Often in science a mistake or accident can prove to show you more than your original experiment, as I just confirmed with my informal testing of my Quarq CinQo powermeter. So here’s the backstory:
After a season of really enjoying my CinQo, I had it shipped back to Quarq to have it recalibrated and get some firmware updates,.
I have to pause here to say that Quarq are a model of customer service and I am happy to have invested in their product: it was trust well-placed and I’d do it again. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of any cycling company, and few companies at large, that have been as good to me as a customer than Quarq has.
Also, after badgering the busy guys over at Saris / Cycleops (thanks Jesse and Geoff!) I received the beta Joule 2.0 firmware, which adds a manual zeroing feature for Quarq users.
So I decided with all of this new tech that I would grab a weight, some cord, and hang weights off of my cranks to see how the small and big rings and left and right crankarm affect power measurements.Since I could now hit a button and get a report on the torque measured by the Quarq when a certain weight was applied, I could see what it reported for torque compared to what the theoretical value should be given I knew the weight and the crankarm (leverarm) length.
I had a 20-lb weight right there, and after scrounging around a bit, decided I’d use an old power cord to make a loop on it to hang over my pedals.
I used the instructions on the Quarq FAQ page and built a spreadsheet and was merrily on my way to geek nirvana when I noted a strange thing: every time the cord that I had used to tie the weight touched the ground, I saw about 2-3 fewer 32nds of a Nm than I had when the cord wasn’t touching the ground.
My attention shifted: was the Quarq so sensitive that it could tell a 30 gram weight difference on top of the suspended 20.5 lbs when the end of the cord was resting on the ground or not?
Oh yeah – the CinQo is that sensitive. I tried this at least 15 times, then also tried it with some smaller weights in the 10-15g range added or taken away from the 20.5lb suspended weight. And every time, my quarq reported the difference.For good measure, I did weigh the cord end too!
At this point I had seen a few things:
1. The Quarq is *remarkably* sensitive
2. The Quarq showed a remarkable consistency, but even 2 degrees of slope either way in my crankarm away from horizontal would affect my results in a huge way, so it’s very hard to test your CinQo with weights and improve anything.
3. I don’t own a scale that’s good enough to weigh an object well enough to test my Quarq!!
This is a crazy-good piece of kit.
Why my Suunto X10 military went back after a brief review (and why the Core and Garmin 305 are on my wrist)
I recently picked up the Suunto X10 hoping that I would get my one-device fix, but soon realized that it was not to be. As outlined in my previous posts, there are too many tradeoffs to the Suunto x10 on every pole of the usage triangle:
1) fitness / training device: no heart rate, short battery life, and few calculations that relate to training performance
2) navigation device: tiny screen, low gain antenna compared to a handheld or even the Garmin 305 according to my side-by-side ride, where the Suunto x10 missed large patches that the 305 didn’t. Also, no screen to speak of, compared to some on the 305, and large touchscreens on a dedicated navigation device.
3) watch: too big, and poor battery life, coupled with truly abysmal visibility without backlight under any dimmer light condition – let alone running or hammering down the road on your bike with sunglasses on.
I don’t really fault Suunto – the technology is just going to require some more time to mature.Â Given today’s tech limitations, I really think the pod approach is the right one – like the pds offered by Garmin or Suunto’s training series.
If I had my druthers, I’d pick up the Garmin 705, and use my Suunto Core for a watch. But the Forerunner 305 works great, and includes a heart rate monitor, and I can keep my Core ABC watch on which gives me backup altimiter, and other watch functions.
Even if you require a tiny gps device, this doesn’t suit: by the time you bring along your solar panel to recharge it every 6 hours of use, or even 7 days if you use the features from time to time, you might as well have brought along a regular watch and a regular GPS with all the bells and whistles, which would also get you solid basemaps and the like.
AFter one day of wearing the Suunto X10, military edition, I have to say this is one extremely functional watch. But there are downsides as well. Since all the stuff I’ve seen online just talks about the good, I will dispense the bad:
1) plebian style, bordering on G-shock: this thing is pretty ugly. The texture of the watch is great, and the underside of the band is nice, but it is high off the wrist, lacks any metal or coolness, and the white bezel and little colored (painted) dots on the fron look cheap in real life. I was honestly tempted to return it and keep the all-black Suunto Core (a Black/orange Core with a black strap and buckles) based on looks alone (even though the Core has no GPS).
2) unreadable in low light without the backlight: compared to the Core, the x10 military is not readable at all in low light without the backlight on. And if you think that the contrast settings will help, they do not. Setting the contrast higher than 6 causes streaks all over the negative face, and below 3 washes out the color of the letters.
3) won’t fit under almost any sleeve at all – too high. While not a huge watch, this watch is *much* bigger than say a Garmin 405, and much higher than a Suunto core. It’s also much higher than my Bell & Ross 46mm, which is around 11mm high – that’s a big thing.
4) REALLY stiff buttons – the kind that are so stiff that you will leave a depression on your finger – but you will *not* press one by accident!
And the annoyances:
a) even though this is a GPS watch, and updates time, and compass declination based on where you are, it will not figure out what time zone you are in!Â That’s kind of dumb. I understand having a setting that keeps a person in a certain time zone, but I don’t understand why it can’t do a lookup from the GPS. not that hard. And the second time zone will sync seconds, but not anything else with the satellite sync on the main time zone (based on GPS fix). I can hope for a firmware fix I guess, but I am also guessing that this would require a lookup table in the internal memory of the device.
b) no dive pressure: the core has this – why take it away?
There’s a lot of cool stuff as well – some of that tomorrow!