I picked up a new heart rate strap some months ago and I thought I’d suggest it to my exercise, fitness, cycling, triathlon, and running friends. Before I mention the type and brand, I’d like to think about what people want in a good heart rate chest strap? I personally only need one that will last, has quality fasteners, and works. Maybe a good battery life is expected too. Secondary affordability is a must.
I introduce you to the CooSpo ANT+ heart rate monitor. Really it is just the strap and unit, but the box calls it an actual monitor. This particular one is made to sync with a smart phone primarily, but will work with any ANT+ watch or bike computer. CooSpo makes 3 straps. A Bluetooth sensor, an ANT+ sensor, and one that reads both ANT+ and Bluetooth transmissions. My device it the ANT+ only model. It features a comfortable chest strap, removable sensor for easy strap washing, long battery life (about 1 year-they say), it will pick up anything BPM from 30-240, works out to 5 meters, and is water proof. They come in black only and only 1 size, that adjust from 65-95 centimeters. This device is compatible with any ANT+ unit or phone. As I look at the CooSpo web page, I see that they make other strap colors for later purchase.
the strap to the other is kind of cheap feeling, but I have not had a single issue with it. They all ship from China where CooSpo is, or they can be found on amazon, ebay, or even at your local store. Do not, I repeat do not pay over 30 bones for the version I have, or 50 for the one that is both Bluetooth and ANT+. Why do I say that, because I see them on-line now for 100, and I paid 25 plus shipping?
So why buy this over any other product. It is super affordable with pretty good quality. If you can wait for the amazon box to show up, it’s perfect. On my 1-5 scale, I give it a 4 only because to the plastic clip buckling part, which again has held up fine, but seems not as reliable.
I came across Exustar pedals simply because I needed a new set of road pedals and cleats all in the same swoop. I am a frugal shopper always looking for something that maybe not everyone else is using. Of course I do my research and read reviews prior to trying out a product. EXUSTAR is a cycling company that produces pedals, cleats, and shoes only. The make road, mountain, track, spin, BMX, and “urban” pedals. They also make road, track, triathlon, mountain, rubber, and winter cycling shoes.
This review is for the E-PR15 basic road cycling pedal. They are pretty much like LOOK pedals, except just a bit cheaper. They weigh 144 gram each pedal. They also feature a fiberglass-reinforced thermoplastic adjustable tension, for a good tight bind from shoe, cleat to pedal. The bearings are LSL sealed tube bushing, so the bearing should be coming apart on you. The axle is heat threaded and the body itself is a thermoplastic.
From a riding perspective, these pedals seem to be a bit better than the LOOK KEO pedals. The quality over all shows in the product. They are durable and slow to wear out. The tension stays tight and the float can be adjusted with ease.
Some may ask why buy these pedals over any other brand? First, on the low end, you can get pedals and cleats for a super reasonable price. The E-PR15 are MSRP $52.50. I got mine for $25.00 with cleats brand new. On the high end, their full carbon pedals MSRP $140.00, which I've seen for $45.00 on-line. At the tip top, they have a $300 dollar pedal if you just have to spend. They are more than likely $150.00 in the store. They are super affordable for a cyclist on a budget, that doesn’t mind some different than what the next guy has. The company has been around for some years and they produce great products. I’m sold on them for life, no matter which level pedals I get. I should add that the specific pedal shown are rated for all around use and as a starter pedal. I’m no beginner and they are great! My next set will be either the same or the middle of the road.
If I have to rate these on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the best. I’d for sure give these a 5 in all areas possible. Better than Shimano pedals for sure. Better than Speed play! Less expensive than LOOK.
My old Iron Man watch finally had it, well not the watch itself, but the proprietary heart rate strap wasn’t working. I already had an ANT+ strap that I paired with my other bike computers and I figured I could get a new watch to train with. While searching I found all the brands out there to be rather expensive. Some really didn’t have many features, but when I found the PYLE SPORTS GPS watch series I was interested in the brand.
While doing research I found that feature by feature the PSGP410 was going to be the most bang for an athletes buck at an MSRP of $328.99, but get this, I didn’t pay nearly that. These watches tend be on sale for about $100-$200 dollars depending on the color you like. I think the most I found one for was $250 and it was the pink one. Yes colors!!! I love the colors, which are these light pastels. Blue, green, black, orange and for the ladies pink! Just playing around, or for the dude that just so happens to like pink.
The PSGP410 has so many features, The GPS plots your routes, an integrated 6-axis digital navigation e-compass, smart sensor for the best results, wireless ANT+ and Blue tooth, Lots of built in memory (more than most), PC connections for uploading to performance software, standard time functions, Training data like speed-distance-lap intervals (time and Distance intervals, Cadence, power, and it works with all ANT+ devices.
The watch comes with a power/USB cord similar to the Suunto devices. The cord can be used USB to the PC or to a plug for the wall, for just charging. It also comes with its own software, which is only for PC. If you use a MAC, here in lye the first negative issue. The software not only uploads your data for comparison, analyzation, and record keeping; but it also converts files for uploading to other apps and software. If you aren’t using a PC, your data can not be uploaded to anything, because the initial file format is proprietary to PYLE SPORTS.
The 410’s functionality is great! Start by fully charging the unit. In my opinion the screens are easy to maneuver around, but there may be a bit too many screens. The watches set up takes a bit of time. First you as an athlete, your bike/s, time and date, your screens (up to 3), and finally all the ANT+ devices. The size of the face is much larger than certainly most regular watches and most training watches. This is great, because it holds tons of real-time data in your face, and you can see it all clearly while the sweat is dripping down your face.
On 3 overall scales of 1-5, 5 being the best on each one, I’d have to give the PYLE SPORTS GPS PSGP410, a 5 on pricing, a 5 on functionality and performance, and a 3.5 or 4 on compatibility. This product is fashionable, reliable, functional, and reasonable. I find it comparable to any brand out there including Garmin, Timex, Suunto, or whatever you have. You can find them at either the www.pyleaudion.com web page, amazon, your local dealers, or even some national dealers.
Recently I had Sram Rival components installed on my new bike and for the most part the whole group performed pretty well except for the front derailleur. Now I’ve had several different types of front derailleurs in my cycling days including 105, Ultegra, Sora, Force, Rival, Tiagra, and more recently Nashbar brand “Micro Shift”. I need to be honest; this is my second Nashbar derailleur. I had one on my old Specialized Allez, which I sold, and it wasn’t because of the shifting. Let me back up a bit to tell you why I had this type of derailleur on my bike. It started out as trying an inexpensive product, for comparison, and turned into my choice of what I would want over anything else. I tell y’all that this Narshbar “Micro Shift” derailleur is trying to compare with Shimano 105 or Sram Rival products. Well really there is no comparison when it comes to functionality, because the Micro Shift Derailleur actually works better than the above mentioned derailleurs especially the Sram ones. I am not against Sram at all; I love the shifters and the rear derailleur. I am for sure not against Shimano; I have had more Shimano products then maybe any other type throughout my cycling.
I need to get back to what happened with the Sram Rival product. I installed it with a buddy that just so happens to manage a bike shop in town. It worked okay, but I had issues. I messed around with it and couldn’t get it to work 100%. I went into my local shop and had the Sram “expert” mess with. They made it significantly better and it worked sort of, but really wasn’t what I want for the racing I do. I had one more friend make adjustments and he just so happens to own a bike shop and knows fixing bikes better than the next guy and the next guy’s pro Sram mechanic. Well it worked again, but still not the indexing I had with my much cheaper and way more reliable Micro Shifting component from Bike Nashbar. My deciding factor to get another one was when I dropped the chain in a practice race in the last 4 laps, had to fight to stay up with the fast group, and then finishing around 12th. After a few sessions with my cycling clients, I got on a live chat with Nashbar to make sure the Micro Shift would be 100% compatible with my double tap shifters. I even said it just needs to work as well as it did with my Ultegra shifters.
Now some days later a box arrives and I know what it is. It wasn’t 15 minutes before I had the new 10 speed Micro Shift front Derailleur installed, and maybe 15 minutes of riding and tuning to get jamming!!! Me the novice bike mechanic that can get the job done and get it done well, but only if you have a few hours for me to make things perfect, had no problems rocking this product right into place. One thing that would have helped is if the directions said to put a little Triflow lube on it before installing. Who knows maybe it did instruct me to do that, but I didn’t read the directions so I wasted a few minutes trying to “loosen” the spring, by moving it back in forth and pulling the cable, when really it had just needed a bit of start up lube. Here I am in the same day, writing a declaration that I will never have any other type of front derailleur.
In closing this product works way better than most of the Sram line and somewhat better than most of the Shinamo products; with the exception of Durace and Red, this is the best front derailleur I’ve ever owned. Maybe Sram and Shimano make their lower end products to just get by and to force the customer into the most expensive line of products they offer. I know that is a far stretch to make an accusation such as that, but really it kind of seems like this is the case. In reality the Micro Shift product is a copy of what Sram does, but better. How does the copy work better than the original? Does that mean that a Performance brand product might be the same? Should I try out a rear derailleur and see if it also rocks? These are the questions a cyclist should ask themselves. If you don’t believe me, buy one of these types derailleur. Install it on your back up bike or your winter bike and try it out. Don’t be embarrassed by the lack of a brand name on the product. The only factor you need to look at with a product is how does it work and does it work well for my needs. I know that is hard in a sport like cycling where everyone wants the “best” products out, but is that product really the best just because of it’s price or does it really out perform some less expensive “off” brand?
The Lead Pack Cycling Group
Depaula bicyles are a small bike company based in Kennesaw Ga, and was started by Brazilian cyclist Tiago Depaula. The company was started with a belief that high quality race bikes should be accessible to all riders. They have been proven on all levels as race winning, super sturdy, well handling bikes. Depaula bikes are crafted with an ultra-stiff monocoque frame constructed from T700 Carbon. This is a similar approach to frame building that other major brands use. Monocoque carbon means to build a frame in a way that the external body is the main support system. The word comes from Greek and from French. Mono meaning one and Coque in French meaning shell. One shell is a direct translation of the word. The T700 is in reference to the thread count used in the carbon build. The bikes are hand assembled right here in the USA, Atlanta Ga. Each bike build can be 100% custom or you can go with the standard Sram Rival/Force components for mid $4,950 MSRP. This cost can be dropped or raised by custom building. As an order is placed, a Depaula bike builder will ask you how you want your bike and will spend quality time getting all the right parts for your build. It can be a 100% custom boutique experience. Kevin Lee, head coach of Lead Pack Cycling, decided to build a Canuta 287 with Sram Rival, but went with Vuelta Zerolite wheels that we have previously reviewed. And we also brought our own saddle, handle bars, and seat post choices. Since we are also based in Atlanta, it was easy for us to just drop in and help with our build. Oh, but we should mention that we are a part of Depaula Racing, which also makes this a bit more accessible to us.
I’ve had it out on several rides now and I will have to say I love it. The damping feeling of the carbon makes even the roughest road feel like new blacktop. The bike is super stiff, allowing for maximum power to the pedals and drivetrain. The bike is super light, even with the parts I brought for the build, weighing in the high16 lbs range. So imagine building it with the Mavic Cosmic carbon wheels and all other carbon parts and it can easily come in at 14 lbs. The steering is so responsive and direct. It is like the newer digital cameras, point and shoot. Overall I am most impressed with the light but sturdy frames. A friend told me a story of running his over in his car, on accident, and the frame did not break (don’t try that at home). The frame was hair lined fractured for a centimeter or two and was sent back for repair. The fracture wasn’t even noticed after several full inspections by several people and one day that same week, it was finally found. That is how small and nothing it was. I have heard of other brand bikes sharing the same experience with much different results. Riders tell other stories of hard crashes and the bike not breaking. Pro racers on previous Depaula teams telling race stories of racing hard 90 minute crits on cobbles and still having a comfortable race experience. I could go on with stories of praise and never come across one bad word about Depaula Bikes.
Depaula bikes can be found in several retail environments, in the USA and Brazil. You can order them directly from the web page and talk to a real person that will work hard to get you what you want. Find a dealer near you and be the first in your peloton to ride this boutique brand bike!
Kevin Lee USAC coach/Personal Trainer
or inquire about a dealer near you
Some weeks ago, I started noticing a very energetic lady, in the front row of my group cycling classes. I knew she loved the work outs, because she would continue to show up and talk to me after the class. After several weeks she asked me what kind of sports nutrition I like to use. I explained to her that I use myself for experimentation of sorts. I like to try different products to write about and inform my clients about them. This wonderful lady turns out to be a sales rep for one of the oldest nutrition and sports nutrition companies in the business. Shaklee started in the 1950’s with organic biodegradable cleaning products. By the mid 1970’s they had moved on to all natural supplements, nutrition, and sports nutrition. The entire time they always focused on all natural and organic products, before this was all a big deal.
After a few days of research I decided to go ahead and try out a package of sports nutrition. The fact that the company had a laundry list of successful Olympians, in a variety of sports including rowing, pentathlon, and diving, was a big help in my decision to try them out. In later research I found out that they had a successful cycling team using the products and sponsored by Shaklee from 1988-2000. Shaklee was the title sponsor for this UCI team and I recently found out that this team had members that rode for a local shop in the Atlanta area, that I know well. All this was enough to give her sports package a try. She brought me “Energy”, which is a chew to use directly before a workout. She brought me “Performance”, which is an electrolyte drink to use while riding or working out, and finally “Physique” which is a protein shake that would be used after a workout.
I should start with the immediate response my body had to the Energy product. I was energized for the first month of base riding. The first ride I was amazed that only 2 chews carried me for 56 plus miles. I was so accustom to eating a gel or two for a “short” ride like that, it was awesome to just pop a couple chews at the start. My first impression was that the taste has got to be improved for the Natural Citrus Burst. The consistency is a bit hard to get down, but the product is a hole in one when it comes to performance. With only 6grams of sugar and 120 milligrams of caffeine (green tea extract), this is a super healthy product. They are loaded in vitamins and I think that is what carried me for the rides. I would recommend this product for anyone that wants to train seriously. Even though I was given this product to try, I am going to continue to use it and purchase it from my new Shaklee rep. I am already texting her to get more.
The second product is the Performance electrolyte drink. The first thing I noticed about the drink mix is that it doesn’t carry a ton of sugar and it has a good flavor. I tested orange and I can say it was much better than any other orange flavored “sports drink” I have ever had. Orange is usually my least favorite flavor. It performed well. I mean if NASA astronauts can use it then it must be good for me. It has no artificial flavors or sweeteners. It minimizes fluid loss, and maximizes blood glucose levels for sustained energy. Over all I like the product and I think it is way better than any grocery store soft drink brand, and comparable or better than any product I’ve used period.
Finally Physique, the protein drink, is a product I would recommend for any cyclist or triathlete. I down a shake after any hard ride, and every resistance training workout. I have had a noticeable increase in strength. My long hard training days were a breeze with a recovery drink like this. I tried banana. After a 70 mile day in the saddle, I’d recover with a shake, water, shower, and food, and then go out for natural resistance training. Who does stair repeats after a hard day in the saddle, I did, and I am convinced this product helped me recover properly. If you are ready to build lean muscle then this is the product you want.
By now you are thinking how and where can I try these out. Shaklee is sold by independent distributors. The good news is that I know of a person that can help you with any purchasing questions for these products. Elizabeth Yandle has been a Shaklee Leader since 1981. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I highly recommend giving all these products a try. I know I am done searching and for now I am 100 percent behind these wonderful products.
The Lead Pack Cycling Group
I am usually not the type of athlete that likes to try new products related to nutrition. I am an advocate of finding your product and sticking to it. Recently I decided that if I am a coach, I need to try more of the nutrition products on the market. I also decided that having clients test them just wouldn’t be the proper way to experiment with any type of product. So I risked my own success in training to try this product out.
Vega Sport is a product that is using all natural “vegan safe” ingredients to produce the nutrition products we all use, as cyclist and as triathletes. They carry a full line of sport drink mixes, gels, bars, pre-workout fueling, and recovery based products. We were given a couple cases of gels and a few of electrolyte hydrator packages. I tried the gels for a month and the drink mix shortly. I decided to write about the endurance gel, because of the commonality of its use.
The gels use several ingredients that most gels don’t have in them. These are all “plant based” and “all-natural”. They are “formulated to provide instant and sustained energy”. Plus they use vitamins and electrolyte replenishment during workouts. The product is also made for easy digestion and is free of many harmful ingredients other products use.
When talking about gels my main concerns are, one does the product work, two does it taste good, and three how easy is it to swallow while riding. I truly could care less if it is vegan. I love meat! When using all these factors, I find that the gels are relatively easy to get down the hatch. They are a bit gritty and they have a slightly different texture than any other gel I’ve ever eaten. It wasn’t bad, but it was a texture I had to get accustomed to. The product taste surprisingly good in the raspberry flavor. It didn’t go over the top with flavor which is good. Now to the number one reason why we even eat these things. Does it work? I noticed it fell a bit short for me. I didn’t bonk, but I wasn’t as chipper as I needed to be while riding. I felt like if I ate two in a row then it would sustain for the forty five minutes and then I’d have to eat two more. It almost seemed as if I needed double the recommended usage. This could be for several reasons. Maybe I was training harder than others, which is highly unlikely. Maybe my body wasn’t acclimated to that type of ingredients, which is not probable. Maybe they didn’t test it for sustainability in my training conditions. I think the main factor why I didn’t get the product’s full potential is because I had been using the same gels for so long (years), it took at least 2 weeks of the 4 to get acquainted with the new gels, then the third week to notice that I should eat two at a time, and finally the fourth week I was feeling good, except that it was the end of a long training block.
So here are the words you want to hear… Over all can you trust this product? I would say yes, but there is a big but I need to add. But, you need to try it in the winter base period. Use it all winter and be fine with it by the race season. The middle of a race season wasn’t a good time to try things out nutritionally. I also think the product is formulated more for casual riding and exercise and maybe not for more the elite cyclist or athlete. I hate to review something and not get 100% behind it, but I would never recommend it for elite athletes, but probably would for the recreational/weekend warrior.
Head Coach Kevin Lee
This Timex watch fits all your needs in a heart rate monitor. Although it isn’t really a cycling watch, it does give you features that you will need to train. The display is large and the set up is easy. Minutes after getting the watch out of the box, I had it on and was testing it's functions. If I would have taken the time to go through the directions, it might have taken seconds to get through the set up. This watch’s design uses a light polyurethane strap with air holes for breathability. The large digital display will stay on time when the heart rate strap isn’t on, and stay on your heart rate when it is on. You can hit a button to calculate your recovery time over intervals. This can be handy for a cyclist. Lastly, I like the work out recall feature. It averages your calories burned, the time of your workout, your peak HR, your average HR, and it doesn’t have all those annoying beeping functions. Well you can turn off all the beeping functions. The watch is comfortable and is truly an affordable functional product. This watch is rated for wellness in the Timex line of “fitness”, “wellness”, and “elite”. I think that is just a way to price the watches and show that one watch has more functions than another. The strap is comfortable, but has an almost inaudible beep that goes with your heart rate. That is good to know the strap is receiving your heart beat. The strap also is compatible with other devices in your gym, and maybe even your Garmin. It is billed as a watch that will work with tread mill read outs and other gym equipment. Over all this watch is easy to use, and affordable. It doesn’t bombard you with useless information, unless you want it. If mine broke in 5 years, I’d buy another one.
Foster Grant has come up with a product that will blow your mind when it comes down to quality
comparisons. I have gone through several pairs of cycling sun glasses and at some point a person wants
glasses for the reasons that they are meant for. Forget about how cool do I look and how expensive they
might be. Sun glasses break, they get lost, they are used and abused. These IronMan Triumph shades
can withstand some punishment. First I should tell you some of the features a rider should look for
in their cycling shades. First, do they protect your eyes? A good pair protects your eyes from the sun,
debris from the road, and bug/dust in the air. Secondly, a good pair should wrap around your peripheral
vision and protect the sides as much as possible. Finally, but most important the glasses must be
comfortable of your face. The bridge protection shouldn’t rub on your nose and the arms shouldn’t grab
your ears while pulling them off. The Foster Grant Iron Man Triumph sun glasses do all of that. They
have 100 percent UV protection and have shatter resistant PC lenses. I have had mine for a few rides
now and they do not fog up and my sweat doesn’t stick to the lenses with the air vents on the side. At a
fraction of the cost of some other shades this is a good buy. If you go through glasses like there may not
be a tomorrow, these are the cycling glasses for you. If you forget your regular glasses you can find this
product anywhere. How much do they cost you must be asking now, 20 bucks on average, so now you
can spend more money on your other apparel. These are the most functional shades, for the price. Yes,
THE MOST functional, hands down and if someone can bring me a pair of glasses that are twice as much,
but function better, I will give them the difference.
The Lead Pack Cycling Group
Full Speed Ahead with these new aluminum alloy handle bars. These drop handle bars are light and durable. The ergo drop allows you to have a full hand position while in the drop bars. They have a 2 degree butted end giving you a little extra at the ends of the bars. The over sized middle area fits a 31.8 mm stem, but then tapers off for smaller hands. These bars come in a few different widths. I went with the 135, but should have gone 140 to match my old bars, but still the measurement in the drops is 140 and that is the same. So the bars taper out 5mm from the hoods to the drops or 2.5 mm on each side. These handle bars a reasonably priced and can be picked up from any of your local bike shops. I would recommend these for riders that spend most of there time in the drops. If you ride sitting more upright, then you might want a less aggressive style of handle bar.
USA Cycling Coach
The Lead Pack Cycling Group