I have to admit I was greatly disappointed when I first picked up the first power meter by Shimano as it had Bluetooth however was only enabled for firmware updates. This meant I had to go through the hassle of using an external ANT+ dongle on my computer whenever I was doing my workouts on TrainerRoad or Zwift. This also meant I was unable to use the mobile apps for my power meter, as I am huge fan of TrainerRoad and their mobile app as I have been subscribing to their training programs for months now.
Well to to my surprise as I updated my Shimano Dura-Ace FC R9100-P Power Meter Hollowtech II Crankset (yes the name is a mouthful) to the latest firmware 4.1.7 I found that it now broadcasts on Bluetooth® LE (Formerly known as Bluetooth Smart). This is fantastic for me and I do reckon for everyone else out there as this means we are now able to pair our smartphones, bike computers and computers using Bluetooth to record data.
So what does this mean to me and perhaps other weekend worriers out there. Well for starters it means we can now enjoy a bit more ease when it comes to training indoors using out mobile phones; personally I will just run TrainerRoad on my phone and have my bike on the Elite Direto ( Perhaps one the most value for money Smart Trainers in the market) while I watch Netflix on the TV. This eases matters for me as I no longer need to drag the trainer to my computer for every workout.
As for every athlete out there using a Suunto Sport watch this will be a whiff of fresh air as the Shimano R9100-P will now finally be an option on the list of power meters to purchase. The Suunto Ambit 2 was perhaps the last device made by the company to use ANT+ connectivity, as of 2015 Suunto completely dropped the use of ANT+ on all their devices.
I did a test yesterday to check the stability of the Bluetooth and I have to say I’m pleased with the results. I paired my Elite Direto and Shimano Dura Ace R9100-P Power Meter to my mobile phone (Running Android OS). Launched Trainerroad and had a fantastic workout. It was very straightforward without any issues.
If you have yet to update the firmware of your power meter then all you need to do is download the Shimano E-Tube Project for your respective device. There is a separate app if you wish to run it from a Tablet. The app is available on the Google Play Store as well as the Apple App Store.
I guess it goes without saying that Thailand will always hold a special place among travellers to South East Asia, ask any European who has travelled to The Far East and they will almost certainly tell you that Thailand is a beautiful and special place to visit. It is often described as the gateway to Asia for westerners and for Asians it is the home of Tom Yam.
Now Thailand has a lot to offer, however I will keep it short this time around and focus on Railay Beach located in Krabi one of the Southern provinces of Thailand which is much closer to the boarders of Malaysia than it is to the capital city of Bangkok. Krabi is famous for being the gateway to a handful of famous tourist destinations such Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and Maya Bay.
Krabi Airport is probably as close as you will get to Krabi Town itself as most tourist will either head straight to the closest jetty to be sped off to a more remote location . For the most including myself we end up in the small town of Ao Nang, a beach town filled with hotels, restaurants, bars and markets. Giving massive smiles to tourists, and a starting point to most backpackers. Lodging and food is relatively cheaper here compared to that on the islands or Railay Beach.
Depending on the time you reach Ao Nang, some tourists would opt to stay a night here before taking the Long Tail Boat (water taxi) over to Railay Beach. There are some that just prefers to stay in Ao Nang and take island hopping packages or day trips to Railay Beach.
It is perhaps a bit confusing to some, however Railay is not an actual island. Technically it is part of the mainland however getting here is not possible by land as it surrounded by these large limestone cliffs, walls, hills or whichever you wish to call it. So the only way in and out is with a long tail boat.
It’s unique that you get an island vibe on Railay, everyone is relaxed and take life a little bit less serious. Probably due to the fact that there are no cars or roads on Railay. That reminds me if you’re taking a day trip, the last long tail leaves right after sunset.
Over the years I learnt that there are two types of travellers who come here, the sun seeker and the adventurer. The latter referring mostly to rock climbers.
For years this place has been a popular destination for rock climbers across the world. Climbing tall limestone spires that rewards breathtaking views of the bays and across the sea. Various walls with grades ranging from easy to extremely hard, we get a good mix of climbers here. You can even find shops offering guided climbs so if you’re just starting out there is something for everyone.
When the sun sets and the hunger sets in, no matter what your purpose was to be in Railay, everyone ends up at the restaurants and bars by nightfall. Enjoying a variety of cuisines from local Thai delights such Tom Yam, Green Curry, Phad Thai and Fried Rice. For the less adventures there are always the options of pizzas, pastas and other western dishes.
At around 8pm, right after sunset the bars spring to life with music and fire shows giving everyone some entertrainment while sipping down cold beers and cheap cocktails. I would strongly advise against the cocktails, Stanly Morgan Rum ( Captain Morgan is what you normally drink) might give you a bad hangover the next day.
Friday nights are little special with young kick boxers putting on an intense fight for the crowd. I cannot be certain if they were really going all in or where just bloody good actors. But anyway we were all entertained, and getting buzzed on cheap booze.
Just like Railay West, Phra Nang beach is not much to brag about in terms of the water clarity. However it is the views that draws in the crowd here, the limestone islands and cliffs paint a very picturesque scenery. To get here it takes about 10 minutes to walk from the busy hotel areas of Railway East, and you will pass through a narrow passage that leads you through the side of the cliff and between the walls that is the perhaps of the most expensive hotels in Krabi, called the Rayavadee.
The mobile restaurants or convenient stores are indeed unique, offering cold beers and even hot plate of stir fried Phad Thai. These boats will certainly keep you satisfied through the daily sun bathing and crowd watching by the beach.
Before I end my small write up on Railay, I cannot recommend enough how fantastic it was to take the evening on board the Krabi Sunset Cruise, on a wooden Siamese Junk sailing out to the five islands – Poda, Tup, Si, Ta Ming, Wasam & Gai where we spent the afternoon swimming, snorkelling, taking in the breath-taking scenery of the surrounding islands. At sunset we had a mouth watering Thai Buffet and end the day swimming in the bio-luminescent waters next to Pranang Beach.
Before you read any further I would love to tell you that this review was under no circumstances biased and that my constructive opinions where not affected by my emotions towards this frameset. However that would a lie, as after more than 10,000 km in the saddle with this frameset it has grown deeply on me, It has become a part of my routine, my daily life. But I promise to give the truth and do my very best to not be as biased as possible.
I now struggle on how to actually begin this review, my approach should be different and let tell you from a riders perspective. Not a professional rider, nor as a bike magazine reviewer but as a weekend warrior, a guy who has a day job, a family and simply loves to ride his bike and on occasions even hit the local one day races, the local criteriums around empty streets at night with his mates and just going for 250km rides for fun.
After a long negotiation with myself and my bank account I finally decided to take the plunge and purchase a full racing road bike, hence came the SwiftCarbon Hypervox. Previously I was riding a more relaxed carbon frame, which by no means was a bad bike. On the contrary it was a brilliant piece of engineering, however it lacked the aggressiveness that I wanted in a full on racing bike. Sadly I had to sell it off. The Mrs. did not even want to hear about the N+1 argument.
The first time I took the Hypervox out for a ride it was exhilarating but yet slightly uncomfortable, I had never ridden a stiff machine before and sure enough my ass and body took a bit of a beating. Never had I felt the road so clearly read out to me in the form of vibration through the handlebars which were no even carbon, thankfully. The response however was something else, every pedal stroke seem to transfer all my energy thought the bottom bracket without waste. Each corner was taken with higher speeds that were fulled by confidence that the bike gave me. The numbing sensation were shaken away after about a week as I grew custom the feel of riding a high end carbon bike.
According to SwiftCarbon the Hypervox was a result of pressure from their then sponsored team Drapac to have an aero bike. The sponsored riders were very pleased with the Ultravox however the sprinters felt that there was something lacking in the lineup. Which was a machine that could climb well but perform really well during the last km where aero was key. The result was the Hypervox, an aero bike without the compromise of ride quality and handling.
If it really matters to you then yes the UCI has given this bike the thumbs up. However for the most of us who actually will purchase the bike, we are not to concerned about it.
To conclude my unbiased biased review, I have to say that frame lives up to likes of the more mainstream competitors. In the months of riding the Hypervox I have had the chance to test the new Scott Foil 2017, Willier Cento 1Air and the Stork Aerfast and I have to say there is not much to separate the frames. Bare in mind my judgement does not consider wind tunnel testing travelling at 45km/h for 1 hours. Every bike comes with some baggage and the Hypervox is no exception. However the slight rattling of the cables inside the top tube or the rusty bolt int the seat clamp is a small annoyance that can be fixed with a little effort. So my advise to you is buy the bike it might not be as famous as Specialized, Fuji or Scott. But that also means you do not have to pay premium money for a premium grade racing bike.
*Update for 2018*
I recently upgraded my entire groupset to the latest Shimano Dura Ace 9100, and I’m also proud to say that I am one of the earliest customer to be rocking the latest crank-based power meter by Shimano the R9100P. Stay tuned for more information and review.
Perhaps one of my favourite islands to visit is Weh Island or in Bahasa Indonesia “Pulau Weh” it is located at the northernmost tip of Sumatra and is the northernmost point of the Indonesian archipelago. This islands has not failed to amaze me with it’s coral reefs that houses a large variety of fish species and offer some of the most spectacular experiences underwater. As of recent years, Weh Islands has become very accessible to tourist with daily flights by AirAsia flying in from Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. Getting from the airport to the jetty will only take you around 30 minutes and the fast ferry over to Weh Island is only 45 minutes. Diving in Pulau Weh is also considered very cheap if compared to places such Bali ,Komodo or Raja Ampat.
The main reason that people come to Weh Island (Pulau Weh) is to enjoy the wonders and beauty that lies beneath the ocean. However it is still considered a secret destination among the diving community as the coral reefs are untouched and it is less known to people. The swaying sea fans are a spectacular scenery that will take your breath away, mix that with the abundance of fishes, every dives seem to be nothing but short of spectacular. There is even a dive site called the underwater volcano where a natural hot spring spurs out hot water and gives this shallow dive a very unique experience. The dive sites here ranges from easy to moderate and even advanced. It is best enjoyed if you are “Advanced” certified diver in my opinion as most of the dives will take you beyond 18 meters and it would be a waste if you were restricted to just 18 meters.
One of the main attraction for advanced divers would be go down well below 55 meters to visit the remains of a world war II German vessel “Sophie Ricmers”. The ship lies well intact as the crew had sabotaged it in order to prevent it from being confiscated by the Dutch in 1940. It now home to countless fishes and corals, divers have reports that schools of batfish will surround you as you descent and ascent from this wreck. Bare in mind that this is a decompression dive and you are required to have a certain numbers of dives under your belt before you are allowed to venture to this wreck. It will also cost a bit extra as you will need additional tanks for decompression during this dive.
Aside from diving another attraction which was only highlighted during my second visit to the island was the coves of Gua Sarang. It has rocky cliff which is surround by crystal clear waters. There is a small entree fee in order to enter the area, however we found it worth the small price. The small easy hike down the cliffs will take around 5 minutes and you will soon be greeted by a rocky beach. The trail will then lead towards the left as you walk along the shore, tiptoeing on rocks as you reach a beautiful lagoon, with beautiful rock formations that are covered with small plants. I cannot stress enough how clear the water was were even able to spot a pufferfish from the shore swimming along amongst the rocks. A dip in the crystal clear waters was inevitable, the water was warm and calm, just floating around the lagoon was a relaxing experience with scenery so breathtaking. Be sure to come early as I was told that there can be quite crowd towards mid-day, however most tourist are not adventures enough to venture down the rocky path and chooses to stay on the hilltop enjoying the views from above.
Pantai Iboih (Iboih Beach) is the centre point from where you will find various accommodation, restaurants, gift shops and most of the dive shops are located around this area the reason being that most of the dive sites are never too far from Iboih. There are even ATMs located here so you are never too far from the essentials. Bare in mind that Pulau Weh is located in the Acheh province, you will not be able to find any bars or pubs in the area. However if you keep sharp eye open you will come across hotels and restaurants which will serve a cold beer for tourists. Another important note for travellers coming to Weh Island is to avoid Fridays. As it seem as the holy day of the week, most business will be shut down from morning till around 2pm. I was told that some shops were unable to sell food to tourists as they feared getting penalised by the religious authorities who are known to roam the streets on Friday. Also dive shop and boats are not allowed to operate during these hours so I would strongly suggest against planning any activities on a Friday. Sabang is the main city located on the island, personally I have never ventured into it as it does not offer any sights that would interest me, also taking into consideration that the ferry does not stop in Sabang, divers and tourists pretty much bypass the city all together unless they are looking for something specific. If you are history buff then it is worth noting that the island was once ruled by the Japanese military during World War II and there were numerous bunkers and fortifications built around the island. If you have any questions regarding Weh Island please drop me a comment below and hope you enjoy the video as well.
Campagnolo the famous Italian component manufacturer has made it’s mark in history many times over. From innovating the modern rear derailleur to building satellite chassises for NASA in the 60s. There is little doubt to the quality and reliability that comes with the brand. Fulcrum was establish in the early 2000’s under the wings of Campagnolo in order to expand it’s in house manufactured wheelset as they wanted to shift away from the tense rivalry in the groupset market between themselves and Shimano. Fulcrum todays has an extensive range of wheels ranging from MTB, cyclocross, Road and even Time Trail specific wheelsets.
The Fulcrum Racing Zero is definitely a wheelset that comes with a reputation, they are the gold standard of alloy wheels. Built with the idea to transmit energy down to the asphalt without wasting any energy in the process. The wheels comes with ceramic bearings which are indeed ultra smooth, hence the name USB ( Ultra Smooth Bearings). Not to be confused with a USB port on your computer.
Initially I had not thought much about these wheels other than a wheelset that was priced above it’s actual value. For the price of the Fulcrum Racing Zero you can purchase a decent pair of carbon clinchers. To put it into perspective I was not expecting much from these wheels as I set out on my maiden voyage. The first impression was that they felt insanely stiff. Now when I mean stiff, I mean feeling every bump on the road, feeling the imperfections of the asphalt as you pedal along. The wheels felt very stable in cross winds, however that was to be expected from it’s shallow design of 27mm in height in the front and 30mm in the rear. Cutting through the wind was obviously nowhere near comparable of an aero wheel of 50mm and above.
As I cruised along, I found it difficult to justify the price tag on these alloy wheels, yes the bearings were smooth, the design was ecstatically pleasing and braking was sublime. The 2:1 (Two To One) spoke ratio technology made the wheels feel very responsive. Despite all of it I could not wrap my head around them.
However that all changed as the gradient began to increase and the climbs dawned on me. Suddenly the wheels felt alive, springing forward to every pedal stroke. It somehow felt easier to deal with the steeper gradients on these pair of wheels. The stiffness finally made sense, the Razing Zero was made for the mountains, taking on the steep switchbacks and gradients that would build so much lactic acid that you would cringe with pain. On the descents the wheels held up fantastically, the responsiveness of the Racing Zero’s made tackling technical corners a breeze. Braking was immediate, no lag from squeezing the levers to feeling the wheels slow down before each corner. This made me feel a whole lot safer and it increased my confidence as I was never a great descender to begin with.
To conclude the Fulcrum Racing Zero review, the wheelset are a great pair however it has it’s limit and I would not recommend purchasing them if you ride mostly in flat or rolling areas. As they are meant for the high mountains. Also for a pair of alloy wheels, they do not come cheap. For the price you do however get a quality product which a heritage to match.