Word of mouth is one of the best ways to make a decision about a product or event. I fully believe in promoting the things I use and using the things I promote. With that in mind, here is a collection of various product, race and event reviews with my honest opinions contained within them.
After managing to put paid to my third Cinqo power meter, Quarq went above and beyond the call of warranty service and upgraded me to a Red Exogram power meter to replace the problem child Cinqo. I detailed the warranty process in this post, so you can read about it in detail there. Suffice to say, Quarq was wonderful throughout the process and I feel confident recommending them and their power meter units to anyone.
As for the Red Exogram model, while it may look similar, in reality it is a radical departure from the (now discontinued) Cinqo model, both in terms of the power meter spider and the SRAM crank components themselves.
After the jump we'll take a look at the Exogram unit as a whole and as a sum of its parts.
The Giro del Cielo is a 2-day stage race in Sussex County, New Jersey. Originally begun as a women's only race, in the 9 years or so that it's been in existence, organizers have added men's cat 3 and 4/5 fields. USA Cycling sanctioned, the 2 day/3 stage event is a great way to introduce people to stage racing without forcing them to commit to something as brutal as the Green Mountain Stage Race, Tour of the Catskills or the like. It's geographical location in northern New Jersey is also the perfect venue to draw a diverse group of racers and teams, ranging from local squads to teams and riders from New York City and Philadelphia.
I'll go through my experience stage by stage, discussing some of the things that worked, some of the things that didn't, and how to improve for next year. I'll cover:
- Time Trial warm up – Getting your body primed for a hard, constant effort
- TT recap
- Post TT recovery – How to make sure the legs are fresh for a second race that day
- Crit race warm up – Getting your leg speed online
- Crit race recap
- Day 1 recovery – The key to riding strong on day 2
- Circuit race warm up – Getting the legs moving after a couple hard efforts the day before
- Circuit race recap
- Overall impression of the race and of my performance
[dc]S[/dc]ince the weather became nice enough to start using tubular wheels again, the eternal frustration with valve extenders has become yet again apparent. Adding to the frustration is the fact that I'm a devout user of the Lezyne Alloy Floor Drive pump (which screws on to both presta and schrader valve stems) and that just doesn't work with a non-threaded valve extender.
And let's face it…that old Park floor pump I have in the garage is a piece of junk at best.
Enter the machined aluminum, laser etched beauty that is the Lezyne alloy 70mm valve extender. With a presta threaded top on it, wrench flats to ensure proper torque on the stock valve and a little baggie (I do mean little, it almost requires tweezers to open and I have fairly thin fingers) full of o-rings to make a perfect airtight seal, these things are more than worth the fifteen bucks that I paid for them.
As well as looking awesome, they function extremely well (at least as well as a piece as simple as a valve extender can.) They threaded presta cap means you can use the awesome screw on Lezyne pump or you can use any standard pump you want, making life infinitely easier.
The biggest downside to these extenders is that they screw onto the top of the existing valve stem and merely provide a conduit for air to get from the pump head to the valve. I'd prefer if the extender actually moved the valve parts out to the end of the valve extender, much like the ENVE extenders do. The issue with these extenders is simply that in order to access the valve (to open or close it, or to remove it to spray in Stans or anything similar) you have to remove the valve extender, and it may still be impossible to access the valve stem anyway (otherwise you wouldn't be using extenders.) That aside, I've had no issues with them, especially as they relate to the Lezyne Floor Drive pump.
The only other thing one could wish for was stealth black with the sweet laser etched “Lezyne” logo on it. But the polished silver certainly looks the part.
[dc]A[/dc]s I reported back in December, I had an issue with my Quarq Cinqo Saturn unit. Specifically, I had ridden in wet conditions, and the unit died shortly thereafter. On that occasion, Quarq replaced the unit, however with it being around the holidays, turnaround was about 10 days. I received a new electronics pod on the original spider, along with the explanation that "there was a run of bad pods, and this was probably one of them." I was told that there shouldn't be any more issues with my Cinqo. Fair enough, back to training and all was right in my world.
Fast forward to February, 2013. After a training ride for Battenkill (in other words, pissing rain, lots of dirt roads and mud, and overall shitty weather) the magic stopped a second time, and my Cinqo was once again dead. Off to South Dakota with it again, this time overnight, only to be replaced again. I had a brand new electronics pod AND spider in hand in 4 days, I was told that there wouldn't be another problem with it, and again all was right in my world.
Or should I say it was until Friday, April 12th.
[dc]I[/dc]t all starts with some spy photos: blacked out parts, blurry shots of cyclocross races, SRAM team guys with suspicious shift levers and cranksets. Then SRAM made a splash early last year by redesigning their flagship group and releasing it just prior to the spring classics. They have marketed their new group as the best mechanical group on the market, making waves about Boonen winning Flanders and Roubaix on the new gear and have Hammered the media with their successes.
But how is it, really?
Some of you may have gathered that I'm something of a SRAM fanboy, and having ridden SRAM for the past 5 years (starting with the old original Force which is still kicking on my cyclocross bike) I wanted to do this methodically, piece by piece. I've started with the shifters, as they're the most important part of the group (in my opinion) and will compare them to the old model Red shifters that they have replaced.