Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

iBike iGiveup

My dear iBike, I'm afraid it's just not going to work out between you and me. I tried, I really tried, for these past two months, to appreciate you for what you are, and I went into this knowing you wouldn't work on the trainer, or that you really needed to stick to the road. But the world has come between us: I live in Seattle, and we both know how it is around here: wet, rainy, and hilly. You just aren't cut out for this kind of thing. On flat roads in good weather you're perfect, and up smooth, steady hills just great, but when the grade gets steep and the pavement rough, you get all out of sorts. Going downhill isn't so bad anymore, now that you've got cadence, but without that "ghost" power readings were frustrating, and the wired cadence sensor you need to work costs money, and is a bit unsightly.

The thing that made the final decision, though, was the rain. Every time I try to use you in rain more than a drizzle -- quite frequent in fall and winter here -- you just aren't up to the challenge. Once water gets in your pressure port, you start reading erroneously, and so trying to track my overall training load becomes impossible. I'm flattered that you think I can average 575 watts for a 2-hour ride, but that's just not realistic.

Sure, you can change, we can ALL change, but some fundamental traits about us both exist that no firmware update is going to change.

In conclusion, you're a power calculator, and I need a power meter. Goodbye.


  • At 3:42 PM , Blogger Argentius said...

    Besides that sentimental paragraph, a further description...

    Why I gave up on the iBike --

    Well, after a little under two months, I decided I was done with the iBike powermeter. I wrote this little sentimental paragraph about why I was dispensing with it:

    But basically, when it came down to it, the iBike was a pretty cool device for adding power into your repertoire of data, and allowed you to track your training with kilojoules, as well as miles and hours. "Rough roads" weren't as big of a problem as people made them out to be, but of course serious terrain changes, like gravel, dirt, or pave, would foul the readings. Most errors caused below went away when you removed the situation, but it still got annoying. It also became a pain to weigh myself with my bike before every ride, and with different amounts of gear, water, and stomach fullness, it was necessary to do so. Also, that means adding in the error in my bathroom scale to the total measurement, which I'd prefer not to do.

    It worked well:
    * When riding on flat-to-rolling terrain on reasonable pavement
    * When climbing a steady grade in the saddle

    It worked, but marginally
    * When climbing a steep hill, in and out of the saddle
    * Group rides with sudden bursts of acceleration, into and out of drafts
    * Intervals done in positions that differed from the coast-down -- I tend to do intervals in the drops, but most riding on the hoods. The drag difference between the two isn't enough to do much to the overall ride average, but will make 5-minute interval data useless.
    * When pavement changed noticably -- going from smooth pavement to rough chip seal changes resistance, obviously, and power data is reported somewhat off

    It did not work at all:
    * When water got into the wind port. This was the kiss of death for an all-weather rider in Seattle. Light drizzle was okay, but heavy rain was not. Even when it was not actively raining, a rider in front of me hitting a puddle occasionally splashed into the port, and the data would be fouled until it dried out. Because this often caused vastly erroneous readings, like 30mph phantom headwinds, it could destroy the data for a whole ride.
    * On an indoor trainer. I knew that from the beginning, but still.

    It's a price-to-performance comparison, I suppose. Imagine if I were paying retail for both; my iBike would've cost $488, a powertap pro wheel about $900. Okay, sure, it's almost double. But when I compare what I could actually DO with each one, the powertap, reliability notwithstanding, actually allows me to TRAIN with power. The ibike pretty much just lets me TRACK power. Not the same, you know?

  • At 11:21 AM , Anonymous gabriel said...

    Hi, I was or still am thinking of getting an Ibike pro.
    You say that it works well for flat terrains right, well I live in the Netherlands (Europe) and almost all terrain is flat here.
    I just have a normal bike where I can't put up a powertap onto, so that's a bit of a problem.

    Would the Ibike pro be ok if I just look at the average watt and the total calories or is the difference with the reality just too much ?

    thank you


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