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Cycling - Andy Saiden
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Cycling

Cycling

Shimano Dura-Ace R9100-P Power Crankset Now With Bluetooth Connectivity

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.

Shimano R9100P Power Meter
The Shimano R9100P Power Meter on my previous bike ( Swift Hypervox)

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.

Wilier Cento10 Air with Dura Ace R9100-P Power Meter

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.

TrainerRoad pairing screen
TrainerRoad ran smoothly despite me unclipping to use the bathroom

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.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.shimano.etubeprojectmobile.droid.phone

I hope this article would be of help to my fellow cyclist out there. Do comment and let me know how your experience with the Shimano Power Meter has been.

Cycling

SwiftCarbon HYPERVOX

SwiftCarbon HYPERVOX the biased review

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.

SwiftCarbon Hypervox

Maximum aero with Reynolds Strike SLG 60mm

 

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.

 

SwiftCarbon Hypervox

UCI has given this framset the thumbs up

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.

SwiftCarbon Hypervox

My initial choice of groupset was the Shimano Ultegra 6800

SwiftCarbon reminds me about my priorities.

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.

Shimano R9100P Power Meter

The New Shimano R9100P Power Meter

 

 

Fulcrum Racing Zero Review
Cycling

Fulcrum Racing Zero Review

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.

Fulcrum Racing Zero Review

Ceramic Ultra Smooth Bearings,

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.

Fulcrum Racing Zero Review

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.

Fulcrum Racing Zero Review Conclusion

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.

 The Good  The Bad
  • Very responsive
  • Good Braking
  • Smooth Ceramic Hubs
  • Expensive

Details

Weight: 1518g
Tyre Type: Clincher
Rim Material: Aluminium
Spoke Material: Aluminium
Spoke Count: 16 (front), 21 (rear)
Rim Width: 22.5mm
Rim Depth: 26mm (front), 30mm (rear)
Bearings: Ceramic
Website: http://www.fulcrumwheels.com

 

Cycling

Azzurri Forza Pro Review

The Azzurri Pro Ultegra 11 is hands down one of the most value for money carbon road bikes in the market. What you get is a modern stiff carbon road bike that handles well and is comfortable, without compromising the components. The bike is fully equipped with new mechanical Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 speed components from top to bottom. The bike it self handles really well especially during fast decents and yet is comfortable enough to deal with uneven roads and small bumps on the road. The power transfer is fantastic, especially on the climbs as you feel every pedal stroke pushing you forward without any wastage. 

The Shimano Ultegra 6800 groupset is as reliable as it gets sitting just one tier below the pro level Dura-Ace you expect nothing but the best performance from for less the price of the pro level Dura-Ace. Azzurri claims that the ‘Performance Fit’ frame geometry combines traditional and semi compact characteristics, taking the best from both world’s to enable you access to the best fit possible.

Azzurri Forza Pro

As I mentioned earlier the power transfer was very noticeable especially during hard accelerations or during steep climbs. This could come from what Azzurri claims as their “Mega Watt Transfer”the frame’s  oversized downtube, bottom bracket and chain stays to ensure that you get the maximum from every pedal stroke.

However with all the positive compliments I can give for this bike, there are some compromises that had to be made in order to keep the price low, for starters the Mavic Aksium wheelset that comes with the bike is on heavy side. The FSA stem is not very stiff, during sprints you can feel it flexing ever so slightly and the seapost is a bit irritating to adjust. Also the Prologo Zero Pas Saddle was not really my cup of tea, a bit too hard for my taste despite the mention of gel on it.  

Azzurri-Forza-Pro-2-

Then again, if you are serious about road racing then of course all these small points would not be an issue as these components can be easily swapped out. The Mavic Aksium’s that came with the bike was by no means unusable, from reading other reviews I know that they are reliable and robust.

However as I already had a pair of aero wheelsets on hand, I made the swap immediately as most of the events and training ride I go for are on relatively flat areas or just rolling hills. A good friend of mine was still running the Mavic’s for century rides and he had not issues with them. 

As for the flexing during sprints, FSA stem as previously mentioned, that wasn’t such a big issue as I needed a longer stem to accommodate to my reach so the FSA was swapped out for a longer 120mm PRO stem which also solved my problem with the flexing. The handlebars that come stock standard has a compact design meaning the drops are shallow and the reach is short. This is for more aggressive style of cycling which certainly favoured my riding style.

To sum it all up the small compromises are easily neglected, as the value for money of the bike will outweigh all the negatives. After almost 3,000km the Azzurri Forza Pro has yet to let me down, I ride at least two to three times a week and quite frequently participate in century rides and events.The brand Azzurri might not be as recognisable as others in the market however that might be a good thing as you are not paying for marketing and other forms advertising costs. What you are paying for is a bike that won’t hurt your wallet and will certainly ride brilliantly and perhaps outperform other brands with a higher price tag. Azzurri will certainly give the big names such Giant and Specialized a run for their money. 

Azzurri-Forza-Pro3-Azzurri bikes are available at some local bike shops, however if you want to get the best deals then your best option would be to get directly from CyclingExpress. Be sure to check the bike geometry properly before making a purchase online to ensure the right size will fit you. 

Cycling

Group Cycling Etiquette

As simple as it is to ride a bicycle, there some things which you should consider before joining a group ride. Of course you could ignore these tips altogether but your first group ride would probably be the last you ever have. It does astonish me that so many riders lack the understanding or etiquette of group riding which puts themselves and the riders around them in danger. So here are my top tips in no particular order on group cycling etiquette.

  1. Always carry spare tubes, tyre levers and a  pump/CO2. Just because others have them along does not mean you should depend them. If you are worried about not fitting everything in jersey back pocket. Then what you would need is a small saddle bag which would fit everything that for need.
  2. Don’t make any sudden movements when riding in a group, the last thing you want to do is to clip the tyre of another rider and cause a bad accident.
  3. When braking, slowly engage the brakes, so that the riders behind you have enough time to react. Only brake hard if you really need to.
  4. Be sure  to communicate with other riders. Give verbal and hand signals to show the directions the group is going, or point out dangerous objects or potholes on the road to help those behind you. As the view is often obscured when there are multiple riders in front of you.
  5. Look ahead at the rear wheel of the rider in front of you so that you do not get too close and that you keep the same pace. That being said, don’t forget to enjoy the view while you are out cycling.
  6. Spitting or clearing your nose. If you really need to clear the your throat or nostrils, please do so in a respectful manner. Ride to the side of the group and be sure no one is behind you before you spit.
  7. Lights: if your group is out ridding in the wee early mornings or in darkness of the night be sure that have lights fitted to your bicycle, both front and rear. This is to illuminate the road ahead of you as well as to make yourselves more viable to traffic coming up from the rear.
  8. Don’t leave someone struggling to change flat tyre on their own, always make sure someone helps out. It make the time spent on the side of the road that much less and it keeps the mood up.
  9. If it’s your first time riding in a group, start from the back so that you can observe and get the feel of riding in a group.
  10. If the route has some steep climbs there will certainly be a break in the group, where some rides would be dropped behind. So stop on the peak or on the side of the road to regroup and make a headcount and ensure that everyone is doing alright.

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