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Alan B.

Alan B.

Texas

Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on February 13, 2020

Premium stem at a premium price
5 5

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

There's really not much more to it in person than you can see online. It's wider, a little more square, and for the true weight weenie, 13g grams lighter than the aluminum SL speed stem (comparing 110mm version of each). Photo shows the 110m carbon SL speed stem, weighing in at 127g versus 140 for the aluminum version (both are nice). I did not get out the calipers but side-by-side the stack height of the aluminum and carbon versions appears identical. The matte black finish matches the matte black version of Zipp bars and Zipp SL speed post. The visible layer of carbon fiber has a random orientation (neither unidirectional nor a weave). No stem cap (top cap) is included. It is a pricey stem, and no rational reason to upgrade other than you just want a matching carbon stem and are willing to pay the price.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on February 9, 2020

4 5

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

I bumped up from 3 to 4 after a little more use. They are a good value, especially when on sale. Just don't expect the same level of performance or warmth as $300+ bibs. Good for days that start in the low 50s and climb up to 70F. These are more like 3/4 length bib tights with a lower piece of non-insulating material tacked on over the calves to make them look like full-length bib tights. The fit over the thighs and waist is true to other Castelli bibs (I wear XL in these versus L in many other brands). The material conformed well from the waist down. The chamois is decent, but needs periodic adjustment; it seems softer and a little less supportive after a few hours in the saddle than a higher-end denser chamois. But not bad.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on January 23, 2020

5 5

The MSRP of $250 was a non-starter for me. At $200 on sale, I was finally willing (with some hesitation) to go ahead and get it. The build quality of this is adequate for the job since it just needs to sit there, but just seems a bit cheap (for the price) due to the way the plastic is molded, and how the control panel is constructed (a flimsy plastic layer over buttons). Despite these issues, what earns it 5 stars is that unlike any hardware store fan, it actually looks like it was designed to go with your Kickr, automatically adjusts fan speed according to your HR (exertion), and places the wind right where you need it.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on January 23, 2020

3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

When no fewer than 8 employees post a 5-star review, could that possibly introduce a little bias into the 5-star average rating? When it works as designed, it's great. It is 5 stars. When you factor in the significant and well-publicized risk of noise problems and other bugs, you have to deduct a couple stars (or at least provide a qualified, split 5-star design and 3-star overall due to reliability). Kickr has, at least, been very good about sending folks kits or replacement units when this problem occurs during warranty. The belt transmission is whisper-quiet when working properly. The thing is so heavy you'll never want to move it, but they say the heavier flywheel contributes to better road feel. Supposedly you need to (or should) recalibrate whenever you remove and remount your bike, or if you move or bump the Kickr. That can be a hassle, especially since you don't know if you really need to. The ability to pair with Bluetooth or ANT+ is also a bit confusing because the same unit can shows up multiple times (for different connection types) when pairing. Another issue I've run into is the quick release mount is not quite as sure-feeling as the QR on a bike wheel, in terms of the drops being aligned. In my previous unit (which I just swapped out under warranty due to noise), my bike would sometimes sit crookedly (with a lean) when mounted and I would have to reposition it and re-tighten the QR. When everything is working well, and paired to Zwift, it makes more a much more enjoyable training environment than the old-school trainers I could never get motivated to use more than twice a year.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on January 1, 2020

3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I finally retired my Speedplay pedals in 2019. This is a very distinctive pedal system. I liked the infinite float - it feels very liberating not to have your ankle locked into a very narrow angular range of position. The weight-weenie in me liked that I could get the *bike* weight down using affordable aftermarket Ti spindles. I grew to appreciate the relative walkability of the new design, but equally grew tired of the need for two separate plates and a total of 7 screws to secure the cleat to shoe, and how the design trapped moisture and accelerated corrosion of ferrous cleat parts. The need to lube the cleats and frequently inject grease into the pedal bodies with a very imperfect grease port just grew tiresome over the years. So did the excessive price of the cleats as compared with other major brands. There are folks who passionately love Speedplay pedals to the extent that pointing out the above flaws is like heresy. Try them yourself and make up your own mind.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on December 31, 2019

5 5

It's hard to explain what makes this a great pedal without contrasting it with the Speedplay pedals I inexplicably rode for the last several years. The 9100 SPD-SL provides a super-stable platform that feels wide and makes you feel grounded to the pedal/bike. It doesn't feel like you are standing on a lollipop. The cleats are about 1/3 the price of Speedplay. The ONE-piece cleat attaches to your shoe with only 3 bolts (versus a Speedplay THREE-piece cleat that requires 7 bolts). The one-piece cleat design is also more walkable, and has no bulky plastic cover (that traps moisture and causes metal parts to rust). In fact, there are no metal cleat parts to rust out in the first place. The cleat does not require ANY lubrication. EVER. I also don't need to lube the pedals with a messy grease gun that squirts more grease out the side than into the pedal body. When clipped in, your foot remains stable, without rocking around in 6 degrees of freedom - that stability actually solved a rubbing issue between my toes and shoe that I only realize in hindsight was being caused by the wobbly Speedplay interface. The mechanism is very smooth and reliable and requires far less maintenance. They are very easy to "clip in" to.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on November 23, 2019

Definitely worth the upgrade
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Fantastic upgrade from the 820. I feel like the Edge is finally where it needs to be. For starters, the battery life, touch screen, and navigation are SO much better. The touch screen responds crisply (no firm, slow finger gestures required like on the prior 820 and 510 models). If I want to navigate a menu, it's just a quick and responsive touch-touch-touch now, even with full-fingered gloves on. The screen is also bigger and more legible. I have not measured but the battery life *seems* like it's 3x or 4x better than my 820 -- I have done several rides now and still above 50% battery life on the first full charge. Even running the backlight full time does not seem to be a big drain on the battery, unlike prior models. The navigation responds and calculates very quickly. If I want to zoom in/out, it's also fast and responsive, very little delay any more. Yes, the two main buttons are still on low end by the stem clamp, but they are also angled upward a bit, which makes them easier to access (see photos). So far I have just been using the features I know from prior models (820 on back), but it seems like there is more stuff I will want to use once I have time to read about it. Gadgets like these are unavoidably firmware/software driven so there is always the *risk* of bugs -- but this unit has been extremely stable for me. No glitches encountered so far after 15-20 rides.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on November 17, 2019

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

The price was reasonable. I like that it has padding similar to short-finger gloves. What I don't like is the opening is just wide enough to get over your hand, and so harder to get on than other winter gloves (like Gore) that flare outwardly. These gloves also feel like they are retaining more moisture, so they feel wet and cold quickly. I still recommend them, but these are not going to be my go-to gloves.

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Alan B.

Alan B.wrote a review of on November 9, 2019

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

This is a nice looking, lightweight seatpost...but the single-bolt clamp for the saddle rails gave me some problems initially. It relies on the tension of the single bolt to create enough frictional force between the round clamp pieces to resist rotation under your weight, in addition to securing the rails fore/aft. Initially, on the first few rides, the tilt angle kept changing due to slippage. I finally got it to stay put by torquing it extra tightly, and then re-torquing after each ride. The opposing clamp pieces have to move both in (to secure angle) and down (to secure the rails), so to simplify the discussion I think it needed to work itself into place in order to cinch correctly. So far it has stayed put the last few rides, fortunately. So for looks and weight it's 5 stars, but overall the single-bolt clamp design is just not as stable as their 2-bolt Service Course clamp design.

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Alan B.

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

User-serviceable valve/lid!
5 5

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

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

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Alan B.

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

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

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

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Alan B.

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

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

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

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Alan B.

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

2 5

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

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

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

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Alan B.

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

Thin and comfortable for moderate cold
4 5

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

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

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Alan B.

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

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

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

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Alan B.

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

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

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Alan B.

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

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

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Alan B.

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

2 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

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

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