Thursday, February 2, 2012

New CycleOps Products

I'm a fan of Saris CycleOps and own several of their products. CycleOps product quality is superb and their customer service is second to none in my opinion. I have a couple Fluid2 trainers that have lasted a long time. The Fluid2 is also the only trainer that I can use on the Catrikes that will not cause the bike to rock forward and backwards while doing hard efforts. I also have a couple PowerTap wheels. Both hubs are on Mavic open rims and work very reliably.  When racing, the CPU+ computer is light, functional and stores a large amount of data.

Last year, I decided to get and try out the Joule 2. Overall, the Joule is a decent bike computer. It stores all the typical type of data watts, speed, distance, cadence, temp, etc but also allows the user to view up to 8 customizable stats at one time (the CPU+ only allows 3). The Joule also has built in reporting to view data from 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 6 months and a year. There are numerous reports that display an awesome amount of data. For me, I found this to be great because I have a hard time downloading my workout files in a consistent manner so this would give me a great idea of how I was doing without needing to check WKO+ or daily.

The Joule  was also flawed in a couple ways. First, I mistakenly tried to use a 16 GB micro SD card on it's first use. The card completely geeked the Joule out to the point it wouldn't even boot. CycleOps immediately sent me another unit and let me know that it could only support a 2 gig or smaller card - did I mention their customer service kicks ass! It's actually kind of hard to find cards that are 2 gig and smaller. In theory, it wasn't supposed to be possible to fill the card in under 1 calendar year, but I found that not to be the case. Second, the battery life is horrific. At most, the battery would last 10-12 hours while riding. Again, for normal riders this is probably fine but for ultra distance or randonneurs, it's easy to ride longer than the battery life. I also found that charging the Joule and letting it sit for a couple days (using a Garmin instead), the Joule would be drained and require being recharged again prior to use. Another design flaw is that the USB mini-B connection is underneath the Joule. For comparison, the Garmin Edge 800 has it's mini-B port located on the side of the case. This allows the Garmin to be charged with a AA USB charger while riding - this basically allows the ride time to be indefinite (simply replace AA batteries as needed). The Edge's battery life is easily 3-4x greater than the Joule. The other thing that the Joule lacked was GPS, so I find myself using the Garmin Edge 90+% of the time anymore.  Turn by turn routing is awesome for randonneurs who are riding in an area that they are not familiar with; this assumes the route has been provided ahead of time and hasn't changed the day of the start.

I recently noticed that CycleOps made some improvements to the PowerTap hub. I've been considering replacing one of my older units for a while. Perhaps if the stars align correctly this year, AKA wifey approves such a purchase, I might be able to snag one this year. Lighter weight, a 1 piece hub (no more water leaks),  better signal strength and the internal 'guts' are now field replaceable so it will no longer be necessary to send the entire wheel back to CycleOps for service. I checked Performance Bike's website to check their pricing and I noticed that they have a new version of the Joule listed with GPS functionality. I couldn't find anything stating that the battery has been improved nor any photos of the USB mini-B port location. Unless the battery problem has been fixed, the mini-B port is on the edge of the case somewhere and the GPS has turn by turn functionality, I think the Garmin Edge has a lock for best cycling computer (for long\ultra distance riders at least).

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