15. apr. 2013

Cheapest way to get faster on your bike

Every single bikerider has been there, and since you are here on my blog right now, you are having one of these moments: You want to buy something that will make you go faster on your bike, but you dont have the budget to go all the way and buy a set of Lightweight Obermayer wheels. 

What to do then? You maybe have 1000 dollars to spend, which you could get some nice wheels for, which usually is the thing people tell you to buy to get fastest the best way. 
But will this be the best way to go faster for that budget? 

No it isnt. Actually, the most effecient way to go faster is buying some premium tires with low rolling resistance. Rolling resistance is actually taking a lot of the effort you put in your pedals, and there is a big difference between the tires. The German "Tour" magazine made a test a few years back, on which roadbiketires was the best. You can see it in the link right here:

According to their tests, the Continental GP4000S was the tyre with the lowest rolling resistance, and comes in with a 34,3 Watt's of rolling resistance at 35 km/h. 

On the other end of the scale, there's the punctureresistant Continental GP 4 Seasons, that comes in at 53,9 Watts rolling resistance at the same speed of 35 km/h. Thats a massive difference of 19,4 Watts! For many riders thats about 10% of their total power they could save by changing from one to the other!

Now lets turn over to the wheels. Will there be a greater resistance here? Lets turn back to Tour Magazine, who tested both lowprofile, and highprofile wheels not long time ago. A link to that test can be found here: [http://www.tour-magazin.de/services/qtr/epaper_4_2011/page104.html] (The tests starts from page 86 and forward).
In the test they measured the windresistance of the wheels, and lets try to compare a cheap lowprofile wheel against a Zipp 404, the most common high-end wheel out on the roads. 

As a cheap(ish) budget wheelset, lets take a Mavic Ksyrium Elite, which comes in at around 700 dollars. At 30 km/h, this wheel produces a total amount of 7,7 Watts of drag, which is way lower than the 34-53 Watts the mentioned tires above produced at about the same speed. 

What about the Zipp then? At 30 km/h, they produce 4,5 Watts of drag, which means these 3600 dollars wheels only saves you 3,2 Watts.. Can we agree, that at these speeds, it would make way more sense spending 100 dollars to get some very good tires with low rolling resistance (capable of saving you 19,3 Watts per tyre!), instead of bursting your bankaccount for not even 4 Watts?

But of course rolling- and windresistance changes differently. Rolling resistance increases in a linear curve compared to the speed, while if you double your speed, your windresistance has increased 4 times as much as your speed. So the windresistance increases a lot more than the rolling resistance, as the speed improves. So the higher the speed, the greater the difference will be between the 2 wheels. A lot more, than the difference between the 2 tires. But how high must the speed have to be in order for the Zipp-wheels to be a better buy than the 2 tires that costs only a 36th of the Zipp-wheels?

At 40 km/h, the Mavic-wheels produce a drag of 18,2 Watts, while the Zipp-wheels produce a drag of 11,0 Watts, so a total saving of 7,2 Watts, going at a normal racespeed. Here the difference between the GP4000S produces a total amount of 39,2 Watts, while the GP 4 Seasons produce a total of 61,6 Watts. So with the tires you can save a total amount of 22,4 Watts, or what compares to 3 times more energy saved, than going on Zipp 404's.

Well, lets say it goes a bit downhill then, and we are at 50 km/h. Here the Mavic-wheels produce a drag of 35,6 Watts, while the Zipp's are at 23,3 Watts. A total amount of 12,3 Watts are now being saved. But the difference between the 2 tires are still greater. The GP4000S produces a rolling resistance of 49 Watts, while the GP 4 Seasons are at 77 Watts. A total difference of 28 Watts, still 5 more Watts to save on the right tires, than the very very expensive wheels.
So you will have to go a little bit above 50 km/h, before it would make sense to buy the Zipp's before changing your tires to low rolling resistance, and then think about, how long time on your trainingsessions, are you actually going at this speed? Not much properly, unless you live on the top of a mountain.

Therefore, my best advice for anybody, if they want to go faster on their bike for a small budget, is, go out and buy some good tires before changing to a expensive wheels, because you get a lot more speed for your money for changing tires. I know several people who actually ride these 2 types of tires i mentioned above, and they claim they ride up to 3 km/h faster on the Continental GP4000S than the GP 4 Seasons. That is a big difference! I myself, tried changing from some Continental Ultra Race to some of the mentioned Continental GP4000S-tires, and on the very first workout, i set a new record on a 40 km-course i usually ride when I get home from University, and just have this 1½ hour before dinner is served. Clearly the tires makes a difference. So as Yokohama says about their tires; "Its the tires that makes your car", I can tell you, that the tires also makes you go faster on your bike.

But if you are doing a time trial, there are other factors that will help you a lot too. Aerodynamics are very important here, because you cant hide in a peloton. Australian bikesite  Cyclingtips.com.au have this helping table you can see below, where it gives an indication of how much you can save over a 40 km course, driven in 48 minutes as the standard. So its a lot faster than a "normal" guy could do, and therefore the difference for any ordinary rider would be lower than indicated below. But it gives a good idea of where you can get most speed for your money.

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12. apr. 2013

Best sporting tracker app for your smartphone test

A few months ago, I tried downloading the app "Endomondo Sport Tracker" from Google Play, to try it out on my new Sony smartphone.

It's a so-called sport-app, just one of many out there for either your Iphone, Android or Windows smartphone, where you can track your exercise via your smartphones GPS-system. It doesnt matter if it's running, cycling, rowing, or whatever you might do as an exercise outdoors, you can track it, and then afterwards, it will be uploaded automatically from your smartphone to Endomondo.com, where you can log in with your user, and then see how your training went. It also gives you an indication of how fast your fastest kilometer (or mile for you britishmen and americans) or fastest hour went, and exactly at what point you made this achievement. This way you can always keep track of yourself, if you are faster now than you were 2 months ago.

It also gives you a clear indication of how many calories you have burned, so if you are a fitnessfreak who counts every single calories you burn and eat, it can also help you counting the calories you have burned, and keep track of it.
But what I found the best was, that it actually adds a lot of fun to your exercises, because you can now compete with yourself in more ways than just the average speed from start to finish. It makes you go out and try to beat your own, or a friends, hour-record or a sprint lasting 1 kilometer, doing it as fast as you can.

It sounds great of course, but does it work? Well, I personally only have good experiences with it. But I know several owners of especially HTC-smartphones having troubles with it losing GPS-signal, and therefore also ends up losing track of some of the distance underway in the training. Especially out of the towns, where the telecompanies don't give you that great of a signal as close to the bigger cities, it tends to cut out for some people. But after a few months, i havent had any problems with it yet. But i guess im lucky, or Sony just make smartphones that are better than the average, then it comes to having a great signal.

The layout of Endomondo is nice and easy to understand. The simplicity is great, and it doesnt take too much power out of my smartphone as I feared at first. I can keep it going for about 10 hours with the free version of the app. If you pay only a few dollars, you can get a version of the app that gives you some more features, where one of these is extending batterytime on your smartphone, while its tracking. With this, I should get 3-4 more hours out of it, but really, how many needs 10 hours+ of power, to track their exercises? Just make sure your smartphonebattery isnt close to being empty, and it should be just fine.

Another thing I really like about it, is the community-options it gives. You can create and join any challenge, like "fastest 1 km, fastest 100 km, greatest amount of exercises, most time spend on a bike, etc", and compete with friends, or another person from the other side of the world. You can also join special teams and compete with these, against other teams.

And when it comes to watching your workout afterwards on Endomondo's website, you get a lot of valuable and fun information, packed in a nice layout. Firstly there is of course the standard things like distance, time, average speed. But also max speed, along with a nice cool graph on how you performed during the workout. If you slide your cursor alongside the graph, a red dot will show up on the map, where you were exactly on that time. That way you can easily see, that it was going uphill and you managed 30 km/h still on that exact spot, which you will forever be able to look back on. If you use a GPS-device and then upload it, it shows the cadence and heartratemonitor too (Not having a functioning one atm, hence there arent one in the pic below)

It also comes with a possibility for subscribing for a small fee per month, to get some extra options. A few examples is that you can see more data on how you perform and have performed since you started. Another fun thing is, that you can compare your own personal records with everyone else who uses Endomondo. Its always great to see that you are one of the 5% fastest on a bike in a 160 km distance, while you can see you have to work on getting a better 10 km record. At least that was my experience in the 7 day free trial i had.
But would i pay for the subscription?
No. Thats how easily I can say it. Everything I mentioned above apart from the last couple of things, in the free edition, and I dont really need these few other gimmicks to enjoy the app. But others will of course like to be able to see how they perform over some different kind of distances now, than 4 months ago.

But Endomondo definately gives you extra motivation for your ride, and if you are like me, and like to analyze every single workout, you can get a lot of information still, even with the free version of it, which makes it fun looking back at the workout you just did, and just waiting for tomorrow, where you can try to do better.

But what about the rest of the field? Another very popular app for cycling is called "Strava".

Strava can track your distance and route via the smartphone's navigation too, and the difference in the app itself is small. Only the userface is a bit different. Strava's is more simple, while Endomondo gives you possibility for a more personal setting. As a matter of the looks of the apps, i would say i prefer Endomondo, but then again, thats a very personal thing, and it doesnt really mean anything in the end, because its not whats the important thing about these apps.

But there is 1 thing i really really REALLY like about Strava, and its the Personal records and king of hills. To see this, you have to go to Strava.com , and see your uploaded rides. If you have a tough hill and done your best effort to climb it just as fast as you can, you can can create a socalled "Segment", if one havent already been created, on the hill or straight road. Everyone else who has ridden that hill with Strava, will have their times posted in the rankings, and here you can compete with every other Strava users to see, who is the true king of the hill. It's really a very fun and nice feature, which I really miss at Endomondo. An example can be seen below here (and of course im the leader! ;) ) :

The difference on batteryusage between Endomondo and Strava is really small. I really couldnt feel any difference at all here, so im perfectly fine with it, and it can easily last a 100km+ trip for me.

But what about analyzing the workouts you upload to the website? Well its just as good as the one at Endomondo. It doesnt look just as nice as their Danish competitors, but it works just as well. It does too have a graph like the one at Endomondo, and a green dot does appear on the map, if your cursor is pointing somewhere on the graph. The only thing to mention here, is that it does also show what "segments" you have been riding on at that specific workout, and tells you how well you did in them. So the difference here, is actually only the visual styles, where Endomondo, at least for me, wins.

This also comes with a possibility for subscribing for a small amount per month, to get some more advantages. These includes heartrate-index, powermeasurement (With free you can just see the average power output you made) and some few other things. Again, its a matter of personal demand, I get what I want via the free version, and i couldnt see myself paying for it.

Then there is also the Garmin Connect. Its made by the worldfamous GPS-manufacture Garmin, who makes, what my personal experience at least is, the best cyclingbased GPS-devices. Its not an app itself, but if you have a Garmin Edge 300, 500 or 800-series, would this then be better to keep a track of your training sessions, than the 2 others?

Answer is; yes, and no. Its the simplest of the 3, and therefore it lacks a few things, which i love about Endomondo and Strava. Its stuff like the competitions between the whole community from Endomondo, or the king of the hill from Strava, I really could use here, to make it more exciting to do your workout.
But it does come in handy with a nice detailed view on your tracked rides, and how you have performed in total, which you can see below (Sorry its in Danish, but I hope you get the point)

It does also tell you what average distance you have for all your workouts the past week, month, year or total, which can be motivating to try to increase next time you are on your roadbike. For every workout you do, you do get just as detailed informations of how it went, as with the other 2 above, like you can see below:

But which would I prefer of these?
Well, for myself right now, i use all 3, but I would rather lose Garmin, than Strava or Endomondo, because these gives you something to fight for in your next training. Like "I have to get best time on this hill", or "I can do another 5 km so i overtake the guy from work in that challenge on Endomondo". Garmin just doesnt have this extra motivator. Its for lone-wolves, while Garmin and Strava does get you into competing with others. But because of this, i would say I cant choose between Strava nor Endomondo. They have things the other one lacks of, and mixing these 2 would make a perfect sporting app for the mass. Endomondo have a nicer layout though, but that is just a gimmick not really worth giving it the victory for me at least. Function will always beat looks for me, and here they are just as good as each other.

I hope this has helped you choose your favourite. At least try testing these out, because they are the most used ones, and therefore also have a brightlooking future for existence.

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