Over the last few weeks I have been trying out the Suunto Ambit 2S. As with our other report on the Suunto Ambit 2GPS this is very much a personal review from an average user rather than an in depth technical review, which if you are interested can be found here. Given that it is a personal review it is useful to know the points of comparison, for years I was a Polar fan, the last model being the RS800CX, but a year ago I switched to the Garmin Forerunner 910XT for the internal GPS, multisport and swim training features. The Garmin has been my constant companion ever since. For the purposes of reviewing the Suunto I wore both the Garmin and the Suunto for swim, bike and run training sessions.
What struck me straight off was that the Suunto is more of a watch, whereas the Garmin is essentially a training computer on your wrist. The Suunto looks good, and I am happy to wear it around all day. The Garmin is only worn when training and to be honest I find it a pretty ordinary â€˜time piece’. What also impressed over the period of the trial was the battery life of the Suunto. With the unit in constant use I only needed to recharge it after 8 days, and the unit recharges anyway when it is plugged into the computer to download your training sessions. With the Garmin I switch it off between all training sessions, and still need to recharge it every 2-3 days. I suppose it is all relative, the Polar used to have its battery replaced after about 18 months.
The second thing I was struck by is that the Suunto requires a bit more effort to get set up than the Garmin, which is ready to use out of the box. I found the watch buttons and menu screens to be rather less intuitive than the Garmin and spent about 30 minutes or so preparing the watch to be ready for my first session. This also only gave me basic functionality, to set the watch up to record 1K intervals on the run, and to change the screen so that I could see the data I was interested in required me to download the www.movescount.com software onto my computer and make the changes there for upload to the watch. Even then it was that not easy, and I was annoyed to return from a 21K run to find that contrary to expectations I only had a single run split and could not track my pace over the course. More reading up and set up required on my part. Am I the only one that gets annoyed by the lack of anything other than a very basic user guide being included with purchases now?
In terms of fit and feel, the Suunto feels a little heavier than the Garmin on my wrist, and being circular did not fit quite as comfortably into the wrist as the rectangular Garmin, but this was only minor, and the Suunto was comfortable. The loops used to keep the strap in place are very effective, so effective in fact that releasing the strap requires a bit of effort!
The Suunto scores very highly in my books on the display. The display is really big and easy to read when training in all sports, and the backlight (with a really nice feature of being able to reverse the display lighting) makes reading the display in poor lighting super easy. Much better than either the Garmin or Polar in this regard.
Unlike the Polar and Garmin there is no wireless transfer of data to your computer. My initial reaction was that having to plug your unit in to the computer was a bit of a pain, however I have changed my mind. Often with the wireless transfers I encounter problems with data not transferring correctly or at all. No such problems when you directly connect the unit, with the added advantage that your units’ battery is also being recharged. I now think this is a plus.
In terms of the analysis you are able to do on your training, the Movescount software does not appear on first glance to be as flexible and detailed as the Garmin software. Having said that as you can see from the screen grab (below) it provides all the basic information you need, including (on the run) maps, speed/pace and altitude, and splits when you work out how to set them! Suunto have also provided the ability for users to create Apps, which allows you to access a great range of features that will continue to grow. There are hundreds of pages of Apps, you can track your heart rate zones, the incline of the hill you are ascending, and my personal favourite one that tells you how many beers you have burnt (and therefore how many I can have after the session!)
My big bug bear with the Garmin is the altitude recording. While originally this feature worked well, after one of the not infrequent firmware upgareds this feature stopped working, and going by the blogs this is a common fault. I am often amused to see now that I can gain 19,000 meters in a swim squad. No such problems with the Suunto.
So in summary I think if you want one unit that combines as a cool time piece and a serious training tool the Suunto ticks the boxes very nicely. It does require a little initial set up, but in reality this is minimal and a poor reflection on us if we have become so lazy and in need of instant gratificaton that we cannot expend a little bit of effort up front.
Review: SunGod PaceBreaker sunglasses – Look Cool While Dropping Watt Bombs
SunGod sunglasses are a relatively new player to the market, a successful, UK based, crowd-funded business who’s appeal is focused on the ability to customise the glasses online at an affordable price.
SunGod was founded in 2013 and developed from a frustration that to get quality lenses that would be able to withstand a sports/adventure lifestyle.
They launched their first product, SunGod Classic, as their first complete custom online build, with polycarbonate polarised lenses and TR90 memory polymer frames. This campaign exploded, with SunGods being shipped to 93 countries and making 10x the initial funding target and becoming the largest crowdfunded project of its kind in the UK.
Jumping on to the website is simple enough, and you get to choose from a variety of frames and styles. The Classics and Renegades focus more on traditional streetwear, extreme sports etc., while the Revolts are focused on snow sports. All of the range bears the funky looking Limited editions, are fully customizable. As triathletes wouldn’t be seen dead wearing non-race specific gear, we’re going to focus the review on the PaceBreakers – wraparounds focused on riding and running (swimming not tested!)
What design do you ask?
I was lucky enough to get to design a pair of sunglasses via the simple to understand interface. Simple enough in fact that my five-year-old daughter created my first pair below.
Going through the interface, you get to choose the frame colour, lens type (4KO Polarised or not – more on that later), icons on the side and ear sock colour (the tips of your glasses). If your creativity is failing you, you can also choose from a set series of best sellers.
The whole process takes around 30 seconds of effort with 20 minutes of procrastination around the right colours to match with your complexion and handbag.
My second pair was a much more straightforward affair focusing on the traditional grey look.
The glasses ship from the UK and for me, turned up in 3 days, a surprising and welcome change.
What’s in the box?
SunGod indeed go above and beyond with the packaging and its contents
As you would expect you get a box with the sunglasses included, but you also get a spare nose clip, a case which also doubles as a cleaning rag and a truckload of stickers to stick around the place. Its quite a few freebies given the low cost of the product.
4KO pace lens with triple scratch resistance
SunGod claims that the polarised lens is both triple scratch resistant and will enhance both visibility and field of view in both low light and bright conditions. We obviously couldn’t test them in a lab with serious equipment, but we took the glasses out on a treacherous, wet and windy early morning Melbourne ride around the Dandenong mountains in peak hour traffic.
Compared to my Jawbreakers I certainly felt that their visibility in early morning sun up (6am) conditions was improved. The lens also survived being bounced along the road at high speed when I forgot to put them back on during a decent, with no scratches if I may add. So science aside, these sunglasses certainly did the job during a challenging day out.
What differentiates SunGod from the competition
SunGod has a few key differentiated points.
Firstly is the price. For around $110 – $130 dollars you get a solid pair of high-performance sunglasses with features to match and outperform glasses twice their price.
The glasses come with a lifetime warranty so if they break they will replace them free of charge. A lofty claim that I haven’t tested but certainly a welcome one – which some of the major players struggle to offer.
The glasses are made from adventure proof flexible rubber which allows the frames to be flexed, and as above bounced along the road, without damage. Which as a clumsy guy is a great feature.
Simply put, SunGod makes a great pair of sunglasses, both comfortable and high performing, you cannot beat them for value. The customisation feature is excellent and has got my triathlon team all lining up to get the team colours shipped over. I didn’t have anything negative to say about them, to the point where I’m replacing my tried and trusted jawbreakers with these for both racing and training.
Here is a link to the PaceBreakers
Simply a great set of sunglasses and are packed with features and value.
- Well priced
- Great feature set
- Carbon (Triathlete staple) look frame appears out of stock
- Were clutching at straws to find anything wrong aren't we!
A Wearable RFID Fitness & Calorie Tracker that Mounts to Your Teeth
Fitness and calorie monitoring technology is getting interesting. Researchers at the Tufts University Biomedical Engineering Department are experimenting with wearable trackers that mount to your teeth. The tiny monitors use Radio Frequency ID (RFID) technology to track calories, alcohol consumption, multiple types of sugar, and the foods you eat. The researchers also speculate about developing the devices to monitor stress levels from saliva.
The trackers use a square tooth-mounted sensor that is either 4 X 4 or 2 X 2 millimetres. They’re made of titanium and gold and feature detector layers made of either water-based gel or silk fibres.
When testing for the trackers’ ability to detect alcohol and sugar, researchers instructed subjects to swish various liquids. The trackers sent accurate information to tablets and cellphones, distinguishing between liquids such as saliva, water, and alcohols, as well as different types of sugars and their concentrations. Using water-based gel sensors, they were able to track varying temperatures and acidity levels.
These trackers could be a new breakthrough in calorie and fitness tracking. They are not yet available commercially because the researchers are still working out a few kinks and discovering more uses for them.
The Tufts study will be published in the journal, Advanced Materials. For now, you can read it in the Wiley Library below. The paper goes into detail about all the possible uses and the chemicals and nutrients these trackers will likely be able to detect.
Shimano Introduces Chain Stabilising Rear Derailleur for Road Bikes
As road bike riding diversifies towards multiple road surfaces such as adventure and off-road riding Shimano introduces Ultegra RX, an off-shoot of Ultegra, with a rear clutch derailleur (RD-RX800/RX805) for mechanical and Di2 drivetrains.
Riders have been pushing the limits of what a road bike is capable of riding for many years, evolving the sport from racing to encompass greater adventure. In recent years we’ve seen a broader definition of what a drop handlebar bike can look like; road wheels followed that by accommodating wider tyres. Now in a natural evolutionary step, it’s time for drivetrains to evolve too.
The new RX800/805 rear derailleurs share many characteristics with the Ultegra R8000/R8050 derailleur, such as precise accurate shifting and SHIMANO SHADOW RD derailleur positioning, but with the added chain stabilizing switch (known as SHIMANO SHADOW RD+ technology) to control the drivetrain over rough/uneven ground or off-road surfaces. Much like Shimano’s MTB derailleurs, the On/Off switch can be found next to the upper pulley. When activated the rear derailleur pivot takes a firm hold to reduce excessive movement, noise and general ‘chain chatter’.
The RX800/RX805 rear derailleurs are compatible with road dual control levers (mechanical or Di2) and will accommodate cassettes with low gears from 28T to 34T, making them a very necessary addition for all types of adventure and off-road riding including cyclocross and compact styles with 46T-36T up to 50T-34T chainrings.
Alongside the Ultegra RX rear derailleur comes a new wider rim 700c, E-Thru axle, tubeless-ready, disc-specific, WH-RS370-TL aluminium wheelset for 28-38c tyres (weight 1900/pair).
You can expect the new components to be available in stores from mid-June 2018 onwards.
Shimano 105 R7000 Offers Race-inspired Performance for Greater Riding Styles
Today’s road riders demand much more than pure on-the-rivet speed. They expect comfort, control and versatility from their bikes, and enjoyment and goal achievement to boot. 105 level riders expect the latest pro-level features but they also want to do more with their bike than racing and training. So step forward the new 105 R7000 generation with customizable disc or rim brakes and wider cassette options to help you remain in comfort and control wherever you’re riding.
Coming with the high-end aesthetic and race characteristics of its Dura-Ace and Ultegra big brothers, the new 105 series also considers that most riders will use their bikes for purposes other than competitive racing. 105 is Shimano’s first level 11-speed groupset for those who are seriously committed to road bike riding, but that definition now becomes broader with the inclusion of superior handling and adaptable control to master different riding situations.
The biggest news for new 105 is the addition of disc brakes to the series line up. New flat-mount BR-R7070 callipers are compatible with ICE TECHNOLOGIES pads and UCI-compliant non-90 degree SM-RT70 rotors (including a new 140mm size) to offer greater cooling efficiencies. Brake operation is handled by new ergonomically shaped Hydraulic dual control levers (ST-R7020), matching the design of Ultegra ST-R8020 levers with a greater range of reach adjustment for different hand sizes. To provide even greater customisability, 105 R7000 offers a version of the dual control brake/gear lever (ST-R7025) to better suit smaller hands by being angled closer to the bar and taking more of an outboard position for better connection and to avoid interference with the handlebar drop during lever operation.
Whether from the rim brake (ST-R7000) or disc brake (ST-R7020/25) lever, gear shifts have been redesigned to offer faster and lighter shifts with a shorter stroke compared to the 105 5800 series. The front derailleur has a compact toggle (pivot) design, better tyre clearance and an integrated cable tension adjustment port (2-mm hex key) removing the need for an in-cable barrel adjuster. The optional long cage rear derailleur (RD-R7000-GS) can accommodate up to an 11-34T cassette and is designed with a low profile SHIMANO SHADOW RD style to tuck it below the cassette and chainstay.
Updates within the drivetrain include a new mid-compact 52-36T crankset, to add to the 50-34T and 53-39T cranksets, and new 11-30 (CS-R7000) and 10-speed compatible 11-34 cassette (CS-HG700-11) options to better suit gravel, adventure or CX riding. Together with this, the inner crank ring has been positioned to reduce the effects of cross chaining or chain drop, better suiting bikes with disc brake criterium racing bikes.
Tim Gerrits, product manager at Shimano Europe said;
“Increased control and reaction were two points we concentrated developments on, combined with what people have always expected from 105, great versatility and value for riders. With 105’s suitability for a large portion of today’s diverse road bike styles we hope to unlock the potential of where and what it’s possible to ride on a road bike.”
New Shimano 105 R7000 items will be available on the market around June and will be available in an appealing dual tone black colourway and an additional silver option for more classic bike styles.
Ventum is expanding its line of cutting-edge triathlon racing bicycles
Built around the company’s patented Z-shaped frame design, which eliminates the downtube and seat stays while integrating the water bottle into the frame, the expanded Ventum Z line was developed to allow more triathletes to enjoy the aerodynamic advantages of Ventum technology.
“We designed our flagship triathlon bike, the Ventum One, for the toughest races in the sport,” Ventum co-founder Diaa Nour said, “and we based the new Ventum Z models on feedback from triathletes, who told us they want access to the same technology developed for the Ventum One, but with more flexibility to customize the bicycle to fit their needs.”
The new Ventum Z includes Ventum’s patented Z frame plus a proprietary carbon-fibre Z fork and is available for purchase as a standalone frameset for $2,850. The Ventum Z is also available as a complete bicycle with a mechanical component group featuring a combination of Dura Ace, Ultegra, and other Shimano components for $3,500, and as a complete bicycle with Shimano’s electronic Ultegra Di2 component group for $5,500.
“We wind-tunnel and road-tested every component of every version of the Ventum Z to find the perfect balance between aerodynamics, comfort, and cost. Our goal in reimagining the Ventum Z was to make a more affordable ‘superbike’, and to keep it cutting-edge without cutting corners,” Nour said. “To do that, we developed our new, proprietary Z fork, we included a custom set of 3T Vola aero bars for easy positioning and adjustment, and we are offering a choice of carbon-fibre or alloy wheels that are optimal for the bike.”
Ventum was co-founded in 2014 by Diaa Nour and former professional triathlete Jimmy Seear, to build the world’s fastest racing bicycles. Inspired by fighter jets and Formula One race cars, the company’s triathlon bicycles feature a revolutionary frame design that maximizes aerodynamic performance in non-draft-legal races such as IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 triathlons. Ventum also served as the Official Bike Sponsor of the 2016 and 2017 IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Based in Miami Beach, Florida, Ventum bicycles are available worldwide through the company’s dealer network and from the Ventum online store.
DeFeet to Use Blockchain Technology to Stop Counterfeit Products, Improve Customer Experience
DeFeet International, a manufacturer of socks and other apparel for cycling, running, and outdoors activities, has partnered with blockchain solutions provider, LuxTag.io.
The new technology will accomplish a few goals that help both the company and the customer. When you receive a DeFeet product that is in a blockchain, you’ll be able to scan it with your phone.
Scanning your DeFeet product will:
- Ensure the product is not counterfeit
- Add it to your customer profile
- Help DeFeet suggest products relevant to your individual behavior & taste
- Take some hassle out of the warranty & repair process
- Determine appropriate loyalty rewards
- Help determine distribution logistics
The overall result is a better and safer customer experience.
The first roll out will cover the company’s Barnstormer line. They’re focusing on matching their Adventure Cycling Club members with relevant products and promotions based on past purchases and other data. Current promotions reward members who complete missions. They’ll expand the practice to more product lines over time.
What is Blockchain Technology?
If you don’t know what blockchain technology is, you may have some trouble comprehending what DeFeet’s new changes mean for customers. Pay attention here, because you’ll be seeing and hearing the term a lot from now on.
The anonymously-invented technology was created in 2008 for Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency. It ensures the authenticity of transactions by decentralizing the locations of documents. This helps people verify the transactions publicly and prevents hacking and counterfeit.
The block in blockchain is a record that shows:
- Medical info from your doctor
- The location of your cryptocurrency
- You voted in an election & who received the vote
- You bought or sold Bitcoin or a pair of athletic socks & the transaction value
- You made a bank-free transfer of money or received one
Think Google Docs. Multiple actors can create a document together, and the document is not stored on anyone’s individual computer. In the old days of document collaboration, you had to save it to your computer, edit it, and then email it to another editor. The other editor then had to make edits or comments and send it back to you. In Google Docs, if someone makes an edit, all editors can verify that in real time and even look at the change records. You can set the document to be visible only to certain people, and to allow only one person at a time to edit it.
DeFeet Leads the Way for Retailers Considering Blockchain
Certain sectors of the business world have recently taken an interest in blockchain solutions. Digital ad companies want to distinguish ad views by humans vs bots. Manufacturers want to trace problematic product parts to their sources. Cryptocurrencies want to authenticate transactions and trace the whereabouts of the currencies. Wire money transfer companies want to cut down on costs and pass the savings to users. Voters want to know their votes have been counted.
Retailers have been slow to jump on the blockchain bandwagon. Expect more retailers to follow Defeet’s lead.
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