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Quarq CinQo – Review Part II

After the simple installation of the CinQo, I was anxious to use the device.  Over the last three weeks I have gotten to spend a good amount of time riding with the CinQo.  While plans are in the works by Quarq to develop their own computer, the Cranium, that integrates with the CinQo currently it works wirelessly with the Garmin 705 and the Ibike iaero.

I opted to try the Garmin 705 with the CinQo as it a few hundred dollars less expensive than the ibike and wanted a unit with simple integration, ease of use, and most of all durability.  Garmin has been in the business of making outdoor electronics for a long time and I felt it would be safer to go with the 705 than the ibike.  Plus I can use the 705 on a mountain bike and other bikes without having to add a speed sensor. The 705 ships with two stem mounts that makes for a clean install.  While an optional wireless speed sensor can be used with the Garmin, I used the speed calculated from the gps.  The wireless speed sensor might give just a bit more accuracy but I wanted to keep things as simple as possible and the gps speed appears just fine.

The Garmin mount is very clean as it does not take up any handlebar space and it is easy to put on and remove the computer. Like all gps systems once the the unit is turned on it has to lock into the satellites and the 705 locked on very quickly, about 30 seconds while I was still in my garage.

Once mounted the 705 has to be initially “paired” with the CinQo, just like you would do with a bluetooth headset for a cell phone.  This is a very simple of process of activating the scan for power meter option in the Garmin and waking up the CinQo by moving the cranks a bit.  The Garmin locks into the CinQo and that is it.  For future rides all that needs to be done is to turn on the 705 and it finds the CinQo automatically.  It almost seems too simple.

All powermeters need to be calibrated before each ride to ensure data accuracy and the the CinQo is no different.  Each brand of power meter is a bit different in how the calibration is done and while none of them is difficult, they all involve a process of pressing a series of button combinations which can be a bit of a pain.  The difference with the the CinQo is that the calibration is done by simply pedaling backwards 4 times.  That is it.  No buttons to press, you don’t have to get off the bike, and it can be done easily during the ride.

I have never had great luck with wireless bike computers.  In theory it seems great having no wires to worry about, but the devices never seem to work as well as they promise.  Data drop out, interference, and signal loss have always plagued the units I have used in the past.  The CinQo and Garmin use a newer wireless technology called ANT+ and so far in the three weeks of use, I have not had a single issue with data transmission.  I even took the unit need some power lines that always interfere with heart rate monitors and these did not affect the Quarq.  The CinQo has a user replaceable battery that is listed at 500 hours.

Use of the 705 is tremendously easy.  There are two screens that can be customized with up to eight data items.  Heart rate, watts, elevation, speed, cadence, calories, percent grade, time, etc are just some of the items that can be added to the main screens.  The one complaint I have is that Normalized Power and Training Stress Score are not available.  Hopefully Garmin will add these in future firmware updates and I am told these will be available on the Cranium.

Other features available are a visual display of current ride and mapping and routing feature.  The mapping would be great when traveling to unfamiliar areas as routes can be uploaded and if the rider gets lost the 705 can provide directions.  Overall the Garmin 705 is a very intuitive and easy unit to use.

One of big frustrations with prior power meter is getting the data off the bike computer and onto the pc.  SRM, Powertap, ergomo, and ibike all use computer drivers that allows the device to be recognized.  Because the Garmin does not need these additional drivers downloading data is simple.  Plug in the 705 and the device is treated just like a USB thumb drive.

The power data values seems realistic and compare to the figures I would see with an SRM.  There is a slight delay in the displayed power values of about one pedal revolution, but this was not an issue.

As a benchmark I thought it might be useful to compare the wattage values to that of a Computrainer (Lab Version).  I did two comparisons; one was a simple 20 mile course with a few climbs and the other was ride ramp test in Computrainer ergometer mode.  In the ergo mode the trainer is set at an initial fixed resistance of 50 watts and I increased this value by 20 watts every minute to 300 watts.  While this is not a statistical analysis, overall the CinQo data was very close to the Computrainer.  At wattage values below 110 watts the CinQo was about 5% higher and above 130 watts the difference was roughly 2% higher.  These differences in power values can be attributed to power losses in the bike drivetrain.

The one slight downsides of the Quarq is it can only be used with a few cranksets.  Currently the CinQo will work with SRAM S900, FSA Team Issue, and Bontrager Race Lite cranksets.  While Quarq plans integrating the unit with more cranks, unfortunately the design will not allow it to be use with Shimano or Campy.  Not a big deal, but if you don’t have compatible cranks it adds a bit to the cost.

The pricing is a bit more than the Powertap but substantially less than an SRM.  The CinQo without cranks retails for $1195 and the Garmin 705 cost ranges from $400 to $600 depending upon purchased options.

The Quarq CinQo works like a powermeter should.  It is simple to install, easy to use, and provides reliable data.  In the past I have been hesitant to recommend an athlete with limited computer skills start using a powermeter as it was always a chore to get it installed correctly and the data downloaded.  Even though the two parts of the system are from different manufacturers they work together seamlessly.

Currently the CinQo is only available direct from Quarq, but Endurancefactor will have a few systems available for purchase towards the end of December.  More info and complete specs can be found at www.quarq.us.

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