Archive for the 'Equipment' category

Replacing Internally Routed Brake Cable

| July 21, 2018 2:10 pm

by Franz Kelsch

For some time I have been planning to replace the brake cables and housing on my 2014 Trek Domane. I had all the Shimano DuraAce parts and tools, even some tools for working with internal routing of cables, but was always a bit hesitant getting the rear brake cable through the frame.

Then I saw on Amazon this Jagwire tubing that would just fit over the cable. It only costs $10 for many feet of the stuff.

I figure that would make it easy. I cut the end cap off the rear cable and threaded a piece of this Jagwire tubing over the cable before removing, starting with the rear entry port. I was able to slide the tubing over without any issue, but ended up having a problem, because the tubing would not exit the front entry port. I had to finally remove the cable and checked again to see if I should had threaded the tubing from the front, but even with nothing in the way the tubing still had an OD too big. Dumb Trek design.  If the front port was slightly larger it would still easily hold the cable housing (as the rear port does) and you could use tubing to make replacing the able easier.  So I went back to my original plan to use the Park magnet kit I had bought.  See instructions from Park Tools.

I had also bought some new Park cable cutters thinking the cable cutters I have been using were too cheaply made. I cut the new housing to match the length of the removed housing. Opps, I was in our 2nd home and I didn’t have an Awl to make sure the end where I cut was rounded, open and clear. So I headed to Ace Hardware which was closest, but no luck, so over to Lowes since it was closest to where I as now, and they had nothing. I ask asked two sales assistance and the kids they hire didn’t even know what I was talking about. So I finally drove over to Home Depot and found it right away.

I found another secret, leave some of the old cable you will be discarding inside the new cable housing where you will cut and cut through both. It leaves the housing in better condition where you make the cut. Use the Park cable cutter to round the cable if needed, then use the awl to make sure the opening is clear and well rounded.

Now the part I dreaded, using the magnets to fish the cable through. It took me maybe 20-25 minutes but finally was successful. On the rear entry port there is a piece you can remove by using a 2 mm Allen wrench, so it is a bigger opening to work with. Otherwise I doubt I would have been successful.

Of course I should have paid the have the cable and housing replaced and it would have been cheaper than everything I had bought, but what fun would have been. I used the brakes the next day on a long descent and they worked great.

I should mention that I have replaced many brake and derailleur cables and housing over the years so I am not totally inexperienced but this was the first time with internal routing.  I feel confident I could do it now and if a bike allows the Jagwire tubing to go through both front and rear port, the job would be very easy.

Tubeless Road Tires End of the Line

| November 12, 2016 7:08 pm
Tubeless Road Tires End of the Line

History of Experiment with  Tubeless Road Tires

I have written a couple posts about using tuebeless road tires. This first post discussed with the pros and cons of tubeless road tires vs tubed clincher tires vs. tubular tires.  In this second post I discussed my tests with the Schwalble One tubeless tire, which was much better than my experience with the Hutchinson tubeless road tires.  All together I tested about 6 tubeless tires, from two brands, on two different wheel sets for well over a year.  It has been a costly experiment that has been quite frustrating.

Why I Will No Longer user Tubeless Road Tires

While the Schwable One tubeless tires proved to be much easier to deal with than the Hutchinson, both tubeless tires suffer from this issues.

  1. Dealing with tubeless road tires has proven to require far more effort than with regular clinchers, even adding in the effort of fixing flats on the road.
  2. Tuebeless tires are very hard to install and seat.  I even took one Hutchinson tubeless tire which I could not get to seat to a bike shop and they could not get it seated either.  It was so hard to get on, I just disposed of the tire since I was not going to try to put a tube in it.
  3. Removing a tubeless tire is sometimes harder than putting one on the rim.  Sometimes I have had to cut the tire to get it off.  That does not speak well if you need to put in a tube on the road to deal with a cut that does not seal.
  4. You need to use a sealant and that can be a mess.
    • Sometimes I let the pressure get to low and the seal breaks and sealant spills out on my garage floor. Happened more than once.
    • Trying to it sealed again can be difficult and sometimes not possible.
    • If a cut does not seal you have to remove the tire and patch from inside using a special type of patch.  I did it twice.  Each time that effort of removing the tire, patching it and putting it back on and getting it to seat took more effort than fixing flats with a tube over the past couple of years.
    • One time I got a slow leak in the rear tire on the way home so I didn’t notice it. The tire sprayed sealant all over the rear of the bike and that stuff is very hard, sometimes impossible, to clean off.
    • I have given up more than once and removed a tubeless road tire and disposed of it before fully worn.
  5. Tubeless tires are much more expensive and the selection is limited.  Considering the expense I went through, not only for high priced tires, but special rim strips, tubeless valves, and how little I got out of the tires, it was a costly experiment.
  6. I notice no improvement in rolling resistance compared with a tire like the Continental Grand Prix 4000s II.
  7. I feel more comfortable being far away, outside of cell phone coverage, to replace a tube than dealing with a tubeless tire should I get a cut that will not seal. I can change a tube in 5 minute but dealing with tubeless tire may take 30-60 minutes and even then I am not sure I could be successful to get a tube inside and the tire back on the rim.  At least with a tubular tire that does not seal, you can ride on them flat, maybe to get into cell phone coverage.

How About Tubeless Mountain Bike Tires?

In case you are wondering, do I still use tubeless on my mountain bike?  The answer is yes. The difference is a much lower pressure and a much larger tire that are easy to install and remove.   When you pump up a road tubeless tire to to 80-90 psi it can start to leak, even when it didn’t at a lower pressure.  You run mountain bike tires at a much lower pressure.  With a mountain bike tire I have always been able to get them to seat.  On a mountain bike, the lower pressure you can use for tubeless is a big advantage for handling.

Going Forward

For road tires I now only use tubed clinchers and tubular tires (with sealant) on my road bike.  For most people tubed clincher tires are the way to go.  


A Better Road Tubeless Tire – Schwalbe One

| November 9, 2015 8:23 am
A Better Road Tubeless Tire - Schwalbe One
by Franz Kelsch

The Past Trials of Using Tubeless Road Tires

I have been using road tubeless tires on and off for the past year, on two different bikes.  Although they offered some advantages, the frustration of installing and removing the tubeless tires lead me to a decision to give up on road tubeless tires.  I have been using Hutchinson tubeless tires, both their Fusion 3 and Intensive models.  To get the tire on the wheel I had to use a great deal of effort with multiple strong tire tools. Then getting the tire inflated was another ordeal.  I have an air compressor, but even with removing the valve core to allow for maximum air flow, sometimes it would not inflate.  So I would have to revert to using a CO2 cartridge to get the air flow rapid enough to seat the tire.  Last time I had to go through 3 CO2 cartridges and only when I put a strap around the circumference of the tire did it finally seat.  Later when I got a cut that did not seal with the sealant, getting the tire off when I was back home, was equally hard.

Considering this, it gave me no confidence that should I have some issue out on the road that I would ever be able to put a tube inside the tire to get back home.  That lead me to feel that using tubular tires was a better approach and I wrote about this in this other blog post.

The Schwalbe One Tubeless Road Tire

I read about another tubeless road tire, the Schwalbe One Tubeless and the reviews showed it was easier to install.  I decided to give tubeless one more try and ordered one tire.  It turned out to be much easier to get on the wheel than any Hutchinson.  Although I had to use tire tools to mount (something I always avoid with a regular tubed clincher), I was able to get the final part on with my bare hands.  Then I tried to inflated the tire, without removing the valve core.  It seated without any issue.  I left the tire inflated for a couple days without putting in any sealant and it was still fully inflated.  It was such a better experience that I ordered a 2nd tire and installed the other wheel and my experience was just the same.

With a Hutchinson, should I need to add sealant later on, I was facing a major issue of getting the tire seated.  No problem with the Schwalbe One, that seems to have no problem to inflate and seat using my air compressor, even with the valve core installed.  Some report they can just a floor pump.

Note that Schwalbe has now released a Pro One Tubeless tire which is lighter yet and supposedly easier to install [see this review].  We will be testing that tire in the future but this report is for the Schwalbe One Tubeless (not Pro).


I have not ridden enough to say how well they wear.  I have pretty good confidence, but not 100 percent, that should I have a problem on the road that I will be able to install a tube and get home.

On my other wheelset I run Michelin Pro Race 4 tires and the Schwalbe One seem to handle just as well, although I have not tested on wet roads.  I am inflating to about 85 psi and riding on chip sealed roads seems much smoother than with my regular clincher tires (which I run at 100 psi).  The Schwalbe One seems to have low rolling very smoothly on smooth pavement as Schwalbe claim.  That seems to bear out by this article that shows a rolling resistance of 12.5 watts at 18 mph, 100 psi with a 42.5 kg load.  This puts it in between the Continental Grand Prix 4000S II with a latex tube at 11.1 watts and the Michelin Pro Race 4 Endurance version 2 at 14.9 watts.  These values are for one tire and considering the front tire has about half the load of the rear, multiple these numbers by 1.5 to get the total for both tires.

This other article gives different values but uses a 25 mph speed, 50 kg load.  It shows a comparison with the No. 1 ranked Specialized S-Works Tubeless.  Here the the Schwalbe One Tubeless ranked 9th place with a rolling resistance of 38.2 watts.  In comparison, the Fusion 3 tubeless tire ranked 25th with 46.5 watts. Those numbers are per tire.

Sizes and Weights

This tire comes in three sizes.  I bought the 700x25C and weighed them before mounting and they weighed very close to the claimed 340 grams (compared with 320 for the Hutchinson Fusion 3).


Pros and Cons of Tubeless Road Tires

As with all tubeless setups you don’t save any weight becasue the tires weigh as much as a regular clincher plus tube.   Based on my experience with this tubeless tire, I have revised my pros and cons as follows:


  • Almost eliminate flats when using sealant
  • When there was a leak that does not seal, the leakage is usually slow and you can usually make it home.  Some punctures will seal as the pressure goes down and you can still ride the tire with low pressure.
  • No pinch flats so you can run at a lower pressure, making for a more comfortable ride.


  • Likely more weight since the tires tend to be heavier plus the weight of the sealant.
  • Difficult to get the tire on the wheel.  Tubeless tires are made so there is no stretch in the clincher bead.  The Hutchinson brand tires were almost impossible to install and to get inflated.  The Schwalbe One was harder than a regular clincher tire but doable.
  • If you have an issue on the road with a cut that does not seal, installing a tube would prove to be almost impossible with the Hutchinson (and other brands that my friends have tried).  However with the Schwalbe One I think it would be possible since they are easier to get on and inflate.
  • Getting the tire to seat was difficult with the Hutchinson.  Even using soapy water on the bead, it is hard to get air in fast enough to seat the tire.  Using a compressor did not always work.  One tire required I used a CO2 cartridge, even went through three CO2 cartridges to get it to seat.  I had to put a strap around the tire and cinch it down to help.  I had a very different experience with two different Schwalbe One tires, which inflated right away, even with the valve core installed (using a compressor).
  • Tire are expensive and the selection is very limited.

This video goes over some of the advantages and disadvantages using the Schwalbe One tubeless tire.

My Take

After going through the hassles of tubeless tires, I had about given up on them. However my experience with the Schwalbe One is so much better that I am back to riding tubeless part of the time since we live in an area prone to many flats.  I still feel the modern tubular tires, with sealant, are a good way to go but you need tubular wheels.   I also have a wheelset with regular clincher tires and I can change a flat in 5 minutes without too much effort so if flats were infrequent this still might the best approach.  Hopefully there will be continued improvements in the design of road tubeless tires, but the Schwalbe One seems to have found a good approach.


Tubular, Tubeless or Tubed

| October 28, 2015 3:34 pm
Tubular, Tubeless or Tubed

For the the past 10 years I have used the more typical configuration of a regular clincher tire with a tube inside.  Recently I have put some carbon tubular wheels on my bike.  I have also used tubeless tires on this bike.  This post is to share some of my experience that the reader can use in deciding what type of tire to use.

When we moved to a new area my old approach of the regular clincher tire with a tube (and no sealant) didn’t seem to work very well.  My lightweight tires (Michelin Pro Race 4 Service Course) were getting flats frequently from goat heads that seemed to be everywhere.  Sometimes I would even get two flats on one ride.

One approach was a thicker, heavier and more flat resistant tire.  However on my wife’s bike I had installed Continental Gatorskin tires, known for puncture resistance.   Although not experiencing as many flats as I was experiencing, she was still getting too many flats.  I needed to do something.


Our new bike came with tubeless ready wheels so I bought some tubeless rim strips from Trek that custom fit into the wheel, along with tubeless valves.  For tires, I selected Hutchinson Fusion 3 and Hutchinson Intensive tubeless tires.  It seemed like a great solution since I have been using tubeless tires on my mountain bike for some time with great sucess.  My experience has not been very favorable, even after going through 5 tubeless tires on two different bikes.


  • Almost eliminate flats when using sealant
  • When there was a leak that does not seal, the leakage is usually slow and you can usually make it home.  Some punctures will seal as the pressure goes down and you can still ride the tire with low pressure.
  • No pinch flats so you can run at a lower pressure, making for a more comfortable ride.


  • Requires tubeless ready tires
  • Likely more weight since the tires tend to be heavier plus the weight of the sealant.
  • Difficult to get the tire on the wheel.  Tubeless tires are made so there is no stretch in the clincher bead.  The Hutchinson brand tires were almost impossible to install and to get inflated.  The Schwalbe One was harder than a regular clincher tire but doable.
  • If you have an issue on the road with a cut that does not seal, installing a tube would prove to be almost impossible with the Hutchinson (and other brands that my friends have tried).  However with the Schwalbe One I think it would be possible since they are easier to get on and inflate.
  • Getting the tire to seat was difficult with the Hutchinson.  Even using soapy water on the bead, it is hard to get air in fast enough to seat the tire.  Using a compressor did not always work.  One tire required I used a CO2 cartridge, even went through three CO2 cartridges to get it to seat.  I had to put a strap around the tire and cinch it down to help.  I had a very different experience with two different Schwalbe One tires, which inflated right away, even with the valve core installed (using a compressor).
  • Tire are expensive and the selection is very limited.

My Take

After going through the hassles of Hutchinson tubeless tires, I had given up on but after using the Schawlbe One tubeless tire, I am giving them a second chance.

Tubed Clincher

The next approach I have taken is to return to using regular clincher tires and put a sealant inside the tube (you need a tube with a removable core).


  • Wide selection of tires and reasonable prices.  A high quality racing tire is half of what a tubeless tire costs
  • The sealant usually deals with the flats.  When it does not, it is easy enough to put in a new tube
  • The most reliable setup for riding far from home.  A spare tube and a tire boot will almost always get you home.


  • The sealant tends to coagulate inside the tube, depending the sealant used.  I started out using Stans sealant and found it render the tube nearly worthless after just a couple weeks.  I switched to using Bontrager TLR sealant and it seems to be working better and went I removed the tube after 40 days, the sealant had not coagulated like the Stans.  Click here for a test of sealant in tubes.  I have pulled out many goat heads and the sealant sealed the tube in all cases using the Bontrager TLR.
  • You still get pinch flats so you need to run at a higher tire pressure than in the case of tubeless or tubular.

My Take

For most people this is probably the best approach.  Whether you want to put a sealant inside the tube is really a function of the area where you bike and how frequently you get a flat.  For amateur racing where you don’t get some follow car with a mechanic to do a wheel swap, it can make a big difference.  On a recent time trial race, a friend was hopping for first place, but flatted.  If he had sealant in the tube, it might have sealed and allow him to finish with a great time.  Many triathletes use the sealant in tube approach for racing.


Tubular tires have been around long before clincher tires. Today all pro cyclists use tubular.  The modern tubular tires are not like before where it required sewing up a tire around a tube, making a repair complicated.  Today’s tubular tires resemble more like a garden hose.  In the past the ritual of gluing the tubular tire to the rim, was enough to make most people want to avoid tubulars.  Now many people have found using a special double sided mountain tape installing a tubular tire almost as easy as a clincher tire and much easier than a tubeless tire.


  • Almost eliminate flats when using sealant.
  • When there was a leak that did not seal, the leakage is usually so slow you can make it home
  • No pinch flats so you can run at a lower pressure, making for a more comfortable ride and potentially lower rolling resistance.
  • Much easier to install than a tubeless tire
  • Far wider selection of tires compared with a tubeless tire but not as wide of selection as clincher tires
  • You can get a far lighter wheel-set using using a tubular tire since the wheel does not need to hold the clincher at high pressure. The wheels in the above photo are only 1210 grams, even though they have a depth of 45 mm.
  • The lightest tubular tires are lighter than a lightweight clincher tire plus a lightweight tube.
  • Many prefer the ride quality of tubular tires.


  • Requires tubular wheels
  • If a leak does not seal and the tire goes flat before you get home, you are pretty much dead in the water unless you brought a spare tubular tire with you.  On the road you can install a new tubular tire and if you pump it up to a high enough pressure and are careful on turns, you should be able to make it home even without using new tape or glue.  There are lightweight tublar tires that weigh only 215 grams, so carrying one as a spare is not out of the question.
  • Tires are more expensive than clinchers
  • You need to use tubular wheels to use tubular tires.  However Tufo has introduced a new tubular tire to use with a clincher rim, but I have not tested that and can not recommend it at this point.

My Take

If one wants the lightest tire setup for either racing or training with near flat protection, a tubular tire should be considered.  Since most individuals will not be able to put a tubeless tire on the road, my thought is you might as well use a tubular tire and gain several advantages over a tubeless tire or go with a regular tubed clincher.


Shimano Di2 – Dura Ace 9070 vs Ultegra 6870 Weights

| November 7, 2014 7:26 am

During the process of buying a new bike, I decided to try electronic shifting this time. In the past I have always used Shimano Dura Ace mechanical components so I thought maybe I would order with Dura Ace Di2. However for the Trek Project One website, that change would cost nearly $2,000. With Di2, how much different could the shifting be? So it seemed that the only real gain you were getting was a weight saving. I decided I was not interesting in spending $2,000 to save one pound of weight. Someone then mentioned to me that half of that was the difference in the crankset. That got me curious so I did some research to find out where the weight differences were and how much each of those cost. Turns out upgrading the crankset would be poor investment. The prices are roughly what I could find buying the components online at discount and not the list price. You might find some prices even lower and can use that to make your own comparison. The weights were the best I could find, either on a vendor’s website or better if I could find some cyclist who actually weighed the component after they received it. For another view, this website lists many of the weights but came up with some numbers that a bit difference but the delta weights are in the same ball park. I didn’t try to figure out the difference in the wiring harness. The battery is the same between the two.

The dollars per lb weight saved are assuming you have not already invested in the Ultegra component. If you already have a new Ultegra 6800 crankset and are thinking to replace it with the Dura Ace 9000 to save some weight, it will cost you around $500 and you will only be saving about 60 grams.


MagicShine LED Light

| July 21, 2010 9:39 am
MagicShine LED Light

by Franz Kelsch

There has been a tremendous change in the technology for cycling lights. My first light was big and bulky and the battery was the size of a water bottle and very heavy.  It was difficult to ride on a very dark road. H.I.D. lights were much brighter but were very expensive and somewhat fragile. What changed everything for the cyclists riding at night was the high powered LEDs.

My first LED light was produced by BR Lights, C2-H model, which I wrote about it in a prior entry. That light has served me well through two Furnace Creek 508 rides and a couple of Devil Mountain Double rides. I have used it also on several night rides, both road and mountain bike. The BR light is all in one package, both battery and light. That means it can only be mounted on the handlebar. When mountain biking at night, I wanted a helmet mounted light.  With the Hoodoo 500 coming up, I needed a second light since you need two independent lights to be able to ride at night without the van following you.

You can pay a lot of money for a LED light but there is no need to now days.  I had heard a lot about the MagicShine light, so I decided to order one from  I bought their Racer’s special which came with a 2nd battery, helmet mount and cord extension, all for a price of $129.99.

I was impressed with GeoManGear’s service because the light arrive in just a couple of days to our Utah home.  That night I mounted the light on my helmet and went out for a test ride.  The MagicShine has a nice mounting system, using a single o-ring.  It comes with two o-rings, one for a standard size handlebar  and a larger one for an oversized handlebar.

The helmet mount attached to my helmet using Velcro straps. I then used the smaller o-ring to mount the light to the helmet mount.  I used the extension cord so I could put the battery in my rear pocket.

The light has 3 levels, along with some strobe effects.  This photo shows how much the trail was lit up using the three different settings.

Doing some tests while riding near, I felt comfortable riding at 25 mph using the brightest setting, about 16 mph using the middle setting and about 12 mph using the lowest setting.  I wish the lower setting was dimmer so I would have an option with battery saving for climbing, where I do not need as much light.

The light and battery were less than a pound, but still a bit heavier than my BR light.

They claim the MagicShine is 900 lumens but I highly doubt that figure since they lights from Hong Kong are almost always have over inflated ratings. I did a test comparing each light at their highest setting, middle setting and lowest setting.  At the highest setting, the BR light which is rated at 325 lumens, seemed about the same as the MagicShine.

At the other settings the MagicShine was brighter but that also means it does not have a setting that would allow to ride all night on a single battery.  With the BR light, I can ride all night since the middle setting will give me 9.5 hours and I would use the high setting (3.5 hours) only for descent and the lower setting (20 hours) for the climbs.  But at one third the price, the MagicShine is still a good deal.

What do I like about the MagicShine?

  • Price
  • Mounting is very easy using one of the two supplied o-rings
  • Can be helmet mounted
  • Spare battery at a reasonable price

What do I  not like about the MagicShine?

  • You need to cycle through all the settings in order.  If you are riding and wish to switch from the middle setting to the high setting, you have go switch to low, then to strobe,  another strobe setting, then off.  That is not very appealing while riding if that is your only light since it goes to no light before you can turn it on high.  If you just want to turn the light off, hold down the button for 2 seconds.
  • There is a single indicator of a low battery.  The BR light has 6 stage of colors to let you know where you stand.

I have not done any extensive testing yet of the MagicShine light.  I am interested in how long it will last on one battery on the various settings.  But those tests need to be done while riding because the light depends on that air flow for cooling.

Poor Man’s Garmin Forerunner 310XT

| June 21, 2010 8:37 pm
Poor Man's Garmin Forerunner 310XT

by Franz Kelsch

For many years I used a Polar heart rate monitor for both running and later for cycling. Starting with the Polar 720i, then the 625X, with footpod, it seemed like an ideal way to keep track of my speed and distance on both the bike and running. However I had become progressively disenchanted with Polar as a company. Even to this day they do not support their products on the Mac operating system, something that Garmin now does with all their products. They also seem to have lost the technology advantage they once had by letting Garmin move ahead with the use of GPS technology. Garmin’s early GPS units were bulky and seemed quite impractical but with each new generation they have continued to advance and their GPS units now have become quite small.

I previously wrote about the Garmin Edge 500 compared with the Polar 625X for cycling. It turned out that the Garmin Edge 500, which was primarily built for cycling weights no more than the Polar 625X.  See my previous post for the detail comparison.

One of the nice features of the Garmin Edge 500 was the quick quarter turn mount. The new Garmin Forerunner 310X, has an optional “Quick release mounting kit” that is designed to convert their Forerunner running watches to use the same quarter turn mount, allowing you to use it on both your wrist and on the bike.

I ordered the kit for about $25 from Amazon and received it today.  It comes with a wrist stap  (the part I was interested in) as well as a bike mounting kit and a back for the 310XT to convert it to the quarter turn mount.  Using only the strap I was able to attach the Garmin Edge 500 directly to my wrist.  The orientation on your wrist may not be the idea way, but it is workable.

It might look a bit geeky, but not as much as the early Garmin Forerunner running watches.

So how much does the strap add to the 2 oz. weight of the Garmin Edge 500?  Turns out not much, bringing the total weight from 2.0 to 2.6 oz.  The difference is less than the weight of the footpod I use with the Polar 625X.  It is almost the same as the 2.5 oz weight of the Garmin 310XT.

Is this combination the same as using the Garmin Forerunner 310XT?

Garmin Forerunner 310XT

If one is primarily focused on running, or on tri sports, then getting the Garmin 310XT might well be worth the price.  For those who are mostly focused on cycling and do some running, then the Edge 500 does work as a workable solution if you want a GPS to use on your runs.  It will not show your pace in any readout.  Even using the speed, in mph, is not very useful because it seems to be erratic.  But I found the pace readout on the Polar 625X to also be useless and ended up using the average speed over the course the of the run, which the Garmin Edge 500 will do.  So if you own a Garmin 500 and want to have some type of GPS unit for running, you can get there with a small investment.  Even without a footpod, it seems to be quite accurate and unlike the Polar 625X, the distance measurement does not seem to be greatly influenced by the pace being run. After the run, I can download the data to my Mac computer and see my average pace, and a map of the run.  It makes it much easier later on to remember where you actual ran.

You also get some features that the Garmin Forerunner 310XT lack, including barometric pressure altimeter and temperature readout, although I am not sure that the temperature reading on the Garmin Edge 500 is very accurate.  I realize that Polar has some newer running and cycling devices than the Polar 625X, but their unwillingness to embrace both the Mac and the standard Ant+ communication with their components, has kept me from spending any more money on Polar products.  They seem to have a lot of different products, too many in my opinion.  Try to pick out from the Polar offering and it is way too confusing.

Of course if you have no Garmin device now, you could go with the Garmin Forerunner 310XT, and use the Quick release kit to mount it on your bike or your wrist.  But I primarily bike and the Garmin Edge 500 is well suited for that.  You might also read my other post on using course on the Edge 500.

Courses on the Garmin Edge 500

| May 24, 2010 9:50 am

Once point of confusion when people are deciding between the Garmin Edge 500 and 705, is the lack of maps on the 500. Some come to the conclusion that the Edge 500 provides no navigational features, which is not true.  Although you can not get a street level view, with the pre-plotted course shown, you can upload courses from either an existing workout or by mapping them in advance. You add the course in the Garmin Training Center program and then send it to your Edge 500.

After transferring the course to your Edge 500, select Training from the Menu, then select Courses

Next select the course file you wish to use.

Your Garmin now has three additional screens.

The first one shows the hill profile behind and ahead of you.  This is quite useful as you are making a long climb since you get a visual clue of the grade ahead.

The nextr screen which I use primarily is the course on a simplistic map.  You can use this to navigate you way along the course.

The arrow shows where you are and the line shows what is ahead.   If you look at the screen above, it is easy enough to see you bend to the left and then a right turn is coming.  The course keeps getting updated as you move along so you can tell you are getting close to the turn.  At the top of the screen, once you are on the course, it will show the total distance to the end of the course.  If you get off course, you will receive a warning message.  Even if you are off course, but near the course, you can see your location by the pointer and the course line off to the side, and easily find your way back.

The third new screen is only there if you take the time to enter course points in Garmin Training Center.  This involves entered every turn, picking an icon to show left, right, summitt, etc, and the name of the road you turn on.  You then get a live, constantly updated route sheet.

One problem I have noted is with an out and back course.  If you did not go fully to what it thinks is the turn around point, on the way back, it seems to think you are off course and wants you to return to the turn around, but the line still shows and you can follow it back.  It is just annoying to have it flash “off course”, then “found course”, repeatedly.

Cycling Power Measurment

| April 1, 2010 6:01 pm

by Franz Kelsch, updated 4/1/2010

Why Measure Power?

There has been an evolution from using only using heart rate measurements for training purposes to measuring the power output of the cyclists. To meet this need training method several approaches have been taken to develop power meters than read out the power in watts, being applied to the pedals.  To read about the science being cycling power read this other post.

Two Components

Most power meters are in two components. There is the mechanism to make the reading using something like a strain gauge. This is either built into the crank, the hub or some other part of the bike where power being applied to the pedals can be measured or estimated. Then there is the computer head which is mounted on your bicycle handlebar where you get the reading. The computer heads offer other cyclometer features including speed, distance, heart rate and even GPS on some models. The communication between the two components is either via a wire or wireless.

ANT+SportTM is a 2.4 GHz wireless network with standardized communication between devices including bike power sensors, speed sensors, cadence sensors and heart rate straps. This allows separate manufacturers to independently develop sensors and computers, allowing you to pick and choose your favorites to create a system that meets your needs. For example if you have a Garmin Edge 705 GPS based cyclometer, or the newer Garmin Edge 500, which offers no power measurement sensor, it could be coupled with the SRM or Quarq crank to read out power and could be used instead of the computer heads offered by those companies.



This offering is from the Saris Cycling group (makers of the CycleOps cycling trainer). It uses a special hub and handle mounted computer to measure and display the power at the pedals. It requires a rear wheel with the PowerTap hub. There are wireless options. It adds weight to the bike due to the hub and the need to use a wheel that can accommodate the PowerTap hub. It is also expensive, especially for the wireless version. Although there is a 2.4 Mhz wireless option, it does not support ANT+SportTM so you are stuck using the PowerTap computer which really looks looks like a prototype built by an engineer for development and not a product ready for the mass market. It can be used on a bike trainer to measure your power output. Moving to another bike will require moving the wheel and the computer head.

Best For : Those looking for a reliable approach to measuring power and are willing spend considerable money and take a weight penalty.


This offering is from Schoberer Rad Messtechni. It uses a special crank to measure the power to the pedals. There are a variety of versions to match some of the popular cranks, including DurAce and SRAM. SRM supports ANT+Sport so you can either use it’s computer head (which kind of looks like a prototype) or another device that supports ANT+SportTM such as the Garmin 705 Edge or iBike.

Best For: Due to the extreme expense it is geared toward professional cyclists or those who are prepared to spend as much measuring power as they might spend on a good quality road bike.


This offering is from Polar, famous for heart rate monitoring. It uses a device to measure chain tension on the bike and transmit that to certain models of their heart rate monitor or cyclometers. It is can be difficult to calibrate and but once it has been it can have a reliable output. You do the power level read out on compatible Polar heart rate montiors (such as the 725i) or Polar Cyclometers. When used with the latest CS600 cyclometer, you can get an efficiency readout on the cyclometer. This efficiency is an estimate of what percentage of the calories being burned by your body go into moving your bike along, a step beyond just measuring power.

Best For: Those who use Polar advanced cyclometers or heart rate monitors and are looking for a lightweight and less expensive approach and are willing to go to the effort get it properly calibrated.


This offering from Velocomp is a relatively new approach. It is different in that it does not directly measure your power output as is done with the above products. It measures the parameters of what you work against and then calculates what your power would need to be to achieve the speed you are going. Except for the front wheel pickup it is all contained in a well designed computer head that is about as large as the computer for the PowerTap and weights 100g. You can also easily transfer from bike to bike. It has some negatives. It can not be used to measure power on a bike trainer. It also seems to have a short battery life due to using a non rechargeable watch type battery. It needs to be mounted so it gets a clean air flow since it uses wind speed in it’s calculations so use with aerobars can be difficult. Cost: Moderate to Expensive.

Best For: Those who are looking for a less expensive and very lightweight approach to estimating power. Those with aero bars should look elsewhere.


This offering is from Quarq and uses a special crankset to measure the power, similar to the SRM approach. It offers ANT+SportTM compatibility. It’s computer head is one of the more sophisticated cyclometers you can buy and has a GPS option. Cost: Expensive


A new type of power meeter called the Vector is being developed by Metrigear.  Vector is an embedded high-resolution force meter that calculates a cyclist’s power by measuring force applied to the pedals. It will use Ant+Sport to communicate with the user supplied head unit or GPS unit that supports Ant+.   It is an interesting concept that could have a significant impact on the market for cycling power meters.   This device has not been released as of April 2010 so real world tests are not yet available.  For those interested, please contact the Metrigear Webstie.

Comparison Reviews:

Garmin Edge 500 vs. Polar

| March 20, 2010 8:11 am
Garmin Edge 500 vs. Polar

by Franz Kelsch

For more than 20 years I have been a fan of Polar Heart Rate monitors, a company that was the pioneer in the field. Being one who both runs and cycles, I was happy when Polar came out with their tri-sports S625X watch. When coupled with the footpod and the bike sensors, I was able to measure speed and distance for both running and biking.

It is obvious to many that Polar seems to have lost it’s luster, being replaced by other companies, most notably by Garmin, who focused on GPS.  I did not have an interest early on because tests showed that the early running Garmin watches, which relied only on GPS, were not as accurate in tracking distance, as the Polar HRM was when using the footpod.  This was confirmed later when Garmin released a footpod for their subsequent running watches.

I liked the advantage of the 625X which I could move from bike to bike and to my wrist for running.  I could also download the data to my computer to not only track my progress, but analyze my workouts.  It was this later feature that started to become frustrating with the Polar.  My Polar 625X relied on the ancient IrDa method to transfer the data and also only worked under Windows.  Despite considerable talk on the various blogs, Polar has continued to ignore the Mac, which Garmin started to make software for their devices to run on both Windows and the Mac.

Garmin released the Edge 205/305 series and they looked appealing.  But I heard that the battery only lasted 10 hours, not long enough for some of the double centuries.  They then released the Edge 705, which supported maps, and with a longer battery life.  But the price seemed too high for me.  When Garmin released the new, smaller, Edge 500, I decided to make the purchase.  After a few days, I am ready to compare using it with my two Polar 625X HRMs.


Turns out that the new Edge 500 was the same weight as the my Polar 625X HRM.


I always thought that the Polar watches were easy enough to move from bike to wrist to bike, but the Edge 500 is a dream, with a very clever bike mount that only requires a quarter turn.  My package included two bike mounts and a lot of the special o-rings that are used to attach the mount to the bike, either on the stem or handlebar.

ANT+ Devices

The Garmin Edge supports connection to ANT+ devices.  I purchased the bundle with the heart rate strap and the bike speed/cadence sensor.  Too bad that I could not use my Polar heart rate straps, which are excellent.  If you have a power meter that supports ANT+, you can pair it with the Edge 500.  Note that you can use the Garmin Edge 500 without the speed/cadence pickup since it will use the GPS to calculate speed/distance.  This works well when you have a GPS signal and there are not a lot of sharp bends.  I use this method to mount the Edge 500 on the rear of our tandem, where it replaced out Garmin eTrek GPS.

The speed/cadence sensor is a very nice single unit design that mounts on the chain-stay.  I had no issue with the transmission even though the pickup is quite a bit further away from the Edge 500 unit than is typical where you have a speed pickup mounted on the front fork.

Initial Setup

After charging the device for the recommended 3 hours and turning it on, I was put directly into the setup.  I noted how fast it found the satellites compared with my Garmin eTrek, even though I was indoors.  The setup involved entering your age, weight, height, etc.


Then I went about modifying the display.  Similar to the Garmin hiking GPS units I have owned, I was pleased to find out you could select what data to put where you want it.  You are given 3 different pages you can switch between.  For each page, you can set from 1 to 8 data fields to view at one time.  If you select 5 or fewer fields, one field is displayed at the top in larger characters.

The number of different data you can pick from is amazing.

Cadence Heart Rate Laps Speed
Cadence – Avg. HR – %HRR Power Speed – Avg
Cadence – Lap HR – %Max Power – %FTP Speed – Lap
Calories HR – Avg Power – 30x Avg. Speed – Max
Distance HR – Avg. %HRR Power – 3s Avg. Temperature
Distance – Lap HR – Avg.%Max Power – Avg. Time
Elevation HR – Lap Power – Lap Time – Avg. Lap
GPS Accuracy HR – Lap %HRR Power – Max Time – Elapsed
Grade HR – Lap %Max Power – kU Time – Lap
Heading HR Graph Power Zone Time of Day
HR Zone Total Ascent
Total Descent
VS – 30s Avg.
Vertical Speed

One thing I notice when setting up the Edge 500 was how difficult it was for me to read. I was not sure why since the size characters on the display were similar to my Polar HRM.  So I compared the two together, mounted on the bike.

The difference in the contrast is quite striking.  The Edge 500 has a contrast adjustment but that seemed to have little affect.  In all cases it was much easier for me to read the Polar 625X display.  Having used the Edge 500 on several rides now, I did note that reading anything but the large sized font at the top, is hard.  Those with better eyesight may not have an issue.

This image is from the Garmin website. I would like to know how they photographed it so the screen is so readable.

Data Download

After taking my first ride I was anxious to download from the device.  I installed the free Garmin Training Center software on my Mac.  I connected the Edge via a min-USB cord, and it was immediately found and the workout was brought in.  I was amazed how good this software was.

I find this layout much better than the Polar software, which mixes your speed, heart rate, elevation all on one graph.  Compare the above view with what I had with the Polar software shown below.

Web Based Options

Garmin also offers free web based software called Garmin Connect.  I gave that a try and the data from the Edge was brought in just as easily.

I tried some of the other web based applications.  One of particular note is Strava.  This site requires payment but does a good job of analyzing your data.

This site offers a very interesting feature.  When you upload your Edge 500 files to it, it can determine when you do certain climbs and then compares your times against other Strava users.  When I did the Metcalf Mauler ride, it knew I had climbed Metcalf and compared with other Strava users.  Too bad that I didn’t have this Garmin GPS device last year when I climbed Metcalf in 13:18, or I would be KOM on their page.


I am happy with my purchase of the Garmin Edge 500 and have taken the Polar speed sensor off my main bike.   It has found a home on the rear of our tandem, replacing the Gramin eTrex I was using.   Downloading the data is much easier, especially for Mac users since I no longer need to boot into Windows to get my data.  The options for analyzing the data is much greater.  I am disappointed in the screen readability.  I am not sure why Garmin can not use the same type of LCD screen that Polar uses, which would make it much easier to read while riding.  Having a GPS opens up a lot of possibilities, such as the automated climb time comparisons that sites like Strava offer.  For a very in-depth review of the Garmin Edge 500, read the blog posting by DC Rainmaker.