Category Archives: Equipment
New in the family and joining the rollers, is the ThinkRider X5 Neo Smart Trainer. Didn’t take long before deciding to settle for this one, when there was absolutely no supply of any others at the LBS and a 6-month wait seemed to be the default take-it-or-leave-it response. It’s within my price bracket, the order process was seamless and shipping took 4 days to get to the door.
I’m definitely late to jump onto the smart trainer bandwagon. Late in getting one of my own. Having been involved in high performance settings as well as at a commercial indoor cycling studio, fixing blown fuses in the CompuTrainers seemed like a necessary skill to have back in the day. Just a few years back, turbo trainers definitely did not get the same reception by the local community. (Same with strength training and lab testing. Knowing your weakness can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes). Now it seems, even in pre-pandemic times, the turbo trainer has caught on. Better late than never.
A 22kg piece of machinery, assembly of the flipper-like legs were as straight-forward as bolts and hex allen key. Thru-axle compatibility is also available. Download the ThinkRider app for firmware updates and trainer calibration, plug it in and it was good to go. ThinkRider is compatible with Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, FullGaz, Bkool, PerfPro. Zwift was the choice of software.
There is always going to be chatter about the accuracy of smart trainers, just like power meters. We each have certain things that we can be particular about, which sometimes, will appear very selective. We may tend to or tend not to believe accuracy reports from manufacturers and we should put on our critical thinking hats. If you are one who has absolutely no clue at all, the advise would be to keep it simple. Lay out the outcomes that are most important to you. For me, would I have problems pairing it to Zwift? That did require me to trust the manufacturer’s word for it. I would like it to be reliable, i.e. produce similar power resistance on erg mode every time I use it. That is fairly easy to conclude whether I can tick that box. Neither am I expecting it to have a 5-watt variability. Day-to-day individual variability alone can be 5 – 6% (Gardner et al., 2007; Laursen et al., 2004; Possamai et al., 2020). So far after 24 hr of use, it has been consistent enough for me, based on the session I’m doing and what I am expecting to be putting out. Lastly, are they going to bail out on me, when after-sales service support is required? These days it’s a hit-and-miss. Imagine getting told to repair your broken treadmill yourself.
With so many options out there, accuracy claims as a form of marketing seems to be unavoidable. Bear in mind, as a consumer, unless you request for the precise protocol, equipment, testing conditions and environment, our attempt at user validation can swing both ways. I prefer to spend time learning how to interpret and apply the data appropriately.
In summary, a pretty solid direct-drive smart trainer. If you’re keen to have a go, give the guys at Bike Domestique (FB/Instagram) a shout out. What smart trainer are you using? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Gardner, A. S., Martin, J. C., Martin, D. T., Barras, M., & Jenkins, D. G. (2007). Maximal torque-and power-pedaling rate relationships for elite sprint cyclists in laboratory and field tests. European journal of applied physiology, 101(3), 287-292.
Laursen, P. B., Shing, C. M., & Jenkins, D. G. (2004). Temporal aspects of the VO2 response at the power output associated with VO2peak in well trained cyclists—Implications for interval training prescription. Research quarterly for exercise and sport, 75(4), 423-428.
Possamai, L. T., Campos, F. D. S., Salvador, P. C. D. N., de Aguiar, R. A., Guglielmo, L. G. A., de Lucas, R. D., Caputo, F., & Turnes, T. (2020). Similar maximal oxygen uptake assessment from a step cycling incremental test and verification tests on the same or different day. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 45(4), 357-361.
After 47,992 km, 2 cracked steerer tubes and 1 broken derailleur hanger, it was time for me to go through the process of getting a new rig. The frame might have lasted another 12,000 kms or more, but having almost no chance of obtaining bits of spares for the frame like cable guides, cable stops etc was the nail in the coffin.
Unlike the professionals (some, not all), most of us are not regularly issued equipment. I classify myself as a heavy user, based on the number of tyres, chains and handlebar tape I go through. So knowing that I can prolong and/or extend the lifespan of my equipment at minimum cost sits quite high up the priority list. One of the important factors for me is after sales support and availability of spares. And yes, I wash my equipment regularly.
I started by going through the UCI-approved equipment list, which you can find here. I didn’t want to get caught up at equipment checks during races so if you don’t intend to race, you have a lot more options.. It is also interesting to see some new frames already on the list that have yet to be launched.
I knew it was going to be an interesting process to narrow down my choices. Price is definitely the main consideration for me. I also had to stick with rim brakes because a complete disc brake bike is not within my budget. With local bike shops (LBS) limiting walk-ins, some only by appointment and the majority with almost no online presence prior to Covid-19, it was almost impossible to see what past season models were still available. I also wanted to explore the Taiwanese/Chinese options. I sit more along the side of practical over brand names. So I would actually ride the bike, rather than look to resell it in the near future. With that said, I also wouldn’t say no if someone gave me a new bike.
Other than price, I also look at frame size geometry and where my current setup sits in the sizing chart.I started by going through the frame geometries of what I could find online and I filtered out a handful of options. After a number of messages online with a few manufacturers, I settled with this:
With only a slightly higher stack, the Memil Hanshi has very similar frame size geometry (Stack and Reach) to my current setup. It runs a direct-mount brake on the front fork and Pressfit bottom bracket, both which are on my existing setup. That’s three ticks right there. What was most impressive was the communication I had with the guys. They were prompt, detailed and professional in helping with the process of building up the bike. They have been extremely helpful not just in getting the frame over, but making sure that I had no problems putting it together.
Not forgetting the sick paint job.
Looking forward to seeing how this rides
A few developments building up over the past couple months. More to be done. In the meantime, a little more about the Sigeyi powermeter which i’ve been using for about 6 months now.
Like most equipment, if it isn’t broken and it ticks all the boxes for you, stick with what you have.
If you haven’t used a powermeter before and want to give it a go, put the AXO Spider down in your list of consideration. Unless you’re after a scientific powermeter for a specific reason, this does what every other powermeter does, for what I perceive majority of the cycling community is after in a powermeter.
I can’t validate the accuracy of the readings because I don’t have anything else to compare it with. But it was pretty much spot on when I had a go on the Cyclus2 ergometer. Good enough for me.
As for the battery, I could go for 4 weeks, with an average of 15 hours per week of riding without charging and it still had around 50% battery.
There hasn’t been any problems to be honest. Auto-calibration, it has gone through multiple home washes, bike shop washes, ridden in rain and grime build up, without any issues. However I don’t have one on the mtb and not a hardcore enough mountainbiker to tell you if it can take a cake a mud.
Over the past 6 months, I’ve updated the firmware 3 times and the app is now even on App store and Google Play.
If price and availability are a couple of your key decision factors, they now have a online store.
Have a look through and if they don’t have a spider for your existing setup, drop them an email. They’re quite prompt in their replies.