Gear Review – New Balance Boracay v2

I have had the New Balance Zantes for a while now and they are my go to 10k race shoe.  I also have the NB1080v6 which are a bit clunky but still good easy run shoes.  So I am a fan of New Balance shoes it seems, but with a marathon ahead of me in spring (Paris on April 8th) I don’t have a marathon shoe from them. That’s where the Boracay comes in.

Marathon Shoe

The Boracay is more substantial than the Zante and more less clunky than the 1080, so it could fit into the gap and be my half marathon or full marathon shoe, along with being used for some up up tempo work or even fairly normal training runs.

Weight

Continue reading “Gear Review – New Balance Boracay v2”

Gear Review – Canyon Inflite 9.0 S

My Current Stable

Up until buying my new Inflite, I had 3 bikes. 1 mountain bike that I recently bought on eBay classifieds for 100€ to use for commuting to work, cycling to swim training and occasionally riding a little loop between Hechtsheim and Bodenheim.

My 2nd bike is a triathlon bike. It’s a Canyon Speedmax Al 8.0. I bought it used from a guy on facebook for 750€ if I remember correctly.  I have upgraded the wheels and now the cockpit and it is a good solid bike. If I can find a good deal on a frame, I might replace it sometime soon, but there’s no rush.

My 3rd bike is a road bike. I bought it at the end of 2012, having snapped the hanger off my old road bike in a crash in Augsburg, and thinking that the frame was snapped.  My old bike was a Canyon Ultimate Al that I had bought on eBay, it was a 60cm frame, but I felt like it was a great fit and I loved riding it.  When I replaced it, I looked for another eBay deal, but could only find a 62cm frame, and a Roadlite Al 5.o, 1 model down from the Ultimate Al and even bigger!

The saddle wasn’t always so silly looking!

Even though it was too big on paper, I really loved that bike!  I rode it in La Marmotte, the Maratona, the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege this year along with draft legal triathlons and team sprints!  It cost me 430€ (recently sold it for 300€), so it did pretty well for me for 4.5 years!  Recently though I have been having the urge to get a new bike. One that is actually the right size and is a bit newer than my old bike.

A new bike needed

How I work is, I think of what I would like in a bike and make a list. In this case there were only 2 really big things that I wanted – disc brakes and plenty of clearance for wider tyres.  That sounds simple enough. I made a list of the Canyons and Roses that fit the bill and had about 7 bikes on the list. I want to be able to ride on the road most of the time, but have the option to get onto tracks when I fancy it.

In the end, to meet my wide tyres criteria, I needed to get a cyclocross/gravel bike, so the Canyon Inflite 9.0 S won out for me.  The road bikes all allow 28mm tyres, but nothing much above that.  Annoyingly, the Inflite medium frame comes with a 172.5mm crank. I have a crank based powermeter on a 175mm crank arm though!  That was the right size for my other 2 bikes, but would be wrong for my new one 🙁

Welcome to the family – Canyon Inflite 9.0 S

The Inflite has massive tyre clearance, some say enough for 38mm tyres, I can’t see how 45mm tyres wouldn’t fit though, the stock 28mm Conti GP4000sIIs look tiny in the forks! It has Ultegra Hydraulic disc brakes and Ultegra everything else really, with DT Swiss R24 Spine wheels. The bike is no lightweight at 8.7kg, but for what I want it for, that isn’t too important.

Two small issues

Two things that I don’t like much. The hydraulic cabling is external and is just kind of hanging there. It is hella ugly. It runs along the fork and the top tube, I reckon in next year’s model they will hide it in the frame/fork.  The other thing is that it has a quick release for the wheels.  Through Axles seem like they will be the ‘norm’ on disc wheels, I don’t know why Canyon haven’t adopted that here. They have on their road bikes.

First ride experiences

So my first ride was a ‘little’ 170km loop in the hills with the TCEC guys!  This probably isn’t to be recommended, but the bike was great straight out the box.  I usually ride an Adamo saddle, so was a little uncomfortable on the stock saddle, but it was still fine.  The ride was plush on the 28mm Contis at 6 bar. Braking was a bit different, but seemed to get better as the day went on, they should self adjust so maybe they were just a bit loose at the start.

The bike is a bit upright for a fast group ride, I will flip the stem, then decide if I want to send it back to Canyon to get a longer stem (edit: I tried, they said no). It didn’t feel bad yesterday, and I certainly could keep up, but a longer lower position would probably be better for me long term.

5 months later

I have had my Inflite for 4-5 months now. I still really like the bike. it is very comfy and goes off road pretty well, as well as making  riding rough cobbles and/or broken asphalt much easier than a normal road bike.  There’s only been 1 puncture at the front and 1 at the back, but that was after getting lost and riding through some very heavy grass with brambles in them.

I rode in the black forest too. 4000m+ of climbing in a day is a lot for me, but the bike took it well. The worst part was the decent down Kandel. The road was dreadful and I was on the brakes constantly.  I’d read that that can be bad for hydraulic brakes, but I had no issue.  I couldn’t really do a harder test for them than that. I think they’ll be fine.

So the Canyon Inflite 9.0 gets a big thumbs up from me. I guess that the 2018 model will have thru axles and will hide the cables better, but even if not, it’s a great all weather all season bike for the money (1500€ in a sale when I got mine).

Hoka One One – Clifton 3 – Shoe Review

I always thought that Hoka One Ones look a bit stupid. Actually I mean really stupid! Last year in Berlin at the Messe, I told the rep that and they didn’t really disagree with me.  I have read lots of rave reviews about them. People say that they are like running on clouds and that you can run 1500 miles in one pair. That sounds pretty positive to me.

As a present

So over recent years I have had the idea to ask for gifts of things I possibly wouldn’t buy myself, but I would like anyway. The Hokas fell into this category perfectly, so when my dad asked me what I want at Christmas, I said Hokas! Well that isn’t exactly what happened, I said Hokas! or a Scotsche Rhythm +, and I got the heart rate monitor.

So for my birthday Katja knew what I would like, and she got me a pair of Clifton 3s. The sizing is always a bit dangerous in a new brand and a new pair of shoes, but she nailed it with the 43 1/3.  They have a nice wide toe box and feel like well made shoes, even though they don’t weigh too much.

the Hoka One Ones even normal from here

Light and cushioned

Since using Skechers Go Run Ultras, I am used maximum cushioned shoes, but the road versions were pretty heavy at 310g per shoe. The Hokas at 250g could be used as a race shoe, interesting!

the weigh in - 250g

After getting over how they look, I ventured out on my first Hoka run. I was excited, would they be fast? slow? comfy? Well strangely enough, they were fairly normal. They are clearly well cushioned shoes, but I don’t notice that they are more cushioned than the NB1080v6 or the Skechers I mentioned.  They didn’t rub and were quite comfy, but I most shocked by how normal they are.

Fairly normal!

After a recent injury, I haven’t run as much as normal. I did the half marathon in Mörfelden a few days after my birthday, but I couldn’t trust new shoes for a HM. For the 10k in Groß Gerau I considered the Hokas, but went with the Brooks T7 Racers as they are my lightest shoes.  It was only this weekend that I finally got to use them for a longer run, at 25km.

the ugly sole of the Clifton 3!

They held up very well, I notice a little toe rub, but nothing that would blister. I basically forgot that I was wearing them, they could have been my NB1080s.

So the long awaited Hoka One One Clifton 3s. Well once you get past how they look, they are fairly normal well cushioned shoes.  I have to see how long they last, but if I get 1500km out of them as some claim, I would happily get more.  The big selling point for me is that they weigh 250g, would make them my go to marathon shoe. I think I will use them in Roth too. For shorter distances I think I would stick with the Zantes. My plan is to use a mix of the Hokas and the NB1080s for long runs, and to use the Hokas for HM or longer faster runs.

So that is that, I will try to update after 500km or so, so that I can really comment on the durability of the shoes. See you then!

Gear Review – Wahoo Kickr Snap

Wahoo Kickr Snap

Before Christmas I decided that I wanted a smart trainer. The Tacx Flux looked pretty good, so I ordered it on Black Friday. The company (biker-Boarder) lied about when it would come, so 4 weeks later I cancelled that order and took the Wahoo Kickr Snap instead.Wahoo Kickr Snap from their website

The Wahoo Kickr Snap is a quite high spec trainer. It can simulate 12% climbs and offers a maximum of 1500w resistance, good enough for me!  I moved house between ordering the trainer and using it, so was excited to be able to use it in the spare bedroom in the new year.  I had heard that the Wahoo Kickr Snap is very quiet. That has not been my experience!  On a laminate floor without a mat it was very loud.  Katja told me that it was too loud for her in the living room and the whole apartment shook.

The new neighbours

I put the back part of the Snap (the bit with the flywheel) onto a yoga mat, and it was much quieter, not quiet enough for my neighbours though who complained after 5 minutes.  I decided to put the front legs on a mat too. That way everything was off the floor and it wouldn’t vibrate too much.  The neighbours complained again.  I finally put a big carpet mat under the entire thing, as well as having the yoga mat. It was much quieter, Katja said she couldn’t hear much in the living room. The neighbours complained again.

Firmware Problems

So the Kickr Snap is in the cellar now!  So that was problem 1 kind of solved.  I started using Trainer Road instead of Bkool as the internet connection in the cellar isn’t so good.  I rode my first full training session, but it was much much harder than I expected. My 4iii powermeter usually shows that I have a FTP of somewhere north of 300w. At the start of my training on the Kickr Snap pushing 220w was hard, and 300w was impossible for more than a few seconds.

I reduced the intensity down and down, but soon I had to turn off Ergo mode and go to the normal mode.  It had basically made it impossible to ride, even at 120w.

In normal mode it was ok. I could decide my speed and not hit the intervals, but I could give it what I had!  That was fine for a while, until the resistance just stopped.  I was pushing my top gears and hardly putting out any power!  The speed was so high, but without any resistance it was too easy.  I decided to switch to manual mode. But at 0% it had no resistance, and at 2% no resistance, then at 4% it was unrideable!

Updates (but only with an iPhone!)

The calibration spin down seemed to help short term, but wasn’t a full fix.  I finished the session disappointed and tired!

Online I read that lots of people had had this problem, many had even sent the Kickr Snaps back because of it, until someone mentioned that a new firmware – 2.1.6- was a saviour.  I took Katja’s iPhone and went to update the firmware.  Using the Wahoo Utility you can’t do it. So I downloaded the Wahoo Fitness App, it said my firmware was the most recent -2.1.5.

After more google-ing I found out that you have to click 5 times on the firmware version, then you can update it.  There are loads available, but I just took the 2.1.6.

It’s the Wheel Circumference stupid!

So yesterday I went back to the cellar and started on Trainer Road again. The wattage was way off again. The first interval at 270w was very very tough.  I decided to monitor it with my power meter. At about 70% intensity the trainer was about right. I mean if Trainer Road wanted 3 mins at 300w, I would do 3 mins at 210w on the Kickr Snap and my power meter would show it as 3 mins at 300w.  There were no weird braking issues, so the firmware seems to have fixed that, all that is left is the massive difference between my power meter and the Kickr Snap.

I used Trainer Road in the past with a dumb trainer. I had heard that you should change the wheel circumference from 2112mm or so to another value so that the virtual power is more accurate.  It was set to 1500mm.  This setting was still in my Trainer Road.  1500/2112 is 71%. I haven’t tested it yet, but I think it seems fair to assume that that has been my problem!  I hope now that the wattages will be pretty close to each other and I can start to set up my sessions properly.

A bright future

I am looking forward to getting some good training done on the Kickr Snap now.  There is a bit of a clicking sound when I ride that I still have to look into, but otherwise everything looks good.  When the Ergo mode is working, it is really nice that you just ride and know you are hitting your intervals.

I will write a post in the future after I have more experience of the Kickr Snap, but right now after all the start up problems I have had, I am looking forward to getting some good sessions in before it warms up and I can do some longer rides outside. Liege Bastogne Liege is only 93 days away!

UPDATE 26.01.2017

It wasn’t the wheel circumference. Wahoo told me to update the firmware to 2.2.51, which I did using Katja’s iPhone (it wouldn’t work with my android).  I pumped up the tyres to 110psi, then adjusted the back wheel until the spin-downs were taking between 10 and 15 seconds to complete.

Then I did the advanced spin-down on an iPhone to lock in the new settings and it seems like it works!  I did a ride last night where I could ride at just under 300w, which wasn’t easy, but was doable.  I need to check it with my Garmin, but it could actually be reading lower than my power meter now, as I would expect a higher HR at 300w after 10 minutes than 150bpm.

Looking better

It was being a bit weird reacting to intervals, it would slowly change the power, so I would click out of Erg mode and back in so it would quickly adjust the power. It isn’t a huge problem though.

Low Speeds = Quieter

My other big discovery is that if I ride in a low gear at low speed, the Kickr Snap is much quieter, but the power stays the same.  I could watch Top Gear and hear it too (without head phones), it is also good that Netflix works in the cellar!

I might do one further update when I have compared the power meter with the trainer over different session, but I am happy now, I can ride, it isn’t too boring and the power is about right 😀

Shoe Review – New Balance 1080v6

After trying out the Zantes and liking them for shorter and faster runs, I thought it made sense to go for the bigger brother model for longer and slower runs.  The New Balance 1080v8 has the same Fresh Foam sole as the Zantes, but is a far more considerable shoe.

Heavyweight shoes
Just over 300g – heavy!

At more than 300g I expect a good bit of cushioning, which in comparison to the Zantes or Brooks T7 racers, they do offer, but in comparison to my Skechers Go Run Ultras, they don’t have.  There is a little spring still in the step though, maybe due to a little less cushioning. Continue reading “Shoe Review – New Balance 1080v6”

Shoe Review – New Balance Zante-v1

New Balance Zante v1, what to say. Well I bought them online from New Balance at the really good price of 61€. Letsrun.com posters write about the Zantes a lot, so I thought I would give them a whirl!

First thing to say it that the outer is great, it is like a sock, there isn’t anything that could rub and blister. So unsurprisingly when running they don’t rub and blister!

I bought them in a size 43, even though I am often a 42.5, as I always worry that my feet are wide and need more space.  The 43s are about right for me. The shape of the Zante is really good, I mean it actually fits human feet!

The New Balance Zante weigh in
250g, not that light

Continue reading “Shoe Review – New Balance Zante-v1”

Shoe Review – Brooks T7 Racer

The Brooks T7 Racer, what to say? I was in town last year at around Christmas when we went into Runners Point. It’s a running shop that is all over the place in Germany.  Usually they sell everything at RRP, so you don’t get anything for less than 120€.  That’s more than I generally pay for shoes, but on this occasion I saw they had a pair of Brooks T7 Racers for only 50€!

I tried them on, now usually I wear a EU42.5, so I asked for the 42.5. I couldn’t get them on my feet. The 43 was also too small, but the 44 seemed about right. It was still definitely not too big, maybe even a little snug!  I bought them and was pretty happy with my new lightweight race shoes.

The Brooks T7 Racer weigh in
Under 200g, that is light!

Continue reading “Shoe Review – Brooks T7 Racer”

Machachek Radbiometrie for Triathlon

I have heard a lot of times that getting a Radbiometrie is well worth while. The watts/€ metric always seems to point to a good bike fit being worth much more than deep rim wheels, and aerohelmet or a better bike.

I have always held back from getting a fitting done. I mean it costs 159€ so that someone moves your saddle a bit up/down and a makes a few other changes! This season though, I have had the feeling that I haven’t been able to put out my wattage very well on my TT bike, compared to my road bike. Continue reading “Machachek Radbiometrie for Triathlon”

Shoe Review – Skechers Go Run Ultra

I thought I could start to write a few shoe reviews. I have started testing out different shoes nowadays in the hunt for the perfect pair.
The best place for me to start, is with my favorite and most often used pair of runners, the Skechers Go Run Ultra.

Skechers Go Run Ultra Unboxing

Now I know, Skechers aren’t seen as the most serious of running brands. They are often mocked on Letsrun and seen as shoes for people who don’t run. The performance line is actually pretty good though.  I won my first pair of Skechers Go Run Ultra in 2015 in a Skechers facebook competition and since then have bought at least 3 pairs of the ‘normal’ and 2 pairs of the road versions. Continue reading “Shoe Review – Skechers Go Run Ultra”

First 4iiii Long Ride – New FTP test (kind of)

Yesterday was a bank holiday here in Germany, so I could finally go for a bit of a longer ride with the power meter on.  I have stopped putting it between the bars at the moment, so I am just wearing my Suunto Ambit 2 as a watch and recording my data, and occasionally checking what I am doing, rather than fixating on it all the time!

So I have been informed that my last FTP test was probably unrealistically high (325w FTP).  Lots of suggestions were made, and one that was worth testing was if the head unit being used affected the results. I did a ride with my Garmin 705 in my back pocket whilst wearing my Suunto Ambit 2.  I rode normally for a couple of hours or so, and uploaded both of the rides.  The result was that they were essentially exactly the same, with the Garmin showing 1w less. I saw that on one occasion the Garmin had lost the signal from the 4iiii Precision, whereas the Suunto hadn’t so that even explained that small difference.  My watts were just as high as before. Continue reading “First 4iiii Long Ride – New FTP test (kind of)”