Archive for the Review Category

New Product – McCool’s Smartmount Bike Race Number Holder

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2010 by hypercatracing

  For more than 20 years I have been wrestling with a simple problem.  Where to put the race number on an aero bike, that is to say a bike used for time trials, triathlons, duathlons, and the like.  A new shiny aero bike can be quickly ruined with the various things hung about it, and a flapping number can literally drive you crazy.  Over the years I have come up with countless mounts, and special tricks to deal with number placement.  While many of the solutions achieved the goals of not interfering with aerodynamics or functional parts of the bike, most were time consuming and generally pretty complicated.  Voila, enter the Smartmount Race Number Holder, by McCool’s.      

This simple little device makes installation of your race number fairly quick and definitely easy.  The idea is simple:  A flat clamp that holds the race number from the top of the number and attaches to a point on the rear of the bike.  A cleaner much simpler version of my and other race mechanics old trick of using a rack bracket or similiar device.   

The Smartmount is made from a lightweight, impact resistant polyurethane. Small steel nuts are recessed into the mount clamp. The carbon steel set screws are tightened with the included Hex Key. Designed to give you the option of leaving the bike attachment clip on the bike all season and simply removing the race number clamp plates, or cut the cable tie off after each race, and attach again with a standard cable tie. It uses less than an inch of space on any size or shaped bar or tube that you choose. The reversible and curved mounting clip provides for the best clearance possible giving you the option of mounting your race number practically anywhere on your bike

  We got our first Smartmount this summer and decided to try it during the ITU Long Course World Championships.  The ITU provides a stiff number and we chose not use the optional aero sleeve.  Set-up was quick and easy and I almost didn’t use the directions as everything seemed intuitive, but in the end broke down and looked at the sheet just to make sure I was doing things right.  I was of course, despite 12 hours of flight, 3 hours of driving and the usual problems of wrenching in a euro sized hotel room.  Thumbs up so far, espcially for thinking of including an allen wrench with a pointy end to poke holes in any number supplied (this is important for lining up the holes in the mount with those of the number). 

 Overall the Smartmount was easy to install, a couple of screws and a zip tie and adjusting the angle was a breeze (loosen slightly/ retighten).  During the event the number wasn’t even noticeable, no annoying flapping in the breeze, no hindrance to bottles or brakes, just a number attached for all to see and stay out-of-the-way.  After the race we decided to leave the zip tied portion of the mount to the bike, put away the rest and travel to the next venue.  After several weeks of travel and training there was no issue with the little stub left on the seat post and when the next race (ITU Du World Championships) came up it was as simple as swap the numbers and bolt the frame back onto the stub.  Done. 

Next bike to receive the Smartmount was an aero seat post bike built for IM.  Lower seat height, bags and bottle cages off the back, stuff, stuff and more stuff to provide minimal room.  Once again the Smartmount was no problem.  Just reversed the little tab mount, and played with the angle till I found a happy spot and done.  The rest of the performance was the same as we found on the other bike.  Basically didn’t notice a thing. 

Conclusion:  The Smartmount is a clever, simple solution to mounting your race number.  All types of numbers mount easily from paper numbers to hard stock numbers ( I have not tried a plastic number yet, but as these are not common, it’s not much of an issue).  The optional aero sleeve (recommended) makes even the thinnest of numbers work and is infinitely superior to cleaning sticker residue off your frame.  McCool’s offers a few other innovate products like an aero cover for your standard helmet and a helmet number holder.  Look for these to be reviewed in the future. 

  If you are interested in purchasing a race number holder for yourself or for that Triathlete in your life they are now available at the Hypercat Store for $14.50 with the optional Aero sleeve. 

 

 

 

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The BikeFit VV1 SPD MTN Cleat – Review

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on May 4, 2010 by hypercatracing

Many cyclists who ride the road these days are doing so with a mountain bike pedal system.  These riders encompass a broad range of cyclists from commuters and casual weekend riders, to newer and less experienced riders, to charity riders, century riders and even some racers, and all seemed initially to “feel” more comfortable with the idea of the mountain pedal.  There are a number of good solid reasons to have chosen this type of system as their pedaling system and there is nothing inherently wrong with choosing a mountain system for road riding, but from a fitting/ biomechanics stand point this has been for many years a “poor” decision.  A decision that generally begins with the discussion of the superiority of road shoes and pedals, power transfer, support, hotspots, and so on… and most important the ability to provide optimum alignment of the lower extremities during pedaling.   I am in this camp of recommending road shoes and pedals for the vast majority of road cyclists but recently the team at bike fit.com  showed me their newest product the VV1/ SPD cleat, and my hard line stance has been eroded after some measurable success in the fit studio.

This ingenious little device replaces traditional SPD mountain cleats with a cleat that has a 1 degree tilt built into it.  Previously this was only accomplished with a very small plastic wedge and was a difficult shoe/ cleat/ pedal combination to adjust for proper knee and ankle alignment.  By providing the initial tilt from the cleat you have an easier to adjust platform (when setting up cleats, multiple re-positionings are often neccessary before zeroing in on the perfect spot which wrecks havoc on that little wedge).  A number of times I have had to throw away a wedge or two during a fitting because the wedge was destroyed.  The integrated cleat also provides an elegant solution to a complicated problem of perfect alignment and a more durable engagement system for mountain bike pedal users.  For my on the road riders, this has translated to the ability to maintain their current pedal/ shoe combination and derive a near perfect and less costly alignment solution then replacing the whole system.  The cleat on its own does not always provide the final solution but a much better platform from which to achieve the final solution.  In one month of having these new cleats  in my fit studio I have had 4 clients use this product and save the cost of new shoes and pedals.

It should be stated that these cleats are designed for a mountain bike system to create a more stable and effecient platform in engaging the pedal, and they do this job as well as the road cleats with a traditional wedge.  My only complaint with the VV1 cleats is that they are currently only available for SPD (shimano compatible) pedal systems.  In the future I hope that the bike fit crew can develop a successful cleat for Crank brothers and Time as well.  While not as common as shimano the ability to work on these other popular pedal systems would greatly enhance the experience of those riders using them and make alot of cyclocross riders I know very happy in the Winter.  Whatever your reason for using mountain bike pedals on your bike, this little gem coupled with a proper assessment of your shoe/ pedal interface by a qualified fitter could save you hundeds of dollars in new equipment and deliver a more comfortable, powerful anf effecient stroke to boot. 

If you would like to learn more about these cleats and how they can improve your cycling experience, schedule an appointment or contact Phil directly, please visit www.hypercat.com, and check out this post from our good friends at bike fit systems http://bikefitpro.blogspot.com/2010/05/bike-fit-spd-cleats-and-pedals.html