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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.
If you’re looking to start cycling, getting your first bicycle should not be a daunting and mind boggling task. The thought of having to deal with the technicalities might be foreign to you and the preconceived idea that it could be a hefty investment may be a few of the contributors to procrastination. But with a little focus and some support, it could turn out to be something you might enjoy in the years to come. Here are a few things you can think about which can hopefully help you make the decision.
It could be getting your kid started, an alternative mode of transport to work, a form of family activity or exercise, having a clear idea on what you want to use it for helps to get the ball rolling.
Bicycles are usually grouped into 4 broad categories: Road bikes, City/Leisure bikes, Hybrid Bikes, Off-Road bikes. These can be further divided into subcategories, for example, Mountain Bike, Cyclocross and Gravel bikes are usually considered Off-Road bikes. The name typically suggests what the bike is designed and/or should be used for. For example, if you are looking for a bike to primarily get around town, to the shops or to work, start by looking at bikes in city/leisure, road or hybrid category but that’s not to say you cannot consider a Mountain bike either. Whereas, it is going to be very very difficult if you want to ride a full mountain bike trail on a road bike, or complete a Grand Fondo on a city bike.
It depends on how much detail you want to go into. For example, mountain bikes may have a slight weight penalty on the tarmac but the wider, knobby tyres make it easy to get through the narrow drain openings along the park connectors, compared to traditional road bike tyres. The more specific you are on the type of riding you want to do, the easier it is to narrow down the categories.
Then comes a list of other factors to consider: budget, comfort, size, weight, space constraint, durability, aesthetics, after-service. The key is to prioritise and be honest. If you absolutely do not have space in your residence to park a full-sized bike, or if you plan to take it up the trains and buses, folding bikes are an option. We also have to be honest with our expectations. I have had many conversations with people asking me what type of bike they should get to start doing some leisurely rides. Similar to taking up any new hobby or exercise, there will be a change in your existing lifestyle and it can be difficult to predict whether we will stick to it, drop out after a week, or go on to become a regular enthusiast. How much time are you going to spend on it? Where will it be on your list of daily priorities? Do you have a buddy to help get you started? If you already have a particular look in mind, you want the flash, or feel the heavier mtbs or hybrids are too slow (slow is relative and can be a function of not your bike but your fitness level) for your liking, you have to bring those up as well. People tend to leave certain information out for fear of being judged.
Unless it is in your nature to always go all in right from the start or have a bottomless budget, the common and recommended approach is to gradually progress with your equipment. Don’t short change yourself either by starting right at the bottom. The more you spend does not also necessarily mean the better your chances are that you will stick with it. Get out that checklist of criteria and be honest with how much effort you are willing to try.
Everyone should get a chance to have a go at all sports and that includes cycling. Even though cycling has a bit of a reputation for being an expensive sport, if you don’t get sucked into all the flash and glam, you can definitely still enjoy the sport without short changing yourself. Don’t be overwhelmed when you walk into a bicycle showroom. Have a clear idea what you want it for and be honest with yourself on what your main considerations are. Don’t feel shy to ask questions. Speak with someone you personally know who you think has similar buying habits and considerations. If circumstances allow it, try out the bike. If it’s your first bike, it would be a really tricky task of getting it online without trying it out. Nothing is worse than riding a bike you don’t feel comfortable on. Take your time, don’t rush it. When you have decided on one, don’t second guess yourself.
I don’t know any one person who hasn’t been affected by the pandemic that is happening at the moment. Countries are handling it differently, people are reacting and responding differently as well. In Singapore, our idea of a partial lockdown, the Circuit Breaker, has recently been extended for another 4 weeks along with additional measures, which is hard to keep track because of the ambiguity of some of the measures and there seems to be additions every other week. How has your riding/training been affected? Let us know in the comments section.
If you haven’t already set up your pain cave or at least started thinking about alternatives to your training/exercise regime, now is probably a good time.
Having alternatives in your workout bag empowers you to be adaptable. It does not necessarily mean you have to permanently add them to your routine. In any case, your routine has probably gone out of the window. It’s like having a 9 or 12-piece allen key set, instead of just carrying around the 4, 5, 6 mm.
Depending on the movement restrictions that have been imposed, and the situation going on at home (Work from home, kids on home-based learning etc), if you are now unable to ride outdoors as much you would want to, the next questions are: What turbo trainer should I be getting? And what sessions do I want to be doing? It’s like going through the same decision-making process when you were getting your first bike. You can’t really be sure if you are going to continue using the turbo trainer after the restrictions have been lifted because you might realize that you hate riding the turbo all together.
Wheel-on trainers are cheap these days. Not the smart ones of course. It’s straight forward, wears your rear tyre out, fast, unless you have a spare rear wheel with a trainer tyre. Will it get the job done? Yes, if you have a power meter on your bike and some inclination on how to efficiently plan your own training, because there will be some specific workouts that will be difficult to execute with a wheel-on trainer. Or if you just want to turn those legs over, burn some calories, nothing fancy, and want to save the coin for that beer afterwards. Chances are, you won’t be using it very often if you can go riding freely.
Direct-drives are gaining popularity due to the increasing range of products and it’s falling prices. Once viewed as only for serious/competitive cyclist, in recent years because of the affordability of the non-smart direct drive trainers, it’s become a choice for riders who are drawn to the social aspect for virtual riding platforms such as Zwift, Bkool, Sufferfest, TrainerRoad, FulGaz etc. Most offer a 14-day free trial (Some less), followed by a monthly or annual subscription if you wish to carry on.
You would at the least require a ANT+/Bluetooth speed/cadence sensor. You can still get on without a smart trainer, but it would be fair not to expect the full experience. If you already have the necessary hardware, you could consider signing up for a month to see if you enjoy it and determine for yourself how likely you are to stay on.
The new standard for virtual group rides/races removes the reputation indoor training/cycling has in the past as being mundane. Gone are the days of staring at block graphs with target numbers and a timer. Before you jump onto the virtual bandwagon, have a think on whether there is something in your training/workouts you had wanted to work on, or think you should work on. Sometimes the simplest of set ups, paired with an appropriate workout focus, can reap alot more benefit.
Rollers are the not so popular sibling in indoor training, for various reasons if you speak with different people. There is a reason why there are much more roller-fail clips going around than there are of turbo trainers. When you add an additional element of staying upright, putting down the power or holding an effort isn’t as straightforward anymore. In fact, pedalling hard and putting down power is not straight forward at all. Saying they are not able to provide enough resistance for your workout is possible but a HIIT or a smash-fest is not the only way to skin a 45min session on the bike. If you’re stuck with what type of session you can do to benefit you the most, it’s probably worth speaking with a coach to help you look at the bigger picture.
Ultimately, it would be nice to see more people continuing to ride their bikes outside when the situation improves, and learning to ride their bikes properly and safely. You are much better cyclist and considerate road user if you can ride smoothly, in a straight line, keeping close to the side of the road (If sharing with cars), then needing to be in the middle of the lane, trying to mash the pedals and going in zig zag all over the place.
What is your indoor set up like? Let us know by leaving a comment.
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.
Bi-annually, for a few months, usually during the second half of the year, news on local sports starts show up just a little more. What better way to kick things off with some controversial, split down the line drama about SEA Games selections.
SEA Games are the Southeast Asia Games. Held every 2 years, involving the ASEAN countries. Based on personal and conversational experiences, it would seem that a majority of sports association considers it as the most important event in their high performance calendar.
A rather highly talked about topic at the moment, based on a Google search is the exclusion of our 2017 and 2015 champion in the Mens marathon, Soh Rui Yong, from the contingent.
There has been quite a few developments since it came up. Here is what the situation is now, as reported.
He uploads the lawyers’ letters so you’re better off reading that and coming up with your own opinions if you have the time.
The underlining matter, if the people in sport are still bothered to address, in my humble opinion, is that athletes and administrators don’t talk openly and honestly. Quite like when you and your boss don’t communicate, things go sour really quickly. A main difference is, a vast majority of athletes in the national system don’t get fat pay cheques. Neither are they your average joes waiting for the clock to go from 9 to 5. You need to somehow have or be able to truly relate to passion when dealing with individuals who lay your lives on the line.
There is the snoc athletes’ commission, which has been fairly quiet all this time. I leave you to read about what their purpose and vision is supposed to be. What hasn’t been reported is how much involvement, if any, have they had in helping to improve the relationship between Soh and nsa.
This is probably one of the most publicised dispute between athlete and governing bodies in the recent history of singapore sport (i might be wrong). Along with it, hundreds more that have been swept underneath the rug.
The number of exercise and/or fitness programs has certainly increased in recent years. Along with our society promoting greater accessibility for an active and/or healthy lifestyle, it’s so much easier now for someone to pick up a new sport and/or a new fitness regime.
I don’t have the figures, but I’m fairly confident that just based on your social circle, the number of people who is a member of a gym or part of a fitness/exercise group of some sort now as compared to just 5 years ago, has drastically increased.
We all have our reasons for partaking in exercise. Again, with no figures for verification, my assumption is that the vast majority are on the path of active lifestyle or as a social activity, or both. There is the growing minority who have set themselves slightly more tangible goals. It could be an aesthetic goal: to slim down, build muscle etc. It could be a competitive goal: to prepare for a sportive, race, etc. It could be a quantitative goal: to lose or gain X amount of weight, lift X amount of weight, run X distance in X amount of time. It’s easy to transit from one to another to another and back to where you started.
You hear ‘I’m going for training’ being used often. If you have a competitive or quantitative goal, you are training for something. But if you aren’t, you are exercising. Describing your time in the gym or your run session as training to have an active lifestyle can be slightly exaggerating. Your body does need time to adapt to increased physical activity. But I would hardly consider that a training regime.
From 2007 to 2011, I was training to qualify and compete for the Olympics. The goal was crystal clear. So were the short and mid term goals. I fell short of that. To be precise, I was never given that chance in 2011 to attempt for qualification. When I switched to racing bicycles, the goal was not crystal clear and I didn’t have the short and mid-term goals. In short, it was a complete mess. I made the huge mistake of not getting a coach on board, primarily because of the costs involved. I began straddling the line until the grey area got too big that I went no where.
It’s not just about telling your mates that you’re going for training or exercising. Knowing where you are on the spectrum affects a bunch of other factors in your life: lifestyle and diet choices, work and/or study vs life priorities. If you have goals you are working on achieving, and serious about it, I strongly suggest getting a coach on board.
A coach should not only be giving you a training program to follow, you have to trust him/her as a life mentor. There’s much more to do between the ears than most would expect.
There’s now a whole bunch of cycling coaching groups/companies out there. If you don’t know where to start, give Kristján Snorrason, aka Snozza, a ping through his website:
His knowledge and experience in sport, along with his people skills, naturally steers people to put trust in him. Trust that he will get the best out of you, trust knowing that he has your best interests at heart.
After all, it’s still a two way street. There is no template to find out who you trust your personal goals with. But if even we ourselves aren’t sure what they are, no amount of training or exercise is going to get us there.
All has been on the quiet front here and it’s probably a good time to kick start things again.
Being able to ride my bike has been absolutely brilliant. Another is going back to rekindle an old flame with my first love, rowing. I haven’t got around to getting back in a boat, but the erg has definitely sparked something. They say looking back isn’t particular helpful in moving forward. I do however believe in never forgetting your roots and to always have the people who have stood by you, close to your heart.
I’m excited to pilot Row Revolution‘s technique workshop class, where I will be sharing with you the little experience I have gained throughout the years with all my amazing rowing team mates and coaches, and hopefully help you to row better on the ergo.
Row Revolution, Singapore first and only indoor rowing studio is a great platform to experience and give indoor rowing a go. With 12 Concept 2 rowing ergs, it is also an excellent venue for crossfitters to get in a solid rowing workout with your squad.
Their class timetable is available here. The technique workshop will kick off on 8 May, 2019, at 7pm.
I will also be taking the regular workout classes pretty soon! Ping me if you want to find out more!
The power of a positive environment. My competitive sporting career literally withered away over the past 3 years, not being surrounded by the right people, to put it nicely. With it, so was confidence, trust and belief. I would lying if I told you that it was a breeze trying to find a new life. No one from any sporting body will be there to help once you’ve done your service. There wasn’t even a ‘thank you’.
The working world was a whole new unknown. I stepped in on what I would consider as coming out from the lowest point in my athletic career. Not the best way to start, but what the hell. All I can say is that Decathlon helped me back up on my feet. The power of a positive, nurturing environment. I’ve always believed in it. It’s great to be part of one again. Thanks G.Horan, AB, Lizzi and SuBC, Al, Sandy and Mercs, Plews, John L, Andrea, Cormac, J.Baran, Big Dave, John H, Louis, Muzz and TCWA, Noda and CCC, DB, Wibbs, Matthews, Chuas and A.C for being the amazing people that you are.
I’m excited to see where this new journey with another bunch of amazing peps will take me.