Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quarq Cinqo, Garmin Edge 500 and TrainingPeaks WKO+

I've trained and raced with a wired PowerTap SL and used TraningPeaks WKO+ for about 2 years now. To be honest, the first year was more like I just recorded data and learned what it meant, however I feel the second year I really learned how to both train and race with the power meter and use WKO to analyze not only my workouts and races, but overall training load. In fact, I would say a power meter and watch that can record pace the now the two most important pieces of equipment I own.

There is nothing wrong with my PowerTap, I've just gotten tired of some limitations and am ready for something new. Therefore after years of reading reviews on all the different power meters out there, I've know I wanted a Quarq Cinqo and I just had to wait until the compact version came out.

The challenge has been figuring what computer I wanted to go with. The main things I was looking for was a small, wireless, reliable computer that I allowed me customize what data showed on the screen and of course I wanted to spend as little as possible. The catch is it has to work with TraningPeaks WKO+. I thought the Garmin Forerunner 310XT was the perfect solution for a triathlete, but it doesn't work with WKO so it's not an option until a new version of WKO or new firmware comes out. The Garmin Edge 500 appears to fit all of my requirements; however I had to wait for it to be released and am nervous it will have the same issues as the 310XT.

That's enough rambling for now… on to the review.

Quarq Cinqo

When I received the Cinqo I got exactly what I expected, a crank and a magnet. Installation took at most 10 minutes as I took off the existing crank/bottom bracket, put the new one with the magnet ring in, and then installed the crank. I'm not going to go into much detail about the Cinqo has they have been reviewed by tons of people. The Cinqo appears to be very solid and only moving piece on it is the cap that unscrews to replace the battery.

I also have a second bottom bracket and magnet which make allow me to switch it to from my road bike to tri bike in just a few minutes and with only one allen wrench, almost as fast as moving switching rear wheels.

Garmin Edge 500

I took it out of the box and turned it on by a window to let the GPS acquire a signal. This took a few minutes, but it allowed me to do the quick setup and I than spun my crank and by the second revolution, the Edge beeped that it detected the power meter and both Cadence and Power were now showing on the display.

The mount was very nice and easy to use; it simply uses 2 rubber bands to hold it any tube. I choose to put it on the stem for now. You could actually move the mount to another bike pretty easily, but they include 2 mounts in the box so you are already covered for two bikes.

I played with the interface a little and setup the data screen how I thought I would like them. As expected, there at 3 screens and each can be configured to show between 1 to 8 data fields. I setup the first screen as a totals screen to show data about the overall ride (Time, Avg Pwr, Distance, etc). The second screen as a lap screen that I can have both average power and current power showing at the same time which is great for hitting interval targets along with the interval time. The last screen I just picked a bunch of other fields such as temp, grade, time of day, kJ, etc.

Total I probably spend 10 minutes setting it up… not to bad to have a power meter installed and ready to use in 20 minutes or less…and with no wires.

TrainingPeaks WKO+ Compatibility

So far so good as I love the Cinqo and I'm also very impressed with the Edge 500, however now the moment of truth, does it work with TrainingPeaks WKO+.

I know there are other options out there now, but I have been using WKO for two years now and am happy with it. Plus my entire team uses it, along with most cyclists I know that have a power meter.

Unfortunately, I do not have enough equipment to do a perfect test as the edge 500 is the only computer I have that will read data from the Cinqo. However, I do have a Computrainer and my Wired PowerTap so I can make some comparisons. Also, I have read a bunch on the issues with the 310XT smart recording such not recording all data every second as well as some reporting issues with different data in Garmin Training Center and WKO+

I have now done three workouts inside on the Computrainer with both the PT and Edge/Cinqo. I also made it outside for a quick ride to test with the GPS as well.

Getting the data into WKO+

There is no way to directly download data from the edge 500 to WKO, so I figured I could drag and drop the file like with an edge 705…wrong. The edge 500 uses .fit files, which I have read allow smaller file sizes.

Next I tried to download the data into Garmin Training Center. GTC found the edge right away but would not download the data. Sure enough there was just a new version of GTC realized for the edge 500, after the update, GTC found the edge and downloaded the file with no problem. Form their I could export the activity to a file and then import it into WKO+. This sounds complicated, but it really isn't bad, just takes a few minutes.

After I complained about this on Twitter, TrainingPeaks was quick to respond and they now have a new version of the device agent that supports the edge 500. The device agent is simple and works pretty quickly. It simply downloads all of the files from the edge 500 and then saves them either directly to TrainingPeaks on line or as a file on your PC. All I had to do then is drag the file into WKO+ and I was set.

The data

I expected the data between the 3 power measuring devices to be slightly different as they are measuring at different points on the bike and using different technologies. For the last two years my PowerTap has almost always been about 5-10 watts higher then my Computrainer and like usual in these tests it is as well.

First Test – I calibrated the Computrainer after 10 minutes of warming up and got an RCC of 2.07. At this time I also coasted and back pedaled to calibrate the PT and CInqo. About every 15 minutes I re-calibrated the Computrainer and it slowly went down by about 0.01 each time. As I expected the PT came in higher than the CT, and the Cinqo also came in slightly higher than the PT, which I assume is due to power being measured directly at the crank instead of the rear hub. However I was not very concerned with the actual numbers instead I jumped right into the detail and compared the intervals and looked at the data line by line.

From what I could tell everything looked good. The edge 500 had recorded data every second for each data field in the file. The recorded data and calculated data (i.e. TSS/IF/NP) also seemed very consistent when compared to the other meters. Additionally, I looked at the edge 500 data in Garmin Training Center (GTC), Garmin Connect(GC), WKO+ and on the device and it matched in each place.

Next Three Tests on the Computrainer – Each of these times I did the same thing, however each time I recalibrated the comptrainer (~15 minutes) I also backpedaled and coasted to trigger the auto-calibration on the PT and Cinqo. Both of these times I got the same overall results, however now the PT was only a few watts higher than the comptrainer and the Cinqo very close to the PT every time. Again all of the data matched across GTC, GC, and WKO+

Outdoor test – this time around I just took a quick ride around my block with the PT and edge 500/cinqo. At first review everything looked great still, but then I noticed one of the issues folks were complaining of with the 310XT. The average power was showing differently in GTC than in WKO. This appears to be because on the trainer I almost never coasted during a 60 minute workout, however during the 5 minute ride around my block, I coasted a few times. I messed with the settings on the edge 500 and noticed it was set to non-zero averaging for power. The average power on the edge 500 and GTC matched, but WKO was lower (and I know it includes zeros in the average). So I changed the setting to include zeros and tried again… this time the average power in GTC and WKO matched. I personally like to look at the non-zero averaging so I switched it back to the default setting and it doesn't bother me that GTC shows the average without zeros and WKO includes zeros because I only care about TSS which is based on NP anyway.


While I have only done a hand full of tests so far and can't do a true test with only one variable (i.e. use a edge 705 or joule and edge 500 with the same Cinqo at the same time), I still feel the edge 500 is working correctly with WKO+.

Therefore, I'm very pleased with the Cinqo and Edge 500 combo and think it is a great option for an affordable crank based power meter setup.

Edge 500 Pros

  • About the same size as the PowerTap Little Yellow Computer
  • Setup was quick and easy and it found the Cinqo on its own
  • 3 data screens that can each have between 1 – 8 data elements displayed
  • Very easy to use and straight forward menus (don't have to memorize how to find things)
  • The mount is very simple and solid, plus two are included in the box
  • Barometric altimeter for more accurate elevation readings
  • No speed and cadence sensor required (it's available as an option but I prefer to have as little as possible on the bike and don't see a need for it since the Cinqo provides cadence)
  • Courses can be programmed to provide turn-by-turn direction if desired
  • Works with my collection of Garmin and CycleOps heart rate straps so I don't need to by another
  • Great price point at $250 MSRP

Edge 500 Cons

  • Uses new .fit files that cannot be directly imported to WKO+
  • No direct download to WKO+, but the new TrainingPeaks Device Agent 3.0 makes the process pretty easy (easier and faster than using Garmin Training Center)
  • Workout feature is not included
  • USB port cover doesn't always stay closed


Now I just have to figure out what wheels I want to race on this year!

1 comment:

  1. are you going to start writing reviews for a mag? You totally should. =)