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TACX Satori Smart

January 15, 2016 4 comments

When I jumped on the Zwift bandwagon a while back it was pretty clear that you needed a good trainer to match it up with. Based on DC Rainmakers 2014-2015 recommendations I soon began hunting for a TACX Satori Smart and found one on Amazon shortly thereafter.

With Tax and shipping mine ended up being almost exactly $500 Canadian so it was within my budget overall. Pricing has probably gone up a bit since I bought it due to the downward spiral of the Canadian dollar, but still those with a smaller budget will find this is a great gateway drug into smart trainers.

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This is only the 2nd trainer I have owned so it is possible that many of the features that I liked about this trainer are found on others as well but to me they were unique and very helpful.

What does it do

This is a very capable Ant+ and Bluetooth enabled power trainer. It measures speed, power and cadence. I wasn’t aware that it did cadence, and it does cadence without any additional hardware mounted to the bike, but it worked right out of the box. Satori doesn’t really do a good job of letting you know this trainer does cadence as well but it does. You can change bikes and the new bike shows cadence as well.

This is the testing dashboard that shows each of these three values.

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Slap on a heart rate monitor and you have the four basic and needed metrics to take on any training program.

Setup

I didn’t take any pictures during setup and in general I don’t really remember a lot about it. A lot came already assembled and it was about 30 minutes of effort. Then I had a bike mounted. Don’t expect much of a manual, but it’s fairly straight forward.

Next make sure you download the TACX apps. There are two that I found useful. The Training one is the general one that helps you use it for working out, but the Tacx utility is very helpful, easier and simpler to use and allows you to do the calibration and firmware updates.

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Calibration

Before you use the trainer you need to calibrate, which is pretty easy using the Tacx utility, although you can do it via the button on the trainer that is a bit of a pain, while with the utility it is fairly painless. There are visual guides as to whether or not it is working and once calibration is finished you are ready to ride.

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General Use

It is very easy to fit a bike to the trainer and I have switched bikes in less then a minute. The adjuster is very beefy and I haven’t had any issues with it. Even when sprinting this trainer is planted.

To get started there is a very small button, which is also the same colour as the bike, on the main body of the trainer. If your training area is dark its a pain to find it sometimes but once you do press it and a red light will start to flash. I only use it in ANT+ mode but the Tacx app uses Bluetooth and that has worked well too.

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This means that the trainer is now broadcasting and will be picked up by whatever device you are using. I have used it with the Tacx apps, my Garmin Edge 500 and 520 and naturally Zwift with an ANT+ dongle and never had it not be picked up.

The Fly wheel has a very convenient method to pull the fly wheel back from the wheel. Pull it back, adjust with the knob underneath, push it back on.

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It is quiet, but not silent. And if you do sprints (which are common in Zwift) it does whine somewhat. It’s much better than the last trainer I had but still not quiet enough to not be noticed upstairs. If I am doing something at night generally I do a more mild ride watching something at about 135 watts and that is pretty quiet. If I do have to go higher I find if you gear down to a smaller cog the sound gets worst, but if you adjust resistance on the bar, the sound is about the same but you can put out a lot more wattage. So that is what I have been doing lately.

Also the metal flywheel gets hot, like painful minor burns hot, after a longish ride (30 minutes or more). Do not touch the flywheel!!

The resistance control I have found hard to fit my handlebar, had to shove some old bar tape to make it not move around. Lately I have been finding that the standard sizing on these mounts, regardless of vendor, tend to be on the large size, while handlebars are getting smaller? Once I got it to stay on it is very easy to change resistance. There is a moment for the resistance to change but it is very effective. If you are doing zwift, I find that for the large hills if you set it to 5 or 6 you get pretty much the right level of resistance to keep up with most folks (if you can put out the effort).

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Use with TACX software

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I only wanted to use the Free software and only have an iPhone so this is a look into those options only. There is an Android version and a more sophisticated and paid PC version. Unfortunately this part is going to be very light. The training is pretty basic. It’s free but amounts to a workout graphic with a few prompts. The PC version is probably a whole lot better, but honestly use Zwift. I used it once then never went back.

The utility is the one that I do use a lot and if you have any problems or just want to make sure you on the latest firmware that app works great.

Use with Zwift

This was the main reason that I purchased this trainer and it has served that purpose quite well. The Satori Smart is an officially supported Trainer in Zwift as per their web site.

 

 

zwift supported

In order for Zwift to really effectively figure out your “real world” speed etc you need to broadcast power. When I was using Zwift without real power (well, I was using the PowerCal heart rate monitor and that just confused the heck out of Zwift) my speed was all over the place. I did try not using power at all and that was worst. Once I started using this trainer my speed settled down and I was able to fully enjoy the experience. With the most recent workouts the trainer is certainly capable. I have joined a few group rides online and it’s very cool.

As I have stated it also provides Cadence, I’m not exactly sure how, but it works perfectly well. So with a heart rate monitor and the trainer providing power, cadence and speed you are all set. There isn’t automatic resistance but Zwift is very good at making you sense that you are heading up a hill so you do have to push hard to get up steep inclines of Zwift will simply stop your bike. It’s very effective and I think negates a portion of needing an automated trainer.

 

Some Conclusions

I am writing this almost 8 months after I picked the Satori Smart up, just haven’t been updating my blog as much, and it is still working great, I haven’t had a single problem with it, it works great with Zwift, it’s reasonably quiet. So a great and satisfying purchase.

I think I am a little bit disappointed I didn’t get a trainer that automatically set resistance, I have found that there are a few times while using Zwift that I would have liked that, but then again I don’t think I could have afforded it. Otherwise it has been a flawless awesome purchase.

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Garmin Edge 520 and 25 make a good argument to finally retire your 500.

November 2, 2015 1 comment

Garmin 500s For the last few years I have relied heavily on Garmin devices and web sites like Garmin Connect and increasingly Strava and related sites like Veloviewer. This was mostly as I wanted to understand how I was riding but in general also I enjoyed the devices and what they gave to me. When I say Garmin devices I mean Garmin 500s as I had two for years. In 2014 for my birthday I added a Garmin Fenix 2 to the stable but that was pretty much it. The Garmin 500 will be seen as a classic over time and was one of those devices that just got it right. So right that it is still sold today while quite a few of the devices that came after it have come and gone. Hopefully they will keep selling it as it’s pretty much prefect for somebody who is looking to get in on some GPS action for their riding and it has 99% of the core metrics you are looking for, and sites like Strava can fill in a lot of the gaps. Prices are dropping too. I have seen new ones as cheap as $150 USD.

The Fenix 2 has been everything that I wanted it to be as well and it’s basically my back up device that is always with me. If I find myself all of a sudden able to get a ride, run or swim in I can just turn the Fenix 2 on and away I go and it has been great for Triathlons. I haven’t been tempted to upgrade to the Fenix 3 yet as as these devices are pretty pricey so probably will have it for while.

That being said at the end of the summer I found myself with a totally new set of goto devices for my GPS fitness needs. Still have the Fenix 2 but now supplemented by Edge 25 and Edge 520.

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The Garmin 510 didn’t quite add enough and the 800/1000 series are just too big for me. But I was open to upgrading if a device popped up that intrigued me.

Garmin Edge 25

I was actually looking at the Lezyne Super GPS as I was looking for something small but still powerful. I don’t use Garmin connect as much as I do Strava so if Strava connectivity works it fit the bill.

Then I heard that the Garmin 20 and 25 were coming out. The Garmin 20 not so sure about, the Garmin 200 may be a better device in that instance, but the 25 had Ant+ and Bluetooth and most importantly can show texts. I get a lot of texts (mostly from my wife) and when I am on a ride I feel a tiny bit apprehensive if I miss a text. I was using the Fenix 2 but it’s font is super small and I always had to stop just to see if I can ignore the text and ride on. With the Edge 25 seems like the Font would be large enough. And the price was right, with a store discount I bought mine for under $200 CAD. IMG_1028

Almost at once I was pleased with this device. While there isn’t too much to customize all the data is pretty much there and it scrolls through the pages pretty quick if you set it up that way. The only glaring lacking metric is power, which I am hoping they add in a later update but it handily does heart rate and cadence.

One thing that is a bit of a concern with Garmin devices is that all the connectors are getting different and the 25 does have it’s own cable which I have misplaced a few times and been frustrated as my battery was low. But the battery does last pretty long and even at 15% I was able to finish all the 1-2 hours rides I was doing.

Connecting to a phone is super easy (especially considering how difficult the Edge 520 is) and once paired as soon as you turn it on it will connect to your phone. Texts are very clear and will stay up for long enough to get the gist of what the text is saying. If its important you can stop (it has auto pause) and if not..ride on. And when your ride is done it uploads scary fast.

I found I use this a lot for mountain biking and cross when I don’t want a bigger device. Frankly it takes up less space than the mount. I often linger over the Edge 25 when I am choosing which device to use and am surprised that often I grab this one instead of the more “powerful” ones.

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So was pretty pleased with the 25 and probably would have stuck with it and one of the 500s for when I needed power.

Garmin Edge 520

Then my birthday hit and basically I had some cash to spend. And that’s when I heard about the Garmin Edge 520 around the same time.  At first glance I was a bit “meh” but then the Strava feature grabbed my attention. I have grown to really love Strava and have a few Strava segments I have been trying to improve on. So the live Strava feature was a draw. IMG_0941

I ordered one through my local LBS and had to wait a couple and weeks and did have buyer’s remorse a few times until I got it…and then I was fine.

It’s not a perfect device. But it’s also going to improve a lot over time as Garmin goes through its usual firmware woes.

First off it can display a ton of data, more than I ever got comfortable with the 500 (6 was about the max there). I started with 7 data fields but now I have 10 on a single page. I don’t cycle through any as everything is on one page and it’s easy enough to read it all. It picks up GPS or Glosnass super quick and same with ANT+ devices.

I was able to get Strava segments to work right away and it helped me I think improve on two segments that simply I wasn’t super aware of where they actually started and ended and where I could make up time.

Here are a few things it sucks at still. First off Bluetooth is horrible and super hard to set up. Every time you want to use Bluetooth you have to do a combo of setting up the Bluetooth on the device, making sure you go into Connect on your mobile device and even then I don’t fully trust it.  Also have to say that both devices only get texts and call notifications while my Fenix 2 gives me any alert, including emails, which I love as well. A few times I have done rides when I half expected an email from work so I wrapped my Fenix 2 around the handle bars so I get email alerts as well. Would be super nice to get email alerts on either the 25 or the 520.

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Also I am not a fan of the start/stop button being on the bottom. When you have an aero mount there is very little space between your bars and the button. With gloves I have struggled to stop it off after a ride. No firmware update is going to help with that Sad smile The Garmin Edge 25 is in the more traditional upper right hand button position so no problems there.

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So I was sorta pleased but also sorta unhappy after a while. I focused on using it for the massive data fields and the Strava segments but as I stated it can be upgraded so expect it to get better. And later this year or early next year Garmin 520 will support ConnectIQ and this is super cool. ConnectIQ is basically apps you can run on your device. For Fenix 3 it’s mostly super cool watch faces but with ConnectIQ coming to the Edge1000 and 520 hopefully a new wave of Ride specifics apps will come out? May even try to put a couple of these ConnectIQ apps together myself.

Conclusions

So a few conclusions. First off the Edge 25 is an awesome and cheapish device. Shop around and you should be able to get it at a decent price under list. Has most of what you need for most of your rides and general riding overall. In a lot of cases it certainly replaces the 500 and it’s a worthy upgrade.

The Garmin Edge 520 I would still recommend if you are thinking about getting a new device overall. In its current state is pretty good. A couple more firmware upgrades I think will make it awesome. Once they figure out and improve on the Bluetooth and the add ConnectIQ it’s a done deal in my mind. And it has a lot of stuff I haven’t found out about yet.

The biggest test for me is that I still have my two Garmin 500s in my door where I keep all my devices and while my hand lingers over them for a few minutes, so far I have always grabbed the Garmin Edge 520 and often the Edge 25 but can’t remember the last time I used either of the 500s.

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Some Mountain Biking

October 7, 2015 Leave a comment
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Getting back online

October 7, 2015 Leave a comment

So if anybody is actually coming over to this site they will have noticed that I sorta faded away. I lost a lot of motivation for a while, and needed the downtime. Then I got back on my bike and I have been busy mostly cycling. It has been a good year and I got some of my mojo back. I stopped doing Triathlons and by same measure running as that ended up mostly hurting me. Swimming was fine but still I also would rather be riding.

Jumped on Strava in a big way and that really seemed to have have given me a boost. If interested here is my profile: https://www.strava.com/athletes/186095

A few things I am working on and will start to post again.

1st off upgraded my Garmin computers and got an Edge 25 and Edge 520. I will put up a comparison because they really aren’t that different and it’s been interesting when I have been using them.

Secondly I have started to work on a ConnectIQ app, more to just understand a bit how it all works. The 520 will support ConnectIQ and I want to see if I can get something up there. As I work it through will put some info up here. I think it has the ability to really add significantly to the experience of using any of the ConnectIQ enabled Edge devices, which right now is the 1000 and the 520.

So look for some updates soon.

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New Cervelo P5 Colours…hmmm

January 8, 2015 Leave a comment

New 2015 Cervelo Colour

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Staying fit is waaaay harder then getting fit…my year of blah

December 10, 2014 Leave a comment

When I started this journey back in 2010 I just wanted to stop being fat, stop being tired, stop being unfit. I gave myself 100 days to overcome about 15 years of inactivity and I did it. Soon I was doing all the things I loved when I was younger. It was pretty easy, you made some time for yourself, watched what you ate a bit and focused on getting things back on track. The body loves this increased level of commitment and it responded. It wasn’t fast but within  a year I was 25 pounds lighter.

That worked but what they don’t tell you is that you have to work, hard, to stay fit and naturally since you are already fit you have to work harder to improve. It’s very hard to go from being fit to being more fit. And it takes a greater level of commitment than you did in the first place. And it can be frustrating, repetitive and yes boring…

And that’s where I found myself this year, the year of Blah. It was a great year, I cycled more than 5,000 kilometers, I did four triathlons, got a 13th place in one, did a TT in over 40kph, raced, rode, swam, ran etc. But it wasn’t as fun as other years because I became more focused on the training and getting better and I wasn’t getting better.

Another thing is that there is no simple way to train around 4 active kids, despite what any article may say. Kids get sick, they forget to tell you they need to be somewhere tonight, they refuse to go to sleep quickly and it just takes soo much effort to make it all work. I am counting the years when they are old enough to drive and then off to college! With a 5 year old still at home that will be a while 🙂

Besides family commitments, my job is in the software business which is crazy as well, then there are just bumps in the road and that meant when I did have time to train I was rushed and I was always feeling like I was falling behind despite the fact that I was in better shape overall.

I noticed I had stopped updating this blog. Looking at a training plan was depressing. So its official I am burned out and I need to change things, because I love the new me and what I can do.  But I need to step back from the focus on training and get back to the focus on fun, which is what all the things I do are, when you allow yourself to enjoy them.

So for 2015 I will have a renewed focus on cycling. I will still do tris because they are fun and you meet great people there, but going to do more pure biking. It’s what I love. I jumped on Strava around mid-year and really love that too. Racing to beat a segment adds motivation better than an interval plan. I noticed that it turned the year around for me a bit as it allowed me to “race” in a sense at my own pace. Getting fit is 10% of the journey, staying fit is harder and you need to be ready for that. I am mid journey so to speak, which is a great place to be if I can just enjoy the ride…

 

 

 

Categories: bicycling, training

2014 Kona Bike Count Analysis

October 13, 2014 Leave a comment

For whatever reason I like statistics and I also like the bicycle business so something that always piques my interest is the annual bike count at Kona for the world Ironman Championships. There is little true data on sales and who is doing well over others so this is one case where we see a lot of brands and can compare.  Lava Magazine does these and the full list for 2014 is found here. I am only going to look at the top ten.

This is a place were Cervelo Rules and they have rightly placed a lot of emphasis here. When the Shiv came out I felt it was the start of a trend for other manufacturers to focus on Tri specific bikes and that Cervelo’s lead here may erode, and that is what is happening but they are still the leader by a wide margin. This year they did again but didn’t really grow their numbers while others did, some by quite a bit.

A few things first. The number of athletes at the 2014 Ironman was higher than in 2013 so some build in growth anyways. Taking that into account a +2 bike growth isn’t great. Also last year Trek and Speclized combined were still quite below Cervelo as a whole, this year they exceed Cervelo’s count.

Also this is a tiny sample of the many more thousands of Tri bikes that are out there so maybe doesn’t mean a thing, but these are consistent from year to year and Ironman people upgrade frequently as well.

Ledt’s take a visual guide to the Top 10

#1 Cervelo

#2 Trek

#3 Specialized

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#4 Felt

#5 Quintana Roo

#6 BMC

#7 Cannondale

#8 Ceepo

#9 Giant

#10 Scott

Here is the list:

Manufacturer 2013 2014 Change
Cervelo (-) 488 490 +2
Trek (-) 220 260 +40
Specialized (-) 209 242 +33
Felt (-) 115 129 +14
Quintana Roo (+1) 80 76 -4
BMC (+3) 68 76 +8
Cannondale (-) 79 72 -7
Ceepo (+4) 52 68 +16
Giant (+1) 66 68 +2
Scott (-5) 91 66 -25

So let’s make some general statements. Cervelo kept their lead but didn’t really grow. Trek and Specialized are catching up, but it will still take a few years at this rate. Ceepo did well and Scott really fell off (down 5 spots and 25 bikes). Scott probably doesn’t feel too bad (Their sponsored athlete Sebastian Kienle won the race!) Trek certainly coming on strong, wonder how many of these were Project Ones and these folks like to go custom!

Aragon 18 fell out of the top ten, they held the 8th spot last year, down to 11th and by 11 bikes. Their spot was taken by Ceepo. Don’t know a lot about Ceepo, neat looking frames and maybe that is part of the attraction but doing something right (at least at Kona)

Cervelo revamped their entire Tri range in the last 18 months, the P5, P3 and P2 (or P3 105 as I call it) are all new. But folks didn’t rush out to get them (at least according to this list) in any greater numbers. Specialized’s Shiv and Trek’s Speed Concept have stayed the same but now folks are seeing them as innovative and Cervelo can’t be seen as the leader now, more of a triumvirate of brands (and that didn’t work out so well for the Romans).

Anyways, all of this is just based off of one count and one race, but still very interesting.

Also we can see brands come and go. I did a bit of backwards research and looked at the 2002 numbers and LiteSpeed was #5 but declining having just been passed by Cervelo into #4, by 2005 Cervelo was on top and have been there since. In 2002 87 people showed up on a LiteSpeed. This year only 7(!) folks showed up on a LiteSpeed.  Took a look at their site and they are certainly out of the hard core Tri bike scene now. Specialized wasn’t really on the 2002 list, they were still well below others in 2005, now up to #3. Another brand that really imploded was Kestrel, #2 in 2002, still #4 in 2005, now languishing well out of the top 10. In 2002 there were a fairly massive 156 Kestrels waiting after the swim transition. This year, a mere 18! And Kestrel still has Tri bikes just doesn’t seem to get much love.

Will be interesting to see how things go next year?

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