For the 2014 Product of the Year Awards, I have added the categories of HARDWARE, SOFTWARE, CLOTHING and HONORABLE MENTION.
This was actually pretty tough to put together since every product I have tested has been top-notch from every manufacturer. Not a dud in the group. Every product I tested lived up to its manufacturers spec-sheet and every product performed extremely well and met/exceeded its intended purpose. For 2014, each manufacturer put a lot of quality back into their products and every manufacturer I have spoken with has up front and honest when answering any and all of my questions. Therefore, this made it extremely difficult to pick the best of the best.
What I decided to do is create a THEME for 2014 … ELECTRONICS. Since Di2 has been out for awhile, I looked at what’s next. I decided to look at the ‘accessories’ built to support Di2.
So here goes;
HARDWARE – In keeping with the 2014 theme, I chose the Shimano d-fly SM-EWWO1 wireless transmitter. This small transmitter adds a whole new dimension to Di2 by transmitting Di2 data such as % battery remaining, current gear position, and several other common rider data functions to ANT+ (GPS) devices. These devices then can decode this data for value-added functionality such as % time in each gear. A GPX file then combines all of this data that can be given to a certified USCF coach who can then help build a training plan that will best meet your goals.
SOFTWARE – This was an easy choice and stay tuned for an upcoming review. For the past 6 months, I have been using di2stats.com in analyzing my Di2 data. Sample data analysis from Di2Stats includes
- Shift Analysis – how many times you have shifted and average time between shifts
- Ride Statistics – time, distance, ascent, descent, climbing ratio and rate, average/max hr, power, speed, cadence
- % time in gear – shown by a large pie chart
- % time big/little chain ring – shown by a pie chart
- Shifting Timelines chain rings – shown by a LONG bar chart
- Shifting Timelines all gears – shown by a LONG & LARGE bar chart
- All Raw data – sorted by time spent in gear and gear inches
So as you can see, there is A LOT of data, bars, graphs, etc. that can be utilized all for FREE. Check it out!
CLOTHING – the most innovative clothing items I have seen is the line of 100% retro-reflective clothing from PROVIZ. Proviz Sports (their US importer and webstore is Pro Net Cycling), has created a material called REFLECT360 which utilizes a 100% coverage of highly-reflective micro-glass beads, and, while testing their claims, REFLECT360 can actually be seen 1/4 mile away. For the sporting good industry, this reflective material is used primarily in bicycle and motorcycle backpacks, jackets and vests. This product adds another layer of safety to the cyclist and motorcyclist.
HONORABLE MENTION – Since the 2014 theme is electronics, I chose the Magellan Cyclo 505 which is a GPS head unit, cycle computer and Di2 analyzer. Both a Navigation tool and Training aid, the Cyclo 505 can be used for turn-by-turn navigation (tracks) cycling routes as well as a training tool that captures the same information as di2stats.
15 or so years ago, in the US, Magellan was #1 in auto GPS technology. Then they kind of fell off the map allowing Garmin to swoop in and basically take all of the US market share. For 2014, Magellan is back and being very proactive in taking back the bicycling market share with 2 offerings, Cyclo 315 and Cyclo 505.
From a product point of view, the Cyclo team has built a great piece of hardware. From a company point of view, what makes this company stand out is they are actually listening to their product testers and the increasing functionality of these devices shows. With every revision of the software, this product gets better and better. Version 4.2 is just days away from being available and includes some major updates. Magellan is a company that is doing everything right!
So there you have it. The best of the best for 2014.
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I have always enjoyed bicycling and, through a series of coincidences, became a Bicycle Industry Consultant and Product Tester. I continue to test prototype products for companies and publish only off the shelf production products on biketestreviews.com.