Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Giving the nod to the Node

Last year, maybe two, doesn't really matter, Trek entered the digital computer realm to very lackluster reviews. It was called the ACH. After the flop that was the ACH, Trek or rather Bontrager went back to the drawing board. Enter the Node 1 & 2. After being reassured by every Trek product guy that the bugs had been fixed I jumped in.

Initially the draw was 1) the integrated Speed Trap fork sensor and 2) an altimeter / grade percent funciton. I'm not much of a computer guy but I jumped into it again last year with a Cateye Strada, super nice computer by the way. Anyway, when you really dig into the Node, specifically the Node 2, the features just keep on coming.

As I mentioned above, select Fisher and Trek road bikes accomodate an integrated fork speed sensor, yeah, no more zip ties. In addition to speed, the head unit also reads cadence, heart rate and power all wireless via ANT+ technology. Which means you can pick your power poison. The down side is that none of the data is downloadable, for me, not an issue as I ride for the day and data is only there to serve my own curiosity.

The Node does all the basic computer functions but the one that stands out in my book is Altitude. Measurement is handled by barometric pressure and temperature, yes it has a temperature gauge. The head unit tracks daily altitude gain and loss, percent grade and total altitude gain and loss, a climbing odometer if you will. I like to find the most curvy, hilliest roads so it will be interesting to see how much climbing I can do in a year. The Node also does dual wheel size so it will see double duty on the the road and cross bike this season.

Along with the integrated speed sensor, Bontrager has the best solution for the cadence magnet I've seen yet. Built into what is basically a large rubber band, you slide it over the crankarm and you're done. Again, no zip ties. I did however have to zip tie my cadence sensor on. If you're lucky enough to be on one of the new 6 series Madones you can get a Duo Trap integrated rear speed and cadence sensor, very cool, very clean and it will never get knocked out of position.

So far I have few complaints. The sheer number of buttons is confusing at first but you get it down after a couple rides (way better than a Cateye V2 or V3 head). The huge speed display is awesome and I find myself looking at either the Cadence/Heart Rate dual view secondary display or percent grade. Because the altitude is measured using barometric pressure it requires constant calibration. I know the altitude of my house so I set it there before each ride, after that it stays accurate within 50 feet throughout the ride.

All in all I've been really impressed with the Node 2, Bontrager has nailed it on there second try at digital. One side note, unlike most computers where you get a box of stuff you may or may not use, the Node is a modular system. You buy the head unit, 1 or 2, and then add on from there with the purchase of either integrated or zip tie mount sensors and HR strap (not included with Node 1). Now the only question is, which power unit do I want to use? Ah decisions, decisions.


RD said...

so this is what you mount in that fork .... sweet I was going to ask you about it

speedomodel said...

Cool review, MOD. My car looks like a cockpit with all of the digital gauges I've installed. It's crazy I know, but I have a pyrometer for each cylinder. On the bike, however, I no longer bother with a computer because I already know I'm going to blow up. ;)