Reverence: Sigma 1100

Reverence: Sigma 1100

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Simplicity.  There is little in this world that I find more exciting than a complicated problem solved by a simple, elegant solution. Focusing on simplicity is particularly useful when weighing intricate competing facts because it allows you to say, “None of those complicated factors are likely to work out in my favor, so I'll ignore them and instead focus on the ones that my tiny, Twitter-saturated brain can comprehend in seven seconds or less and which support my hypothesis.”  I am to understand that most American businesses are run using this model. But enough about philosophy and business.

It may come as a surprise to you, but I am a bit of a gear head. The last time my VMH and I were on holiday, the hotel staff unloading the car asked us when the rest of our party was arriving. Yeah, no, 'fraid not – just us. Being a technologist professionally also offers me the benefit of not being terrible with electronics, so the complexity of the gear is generally of little concern from a technical standpoint.

It doesn't take long for new gadgets and gizmos to find their way from the shelf into my gearbox. When Mektronic hit the market, my first reaction was, “Bullocks to these antiquated cables and levers; computerized shifting is the Future.”  It was during my tenure with Mektronic that I had my first epiphany about technology and cycling. As with most epiphanies, mine was unexpected and came while sitting on the side of the road with broken chain after some kind of rogue radio signal sent my derailleur into hysterics and I realized: technology does not always improve the enjoyment of the ride.

I have been to the dark side of cycling computers. I had the full Polar setup that tracked loads of data and allowed me to download it into my computer so I could wonder at the pretty wiggly lines. I was obsessed. Each ride started with the dance of getting the heart rate strap positioned just right so it could prove I was alive. As I started rolling, I'd punch the big red button on the computer to order it to start it's recording. Finishing my ride, I would focus on punching the same red button a second time to stop the recording, for fear that recording while stationary would lower the overall squiggliness of the lines. The value of my rides was measured by how far, fast, and high I'd gone.

It came to it's peak during L'Etape du Tour in 2003.  After the ride, I found that the computers had stopped recording about half way through. I was devastated. It took a while, but time does indeed mend a broken heart. I eventually came to understand that the ride was just as amazing with or without the data, and slowly left the numbers obsession behind.

The natural progression from that point was to abandon the computer altogether.  For a while I indulged in the simplicity of the road, focusing completely on the ride itself and nothing else. Eventually, however, I came to understand that the very nature of Rule #10 implies that no data at all is a very difficult way to judge how your climbing is progressing.  After all, speed makes up 50% of that Rule, otherwise it would just be, “It never gets easier” and that would be pretty demoralizing. Besides, I always feel like I've got the anchor down when I'm climbing, so the speed is what I use to judge if I am, in fact, going faster or if I'm just suffering and slow. (Unfortunately for me, it's usually the second.)

With that, I present my Rule #10 meter of choice, the Sigma 1100.  It is lightweight and mounts on the stem, which are the two most critical things. It also uses a beautiful, simple rubber band to mount all the parts, which means no messy zip-ties or screws are required; the whole installation requires zero ties or tape whatsoever. It is not wireless, which means one less battery to run down, and the cord is nice and thick and wraps beautifully around the front brake cable.

Clean and simple, the almost-perfect computer – second only to the V-Meter.


// Accessories and Gear // Nostalgia // Reverence // Technology

  1. @Geoffrey Grosenbach

    I agree with that list. I have one specific spot that I can hit on my rides from home if I want, and it’s almost exactly 3 miles, and is flat with no stops or side-roads. That is the one spot where I will track average/top speed, as I figure with those outside influences removed it is a good place to track overall fitness development/loss (wind can still be a factor, but whatever).

    When I got back into cycling two years ago, I wanted the HR monitor, the cadence meter, etc. But since then, I’ve read a lot of good points basically saying “what is it REALLY telling you that you don’t already know?”.

    I can understand if you’re racing, and a real type-a personality and need to focus on specific zones and all that stuff, but I’m just a guy who likes to ride, I don’t need all that. Hills still hurt no matter if I know my HR or not.

    That being said, I’ll keep my Garmin 500 because I do like to track my overall mileage, and see where I’ve gone on Google maps. But I am trying to break myself from being focused on how far I’ve gone, how high I’ve climbed, etc. during the ride.

  2. @ZachOlson
    Speed skate!

  3. @Pedale.Forchetta
    Who takes your photos? Cor Vos? Graham Watson? You are PRO!

  4. I think we all agree the above is how we all believe we look on a bike. Sadly Pedale.Forcheta is the only one…

    Although i am a Shimano man from Day 1 (Shimano 600EX) i am surprised to see an Italian on anything other than Campag.

    By the way Frank you have too many logos on your bike. I think we need a de-logoing drive to leave the Sacred Cog as the only discernible image when we look down. You need to lead us back to the promised land of Reynolds 531 tubing and down tube levers. We are losing our way.

  5. @frank
    Your steerer tube cap runs north/south. I set mine east/west. I’d like to request a ruling, please.

  6. While I would generally agree with the computers are cockrings for your stem sentiment, I spend enough time on the trainer that my Garmin is a godsend… unmeasured suffering on the trainer is just so much less motivating than knowing I just laid down 50k at 75% of max in the garage while all my riding buddies were junketeer down by the fire hiding from the storm.

  7. @Marko

    @Jeff in PetroMetro
    I do some skate skiing and such, but no speed skating. Maybe if I knew someone to teach me a few things about it.

  8. Speedos and HR monitors are good, if used correctly – even at a fairly basic level.

    Was having coffee with a bloke this morning – he once wrote a pretty good article on how to use a speedo for some relatively simple discussion.


    Hitchhiker :
    And if your not Pagan, then Bollox to the lot of you! (I mean that in the nicest possible way, of course)

    That would be “if you’re not Pagan…” If you live by the sword of a pedant, you die by it too.

  9. @Pedale.Forchetta
    That’s you on your cage-less Merlin? Excellent! You are (or were) part of the Merlin family, as am I. I must finally put up a photo of my #1 bike, my Merlin Extralight.

    I like your anti-water bottle commitment but I would die an ugly death without much hydration as I’m a big sweaty freak of nature.

    And a A Dog’s Bollox of a Christmas back at ya!

  10. I believe that Pedale.Forchetta never rides long enough to need to drink or he uses a Camelback.

    @Jeff in PetroMetro, @ZachOlson,
    I spent a bit of time speedskating, it is like doing squats the whole time – Rule #5

  11. @michael
    With bikes like the ones I’ve seen belonging to Pedale.Forchetta here, I can’t imagine he’d only go for short rides. That would be a travesty. And that’s a very fine pic above, which suggests he looks very comfortable in the saddle (even if his left leg is down””maybe it’s the angle of the shot). Very nice shot.

    I drink very little when I ride, too, though I do tend to go through 2-3 litres of water a day off the bike. It calls for very little fluid while riding, unless I’m training with intervals particularly hard.

  12. So as far as logo-less bikes go, some dude who goes by dadoflam posted this on the BMC forum over at rbr. Aside from the hideous saddle, I’d say he’s onto something.

  13. It’s all bollocks, anyway. Not bollux or bollox.

  14. @Marko
    Saddle and his forum handle are both a bit weak, but that’s a nice looking ride. Understated looks good.

  15. @Steampunk
    The third option is this which I had a crazy Brit mate who used these for some reason.

  16. I had a Sigma wireless the last two seasons and I hated that POS. I know I’m not in full compliance of the rules by running my cyclometer in MPH (I AM a damn Yankee) but that thing would NEVER read 20mph. It would read 19.5mph and 20.5mph but never 20. Which brings up another thing I hated abou it – only half mph incremements. I prefer 10ths of a mile.

  17. Okay, here’s the real rant. I don’t like trusting a machine to tell me how I feel and how I’m performing. It may be less accurate and it may be less quantifiable, but I don’t want to lose touch with being able to measure my own abilities””not in split seconds, or kph, necessarily””but in how I felt today. I don’t need a computer to tell me I’m feeling strong or if today’s just not my day. I can tell whether or not I’m climbing well for my weight on familiar hills without needing to refer to a little box on my handlebars. It means I’m looking down and am less able to inhale the proper number of wasps (which, incidentally, goes back to one the finest Velominati inventions: the bibshorts with the Rule V reminder). I want to better feel my heart, my lungs, my guns. Wiggo’s: you’re always just one minute from bonking so you always just have to climb for one more minute is mentality enough.

  18. @ZachOlson
    Ah, you’re pullin’ my leg. I bet you know a little somethin’ about speedskating. Check with these guys:

  19. I’m a keen photographer (you can find my photos on flickr with my usual nick name) and an avid cyclist, when younger I did a lot of crit long 50/60km then the Granfondo came in fashion and I followed the trend. Now I rode 10.000km circa a year and I do like long ride 120, 150km or longer, on the slopes of Lombardy (wich btw is full of public drinking fountains) with a bunch of long time friends :)

    I’ve tested the first computers but I found myself never looking at it, so I removed the thing and I’ve never looked back.

  20. And thanks for your word! :)

  21. Hey, it’s now Christmas in New Zealand. Merry Christmas to all you Velominati and, wherever you are. May Santa smile on you, and may the turkey and plum pudding leave you no further than three months from peaking.

  22. @G’phant
    Merry Christmas to you and to all the Velominati friends!

  23. Oli Brooke-White:
    It’s all bollocks, anyway. Not bollux or bollox.

    It’s Bonox…

  24. @Pedale.Forchetta
    Buon Natale, Pedale.Forchetta!

    And to all the Antipodean Velominati, Merry Christmas!!!

  25. @ZachOlson, @michael
    The trick to both Skate Skiing and Speed Skating is that the lower you bend your knees, the more stable you are and the more power you have when you extend it at the end of the stroke. Try standing like that for a little while in your living room (or do the yoga Chair Pose) and you’ll become acquainted with how much of the v it takes to do some of these sports.

    The Dutch kick ass as speed skating.

    I used to race in Bemidji – what was it called…the Finlandia?

  26. @frank
    I’ve done very little skate skiing and it’s hard but you use more of your body doing it than speed skating. I always tried to speed skate with my thighs parallel to the ground, upper body parallel to the ground, the most strenuous position. I figured if I could handle that, then anything taller would seem easy.

  27. The one piece of technology I have a special relationship with is the fucking bathroom scale. I’m addicted to the damn thing. It’s just like being in an abusive relationship: I go down a pound, and I think “oh, I’ve finally got this wired. Love being a cyclist.” Then I ride, I eat, the number goes up. I look and say, “oh, it’ll come back around Carmichael and all the trainer dudes all say it will come off eventually. I’m still a good person.” And so it goes. I climb well for my weight.

  28. @eightzero
    This Velominatus is not qualifed to offer any medical or dietary wisdom except for this: EVERYTHING. GOES. BETTER. WITH. BACON.

  29. @eightzero

    A few years ago I dropped 59lbs in like 4 months. A couple of years ago I gained 22 of those back. A few months ago I decided to use bike riding as a means to lose weight. It has barely worked, I’ve lost 12lbs in 6 months and it’s been really difficult. I tried all kinds of different calorie deficits only to mostly gain weight the more calories I cut. I finally gave up and just eat only a few calories less than I use each day and the weight comes off like 1-2lbs a month. One thing that caused me to gain weight is if I rode a long day and ran a caloric deficit of over 700cal for that single day. So I have to count calories every day and make sure I replace all calories as soon as possible. At this rate, I”m always 2 months from racing weight.

  30. @eightzero

    I forgot to mention that a really good way to drop a few pounds that I highly recommend is to get a kidney stone, puke a lot from pain, don’t eat for 3 days, don’t ride your bike for 11, and take a lot of opiate pain killers.

  31. @eightzero @michael
    Or you could try this.

  32. @Steampunk

    That guy recorded the outgoing message on my voicemail.

  33. @michael

    I forgot to mention that a really good way to drop a few pounds that I highly recommend is to get a kidney stone, puke a lot from pain, don’t eat for 3 days, don’t ride your bike for 11, and take a lot of opiate pain killers.

    I travel to India semi-regularly for work, and I’ve found another great way to cut weight is mild giardia; not so bad that you really get sick, but bad enough that you…let’s say, keep the system cleared out.

    When the calories only stay in your system for about 7 minutes, you drop weight like a heroin addict!

  34. @frank
    Lightweight cycling computers to ways to cut weight on the engine. Green tea and garlic (ideally not together). Add some cinnamon to your green tea.

  35. No discussions of weight loss (or gain) until Jan. 2, please.

  36. @Pedale.Forchetta
    I can see it all now…

    “Welcome to Pedale Forchetta’s Gran Fondo Regola Cinque.

    We start with a little warm up, maybe hill repeats on Madonna de Ghisallo?

    Oh, so sorry… Are you thirsty? Then we can stop at this refreshing public fountain. What? You want Powerade? Not possible.

    Now a simple 200k, followed by the Stelvio. Twice. With one water stop. Is that enough Cinque for you?”

    Gents, take it from me… Beware of Italians not bearing bisons.

  37. Fucking iPad auto correct… BIDONS, BIDONS!!!

  38. @sgt
    I’ve always been told you should also beware of Italians not bearing bison too. Don’t worry, it makes sense to me.

    That reminds me of a friend who told me his friend tried heroin and as he was pressing the plunger, his first thought was “Oh my God, I have to get more of this stuff”. Personally I’ve always hated the way IV or oral opiates make me feel.

  39. @michael
    I don’t have the tolerance for needles to be a drug addict nor a doper. It’s a chicken and egg thing.


    And no shoe covers! What a photo! I love those DMT Flash’s. I loved DMT’s until I discovered that my chronic foot pain had to do with shoes that were too wide. My Merckx, they looked magnificent.

  40. I think that BMC in black looks sharp, minus the saddle and tape. And I normally don’t like BMCs that much.

    All I really care about is time and distance. I was thinking – might something like a pedometer, of sorts, carried in a jersey pocket be able to measure distance? I wear a watch, so have time covered. I’d love to ditch my computers, but still do want to know my distance.

    Nice photo, Pedale!

  41. I had this one on my last bike, I didn’t like it as much as my bontrager node 2, for relatively the same price I spurns be buying the sigma.

  42. I thought I was the only one who obsessed over Sigma wired computers?!

    Check out the limited “team” edition, as used by Cancellara and Schleck.

  43. @Albert
    DUDE!!! That is precisely the computer which got me to buy the 1100…oh, boy, oh, boy, how I wish I had a red one. It would look so mighty fine upon my steed…

    Cheers, and welcome!

  44. Rule #74 compliant, bitches!

    Faster than with the Garmin? Nope (OK, maybe a little). Cleaner? Yep! More Casually Deliberate? Absolutely!

  45. @sgt
    Better, better. But why not just do this?

    Granted I just stripped the computer off and won’t be riding #1 for a few months, I have been riding the C-X bike without anything and it’s liberating. Baby steps, sgt.

  46. @Marko

    That’s why you’ve got the V Cog next to your name…

  47. @frank
    Yup, Finlandia.

  48. sgt:
    Rule #74 compliant, bitches!

    Faster than with the Garmin? Nope (OK, maybe a little). Cleaner? Yep! More Casually Deliberate? Absolutely!

    nice…and logoless.

    Rule #5 rules.

  49. Vaguely related:

    Indurain had a resting heart rate of 28 beats per minute, one of the lowest ever recorded.


  50. And don’t forget the two magnets on the wheel to make it all go faster…

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