{"feed":"DC-Rainmaker","feedTitle":"DC Rainmaker","feedLink":"/feed/DC-Rainmaker","catTitle":"Fitness","catLink":"/cat/fitness"}

Since a change in leadership at the UCI in 2013, we’ve seen an increase in the number of data tracking platforms that are following the pro peloton.  For example, last year at the Tour Down Under I highlighted one solution by Satalyst, and then this past summer at the Tour de France with Dimension Data.

Here we are a year later, and the Tour Down Under has another solution – this one far more widespread in usage than last years, and it’s also not the first time we’ve seen the Velon solution used in races.  But this race does seem to mark a bit of a transition period for the product, and perhaps what Velon is aiming to do.  Thus, it’s as good a time as any to detail how the tracking platform works – especially since you’ve still got three hot and steamy stages of the Tour Down Under left to check it all out.

The Hardware:

We’ll start at the bike first, since that’s where all live tracking goodness begins.  At the Tour Down Under they’re running two different hardware variants.  Three, if you include the fake variants, but more on that in a second.  One variant is a more aerodynamic looking design, which appears to be a 3D printed case.  You’ll see it (both variants actually) sticking out from the rear of the saddle:

Each day I’m here down in Adelaide at the Tour Down Under I’m roughly spending half my day at or getting to/from the race site, and then half my day writing posts and editing videos. Mixed in there is also general testing of devices totally unrelated to the Tour Down Under, as well as attempting to clear out a few more CES related posts about things you mostly haven’t seen much detail on.  Plus, of course, helping out with the little ones, adjusting to a massive time zone change, and deciding which fruit smoothie to get. Occasionally I even ride or run.

In general, that entire rotating system is chugging along.  Not perfect, but, life isn’t perfect.  In that same vein, it’d be perfect if the entirety of y’all that read the blog also were on YouTube to see the content there, and likewise on Twitter.  But over time it’s become more and more clear to me that those are interestingly separate audiences.  Many people who follow on YouTube aren’t aware of the site here, and many people here aren’t aware of my YouTube’s.

Most time of course, my content is here on the site in written form.  But things like the WorldTour races sometimes lend themselves better to quick YouTube snippets, especially when it’s more about the atmosphere than a given piece of tech.  Inversely, for my detailed 2018 WorldTour tech post, I...

On the eve of the start of Stage 1 at the Tour Down Under we held a grand event: One solely focused on bike tech and beer.  And by grand…I mean in the back outside section of a pub under the flight path of the international airport.  But what we lacked in aeronautical silence, we made up for in sports tech chat.

The event was initially conceived by Murray from Wahoo Fitness.  He had individually met with myself and a few others last year at the Tour Down Under, and realized that the hit-list of people to chat with this year was slowly growing.  So why not burst it open to everyone?  Thus began the first (annual?) Bikes, Beers & Tech night.

The ‘featured roster would include Shane (GPLama), Murray from Wahoo Fitness, Mike from FulGaz, David from The SufferFest, and even folks from 4iiii and a few others showed up as well.  Oh, and I guess me.

But more importantly than all us were the boatloads of you that showed up.  Perhaps it was the draw of sports tech chatter, or perhaps more likely just free beer.  Either way, you came out!

It was awesome catching up with folks, and cool...

Like many fitness tech companies at CES this year, Wahoo Fitness decided against being on the show-floor with a large booth.  Joining Fitbit and others, Wahoo went with off show-floor arrangements, in this case a suite some 31 floors above the craziness of the exhibition halls.

It’s here that I found myself a pile of Wahoo BOLT computers and two Wahoo CLIMB units.  One was paired to Zwift, while the other was paired to FulGaz.  Both though were totally functional and gave me a chance to see where the hardware readiness currently sat.

To do that, there’s no better way than to jump on the bike and get rollin’.  Obviously since this was effectively just another meeting in non-stop meetings, I was just in street clothes and not cycling gear.  But for what I was looking to validate, it would only take a few seconds.  And what was that specifically? Smoothness.

You’ll remember from my preview at Eurobike this past summer, I thought that overall the concept was pretty cool, and fairly engaging.  But I was concerned about the smoothing as you hit various climbs/descents, as it felt choppy.  That was mostly an artifact of the unit being too fast in terms of changing incline levels.  It was so efficient and quick that it just felt awkward, like a fancy automotive assembly machine versus the smoothness of the road.

At the 2018 Tour Down Under, there honestly isn’t a ton of new bike tech.  At least, bike tech within the realm that I care about. Undoubtedly there are new frames, wheels, and probably the odd brake pad.  But in terms of things with electronics in them, most of that will have to wait till later this spring.  January has never been a popular time for bike electronics, and that’s certainly mostly the case here this week.

Except one little thing.

Or actually, potentially a larger thing.

Spotted down here in Adelaide this week is a new power meter with Specialized branding on it – as seen above.  Except, unless you were paying close attention, you might not have noticed there’s actually a few variants of this spread across two different teams.  Pro team BORA-hansgrohe is running 100% of this new thingamajig, while Quick-Step is running a blend of the new thing alongside 4iiii Precision units.

But first, what happens if we simply ask Specialized about these newfound gizmos?  What might they say?  I asked, here’s exactly what they said:

“Specialized relies on feedback from professional athletes in developing and testing advanced pre-production products in real-world applications. Thanks to this top-level feedback some of these products, or elements of their designs, eventually show up in future retail product offerings. We call this Project Black.

So on one hand that confirms that it’s indeed a Specialized product (which was somewhat...

The Tour Down Under represents the first race of the UCI WorldTour season, and as such, establishes what we’ll see in terms of equipment as the baseline for most tech on the teams this year.

The men kicked off their festivities down here on Sunday with the People’s Choice criterium, but the actual Tour Down Under Stage 1 didn’t begin till today (Tuesday).  The ladies meanwhile actually finished Sunday, after racing over the past week.  That was a bit of a departure from the past where the men and women race on concurrent days, albeit different routes.  With the shift in timelines this year, it meant that most media wouldn’t be in town for the majority of the women’s racing, a definite disappointment.  In my case, it meant I was coming from CES (Consumer Electronics Show), and landed right as the women finished. Still, through some help from those in the area, I’ve got a women’s tech post slated for tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Note that I’m mainly focused on sports tech goodness, more than bike frames and wheels and such.  Those areas are just a bit outside my focus.  However, I’ve included whole-bike pics in virtually all team sections, so it makes it pretty easy to identify those parts.

This year we’ve got a few little new tidbits in the mix – mostly in the power meter realm, including some unannounced products.  But more on that...

Four redeye flights in a row later coming from CES in Las Vegas the wrong way around the world, and I’ve arrived in Australia!  Actually, more accurately, we’ve arrived in Australia.  Me, The Girl, and both Peanuts (Lucy is getting the pleasure of spending the next few months in warm and sunny Norway, since she isn’t permitted easily into Australia).

The Plan:

First up on the docket is the Tour Down Under, which got underway tonight (well, the People’s Choice event did anyway).  And then the full tour kicks off Tuesday and goes throughout the week.  Of course I’ve got some sports tech themed posts coming out of that, including a round-up of all the sports tech devices both the men, and women, are using (just like last year…but better).  Shane Miller of GPLama helped me gather data on the women’s side, since I couldn’t get here any faster coming out of CES (they unfortunately shifted the women’s schedule earlier this year, overlapping with CES).

Then I’ll remain in the Adelaide area till around the 23rd before heading over to Freemantle (Perth).  It’s there that we’ll stay through to the end of March.  Boom!

It’s swim/bike/run heaven!  The beach is only a block away, allowing for awesome openwater swims (save the sharks), and there’s tons of riding to be had.  Plus, I heard you can even run in Australia without falling off...

This week at CES, Peloton raised the stakes and announced their long awaited treadmill – simply called Tread.  For those not familiar, Peloton is the indoor cycling studio that’s transplanted into your living room via their swanky (and expensive) indoor cycling bike.  The key driver of success on the platform is that you’re not just watching recorded sessions with an instructor from 5 years ago.  Instead, there’s live classes dozens of times per day, where you’re watching and interacting with not just a live instructor but an entire class of people in a studio in NYC.  It’s incredibly compelling (and really hard to find people who have bought it and dislike it).

Up till this week the company has solely focused on their indoor bike, but now, things have changed and their plans seem more ambitious – even more so than just the treadmill they’ve announced.  First though, let’s talk details.

The Specs:

Tread is a beast, in every possible way.  Most notably would be the price – some $4,000USD.  And that doesn’t include either shipping/setup fees (nor taxes where applicable).  On the Peloton bike that fee is a flat-rate $250, and I can’t imagine it’d be any lower here.  Nor does it include the $39/month subscription/service fee, though most users of that are content with said fee.

But that $4,250+ buys you one heck of a system. We’ll start with the base of the...

Today Wahoo announced their latest devices – the Wahoo TICKR FIT.  The TICKR FIT is simply an optical heart rate sensor that transmits ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.  Basically, it’s like a Scosche Rhythm+ or to a slightly lesser extent like a Polar OH1 sensor.  All three of which are generally designed to be be worn on the upper arm, which has the benefit of generally giving quite a bit more accurate readings than optical HR sensors worn at the wrist.

In any event, this $79 sensor is priced identical to that of the Scosche Rhythm+ as well as the Polar OH1.  I’ll get into the nuanced competitive differences down below though, as there are some things worth noting.

Before we go too far, note that Wahoo sent me a TICKR FIT to try out. As usual, I’ll send it back to them once I’ve wrapped up this review – likely even next week in person at CES.  The TICKR FIT is available for purchase today (and should be shipping out today too).  If you find this review useful, hit up the links at the bottom for all your sports gadgetry purchases (or, just to buy toilet paper on Amazon…your choice).

With that, let’s begin!


The box the TICKR FIT comes in isn’t all that much different than...

Back in November I posted a mention of doing some research for a new bike that I wanted to build.  This included the components as well as my general thinking on it.  Finally, a month or so later, I’ve completed that mission and figured it was time to share the results, details, and odds and ends.

Before we get too deep into the parts, the most important thing to understand is that this bike will be a testing workhorse, and it’s designed with that in mind.  I eschewed fancy parts like aero handlebars or aero seat posts for compatibility with a wider number of accessories that show up on my doorstep daily.

The goal of this bike was to act as my primary testing platform for cycling, targeted at things like power meters, bike computers, trainers, action cameras, and so on.  I’ve got other bikes, but I’ve been finding it more and more difficult to have enough bikes for the number of power meters in test (since I typically like to test power meters over a longer period like 2-3 months in varied conditions).

In any case, I dive into all those details down below.  With that, let’s begin.

(Oh, and PS – nothing here is sponsored by any manufacturers. I decided my own parts and then paid for them, along with a handful of parts Clever Training helping out on.)

Deciding on parts:

Happy New Year!

As you’ve likely noticed, it’s been a wee bit quiet around here the last few weeks.  I wish I could say it was because I was relaxing on a beach, but alas, I’m exhausted from it all.  Thankfully – I’m able to get back to a normal posting schedule this week with new products posts or reviews planned each day! Then we’ve got CES next week, and the Tour Down Under the following week. Boom!

However, first, a huge thanks to everyone who helped over the past couple weeks, I greatly appreciate it!  And don’t worry, I’ll get into the details of that down the road – it’s exciting (albeit, exhausting).  For now though, let’s talk some tech!

1) So…Hammerhead Karoo:

As I said on Twitter: “Well then, that escalated quickly.”

What started off as a relatively off-hand comment thread on the existing Hammerhead Karoo announcement post (from last May) quickly spiraled into the company having to issue a formal apology to backers of the project for lying to them.  You can read that entire thing here (or the Facebook posts here).

While that was all going down, a DCR reader decided they didn’t want to be part of the deception and shipped me their unit (fully boxed) since my unit is still on backorder.  So, I did the most natural thing I could think of: I unboxed it.  You’ll be able...

Each year since moving to Paris, we’ve ended up buying our Christmas tree not terribly far away at the flower markets.  While these markets are on the long list of tourism things to see in Paris, for us it’s more of a case of convenience.  It’s simply the closest spot to get our Christmas tree (save for some grocery stores that tend to have smaller trees).

Less you think I’m kidding about this being an annual tradition, here’s some of our past years’ exploits:


But this year we’ve added another human to the clan, and all of us would be going out together to pick up the tree.  Initially, I had hoped to put The Peanut in a bike seat on the back of the Velib for our transport journey, but some sort of shipping/procurement delay has occurred there…thus, we have no bike seat for her.  But that’s all getting a bit far ahead of ourselves.  First up, picking out the tree!

We generally...

The Week in Review is a collection of both all the goodness I’ve written during the past week around the internet, as well as a small pile of links I found interesting – generally endurance sports related. I’ve often wondered what to do with all of the coolness that people write, and while I share a lot of it on Twitter and Facebook, this is a better forum for sending it on to y’all. Most times these different streams don’t overlap, so be on the lookout at all these places for good stuff!

So with that, let’s get into the action!

Sports Tech Deals of Note:

A bunch of sales started last Sunday, and most of them end later this week.  However, the one exception to both of that is a new (well, re-started) sale on all Suunto gear for 30% off almost everything except the new Baro variant that was recently announced.  The interesting thing here is that it goes till December 26th, so if you find a Garmin under your tree and really wanted a Suunto, you can still make the switcheroo before the sale period closes.

Details all below, plus my massive deals post that I still keep updating.


Current DealsRegular PriceSale PriceStartEndAmazonClever TrainingOther siteSale Notes Copyright DC Rainmaker -...

The Week in Review is a collection of both all the goodness I’ve written during the past week around the internet, as well as a small pile of links I found interesting – generally endurance sports related. I’ve often wondered what to do with all of the coolness that people write, and while I share a lot of it on Twitter and Facebook, this is a better forum for sending it on to y’all. Most times these different streams don’t overlap, so be on the lookout at all these places for good stuff!

So with that, let’s get into the action! posts in the past week:

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

Monday: Week in Review – December 4th, 2017
Monday: 5 Random Things I Did This Weekend
Tuesday: The 4th Annual DCR Open House– 2017 Recap and Photos!
Tuesday: Hands-on: The COROS Omni Smart Helmet
Wednesday: Fitbit rolls out slew of apps to Ionic…and…umm…virtual cats
Friday: Garmin Running Power App: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Sports Tech Deals of Note:

A huge pile of *new* deals started yesterday, especially in the GoPro/action camera realm – plus a handful of new wearables ones.  Notable in the list that’s new is the GoPro Hero 5 Session down to $199USD...

Today, Garmin released their running power app that they announced back in October.  The functionality requires a Garmin RD-POD, Garmin HRM-TRI, or HRM-RUN strap.  It also requires the latest Garmin watches, specifically either a Fenix 5, Chronos or a FR935.

While Garmin might say otherwise, the reality is that it’s meant to compete with both Stryd and RunScribe running power.  And in many ways it does.  If you’ve got the required watches and sensors listed above, then it provides equally as unverifiable numbers as those companies do.

I’ve been using it since October, and more lately also in conjunction with Stryd and RunScribe Plus, both of which provide running power to Garmin watches as well as competitor watches.  So I’ve got a pretty good idea on how things work, but at the same time, it’s really something best visited again after many months of usage on final products – such as next spring.

I’m going to change things up a bit for the format for this post, if for no other reason than I’m feeling the need for speed…err…difference?  Let’s move on.

The Good:

The first thing you’ve gotta do is get the app installed on your device.  The good news is this is silly simple, and is just like installing any other Connect IQ app.  Technically speaking, the...

It’s been just over three months since Fitbit announced their Ionic GPS smartwatch, and about two months since they started shipping it out into the wild.  The watch is generally seen (by themselves and others) as critical to Fitbit’s revival in the wearables scene, competing with the likes of mid-range watches from Garmin, Apple, and others.  It contains GPS, contactless payments, music support, and an app store.

And it’s that app store that got a much-needed update today.

Up until today there was only a handful of apps, all largely made my Fitbit.  And to be clear, it was literally a handful – less than 10, depending on how you count things like the timer.  But now, there are some 60 apps, including a slew of big name apps like the New York Times, soon airlines such as United and British Airways, and ones to control lighting from Nest and Philips.

Furthermore, they’ve rolled out a new program called Fitbit Labs, which is where you can sign-up to test out new features.  Oh, and you can now take care of a virtual kitten.  Because…kittens?

Of more serious note though is that they’re finally actually allowing developers to publish their apps.  The dirty little secret is that while Fitbit had an app store, there wasn’t any way for developers to release said apps.  It was like inviting friends to a party, but not letting them in the front...

It’s been one year since COROS burst onto the scene with their COROS Linx Smart helmet.  The main appeal of the helmet was that it had not only jawbone conduction speakers built into the straps (which don’t block outside noise), but it also had a wind-protected microphone.  Oh, and it was Strava orange.  Or Zwift orange.  Or Dutch orange I suppose.  Either way, orange.

Actually, it also came in black as well as white, but that’s boring.

In any event, they delivered their crowd-funded wares roughly on time, a rarity in the industry.  They then did some confusing corporate re-org stuff with the company and started shipping out units again last spring.  All’s well though, and now here they are with a secondary product – the COROS Omni.  This new helmet retains all of the previous goodness of the existing helmet and adds lasers.

Actually, it doesn’t add lasers, but it adds lights.  Which are almost as cool as lasers.

Minus the fact that it’s somehow not orange anymore.

Which, is a good time to move onto the next section.

The Tech Inside:

Now, as I was saying before I got distracted with flippin’ lasers, is that the new unit retains all of the previous audio focused goodness.  So to briefly recap all of that, here’s the key baseline goodness from my...

This past Saturday was the 4th annual DCR Open House.  It’s when I open up the doors to the DCR Cave (and Bertie’s Cake Studio) and we also organize a morning run around the best sights Paris has to offer.  Here’s the recap of this annual event!

The Morning Run:

First up was a test of how badly you wanted to get a workout in.  Saturday morning saw the temps drop to the coldest points since last winter, about –4°C for our starting time.  As I’ve said before, if you live in Finland, then certainly your situation is less ideal right now.  But as seen in the below photo, the cold weather running clothing wasn’t apparently fully ready yet for everyone.

And even if they had the cold weather clothing physically, we might not have been ready yet for sub-zero temps.  No worries though, for those that braved the chilly weather, the empty city streets were worth it.

We ran along the river for a bit, before zig-zagging our way up to the Louvre:

Then it was through the Tuileries gardens and past Concorde to meet back up with the river and continue our trek down towards the Eiffel Tower.

Brrr…it got chilly here in the city this weekend, which I suppose only makes it appropriate for winterish things like holiday parties and Christmas trees.  Here’s what I’ve been up to the last few days!

1) A lunch date:

The Girl and I made an excruciatingly long trip from the DCR Cave & Bertie’s Cake Studio on Friday for lunch.  We walked about…30 meters…to a newish restaurant next door.  I guess technically like three doors down.

In any event, the place (Alliance) got their first Michelin star this past winter, making for three different Michelin star restaurants within one block of the DCR Cave.  Now, as any regular of my foodie adventures knows – the best deals for such restaurants are at lunch.  That’s when it’s far cheaper to go and you get virtually the same food.

Along the way we had sea urchin with a grapefruit and Campari (it’s an herby liqueur) foam, below:

In this case, there’s a four-course meal for 44EUR (but remember, in these types of restaurants, four official courses is really like 6-8 actual courses…including two dessert courses).  Below is beef from Normandy.

Also, remember a sit-down lunch in France at a place like this is a 2-3 hour experience, depending on the restaurant and your group size.  Anything less would be...

The Week in Review is a collection of both all the goodness I’ve written during the past week around the internet, as well as a small pile of links I found interesting – generally endurance sports related. I’ve often wondered what to do with all of the coolness that people write, and while I share a lot of it on Twitter and Facebook, this is a better forum for sending it on to y’all. Most times these different streams don’t overlap, so be on the lookout at all these places for good stuff!

So with that, let’s get into the action! posts in the past week:

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

Sunday: Week in Review–Nov 26th, 2017
Monday: 5 Random Things I Did This Weekend
Thursday: Garmin Vector 3 Power Meter In-Depth Review

Sports Tech Deals of Note:

Despite what you might think – the sports tech deals are cruisin’ on!  In fact, especially for Europe, which has seen the lowest prices ever for many items, much of which is still matching Black Friday sales.  All of these are detailed on the massive deals post that I still keep updating.

Still, here’s the rundown of major deals still cookin’:


Current DealsRegular PriceSale PriceStart