Wahoo ELEMNT

Wahoo ELEMNT Review

I was always a strong advocate for using a smartphone for activity tracking. But the battery was always a problem. The battery capacities got better over the years, but on my long tours it was never enough. My first solution was a powerbank. Now there was more than enough energy, but it was very messy with the cables. So early last year I finally gave up and was in the search for a bike computer.

Wahoo ELEMNT

I was never a big fan of the Garmin devices. I have to admit, I did never try one, but didn’t understand why they had to have touchscreens and displays like smartphones. The display has to be readable in all light scenarios. That’s the only thing it has to be good at. That was why the Wahoo ELEMNT got my attention in the first place. They seemed trying to build a well thought out device not a fancy one.

Concept

The Wahoo ELEMNT has a monochrome display. It is a fairly big device. It has pages on which fit up to ten customisable data fields. You can zoom in an out on a page to show more or less data fields. So it is practical to put important fields like for example heart rate and cadence at the top. There are tow special pages one shows climbing metrics and the other a map of the area. If you use Strava with the ELEMNT theres also a page for segments. When you are using the lap feature there appears another page with metrics for the current lap.

The ELEMNT also has two rows of LEDs. The top row is for navigation and segment announcements. The one on the left is customisable to be used to indicate heartrate, speed or heart rate.

Features

Since I bought the ELEMENT in April 2016 the team at Wahoo added several big features such as Strava live segments and turn by turn navigation. But one of the best features of the Wahoo ELEMNT is Wahoos third party approach. Wahoo provides a platform and the software is able to connect to several third party services which provide data for the device. For example segments from Strava or navigation from komoot and RideWithGPS. So if there is a new important service in cycling Wahoo will surely be open to integrate it, too. The same goes for hardware. Certainly the ELEMENT works perfect with Wahoos kickr trainers, but also with electronic shifting systems from Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo.

Navigation

I use navigation in almost every ride. At first I thought it might be a problem to read the map because of the monochrome display. But I learned fast that this is no problem. The ELEMNT is able to show even the smallest trails. If your are not sure simply zoom in. The ELEMNT uses OpenStreetMaps. the same service Strava and komoot uses.

If you leave the planned route the ELEMENT is not able to recalculate the route. But you can either look on the map to find back to your route or you can plan a new route with the companion app und your smartphone. Both approaches are practical and it doesn’t bother me that the ELEMNT is unable to recalculate routes (yet?).

Sensors

The ELEMNT supports a wide range of sensors. Every sensor with ANT+ or Bluetooth is supported. One of the best things is that once paired with a sensor it always connects automatically. That was a problem when I still was recording with my iPhone. Sometimes the heart rate monitor didn’t get connected so I had to pair it again. Maybe it helps that all my sensors are made by Wahoo. But all I can say is that it works seamless!

Summary

The Wahoo ELEMNT was a very good investment. It is an all-round carefree device. I’m so glad that all I have to do to record a ride is to press the start button on the ELEMNT. It records reliable every time. The battery is no issue at all. Even on rides that take the whole day I have still energy to spare. It is always great to have one device that does not much but what it does very well.

In the meantime Wahoo released another version of the ELEMNT – the ELEMNT BOLT. In a nutshell it is the same device but in a smaller more aerodynamic package. Wahoo even claims it is the most aerodynamic bike computer in the world. That statement appears to hold true.

I’m excited to see the development on the Wahoo ELEMNT continuing. Maybe thanks to the BOLT we will see even some professionals use it in major races. That would surely stir the development even more.

Winterpokal 2016/17

Winterpokal 2016/17

Winterpokal is long gone but I wanted to hand in the final chart for this last Winterpokal. I already noted that this will be my best ever Winterpokal so far. I achieved 391 points and became 1166th in the user ranking. In fact at the end I got three times as much points as in my best Winterpokal before. That result is hard to beat in future winters. 🙂

Nevertheless my goal for next winter is to achieve 450 points and get under the first thousand users.

Die Trainingsbibel für Radsportler

Training knowledge

I have a bit of time at hand right now, so I decided to put my knowledge about training on a more solid scientific foundation. Since I started my training again last autumn I felt that I should individualise my training more. Until now I used a simple training plan scheme I found on the website of a german mountainbike magazine. Put it always felt like this was rather suboptimal.

The plan I used consisted of five different weeks. Each week hat a different goal: endurance, strength, intensity, race and recovery. I just mixed those weeks like I thought it could be useful. But there was no adjustment to my performance level. I think that can be critical.

One guy in the IBC recommended The Cyclist’s Training Bible1 by Joe Friel. It seems to be a standard work of training theory. I will read it in the next days and try to generate a training plan for the rest of my year with it.

Tom Dumoulin in Maglia Rosa

Unwritten rules in sports

Today was the queen’s stage of the 100th Giro d’Italia. Just before the last climb, after almost 200 kilometres of riding, the leading man – Tom Dumoulin – had to follow nature’s call and stop next to the street. The other favourites which whom he was riding together in a group before didn’t stop and wait for him. At first they seemed a bit surprised but shortly kept going on with their race. Tom Dumoulin was on his own from there on. When he finished his business he was about a minute behind.

Many people say that the other favourites should have waited for the Maglia Rosa.1 But I think in this case it is perfectly fine that they continued racing and even attacked each other.

  1. Tom Dumoulin didn’t suffer from any disadvantage like a crash with a motorbike or a careless fan. He either anticipated his metabolism wrong or he simply had very bad luck.
  2. It is a competition after all. In mountainbike racing flats, broken chains and crashes happen all the time. No one thinks about waiting on each other. Those things are part of the sport. It happens. Mechanicals disturb the competition but waiting for each other does too.

Before today Tom Dumoulin had an advantage on Nairo Quintana of 2:41 minutes. Now he has just 31 seconds. This promises very interesting last days of this years Giro d’Italia.

 

 

This doesn’t have anything to do with respect. Bad luck can happen to everybody. Not to mention bad planning. I think this “unwritten rule of cycling” is one to abandon. It feels like the rule to not put your elbows on the table while eating.

Unwritten rules in amateur sports

While we’re at it… there is this rule in amateur running competitions that it is bad form to overtake a woman right before the finish line as a man. What sexist rule is that? First women compete in a different category as men. So it doesn’t affect any result. Second not everyone crosses the start line at the same time. Maybe I overtake that woman just before the finish line, but it is still possible that I was slower in the whole race. Third why do I have to compromise my result for someone who doesn’t have anything to do with me at all. And last why does this rule only apply to women? Who not also to older men or children which also compete in those races.

Seems I don’t like unwritten rules (that don’t make any sense).

 

Photo by brassynn. License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.


  1. That what the leaders jersey at the Giro d’Italia is called.

Bloody disk brakes

I love disk brakes, I really do. I couldn’t go back to rim brakes on my MTB. But if there’s one thing I hate about servicing a modern mountain bike it would be bleeding disk brakes.

About DOT and oil in disk brakes

Last year I switched from a hydraulic disk brake 1 with DOT to one with mineral oil. DOT sucks water and with water comes air. Air is highly compressible under pressure. So if there’s air in you brake hose the brake has no bite point anymore and will stop working at all eventually. Mineral oil doesn’t suck water. And it’s less poisonous as DOT. So I personally prefer oil in my brakes. But that limits the number of brake manufacturers I can chose from. For example there are Shimano, Magura and Trickstuff which use oil. But SRAM (formerly known as Avid), Hope and Formula use DOT.

Shimano XTR

The disk brake I bought last year was the Shimano XTR Race BR-M9000. It is Shimanos top of the line Cross Country brake. The XTR is well known and has a hight reputation in the scene. When it arrived I was very impressed by the brake. It has a well defined bite point and the braking power is immense! After I shortened the hoses the necessary bleeding went well.

I already wrote about he pressure point problems with the Shimano XTR brake. Back in January I thought about buying a Magura MT8 and I did.

Magura MT8

The moving pressure point of the XTR was the main reason I bought a Magura MT8 early this year. This is again the top of the line Cross Country brake from Magura. I always liked the idea to own a Magura brake because Magura build’s and develop’s its brakes in Bad Urach. That’s very near the town I grew up. I read before that the bite point of Magura brakes is not as defined as Shimanos. In the bike boards they always said that Magura brake are “better controllable”. When the MT8 arrived I was a bit disappointed because I could pull the lever to the bar very easily. The braking power was ok but I was not able to move my back wheel up when I used the front brake.

Bleeding the MT8

So I bought the “professional bleeding kit” from Magura. The bleeding was a bloody disaster. In my first try I sucked additional air into the system because the “professional bleeding kit” is so bad manufactured that there gets air inside if you push the syringe too strong. In my second try I was a bit gentler and it looked very well. No bubbles at all. Perfect I thought. So I closed the system again. But when I pulled the lever it felt even worse. The level was next to the bar immediately. I was furious.

Bleeding it again

After that I used a little trick. I removed the wheel and pulled the lever so the brake pistons came out a bit. The I opened the bleeding screw on the brake lever and filled in more oil. After that I pushed the pistons back in and reassembled the wheel. After that the disk dragged a bit so I opened the bleeding screw a little bit to let one or two drops of oil out. Now the disk didn’t drag and the bite point was where I would expect it.

Feels like rubber

But it still feels like rubber when I pull the lever. There is now power but I still can pull the lever until the bar. I’m still not able to lift the back wheel when using the front brake. There just isn’t enough braking power. I wonder how I can make the Magura MT8 more powerful. At the moment I’m almost missing my XTR. With this one I could at least do everything I wanted when I kept its flaws in mind.

What now?

I have two top of the line disk brakes which both don’t fulfil my needs. I could try the Trickstuff Piccola but that brake is rather expensive. A set of it costs 750€. For that money I can almost get a complete SRAM Eagle group set. Because it it so expensive there are not many reports by real users. So I’m not guaranteed to get a working brake either.

Another option is the Brakeforce One H2O. This brake is especially nice because it does neither work with DOT nor with mineral oil. It works with water. That means you don’t have such an ugly mess bleeding your brake like I had today with oil. It’s just water. You can bleed your brakes in your living room. But that is not the whole truth. I’m living in Germany and in one half of the year it may get really cold. Because of that it is required to put 20% glycol into the brake system – at least in winter. And with a price point 594€ it’s not really cheap either.

For now I’m back on the Shimano XTR. I was almost relieved when I pulled the brake lever of the XTR the first time again. The pressure point felt SO good compared to the MT8. Even the pressure point seemed to move less.

The MT8 is at Magura at the moment. I sent it to them unannounced. I wrote a description of the problem.

But maybe DOT?

There’s another option I don’t like. There seem to be several DOT disk brakes on the market which work rather well. The SRAM Level Ultimate is very popular. With around 450€ for the set it is not exorbitant expensive. And I think I could use my old Avid disks. With this brake I will be able to use only one clamp for the brake and the trigger for my (future) Eagle rear derailleur.

Also I always hear that Hope is one of the best bike accessories manufacturer on the market. It seems that Hope provides great quality and an awesome customer service. They make the Race Evo X2. It is specifically designed for Cross Country racing. A set is just under 400€. That is almost cheap.

I’m not ready yet to get into the DOT mess again. In the meantime I will use either the XTR or the MT8 until Eurobike when new brakes will be announced. Maybe the next version of the XTR doesn’t have those bite point problems.


  1. Of course I’m only talking about hydraulic disk brakes here. I don’t know why mechanical disk brakes exist.

X-ray image of my broken collar bone.

No KOM or race win is worth an injury lay-off

One year ago today I broke my right collar bone in the first race of the season.1  It was also my last so far. I suppose almost every ambitious athlete suffers an injury during his life. I will describe my experience with the collar bone and what I learned from it.

Operation

In most of the cases an operation is needed. In the operation there will be a plate applied which connects the two parts of the broken collarbone again. But I managed to shred the outer three centimeters of the bone completely. It was not possible to screw a plate on top of it. My doctor decided to do a tight rope fixation. They drilled a hole through the intact part of my collar bone and another one through the bone below and pulled a rope through to move the collarbone down. That way the collarbone was in the right place again and could merge again with those fragments at the outer side.

Recovery

The problem with this is that it takes much more time than a fixation with plate would have. And you can’t move your arm properly for weeks. Because of that I had to wear a shoulder immobilizer for ten weeks. Thats a massive sling around the neck that looks like a sofa for small children. My recovery went pretty well, I think. I had regular physiotherapy in which I always could perform every exercise my trainer wanted to do. 52 days later I sat on my bike again. But only at home on the bike trainer. Outside the concussions would still have been too much. Over two months after the accident I did my first jog. My first time on the bike outside was 74 days after the accident – thats two and a half months without proper biking. That was a long time.

Motivation kicks in

When I had time to ride my bike again it was already autumn. But my motivation was higher than ever. I bought very good winter clothes and rode through the whole winter. When the temperatures got friendlier again my ride became even longer. This march was the month with the longest distance I ever had. I never was fitter. I further optimised my bike, adjusted the suspension and rethought my position on the bike. My feeling on the bike was so good.

Second injury

Two weeks ago I managed to crash again. One second after I went down I knew my collar bone was broken. Again. I roared into the woods. Frustration. Twenty seconds later I picked up my bike and rode home. This time I did a better job breaking the collar bone. Same bone, different position. This time I got a titan plate on the bone. It feels like a steel beam inside my shoulder.
It was my second bike accident since I ride mountainbike more serious. I hope in the future not every accident results in a bone injury. I would also be easily satisfied with some small scratches…

Recovering from a déjà vu

In the first days while I waited for my operation I felt pretty devastated. Everything felt like a big déjà-vu. It was difficult to accept that my season is falling apart yet again. But some days after the operation – today is day 8 – I felt that thanks to that plate I’m much more able to do things than last time. I already move around without the arm sling most of the time. I mean I’m stille pretty slow with everything that has to do with that arm. But at least I can move it at all. I plan to be on the bike trainer as early as next week. My physiotherapist even advised me to do so. Because encourage my metabolism will help with the healing.

Lessons learned

Because the same accident happened again so fast I spent a good amount of time thinking about what I can do to prevent this kind of accidents in the future. Both accidents didn’t have much in common. But I came up with a (still a bit undefined) list of things I plan to do:

  • Participate in a technique training to improve my bike handling skills.2
  • Don’t ride at the limit when I don’t have perfect vision.
  • Fast descending is not what makes a fast race.
  • Only ride fast when I have inspected the trail just moments ago.

Some of those points are common sense but sometimes when you have fun on the trail you ignore some of these rules. I try to keep them in mind in the future every time I have the impulse to hit the pedals hard. It is always good in life to reflect your own actions – so it is on the bike.


  1. In minute 18 it gets “interesting”.

  2. I’m looking for bike training schools in south Germany right now. If someone has any tips. I would prefer someone who has actual experience in Cross Country racing and such things as curve technique, rock gardens, small jumps …

My workshop is a mess

 

Right now …

My workshop is a mess. Some days ago I was cleaning it up. “My workshop” is a big exaggeration. There was a time when below those bike parts, cleaning equipment, clothes and tools was a sofa. Yes I mean that piece of furniture where normaly at least two people can sit on.
When I started to work on my bike myself I didn’t like the idea to stand for hours  in the cold and lonely basement so I kept all the parts in the flat. But the parts and tools became more and more until the sofa was no longer free to sit on.

Now I structured all the things laying on top of it. Old bike parts will be sold. Parts I will maybe use again are stored below the sofa together with all the tools which fit nicely in a surprisingly small cardboard box. There are two boxes still on the sofa. In one I store all the fluids, oils, greases and lubricants. The other contains tubeless sealant and some parts to apply it.

But in the future …

This is not optimal but I now I’m able to sit again in the office/workshop below my montainbike and do things or sleep. In case of the latter I dream of kind of a garage beneath the house I live in where I don’t park my car (because I won’t own one) but instead store my bikes and have a workshop with all the tools nicely ordered at the wall. There’s a big workbench like table with drawers for parts and other materials. The heart of the workshop is a very robust workstand where I can put my bikes on.

I wonder if the day will come I won’t wake up and realise it was just a dream.

Brake Uncertainty

Not long ago I maybe have discovered what caused my accident last may. Back then I rode with an almost new Shimano XTR Race M-9000 brake. I just made one tour with the new brake. The accident happened on a steep downhill section on a wide forest path. I constantly had to break a little. Suddenly I braked a bit harder end everything went south. Until now I thought the slippery chalk gravel caused my wheel to swing off. But after I read a review of the Shimano XTR at MTB-News I figured that maybe the brake itself was the problem. This version of the XTR brake (and also its XT version) can have a changing pressure point. Means that if you press the brake lever once, release it almost(!) completely and press the lever again, the pressure point moves more far away from the handle bar. So the point where the wheel locks happens earlier. I rode with this brake since August when I was allowed to bike again. I didn’t have any real problems. But I was extremely careful because I didn’t very confident on difficult sections after my spill. After I read the review I tried it and I could reproduce it immediately.

When I first bought the XTR I almost chose the Magura MT8 instead. Maybe I’ll have a look at some secondhand MT8s now…

Back to the roots: WordPress

Huh, what’s going on, I’m back on WordPress.

Almost three years back I switched my blog software from WordPress to Publify. My WordPress installation was old and slow and it felt like it becomes worse with every update. At first I thought about writing a little blog software with Ruby and Rails by myself. But then I found Publify. It is a ready to use Rails blog software. At first all worked well. But from now and then I found a bug. The bugs became more and more and after the last update I wasn’t even able to log in to admin panel. Additionally I wanted to be able to blog from everywhere. Publifys admin interface is not really responsive.

Meanwhile I tried also Medium. What I most liked about it was the editor. It is very clean and easy to use and looks great. I never felt less distracted while putting my thoughts into words. But the disadvantage is that the editor is very limited. There are several items the editor understand and is able to treat them special. For example videos from YouTube or Vimeo, Tweets and of course images. But links to Strava activities get treated like it’s a normal link. That means Medium displays the Strava icon and the title of the Site, in this example that’s the title of the activity. There is no possibility to use Stravas own embed feature because Medium won’t display custom embeds. That means there’s no way to show a map to an activity. But that feature is crucial for me. It bothered me that those Strava links looked to dull. For WordPress there even exists plugin to fit your Strava activities nicely in your posts. Thats the advantage of being mainstream. 😃 1

Over the years my old existing WordPress blog (this one) updated itself with each new release. I tried it occasionally and it became better and better. It was even fast again. So today is the day I switch back to WordPress. For now I use the standard design. It still looks bloody boring but my main focus was on being able to write again. Design will follow.


  1. It was never updated and works no longer due to API changes.

Best Winterpokal already

Last weekend this winter became already the most productive of my life yet.

Every winter from October to March MTB News hosts a competition called “Winterpokal”. For every fifteen minutes of biking participants get one point. My best Winterpokal so far was 2010/11 with 114 points. As of today I have 120 points this winter. Maybe I have to catch up on some kilometres this year. 🙂 And we have just December. I hope I can keep up my motivation.