The best gadgets for mountain bikers
08 January 2016
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Brad Brown: Welcome onto this edition of Old Mutual Live, thanks for joining us once again and it’s time to chat some tech when it comes to mountain biking. I thought we’d get someone back on who spoke to us at the beginning of December with regards to some of the goodies and gadgets that they had on their website available for Christmas. The response to that podcast was fantastic. Warrick Kearnes from actiongear.co.za, welcome back onto the podcast, thanks for taking the time to chat to us.
Warrick Kearnes: Thanks for having me Brad, always nice to chat to you guys.
Gadgets to help you train more effectively
BB: Warrick, I’m a huge tech geek, I love gadgets and things that can distract me from the pain during a race and you guys have got some really cool gadgets on your website. What are some of the big trends that you see around mountain biking that are helping people train more effectively, but also enjoy their sport a little more?
WK: As people get more and more into their riding, they start to want and to know more about their performance. Knowing just your speed and your distance is not always enough anymore. The guys want to have accurate graphs of where they rode and how fast and the elevation and the cadence of their pedal movement and the power that they’re riding on.
The trend of knowing as much detail as you can about what you’re doing while you’re on the bike is really kicking off. In fact it has kicked off, so now it’s just about getting the right gadgets that can do what you want to do, so you can understand and improve your riding from there.
BB: From an indoor training perspective, there is some amazing technology available from a Power perspective, but also from a simulation perspective. What are some of the things that you’re seeing?
WK: Just on a personal perspective, I know how important indoor training is. I can tell you, it’s not the most exciting aspect of my riding at all. But I know for sure that at least once or twice a week I have to get on the indoor trainer and push those pedals.
Because you’re keeping your heart rate high and pushing those watts into the pedals consistently, it really pays off when you go back onto the trail the next day. When you look at indoor training, you can keep it simple. Myself, I actually haven’t really adopted too much technology for my own personal training. Cause I’ve just got an indoor trainer stand that I clip my road bike into. Then I just sit there, hoping to have a breeze on my face on the patio in the mornings because I sweat so much.
Ride the Tour de France in your lounge
You can get a nice watt bike, the same ones that you ride at the gym, you can actually buy those and put one in your house. Then you’re reading power and cadence and all those stats that you want to know, but you can even take it further.
Brad, you mentioned about simulation programmes, there’s a lot of programmes that you can download onto your iPad or you can actually download programmes onto your big screen TV. While you’re sitting there, you can actually simulate that you’re riding through the Tour de France route. Not only are you on the route, but they’ve actually pre-recorded videos of guys in the Peloton during Tour de France.
You get a point of view video that you’re riding through the Tour de France and you’re seeing all the riders around you, guys are passing you. You’ve got to make a breakaway and the audio, they prep you. They say, okay, there’s going to be a breakaway and you can see the elevation coming.
You can see you’re about to climb and when it climbs, it also speaks to your pedals, so when you see climbing on the screen in front of you, the pedals also add more resistance. You get a perfect simulation of being on a road. Seeing those bikes and really having to get out your peak and pedal to keep up with the rest of the group.
It’s a lot of fun and it really takes indoor cycling from being a monotonous boring aspect of the sport, to being a really fun aspect where you can challenge your buddies and really feel that you’re doing some incredible stuff.
BB: I love that. We had a spinning instructor years ago at my local gym who used to record the Tour de France stages and then the next day he’d bring his projector in and we would ride that stage. But it’s obviously gotten a little bit easier with regards to tech.
Warrick, GPS’s have really changed the mountain biking landscape and allowed us, you talk about the numbers and people are just really interested in what’s happening; but it’s also a great way to see what other people are doing, but also to discover new routes. Is that something you found as well?
Utilising forums and GPS technology
WK: Ja, I would really encourage people to go onto forums, there’s a mountain biking forum, a very well-known forum called The Hub. Where a lot of mountain bikers and cyclists go and chat and talk stuff about various things. If I’m ever going to a new area that I’m not familiar with the trails, I’ll just go on The Hub and mention; guys, I’m going here, does anybody have any GPX route for me.
The GPX route is a file which is recorded on your device, whether it’s a Suunto, Garmin or any type of GPS device. Whoever has ridden that route before can just download it and send it to you and you can upload it onto your device. Then you just go and ride their route.
It becomes a way of opening up trails. A great example is I was going up to the south of Kruger, just outside, I wasn’t riding in Kruger. Unfortunately, or fortunately, but I got a route from a guy through The Hub. I went and I rode on these farms where I would never gone in there.
Firstly, I would have thought, am I trespassing. But secondly I would never have found the trails and it was the most magnificent riding along the southern boundary of Kruger Park, along the Crocodile River. The farmers actually don’t have any problem with people riding there, but there’s no signs or anything. So you have to have somebody’s route to follow or have somebody riding there.
It’s a really beautiful way to open up different areas of the country to being able to ride. A nice little aspect of it also is that often your device will allow you to shadow ride the person who actually did the ride. So without them being there, it shows you, when they were riding this route; were they five minutes ahead of you, are you going quicker and they’re behind you. It creates this little competitive course that you can race which I always enjoy. I’ve got to try and make sure that whoever gave me a route, I’ve got to beat them on their own home ground.
BB: I love that, that’s brilliant. No competitiveness here at all! Warrick from a visual perspective, we’ve seen them and more and more people have them, mounted cameras and GoPros and that sort of thing. But as far as trends go, drones are quite a big thing at the moment. There’s an interesting one, I’ve seen a video on YouTube about it, it looks spectacular. Tell us a little about the drones and the functionality and capabilities that they bring to the table.
Capturing your action is all the rage
WK: You know, when you look at any sport that people love, they want to share that sport with their friends. That’s where cameras like the GoPros and the Drifts and the TomTom Bandits, they all come in. To be able to record what you see and what you love. So that when you go home or when you’re with your buddies, you can show them that video and try and share that experience with them.
Now with having cameras that can fly in the form of drones, people are just really going to that next level of getting super creative. Getting new types of aerials and new points of views of themselves while they’re riding or of their friends while they’re riding.
Drones have allowed you to kind of put a camera in the sky and film, but generally, you’ll end up filming your buddies because somebody has to fly the thing. But that video that you’re referring to with the Lily drone, I think most people have seen that video.
It went viral and there’s a lot of people waiting for those drones to come in, which is the middle of 2016. There you can just throw the drone in the sky, get back on your bike and it’ll follow you. If you’re going down a beautiful mountain terrain area, you can just have this drone follow you down.
A drone that can follow you
The camera continually points at you the whole time, which is phenomenal, as long as there’s no low-hanging trees because then you will lose your drone. It’s going to open up a whole another aspect of this. Also the most popular drones that are currently on the market, which is the DJI Phantom Range do now also have the follow-me function.
So you can put the drone up behind you, put the controller, the remote control, you just put that in your backpack and the drone actually follows you. It actually follows the remote control, it follows the GPS signal of your phone.
But while you’re riding through a beautiful section, you can have this like professional film crew type experience where this drone is just flying alongside you. I’ve done it on a ridge where I was riding in the Magaliesburg. I put the drone into ‘follow me’, I put it 6m off my right shoulder and I filmed myself riding along this beautiful ridge.
Luckily I didn’t go over the ridge because, well, maybe that would have been a good video. But the new aspects that’s opened up through drone and any sport, particularly with mountain biking and cycling, it’s going to result in a whole bunch of cooler videos that are starting to go online.
BB: You go off the ride, that ones’ definitely going viral, I can tell you that much! From a retail perspective, what do those drones go for? Is there any indication what that Lily is going to go for in 2016?
The cost of drones
WK: The Lily was originally advertised, a lot of people think it’s $500. The US guys, but that was a kick-starter programme price. When it comes to market, it’s going to be $10 000 which translates to however many thousands of rand, maybe R12 000 – R13 000 by the time it’s in South Africa.
The drones that are currently on the market, you can get an entry level play-play drone for less than R1 000. But the more serious ones are about R15 000 – R22 000 and those are the ones that have the ‘follow me’ function. They’ve got full HD video, it’s really a lot of intelligence that goes into flying with that drone.
It’ll never just drop out the sky with the battery running out. It’ll actually fly to home and land itself where it took off from. There’s so much intelligence in that thing, it’s actually scary. People think it’s intimidating to fly, but it’s so easy and it’s actually really hard to crash the thing, unless you fly it into something.
BB: That’s absolutely incredible. Most of these things you can get, I say most, probably all of them, actiongear.co.za, that’s where you can find out more. Warrick Kearnes, once again, great to catch up, thanks very much for your time and I really enjoyed our chat. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and passion about gear and gadgets.
WK: Any time, thanks Brad.