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Alan B.

Alan B.

Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on August 29, 2019

User-serviceable valve/lid!
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

CamelBack Podium bottles have long been the best, with their lockable, no-leak valve design. I just replaced my older Podium bottles when I noticed black mold had settled into the translucent valves and I didn't want to bother taking them apart with pliers.. I was ecstatic to realize this NEW design has easily serviceable valve design that you can take apart with your fingers for cleaning. Such a huge improvement, now that i can easily clean the valves without tools. I will buy many more of these.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on August 6, 2019

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Size Purchased: Large

Virginia Tech tested 69 helmets in collaboration with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and this is among the top-rated. I bought it to replace another helmet that probably saved my life. This one is significantly better. First, the foam is noticeably thicker in the area where I hit my head on the old helmet.. It also surrounds my head better, providing more coverage. The retention system works really well, in that it is both easy to use and holds the helmet in place (Try this test with your helmet - tighten it and then try to slide it back, does it move? If so, the strap may need adjustment, but on this one it had that stability right out of the box) I am not a fan of some of these color combos, but the white/silver reflective one and the matte black one look good to me.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on December 26, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

The Kickr mat is just a mat, but it has a few subtle features that make it worth upgrading from whatever mat you were using with your old trainer. First, the size is more generous, to accommodate the larger footprint of the Kickr. Second, it's constructed from a tough, but thicker and slightly softer material that leaves a momentary impression, similar to memory foam in a mattress. Kickr trainers are designed so that the front wheel can rest directly on the floor/mat without a riser block. The thicker/softer mat complements that design by allowing the front wheel to sink in a bit, to hold the wheel steady.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on November 18, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

There are plenty of detailed reviews out there already so I won't repeat those (how it's relatively quiet, the weight of the flywheel, etc.). This is heavy so I recommend you find a spot where you can leave it. Save your old friction-style trainer for hauling to races. Fortunately the handle is well centered for when you do need to pick up and move a few feet. The physical setup is straightforward, especially since there is no assembly. What takes time is learning the software and data set up. It's not rocket science, but it's not obvious either when you have so many different devices and data being connected. You will have multiple apps on phone and/or computer (e.g. Zwift for training software, Zwift Companion app for in-training functions, plus 1 or 2 Wahoo apps that you may use from time to time). You will also have quite a few devices talking to each other. In a typical setup, that may include your phone or PC that runs the training software, your Kickr, and all your usual ANT+ devices (HR, power, and bike computer like Garmin Edge or Wahoo Bolt). You need an ANT+ dongle on your PC to get your ANT+ devices (HR, bike power meter) to connect. The best configuration I've found so far, once I got a dongle, is to connect my bike's own power meter as the source of power data, rather than the Kickr's built-in power data. That way you are recording power using the same power meter you are using on the road for consistency. When set up that way, the Kickr is ERG function is capable of controlling resistance to achieve the exact power target set by the training software.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on June 3, 2018

2 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: True to size

I used to rip on Garmin's imperfections, until I tried the Wahoo Bolt...and then I went running back to my Garmin 820.

Out of the box, same size as the Garmin 820. But...no touchscreen (X). Monochrome display (X). Crappy routing (X). And I have to download my routes from WHERE? Wasn't "Ride With GPS" big back in, like, 2005? I mean, we are talking Pre-Facebook! Maybe even Pre-Myspace! Someone gave me a route to try over Memorial Day and I went through the steps to feed it to the Bolt, and it was completely useless. I had no idea how to interpret the black lines on the display. And the display setup itself is atrocious. Yeah, it's a nice idea to be able to use my smartphone to select fields, but they sure did not think this one very far through. I want to control where each field appears on the display. For example, I want my Lap Power, 30s Power, and 3s Power to align in a column. However, the Wahoo's list-select prioritization approach leaves me guessing where each field will appear on the display. None of these are problems on my Garmin 820. I pick exactly what parameter each display location will show. And the Garmin shows me actual navigation info - street names, directions, etc., that are easily viewed thanks to the color screen. I don't have time to go find the right route on one obscure website and make sure somebody took the time manually enter ride cues correctly. There is plenty of room for Garmin to improve, but at least it HAS these fundamental capabilities.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on January 26, 2018

Thin and comfortable for moderate cold
4 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: True to size

It's a headband that works like any other headband. It's a little bit thinner and stretchier than the several other headbands I've tried from brands like PI and Gore. That makes it comfortable, but in terms of warmth it's about what you would expect from a thinner material. Assos confusingly prints two temperature ranges on the hang tag (57-72F and 46-61F), which I'm not sure how to interpret, except it worked just fine with temps in the 40s. For a colder ride I'd look for a warmer headband.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on January 23, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

My pair weighed in at 1627 grams (lower than stated). I also have the Jet 6 Black, but prefer the Jet 4 for my "everyday" wheels that don't need to be quite that deep. The Jet 4 seem to dampen road vibrations better than my Ardennes Black (same tire, size, and pressure), although HED customer service indicated there should be no real-world difference. Once you get used to the improved turbine machined braking surface, it sort of becomes the standard for what you expect, and you would have trouble going back to a conventional smooth rim surface.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a question about on January 13, 2018

Do you really find that aluminum seatposts, being stiffer, are more comfortable? The general consensus is that by and large carbon posts do a better job damping than aluminum. This was backed up by Velo Magazine's testing. http://www.velonews.com/2012/12/training-center/technology/from-the-pages-of-velo-getting-the-most-from-your-post_267560/3

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a question about on December 25, 2017

Couple of technical corrections
- "But every once in a while, we throw a leg over a ferrous top tube. [Titanium and its common alloys are non-ferrous.]
- "The Eros is made out of titanium, which has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal..." [Not exactly. Beryllium is stronger and lighter. However, titanium does have the highest strength/weight ratio of the common production metallic frame materials - steel, aluminum, and titanium]

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on December 10, 2017

2 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Dammit, Assos. These premium-priced shoe covers still have problematic zippers that split open while riding. I'm pretty sure I had to trash the prior model for the same problem. It doesn't seem that hard to either design a zipper that won't fail for purpose, or come up with some other closure system.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on December 6, 2017

Awesome, compact light for my helmet
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This is a lightweight 111g, compact, solidly-built light that with the optional helmet strap is great for my nighttime training rides. Rated at 750 lumens for 1.5 hours, you can easily get your interval session done and home on the highest or 2nd highest settings. I pair this with an attention-grabbing rear bike light like the Cycliq Fly6. I prefer having this up on my helmet so I can point the light wherever I am looking, and I don't mind the weight -- if you mount toward the rear like in my photo, the weight is very balanced when in the riding position. I compare this side-by-side with the L&M Vis PRO, also pictured for comparison. You can read my review on that elsewhere on Competitive Cyclist.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on December 2, 2017

Stronger front light, weaker rear light
4 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

Right out of the box, this has a very quality feel. The front light has some heft considering its small size. Total weight is 124g, compared to my NiteRider Micro 750 front-only (111g) that I will use as a benchmark (see photo). The new/improved front light performs quite well for its size, rated for 2 hours at its max 600 lumens setting (compared with the Micro 750's max of 750 for 1.5 hrs). That is plenty to see and be seen. However, I have some doubts about the visibility of the single red LED on the Vis "PRO" model, especially compared with the now discontinued model that had multiple LEDs on rear. The rear red light also has a very subdued "firefly" glow pattern, which slowly oscillates between max/min brightness - visible, yes; but not very attention grabbing. The system has a number of mounting options so you can make this work with almost any helmet. However, this may be easier with some helmets than others. For example, the rear light fits a cutout in my Bell Volt helmet (red helmet) almost like the two were designed to go together; but my Giro Savant helmet (black helmet shown here with the Micro 750) would be more awkward to mount the Vis PRO. It would be smart for L&M to work with one of the major helmet brands to develop a matching helmet and lighting system to achieve a perfect fit without the need for this generic/universal but imperfect mounting. I was disappointed with the instructions, which rely primarily on diagrams that are hard to decipher. Settings and modes are changed with some combination of short presses (1s) and long presses (4s) such as to toggle on/off the rear light and/or enter a "lockout mode" which is NOT explained. However, I managed to get it into rear light ON mode, and simply use short presses to switch between front brightness settings. From what I can tell the brightness settings have no effect on the rear light. The mounting system is desirably simple - an assortment of hook-and-loop fasteners and rubber strap for the front. Though simple in concept, you will want to take some time to think through this to arrive at the most secure position and figure out exactly how you are going to route the straps. Note, this was designed so the L&M logo and button on the front light will be facing up, which requires you to mount the front bracket with the slot facing down.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on November 10, 2017

5 5

Fit: Runs small
Size Purchased: 46.0

Note, the 2018 model is out as of November 2017 - Infinito R1 for $400 MSRP direct from Fizik. That said, the design changes seem subtle (I have both in my possession), so as long as you get the right size/fit your best bet may be to get this discounted 2017 model. The main differences I see is 1-2 more anchor points for the BOA wire, and the fabric is cut a little more strategically so you can pull it a little tighter (move the 2 sides closer together) with the dials. The outer soles appear identical - very sleek, thin unidirectional carbon with vents. The 2018 inner sole is more engineered, but it's a non-issue if you use a custom orthotic like me. The shoes are very lightweight and you don't feel the bands of pressure like you do with conventional straps. Instead, the whole shoe closes around your foot like a sheath. It almost feels loose at first since you don't have the localized strap tension. They are both very lightweight (cannot tell any difference in hand). It seems to run exactly 1/2 size smaller than Sidi. So, I am a 46.5 in Sidi and a 46.0 in these Fizik.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on September 30, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

For all intents and purposes, these are about the same weight as a carbon cage, and I'm willing to bet more durable. They look better than a glossy carbon weave. Just so you know, there are other color options out there. I picked up a matte black version from my LBS that looks great on a Cervelo S5 and does not dress it down at all despite the economical price tag. I am still in initial testing stages but optimistic. Fits my CamelBack bottles tightly.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on September 18, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I loved the original Jet 6 wheels, but the addition of the Turbine brake track is a welcome enhancement. Now you can fly on flat terrain and brake with confidence in the hills. The Jet 6 Black combine HED's already fantastic 60mm aero profile with it's Turbine braking innovation. The aluminum clincher construction is very durable and predictable, and quieter, as compared to an all carbon construction. The extra care required when handling the carbon fairings (e.g. storage and transport) is a worthwhile trade-off. I have other HED wheels with this Turbine brake track and it has not faded in several thousand miles.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on May 18, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

UPDATE 5/18/2017: I loved the improved 520 screen over the 510, but I hated the 520 buttons, so hard to press. When the 820 came out (520 features but touchscreen) I was ready to buy it. I do think it's currently the best computer for people who race/train due to balance of latest features with fairly compact size. I will say, in their race (no pun intended) to add features Garmin introduced some glitches and design hiccups but those are not specific to this model. Among those annoyances are the Strava alerts and text message alerts, both which conspire to ruin a perfectly good interval workout by obstructing your screen with stupid pop-up alerts. Turn those features OFF. I also struggle to understand why Garmin has not added an automatic backlight to come on after sunset (so I can read the display) and turn off after sunrise (to conserve battery). I also cannot fathom why there is still no ability to store my display screen settings on my PC or Garmin Connect in case I have to master reset or replace a unit. Again, these are software issues that most Garmin models suffer. One new feature that is particularly useful is navigate back to start -- helpful when you get dropped in a race and want to cut your losses and get home. Set the touchscreen to the most sensitive setting if you want it to work with long-fingered gloves. I had to return/warranty my 820 once due to sudden failure to connect with phone but no apparent hardware damage. The charge lasts decently long, especially if you turn off backlight during the day. But the old 500 still had much better battery life since it was a simpler less feature-packed unit. /Update 6-7-2018: biggest annoyances for me are how slow and unresponsive the touch screen sometimes is, especially when multiple presses are involved like to back out of a menu (maybe create a home button that will take you all the way to the beginning in one press); the battery life doesn't let me get much riding in between charges and has to enter low battery mode; annoyed that it STAYS in low-battery mode even after you finish your workout and recharge it so you have to manually go back through the menus; still does not have a backlight to turn off/on automatically in the morning/evening; and auto-upload often does not work with my latest Android.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on April 11, 2017

Looks nice but very failure-prone
2 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I had 3 of these Thule Paceline racks fail within about 12-18 months. The mechanism on the front end for securing the fork is way too complicated for what it does. There are no user-serviceable parts in the mechanism, so if anything fails you have to trash the entire unit (after making a warranty claim, if eligible). The front mechanism comprises opposing front/rear levers that cooperate to secure the rack to the roof rails and the bicycle fork to the rack. My first failure was the levers were mysteriously damaged and would no longer close. I replaced that one under warranty. That 2nd one failed a few months later when one of the 2 pins that pinch the fork snapped off driving down the freeway. I made a warranty claim on the 2nd one and applied it to a hitch rack instead. Meanwhile, a 3rd one I had purchased (I wanted to have 2 units for 2 bikes) failed much like the 1st - mysterious handle failure. At least one of the lever failures *might* have been caused by a single trip to the car wash. Yes, you probably *should* take it off every time you wash the car, and yes, that would technically make it my fault. BUT, a product like this, given all the possible loading scenarios it might encounter under normal use, should NOT be so fragile as to fail after one trip through the car wash. And the 2nd failure (pin snapping off one end) was definitely a design or manufacturing defect, and there is no replaceable part like a skewer that could be used to fix it. Bottom-line is, the *design* is nice, operates well in theory, and looks clean, but the execution is flawed.

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