Tag Archives: iBike

Alternative mount for iBike wireless base

I got back on the bike yesterday. My legs actually felt very good. While on the bike, my shoulder did not hurt me at all. Only when I lift my arm up to my head do I feel a tinge of soreness. Sorest were my middle and ring fingers on my right hand. At first I couldn’t figure out why, then it hit me… the iBike.

When I fell on Saturday, I had my right hand turned with my index finger on the left side of the Garmin Edge 500 with my thumb on the right side. The abrupt fall caused my right hand to “punch” the iBike computer with my hand. It would appear that it was the aforementioned fingers that took the brunt of the punch.

The iBike wireless mount "strap"

This is the hard plastic strap used to affix the iBike wireless mount

Still, it was the iBike that got the worse of it. The small hard plastic strap that screws into the wireless mount base broke in two. This didn’t surprise me at all. This wasn’t the first time I’ve had this mount break. At least it was the strap only this time and not the base itself as I have had happen before.

It got me to thinking of an alternative to the mount. I really like the new Garmin mount. It uses large rubber O-rings to mount the base to the bike. This makes is much more versatile and less likely to break. I wondered if I might be able to take a similar approach with the iBike.

iBike wireless base with O-rings

A possible alternative mounting system for the iBike?

The iBike mount has two “knobs” that stick out on either side of the base. These contain the threads into which the strap (seen above in the first picture) is attached with screws. I’ve had one of these knobs break off before.

So, I decided to see if I could loop one of my extra Garmin O-rings around one of the knobs, run it under the stem, and then around the second knob. I also placed some two-sided tape on the bottom of the mount to help keep it in place. Right off the bat, I saw some potential.

I still didn’t feel overly confident with the setup. The potential that the O-ring could pop off of the rounded edges of the knobs was real. If I could just find a way to hold the rubber in place, I couldn’t see any reason why this wouldn’t work.

A second O-ring solved my problem. It worked by running a second O-ring over the first one around one knob, routing it over the stem, and then over the bottom O-ring and around the second knob. You can see the demonstration in the photo above.

Now, I realize that one reason iBike has such a rigid mounting system is because the consistency of its placement is important to the proper function of the unit. While it is possible that this method for mounting the computer might not work, I am willing to give it a try. My first experience was positive.

During my ride, I made sure I went over some rough sections of road. I tested various efforts. In every case the unit stayed in place and the wattage registered was consistent with my expectations. The only thing I had to be careful about was putting the unit on and taking it off.

It takes a bit of torque to snap the computer to the mount. It could be possible that I could twist the mount a bit in the process. That would weaken the tape as the O-rings flex. This is easily countered by holding the base with my left hand while I attach/detach the computer with my right.

So, why did I do this instead of ordering a new base strap? I will order a replacement, but I needed it last night. Plus, I’ve never been a fan of that system. It is awkward and prone to breaking because of the stresses caused by the rigidity. IF this method works, I may not replace it.

I’m open to reasons why this isn’t a good idea. I will keep testing the concept to see if I experience any long-term issues. I’ll let you know!

Batteries, batteries everywhere

I had a bit of fun putting my iBike Aero on my Draft fixed gear bike. The fun ended when I just could not get the iBike to configure correctly. Perhaps my experience might help some other iBike users avoid some frustrations.

My setup works this way… instead of the two sensors (one for the crank arm to measure rpm and one for the wheel to measure speed), I use a Garmin cadence sensor that allows me to mount the unit in one location on my chain stay for both readings. This helps cut down on the “senor clutter” on the bike. Thankfully, the iBike Aero with the wireless base allows you to install firmware that allows the two devices to communicate.

I am using the wireless base for the iBike unit on my stem. The data collected from the Garmin sensor and the various data collection points on the Aero is then communicated to my Garmin Edge 500 that is mounted on my top tube near the base of my seat post. I could just as well carry it in my back pocket. I don’t plan to look at the Garmin, but I do want to keep my data collection consistent when it comes time to upload the ride information to WKO+. This setup allows me to keep using my Garmin to communicate with my coaching software.

So, what is the problem? The problem is I could not get my iBike to configure correctly. It all had to do with the “tilt” configuration. My understanding is that the iBike uses gravity as one of the important forces from which it calculates the power reading. Obviously, going up and coming down an incline affects the way gravity exerts its laws on you. In simple terms the “tilt” measurement helps calibrate the device’s awareness of gravity.

When setting up the device you are told to place the bike on level ground and mark where the wheels touch the ground. You then start the calibration process. The device screen tells you to HOLD STILL. The printed instructions say to hold VERY still. That capitalized VERY always played with my confidence. It gives you the impression that it is VERY easy to mess up this process.

You then turn the bike 180 degrees making sure that the rear wheel is now place where the front wheel was once. This done you push a button and once again hold VERY still. After another 180 degree turn that puts your bike back in the original position and another few seconds of holding VERY still, you should receive a message on the screen that says, “Good tilt.”

My problem is that it said, “Bad tilt.” I tried and tried again and again. I even set it up so that I could let the bike stand without me touching it. Unless there was some underground tremor I was unaware of that bike was VERY, VERY still. “Bad tilt,” the iBike continued to say.

I then took the iBike and placed it on the USB mount that connects it to my computer. FYI, the iBike only comes on when you connect it to the base. One base is the one used to connect to your computer, the other base is on your bike. Once I got the iBike on the USB base, I went through the process on a flat table. On the first try I got a “Good tilt ” message.

What on earth?! I went back to the bike and raised the spacers and flipped the stem in order to create a flatter angle on which to mount the iBike. Perhaps the device was on too steep of an angle on the bike.

Still no go.

I did notice the screen of the Aero was a little hard to read. Perhaps my problem was a battery issue. I had already replaced the battery in the Garmin cadence sensor because the iBike kept losing the connection with it. I thought for sure I had a new battery in the Aero, but I tried again.

Still no go.

There was only one other battery left. It was the one in the wireless base mount there on my stem. However, I didn’t see how that would be the issue. The iBike has its own battery and the battery in the mount only powered the wireless chip, right?

Anyway, I took another 2032 battery and dropped it into the mount with the + up. I knew something was different right away. The contrast on the Aero screen was greatly improved. Suddenly, I was full of hope!

Set. Hold VERY still. 180. Set. Hold VERY still. 180. Set. Hold VERY still.

GOOD TILT!

What a relief! I had almost come to the point where I thought I had broken one of the sensors inside the Aero when I wrecked back in May. It is a testament to the unit that it survived the hit it took during that race. What a relief that it was just a battery!

So, now I understand that the battery in the iBike mount does more than provide power for the wireless. It also helps to power the iBike unit. If you ever have trouble getting you tilt to work, be sure you replace the batteries in both your iBike unit and stem mount.

Now it is time to go out and do my first calibration ride on the fixed gear. That done, I’ll be able to train with power using both my fixed gear and my road bike (using the Quarq CinQo). Good thing because my training starts tomorrow.

No stopping now

Recently I’ve mentioned my woes trying to get my power meter situation ironed out. Most every time I do I get an email, blog comment, or someone says “Get rid of that stuff and just ride your bike!” Believe me, I feel that temptation, but it isn’t time… yet.

Now, I haven’t always had power meter issues. When I was riding only with the Quarq CinQo on my White Giant, there was no problem with the power files. I went out there did the workout my coach wanted me to do and sent him the info to evaluate.

Then I got my Black Giant fixed and I got the opportunity to try out the iBike iAero power meter. A few hiccups to get started, but for the most part I was now able to take out either bike on my workouts and have the information needed to send back to my coach. Things were going pretty smoothly.

The problems started when I introduced the time trial bike to my training. I just never could feel comfortable that the iBike was working correctly. Part of it was because it was hard for me to read the screen as I had to mount it in a weird spot on the bike.

Finally, yesterday I was able to take the TT bike out for the first time with the Quarq CinQo installed on it. Ahhhhh, a little bit of the fun of suffering through 12 minutes intervals returned. I was able to clearly see on the Garmin readout what my power was. As I uploaded my file to TrainingPeaks.com last night, I felt confident that the coach would like what he sees.

Of course, that means that I’ll be racing the Black Giant in the race tomorrow. I’ll be using the iBike then as well. The White Giant is currently hanging up with no crank. I’ve just got to make sure that I have the sensors securely fastened on old black before taking to the course!

So, why put up with all of this? I have put a good amount of a time investment into my training. I’ve also signed up for year of coaching. The system I am on is “Training with Power.” The only way you can train with power is to be able to ride your bike and know how much power you are producing. Each workout requires you to be able to see your power output.

Bottom line is that you can’t train with power without a power meter.

Yes, yes, yes! I would love to just ride my bike and forget about the power meter and all the stuff it causes me to have stuck on my bike. However, I look back over the last six months and see how much I have improved and I must give much of the credit to the fact that I am using this system to train. I still have six months to go… there is no stopping now!

Besides, all of these power meter issues give me something to gripe about in the blog! I don’t think my griping will be able to continue too much longer. I’m starting to get a better understanding of the capabilities of the iBike. There are somethings I can do to alleviate some of my frustrations. I just need to find the time to sort it out.