Saturday, March 01, 2008

Cateye V3 review, Cold Sprints

My Cateye V3 came in at Freewheel this week. I won't repeat all of the specs, check them out here. I'm pretty sure I'm the first in the Twin Cities to get one, since I ordered it in January and there was already a waiting list for it. Pretty easy to install since it's all wireless. I'm not a fan of the "FlexTight™" bracket - it's bulky and fiddly and zip ties would work just fine in my opinion. Configuration is pretty easy too; just set up the time of day, accepted the default tire circumference (700x23), changed from kilometers to miles as the unit of measurement, flipped through the manual and I was ready to go.This isn't going to be a soft ball review though, since pretty much every wireless bike computer I've had has been problematic. Strange heart rate and speed readings by the airport, random intersections, the refinery south of St. Paul, etc. This computer promised to change all that with digital 2.4 GHz data transmission. I did a short ride, so I didn't go past the most problematic points, but my maximum speed registered correctly, but the max heart rate registered 202. This is not correct. It also registered a max cadence of 199. Clearly not correct. "Broadband for your bicycle" is batting 1/3 so far. The averages don't seem to be affected very much though, but nevertheless I'm disappointed.It's still better than my old computer, because it has both speed and heart rate in a much smaller, wireless package. I imagine there would be fewer issues if I didn't want wireless, but wires are messy and make it harder to keep the bike clean. I haven't played with the lap function yet, but I'm sure that works fine as it did on the old Cateye, and will be valuable for interval training and hill repeats. It's nice to have all of these features in one computer, and so far, no one else does at any where near the price. We'll see how it holds up over time. Sorry for the dirty bike pictures. Please don't throw my bike in the river!

Update 3/28/08: Well now I've had some more time with the computer. Now that I no longer have wild expectations, I'm happy with this computer. Some things that are standing out: simultaneous display of all the important data (speed, heart rate, cadence and your choice of distance, time or whatever; improved (but still not perfect) transmission (crazy HR and speed readings are still pretty rare); sleek size and smart mounting of both the computer and sensor (as noted before). Learning the interface can be a pain, but that's normal for these kinds of devices, and once learned, it's not a big deal. A nice feature over previous versions: ride data is saved in up to 14 "files", so if you forget to log your ride before the next one, it's still available. Neat. I'd still rather have the option of zip-tying the bracket, but I guess some people will like it. Some people may find the display hard to read, especially cadence and distance data, but I don't have a problem with it, and the important real time speed and heart rate numbers are larger. The buttons could be easier to press. Overall, I'm quite happy with it, and would recommend it. Looks like Blackburn now has similar models worth checking into.

Update 8/25/08: They have a zip tie bracket now. Highly recommended.

Cold Sprints was last night. Thanks to Tim and LGR for putting on this series. It's been a great way to bring the bike community together for good causes - from the lycra wearing roadies to the aromatic messengers and wannabes to the hard core winter bike commuters.Yesterday's proceeds went to the Mark Loesch fund. This cause is close to my heart, both because it happened a couple blocks from me and because the inhumanity boggles my mind. I was chatting with Verb(?) as I bought a poster and he was telling me the venue, the artists' work, the poster production and the roller/computer system were all donated, so that 100% of the proceeds could go to charity. What an awesome example of people getting together and pitching in for a good cause! I imagine it took a lot of work to put everything together too, so to everyone that contributed, this Summit EPA's for you!