RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Tacx

Shimano Highway Challenge – LEKAS 2013

Shimano Highway Challenge LEKAS Banner

My riding buddies and I had been looking forward to this ride ever since it was announced.  The full length of the Kajang – Seremban Highway (LEKAS Highway) would be closed for the morning so that 1,500 cyclists could ride from the Kajang South toll plaza to the Ampangan toll plaza and back again.  As far as I know this was the first time in Malaysia that an entire expressway has been closed for a cycling event.

Shimano Highway Challenge LEKAS Route

We drove to the Kajang South toll plaza on Saturday, after our usual morning ride, to pick up our race packs.  You could tell that there were some major sponsors involved.  Apart from a jersey and bib and bike numbers, our race packs were loaded with goodies.

We got a Tacx bottle.  We also got a personalized Touch ‘n Go card.  This is a prepaid smart card that can be used as a mode of payment for highway tolls, public transport fares and parking charges.  Shimano provided a medical identification card.  Ford contributed an annual planner.  That Rudy Project 25% discount voucher is already burning a hole in my pocket.

Shimano Highway Challenge LEKAS Goodies

One sign of a well-organized event is the quality of information provided to participants.  It was very clear what you could ride in the event, and what you could not.

Shimano Highway Challenge LEKAS Allowed

Shimano Highway Challenge LEKAS Not Allowed

I’m not sure if it was purely coincidental that Shimano were displaying some of these yellow Di2 demonstration bikes.  Perhaps just in case someone thought that only yellow bikes would be allowed.

Shimano Highway Challenge LEKAS Demo Bike

We were very impressed that the organizers expected to see the winning riders at the finish ninety minutes after that event started.  That would require an average speed of a mere 49.3 kph / 30.6 mph.

Shimano Highway Challenge LEKAS Race Info

We started gathering at the parking area behind the Kajang South toll plaza at 5.30am on Sunday morning.  Takeaway breakfasts and coffee were consumed while we pulled on jerseys and cycling shoes.  At 6.30am we rolled down to the start.  Shahfiq, Chris and Mark made up a third of our group.

Shimano Highway Challenge LEKAS Start 01

Shahfiq, Marco (behind Chris’ right shoulder, Chris, Mark (behind Chris’ left shoulder, Raj and I rolling under the start gantry and out on to the course.

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

We headed north from the start at the Kajang South toll plaza to the Kajang South interchange.  We looped around the cloverleaf to get to the southbound lanes for the first half of the course.

Shimano Highway Challenge LEKAS Interchange

We had the entire highway to ourselves, but I suppose force of habit kept riders largely on the left side of the road.

Photograph courtesy of Shimano Highway Challenge

Photograph courtesy of Shimano Highway Challenge

We positioned ourselves at the back of the pack to stay out of the way of the elite riders and anyone else who was in the event to race.  Once we had a few kilometers under our wheels the pack had thinned out and we had plenty of space.  It helps to have three lanes of roadway to play with.  It was a gently rolling course, so we were able to keep our speed fairly high.

Except for on the King of the Mountain section, which was a three kilometer climb with about 120 meters / 394 feet of elevation.  The payoff was a near 70 kph / 43 mph blast down the other side of the hill.

There was a water stop on the northbound side of the Ampangan toll plaza, just after the midpoint U-turn.  We ran into Chean Kye at the stop.  He is more of a runner than a cyclist.  As you can probably tell by his shoes.

Photograph courtesy of Kean Chye

Photograph courtesy of Chean Kye

After regrouping and catching our breath we headed back up the Gunung Mantin-Seremban hill to the Setul toll plaza, which is the highest toll plaza in Malaysia.

From the Setul toll plaza it was another dash down the hill and then over the rolling terrain of the last 20 km / 12 mi or so to the finish.

The weather had been kind to us for most of the morning, staying overcast and relatively cool.  The sun did come out toward the end of the ride, raising the temperature.  So I was very glad to see this van amongst the tents in the finishing area.

Shimano Highway Challenge LEKAS Milo Van

Photo courtesy of Openskies

This brought back memories of my primary and secondary school days, when the Milo van was a fixture at school sports meets.  The Milo served this morning was as cold, sweet and thick as I remember.  And it still comes in small paper cups.  I had ten of them.

Which meant that I was then too full to sample the satay, ice cream and whatever else was on offer in the finishing area.

After guzzling down all that Milo I made my way to the shade of the toll plaza, where the early finishers amongst us waited for the rest of the group.  I took advantage of the closed highway and had a bit of a rest on one of the concrete barriers that protects the toll booths from being run into by wayward vehicles.

Shimano Highway Challenge LEKAS Finish 02 (Mark)

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Here is the full crew at the toll plaza after the finish, minus one.  Griffin, Chris, Marco, Mark, Raj, Gary, Shahfiq and I.

Photograph courtesy of Shahfiq Abdul Manap

Photograph courtesy of Shahfiq Abdul Manap

We were missing Azlan, whom we didn’t connect with until after all the photographs had been taken.

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Shimano, the other sponsors and the organizer, High Velocity Events Sdn. Bhd., put on a fabulous Highway Challenge.  Everything from the start to the finish of the event was well thought through and flawlessly executed.  A new standard has been set for other cycling event sponsors and organizers.

We all hope that there will be a 2014 edition of the Highway Challenge.

Shimano Highway Challenge LEKAS Medal

Shine a Light, Shine a Light *

I thought about cycling technology during the ride along the Shah Alam Expressway the other night.  Specifically about how much bicycle lights have evolved since I last bought one.  My thoughts were prompted by how the spot cast by my headlight paled next to that coming from Chon’s headlight.  I had also noticed that Mark’s rear light was so bright that I had to avoid looking directly at it.  Not an easy task when you are on his wheel.

The first bike lights I bought, in 2008, were from Cateye.  They came in a set.  They looked something like these ones.

Cateye Light Set

I say something like these one because these are the current models.  The HL-EL 135.  I don’t remember my headlight having three LEDs (light-emitting diodes) like this one.  What I didn’t realise at the time was that Cateye designed this headlight to be seen by others, and not to help the rider see what is in front of them.  To their credit Cateye makes no secret of this in their 2012 Headlight Chart.

In 2009 I started riding regularly at night with the West End Bicycles 6.30 group.  I needed a brighter headlight.  So I bought a Planet Bike Blaze headlight and Superflash rear light.  Again as a set.

Planet Blaze

The headlight and rear light were noticeably brighter that their Cateye equivalents.  The only downside was that the headlight run-time on two AA batteries was only five hours at high output.

In 2010 I bought my first road bike.  A second downside of the Planet Bike headlight became obvious.  The headlight and mount were bulky.  This wasn’t a problem on my hybrid bike because my hands were usually on the handlebar extensions.   On my road bike however the headlight took up space on my bars where I wanted to put my hands.  So before long I bought another headlight.  A Niterider MiNewt Mini-USB.

Niterider MiNewt

The Niterider MiNewt had three advantages over the Planet Bike headlight.  The MiNewt was one third the size of the Planet Bike.  It could be mounted on my helmet, thus freeing up space on my handlebars.  Lastly it was the first bike headlight that could be recharged via a USB port.

I must admit that the separate light and external battery pack is not as convenient as an all-in-one unit.  NiteRider do provide a velcro strap for attaching the battery pack to the stem or head tube.  They also include a 1 meter / 39 inch extension cord so it is possible to ride with the battery pack in a jersey pocket.

In 2011 I bought my second road bike.  By then Niterider was selling the MiNewt Mini.150-USB.  As the name implies, the output had increased to 150 lumens from the previous 110 lumens.  There was also a flash mode.  Best of all the run time was unchanged.  Brighter being better, I bought one.

Note:  Bicycle light manufacturers often use lumens as the measure of light their equipment produces.  Some use candelas.  A few use lux.  Unfortunately there is no regulation or consistency in the bike light industry with respect to how light output is measured and reported.  Caveat emptor applies.

Light output is not the whole story either.  The shape of the beam is a big determiner of the effectiveness of the light.  A broad beam may not properly light the road or path ahead.  A focused beam may light up close objects, or those farther away, but not both at the same time.  Beam shape and pattern are a function of bulb angle and shape, reflector shape and lens shape.

What is the current state of play as far as bicycle lights are concerned?  Niterider sells the MiNewt Pro 750.  It has five times the light output of my MiNewt Mini.150, four light levels and three flash modes.  If you don’t want a light with a separate battery pack you can buy the Lumina 650.  The Lumina 650 puts out more than four times the lumens of the Planet Bike Blaze, and it is rechargeable.

Systems with external battery packs put out the most lumens.  Chon’s headlight is an SSC-P7.  It can pump out up to 1,200 lumens, though at the expense of run time.  Chon tells me that the run time at 1,200 lumens is ridiculously short, so he runs his headlight at 600 lumens.  Still plenty bright.


What’s the brightest bicycle headlight on the market today?  That seems to be the Lupine Betty R12.  This light has a claimed output of 3,600 lumens.  Better yet, in a review of LED bike lights, mtbr magazine measured the actual output of this light at 3,625 lumens.  In comparison, the xenon bulbs used in High Intensity Discharge car headlamps (the ones with a bluish tint), produce about 3,000 lumens.

As with all things top-end, the Lupine Betty R12 comes at a price.  About USD930 / RM2,900 online.

Finally, Mark’s rear light is a Cateye Rapid 5.  The main LED looks to be just as bright as the one in the Planet Bike Superflash.  However the Rapid 5 has five LEDs in all while the Superflash has three LEDS.  The Rapid 5 has four modes.  The Superflash has two modes.  See what I mean about bike light evolution.

Cateye Rapid 5

I am tempted by the latest bright and flashy.  I think I’ll stick with my MiNewt Mini.150 and Superflash.  I am going to pull my Tacx Lumos lights out of storage tonight though.

Tacx Lumos

These mount in the handlebar drops.  Each light has a white LED for forward lighting.  There is a red LED for visibility from the rear.  And there is a button-activated amber LED that is a turn-indicator.

Tacx Lumos On

I don’t need no high-output headlights!

* Title courtesy of Elton John and Bernie Taupin.