Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Osymetric Chainring Review



I have been cycling for over 15 years.  I am not a novice, but am far from a professional rider.  I am always looking for ways to improve my performance outside of my normal training to get stronger and faster.  I came across an advertisement for Osymetric chainrings and was very intrigued.  They are not round like the chainrings on most bikes.  Why would you want an chainring that isn’t round though?

Let’s first start with what I used before and what I am testing.  I have a 2012 Giant Defy 2 Comp.  It came with a compact setup with 50-34 chainrings up front and an 11-32 cassette in the back.  I mostly ride in the flat Central Valley of California now, so I changed my rear cassette to a 12-26 for cleaner shifting and less of a gap between my gears (I was having a hard time keeping up during sprints with my friends because of the gaps between my gears).  Osymetric sent me the 52 tooth large, 38 tooth inner ring, as well as an assembly kit.

What are Osymetric rings though?  They are chain rings that are not round like traditional chainrings.  They are not oval or elliptical either, but have a twin cam shaped design.  The patented design from Osymetric USA reduces the gear and effort needed to get through what they call the “dead spot” in your pedal stroke.  It is designed to take advantage of the strongest part of your pedal stroke, between 1 and 5 o’clock where you are pushing your pedal down. 


Some of the claims from Osymetric USA are that their chainrings can reduce your lactic acid buildup by 10% and increase your power by 10% regardless of how experienced you are with riding.  One unique aspect of the rings as that the closer you are to your anabolic threshold, the more beneficial the Osymetric rings are. 


If you are curious about detailed data analysis of round versus Osymetric rings, here are a few links.


Jean-Louis Talo is a mechanical engineer from Menton, France who produced the prototype Osymetric ring and has spent over 20 years trying to convince the cycling world that it works.

* picture courtesy of Bike24
“You can alter the design so that you give the leg muscles work to do where they are at their strongest and less work to do where they are weak. A round chainring gives you work to do where you are weak and takes power away from you where your legs are strongest,” says Talo. “A bicycle chainring is round because at one time that’s all factories knew how to produce.” (1)

There are people who also think that the gains aren’t that great. Tim Kerrison, the performance director at Team Sky who oversees the training of the team said, “I’d say that, performance-wise, there is very little in it either way… A few riders have a preference for the Osymetric rings, but many of our riders have tried them. Only a few continue to use them.”  He also said, “…both Wiggins and Froome used them in the 2012 Tour, so they are unlikely to be significantly detrimental to performance.” (1)

You will need the large (starting at $129.99) and small (starting at $129.99) Osymetric chainrings as well as an assembly kit (which costs $24.99).  The assembly kit is a bolt on chain deflector.  The purpose is to make sure that the chain does not overjump the small ring when downshifting.  There are a variety of small and large chainrings designed for standard, compact, and off road bikes and various group brands (i.e. SRAM, Shimano, etc). 

I have tested the Osymetric chainrings for over a month and a half now.  What I can say is that you won’t notice a night and day difference, or at least I didn’t.  What I did notice though was I did have more power and was able to maintain a faster speed on a regular basis.  I was also able to ride longer than with my traditional compact chainrings before my legs started to fatigue.  I not only felt the benefit in the flats where I do a majority of my training, but I found the most benefit on some fairly steep hills.  I was riding up some 10-12% grade hills that I wouldn’t have been able to make it up with my other chainrings.  I even was able to save a few gears in back in case my legs started to fatigue, but they held out.  I was utterly surprised.  I have asked a few friends about their experiences with Osymetric rings and they said that it made a difference in their races.  They are true believers just like I am. 

The only negative thing that I have found is that it can be easier to drop your chain than with a standard oval ring.  While I found that to be true, I only dropped my chain twice and it was due to bad shift timing on both occasions.  For me it is not a big deal and wouldn’t deter me from highly recommending the Osymetric chainrings. 

Pros:
Multiple options for different crank arms
Standard, compact, and off-road versions
Increases power by 7-10%
Reduce fatigue by 10%
Is used by top pro’s during races (it must be good)
Great Price (my kit would cost under $300 total)

Cons:
Small increased risk of dropping chain

Osymetric’s Social Media Link:

Conclusion
If you are looking on making improvements to your bike that will yield more power and faster riding, Osymetric chainrings are a great option to look into.  They are used by some of the top cyclist in the world and they wouldn’t risk their career on technology that wasn’t scientifically backed.  Not only are they using Osymetric rings, but they are winning with them.  I was a little skeptical at first, but once I tested them for a few rides, I was a believer.  The increased power and reduced fatigue is well worth the price in my opinion.  The small and large rings start at $129.99 each but Osymetric USA is currently having a great sale where you can get each ring for under $100.  Get them before the sale is over.  You can buy yours at the Osymetric USA website. 

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

References:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Night Runner 270 Review



Running safety should be a priority for every runner.  You should protect yourself from vehicles, predators, and animals.  One way to do that is to make sure that you are visible and that you can see what’s in front of you. 

The proper way to run on a road is against traffic.  I run in marked bike lanes and I make sure I am aware of the cars as they approach me.  With more distracted drivers than ever, it is great to see products that can not only help you see obstacles, but also alert drivers that you are running on the shoulder.  I have tried headlamps, which are great, but are usually uncomfortable.  I have tried flashing LED lights and light vests, which are great, but they don’t light your path. 

The Night Runner 270 is a lightweight LED light that slides onto your shoe laces.  There are forward facing LED lights that produce 150 Lumens of light.  That equates to about 30 feet of visibility with 270 degrees of lighting.    There is a rear facing red light that will let people of vehicles behind you know that you are there.  You get a pair of the lights and a charging cable in a well-designed box.

The Night Runner 270’s have Li-ion rechargeable batteries that are easy to charge through a micro USB charging port.  You get 4 hours of use out of each charge, which will meet almost any runner’s needs.  Another great feature of the Night Runner 270 is that they are water resistant and have a high-impact casing that will ensure that the lights will last for quite a while.  The Night Runner 270 was featured on The Shark Tank, has been endorsed by over 70 national media outlets, and was selected as one of the top 8 Mother’s Day gifts for 2016 for busy moms by Fox News.


I tried the Night Runner 270 in varying conditions.  I tried them in dry weather as well as in the pouring rain.  They worked great in both conditions.  There are three modes, a low intensity mode, high intensity mode, and strobe mode.  I liked using the higher intensity mode.  There are street lights where I run, but I liked having the lights that ensure oncoming traffic can see me. 

They are easy to use too.  You simply slide the red clips under your shoe laces and then tie your shoes behind the light.  It feels comfortable, doesn’t cause any feeling of imbalance, and the extra weight on your shoes isn’t noticeable.  Once you have put the lights on the shoe, simply pivot the light so it is parallel to the ground and hit the red power button to cycle through the modes.

Pros:
Super lightweight (only 1.5 ounces each)
Water Resistant
Decent price ($59.95)
270 degrees of visibility
Comfortable use (unlike most headlamps)

Night Runner 270’s Social Media Links:
 
The Night Runner 270 is a great product that can help keep you safe while running in low light situations.  When trying to put in long miles in the fall and winter, it requires me to train early in the morning.  Safety is a priority for me and therefore being visible is a must.  The Night Runner 270 is an excellent product that is durable and will help keep you safe.  The $59.95 price tag is on par with most decent running headlamps and is more comfortable in my opinion.  I love mine and think you will too.  Pick yours up today at the Night Runner 270 website and let me know what you think.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Elite Tuno Power Bike Trainer Review



If you are like me, cycling in any significant rain just won’t happen.  I can only afford the bike I have and need it to last.  I know that you can still ride in the rain and maintain your bike so it won’t drastically reduce the life, but I simply wouldn’t do the required maintenance.  That means that when winter comes, I need to find an alternative to riding in the rain.  Bicycle trainers are great tools for that situation and many others.  There are rollers, magnet based trainers, fluid based trainers, and even trainers where you don’t even need a roller because it has a built in cassette and hub.  Check out my guide on what to look for when getting a bike trainer, which includes pro’s and con’s for each type by clicking here.

Elite Cycling is based out of Italy.  They felt that their culture and historical roots were so important, that they build their production facility in an old building that they carefully refurbished and restored to fit their needs.  For over 30 years now, Elite has been offering the cycling world, unique and cutting edge products.  They not only get their ideas from professional riders, but amateur cyclists that they come across too.  Only by listening to the needs of cyclists and any critiques that they have, can Elite refine their products and create new concepts to move cycling products forward and make their products better. 


Elite sponsors most of the teams that take on races like the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, World Championships, and Paris-Roubaix.  They make products ranging from water bottles and cages to indoor trainers and rollers that offer new levels of realism.  They even make performance creams.  I got the Elite Tuno Power Fluid Pack indoor trainer to test.  I had been using a friends high-end fluid trainer, from another brand, over the past few months and will be using that as a comparison.  Just for the record, the trainer that I had been using is known as one of the best fluid trainers out there so the Elite Tuno Power Fluid trainer has its work cut out for it.

In the Box
Tuno Power Fluid Trainer
Black Training Mat
Riser (Travel) Block
All metal skewer
Instructions (assembly and use)
Card with the code for My E-Training App


Assembly
It took me about 20 minutes to put the trainer together.  There is the main frame of the trainer (white portion), a black mount with the quick release, and the roller which is attached to the fluid compartment.  It’s assembled with a few bolts.  You will need to know your tire size, but other than that it’s very easy to put together.  The instructions could be a little clearer, but you can follow them and it is easier than Ikea’s instructions.  

First Use
Now that the Elite Tuno Power Fluid trainer is fully assembled, you simply throw down your training mat, unfold the Elite Tuno Power Fluid trainer, and replace the skewer on your rear wheel with the metal skewer that was included in the box.  You put the skewer in the metal clamping arm and close the red latch.  The next step is to turn the black dial behind the roller, which moves the roller up against your tire and you are ready to ride.  It is extremely simple to setup and use, even if you don’t have any experience with trainers.  That cannot be said for most trainers from my experience.

Features

Elastogel Roller
One of the best features of the Elite Tuno Power Fluid trainer is the oversized elastogel roller.  It is a stickier rolling surface than many of the metal surfaces of its competitors.  Why is this important though?  The elastogel surface reduces noise by 50% and reduces tire wear by 20% meaning that your trainer tires will last longer.  I found that it’s definitely quieter than the other trainer that I used, which is a huge advantage.  I could watch television without having to crank the volume.  The elastogel roller also reduces wheel slippage, which can be an issue with some metal rollers.


AutomaticTention Plate
The roller sits on an “AutomaticTention Plate” that maintains the correct pressure between the roller and your tire.  This is in addition to the Spring-loading mechanism makes sure that you have enough resistance between your tire and roller.  I had to mess around with my past trainer to prevent slippage, but never had that problem with the Elite Tuno Power Fluid trainer. 

Enclosed Flywheel
The fluid flywheel is completely enclosed to prevent fluid leaking and give you more power resistance.  It can generate up to 1200 watts of power and up to 1000 watts of fluid resistance.  It also does a great job of dissipating heat.  Some trainers get so hot that you can literally burn yourself if you touch the flywheel.    

Sturdy, Wide Base
The Elite Tuno Power Fluid trainer measures 67cm by 63cm and is 40cm tall.  That means that the base is wide enough to provide a very stable ride without taking up tons of space.  The steel frame will last for quite a while and can accommodate wheel sizes from 24” to 29”.  The rubberized feet improve stability and prevent the trainer from moving around while you are riding, even when really pushing it. 

Misuro B+ Smart Sensor (Additional fee)
The Misuro B+ works with the Elite Tuno Power Fluid trainer but costs an additional $89.99.  It turns the trainer into a smart trainer.  The Misuro B+ is an ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart speed, power, and cadence sensor that monitors your training sessions on your smartphone, tablet, or even your GPS cycling computer. You can pair the sensor with the My E-Training App which will turn the trainer into an advanced digital instrument that displays and manages metrics.  I loved having metrics like speed, power, and cadence when riding on the trainer.  I could also get that out of my Garmin Edge 800 (with the exception of the power), but that won’t sync up with the app like the Misuro B+ does. 

My E-Training App
The My E-Training App is available for both Apple and Android devices through their app stores.  The app works on smartphones and tablets.  When you use sensors like a heart rate strap and the Misuro B+ you can utilize your power, cadence, heart rate, speed, time, and distance into your training.  You can train with Elite RealVideos or even download hundreds of user-created free My RealVideo races. 

Elite My E-Training App Video

You can even create your own My RealVideo of your favorite ride and experience it in training over and over again.  That would be nice to do for my favorite ride in California (the Lake Tahoe 72 mile loop).  You get a 1 month free subscription to the My E-Training App.  I absolutely love the app.  It makes countless hours on the trainer more enjoyable.  Racing famous courses is a really cool function and inspires you to push a little harder.

My RealVideo Mt. Evans, Colorado Sample Video
Pros:
Great price around $359 (look below for a great sale I found)
Can turn into a smart trainer
Elastogel roller is quieter and reduces slippage
Very stable base
Easy to attach and remove bike
Comes with training pad and riser block
Extremely quiet (for a trainer)
AutomaticTention Plate maintains the right pressure on your wheel

Elite Cycling’s Social Media Links:

Conclusion
The Elite Tuno Power Fluid trainer is a great fluid trainer that is foldable which makes it it easy to put away when it’s not in use.  The base is more stable than many of the trainers out there and it’s definitely quieter.  The elastogel roller is a great feature that not only reduces noise, but will help extend the life of your trainer tires and prevent slippage.  The quick release that secures your bike is really easy to use and I have no worries that it will release while I am riding. 


All in all, this is one exceptional trainer for beginners, weekend warriors, and even professionals.  I would highly recommend the Elite Tuno Power Fluid trainer even without the smart functionality that you get when you purchase the Misuro B+ Smart Sensor.  That just takes and awesome trainer and makes it exceptional.  You can purchase your trainer online.  The best deal I found was for $309.90 including free shipping (click here).  Get your trainer today and start your winter training on the right pedal.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.