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Live and Learn

Photograph courtesy of Skylar Kang at pexels.com

Ride often enough, and you collect a set of preferred routes. Routes that you can navigate on auto-pilot. Here is a ride that my friends and I regularly make.

Map courtesy of ridewithgps.com

Occasionally we change things up a little by making diversions. For example, turning left off Jalan Lapangan Terbang Subang and riding the long way to the Subang Airport roundabout. Whenever we do this, we turn right at the T-junction to get back to the Subang Airport roundabout.

On our group ride yesterday I decided to turn left on Jalan Masjid instead. To see where the road would take us.

Map courtesy of google.com

We had to turn right again at the Universiti Kuala Lumpur – Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology. 1km later, the paved road became a mud track.

Photograph courtesy of google.com

Undeterred, I rode as far as I could on the mud trail. Which wasn’t very far. I started walking while the rest of the group watched me from the end of the paved road. 50 meters further on, a motorcyclist came toward me. The trail is too narrow to fit both of us side-to-side. He stopped so I could push my bike around his motorcycle.

Me: Does this track lead to a road?

Motorcyclist: Yes.

Me: How far is it to the road?

Motorcyclist: It is at the top of the hill.

Me (to myself): That doesn’t look very far.

The motorcyclist rode on. I continued walking and one by one the rest of the group followed. I’m not sure that they wanted to follow me, but I give them credit for doing so.

Photograph courtesy of AL

Well, the hill was further than it looked. The trail didn’t get any better as it turned upward.

Photograph courtesy of AL
Photograph courtesy of AL

After 200 metres of clambering up the slippery slope, we got to the Sri Sakhti Durga Amman Temple at the top of the hill. As far as I can tell, the temple is accessible only via this track. We scraped the mud from our cleats and pedalled on along the now straight and flat trail.

Map courtesy of ridewithgps.com

200 metres later, Jake recognised the rear of the Tropicana Golf and Country Club nursery. We rode through the gate to the front of the nursery and Jalan Tropicana Utama.

Fortunately for the rest of us, Jake is familiar with the amenities at the Tropicana club. He led us straight to the golf buggy washing area. Where buggies can be washed, mud-packed cleats and bikes can be washed.

Photograph courtesy of JS

I think everyone enjoyed the bike hike. It was an experience. Now that I know where the left turn onto Jalan Masjid goes, I won’t be making that left turn again.

Medal Designs

I fill my travel-restricted days by reading online newsletters and watching online documentaries and other programs. One of those shows is called Saved and Remade. People bring treasured but unused belongings to the Saved and Remade team, who reimagine and transform them into functional items.

In one segment a pile of swimming medals was transformed into fish-shaped wall display.

Wall Art courtesy of Elizabeth Knowles at bbc.com

Some of these swimming medals are plain, while others look interesting. Seeing those medals made me look at the designs of the cycling medals in my collection.

Most are simple designs. The medals display the name of the event and incorporate a cyclist or a bicycle component in the design.

The 2015 Kedah Century medal mimics a bicycle chain ring.

The medal from the 2015 Janamanjung Fellowship Ride includes a cyclist and a bicycle chain ring.

A bit more thought went into the design of the medal from the 2019 Bentong-Raub Golden Ride. Like many others, this one features a cyclist. But it also stands out because of the Eddy Merckx quote.

A few designers incorporated in their medals an element unique to the event. A simple motif is the logo of the event host. Here the Avillion logo provides shape and colour to the 2017 Avillion Coastal Ride medal.

The designer of the medal for the 2016 Perak Century Ride must have been a soccer fan. That medal includes a Gaur or Seladang. The mascot of the Perak F.C. semi-professional soccer team. The design also has an outline of the state of Perak.

Another medal showing a geographical outline was handed out after the 2018 Campaign for a Lane ride. This medal has a map of Penang island that includes locations along the ride route.

Two medal designs that incorporate cultural motifs come from the Melaka Century rides. The 2014 medal contains a depiction of the A’Famosa Fort. The Portuguese fort is a historical landmark in Melaka. It dates to 1512.

The 2015 Melaka Century Ride medal is in the shape of a Tengkolok. A tengkolok is the traditional Malay headgear that forms part of the formal regalia of the Agung (King) of Malaysia. The tengkolok is also part of the formal attire of Sultans and the Yang DiPertuan Besar, the monarchical state rulers.

A more recent landmark to appear on a cycling medal is the Sri Wawasan Bridge. Putrajaya is the Federal administrative centre of Malaysia. It is a planned city built around a man-made lake. Eight bridges of different architecture cross Putrajaya Lake. The Sri Wawasan Bridge is a longitudinally asymmetric cable‐stayed box-girder bridge with an inverted-Y shape concrete/steel pylon 96 metres / 315 feet high. The main span is 165 metres / 541 feet long.

Sponsor logos rarely feature on the cycling medals I have collected. The same is true of this medal, despite it being from the 2012 Amstel Gold Race sportive. Dutch beer brewer Amstel has served as the race’s title sponsor since its creation in 1966. This medal naturally carries the Amstel name. It also includes a group of cyclists crossing a finish line together. In a clever nod to the sponsor, this medal doubles as a bottle opener.

These rather plain medals display the logo of the Audax Club Parisien and part of a bicycle wheel. The Audax Club Parisien is the governing body for randonneuring worldwide. 

The key differentiators are the colour of the medals and stripes. As well as the numerals. These medals were awarded to cyclists who had successfully completed an Audax ride of the stated distance. I earned 200km, 400km, 300km and one more 200km medals between 2016 and 2019.

Photograph courtesy of audax.ph

I included these medals because they reflect conscious design choices that are updated every four years. The design above was for 2015 to 2019. The 2020 to 2023 medals are below.

Photograph courtesy of wizbiker.com

Some design elements – the Audax Club Parisien logo, the colours of the medal and stripes and the text denoting the distance, and a bicycle wheel – have been kept. New elements are the round shape, a loop to hang the medal on a chain and the partial map of the world. I assume the inclusion of the map is recognition that randonneuring has become a global sport.

I have a 200km and a 300km medal from the latest series. I don’t see another 400km or a 600km or 1,000km medal in my future.

Cycling events in Malaysia became much less prevalent after one organiser absconded with the registration fees he had collected for a century ride in 2016. I picked up a few more participation medals in the following three years. And nothing since the COVID-19 restrictions on mass-participation events. It will be some time before I can look at new cycling medal designs.

Bicycle Designs

I came across a Time Magazine issue devoted to the best inventions of 2020.

Magazine cover courtesy of time.com

Two cycling accessories were among the 100 innovations featured. The Bontrager WaveCel helmet and the add-on CLIP friction-drive motor.

One complete bicycle was on the Time Magazine list. The Gocycle GXi folding electric bicycle.

Photograph courtesy of time.com

The bicycle has come a long way in the 150 years since it was invented.

The forerunner of the bicycle is widely accepted to be the Laufmaschine (running machine) invented by Baron Karl von Drais in 1817. As the name suggests, this two-wheeled device was propelled by either walking or running. This style was known as a velocipede in most of Europe, a Draisine or Draisienne in France, and more generally a Dandy Horse.

Illustration courtesy of bicyclinghistory.net

The most important moment in bicycle history came in 1867 when Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement added a mechanical crank drive with pedals to the Dandy Horse design.

Photograph courtesy of bikecitizens.net

The bicycle has been fertile ground for inventors ever since.

Graphic courtesy of businessfirstfamily.com

Here are some patented ideas that didn’t gain widespread acceptance.

This single-wheeled cycle patented in 1885 by J.O. Lose was not a winner. Despite the integrated umbrella to keep your cigarette (or is that a joint?) dry.

Illustration from US Patent No 325,548 courtesy of patent images.storage.googleapis.com

In 1900, C.H. Bemenderfer invented “…a simple, inexpensive, and light attachment readily applicable to an ordinary bicycle without entailing changes in the construction thereof and calculated to carry a considerable burden without greatly increasing the labor of the bicycle rider.”

Racks or panniers turned out to be a more practical way to carry cargo on a bike.

Illustration from US Patent No 646,791 courtesy of patent images.storage.googleapis.com

In 1901 W. Eastman and W.H. Sayer adapted Bemenderfer’s third wheel design to run on rails. Given that full-sized bicycles are not allowed on some trains in Malaysia, it might be worth reviving this idea. If you can’t beat them, join them 🤣.

Illustration from US Patent No 674,082 courtesy of patent images.storage.googleapis.com

Another invention that didn’t float is this water bicycle, patented by D.H. Mosteller in 1913. Both the arms and legs provided the power to turn the propeller shaft. The legs were underwater, which would have made pedalling difficult. Note that the water bicycle was steered by the chin, which sat in a chinrest connected to the rudder at the front of the water bicycle.

Illustration from US Patent No 1,072,027 courtesy of patent images.storage.googleapis.com

L.S. Burbank patented this arm-powered machine in 1900. You might have thought that this idea was not a winner either.

Illustration from US Patent No 642,544 courtesy of patent images.storage.googleapis.com

You would be wrong. You can buy a very similar machine, the Rowbike, today.

Photograph courtesy of startup selfie.net

Other early ideas continue to attract innovation. G.H. Williams patented this spring-cushioning device in 1902. I have something like it, the Redshift ShockStop, on my bike now.

Illustration from US Patent No 714,121 courtesy of patent images.storage.googleapis.com

The compact bicycle has gone through many iterations since this version was patented by C.H. Clark in 1921. This design was easy to carry “…through revolving doors or conveniently into trains, street cars, or any place where the room is restricted or where there are a considerable number of people moving about.”

It was not easy to pedal. Look at the size of that chainring compared to the rear sprocket.

Illustration from US Patent No 1,381,281 courtesy of patent images.storage.googleapis.com

Clark’s design is one of many that fell by the wayside. New transportable / folding bike designs continue to surface. A quick search on kickstarter.com revealed the Halfbike, which is not far removed from Clark’s patent.

Photograph courtesy of kickstarter.com

Other folding bikes on Kickstarter of course include a number of e-variants. The differentiator is usually the ‘revolutionary’ folding mechanism.

There are full-size bikes on Kickstarter. One intriguing design is the 8bar MITTE. Sliding dropouts and two different forks allow the frame to switch from a road-oriented geometry to a cross-oriented geometry.

We will see if these designs survive or fail the test of time. Whatever the case, we are sure to see new ideas in bicycle frame design, some wild and wacky, for many years to come.

Weight vs Weight

Photograph courtesy of today.com

Tempo Cyclist recently wrote a post about the issue of body weight in professional cycling and eRacing. He asks the question, “So in amateur cycling, is there an image problem around weight?”

I don’t see any concerns about body weight amongst the people with whom I ride. Then again, we aren’t competitive cyclists looking for our next PR or KOM.

On the other hand, I do see a fixation with the weight of bicycles. Generally speaking, the lighter the frame or component, the better. A fixation that is common to cyclists around the world.

Photographs courtesy of bikeradar.com and globalcyclingnetwork.com

That reminded me of a bit of not particularly scientific research I did some time ago into the cost of reducing weight on your bike. I looked at the difference in weight and price between an alloy component, in this case, stems, bars and seat posts, and the equivalent carbon version.

In summary, I found each gram of reduced weight cost an additional MYR10 / USD2.42. On average, a carbon bar weighing 100 grams less than the equivalent model alloy version cost MYR1000 / USD242 more.

Coincidentally the latest issue of the Road Bike Rider newsletter has an article in it titled “How Much Does Bicycle Weight Matter?” In it, Kevin Kolodziejski presents a more thorough investigation of what it costs to reduce the weight of a bike. Kevin looked at websites like trek.com and competitivecyclist.com to compare the weight and price of “standard” items and their lighter equivalents. His findings are below.

Table courtesy of Kevin Kolodziejski

Kevin looked at a broader range of items than I did. His “all-in” review averages out to a premium of MYR22.69 / USD5.50 per gram of reduced weight (at prices as of 8th April 2021 and at current exchange rates).

He implies that there is little meaningful speed to be gained from the expense of reducing grams on your bike. With the exception of lighter wheels. Buying lightweight wheels is commonly accepted as the number one improvement you can make to your bike.

Kevin goes on to suggest more cost-effective ways of shedding weight on your bike. These include dieting. Taking one kilogram off your bike will cost between MYR10,000 – 22,690 / USD2,420 – 5,500 as per mine and Kevin’s data. Taking one kilogram off your body is free. In fact, you will save money by not buying so many of these.

Photograph courtesy of mcdonalds.com

I have to admit that buying a lightweight frame or component is much more fun than losing weight.

Graphics courtesy of someecards.com and shutterstock.com

Everesting

Photograph courtesy of Martin Jernberg at unsplash.com

Mount Everest is 8,848.86 metres (29,028.87 feet) high. As of 8th December 2020 anyway. The day China and Nepal jointly announced the newly-agreed height of the world’s mightiest peak.

The verb Everesting refers to an activity where a cyclist climbs a cumulative total of 8,848 metres. It was thought George Mallory made the first Everesting attempt in 1994. That George is the grandson of George Mallory, who disappeared on Everest in 1924.

Inspired by the Mallory story, Andy van Bergen founded Hells 500, the creators and custodians of the Everesting concept. Incidentally, Andy and George are friends.

In June 2020, Andy received an email from Francois Siohan with evidence that he had Everested on 1st July 1984. The first Everesting is now acknowledged to have happened a decade before George Mallory did it.

Photograph courtesy of everesting.cc

The rules of Everesting are simple.

Graphic courtesy of everesting.cc

An explanation of the rules and other information are available at everesting.cc

According to the Everesting Hall of Fame, there was only one successful Everesting between George Mallory’s in November 1994 and Carlo Gironi’s in July 2012. Klaas Veenbaas did it in June 2009.

Five cyclists completed this challenge in 2012. Ten did it the following year. Andy and the Hells 500 crew organised a group assault in 2014. Of the one hundred and twenty riders invited, thirty-three completed the challenge.

Since then, the popularity, if one can call it that, of Everesting has exploded. To date, 10,410 cyclists have Everested. 4,729 other riders have climbed at least the height of Everest on a trainer. On the home front, 151 Malaysians have Everested since August 2019.

104 countries have at least one person who has Everested.

Map courtesy of everesting.cc

The number of hours it takes the average cyclist to climb 8,848 metres can reach into the twenties and beyond. Professional and elite cyclists do it in much less time.

The chart below shows the evolution of the women’s world Everesting record from Alice Thomson’s 12 hours 32 minutes in 2018 to current record holder Emma Pooley’s 8 hours 53 minutes in July 2020.

Women’s Everesting World Record Progression

This is Emma Pooley during her world record ride.

Photograph courtesy of cyclingtips.com

The women’s world record fell 1 hour 8 minutes in five months last year.

This is the men’s chart.

Men’s Everesting World Record Progression

Lachlan Morton thought he had set a new world record in June 2020, only to have his attempt nullified due to bad elevation data. So he went out six days later and set a legal world Everesting record.

I rode with Lachlan in 2015. He looked like a potential Everesting world record holder.

Photograph courtesy of Kevin Batchelor

This is Lachlan during his world record ride.

Photograph courtesy of cyclingtips.com

The current record is held by Ronan McLaughlin. Ronan reclaimed the world record eight months after losing it to Sean Gardner.

Ronan did 78 laps of this almost dead-straight 810-metre section of road that pitches up at a punishing average gradient of 14.2%.

The men’s record has fallen 1 hour 11 minutes in less than a year. 6 hours 40 minutes is a phenomenal time in which to climb 8,848 metres. No doubt someone will come along and do it faster.

I won’t be earning one of these Everesting achievement badges. I have too much mass in my ass.

Graphic courtesy of everesting.cc

Here is a closing thought. Mount Everest is getting 2 centimetres higher every year. Will the record book have to be rewritten when Nepal and China announce that the mountain’s new height is 8,849 metres?

Cornering on a Bicycle

Bukit Hantu is probably the most challenging hill in Hulu Langat. Especially if you tackle it from west to east. The ascent is about 3.4 km with an average gradient of 7% and maximum gradients over 10%. The descent is shorter at 2.6 km. That descent comes with a tricky combination of turns in the final 500 metres, where the gradient approaches 10%.

Unsurprisingly, some cyclists come to grief on the final curve and end up off the road to the right. That has happened a few times, just in the past week or so.

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

Thinking about those crashes prompted me to research the forces acting on a bicycle while cornering. I found a very informative site: physicalcycling.com.

The site takes a deep dive into circular motion, centripetal and centrifugal forces, lean angles and the like. Interested in finding out more about F = mAc = mv2/R? This is the site for you.

The following simplified version is taken from the many pages of information about cornering on the physicalcycling.com website.

Graphic courtesy of adventurecycling.org

From Newton’s Laws, we know the inertial tendency of an object is to continue forward in a straight line (the blue arrow) unless acted upon by external forces. So a cyclist must apply a force to the bicycle to make it turn. The force making the bicycle deviate from its straight-line path to a curved path (the red arrow) is called the Centripetal Force (the green arrow).

Graphic courtesy of physicalcycling.com

The only part of the bicycle touching the ground are the tires. So when you turn your bar, the tires are not only rolling but also “biting” into the road.

This is what is causing you to turn. As your tires continue to roll through the turn, they resist the tendency to slide or skid. You can aggressively turn as much as you want as long as the force on the tires is not enough to cause them to slide out from under you.

The chart below shows the force on the tires, known as Cornering Centripetal Force, for various corner radii and speeds.

Table 1: Cornering Centripetal Force

Table courtesy of Reagan Zogby

The data above assumes an elite cyclist weighing 68 kg and riding a bicycle weighing 7.25 kg. Green implies the tire force is approximately the combined weight of the rider and bicycle or less. A corner with a radius of 7.5 metres can be safely taken up to 32 kph.

Yellow is in the double range. Taking a 7.5-metre radius turn at 40 kph will test the limits of what the tires can handle.

Red is in the No Go range. Taking a 7.5-metre radius turn at 48 kph or faster guarantees a skid and a crash.

When cyclists take a corner, they encounter a force that tries to return the bicycle to straight-line movement. This force is often referred to as the Centrifugal Force. To counter centrifugal force, cyclists lean into the inside of the curve. This creates a counterbalancing torque to that of the centrifugal force and the lean “balances” out the bicycle’s inertial tendency to want to continue in a straight line.

Graphic courtesy of physical cycling.com

The cyclist instinctively searches for the right amount lean, or lean angle, depending on their mass and speed, and the radius of the curve.

It turns out the amount of weight pushing down on the tires decreases as the lean angle increases. As the weight on the tires decreases, the less traction the tires have. This limits the possible turning scenarios.

The table below shows the lean angle limits for various corner radii and speeds.

Table 2: Lean Angle

Chart courtesy of Reagan Zogby

Green denotes safe lean angles. Yellow lean angles test the limits of tire traction. Unsafe lean angles are red.

In summary, the limiting factor in taking a corner successfully on a bicycle is how well your tires grip the road. Go into a corner too fast, or lean too much, and your tires will lose their traction, and you will skid. Paradoxically, both too much weight on the tires and too little weight on the tires will cause a skid.

Another factor that may contribute to crashes on corners is the cornering line. The cornering line is the path taken around a particular curve. For any given corner, there is an infinite number of possible cornering lines. There is also an infinite number of possible cornering lines which do not make the curve. The apex refers to the “peak” of the cornering line located at the centre of the corner.

Graphic courtesy of drivingfast.net

Three cornering lines are shown in the diagram below. The red cornering line shows what happens when you turn in to a corner too early. The cornering line hits the inside of the turn before the apex. The radius of the cornering line is larger than the radius of the corner. The result is the rider ends up off the road at the outside of the curve. This is not good.

The yellow cornering line hits the apex. But the radius of the cornering line exceeds the radius of the turn. The ride stays on the road while making the turn but ends up on the wrong side of the road. Also not good.

The green cornering line hits the inside of the turn beyond the apex. Note that this cornering line starts in the middle of the road. This cornering line allows an exit from the turn on the correct side of the road. The cornering line also has a radius slightly larger than the radius of the road.

Getting cornering centripetal force, lean angle and cornering line right do not guarantee a successful turn. Road condition is important. The grippiest road type is paved, smooth and clear of sand, gravel and other debris. Debris on the road reduces tire traction.

Braking during a turn also reduces tire traction by adding additional Cornering Centripetal Force to the tires. If your speed and the turn radius put your Cornering Centripetal Force in the yellow zone shown in Table 1 above, braking will move you into the red zone.

Braking during a turn will cause your bicycle to be more upright. As we saw in the discussion about lean angle, this will reduce the counterbalancing torque against Centrifugal Force. The bike will straighten out rather than continue to follow the cornering line.

The road surface on the final section of the Bukit Hantu descent is good. The combination of too much speed, the wrong cornering line, and perhaps altering the lean angle either consciously or by braking has to be the reason for the crashes.

Cyclists cannot exceed the limits of cornering physics. Not if they want to

Graphic courtesy of i2.wp.com

Hitting the Wall

Photograph courtesy of active.com

Some years ago I wrote a blog post about the importance of pacing during long rides. How cycling too hard at the start of an endurance event leads to a feeling of fatigue, light-headedness, tunnel vision, and confusion. In other words, a bonk.

I hear “bonk” being used to describe muscular tiredness. A bonk is more than that. Runners refer to “hitting the wall.” In German, this is known as “Der mann mit dem hammer.” Likening the sudden drop in performance to being hit with a hammer.

Graphic courtesy of clipart-library.com

A hallmark of bonking is a sudden and overwhelming feeling of running out of energy. This happens when you have exhausted your body’s glycogen stores, leaving you with abnormally low blood glucose levels. Your muscles have run out of glycogen, and your brain has told your body to stop exerting itself.

Your liver converts glucose into glycogen in a process called glycogenesis. Glycogen is stored in the liver and the muscles and is the primary fuel source for endurance athletes,

How can you tell if you are about to bonk? Sadly humans do not come with the equivalent of a “Low battery” warning. You don’t know that Der Mann mit dem hammer is behind you until he hits you. By then, it is too late to do anything about it.

Graphic courtesy of us123rf.com

How can you prevent bonking? Carbo-loading before an endurance event is a common practice. This ensures that your initial glycogen levels are maximized. That means consuming complex carbohydrates. Pasta often comes to mind as a complex carbohydrate. peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables are also sources of complex carbohydrates.

Carbo-loading can ensure that your glycogen tank is full before you start riding. You need to make sure that your glycogen tank is kept topped-up during the event. This means eating regularly during the event. Some people like energy bars for convenience but foods like fruits, nuts, and potato crisps all work just fine.

Photograph courtesy of diabetes.co.uk

What to do if you have let your glycogen tank empty completely, and you are bonking? You need to quickly eat some simple carbohydrates that your body can quickly absorb in order to raise your blood glucose levels again. Simple carbohydrates include energy gels (make sure you drink water with these), kaya sandwiches, sugar cubes, or sweets such as jelly beans. Sugary drinks like Coke, Gatorade, and fruit juice are also good sources of simple carbohydrates.

Photograph courtesy of image.freepic.com

You need to also rest until you, hopefully, recover enough to continue cycling.

It is possible to train your body to convert glucose to glycogen more efficiently. In other words, to improve aerobic performance or the production of energy from chemical reactions that use oxygen. The aerobic energy system is the primary power source for endurance athletes.

Producing energy anaerobically, in other words, without using oxygen, is impossible to sustain for more than one to two minutes.

You may also hear about producing glucose from fat via a process called gluconeogenesis. This appeals to endurance athletes because the human body stores orders of magnitude more fat than glycogen. Being able to convert stored fat into glucose would mean the end of bonking.

The debate between proponents and detractors of Keto diets and being keto-adapted to take advantage of gluconeogenesis is fierce. I won’t enter that debate. You’ll have to research that topic yourself.

For the kind of riding I do, complex and simple carbohydrates in nasi lemak and cendol should stop this from happening to me.

Cyclist graphic courtesy of istockphoto.com
Wall Photo courtesy of Jason Dent at unsplash.com

Watts Next?

Graphic courtesy of outsideonline.com

When you buy a complete road bicycle, including pedals, it is ready to ride. Sort of. To ride safely, you need front and rear lights and a bell. To ride for more than thirty minutes, you need bottle cages and some bottles. If you don’t want to fill your jersey pockets, you need a saddle bag to carry a spare inner tube, a multi-tool, etc. And if you want to keep track of how far and how fast you rode, you need a cycling computer.

Thus equipped, you are ready to tackle most rides. You will be tempted to upgrade various components, but you don’t need to add anything else to your bike. But when did “need” get in the way of “want?”

You may want a power meter. A valid reason to add a power meter to your bike is you are a competitive cyclist who wants to train using power. Most of us want to add power meters because they are cool pieces of technology. And we like cool technology.

Power meters came into being in 1989 when Ulrich Schoberer started selling crank spider-based power meters. At the time Schoberer Rad Messtechnik (SRM) was the only power meter game in town. And the prices were eye-wateringly high.

Since then the power meter market has grown to include hub-based, crank arm-based, bottom-bracket based and pedal-based power meters.

Graphic courtesy of dcrainmaker.com

Examples of the various types of power meter are pictured below.

Prices have come down. SRM is still the price leader at about USD2,350 for the SRM Origin. Alternatively, a Quark DZero spider-based power meter costs USD399. At this price, you need to supply the chainrings and crank arms.

One downside of hub, spider, crank arm and bottom bracket-based power meters is that they cannot easily be switched between bicycles.

Pedal-based power meters are increasingly popular because they can be swapped from one bike to another with minimum fuss. However, power meter pedals are not available for all pedal interfaces. The Assioma Favero Duo, Garmin Vector, and SRM Look Exakt are Look pedal compatible only.

Lately, there has been a buzz around pedal-based power meters. In February, SRAM announced that it acquired Time, a French pedal manufacturer. SRAM owns Quark and Powertap. They have announced that the Powertap P2 power meter pedal will no longer be available. Will a Powertap P3 power meter pedal come soon, or even a Time pedal-based power meter?

Favero has hinted that it will launch a version of its Assioma Duo that will be compatible with Shimano SPD-SL pedal bodies.

Photograph courtesy of cyclingtips.com

Also, on the compatibility front, it seems Garmin is about to expand its range of power meter pedals to encompass the three most popular systems: Shimano SPD-SL road, Look Keo road, and Shimano SPD mountain bike interfaces. With a new name – Rally, instead of Vector.

Photograph courtesy of cyclingtips.com

Finally, Wahoo just announced the launch of its Speedplay pedal range. Wahoo acquired Speedplay two years ago, and there has been much speculation about the platform’s future. Along with four updated pedals, Wahoo announced the Powrlink Zero. Few details are available, apart from a Summer 2021 launch and the photograph below.

Graphic courtesy of dcrainmaker.com

If a SRAM Time-compatible power meter pedal hits the market, users of almost all pedal interface types – Shimano SPD-SL, Look Keo, SpeedPlay, and Time – will have a power meter pedal option.

Price remains a barrier to entry to the world of power meter pedals. A set of SRM Exakts cost USD1,699. Garmin Vector 3s go for USD1,000. There is no word yet on the pricing for the various Garmin Rally power meter pedals. A set of Favero Assioma Duo pedals costs about USD650. The expected retail price for the Wahoo Powrlink Zero is USD1,000.

Despite being a life-long SpeedPlay user, I don’t think a set of Wahoo Powrlink Zeros will be on my Watts Next list.

Something New at the Bicycle Shop

I recently read an online article in Bloomberg Pursuits about record growth over the past year in the market for musical equipment. And with it, a new affliction: gear acquisition syndrome (GAS).

GAS is defined as a tendency to purchase more equipment than justified by usage or price.

Music Radar states that guitarists are the most at-risk population for GAS. Middle-aged men are heavily represented.

It strikes me that cyclists can be added to the list of the GAS afflicted.

Graphic courtesy of pinterest.com

Cyclists, certainly the middle-aged ones, fit nicely into the 7 stages of Gear Acquisition Syndrome, as outlined in Music Radar.

Dissatisfaction

There was a time when you loved everything about your bicycle. But of late, every time you ride, you feel like every other cyclist is riding something better. Your bike isn’t as pretty as all those other bikes. The ones with custom paintwork and higher-range drivetrains. The grass is greener. . . .

Desire

You’ve seen the bicycle you want, and it is embedded in your brain. Only this bike can bring happiness. With it in your hands, your riding will improve.

You don’t just want it. You need it, to the point that you’re not entirely sure you’ll survive without it. It’s time to start edging towards making this new purchase a reality.

Research

A hallmark of the 21st-century shopping experience is the paralysing indecision that comes after a couple of hours spent reading reviews of a product you thought you wanted.

For cyclists, the problem is much, much worse. Everyone will have an opinion on your potential purchase. One minute you will be feeling positive having read a lengthy, seemingly well-informed review. The next minute you’ll see multiple comments below it that destroy every positive point.

But if the GAS is strong with you, no amount of negative press can change your plan of action.

Purchase

You know what you want, and you know what you’re willing to pay. You go to the shop that has the right bike in stock or can order one for you.

You begin the process of haggling with the guy behind the counter, but your heart isn’t really in it, and he knows it. He offers you an insignificant discount, and you take it because you are blinded by desire.

Plastic is waved. Your heart is close to bursting with joy. Inevitably, it won’t last…

Guilt

For a week after you take delivery, the guilt ruins your enjoyment of your lovely new purchase. You can barely even look at your bicycle for the shame, so you hide it. Or claim that you just had it repainted.

Acceptance


You eventually stop feeling guilty. You rejoice! You finally own the bicycle of your dreams. The one you will take to your grave. Hooray! Except…

Relapse

If the purchase was relatively small, expect to experience GAS again quite quickly. You’ll be reading new product reviews without even realising it.

A high-end bicycle? Well, you’ve probably brought yourself a year or two. Eventually, though, the sense of glory diminishes. You swear the bike feels heavier.

You remember a friend telling you about a new bike shop. You’ll drop in to buy inner tubes.

After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

Disclosure

I have Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I own three bicycles and multiple cycling accessories and tools.

However, I didn’t buy a new bike during the writing of this post.

Still no Interstate Travel

The Conditional Movement Control Order is extended to the end of March. With the possibility of further extensions after that if new COVID-19 infection numbers do not fall. Once again, hopes for a ride soon to places like these are quashed.

At least the whole of Selangor is accessible. We will be able to ride to here this weekend.