Reverence: Sigma 1100

The Sigma 1100

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.

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/[email protected]/Signma 1100/”/]

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89 Replies to “Reverence: Sigma 1100”

  1. It’s about time we had a dissenting cognoscentus viewpoint offered on these pages, so here goes:

    I’m disappointed to see the Velominati back on the machine. Unless this thing measures exactly how many seconds you are away from your lungs going pop, I’m not interested. Rule #10 is simply an articulate way of saying Rule V. It’s not redundant, but the implicit message is the same. For the record, though, I don’t wear a watch either, but rely on my internal machinations and the sun. If you want me to attach a little fan to that Sigma Doo-dah Thingamajig 1100 to keep you cool while you ride, let me know.

  2. Sigma stem mount with a rubber band…….Nice.
    My 20 year old, simplistic, bomb proof and still working to this day
    Avocet 45……Perfect!!

  3. Avocet 45, in Yellow, working to this day on training bicicletta du Zoncolan.

    Number 1 bike has a Cateye Double Wireless, with its large display, solely as i like to see my reflection grimacing Tchmil-like in the display as i lay down The V.

    That is all.

  4. Frank is recycling his reminiscing to justify a fondness for an old Sigma meter with an ugly thick cord wrapped around the brake cable in a logo filled cockpit.

    All the rules are redundant when stacked against Rule #5.

  5. I’m happy to announce that I will be abandoning the Garmin for a Blackburn Atom 4.0 right after Xmas (I’ve seen the light).

  6. “It is lightweight and mounts on the stem, which are the two most critical things”… I’m not even going to enter into the debate about data recording or not when riding, as I’ll get virtually whupped (again), but the above statement made me feel all warm and tingly inside, which means It Must Be Right. Our steeds need symmetry, and that shit that goes on the bars just means you’ve got got think about where to put your hands when you climb (unless you are Pantani, in which case the answer is still: the drops)

    BTW, Frank – your stem is so long, you could attach a full QWERTY keyboard and monitor (with rubber bands if you so wish) along with your Sigma and still have room left.

  7. @Steampunk
    The farther you get from peaking, the more fundamentalist you get. I love it. It’s one of life’s ironies that we don’t get truly philosophical until we’ve been separated from our craft long enough.

  8. @roadslave
    Do you have oven mitts for hands? You could attach a full QWERTY keyboard and monitor to my bars (44 cm) and I’d still have room on the tops for climbing. But you know what would give you even more room? A little more V!

  9. @Devingus
    Those are not stickers, they are decals. Stickers suck, decals are PRO. A Velominatus makes a point of understanding the subtleties of these things. Good work on your consumption of The Rules, though. Discussion first entered into here.

  10. @roadslave

    Our steeds need symmetry, and that shit that goes on the bars just means you’ve got got think about where to put your hands when you climb (unless you are Pantani, in which case the answer is still: the drops)

    Highest marks. Somewhere in the Great Dolomites in the Sky, Pantani is climbing in the drops right now.

  11. @frank
    Photoshop. Or, rather, a mistake long since corrected (in the interest of full disclosure, and having set myself up for this kind of scrutiny, if you look closely you’ll also notice that the wire is wrapped around the wrong cable, too).

    @sgt
    There hasn’t been a King’s English since 1952 (which makes me wonder what Bobet, Coppi, and Koblet would think about these stem abominations).

    @Marko
    +1 (about all those laptops are good for), although I would imagine that the screen would create a bit of drag. And that isn’t lightweight. Welcome back and congratulations, by the way.

    Fuck, I’m ornery! Sorry y’all.

  12. That’s damn funny, Marko.

    Pedale – I still don’t understand how you ride without bottle cages. I guess Frank pointed out you are able to gather moisture from the air.

    Good article. I really hate living under the weight of numbers; I too have felt crushed after a long ride when I realized my computer shut off.

    I use simple computers and will continue to do so, though I am considering just pulling them off. I’m kind of stuck now in my decision making. I like to know mileage and saddle time. And I mount mine on the bars. I’ll take my lashes for disobeying The Rules. I like holding the stem when moving the bike around, not the saddle. And, I don’t like messing up the sexiness of a Cinelli quill stem with a computer.

  13. Bah! Computers. You know how I know if I’m going faster? I spin the same cadence in a higher gear than usual. Or a higher cadence in the same gear. My brain has intimate knowledge of my cadence after a couple of winters on the turbo just looking at a watch and counting strokes. Did I mention how boring riding bike in northern MN can be during the winter?

  14. Steampunk:
    @sgt
    … makes me wonder what Bobet, Coppi, and Koblet would think about these stem abominations…

    Well, since Coppi is widely credited with bringing “modern” methods (translation: DOPE) to cycling , was one of the first to employ a personal soigneur, do interval training, etc., etc., and Bobet himself admitted borrowing training techniques from Fausto (although he denied doping) I’d be willing to bet they’d have jumped all over power meters, HRM, VO2 max, LT threshold, etc. Hard to confirm, since they’re all dead.

    We Velominati follow a different path: We don’t strive to be PRO, we strive to look PRO. I’m losing the Garmin because of my desire to be free of the tyranny of numbers as so eloquently described by all and sundry, but primarily because it detracts from looking Casually Deliberate (which I believe is why it violates Rule #74).

    PS Anyone want to buy a 705 with complete setup for two bikes, plus maps of N. America and Europe, cheap?

  15. We Velominati follow a different path: We don’t strive to be PRO, we strive to look PRO. I’m losing the Garmin because of my desire to be free of the tyranny of numbers as so eloquently described by all and sundry, but primarily because it detracts from looking Casually Deliberate (which I believe is why it violates Rule #74).

    sgt – WOW! You just opened my mind, and blew it, with that comment. Spot on! I enjoy riding and ride hard, but I don’t race, so why the hell do I need to suffer under the tyranny of the devices?

    Resolution 2011: lose the computer, spend less time analyzing and charting numbers, spend that extra time looking PRO, and attain Casual Deliberate nirvana.

    Thank you for those excellent points!

  16. sgt:
    I’m losing the Garmin because of my desire to be free of the tyranny of numbers as so eloquently described by all and sundry, but primarily because it detracts from looking Casually Deliberate (which I believe is why it violates Rule #74).

    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Top shelf.

    PS Anyone want to buy a 705 with complete setup for two bikes, plus maps of N. America and Europe, cheap?

    But now I get it: this is Frank’s ploy to saturate the market with inexpensive, high-end computers so he can add to his collection. Cunning.

  17. Numbers I find to be completely useless:

    * Average speed. In the city there are stoplights, traffic, unexpected construction, rain, dead raccoons on the road. Sometimes I start or end more Casually Deliberate than other times, which throws off the average. Sometimes the hills are steeper than they were the last time.

    * Momentary speed. It’s worthless to know that I can hit 40, 50, or 60km/h for a moment. I’d like to know if I can keep it up for 30 minutes in the middle of a ride.

    * Distance. Only useful when I’m rolling out a new route. Otherwise, I know that Ride A is about 50km, Ride B is about 30, ride L is about 120km, etc.

    For me, the only number that is useful is a specific split for a pre-defined segment. How fast did I hill hill X compared to my previous runs up it? For that you pretty much need a GPS (but only internally, not one that shows maps as you ride). The alternative is to hit the “lap” button continually and remember when and where afterward, which again requires number crunching and kills the experience.

  18. @frank
    As always, I’m also humbled by the amount of research that goes into this site. Or was Cateye discernible from the two wall-sized posters of this pic you had blown up and framed””one for the bike stable and the other for the livingroom?

  19. Logos are the new grey. As a graphic designer, I fall prey to this all the time. I cannot wait until companies figure out a way to brand the inside of break blocks… here’s is a clean cockpit for the the powerass wireless.

  20. Nice piece Frank. While I like the Colin Chapman philosophy of Add lightness and Simplify, I tend to also enjoy my Garmin 500, albeit without the boob strap and the wheel spin wattage thingy. However, more to the point is I enjoy Ol’ Blighty slang being the ex-pat that I am, as much as the next bloke. So I feel the need to point out it is not Bullocks, unless of course you are referring to Sandra and her sisters (does she have any?) or the now defunct shopping chain where my VMHO, wouldn’t be caught dead. It is in fact Bollox, as in Never mind the. This of course denotes a bad thing. The Dog’s Bollox on the other hand would be used to denote something much better than good. As in “That new Pinarello Dogma 60.1 is the Dog’s Bollox”. (See what I did there?)

    Here is to wishing all you Velominati and VMHO’s A Dog’s Bollox of a Christmas. And if your not Pagan, then Bollox to the lot of you! (I mean that in the nicest possible way, of course)

  21. @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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. @Marko
    Bemidji

    @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.

  25. 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

    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.

  26. @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.

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

  27. 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

  28. @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.

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