Choosing your bicycle Part 2

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

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What bicycle should I get?

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.

 

Purpose

 

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.

Expectations

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.

Now go out there and enjoy the ride.

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Talking indoor trainers

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.

Photo by Velo Velo Singapore

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.

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Curve ball

2020 isn’t off to a flying start for many, me included. The current global health crisis is affecting the lives of people around the world.

Over the years, I’ve learned that there will be things that are outside of your control and to channel your energy into the ones that you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was set to start out a new coaching gig in Phuket. Unfortunately, that all went downhill very quickly as they decided to cancel the contract the same week I was meant to fly due to the global health crisis. It was certainly a setback. Look on the bright side, I reckon I dodged the bullet because it would have been much worse if I had gotten the flick when I’m there.

So what’s next? How do we deal with setbacks? How should we react? How do we approach it? How should we respond? I have been unfortunate and fortunate enough to learn by practice. For me, it’s about keeping a positive, realistic mindset. We’re not done yet! Keep trudging along. It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s getting back up everything single time and moving forward. A line manager at work once said to me that I shouldn’t be such a perfectionist. What he failed to understand is that me constantly striving for perfection is not the same as being a perfectionist, as long as I have defined my expectations. I think what he probably was trying to say was that don’t set targets that are much higher than his. So keep moving forward, even if it requires you to first take a step back.

I’m certainly no stranger to setbacks, but every time it seems to require a slightly different approach to get back in. Different stages in life, different motivation. Things might not go as plan, but I find a positive mindset drives the motivation from within.

Photo by Velo Velo Singapore

Not everyone will be there to lend a hand, so I’m grateful for those who are and glad to know who are the ones who aren’t. It’s in times of crisis that we are able (not limited) to see what someone’s true values and morals are.

So other than re-building my indoor cycling setup, because I sold my turbo while preparing to move, I’m back on the job hunt. If anyone has anything available, I’m more than happy to explore. Even happy to pick up new skills. In the meantime

ttfn

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Sigeyi powermeter

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.

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Year end racing

As the year draws to a close, so is bicycle racing here on the sunny island. Road racing was capped off with the second and last round of the URA car-free-Sunday criterium. Somehow, someone forgot to block off the adjacent roads to the course, allowing a lorry and a motorcycle to come onto the course when racing was live. Considering many cyclists here are already used to vehicles trying to take them out, everyone handled it pretty well and racing still managed to go on safely. There wasn’t much action on my part as I stayed out of trouble and enjoyed the atmosphere. Good job on the recovery by Cycosports and the commissaires.

I then took the plunge into the other deep end by getting in on the final MTB race of the year. It wasn’t elegant riding, there was plenty of walking and it most definitely was NOT fast. Considering I’ve only actually ridden a proper mtb trail less than a handful of times, there were certainly some jitters before the start. I got through it without any broken bones, and cleared alot more obstacles than my first attempt at the course. Then again, I didn’t set the barrier very high on my first go. Cheers to the boys for the support and my mate Malek for the pre race prep. I definitely need to do this more often.

That’s it this year for pinning numbers. I have quite a bit to think about for next. More as I gather my thoughts in the next few days.

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Let’s show some love

It’s the world road cycling championships. It’s the time where pros swap their work colors for country colors in bid for honour and glory.

There is sometimes a mixed reception to world championships. Not just in cycling, more often in professional sports.

A non-professional sport is when the world governing body does not have a professional league/circuit of any sort. Rowing is an example. There isn’t the equivalent of the WTA, NFL, PGA, NBA, UCI WorldTour etc.

This insta post came up that is absolutely heart wrenching and almost brought me to tears.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B26WoKqnj8T/?igshid=tjmjjigp49vo

This should be what it means to wear your country’s flag on your shoulder. This should be how much you really cared.

I don’t talk much about the journey I embarked on 12 years ago. It brought back some memories. The feeling of complete helplessness, is absolutely heart breaking. I know what it’s like. I can remember every minute of it, all 3 different occasions.

It’s hard to find such passion these days. Certainly not in this generation of athletes I have come across. As sad as I am to watch it, it’s encouraging to know it still exist.

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Do we need to start talking?

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.

http://theindependent.sg/soh-rui-yong-turns-down-spore-olympic-councils-request-to-keep-mum/

Reporting can be biased, depending on who reports it. Soh writes about as it happens on his blog

https://www.runsohfast.com/blog/snoc-says-i-own-a-media-circus-are-they-the-clowns

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.

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Road Nationals

Sometimes you think you’ve ticked most of the boxes, but still, fall miles away from the drop zone.

There was certainly more preparation done this year than last. The course is different but I didn’t take much of it. Probably one important box I should have ticked. I had a slight hunch I was in trouble at lap 3 but didn’t instinctively take action to get out of it. I couldn’t do anything to help our main man get onto the top step.

It was still time well spent with the boys. From good banter to the serious topics on and off the bike, we learn something about ourselves by hanging around people we trust.

We’ll keep trying. There will always be that amatuer, self-proclaim pro rider out there who will tell you that you won’t make it. There’s a difference between professional bicycle racing and amateur bicycle racing. It’s not rocket science why the even the amateur bicycle racing community continues to have an extremely elitist image. None of us are after a pro contract.

Great job to all who pinned a number on. Keep at it and enjoy the process.

Big thanks to the team from Recovery Systems for the awesome snaps.

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Data-driven? Or data collector?

It would be difficult to find someone who doesn’t feel good after realising they have achieved what they have set out for or gone better. Most of us enjoy the feeling of going that little bit faster, finishing that extra rep, setting a new PR, hitting that target you have set for yourself.

It’s also fairly easy to convince yourself that you’ve gotten fitter and faster. Technology has certainly played a massive role in helping us with that. You can now monitor speed, heart rate, power and even your position in real time. If you just started diving in on output measurement, take your time to understand what the numbers really mean and the assumptions that might come with some of them. It’s easy to convince yourself that you now have the physical ability to ride constantly at an average speed of 35km/h when you were sitting in the bunch the entire time, just as an example.

There is also the option to dive a little deeper to find out how your body is responding to physical activity. What used to be only accessible to really highly competitive and/or professional athletes, physiological testing is now more readily available to the masses. But because of its perceived elitist status, it still hasn’t quite caught on with the age-groupers.

“Why would I want to know how efficient my body is in delivering oxygen throughout my body?” If you’re serious about preparing for an event and time-crunched while doing so, it might not be very efficient use of your time if you aren’t working on an aspect which might be holding you back. It’s not often you meet someone who high-fives at the thought of doing something they aren’t particular good at. More often, there is a greater inclination towards the feel-good factor.

With the help of technology, we can now easily get a whole bunch of numbers. But if it was that easy to make any sense or put those numbers into reliable perspective, for them to be of good use, everyone would be a world-class coach or sports science practitioner.

What’s your approach? Are you data-driven? Or a data collector?

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