Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Garmin Vector 2S Review - Tri Stupe

An extended write up from Tri Stupe on Garmin Vector 2S after Jun Shen's previous entry. Both of them have been comparing notes and this time around, Stupe provide a more lengthy entry touching on installation of the unit and a few important metric for Power training. Here you go!

For cyclist or triathlete, training using Heart Rate Monitor or HRM seems outdated with the availability of "more affordable" power meter. Power meter can cost a fortune especially when you factor in the pricing of the bike and gears you already invested in this (already very expensive) sports. Why aren't HRM enough? Like many others, I've toyed with the idea, and wished I could afford one - or rather, for the technology to be more affordable so it's possible to get one, or two (or depending on how many bikes you may have ;-))

Vector 2S
Athletes comes in all different level of fitness and capabilities. Even ourselves, our heart rate differs everyday depending on our rest, performance and even the weather. So, to be training at "10 beat per minute" more than yesterday may very well meant different level of effort if you had a tough day or an easy day (at work or at training). However, having a consistent benchmark such as power, which is a function of force multiply by distance over time. It sort of provide a number where you can use to benchmark your training against. The level to generate 100Watt (W) when you are fresh or tired is the "same" to the power meter. But to get your heart to work to generate that 100W when you are tired, may meant busting your heart rate at Lactate Threshold than when you are fresh. 
An analogy I could use would be to compare Heart Rate to a vehicle RPM while Power is the capacity. A car going uphill may require higher RPM (HR) to generate the same climbing power and definitely lesser RPM (HR) when you are moving on a flat ground. Now imagine if you can train at a given Power irrespective of your HR... you will become a more efficient cyclist or triathlete!

Garmin Vector 2S
Lucky for me, the good people in AECO Technologies, which is the authorized distributor of all Garmin products in Malaysia has been kind to provide myself and Chan a unit of their latest power meter to be used for our training. Chan has provided a write up on why in the team's blog. We both have been using the Vector2S and has compared a few notes on training. Among others, we soon found out that I can churn out more power compared to him. Question was - am I a stronger cyclist because I can fire up higher power? Now keep this question in mind while I continue today's review of the 2S.
First up is the Garmin Vector 2S itself. It is a pedal-mounted power meter. Other variations available in the market (for power meter of other brands) are crank mounted, bottom bracket mounted, hub mounted and crank-spider mounted. My exposure and knowledge was nil until the Garmin Vector 2S. This review will be specific for Garmin Vector 2S; until I manage to (afford???) another different type to compare. 
The Garmin Vector 2S (I will call it 2S from now onward) is an upgrade from the original Vector where the older pod appears to be a ring (O) that goes through the bike spindle versus the newer Vector that has the pod coming as a clamp (()). The plus side? Easier installation. Meaning, You can remove the pedal and re-install it on another bike faster and easier. Ideally, I would think for such investment, you may unlikely remove the pedal and the pod. That is unless you decided to do so (or use a different bike setup like a road bike vs a TT bike) for race reasons. 
The closer look of the Pod clamp
Vector 2S is single sided pod aka on the left pedal while the full fledged Vector 2 is both pedal - which gives you better left-right accuracy where power generation is concerned. On the "left" only power meter such as 2S, the total power are multiplied to provide the reading. While some of you may now argue the accuracy of a one-sided unit - I believe manufacturer like Garmin would had factored in this when building the algorithm to compensate or to correct the readings. For that, Garmin units has function of "Smoothness" in percentage (%) which could mean how smooth your pedaling motions are, and these translate to efficiency. 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Why Should I Get A Garmin Vector 2s Powermeter - Team2ndskin Athelete Chan Jun Shen

The technology to assist athletes in improving performance has gotten to a very advance state. The invention of heart rate based training monitored by the chest strap heart rate monitor seems so yesterday compared to the new optical heart rate offered by Garmin Fenix 3 HR, Garmin Forerunner 225 and so on. All upgrades can be made, having another latest innovation in our race gear inventory is good, but how many of them provide USEFUL data in our training. After all, data is useless if not interpreted into information for us to digest. Recently Garmin Malaysia in collaboration with team2ndskin provided Tri Stupe and I a set of Garmin Vector2s, a powermeter. Installation was brisk, simple and no mess. Plenty of video available on Youtube.

More than a month after training with powermeter, I told myself that I should have gotten it long time ago. To put it in a simpler word, cycling with a speed cadence sensor and heart rate monitor only tells me how hard was my heart pounding and how fast was I going. Somehow riding on an indoor trainer does not accurately translate the power out from my legs to the pedal. I would not know how hard I was pedaling. In most races, heart rate and speed is not enough to measure my effort. In windy and hilly condition, I would be riding slower. There are so many unmeasured parameters. By having a powermeter, all the data I can ever imagine is being transferred to my Garmin Forerunner 920xt providing all the necessary information.

The Data that I have in my Garmin Forerunner 920xt is :
Heart rate, avg heart rate, max heart rate, %HRR, training effect, time in zone, avg speed, max speed, avg power, cadence, avg bike cadence, max power, max avg power (20min), normalized power, Intensity factor, Training Stress Score, Functional Threshold Power, Calorie burn and many many more!

To start off with a power meter, learn this 3 things :
Functional Threshold Power :
Maximum power you can maintain while the body can still remove lactic acid. Similar to 1 hour time trial effort.

Field Test :
Achieved through a 15 minutes warm up, followed by 20 minutes of time trial. Resulted Power output is the Functional Threshold Power.

Training Stress Score :
TSS is a measurement of workload as a function of duration and intensity. The harder and the longer you ride, the higher the score.

#click this LINK for more reference. Training peaks did a great job in explaining! =)

To analyze yourself with another athlete:
Watt/Kg solves all the kiasu issue. Divide your wattage with your Weight in kilogram, let say my average power output is 178watt and my weight is 56kg. So my Watt/Kg = 3.18Watt/Kg. Another rider weighing 80kg is hammering the pedal with the power output of 200watt. So his Watt/Kg = 2.5Watt/Kg. So I would be faster on the road for having 3.18Watt/Kg compared to his 2.5 Watt/Kg. This is much more accurate than comparing average speed with other riders riding in other environment.

These are the very basic information gained from powermeter, the best ever investment made in cycling gears. The information given is a key to better understanding of training effort. Never too late to get one! This Garmin Vector 2s is upgrade-able to Garmin Vector 2 which measures power on both sides of the pedal! More information means better training quality=)