Polar CS600 Power - First on the Block...



Tom Anhalt

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Dec 9, 2003
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Pelotonium said:
Tom, you seem to know what you're talking about. I've worked very hard to get my PPO unit to work consistently, to no avail.

May I ask where you got your magnets, and what glue you used to bond them?

Easy...the magnets I get from my stash of "scrap" prototype samarium cobalt (rare earth) magnets in my office at work :D

I'm lucky to have this easy source for some REALLY strong magnets...but a quick search online should find you some sources of some pretty easily as well.

The "glue" is just DAP contact cement...the kind you get at the hardware store in the little brown bottle (with the brush built into the cap and all). I had some left over from my "heat shrink mylar" wheel cover project, and just decided to try it out. It works great. I've got some magnets that have been glued on for almost 3 years without a problem...and I've glued them to both aluminum and carbon crankarms. The nice thing is that if you need to pop them off for some reason later, the contact cement is soft enough still so that you can do it without damaging the magnet or the crankarm.

Oh yeah...here's another tip on the crank magnet, especially if you're using a "non-supplied" magnet. I discovered that the cadence sensor (a reed switch) is much more sensitive to the magnetic field "across" the poles of the magnet, rather than "in line" with the poles. In other words, don't point the north or south pole of the magnet at the sensor...align the magnet so that the N-S axis of the magnet is parallel with the centerline of the bike. You can have the magnet MUCH further away from the sensor when it's oriented this way.
 

J-V

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Nov 3, 2003
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jstock said:
It works for me. Are you using builtin IRDA or a Polar USB dongle? I actually did some extensive testing to see whether I could get it to work directly with WKO. My results: S720 works with both builtin IRDA and the S-series dongle for both the Polar software and WKO. CS600 works with the Polar software with builtin IRDA. S-series dongle does not work (it's not supposed to work, but someone forced me to try it:)).

A stupid question maybe, but have you looked at your CS600 to see where the IR port is?

Yes, I looked, it 's the first thing I checked, since it wasn't obvious where to point it.

I'm (unfortunately) using W98 through Virtual PC via Mac OS9... believe it or not. W98 isn't even listed as supported for ProTrainer 5. I looked into Polar's new (silver) USB 2.0 thing, but word on the street is that it may only work with Intel based Macs running XP via Parallels (maybe BootCamp, too). I may be hosed on this one, and either have to wait for iSmartTrain support (could be months!) or pony up for a new Intel iMac or el cheapo used PC laptop. Sigh...
 

Spunout

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Sep 21, 2005
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Sounds like fun you guys.

Who is going to yard-sale this whole thing and get a PT? Looks like a lot of work...
 

Tom Anhalt

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Dec 9, 2003
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Spunout said:
Sounds like fun you guys.

Who is going to yard-sale this whole thing and get a PT? Looks like a lot of work...


Oh yeah...as if PTs don't have their own "issues" :rolleyes:
 

J-V

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Nov 3, 2003
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Spunout said:
Sounds like fun you guys.

Who is going to yard-sale this whole thing and get a PT? Looks like a lot of work...

If a PowerTap were the perfect solution I'd have one (I've got one on my 300PT, and it ain't perfect). So far, the Ergomo Pro is the closest of the bunch, and if they make it wireless, simplify installation issues, and make it compatible with all cranks, that will be the one to have (IMO).

That the PowerTap ignores altitude as a critical cycling parameter is a fatal flaw for me. Without altitude, you can't tell from a PowerTap file whether it was wind that slowed you down a bit, or a change in gradient. While looking at Power/speed curves, saying "Look, there's a hill!" because the speed curve tapered off is a bit prehistoric.

In my oh-so-humble yet narrow-minded opinion... :D
 

jstock

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Apr 24, 2006
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Spunout said:
Sounds like fun you guys.
It sure is fun. Before I got my CS600 I've used a Polar S720 for two years and I've been reading this forum and Wattage for longer. So I think I made a pretty informed decision. The main reasons for me to choose the Polar over a PT:
  1. Reading all bug reports it's seems highly probable that you'll have to service your PM whether it's a PT or Polar (I haven't had to service mine yet). Polar is a 15 minute ride from where I live. Saris is an ocean away.
  2. I have a Fortius trainer (which I plan to keep). PT does not work with the Fortius. The Polar probably won't work either.
  3. I can use my favorite wheels.
There are some more, minor, things also in favor of the Polar (given my circumstances). I'm not saying that the Polar is the best PM but currently it is what suits my needs the best.

Sure the setup of the Polar is kind of tricky, but to use an hour to set it up and then ride for over 10000 km without any servicing is good enough for me.

I've been using the Polar on my hack bike during the winter riding to work every day through ice, snow, rain, mud, salt, and sand. Straight from the garage where it's 20C to the outside where it can be -15C. I'm not sure if other PM's would like that temperature difference?

If Tacx fix the PT/Fortius bug I will own at least one PT
biggrin.gif

/J
 

jmocallaghan

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Dec 27, 2003
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warnerjh said:
Well, I got it installed (I think?) after some fussing with the Power sensor. Unfortunately, it would appear that this remains the achilles heel for installation, even though it probably only took about an 60-90 minutes total. Without being able to use the thing, it's hard to tell if it's currently set up correctly or not (it does indicate power readings, though haven't yet entered chain data). It was almost impossible to get set up perfectly parallel to the chain line (in any ring/cog configuration), as it would need to be angled in significantly toward the rear hub to be perfect, and I couldn't find a combination with the spacer pads that seemed to work. Also, the directions recommend a ridiculous 2mm space between the chain and power sensor when in the small/small, but the magnet in the sensor sucks the chain to it when closer than about 1/2 to 5/8". Seems like the power sensor is going to have to take a lot of abuse from the chain, and will suck down to it with any amount of slack. I have a feeling I'm going to have to revisit the alignment or spacing of this thing once I get on the bike to use it. :( [BTW if anyone has any links for installation tips of the previous unit, I have a feeling the same issues apply, and I'd be grateful for any further info on this.]

At first I thought all the 'slack' in the power cord (going to the pulley) in the small/small would be a problem, but it actually ended up working perfectly when completely zip-tied to the derailleur cable; it's much less conspicuous than I thought it would be, and naturally winds into a little circle that keeps it clear of the spokes. The battery 'cigar' is a bit of a bummer (visually), but oh well... The crank magnet is supposed to be secured with a goofy-lloking piece of Polar tape, but there's no way that's gonna happen. Not sure why they had to mess with their previous ziptie-able magnet, though this magnet is much heftier than any other cadence magnet I've ever used. Speed sensor is a no-brainer, works well, and is smaller than all previous versions.

Installation instructions are marginal at best, and the usage and features 'manual' (if you could even call it that) is positively pathetic. It really gives no info other than the basic setup stuff that is totally intuitive anyway, like height, weight, wheel data, etc. (my S720i at least came with a manual that described all the features and settings). I have a feeling I need to install the software to continue configuring it, but haven't done so yet. Unlike the S720i, there are apparently many setup functions only accessible from the computer. It doesn't even tell you what different 'views' are available on the display, even though it is supposedly somewhat customizable. It simply inane to expect us to go look something up on a computer every time we have a question, especially for a unit with this many features. The display is quite nice, higher resolution than the CS100/200 units.

Did I mention the new WearLink HR transmitter yet? It positively SUCKS!!! Why Polar had to go and 'improve upon' a perfectly functional transmitter design I have no idea. The snaps are ridiculous, since it's questionable as to whether you've got it properly secured. Furthermore, the way the EKG pickups (or whatever) are integrated into the strap now requires wetting with water prior to use. And I do mean WET. I need to find out if my T61 coded strap from the s720i will work or not, but it did not seem give an HR reading. This really is a step backward, all for the apparent convenience of self-changing a battery that only died every 2 years or so... :( If anyone has any other experience with this transmitter, please do share, because I'm not looking forward to using this thing.

Anyway, I guess I'm off to install the ProTrainer software and see what headway I can make with entering the chain data, and seeing what functions it has for power (display, etc.).



The T61 will not work with it because it uses a different signaling system (new one is 2.4gHz i.e. bluetooth). It gets better with time....
 

jmocallaghan

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Dec 27, 2003
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warnerjh said:
Yes, I looked, it 's the first thing I checked, since it wasn't obvious where to point it.

I'm (unfortunately) using W98 through Virtual PC via Mac OS9... believe it or not. W98 isn't even listed as supported for ProTrainer 5. I looked into Polar's new (silver) USB 2.0 thing, but word on the street is that it may only work with Intel based Macs running XP via Parallels (maybe BootCamp, too). I may be hosed on this one, and either have to wait for iSmartTrain support (could be months!) or pony up for a new Intel iMac or el cheapo used PC laptop. Sigh...


Has anyone out there used a commercial IRDA dongle to download the data or does it need to be a Polar specific IR dongle? I dont have an irda port on my PC.
 

jcjordan

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Did I mention the new WearLink HR transmitter yet? It positively SUCKS!!! Why Polar had to go and 'improve upon' a perfectly functional transmitter design I have no idea. The snaps are ridiculous, since it's questionable as to whether you've got it properly secured. Furthermore, the way the EKG pickups (or whatever) are integrated into the strap now requires wetting with water prior to use. And I do mean WET. I need to find out if my T61 coded strap from the s720i will work or not, but it did not seem give an HR reading. This really is a step backward, all for the apparent convenience of self-changing a battery that only died every 2 years or so... If anyone has any other experience with this transmitter, please do share, because I'm not looking forward to using this thing.


I replaced my T61 over a year ago to the newer softstrap and have never looked back. There are a couple of things that you need to remember though:

1. Wash the strap regularly. Use a toothbruth or something similar and get into the conections between the strap and the centre unit. Also wash the parts of the strap that act as the sensor concetion to the skin.

2. Just give the sensor are a bit of a lick before you use. Saliva is a better conductor then plain water. Once you start and get sweaty you should have no problems.

3. If you start have problems getting a reading or get some really weird HR readings replace the battery. Mine last 8-9 months, but I ride 350km a week on average.

4. Wear the strap tight, not blood flow restricting, but tight enough that it wont move.

I do know that polar have suggest to some of the guys at the club to wear it with the sensor to the side or rear, but I have never had a problem with it centre front.
 

vadiver

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Oct 3, 2006
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warnerjh said:
<snip>
So far, the Ergomo Pro is the closest of the bunch, and if they make it wireless, simplify installation issues, and make it compatible with all cranks, that will be the one to have (IMO).
Would the Ergomo ever be compatable with the DA/07 Campy UT cranks? Or any style crank like that with outboard bearings.

IMPO that design is a more user cost effective solution. To be able to buy a $20 "bottom bracket" instead of a $150+ or the new power unit, when the BB wears out is the better way to go.

warnerjh said:
That the PowerTap ignores altitude as a critical cycling parameter is a fatal flaw for me. Without altitude, you can't tell from a PowerTap file whether it was wind that slowed you down a bit, or a change in gradient. While looking at Power/speed curves, saying "Look, there's a hill!" because the speed curve tapered off is a bit prehistoric.
I am thinking of getting a PM and right now leaning towards the PT. This gradient flaw is the only thing I do not like about the PT. The other suppliers have more "flaws" that I do not want either. It should probably be another thread in itself but how big a deal is the gradient problem?

Unless the unit uses an inclometer (instead of Barometric pressure) the accuracy can be way off. I rode through a frount last year that when I downloaded my data I was on a huge slope. Cool to plot, but worthless otherwise.
 

vadiver

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Oct 3, 2006
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jstock said:
<snip>
The main reasons for me to choose the Polar over a PT:
  1. <snip>
  2. I have a Fortius trainer (which I plan to keep). PT does not work with the Fortius. The Polar probably won't work either.
  3. <snip>
<snip>


If Tacx fix the PT/Fortius bug I will own at least one PT
biggrin.gif

/J
What is the issue witht the PT/Fortius?
 

Tom Anhalt

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Dec 9, 2003
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vadiver said:
I am thinking of getting a PM and right now leaning towards the PT. This gradient flaw is the only thing I do not like about the PT. The other suppliers have more "flaws" that I do not want either. It should probably be another thread in itself but how big a deal is the gradient problem?

Well...to me it's more of a "preference" than anything else. After >3 years of having altitude data for my rides, I'm pretty much just used to having it. In fact, after downloading my power files into CyclingPeaks, typically THE FIRST trace I display (the power trace is displayed automatically) is the altitude trace...especially if it's a ride I haven't done before. It really puts the power trace "in perspective" IMHO.

I don't mean to turn this into a "PT bashing" thread (although I guess I would be allowed since I own one of those too), but besides the lack of altitude, one other thing that I have an issue with the PT is that it's measuring the power that gets to the road, i.e. after the driveline losses. IME, these losses can be highly variable depending on chain condition (up to 5 to 10W) and according to published studies, can vary widely just from gear to gear.

Here's my experience from earlier in the year when I was running the PT in conjunction with my Polar on the same bike:

http://biketechreview.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1370

The problem is that if you're using the PM to monitor the "engine", having the measurement point be so far "downstream" can give you false readings on what you're interested in. Conversely, if you're interested in doing field testing of TT positions, the PT would be the best thing to use...which is why mine resides on my TT bike ;)

vadiver said:
Unless the unit uses an inclometer (instead of Barometric pressure) the accuracy can be way off. I rode through a frount last year that when I downloaded my data I was on a huge slope. Cool to plot, but worthless otherwise.

Oh, c'mon...how often does THAT happen? My experience with the Polar altimeter (barometric sensor) is that it is reasonably accurate, even during long rides. It does tend to vary from day to day, but that's why there's a "home altitude reset" you can easily perform before starting out.
 

vadiver

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Tom Anhalt said:
Well...to me it's more of a "preference" than anything else. After >3 years of having altitude data for my rides, I'm pretty much just used to having it. In fact, after downloading my power files into CyclingPeaks, typically THE FIRST trace I display (the power trace is displayed automatically) is the altitude trace...especially if it's a ride I haven't done before. It really puts the power trace "in perspective" IMHO.

I don't mean to turn this into a "PT bashing" thread (although I guess I would be allowed since I own one of those too), but besides the lack of altitude, one other thing that I have an issue with the PT is that it's measuring the power that gets to the road, i.e. after the driveline losses. IME, these losses can be highly variable depending on chain condition (up to 5 to 10W) and according to published studies, can vary widely just from gear to gear.

Here's my experience from earlier in the year when I was running the PT in conjunction with my Polar on the same bike:

http://biketechreview.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1370

The problem is that if you're using the PM to monitor the "engine", having the measurement point be so far "downstream" can give you false readings on what you're interested in. Conversely, if you're interested in doing field testing of TT positions, the PT would be the best thing to use...which is why mine resides on my TT bike ;)



Oh, c'mon...how often does THAT happen? My experience with the Polar altimeter (barometric sensor) is that it is reasonably accurate, even during long rides. It does tend to vary from day to day, but that's why there's a "home altitude reset" you can easily perform before starting out.
I keep bouncing between SRM and PowerTap (I think the strain gauge is the way to go IMO). I really like my Campy ergonomics over the Shimano so I am planning on converting my Shimano to Campy as needed. If SRM had an UT style crank (other than DA) that is the route I would go.

I agree with the Altitude issue. It is a "like" but that is ok for me. I am fighting with how important is it really.:(

My comment about being cool to plot but worthless othewise was just for that one ride. Not all of the rides.

I have only had the one really bad front move in. I did not really care but it sure looks inpressive being able to climb a massive hill at 20-25 MPH. But there are still quite a bit of differences in starting altitude and ending altitude after as short as 1 hour of riding. Not a bash at all, I live with it. I leave my house at 278 feet and get back at 200 or 350 depending on how long I ride.
 

Tom Anhalt

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vadiver said:
I keep bouncing between SRM and PowerTap (I think the strain gauge is the way to go IMO). I really like my Campy ergonomics over the Shimano so I am planning on converting my Shimano to Campy as needed. If SRM had an UT style crank (other than DA) that is the route I would go.

I believe they have an FSA crank version with the outboard bearings as well.

vadiver said:
I agree with the Altitude issue. It is a "like" but that is ok for me. I am fighting with how important is it really.:(

Yes...if the choice is between good and adequate power data vs. altitude, the altitude will lose every time. But if you can have BOTH?? That would only be better.

One thing that some of the analysis software (such as CP) could take advantage of in the future is dynamic modification of FTP based on altitude. Of course, that would mostly be useful for folks living in highly mountainous regions.


vadiver said:
I have only had the one really bad front move in. I did not really care but it sure looks inpressive being able to climb a massive hill at 20-25 MPH. But there are still quite a bit of differences in starting altitude and ending altitude after as short as 1 hour of riding. Not a bash at all, I live with it. I leave my house at 278 feet and get back at 200 or 350 depending on how long I ride.

Hmmm...what unit is this? It sounds as if the it's altitude sensor may not be temperature compensated. I can go on multi-hour rides, with 10-15 degrees F of temperature change, and have the Polar altitude reading at the end be within 10-20 ft. of the starting value. That's actually not so bad....

Besides, the more important values to me are actually the CHANGES in altitude over ride segments, rather than the absolute value. For those measurements, I find the barometric function to be more than adequate.
 

J-V

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Nov 3, 2003
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vadiver said:
Unless the unit uses an inclometer (instead of Barometric pressure) the accuracy can be way off. I rode through a frount last year that when I downloaded my data I was on a huge slope. Cool to plot, but worthless otherwise...

...I agree with the Altitude issue. It is a "like" but that is ok for me. I am fighting with how important is it really. My comment about being cool to plot but worthless othewise was just for that one ride. Not all of the rides.

I have only had the one really bad front move in. I did not really care but it sure looks inpressive being able to climb a massive hill at 20-25 MPH. But there are still quite a bit of differences in starting altitude and ending altitude after as short as 1 hour of riding. Not a bash at all, I live with it. I leave my house at 278 feet and get back at 200 or 350 depending on how long I ride.

I have been using altitude since the Avocet 50 days, the very first (IIRC) cycling altimeter. If you live in a very flat area, I could see how tracking the number of feet climbed might be superfluous. In regard to the question of 'how important is altitude?', I would ask this: What is the primary cause of speed fluctuations during riding? Answer: gradient. Considering how quickly and dramatically road gradient can change, it is much more important than wind, road surface, position on the bike, etc. So, given this fact, why would we so easily ignore it as a metric to be tracked, along with power, speed, cadence, etc.?

FWIW, my Polar is usually within about 20' at the end of a ride. There is no accommodating slight atmospheric pressure fluctuations while on a (relatively) short bicycle ride. While flying in aircraft, we go longer distances, have radios to update our data, etc., not realistic for cycling. :) The number of times I've ridden through a front that affected the data I can count on one hand. Usually such times are so windy, you really don't want to be on your bike, anyway (kind of like today, here). Barometric pressure fluctuations are (in the grand scheme of things) relatively minor, and when you consider that the technology for collecting altitude data has been in the consumer cycling realm for nearly 15 years, it's pitiful that everyone hasn't included it on nearly every cycle computer costing more than $75, let alone a $1000+ power meter. (PowerTap's 'virtual cadence' is another complete joke that has hopefully been corrected in the newest versions)

I'm also not here to bash the PowerTap or any other technology currently on the market, and I fully realize that anyone using another one of the products would be less than impressed by Polar's approach, even though it is admittedly the most cost-effective of all the designs that actually measure something power-related. I can't justify spending $1500 to $3000 on my 14 year old steed, and when I finally get my $5500 wonder bike in the next year or two, hopefully either PowerTap or Ergomo will have solved some of the issues that currently remain.

Respectfully,

J\V
 

Pelotonium

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Apr 2, 2007
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Tom Anhalt said:
Oh, c'mon...how often does THAT happen? My experience with the Polar altimeter (barometric sensor) is that it is reasonably accurate, even during long rides. It does tend to vary from day to day, but that's why there's a "home altitude reset" you can easily perform before starting out.
It actually happens quite often on long rides. I ride on a F1 track with relatively no altitude change ( < 15m ), and yet I often see a gradual creep corresponding to 150m or more during a 3hr ride.

I know 150m isn't much, but barometric pressure is not a great way to measure altitude.
 

Tom Anhalt

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Pelotonium said:
It actually happens quite often on long rides. I ride on a F1 track with relatively no altitude change ( < 15m ), and yet I often see a gradual creep corresponding to 150m or more during a 3hr ride.

I know 150m isn't much, but barometric pressure is not a great way to measure altitude.

Huh? 150m over a 3 hour ride? What unit is that? I want to know what to stay away from...

That's easily an order of magnitude larger than anything I've ever seen over 3-5 hr. rides with the Polar.
 

vadiver

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Oct 3, 2006
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warnerjh said:
<snip>

FWIW, my Polar is usually within about 20' at the end of a ride. There is no accommodating slight atmospheric pressure fluctuations while on a (relatively) short bicycle ride. While flying in aircraft, we go longer distances, have radios to update our data, etc., not realistic for cycling. :) The number of times I've ridden through a front that affected the data I can count on one hand. Usually such times are so windy, you really don't want to be on your bike, anyway (kind of like today, here). Barometric pressure fluctuations are (in the grand scheme of things) relatively minor, and when you consider that the technology for collecting altitude data has been in the consumer cycling realm for nearly 15 years, it's pitiful that everyone hasn't included it on nearly every cycle computer costing more than $75, let alone a $1000+ power meter. (PowerTap's 'virtual cadence' is another complete joke that has hopefully been corrected in the newest versions)
I agree. I think my original post sounded too critical, sorry for that. All of my altitude profiles "look" the same on my regular routes. Unless a person does a point by point comparison (why would they for these purposes) one would not tell the difference.

The one that stands out was weird. It was supposed to be a lousy day for riding. I went out side and it was fine (no wind even) so I went for a ride. I felt the weather change and turned around. When I loaded the data I thought that was pretty cool.

I agree about not including it on a cyclocomputer. I have it on a $75 watch so it cannot cost that much to put on/in. And barometric pressure is just fine.

I agree on the cadence issue as well. I would be putting on the cadence censor to get away from the derived cadence. I have a derived power output on my CicloSport 436 and that is for the most part, pointless. Particularly on a download.


warnerjh said:
I'm also not here to bash the PowerTap or any other technology currently on the market, and I fully realize that anyone using another one of the products would be less than impressed by Polar's approach, even though it is admittedly the most cost-effective of all the designs that actually measure something power-related. I can't justify spending $1500 to $3000 on my 14 year old steed, and when I finally get my $5500 wonder bike in the next year or two, hopefully either PowerTap or Ergomo will have solved some of the issues that currently remain.

Respectfully,

J\V
Again, I agree. I looked at polar when I first got started and almost went with it. I just did not think I would get into riding this competively (Knowing my personality I should have know better.) So I made a concious deceision not to go with a PM. Today, I regret that decesion.

Out of all the non-straingauge units available, I think the polar is the best way to go. IMHO.

I really appriciate you starting this thread. It will be very interesting to see how this works once you get to start using it. With luck the weather will clear and you will get some good rides and continue to report how things are going.
 

J-V

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Nov 3, 2003
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Pelotonium said:
I know 150m isn't much, but barometric pressure is not a great way to measure altitude.

Unfortunately, it's the only way to measure altitude, other than using GPS. 'Measurements' in the vertical dimension using consumer-level GPS units can also be fraught with errors, much more so than the horizontal measurements. 10 years from now we might be having our cake and eating it, too, but we're not there yet (especially in regard to size/portability).
 

J-V

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Nov 3, 2003
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vadiver said:
I really appriciate you starting this thread. It will be very interesting to see how this works once you get to start using it. With luck the weather will clear and you will get some good rides and continue to report how things are going.

The winds are supposed to calm later in the day (right now they are trending 10-40 mph), and I really want to get up my local 'TT climb' route. The immediate problem I now need to solve (soon!) is not being able to download the dang data! I'm set to '5s' mode until then, and the hours are ticking down... :(

I'm not going to bother with the trainer test until I know I can get the data to you guys...

J\V