Open Letter to Garmin

Dear Garmin,

It’s been painfully obvious to even the most casual observer that the fitness end of your business model is far from a primary concern to your executives.  Between continually pushing back your “revolutionary” Vector power meter, firmware that is loaded with bugs, devices that crash frequently and expensive, limited use mapping cards.

garmin sensor 300x300 Open Letter to GarminBut perhaps the most egregious infraction, at least in my mind, is the crappy quality sensor that you bundle with your cycling GPS units.  For something with supposedly so much research in it, how in the hell can you build such a shoddy product?  First of all, the design of the speed sensor arm lends it to being caught up in the spokes any time it should shift even a small amount.  Secondly, the quality of the Reed switch in the speed sensor arm is utter crap.

I’ve been through five speed/cadence sensors in the past year (including two in the past WEEK!)  Each and every time the Reed switch has gone bad, either from a small shock or just random cessation of existence.  Seriously…there has got to be a way for you to make a decent quality sensor without losing money on it (although you seem to be fine with losing money, what with the Vector program purchase and subsequent failure….)

So while you’re busy ironing out the Vector trainwreck, I implore you, on behalf of all the useless speed sensors out there, USE MORE ROBUST ELECTRONICS!

Since this request will probably fall upon deaf ears, perhaps there is a way to attach a more robust sensor to the existing Garmin unit, even if it’s not a pretty solution.  I’ll try that in the future and post results of how it works out.

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Garmin Vector Vapor

vector 300x188 Garmin Vector VaporWith yesterday’s press release, Garmin’s sale of the highly anticipated Vector power pedals has gone from “Summer 2012″ to “we cannot estimate a delivery date.”  In industry terms, that would be known as “we still can’t make it work even remotely reliably, so if we release it now it would be a complete failure.”  Never mind that they have been touting this system for the better part of 6 months (at least) and have pushed back the release date twice now.  It makes one wonder if they will ever get out of development…

Perhaps more interesting than the lack of release information is the lack of testing: nothing can be done in secret in the cycling world anymore, and that includes product testing.  Even something as easily disguised as a new drivetrain (see the Shimano 9000 post) will be spotted by those with keen eyes.  Nobody has seen (nor even heard rumors of) Garmin’s own ProTour team even testing the pedals (the power part of them anyway.)  This raises questions as to how far along in development they really are, as they should have been in field testing for a LONG time before release.

What this says (in my own opinion) is that waiting for these pedals is going to be a long exercise in futility, and once they come to market they may well be so full of bugs that they will be unusable.  My advice to anyone looking for a power meter at this juncture would be to go with a Powertap (cheapest), a Quarq (cheapest crank based unit) or an SRM (the gold standard.)  The Look Power Pedals are indeed available, but carry a $2k price tag and require an addition $500 Polar computer, so that puts them out of the running for most, and on par with an SRM for the rest.

Only time will tell what Garmin comes up with, but in the meantime, nobody’s holding their breath, because all we’re breathing is vapor.

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Classics Season Has Begun

I won’t spoil thing for those who haven’t seen it yet, so don’t jump to the end if you don’t want to see the result.

 

omloop peloton 300x244 Classics Season Has BegunNeedless to say, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (formerly Omloop Het Volk) signals the start of the Spring Classics campaign in northern europe.  It’s the time of year every hard core cyclists waits for: Grand Tours are nice and all, but the cobbled classics, often raced in the worst of conditions, really separate the men from the boys.  True grit is the only way to win and the hardmen of the peloton rise to new heights after a winter of solitary base miles.

This year was no different, with one exception: the weather.  The weather just didn’t want to cooperate this year, leaving the riders to face mild temperatures, sunny skies and dry roads.  Really mother nature, what the hell?

Anyway, on to the race (screenshots are from Sporza.be, where you can listen in Dutch.)  Photos, short description and winner after the jump.

Continue reading “Classics Season Has Begun” »

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Garmin Sensor Mounting

A few posts on various forums have popped up recently about the poor design of the Garmin GSC-10 speed/cadence sensor.  One of the issues that people have been having is the method of attachment for the sensor itself, and some have had problems with sensors falling into the spokes and being destroyed.  There must be some way to prevent this, right?

Garmin’s method of attachment is a pair of simple zip ties.  The sensor is (supposedly) prevented from rotating around by a small rubberized strip on the bottom of the sensor itself.  While this typically works just fine, if the zip ties are not snugged down as tight as they can get or if you have chainstays that are oddly shaped, there may not be enough friction to keep it from rattling loose (especially on rough or unpaved roads.)  While some people have rectified the problem by drilling small pilot holes in the chainstays and the bottom of the sensor case and screwing the sensor to the chainstay.  For those of you who aren’t in the business of taking a drill to your multi-thousand dollar frame there’s a simple solution that costs nothing more than a few scraps of old bartape.

gscsensor 300x224 Garmin Sensor MountingBy simply strapping a couple scraps of bartape to the chainstay under the zip ties, the zip ties can be tightened up enough to keep the sensor from moving around.  Not only does the bar tape prevent the ties from slipping, they also compress and provide extra pressure on the zip ties, ensuring they stay tight.  This will allow the sensor to be positioned more precisely, prevent the speed sensor arm from being ripped off by the spokes and prevent the entire unit from rattling loose and falling into the spinning spokes.

Who ever though something so simple could be so effective (and get scraps out of the garage.)

Posted in general cycling, Road bike, wrenching | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment