enthDegree Cycling Blog

enthDegree Cycling Blog

Un-social Media

cyclePosted by Jon Entwistle Mon, May 30, 2016 13:27:34

No blog post last Friday as I was down in Glentress at the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland attending the launch of the Limits power meter. It was surprisingly quite a low key affair, but all the Limits team were present along with some key riders and familiar faces from the world of Scottish cycling.

I was keen to attend as all I wanted was to see Limits in the flesh. What I got was more than I bargained for. After long chats with each individual in the Limits team, COO Gordon Drummond gave me a couple the units I had ordered and even installed one of them on my mountain bike which gave me a great excuse to try it out and ride the awesome trails at Glentress.

The object of the test was merely a proof of concept. For Limits this is arguably the worst-case-scenario but they were quite happy for me to pedal away into the woods using flat pedals and hiking boots, even though the manual clearly states not to use standard shoes as they may cause irreparable damage to the sensor.

On quite a few occasions I found myself standing on the unit (hence the above point about standard shoes) as I moved my feet around to negotiate the tricky terrain that even the Glentress Blue run throws at you. I only had one Garmin GPS and so I used my iPhone and the Wahoo app to record the data from the Stages PM. I also used HR which both devices picked up as a data sense check.

I basically messed around for a bit doing multiple laps of the course, calibrating both Stages and Limits at various point in the ride and trying different things to see if I can cause some data and hardware disruption. After all, this was a proof-of-concept test and a deliberately cobbled together one at that. Now that I had confirmed to myself it wasn’t vapourware, all I wanted to know was whether the numbers that Limits produce are in the same ball park as Stages. That was all. It wasn’t a multi-million pound controlled test in an inert environment funded by large companies who have their own agenda, it was little old me riding his bike around a forest, testing a device that has cost me less than $250 and has been put together by a very small team of individuals who have the balls, vision and energy to create an affordable power meter in hardly any time at all (in power meter production timescales).

For what it’s worth, in my honest opinion, Limits have delivered on that vision.

And again, for what it’s worth, in my opinion, Limits should be applauded for their achievement.

But you can’t please everyone. Even though I was playing the role of eyes and ears and collaborator for Cycling Weekly, I had a personal agenda too. I wanted to know what the Limits team thought about the media firestorm that seemed to have engulfed them. I was expecting stoic responses such as “that’s business” or “water off a duck’s back”, but I got the distinct impression the backlash from social media had really got to them and taken up bandwidth that would have probably been better used getting the product to market sooner.

In conversations with the Limits team whose size is only in single figures, I repeatedly picked up on theme, which I interpreted as “Five core individuals, working overtime, pulling together trying to hit very aggressive project timescales, to deliver a device that works and costs no more than a Garmin in as little time as possible”.

And again, for what it’s worth, in my opinion, they should be applauded for their achievement.

But this is business, so let’s take a hard line and forget emotional and human aspects of getting an idea from beer mat to reality.

The question most people will rightly ask is, does it work? Well, a quick glance at the Wahoo app and comparing Normalized Power with Stages (currently on my fourth incarnation of this particular type of PM) and the numbers are ball park and one is within 10% of the other. Like I say, this was not a multi-million pound controlled test in an inert environment funded by large companies who have their own agenda. It was little old me riding his bike around a forest in hiking boots testing a device (which many thought didn’t even exist with suggestions of it being an internet scam) to see how it compares with a well established power meter that’s had plenty of issues of it’s own over the year’s (despite Team Sky’s endorsement). Having invested over five grand purchasing and testing power meters in the last three years, I’m happy with this unit (you could argue I should be distraught). For $250 you’re not getting the International Space Station. And no it doesn’t make toast! Next grumble?

Yes, like days of the week, it’s predictable that some sections of the social media world will be the ones that grab the online headlines for negative reasons, but it’s the silent majority that will decide with their wallets if this device is an affordable power meter. We need balance and we need facts, not opinions based on the square root of zero. Limits is not perfect, nothing is, I just have to look at myself to reaffirm that point. Maybe the nit-pickers should ask themselves whether they are perfect before deciding on being critically deconstructive.

And then maybe those that are perfect should then dedicate their perfection to sleepless nights, dedication, energy and drive to produce a power meter that costs less than $250 in record time with no flaws whatsoever? That’s something I will definitely invest my money in.


  • Comments(18)

Posted by Jon Entwistle Fri, July 08, 2016 13:43:27

Hi Andrew,
Thanks for your comment. My opinion was based on the delivery of a physical unit and the manner in which it was done (small team, short timescales - in power meter world). That hasn't changed. However, I do have concerns though about the veracity of Limits and communication in general (I've not heard from them for weeks - particularly as I'm a backer too). I'm also awaiting units that I thought would have arrived by now. As always I remain optimistic, time will tell if that was the right approach.

Posted by Andrew Fri, July 08, 2016 12:00:55

Hi Jon,
Has your opinion changed at all over the last few weeks? None of the other backers have received their power meters, they've missed another deadline that they set themselves, and their communication is just as poor as ever.
Ray's testing has shown up some major issues which suggest if they do deliver any units any time soon then they won't be much good, and certainly won't meet the spec that they set; 2% accuracy and Bluetooth support being the obvious ones!
Are you still in contact with any of the Limits team? they don't respond to any questions on Twitter or Facebook - not sure what their marketing director is doing!

Posted by Kim Fri, June 17, 2016 01:28:52

Jon - no doubt you have seen DC Rainmaker's initial evaluation of LIMITS. Wonder if you wanted to add any comments. Also note that image #12 in Ray's post seems to show that one of the battery caps is cracked. Did you notice that before you shipped it?

Posted by Steve Fri, June 03, 2016 18:53:02

While it would be interesting to try/compare, (I have SRM's on both road bikes and a Stages on my Velodrome bike), DC has offered to do some testing of your unit if you are willing to loan it to him.

He is far more experienced in said matters, has the addtional equipment (multple head-units etc), and knows how to put his tests into word we can all understand.

I look forward to seeing what comes out of it all.

Posted by Jon Entwistle Fri, June 03, 2016 18:07:46

Steve, apology accepted and thank you for having the good grace and balls to actually write that on my Blog. I have faith in social media after all!

My offer still remains, would you like to do some testing on my behalf? As already alluded to, time is precious and my business model is centred on clients paying for my time. I'm sure you'll understand that they take priority over field testing which, as you know, is time consuming.

Posted by Steve Fri, June 03, 2016 17:57:06

Once again, a public apology from me Jon. I hope you get your LIMITs soon and that they are a usable training tool.

Posted by Jon Entwistle Fri, June 03, 2016 16:19:18

James, thanks for your comment. I am enthDegree Cycling and I do indeed coach people, some voluntarily (youths) and some privately. One of my private clients is a member of the Spokes racing team.

Is the post independent and neutral? That was the intention. After all I had to pay for my Limits power meter and no-one is paying me or asking me to test it. I was curious to see if exists (so in my own time I drove my own car and paid for my own petrol). It does exist.

I am now curious to see if it works. If I decide to go down this road, the testing, analysis and conclusions will be all my own work and determined by the similar processes that got me a PhD in experimental Physics (measuring turbulence). If anyone would like to collaborate with me please get in touch. The more independent and neutral tests that can be carried out, the more confidence we will have with the data and conclusions.

I hope this answers your question?

Posted by James McG Fri, June 03, 2016 14:12:40

Jon do You work for Enthdegree cycling ? Which in turn coach members Limits spokes team , correct ? In the interests of fairness again I ask is this post independent and neutral ?

Posted by Jon Entwistle Fri, June 03, 2016 13:52:35

Just checked the post and all inboxes Kim. Nothing.

Posted by Kim Fri, June 03, 2016 13:45:55

Jon: LIMITS said this 10 days ago, "We are currently running some final tests after which we will start shipping LIMITS products to backers, this should take no longer than 10 days." Have you any news on the shipping front?

Posted by Stephen Connor Wed, June 01, 2016 09:25:25

@Jon Entwistle Have you tried the limits PM with clipless pedals yet? Are you still in possession of the Limits PM? Would like to see further updates after several uses of the PM.
As an early backer, I'm interested to see if the power figures are still within 10% of benchmark device you're testing it against (ie: Stages PM) over a longer use period. At this stage I would rather receive a unit that is reliable and repeatable over something that only lasts a wet day and has to go back to the manufacturers under warranty. I'm of the opinion that one the data is repeatable, its usable for training purposes. If one needs more accurate power figures for a certain situation, there are other more expensive PM's such as SRM and lab tests on watbike/ergometer.

Posted by Steve Tue, May 31, 2016 22:09:21

Imo, they have not yet delivered.

These do not cost $250 as has been repeatedly mentioned in the "review" above. The WILL cost $389 if they ever end up in the shops. (Or $289 now if you are willing to take the risk of maybe getting one sometime this year/ever).

And 10% out is a huge margin. Would one LIMITs read 10% greater than a Stages, but another 10% smaller than the same Stages? The point about the accuracy % is not how different they are from a different power meter, but how they vary between identical power meters, and even the same power meter under different environmental conditions.

If you do an FTP test ride one day at a certain wattage lets say 300, and the next day you do an FTP test and hit 330 with the same power meter, then those figures are completely meaningless as you really have no idea what your FTP is, or what wattage to train at when doing intervals to increase but to avoid exceeding it and not being able to complete the interval session.

And if none of that is important to you as you are "only buying a $250 power meter", then why buy one at all?

Very poor "review" Jon, smells too much of simply being nice to LIMITs just because they let you try one out, and not independant at all.

When DC Rainmaker gets his hands on one (and as an early backer he should be among the first), then we'll really know if they produce/delivered on their promises.

Posted by HM Tue, May 31, 2016 22:05:38

"oh it's ok that it it's six months late and doesn't really work as promised, it's cheap and they did it pretty quickly"

This 'review' shows you either have no shame ($$$) or the IQ of a duck

Posted by Jon Entwistle Tue, May 31, 2016 21:57:04

Thank you for your comments, keep them coming, they are most welcome and thought provoking. Good.

Posted by Kim Tue, May 31, 2016 18:22:01

Of course, you are aware that LIMITS has stated from the beginning (and still states) that accuracy of the unit would be about 2%. To date we have seen nothing that supports that statement. Moreover, as pointed by posters here, we have been consistently misinformed about progress and independent testing. Heck, the indiegogo campaign page still states that backers will received their units in December 2015. I have read every post on Facebook about the product and I cannot recall anyone demanding that the product has to be "perfect." All most of us wanted was timely and accurate updates on the unit and responses to questions asked. Finally @timbob D.C Rainmakers doubts were realized, that hardly makes him a troll.

Posted by J McG Tue, May 31, 2016 16:42:43

This issue isn't the product but the lack of clear communication and the fact the intial round claimed to have working models. I am very happy they have come good but the communication has been terrible andis the reason for the online backlash.

Posted by Ryan Tue, May 31, 2016 16:26:01

In the time of many failed kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns, Limits bascially had all the immediate warning signs of vapourware and that "troll" was right to call them out for a schedule that was basically inviting negative press from the get go.

From the sounds of it, they've made a decent product. But they handled the campaign rather poorly and were the rightful recipients of much criticism.

If they've delivered this product as described, there will be many happy days to come for Limits and they can put the rough start behind them. I hope it works because I would be happy to make this my first power meter!

Posted by timbob Mon, May 30, 2016 14:01:17

I do hope they invited along their #1 online troll if only to have had the opportunity to jam a unit up his nose.

Sadly the democratisation that was the promised outcome of social media has only partly been realized and I'm absolutely sure that trolling of small companies by individuals who seem to regard themselves as infinitely more knowledgeable costs real blood, sweat, tears and money.

I'm very glad to hear that the company has delivered!