Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Mulling My 2013 Equipment Options

As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s not all about the equipment. I would do this sport with a pair of surfer trunks, some old Chuck Taylor high-tops and a steel Schwinn bike with no gears if that was all I had. However, I’ve been fortunate in my life and career and this has allowed me to make the training and racing experience better through better equipment. That is not to say, however, that I don’t have to make some choices about what I can buy from year to year. This need to make a decision also makes me be more thoughtful about each item. Here’s the list of possibilities as it stands today:

 1. The Wahoo KICKR Trainer

I first read about this from a DC Rainmaker post from EuroBike and I was intrigued. I like the notion of a free-wheel that coasts and more accurately simulates the downhill. I also like the quiet promised from the unit. My mag-resistance trainer gets the job done, but definitely not quietly!

Unfortunately, their promised availability date of January 1, 2013 has come and gone with no indication that this unit is now for sale. Comments expressed on their Facebook page indicate frustration and serious doubt about when they may actually launch. Unfortunately, this tendency to promise a deadline and then miss it seems to be par for the course with several manufacturers lately.

2. Power Meters.

Lots has been happening in this space which is good, but again, items that I found most interesting are not coming to market as promised. Of particular note is the Brim Brothers cleat-based system. This is of particular use because your power meter follows you from bike to bike. So whether I’m training on my road bike or my race bike, I’d have readily available power data (something for which I’ve come to appreciate the need). Originally Brim said mid 2012. The late 2012. Now mid 2013. But, who knows?
Another new entrant is Garmin with their pedal-based meter called Vector. While perhaps not as versatile as Brim, it still is intriguing, but at $1500 it’s not terribly competitive with crank-based systems like Quarq. And…you guessed it—the system is still not available. The latest word is the first or second quarter of this year.

That lead me to think that maybe I would just have to fork over the cash for a crank-based system. Then today, again thanks to DC Rainmaker, of a company local (Boulder-based) company called Stages Cycling. Their power meter is located on the crank-arm (as opposed to the spider with other companies). They have their reasons as to why this is just as good if not better than the more traditional set up. I’m more impressed with pricing starting at $699, a relative bargain when it comes to power meters.

3. Race Wheels.

This is one I’m having trouble justifying. I love the idea of a light bike and getting more speed from the same effort. I really love the way a bike looks with these on it. But the cost? Painfully high. More than the bike in some cases. What’s more, in a place with frequent high wind (like Colorado) the solid back wheel is likely to be more of a hindrance than a help. That’s not to say you won’t ever see them on my tri-bike, just that at this stage, they seem like a lower priority.

I’ll no doubt go through a coupe more pairs of shoes, especially as I train for a full marathon, and I may also need a new swimsuit or two during the year, but my Zoot Flash held p great during another season, and I think I’m a little rough on my suits. The bike is new as of last year and will not be on the replacement list for several years.

All of this also has to be balanced against a big trip to Europe in June to celebrate my 20th anniversary. I do need to leave enough in the bank account to ensure that’s a good trip and not have to take my wife to the street fair for our anniversary dinner.

Clearly there is more to come on this front. I’ll be interested to see if Stages breaks the trend of missing deadlines and has a product available this month, as promised. I’ll update when I have more on this front.

Thanks for reading.

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