apps, if you want. Or, you can use both it and apps like Zwift at the same time, as I often did.

Finally, note that this bike is a media loaner. Once I’m done here they’ll pick it back up in the same TrueKinetix van they dropped it off with. Quick and easy. If you found this review useful, consider becoming a DCR Supporter, which helps the site here and basically just makes you awesome.

The Basics:

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Will start off this section noting that there was no ‘unboxing’ section. That’s because like a Peloton Bike, the TrueBike includes delivery from the company itself, including bringing it inside and ensuring it’s set up and good to go. So a TrueKinetix van rolled up one day, and they carried the bike inside, screen still wrapped in protective plastic. This delivery and initial setup is included for all TrueBike purchases.

TrueBikeDelivery1 TrueBikeDelivery2

They’ll also leave with you with this simple bound manual:

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And you know? Thank you. Just effin thank-you for having a simple printed 15-page manual that has quick answers to tons of questions. It’s written in a to-the-point Dutch manner, with little fluff or unneeded information. I’ve been able to find the answers to almost everything I need in here from a normal day-to-day usage standpoint, and it’s even got a nifty office supply store plastic cover on it.

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Sure, it’s not some super-fancy glue-bound book made in a factory 10,000km away. But here’s the thing: None of the other bikes I’ve tested (which is all of them) have anything remotely like this in paper. I’ve kept this floating nearby the bike for quick reference, whereas for other bikes I have to spend 25 minutes on Google or massive downloadable PDFs finding things. Sometimes simplicity is the right answer, regardless of whether or not it looks like an end of semester report binder. I like it.

In any case, here’s the bike:

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It doesn’t come with pedals, I installed those. In my case I’ve been using various power meter pedals, as a way to compare accuracy for the accuracy section. This has included Favero Assioma, Garmin Rally, and Garmin Vector 3 (spindles converted to Rally). I think even the PowerTap P2 pedals flirted with it for a ride or two one day. They’re promiscuous like that.

At the back of the bike you’ll find the power supply system and wheels to roll it around. There’s a power cord that comes from that to plug in and charge up the battery:

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You can either leave it plugged in (as I have largely done), or it’ll run for 1.5 hours on the internal battery. However, in actuality it’s longer than that – because your pedaling charges the battery. More specifically, the bike while powered up consumes about 50w of energy according to the company, however, if you’re sitting at 250w pedaling along – you’re actually now powering the bike, with a chunk leftover. In fact, the company is even working on a small device to allow you to contribute back to your power system. While for a single household that’s probably not worth the effort, it might be for a larger cycling studio. Either way, the company says it’s part of its larger efforts to be greener – including that the plastic portions of the bike (such as the cover over the power system) are all recycled plastic.

As always, here’s the bottom of the power brick. I do this so when you can’t figure out which brick is which lying around, this is the one that came with the TrueBike:

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We’ll get back to the entire purpose of that giant chunk of bike in the back, in a moment.

Above that you’ve got the seatpost. This is vertically adjustable via a hex wrench:

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What’s kinda cool though is that they keep the hex wrench in a little holder below the seat:

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You can see above that said holder also includes two water bottle holders. As a triathlete, I appreciate this line of thinking. But at the same time, from a road cyclist standpoint, having bottles in the frame is handier in terms of reach, as well as not clipping them with my legs when I mount/dismount. And in fact, just yesterday I managed to snap one of the plastic water bottle cages when dismounting, forgetting I had loaded two bottles up there for photos. Sigh.

The saddle is adjustable fore/aft along a rail, and then the saddle itself can be adjusted/tilted by using those two screws you see in the picture, one fore and one aft:

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Meanwhile, up on the front you’ve got the handlebar arrangement. The entire handlebar setup can be pulled out, akin to the seatpost. There’s a single cord tucked inside that then runs to the keypad, and then on to the shifter. On the top you’ll see a small keypad of sorts. This allows you to navigate the menus in the display. Sure, it looks a bit not-2021, but sorta like the manual – it works perfectly.

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Meanwhile, you’ve got shifters with legit shifting buttons and nice clicky-click sounds on the handlebars. We’ll talk more about that later in lots of detail.

Then finally, there’s a long shaft that protrudes outwards away from the bike, capped with a small screen. This screen runs the bike’s training platform atop Linux, which allows you to do structured workouts on it, change settings, and see your current stats.

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It supports multiple users, each with all their own profile settings. You can use the keypad to easily navigate the menus, it works pretty well in practice.

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All these are stored in the TrueKinetix cloud, which also stores copies of all your workouts. It’s here on this screen you can change settings on the bike, as well as create structured workouts,  and look at past workouts.

When you open up your profile on the bike it’s tied to a pin number (4 digits), but you can toggle that off using the online cloud. I mean, unless you really don’t trust the people in your house to rack up free miles on Zwift. Frankly, if my wife wants to use my Zwift account to pad my mileage – go forth! But of course, this is designed more for gym scenarios:

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So, stepping back for a second to look at the footprint of the bike, the entire thing is measured at 162cm long. This is a fair bit longer than the KICKR Bike at ‘only’ 120cm long. I note this because while the TrueBike display can be handy, it’s also somewhat cumbersome when moving around.

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Realistically it doesn’t impact where you put the bike, because it’s not as if you’d have it any closer to a large screen on a wall anyway, but it blocks the path when trying to get in front of the bike or such. This is different than most indoor bikes with screens, where the screen is mounted closer and higher up (and usually bigger). Of course, the benefit to a screen out this far, and attached at the base of the bike platform is that the bike frame can have a bit of movement without impacting the screen itself. as you can see, they’re attached at two entirely different points.

Now, TrueKinetix’s claim to fame, the thing they talk a lot about is their drivetrain system. Specifically, their motorized system, which they say adjusts the drivetrain some 1,000 times a second to more accurately mimic the inertia of riding outdoors. And those adjustments are based on sensors that monitor the system 10,000 times per second (again, according to TrueKinetix):

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Yet, this isn’t an electromagnetic system like most higher-end smart bikes. Instead, as you can see quite easily, it’s a chain and crankset attached to a motor:

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The challenge of course with a chain is that it eventually requires some element of maintenance, whereas virtually all other indoor smart bikes require essentially no interior maintenance in normal use.

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The main benefit they say (aside from the road feel), is that they control extremely high levels of power at very low cadences – down to 30RPM, whereas most bikes struggle in that area (and, that’s true). Of course, why you’d need to output 1,200w at 30RPM is beyond me, but hey…

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Obviously, you’ve concluded I sound skeptical here. And it’s not because there’s anything bad about the road feel, it’s just that I don’t think it’s some holy grail. It just doesn’t seem appreciably different than a Wahoo KICKR Bike – except, it’s a heck of a lot louder than that. Again, to be clear, the TrueBike’s road-feel is largely quite good, I’m not going to nitpick it, it’s on par with others.

I’m just not convinced that trade-off is worth it, especially in the noise department. For that, this is by far the loudest smart bike I’ve tested to date. It’s equally as loud as any wheel-on trainer. And don’t take my word for it, here’s a simple video in my admittedly echo-laden studio showing it. But again, quiet this is not.

Now, to wrap up this section I’ve got a quick little summary of things I do and don’t like about the bike from a basics standpoint (I’ve done this on every smart bike review to date). I hesitate to call this a pros and cons list, though that’s more or less what it is. I’m sticking it here in the middle of the review so people that just skip to the end without reading will miss it (and thus hopefully read the whole review to make an informed decision – nuance matters). I’ll ignore any accuracy likes/dislikes in this section and keep it more on practical things, also ignoring spec-specific things too. Basically, this is more of a practical list of likes/dislikes:

Things I like:

– Delivery experience is as easy as it gets – they roll it into your home, and you do nothing except create an account/pin.
– No frame to thigh rubbing anywhere, easily fits me and my thighs (some other bikes rub)
– Double water bottle cage holders
– Multiuser profiles built in
– WiFi connectivity for automatic firmware updates
– The display is more useful than I expected it to be, including for gearing
– No wires sticking out anywhere
– Shifting is pretty good overall

Things I dislike:

– The stock front headtube is pretty short, especially for Dutch riders (but they have other custom sizes available)
– The lack of gear customization isn’t as good as it could be
– Also the lack of shifting types (e.g. SRAM/Shimano/Campagnolo)
– I find the seat height adjustment a bit finicky sometimes (prone to slippage if not super-tight)
– No on-bike storage spot for a phone (such as a Zwift companion app)
– No USB ports for powering a phone
– ERG mode stability (as discussed in accuracy section)

You’ll see the same list formatting on all my indoor bike reviews. With that, on to the details of rider setup, and then shifting.

Bike & Rider Fit Setup:

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As the TrueBike arrives completely pre-built, there’s little for you to do except to get the bike properly fit to you. In effect, that’s no different than a regular bike, but in the case of a regular bike you buy a specific bike size. Whereas with an indoor bike, you buy a one-size-fits-all solution, and then need to have the flexibility in that bike to make it work for your specific bike fit. And in the context of this as a bike review, I’m not going to tell you how to fit your bike to you. There’s smart people for that. Instead, I’m going to focus on the ways the bike can be tweaked for fit purposes.

With the TrueBike, you can adjust the bike in the following ways:

1) Saddle height (up/down) – hex wrench (with wrench located next to it)
2) Saddle position (forward/back/tilt) – hex wrench
3) Handlebar height (up/down) – hex wrench
4) Handlebar position (forward/back) – hex wrench
5) Seat tilt – hex wrench (technically also an extra +/- ~20mm of slide fore/aft there too)
6) Crank length on purchase: 170/172.5/175mm
7) Color on purchase: It’s offered in either a blue/black, or silver/black

There are no adjustable crank lengths on the bike itself (as with the Wahoo/Tacx/Stages bikes), instead, you purchase it with the crank length size you want. Additionally, the other thing you determine on purchase is which color you want. This entire review is shown on the silver/black variant (aka Stealth), but there’s also this Blue variant:

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Now, going back to the ways you can tweak the sizing, here’s a gallery showing each of those contact points. The TrueBike also has markers on the right side of the bike, indicating exact heights/positions:

Now at present, TrueKinetix doesn’t have a website for sizing or fit recommendations. Wattbike, Stages, and Wahoo all have sites or apps that handle this, ranging from a few pages of paper to a full app workflow (Wahoo) that you take a picture of your existing outdoor bike setup and the app figures out the exact measurement positions for your positions inside. In the meantime, TrueKinetix says that they support riders from 165cm to 200cm, and a max rider weight of 125kg. But, that they can make shorter or longer seat and handlebar tubes to accommodate riders outside that range. Also, they said that, coming in a few months, their app (which isn’t available yet), will also allow you to take photos of your bike and get correct measurements, akin to what Wahoo has.

In the meantime, you’ll need to do it by hand. Which, probably gets to the least ideal parts of the bike. To begin, there are no quick release handles, as you noticed by now. So everything has to be done by hex wrench. For a product that is so centered around being multi-user, this key part is the least multi-user of any bike I’ve tested. To switch between my wife and me, I’ve gotta spend considerable time adjusting each bolt with the hex wrench, and getting them ultra-tight.

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I’ve found that if they’re not ultra-tight, it’ll randomly slip. I had one ride recently where in the last 5 mins of the ride the saddle slipped. Thus, I thought I was good, but apparently not. Again, having quick handles to adjust this would help here some too. Granted, I had similar slip issues with the Wattbike ATOM 2020 as well.

Now in each of my smart bike reviews I’ve noted an interesting challenge which is the ‘thigh gap’ problem. Basically, some of the bikes (namely Tacx and Wahoo) have seat posts or top-tubes that extend across where your thighs would rub. The Wattbike ATOM 2020 and Stages SB20 bike don’t have this issue. If you look at this older photo I took a year or two ago, you can see how this can be an issue in bikes with high top-tubes that are thicker than a normal bike.

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And then look at the measurements for those (Wattbike 2020 at far right is 50.45mm):

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Here’s the measurement for the TrueBike, at 46.11mm:

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So in this case, while the TrueBike does have a high top-tube, it’s not a thick one, and thus, I had no inner thigh rub issues. Perfect!

Now, what about triathletes or time-trialists? Well, the bike does have a small standard-curved area in between the center point and the rest of the handlebars (which are flatter), that might fit some aerobars. This section seems to be about 10mm wide though, which isn’t wide enough for my Redshift clip-on aerobars. However, the company does sell an aerobar kit for 125EUR, which seems pretty reasonable. Here’s a stock photo of it from them:

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Finally, when it comes to multi-user scenarios, the TrueBike stores your weight and all settings (including gearing) within your profile. When you power up the bike, you choose which profile, and that in turn updates your settings:

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However, that doesn’t send that information to trainer apps like Zwift or such via ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart, but it does impact the feel of your ride on the TrueBike, akin to how Wahoo/Tacx/Wattbike work, by better simulating the inertia for a rider of your weight.

Shifting, Gearing, and Steering:

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Next, we’ve got all things handlebar driven: Shifting, gearing, and steering. Yes, steering.

I’ve long argued that one of the most important pieces in a smart indoor bike is the shifting – more so than almost anything else, and thankfully, the TrueBike largely delivers here. The reason I’m so firm on the importance of shifting is that it’s the single biggest way you interact with the bike, in terms of replicating the outdoor experience. Sure, you pedal with your feet and legs – but the shift experience is what will make or break a bike every time. Just like crappy shifting outside makes or breaks a ride/bike.

The TrueBike has two sets of shift buttons on each handlebar side, along with normal-feeling brakes. The shifters here aren’t quite as perfectly nailed in size/design as the larger and more common paddles of the Wahoo KICKR Bike, but the TrueBike is still far ahead of the buttons on the Tacx/Wattbike bikes. And it, as with before, comes down to clickiness. I want click. I want crispy, and I want physical clarity that doesn’t require me to look at the handlebars, or remember another shifting style. You can see the two buttons on the side of each brake lever:

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Now in my ideal world these would be bigger buttons, and more like traditional shift paddles. But hey, I can live. I like that they aren’t covered by a silicone/rubber sheath (Wattbike), and that they instantly respond. The right buttons control your virtual rear cassette, and the left ones shift your virtual front chainrings. In fact, on the small screen in front of you, you’ll see the two gearings displayed on the left and right sides:

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This might sound like a trivial thing, but it’s super important on smart bikes. Because you have zero physical gearing to look at on the bike itself, you often need a frame of reference with respect to what gearing you’re in – and how much range you have left. On a real bike you instinctively know, likely due to the slight differences in the sound – as well as the fact you can simply glance down. But indoors, it’s all virtual. There’s no physical gears, it just mimics them.

So the shifting here is quick and responsive – and I like that.

However, at present, the TrueBike is also somewhat limited in how you can set up that gearing. Don’t get me wrong, these cover virtually all the common configurations, but you’re essentially just picking one option from the two lists:

Chainring options:
36-53
39-53
36-52
34-50
30-39-53

Cassette Options:
11-23
12-25
11-27
11-30
11-32

This is more than the only two options Wattbike has (11-speed or 22-speed), but far less than what Tacx, Wahoo, or Stages offer. In those cases, they allow almost limitless configuration of the gearing, including creating pretty much any virtual cassette/chainring combination you can think of.

Further, in some of those cases, they allow changing the shift methods too. Meaning, on a Wahoo KICKR Bike for example, I can emulate a SRAM eTAP setup, or a Campagnolo setup, or a Shimano Di2 Setup. So in the case of eTAP, a concurrent left/right hold would shift the front chainring, whereas otherwise I’d use the left/right sides individually to just go up/down the cassette. Certainly, this isn’t the biggest blocker in the world – but it is handy to have your shifting match your real-world bike.

Note that these are configured through the web interface on the TrueKinetix platform. The current handlebar/saddle positions don’t do anything. I get the feeling they were looking at automation there at one point, but that it’s not something hardware-wise in any of the bikes today.

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Note that Zwift does not show the virtual gearing for the TrueBike like they do for the Wattbike Atom. Just as Zwift doesn’t show it for any other smartbike for no particular known reason. But again, with the TrueBike showing it on the small screen in front of you (which is always on), then it’s not really an issue per se.

Now, where it gets interesting is steering. The TrueBike does support steering in Zwift. You’ll pair it up via the usual Zwift steering pairing menu, which is the little steering wheel at the lower left corner of the pairing screen:

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Note that this doesn’t work with Apple TV at this time for the TrueBike, as you run out of Apple TV connections (and it wasn’t working via the companion app for me). Perhaps there’s ways around that, but for now I just used a desktop computer instead for it.

To steer with the TrueBike you simply pull the corresponding brake lever. To go left, you pull the left one, to go right, you pull the right one. It’s somewhat video-game like, but then again, so is the way it works on the KICKR Bike (more on how that works here). Ideally, you’d have a steering column, akin to how the movement works on the Sterzo Smart, but hey, this works.

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Now with the steering here the brake lever isn’t variable in how quickly it steers. Meaning, you’ll hear the ‘click’ as you get the brake lever to the half-way marker. At that point, the bike will virtually steer itself left/right. The longer you hold, the faster it steers across the Zwift roadway. Versus if you just tap the brakes once, it’ll move 1/16th of the way across the road (left or right), into what are virtual ‘lanes’ within Zwift (similar to how it works on the KICKR Bike). So if you were as bored as I was, you could single-tap slowly 16 times to get from one side of the road to the next. Or, you can just hold the brake for about 1.5 seconds, and then boom, you’re on the other side of the road.

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It works seemingly just fine for me in the few times I’ve used it. As with the other Zwift steering implementations, you’ll get better at the finesse of it over time. So I’d rate myself about a C+ in the finesse department at this point with it. You can see below, me using steering to switch sides of the road here, as well as the steering logo illuminated in the banner.

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Now the most notable piece in this entire situation is that technically speaking, TrueKinetix implemented the steering spec following the Keith Wakeham documentation of it, rather than the Zwift proper API. At present, Zwift makes companies pay them money to access steering within Zwift. So Elite licenses it, Wahoo licenses it, and so on. And TrueKinetix says they’re happy to go into those discussions – but that they got tired of waiting for non-answers from Zwift. They say they’ve been waiting months for simple e-mail responses, and thus eventually just gave up and implemented it.

This falls in line with my post last week, where I pointed out that multiple companies were waiting on Zwift for hardware-related things. Zwift conceded that they were significantly behind there in hardware certification, they say due to COVID-19.  But I’ve gotta wonder: It seems far more likely to me that Zwift is instead stalling as long as possible on various hardware initiatives, likely to make it more appealing to buy their planned Zwift trainers & bikes instead. Or, maybe COVID is really impacting their ability to answer e-mails. I don’t know.

What I do know though is that a small startup company managed to implement the spec in a few days, test it, and have it working. And a company with a recent $500 million dollar investment round continues to ghost virtually every hardware company in the business when it comes to new features.

In any event, the last area to briefly touch on is that there aren’t at present any auxiliary shifting ports/buttons that can be added elsewhere on the bike. At present only Stages offer this with their Stages SB20 bike (useful for triathletes installing aerobars), but, perhaps it’s something that TrueBike can offer down the road, since they do offer an aerobar kit for the TrueBike.

App Compatibility:

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The TrueBike follows all of the industry norms as you’d expect from most trainers/smart bikes these days.  As you probably know, apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, SufferFest, Rouvy, FulGaz, Kinomap, and many more all support most of these industry standards, making it easy to use whatever app you’d like.  If trainers or apps don’t support these standards, then it makes it far more difficult for you as the end user.

The TrueBike transmits data on both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart as well, allowing interactive resistance control across both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.  By applying resistance control, apps can simulate climbs as well as set specific wattage targets.

To be specific, the TrueBike supports the following protocol transmission standards:

ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control): This is for controlling the trainer via ANT+ from apps and head units. Read tons about it here. This also includes speed.
ANT+ Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard ANT+ power meter, with cadence data as well
Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control): This allows apps to control the TrueBike over Bluetooth Smart (with cadence/power data)
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard BLE power meter with cadence

Between all these standards you can basically connect to anything and everything you’d ever want to. Be it a bike computer or watch, or an app – it’ll be supported.

The TrueBike also bakes in the cadence data (like everyone else). This is handy if you’re connecting to Zwift on an Apple TV, due to Apple TV’s two concurrent Bluetooth Smart sensor limitation (plus the Apple TV remote).  While you can use the Zwift mobile companion app for additional sensors, I find that can be sometimes a bit flaky.

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In addition, as discussed in the earlier section, it also broadcasts as a steering device for Zwift, and you’ll see the offset shown in the lower left side. Though, the offset is technically all or nothing (click the button, it triggers one lane shift, rather than a variable amount).

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It’s the earlier power standards that also allow you to connect via head units too. For example the Garmin Edge, Stages Dash L50/M50, Hammerhead Karoo, and Wahoo units, all support ANT+ FE-C for trainer control, so you can re-ride outdoor rides straight from your bike head unit to your trainer. For example, for my accuracy testing section, I recorded the data on a Garmin Edge 530 & 1030 Plus, as well as the trainer apps.  From there I’m able to save the file and upload it to whatever platform I like.

The TrueBike does not transmit left/right balance at this point (correctly), as seen below after a workout paired to the Garmin Edge, it simply transmits an even 50/50 split. Ideally, it wouldn’t transmit a power balance value at all unless it transmitted something. This should be trivial for them to add though, given they have this data. Also, it doesn’t currently transmit speed as part of the power channel either (also trivial for them to add).

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Further, it does not transmit torque effectiveness or pedal smoothness…but you’ll probably never use those anyway. Though, again, it’d be trivial for them to add it, since they have the data already.

However, when using the TrueBike’s own screen, you’ll get additional pedal smoothness related data in the form of the so-called ‘peanut’ chart, which shows your pedal stroke:

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In fact, you’ll also get this data later on within the TrueKinetix online platform/training log:

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For me, in my testing, I used Zwift and TrainerRoad as my two main apps (which are the two main apps I use personally). In the case of Zwift, I used it in regular riding mode (non-workout mode, aka SIM mode) as well as ERG mode (workout mode). Whereas in the case of TrainerRoad I used it in a structured workout mode. I dig into the nuances of these both within the power accuracy section. I used it with both Apple TV (for Zwift), and a Mac (for TrainerRoad & Zwift). I had zero issues when it came to using the TrueBike in Zwift in terms of connectivity or such. Everything worked as expected, including gradient responsiveness was solid.

And here paired up in TrainerRoad using Bluetooth Smart on a Mac:

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From a functional/technology standpoint, the TrueBike and TrainerRoad worked just fine in terms of controlling power and changing resistance levels.

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However, similar to the Wattbike Atom 2020 – the TrueBike isn’t super stable in ERG mode. My bet is that, like Wattbike, they haven’t quite figured out how to really harness all the power in their drive system. In Wattbike’s case, they acknowledged it was something they were working on (just as Wahoo and Tacx both had to work on it). In TrueKinetix’s case, they look at it as a more realistic simulation of the road and a power meter. I’ll explain why that isn’t the case in just a second.

Here’s an example of a TrainerRoad workout. Ignoring the random two moments I stopped (more on that in a second), you’ll see that it’s a fairly non-precise line. This workout wasn’t hard for me, so it’s not my ability to maintain the power levels:

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You can see just how far off the power is in many cases, the target for this interval is 286w, and yet it’s at 371. The yellow line above shows the power values.

And indeed, here’s a Zwift workout from today in ERG mode, also, significant variability:

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Now, as I said, TrueKinetix argues that their system is more precise and responsive than a normal trainer or smart bike, and thus it shows the variability in power more accurately to what you’d see outside. Except, that sidesteps the entire point of ERG mode: To not be variable.

That’s literally the singular reason ERG mode exists: Holding a specific power level, and holding it well.

And yes, other bikes can do that. And it’s not because those other bikes are faking the power numbers, because I know they aren’t since I’m actually measuring/comparing it to external power meters. Thus, in those cases the bike is simply doing a better job at holding power despite my body’s continual slight fluctuations. After all – that’s again the point of ERG mode: To hold an exact wattage.

From a practicality standpoint though, the main issue is that you end up working harder, since while the overall average is very close to the target for that interval, you’re still having to put out significantly more power for a second or three at a time. So it’s effectively a never-ending micro-interval workout rather than a single consistent one. It’s more noticeable on longer workouts, or workouts where you’re at the edge of your capabilities, than easier workouts.

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Of note however is that with a lot of focus, I can get it to stabilize fairly well after perhaps 7-10 seconds following a power shift (e.g. from 150w to 300w). However, even the slightest change in my pedal stroke will throw things back 70w+ out of whack. Mind you though, this is actually better than the Wattbike ATOM 2020 or Stages Bikes, which no matter how much you try and focus on pedal smoothness, it’s nearly impossible to get ERG stability. Said differently, TrueKinetix is in a better spot than those units from an ERG mode stability standpoint.

This isn’t something you notice in regular SIM mode (non-workout mode) riding around in Zwift, because the bike isn’t being told to hold a specific wattage. Thus, in that case it works out just fine.

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Since we’re talking about apps, what about the small TrueBike screen in front of you? It’s probably best to think of that as a second-screen, rather than a primary one. When an app (like Zwift) first loads up, it’ll ask for trainer control, or, you can simply let it passively access the power data.

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Once in the training mode, you can press start to record the session, which goes to the TrueKinetix cloud afterwards and can also be synced to Strava. The small screen primarily displays your power/cadence metrics, gearing, and can also connect to ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart HR straps.

Effectively the screen is divided into two halves, for which you can change the chart and assign it to various metrics by pressing the buttons on the keypad, in real-time. So you can see your cadence (average, lap average, current, etc…), as well as power, or heart rate.

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Here you can see post work-out, the heart rate and power plots:

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The platform also has a small pile of structured workouts built into it.

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And, technically speaking you can also build your own structured workouts on it too. But, I’d rather punch myself in the baseballs with a cactus than try and use the tiny keypad to painstakingly program each and every interval using this. Every single character you see on this screen is just for the first interval, and has to be navigated using the keypad, like writing a manifesto on a bank ATM machine.

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Thankfully, TrueKinetix seems to understand this, and is already working on a graphical editor for their web platform, that’ll make it easy to transmit workouts to this. Hopefully they also allow simple import of workouts too, from platforms like TrainingPeaks or Today’s Plan.

Lastly, switching topics entirely, the TrueBike requires no calibration, nor has any provision for calibration. This is akin to other electromagnetic trainers and smart bikes (like the Tacx NEO series/Wahoo KICKR Bike/Wattbike ATOM 2020). So these options won’t show up (or if they do, they won’t function) in trainer apps, since calibration doesn’t exist.

Ok, with that I think we’ve covered all the app compatibility aspects, let’s dive a bit deeper into the power accuracy bits.

Power Accuracy Analysis:

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As usual, I put the bike up against a number of power meters to see how well it handled everything from resistance control accuracy, to speed of change, to any other weird quirks along the way. In the case of indoor bikes it’s a bit more tricky to have 2-3 other power meters, since you typically can’t swap out the crankset or rear hubs. So you have to rely upon other power meter pedals.

No problem, I’ve got plenty of those. I’ve had the bike set up with two main configs over the past month:

Config 1: With Favero Assioma Duo pedals
Config 2: With Garmin Rally dual pedals
Config 3: With a secondary set of Garmin Rally dual pedals

Within this timeframe I’ve also seen multiple firmware versions. I include rides on the most recent production firmware version. They made one change about 10 days ago or so to how it broadcasts power outbound with apps, though that doesn’t change the underlying power accuracy, it just changed the smoothing rate.

Now when evaluating accuracy there’s really two things I’m looking at:

1) Overall power accuracy: If the unit says it’s doing 250w, is it actually doing that?
2) ERG target power stability/accuracy: If a structured workout has a section that goes from 150w to 250w, how long does it take to get to 250w, and does it stabilize properly?

These are different things, but I group them here because sometimes they’re related. Now, to spoil some of this section, the TLDR here is:

1) Overall power accuracy: Great, zero issues on the TrueBike.
2) ERG target power stability/accuracy: Not great. Not horrific, but not great.

So, let me explain. First, let’s look at overall power accuracy. For that, we’ll start with one of many Zwift sessions, which use SIM mode whereby the grade goes up and down dependent on the terrain (if in a structured workout then it uses ERG mode, just like TrainerRoad). You can see that data set here:

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Now it’s a little bit hard to see what’s going on here because it’s such a variable ride. I was with a group, so, there’s a lot more variability as you shift around within the group. So let’s zoom in on a random section:

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Now while these look nearly identical (and they are), one of the things I noticed in all my sets is a bit of oscillation, likely due to the motor compensating almost too quickly. You see it doesn’t impact power accuracy, it’s just your rides won’t look quite as stable as some other units. One could argue the bike is reacting faster than most bikes – and certainly, that might indeed be the case.

While in the above screenshot the TrueBike appears to overshoot the Favero pedals, in the below case it’s the opposite. With only two power meters possible, I don’t know which is absolutely correct.

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When I look at the mean-max plots for these rides though, they’re scary good:

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Oh, and cadence on that set? Looks solid, exactly 1RPM away from the Favero Assioma pedals in most cases. I didn’t have a magnet-based cadence sensor on this ride to know which was precisely the correct one.

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Moving to another Zwift ride, you can see basically more of the same in this data set:

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As we zoom into one of the sections with the group, we see the variability of the group, but also the closeness of the power data. Again, with any power comparison, you’re going to have slight second to second differences due to recording and transmission rates of multiple devices. But this is pretty solid.

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If we look at a couple of sprints, these are very close numbers for two values at 800w for only a second or two. This is actually pretty rare to pull off with zero smoothing applied:

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And yes, cadence looks good here too:

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So, let’s shift over to some ERG mode data instead. We’ll start with a TrainerRoad set. Now, in this case, you’ll see a large gap in the middle, that’s when the bike simply stopped transmitting power over Bluetooth Smart to TrainerRoad, mid-interval. The only solution was to reboot the bike. TrueKinetix says they’re working to track down this bug, and they’ve only seen it one other time with one customer. I’ve only had it happen to me once as well. Here’s that data set:

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Now as we talked about earlier, it’s simply not smooth. Or even remotely smooth and stable. These intervals should have been at 334 watts, but it’s kinda all over the map. Though, responsiveness isn’t bad. A touch on the slow side at about 3-4 seconds to go from 160 watts to 334. Typically I’d like to see about 1.5-2.5s Any faster and it’s like hitting a wall, and any slower and you lose too much of the interval. But knowing the TrueBike has plenty of power to pull this off, I suspect they can continue to tweak this a bit more.

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But look at this longer 6-minute interval, this should be easy-peasy smooth. But it’s everywhere. And this doesn’t mean there’s an accuracy issue. No, the power is very close to the Favero pedals on this one, though a tiny bit higher than I would have expected to be honest – but it’s hard to know if that’s a one-off Favero or TrueBike issue.

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And I know TrueKinetix would say this is simply the reality of me as a human and my pedaling stability. And yes, that’s true if we were outdoors. But the entire point of ERG mode (for the last 2+ decades) is stability. This is simply a case of the machine not doing its job. Its job is power stability, not mimicking the outdoor road. It can do that all it wants in SIM mode, go forth! But not in ERG mode.

Finally, just to cap things off, an ERG mode workout on Zwift from yesterday. You can see that below:

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And as you can pretty easily see, just like with TrainerRoad in ERG mode, accuracy isn’t the issue. Stability is. Those 2×10-minute chunks were relatively easy, and my cadence was near perfect the entire time stability-wise. It should easily hold these butter smooth.

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I suspect at the end of the day, this is sorta like the challenges that Wattbike has/had with the ATOM 2020 – the engine is so powerful they have to figure out how to tame it a bit. Wahoo and Tacx both struggled with the same thing out of the gate on their bikes, and through software updates over time they tamed the beast.

The good news though is that the hard piece – accuracy – is nailed here. I’m not seeing anything that concerns me across months of riding on it, and plenty of data sets against plenty of pedals. Either for cadence or power.

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy portions were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)

Indoor Smart Bike Comparisons:

Stepping back to the larger landscape of smart bikes, here’s a blow-by-blow spec comparison between them. In this case for this table, I’m focused on the bikes capable of 3rd party app integration. For example, you can’t pair a Peloton bike directly to Zwift or TrainerRoad, so that’s not here.

Function/FeatureTrueKinetix TrueBikeWattbike ATOM 2020Stages Bike (SB20)Tacx NEO Bike SmartWahoo KICKR Bike
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated May 5th, 2021 @ 8:35 am New Window Expand table for more results
Price for trainer€3,425$2,599$2899$3,199$3,499
Availability regionsNetherlands/Belgium (North America/Europe Winter 2021-22)UK/South Africa/Australia/Scandinavia/USAGlobalGlobalLimited Initially
Power cord requiredNoYesYesNoYes
Flywheel weightMotor driven9.28KG/20.4lbs50lbsSimulated/Virtual 125KG13bs/5.9kgs
Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)YesNoNo (but kinda)YesYes
Maximum wattage capability1,500w2,500w3,000w2,200w @ 40KPH2,200w @ 40KPH
Maximum simulated hill incline15%25%25%20% (and -15% downhill)
Measures/Estimates Left/Right PowerYesYesYes (actually measured independently)YesNo
Can rise/lower bike or portion thereofNoNoNoNoYes
Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)Yes (with compatible apps)Planned late 2020Yes (with compatible apps)YES (WITH COMPATIBLE APPS)Yes (with compatible apps)

Oh, and before you ask why I haven’t included some products into the above – here’s the quick and dirty answers:

Peloton Bike: It’s not a ‘smart’ bike in the sense of the above, it doesn’t allow you to set a specific power level (it does tell you the current power level). Nor does it have 3rd party app compatibility.

Peloton Bike+: Now this could legitimately be added above. However, it has no 3rd party app compatibility, so it seems odd to add it above for now. But you can read my full review of that here.

SRM Bike: I just don’t see this as a competitor in this space. At $5,000, it’s mostly for various research purposes and is designed in that realm.

VirtuPro: At present this bike isn’t compatible with any 3rd party apps, and in nearly a year since I last chatted with them, I haven’t seen any concrete evidence that’s changed. Here’s my post from nearly 3 years ago.

Again, I’m more than happy to add products into the database. In general, my rule of thumb is I want hands-on time (or butts-on in this case), and I want some realistic level of clarity on delivery time frames.

Summary:

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As with any indoor bike, there are always two sides to the coin. The first side is the hardware. It’s the most visible aspect of it. It’s also arguably one of the more personal aspects. Some people love the look of one bike, while others hate it. But of course it extends beyond that, there’s hardware features. For example, the shifters here are factually more capable than a Tacx NEO Bike. Yet, factually not as capable as the Wahoo KICKR Bike. It’s black and white, and not up for debate or personal feel. Whereas other elements like drivetrain road feel are more subjective. Same goes for whether or not you want a display on the bike. Still, overall at the hardware level, the TrueBike is actually fairly competitive to most bikes. The only one it’s a messy debate on is the KICKR Bike, as the TrueBike lacks the up/down motion and more versatile fit aspects (and the shifting). Of course, the KICKR Bike lacks the display, and all the features it brings with it.

Next is the software. And this one is a far more complicated pickle to unravel. The TrueBike packs an astounding amount of 2nd-gen features into a 1st-gen bike. For example, I wouldn’t have expected to see user profiles on a 1st-gen release, but the TrueBike has that, and even has a menu for changing profiles easily and saving/naming your paired heart rate sensors. It’s got an entire online platform for viewing and executing structured workouts from and on the bike itself. Nobody else has that (Wattbike does, but only on their commercial bike, the WattBike Atom X). Whether or not you’ll use that instead of another app, I don’t know. Heck, I can even set up two-factor authentication on the bike, for when keeping my wife off the bike with a simple four-digit pin apparently just won’t do. Of course, there’s also elements that are less well refined. You can only change between a few virtual gearsets, and you can’t change shifting styles (e.g. to SRAM/Shimano/Campy). But again – it’s the *ONLY* open-standards bike in this category with WiFi that magically updates itself just like your phone.

Now – the big question for those in the regions that TrueKinetix sells to is: For basically the same price – this or the KICKR Bike? And that’s a far more difficult question to answer. Many of the added features I just touched on are features you’re unlikely to use day to day in a single-person setup. They’re geared towards multi-user setups. And sure, the KICKR supports multiple riders too, but it requires taking your phone and ensuring it’s changed over to your profile. But the KICKR also has more fit versatility than the TrueBike does. Of course, for the primarily Dutch audience of the TrueBike, that’s probably less an issue.

Longer-term though, I have a funny feeling we’ll see TrueKinetix move faster than Wahoo in adding features – though obviously, Wahoo has a lot already done. TrueKinetix has many ideas for features for this year, ranging from the practical (handles to adjust seatpost/handlebar) to the more advanced (no display option with a mobile app instead). Plus of course their planned distribution expansion into North America and the rest of Europe. All of which is to say that it’s still early days for the TrueBike and TrueKinetix bike, but they definitely aren’t bad days. It’s a solid bike that most riders would be happy with, and sure, like every single first-generation smart bike, it has a few quirks or things that could be polished – but none of them are show-stoppers.

With that – thanks for reading!

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19
Peloton’s New Spring 2021 Features: Fully detailed and tested https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/05/pelotons-features-detailed.html https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/05/pelotons-features-detailed.html#comments Mon, 03 May 2021 15:30:22 +0000 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=125261 Read More Here ]]>

Over the weekend Peloton announced a slew of new features across their platform. Some of these features are minor upgrades, some moderate refreshes, and a few pretty significant signs towards future directions that could aim to disrupt further the rest of the sports tech space.

While most of these features rolled out over the weekend, as part of Peloton’s so-called annual ‘Homecoming’ event, there are others that won’t show up till a bit later in the year. Still, for those features that are available today, I gave them a whirl on a few different workouts to see how they handled.

Note that Peloton divides up its userbase into two buckets: “Digital Members” and “All Access Members”, which is basically whether you’re using the app only, or whether you’ve got an actual Peloton Bike/Treadmill. The app-only folks are “Digital Members” ($12/month), while the “All Access Members” own a Peloton Bike or Treadmill, and pay $39/month. Interestingly, this update saw the app-only members lose one feature from their stable. More on that in a second.

If you’re not so much a Peloton person, but more of an anything-else person, I’d suggest a quick read of the Strive and Scenic sections, it’s worth consideration, as these are most likely to be the ones that could impact things elsewhere.

(Oh, and if you haven’t check out my full in-depth review of the Peloton Bike+ here.)

Scenic Revamp:

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First up is a complete revamp of their Scenic Rides section. This is probably the part of Peloton most people don’t know existed. After all, only 10% of all-access bike members even did a scenic ride in the last 3 months, according to Peloton (though, 25% of Tread users had in the same period). It’s buried in the menus, as opposed to being a logical ‘Scenic Rides’ tab. That part hasn’t changed, but what has is the content. Peloton admitted that “some of the content was getting a bit stale” and that “the music left something to be desired” (their words, not mine). Plus the video playback speed didn’t change based on your speed.

So Peloton basically re-did everything and broke it out into three buckets:

Guided Classes: These are akin to a normal Peloton class with an instructor & targets, but this time you’re riding with the instructor outdoors, like going for a ride with a coach
Distance-Based Routes: These are set distance routes, whereby the playback speed varies based on your power output. Other companies have been doing this forever, but it’s new to Peloton
Time-Based Routes: These are similar to the previous scenic routes, but supposedly more cinematic

I gave one of the new guided scenic rides a whirl on Saturday. When you dive into that menu, there’s only a couple of classes at this point, this initial allotment was filmed in Hawaii, Big Sur (California), and Savannah (Georgia). None of the classes in this initial drop were very long, but I’ve got to imagine they filmed numerous classes during each production shoot.

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For mine, I selected the Matt Wilpers ride, as he’s the one who typically aligns most with the triathlon/hardcore cyclist crowd, as both an endurance coach/athlete himself, and almost all of his workouts are power-zone based.

After a typical 60-second intro explainer on how the ride works, you’re off and pedaling. This is where things get interesting. In general, in indoor-cycling apps with scenic rides, the camera is mounted on a bike/car/moto/whatever, and you pretend you’re the cyclist on the road. Sometimes you get different brief views, but you don’t typically have any interaction with a coach or such. That’s where Peloton is seemingly different. As you’re riding the route, they’ve constructed it so that the instructor pops into view on the road with you and is giving you the workout targets. Oh, and he’s on a gravel bike because some sections of the route are gravel.

Peloton-Scenic-Workouts-Overview-Hawaii

It’s not one continuous non-stop route video like a FulGaz/Rouvy/Tacx film, but instead they cut between different cameras, including scenic drone shots, road shots without the instructor, road shots with the instructor talking to the camera, and road shots with the instructor still talking but not to the camera.

Somehow, it actually works. And honestly – it works really damn well.

Which is interesting to me, as I tend to find scenic rides a bit boring on other platforms. I know, it’s not logical in my head that I like a good ERG workout with nothing else, but then find a scenic ride boring. But hey, that’s my head – it is what it is.

But in this case, you’ve got the structured workout part being driven by a human, and then a fair bit of camera work to pull it all together. The editing sequencing isn’t quite perfect (sometimes the road clearly changes mid-shot during talking sequences). I’d give it a B+, but as a first go, it’s strong.

In some ways, it’s similar to what The Sufferfest does in terms of effectively having a coached workout + scenic rides. The difference though is that there’s an instructor visibly talking to you, the camera. It’s not just voiceover. You see the instructor in the video riding too on the same route. Now I’m not saying Peloton is the first to have mixed this formula (or done so perfectly). As I’m sure in the vast piles of scenic ride type videos there are a few instructor-led ones where the instructor is out on the road. Though, I’m guessing very few, if any, of them are at the production quality or seamlessness level as this.

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In any case, the things I didn’t like about it were:

– Simply too short. The longest class here was 30 minutes. Give me an hour ride somewhere with Wilpers
– Simply too easy. The workout picked up a bit towards the last 10-12 minutes, but too much of it was a bit too easy. And sure, you can always go harder, but if the video is literally going downhill, it kinda breaks your mental game if you’re supposed to be hammering at 300w down that hill
– A couple of weird edits. I don’t mind using drone b-roll as they did to make it feel cohesive, that works. But if an instructor is mid-sentence, it shouldn’t cut to him on a different road as a shot
– They took away the leaderboard…entirely

Still, despite those – the new guided rides are really good – and I hope they have a boatload more of these planned. They clearly took pains to shoot on routes with zero cars or other distracting elements (at least for the Hawaii ones).

For the other two types – distance and time-based, I briefly tried the distance-based one. This one uses your bike speed to tweak the playback speed of the video, just like countless other apps do. This was so-so.

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The platform doesn’t account for hills in the route, so I’d happily speed up a clearly 8-10% grade hill (this screenshot just as I crested the top) at nearly 20MPH with a minor surge. Blah.

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Finally, it’s worth noting however, that Peloton has removed the ability for app-only members to do any scenic rides anymore. Their reasoning was that since the distance-based rides require power to drive the speed calculations (which the app-only doesn’t support), that they should yank all scenic rides. Obviously, that doesn’t really hold water for removing all three types of content, since the guided classes require no power/speed information, just as the time-based ones don’t either.

Adding Strive Score:

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Peloton has added a new metric, the Strive Score, which aims to illustrate the overall impact of a given workout, from an exertion standpoint. In effect, this is basically a heart-rate driven training load score. The Strive Score shows up across all workout types, and has a multiplier in effect based on your heart rate zone, as seen below:

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You get more ‘points’ faster (the multiplier) in higher zones than lower zones, though, Zone 4 & Zone 5 are the same. These heart rate zones are in turn based on your max HR defined in the settings. You can tweak that, as well as turn the Strive Score on or off if you’d like to. You can also temporarily hide it for a given workout by tapping on it.

This does of course require that you pair up a heart rate strap to your app/bike/treadmill. Peloton hardware supports ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart heart rate straps, while their apps support Bluetooth Smart heart rate straps.

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What’s interesting to me is a comment made by CEO John Foley during his keynote, saying that Strive was “one of the first software features this group of renowned experts has consulted on”, in reference to a panel of outside experts that would talk about the feature the next day in a panel (though, not in as much depth as I hoped).

One interesting tidbit you’ll notice in the multiplier above though is that the zone 4/5 multiplier is the same. Peloton says they did that because they didn’t want people trying to overachieve constantly in Zone 5. In fact, there were multiple subtle nods throughout the panel that trying to ‘kill’ every workout isn’t a great fitness strategy, versus a more balanced spread of intensities across different workouts.

You’ll see the Strive score not only on the left side of your screen near the heart rate details:

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But also the Strive coloring shows up for others on the leaderboard (see the right edge, next to their leaderboard score):

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Also worth noting though that while Strive is offered for strength workouts, it’s not really the best metric to use for strength workouts, as it basically encourages people to rush through sets in order to keep their heart rate up. That could lead to injury, but also defeat the purpose of recovery in lifting, which is primarily aimed at muscle strength and not aerobic capacity.

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Ultimately though, the fact that Peloton is rolling out a specific metric here is notable. You’ll remember back a bit ago when they made various acquisitions in the wearables space, all of which are clearly aimed at making some hardware piece that tracks your workouts or progress. Strive Score would clearly seem to be laying the groundwork in their platform for such a device, and would ultimately fit perfectly in a Whoop-style device in place of training load. Because after all, that’s exactly what this is.

Peloton Programs 2.0:

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Peloton has revamped their ‘Programs’ platform, which are basically the structured workouts tied together as part of a cohesive step-by-step program.  Now, when you choose to take a given program, you’ve got a set number of classes you’ll take each week, all of which are both tracked and offered up to you right from the home screen daily.

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It’s not quite as hard-set as TrainerRoad saying “you shall take this class on May 4th, and this class on May 5th”, but rather a set ordering for the week that does let you double-up if you want. It’s probably a good balance for the Peloton core market. You can skip a class if you want as well (or re-take classes), and there’s a progress report section too.

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For example, I went ahead and signed up for a Peloton program for core workouts. It starts off silly easy and short, but over time builds up. Like any other class. There’s also power zone training ones too, which span up to 6 weeks in length.

The main thing here is mostly the glue around the user interface. Previously this was basically just Peloton sticking a bunch of classes in a folder and saying “Tada: Welcome to our program!”, now it’s actually a calendar of things to do each week that are all easily front and center and crystal clear.

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As you complete classes and programs you’ll also get badges.

Target Metrics for Tread & Tread+:

Here’s a quickie. Peloton is adding target metrics to their Tread & Tread+ classes. Target metrics are what are shown in yellow at the bottom, which basically make it glanceable as to what your current workout target should be at any given moment.

While this will be appreciated by those people, I’m still confused as to why this doesn’t exist for power zone workouts. Why doesn’t it show the current power zone you’re supposed to be in, just like it shows current resistance ranges for every other workout?

New Special Guest Leaderboard:

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Peloton showed off a new Special Guest section on their leaderboard, for when they have special guests in-studio (or in a class) and want to feature them. You can see it shown this past weekend on Alex Toussaint’s ride, with Usain Bolt as the special guest. Above you can choose to toggle on the filter for a special guest (just like you would for any other category), and then you can see just the special guest.

The real key takeaway here though is that this is the only time where I can beat Usain Bolt on any athletic endeavor, and even have a record of it:

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Undoubtedly we’ll see this get used more often in other areas, once Peloton is able to get more special guests back into their studios.

Adding a Pause Button:

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Finally, later this year you’ll be able to properly pause your class. Previously you could only fully exit the class and then resume it later. Now you’ll be able to pause it, though, Peloton hasn’t detailed yet on how exactly this impacts the leaderboard – other than to say that they’re working to ensure that “the integrity of the leaderboard remains”.

They noted that they made the realization that sometimes “the doorbell rings” or the “kids wake up” and that they needed an easier solution there (to which I say, ‘duh’). The current solution is just messy and annoying, and frankly, the fact that it’s taken this long is somewhat mind-boggling.

But as to what impact that makes on the leaderboard exactly, that remains to be seen. Obviously, if someone comes back 15 minutes later then that’s a significant recovery, versus if someone comes back 23 seconds later after opening a door for a package. I guess we’ll find out later this year.

With that – thanks for reading!

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Aero Sensor Companies Start Own Common Aero Device Profile: Got Tired of Waiting for Standard https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/05/aero-sensor-companies-start-own-common-aero-device-profile-got-tired-of-waiting-for-standard.html https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2021/05/aero-sensor-companies-start-own-common-aero-device-profile-got-tired-of-waiting-for-standard.html#comments Mon, 03 May 2021 12:53:40 +0000 https://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=125215 Read More Here ]]>

Cycling aerodynamic sensor companies Notio & Velocomp have decided they were tired of waiting for the long-discussed ANT+ Aero Sensor device profile, and have simply released their own instead. As a bit of a background refresher here, both Notio & Velocomp are the two main players in the aero sensor space, at least in terms of actually shipping units. There’s a long list of companies in the arena, though you’ve likely never heard of most of them. The on-bike cycling aero field is still on the cutting edge of what’s possible, and probably more meaningfully – what consumers are willing to put up with.

Still, I’ve poked at it from time to time over the last…umm…half decade I think? A long time. Almost as long as companies have been trying to formalize an aero-related device profile within ANT+.  Since then, aero sensor companies have come and gone, including one bought by Garmin – Alphamantis, way back nearly four years ago. To date, Garmin hasn’t released a consumer product based on the prototypes that Alphamantis showed off at previous ANT+ Symposiums. Likely for reasons I’ll explain later.

In any event, last week’s announcement from Notio & Velocomp is more interesting than people probably realize. So, I’m gonna try and peel back that onion a bit. Because…why not.

The Aero Profile:

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About two weeks ago, Velocomp and Notio announced the creation and distribution of the “Common Aero Profile”, which basically aims to standardize how devices talk about aerodynamic details in the cycling world. These two companies basically account for all the currently in-production and shipping aero sensors. Velocomp makes the AeroPod, while Notio makes the Notio Aerometer.

To begin, here’s their official press release on the announcement:

“Cyclists expect bike sensors and bike computers to “just work”. Unfortunately, seamless operation between aero sensors and bike computers isn’t possible today because the aero profile—an industry-standard digital “language” used by aero sensors and bike computers to talk to each other—does not exist. Without an aero profile, cyclists might not benefit from CdA and related measurements, because their aero sensor and bike computer can’t understand each other.

 

In order to rectify this problem, two industry leaders in aero sensors, Notio Technologies and Velocomp LLC, today announced a Common Aero Profile. Bike computer and aero sensor manufacturers implementing the Common Aero Profile will provide their customers with a simplified ANT+ setup experience, bike computer display of aero and related data, and device interoperability.

 

“The Common Aero Profile opens up aero-related measurements to over 10,000 Notio and Velocomp customers already using our sensors”, says John Hamann, CEO of Velocomp. “Cyclists get simplified aero sensor setup, and measurements that are received and displayed on their bike computer in a consistent manner.”

 

“A common aero standard has been an industry goal for several years now,” says Martin Lesauteur, CEO of Notio. “As Notio and Velocomp have captured nearly 100% market share of the aero sensor category, we are collaborating to provide a common standard that’s available now. The Common Aero Profile will stimulate growth opportunities for bike computer and aero sensor manufacturers. For cyclists, seeing aero data on the bike computer of their choice, from the aero sensor of their choice, is another obvious win.”

 

The Common Aero Profile will be available for license, without charge, to any bike computer or sensor manufacturer. Notio and Velocomp will implement the Common Aero Profile in their respective products and apps during the 2021 cycling season.”

So essentially, what they’re saying is that because they’re waiting on Garmin/ANT+, they’ve decided to just build their own for now, to get themselves and others (aka, anyone not named Garmin) working towards an actual profile that can be used today. However, they don’t appear to hold any grudges towards the ANT+ profile. In fact, the CEO of Velocomp, John Hamann, noted in a follow-up message that “if and when it is published, and assuming that bike computer companies choose to adopt it, Velocomp and Notio intend to transition to that profile.”

But that “in the meantime, we think the Common Aero Profile will spur near-term growth of aero testing and measurement.” – which, is probably accurate. At this point, some cooperation between aero companies is better than fantasizing about a spec that’s been unachievable for years.

They’re finalizing the exact details of which fields will be included, but the list currently includes: Live CdA, Lap CdA, Wind Speed, Slope, Time Advantage, Lap Marker, Bike Weight, and Rider Weight.

He noted that “it’s pretty easy to go off into the weeds with all the potentially available metrics, but we are going to try to minimize the complexity of the Common Aero Profile…we want to get it ‘out there’ as soon as possible!”. That’s likely some comments directed at the ANT+ profile, which a few companies have noted to me seems to keep getting bigger and bigger to try and solve every possible scenario – ultimately leading to perfection is the enemy of progress. Inversely, to ANT+’s credit, one of the things that they’ve done exceptionally well over the last decade and more is thinking far ahead in terms of compatibility and potential use cases, which ultimately means the standards tend to stick and be well adopted. But I think most would agree that this one simply has taken far too long.

Here’s a slide deck from the 2018 ANT+ Symposium, showing the basic structure of how the TWG (Technical Working Group) works on a new ANT+ Profile. It’s actually a pretty good overview of how ANT+ profiles are created and devices are certified.

Essentially a TWG is a grouping of different companies. So it’s not just Garmin, but Garmin, Velocomp, Notio, AeroLab, likely SRAM, and a pile of others. It’s basically a SIG by another name. There are TWG’s for power meters, trainers (FTMS), and other things. Lots of them, with lots of companies involved.

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Interestingly, the slide directly before the one above used the Aero TWG as an example of a profile under development.

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In any event, Velocomp and Notio’s hope is that the final Common Aero Profile spec will be nailed down in the next few weeks, in time for their products to start using it for the bulk of this season. If other companies want to join in, they’re welcome to.

Of course, the next steps are formalizing this into products that consumers can use. I’d presume that means we’ll see updated Connect IQ data fields that people can record these data points to, and perhaps we’ll see companies like Hammerhead, Stages, and Wahoo support it too as an interim solution.

It’s notable that another aero company – Velosense, has actually been using Hammerhead Karoo 2 units with some of their pro athletes/organizations, and doing so with a sideloaded Android app to record the data into a .FIT file (just like I sideload apps on my Karoo 2). That sort of scenario seems ripe for Hammerhead to come along and say ‘Sure, let’s get these aero fields from the Common Aero Profile added, and make it easy for Velosense at the same time’.

Somewhat ironically – I’ve actually done aero trials of all three of those companies (Velosense/Notio/VeloComp), with all three travelling at various times over the last couple years to Amsterdam to ride test sections up and down the rowing basin.

I caught up with Velosense today via e-mail, and they said they’re interested, and are “strongly in favour of common standards”, and will see if that profile solves some of the gaps. At present, the company is using basically a take on where the ANT+ profile was as of 2020, as a stop-gap measure, with Connect IQ apps for Garmin units, and sideloading on the Karoo 2.

Now finally, one last tidbit that pulls everything full circle is that Notio has long since licensed some of their patents from Velocomp, who has been around in the aero-measuring industry long before it became cool. That’s a piece that may be impacting some of their competitors in various ways, though, from talking to a number of players in the industry, it’s not generally considered a major sticking point.

Aero Product Testing Challenges:

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Some people have asked, rightfully so, why I haven’t released an in-depth review of an aero sensor to date. And the single-sentence reason is relatively simple: I have very low confidence in the ability to do any meaningful data-backed review of such a device at this time.

The more complex answer: It’s really hard. Incredibly hard, to get consistent enough data on these devices that most consumers can use day-to-day. And, for about half of these companies – the goal is indeed day-to-day testing/monitoring of your aero properties. The other half of the companies are geared more towards coaching and analysis services, where an ‘aero professional’ will walk you through the test procedure in person and help you with fit or equipment-related changes.

This second category I have a relatively high level of confidence in. I’ve gone through some of these services in testing over the years, in both beta and production scenarios, and been relatively confident in the data concepts, and data backing. In fact, I’d argue that I was more confident in having the highly trained staff than the technology itself, because frankly the insight of the staff from various companies having done hundreds of tests is more valuable than one specific sensor reading. But doing it on my own out in the wild on real roads with real changes? That’s much messier.

And then taking that a step forward: Actually creating a review protocol that’s objective and data-backed to be able to decide whether or not a product is meaningful? That’s super tricky.

About at this point someone will shout out: Use Virtual Elevation by Robert Chung!

To which I’ll happily respond: I see your reference and raise you the real thing – I spent a day with Robert Chung and Tom Anhalt at an aero facility trying to figure out how to test these repeatedly, reliably, and consistently. And I think we all came away with the same rough thought: Holy @#$#@ this is hard.

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More specifically, it’s hard to have a way to scale this sort of testing outside of side-by-side type scenarios that are heavily dependent on knowing the exact rolling resistance of the road and tires, the exact weights of everything on that day, and the exact wind conditions. And far more importantly than that: The rider’s ability to precisely repeat exact finger and body positions within a millimeter or two. To be clear, it’s not impossible, it’s just tough.

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(Above: Testing AeroLab’s sensors out on the road a few years ago.)

Some of these tests included foam balls hanging off a wooden stick attached to the handlebars, doing ever-so-precise loops around an industrial parking lot. Others involved varying speed tests on an out-and-back stretch. And some even involved wind tunnel time:

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Many questions arose including:

A) First, validating the exact wind-speed of the sensor in question
B) How much is the wind-speed impacted by the riders themselves? (Spoiler: A lot)
C) How does mounting position impact the wind-speed? (Another spoiler: More than it should)
D) Are cross-winds accounted for (yaw angle)?
E) Was there any braking (if so, likely discard entire test)
F) How much distance is needed for each test to stabilize (probably 3-5KM)
G) Did we remember this time to write down every split, and every test variation?
H) Which recording source are we using? The CIQ-data field, or the synced data backend source?
I) How are we analyzing the data to ensure the app itself isn’t tweaking our results?

And that’s just the beginning of the challenges. Which, is ultimately where I’ve paused for now. As Tom, Robert, myself, and others in the industry have poked at – figuring out a repeatable process for testing aero sensors is tricky. Impossible? No, definitely not. But challenging.

(To be clear, this is very different than testing riders using aero sensors – because in that case one is starting with the assumption that the sensor is accurate or sensitive enough, regardless of whether or not it actually is).

I think one is probably looking at having a group of people 3-5 days in a single location together hammering through it all with a bunch of products to see where the testing protocol falls apart during the day, iterating on the analysis at night, and rinse repeating. Just a guess. Maybe twice that. Hard to say.

Wrap-Up:

Now, this isn’t to say these products don’t provide value. I think they can in the right hands. For example, when Notio first started shipping their products, they required all people go to a multi-hour class on how to use it. They literally did a giant global roadshow where people could only buy their products at that class/event. The goal with that at the time was partially to get real-time feedback from early adopters, but it was also to try and minimize people screwing up their products and them getting a bad rap.

I think there’s a fuzzy line between the exact accuracy level these products can achieve their positioning and sensors today, versus what people think they can achieve. In that sense I’m reasonably confident that some of these products can help people, over time, figure out the most aero position for themselves on the bike. For example – someone out there doing their 4-6hr Ironman training long-ride each week in aero position, to sit there and tick off 15-30 minute chunks of different positional tweaks and record the findings, iterating week after week. I think that’s largely viable with some of the products there. I’m less confident in one being able to use this tech for the minutia of gear testing, without substantial time spent on the road with each gear combination.

All of which has nothing, directly, to do with the standard. Except, it probably does.

One has to remember back to Garmin buying Alphamantis, and ANT+ being effectively led by Garmin, there’s a bit of tie-in there to them also driving much of the aero profile Technical Working Group. I’m sure if I asked ANT+ (officially, Garmin Canada), they’d likely just say things were still being worked out by the technical working group. But other members of that TWG have long felt that Garmin’s cycling product group was stalling on their movement forward of this standard. Remember, in this case ANT+ technically doesn’t represent Garmin’s cycling division. That’d be done by people still in Canada, but not part of ANT+ per se. It’s confusing.

What’s not confusing though is that Garmin bought an aero company 4 years ago, started working on an aero profile 3 years ago, and hasn’t released a product based on that. This coming from a company that is actually notoriously expeditious about releasing products based on acquired technology/companies. Which is likely an indicator that they’re trying to figure out a saleable consumer product that doesn’t end up becoming a PR disaster, effectively analogous to what I’m trying to figure out from an aero product review standpoint.

The good news here, if any, is that both Notio and Velocomp have confirmed that if or when ANT+ publishes a standard, then they’ll happily switch over to it. But until then, they’re going to move on.

With that – thanks for reading!

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