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Gear

Product Review(ish):  Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor

Product Review(ish): Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor

Updates be damned.  It works, I like it.  I'll keep using it as long as I can.  Final grade on our super sophisticated grading scale? 18.7 out of a possible 23.2.  Losing marks only for the stupid blinky lights and precarious charging cradle.  I'm happy, and if I'm happy life is not crappy.

The Switch: John's Approach to Running Shoes

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The Switch: John's Approach to Running Shoes

For this topic I would say I am bias for sure towards Nike. As to the fact that I work here and love the company and the work that we do. But I also know how big of a topic shoes are when it comes to triathletes and what types should be worn. From the minimal 0 dro pshoes to the massive drops of 14+mm.

After finishing the Ironman Coeur d'Alene in 2016 I of course went back to the drawing board and looked at things that I could change to become a better athlete. In general, most improvements that I will get is from just training.

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Product Review: Salomon Speedcross 4

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Product Review: Salomon Speedcross 4

It was QA/QC testing day for drainage in my new Salomon Speedcross 4s. They were solid in a trail race last weekend. However, the course wasn’t wet or overly muddy, so a backyard drainage trial was in order before I rely on them in an obstacle race. The verdict? Thumbs up all around.

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Triathlete Gift Ideas: My 5 Favourite Purchases of 2016

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Triathlete Gift Ideas: My 5 Favourite Purchases of 2016

I'm sure if you're reading this it is likely because you're looking to get me a gift for some reason .... well I'm sorry to disappoint you but I have all the recommendations below. IF, for some reason there is another triathlete on your gifting list, I hope something here catches your eye.

The following are my 5 favorite, triathlon related purchases in 2016.

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The Traveling Triathlete: Scicon Aerocomfort Triathlon Bike Travel Bag Review

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The Traveling Triathlete: Scicon Aerocomfort Triathlon Bike Travel Bag Review

Traveling with a bike can be incredibly stressful. I mean, it is no secret that I love my bike. It is my baby, likely to be my only ever. Imagining it being tossed around by careless airport luggage handlers actually sends shivers down my spine. In part one of my travelling triathlete gear review, I looked at a great bag to ensure your gear arrives safely and soundly to wherever you may be heading - the Ogio 9.0 Duffel.

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My Argon 18 E117 TRI - Introducing Intrepid

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My Argon 18 E117 TRI - Introducing Intrepid

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It’s a boy!! And we shall call him ............. INTREPID

I’ve been waiting for over 3 weeks to FINALLY write this post!  In a previous post, I outlined some things I was looking for in a new bike. Take a look there to see how I came to this decision.

Well …… the time has finally come to introduce to you my 2016 Argon 18 E117 TRI and he is one sexy sexy beast!.

https://youtu.be/rNeMKGmn0Hg

The obvious first question is going to be why the name Intrepid. I have for the most part in this blog been able to hide the fact that I am by all definitions a nerd. That stops here.

I have named my bike Intrepid after the Canadian/British solider and spymaster Sir William Samuel Stephenson. For those of you who don’t know “Little Bill”, he was a British intelligence agent during the Second World War and his code name was Interpid.  Now I’m not going to get into how much of a badass “Little Bill” was, but as an example of his stature, Stephenson was reportedly one of the few persons in the entire western hemisphere authorized to view raw transcripts of German Enigma ciphers, deciphered at Britain’s Bletchley Park facility. A man that Ian Fleming once wrote, “James Bond is a highly romanticized version of a true spy. The real thing is … William Stephenson.

Needless to say, I’m hoping Intrepid and I can carry some of that masterspy stealth into a few races this year.

The Argon 18 E117 TRI

I’ve had the opportunity to ride the Argon 18 E117 outdoors twice and my initial impressions are great: Intrepid is going to FLY! The bike handles great, at all speeds. I found it very responsive, and it so far doesn't feel too twitchy or unstable – even in a significant head wind.

I was also very pleased with how the bike took on a very strong head wind. Tucking down into aero made a very noticeable difference versus riding upright. When compared to my traditional road bike, even when in the drop bars, I felt faster and way more comfortable.

While only my initial thoughts, I will provide some further insight as I get more KMs put on it, I’m very pleased with the purchase and feel I made the right call.

So why did I choose this bike:

  • Fit - The moment I sat on this bike, it felt good. Really good. My body position immediately felt comfortable, like I could hunker down on the thing for hours and just pedal away in complete peace.
  • Adjustability - The bike has a lot of adjustability options. From the position of the seat, to the aero bars, this bike has a ton of options to get you in the right position to maximize your power output, efficiency, and set you up for the following run.
  • Integration – in the right places - I huge reason I chose this over the FELT IA was the lack of complicated hardware and ease at which I can remove the cockpit and wheels for travel. I’m going to be travelling a lot for my events and this turned out to be a big deal for me in the end. I’ve already take apart and put the bike together in a mock travel exercise with the slightest of ease. No special bag require. No complicated instructions.
  • It was the right price with the right components: comparatively I felt the bike was a great price point. It was more cost-advantaged than other bikes that I felt were comparable, which left me more room in the budget to put towards wheels, a helmet and power meter. It also had the groupset I was looking for so, really it hit on all levels and at the right price.
  • And not to be ignored – it looks fantastic and it is Canadian. I wouldn’t label myself a patriot but something feels good about riding on good old Canadian ingenuity.

What's a post without some up close baby pictures:

The tech card for the bike can be found here.  I'll touch on the high level items.

First off, the groupset.  When Argon says this groupset is ultegra, they aren't kidding. Both the crank and the cassette proudly wear the Ultegra name.  It looks sharp and shifts incredibly smoothly. This particular set is 52/36 11 speed chainset.

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The breaks however are TRP, Argon's proprietary integrated braking system. As you can see, they flow nicely with the rest of the frame and the front brake is nicely tucked behind the fork creating a seamless front-end. The brakes are easy to adjust with 2mm allen screws controlling the tension on each side. The integration provides no hiccups or difficulty at all in accessibility.

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The stem is Argon's Press Fit 3D System. It provides a lot of positioning flexibility by offering 3 Headtube heights, giving many options for handlebar height, including front end rigidity increase of +5% at 15MM and +11% at 25MM versus standard spacers. The handle bars are Team Vision and the Aero Bars are T3+ Profile Design. All and all giving the front end of this bike a nice look and extreme comfort.

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Other interesting notes include:

  • The bike is UCI Approved.
  • It came with Shimano R5 tires. Which will be replaced, but are as good a training wheel as any.
  • Travel friendly - easy to remove cockpit and wheels.
  • Carbon frame and seat-post
  • Aerodynamic testing making it as aero as the E118 NEXT in true wind conditions

All and all it stacks up as a great looking bike and in my opinion excellent value for your money.  Only a matter of time to see if it performs as well as advertised.

What is next?

The bike as pictured is the factory set up. I’ve put on my Ultegra pedals and ISM seat, but everything else came as is.

I’m currently exploring the following items to equip the bike for race day and when purchases have been made will make the corresponding updates:

  • Wheels
    • Leading contender – FLO 60 Carbon Clincher (Front), FLO 90 Carbon Clincher (Rear)
  • Power meter
    • Favero bePRO Power Meter
  • Hydration/Storage solutions.
    • Profile - Design FC Hydration System
    • Profile - Design RM1 or Aqua Rack

Final Thoughts

I've been struggling a little with including these final thoughts or not. Buying a new bike is an exciting time for a cyclist. It is an important decision and one that we take very seriously. It should be a good experience and should leave one feeling excited and happy.

Now, I've decided not to name names or single out where I bought my bike, other than by saying I bought it from a reputable, tri-specific bike shop in Calgary. There aren't many and people can ask me personally if they want to know. What I will say is the service and experience I received took a little enjoyment out of the entire process.

Here is a summary of the customer services that left me wanting:

  • Was told the bike would arrive in 3-5 days.  It took 15 business days.
  • Never once received a phone call updating me on the status of my bike. The only way I got information was by calling the shop and even then it was like pulling teeth.
  • Even once the bike had arrived, I still only found out through my persistent calling
  • When I picked up my bike, I was basically given the bike and shown the door.
  • I received no offer to have it fit - if I wanted that I had to pay extra for basically an eye-ball fit, but a fit nonetheless.

Now, I'm not expecting the princess treatment here, but in every other shop I've purchased a bike from (much less expensive bikes) I was at least given a cursory bike fit by a somewhat knowledgeable professional. At the minimum I was given customer service on par with a shop that wanted repeat customers or cared about their reputation and that of the bikes they sold. Based on my experience, I don't think it is an unreasonable expectation to have your bike fit for you when spending thousands of dollars.

I'm likely to put another $3000-$4000 into this bike. Wheels, hydration and storage, power meter, etc.  Not a single penny of that will go to this shop. Not because of the products they offer, but because of the service I received being sub-par at best.

I'm happy with my purchase and with my new bike. The experience of getting here leaves much to be desired.

Some words of advice, when making your purchase from a bike shop don't take their word for granted. Ask questions, be more inquisitive then myself on some of the issues I mentioned above and hopefully you can have a more positive experience.

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