Category Archives: Reviews

Garmin VIRB – annoyances

This is not a product review, as there are plenty of those around the internet, especially the in depth DCRainmaker review, this post is really just a few little niggles that annoy me with the Garmin VIRB after a couple of days of usage.

The Screen:

The screen on the VIRB is listed as a ‘chromo display’, when really it should be called ‘practically useless’.
There is no backlighting on the display so cannot be seen in the dark. Even when it is light out, the screen has to be held at a certain angle to the light, just to be able to make out what is on there.
Using the screen to take a photo, you can get the general idea of the composition of the shot, but not at all accurate.

Loop:

Whoever designed this feature, seriously needs to find another job, as I find it useless.
If I were to set it to ’30 minute loop’, I would imagine the camera would record 30 minutes of footage, then start a new file, and save another 30 minutes of footage, repeating these 30 minute blocks of footage until the memory card was full, and then ‘loop’ back and start overwriting the first 30 minutes.

Not the VIRB! Set it to ’30 minute loop’, and it in fact records 6 files, each 5 minutes long, So the most footage you will ever have is 30 minutes total.

Only way to record a full ride (30 minute loop is the longest allowed) is to disable loop completely, though this still does not record a ride to one file. For some reason (maybe card size or speed) the VIRB records files to 1 hour 4 minutes 20 seconds, so you will still end up with multiple files for longer rides.

Auto Pause:

The VIRB can be connected to certain other Garmin devices to be used as a remote control for the VIRB. I have my Garmin Edge 510 connected to it. When I press the start button on the Edge, the VIRB automatically starts recording. Similarly when I push stop on the 510, the VIRB stops recording.

This all falls down badly when ‘Auto Pause’ is enabled on the Edge 510 (which we all have enabled, just to keep that average speed up that extra 0.2 of a mph while we are sitting at traffic lights).

When the 510 auto pauses, the VIRB continues to record.

This is fine until you upload the video to the ‘VIRB Edit’ software, and then attempt to overlay your GPS data from the Edge 510 onto the video.

Imagine you have a 10 minute ride with a traffic light stop for 30 seconds at minute 4.
VIRB records 10 minutes of footage
Edge 510 records 9m30sec footage.

Sync these up on VIRB Edit, and your speed etc will be correct for the first 4 minutes. At 4 minutes and 10 seconds, you are still sat at the traffic lights according to the VIRB, but you are on your way again according to the Edge 510, so the GPS data and the video are no longer sync’d correctly.

Really when the Edge 510 goes to Auto Pause, it should set the signal to the VIRB to also stop recording, then resume recording once the Auto Pause is resumed. This however will cause the VIRB to create multiply files rather for each Start / Stop, which will cause further problems as detailed below.

VIRB Edit – Multiple files:

If your ride has multiple video files, be it you have loop enabled and have 6 x 5minute files, or you have loop disabled and have a couple 1hr files, you will run into problems when overlaying GPS data within VIRB Edit.

You load up the files, load up the GPS, sync the position, and you think all is good. You play the multiple file video expecting the GPS data to be synced, but once the movie reaches the second file, the GPS overlay disappears. So you need to upload the GPS data once again for the second file, and the third, and the …..

I’ve found no way to join up these multiple files, so you only need to upload the GPS data once and sync position. Obviously you can join the video files is some different software first, but really the VIRB Edit software should allow you to do this also.

Photo Mode:

I have my VIRB attached via a K-EDGE combo mount, therefore the VIRB is upside down with the display pointing down. You can change the settings so when the camera is mounted this way, the video records in the correct orientation. The downside is when you want to take a quick photo, so turn over the camera to compose the photograph, the image on the screen is upside down.

I guess the solution is to leave the VIRB recording in the normal orientation, and flip it over once uploaded to VIRB Edit, then when using the photo mode, the image on the screen will be the correct way up.

Here are a few photos taken with the setting on 16mp which I think look pretty decent.
No edit or filter has been added to these shots.

VIRB Picture VIRB Picture VIRB Picture

And a couple of things to be aware of, if you are new to HD video recording (like I am myself).

Card Speed:

The MicroSD card I am using (one doesn’t come supplied with the VIRB) is an old Class 4, 16mb card. When trying to record at the full 1080p, the video becomes very stuttery, however when recording at 720p the recording works perfectly fine.
A Class 10 card is on my ‘to buy’ list so I can record at the full 1080p

File Size:

I just made a 9 minute 22 second clip on VIRB edit of my first test ride, and the file size of that 9 minutes is a staggering 1.04GB (at 720p)

I have a seriously poor upload speed on my Sky broadband (which is soon to be cancelled)

Speeds

To upload this short video to youtube, via the Garmin VIRB software, it took the following time:-

38 minutes to prepare the file ready for uploading
1hr 46 minutes to actually upload the file

This is the final video, editing in VIRB edited to add some fancy overlay charts and gauges, and some cheesy music (be sure to change the quality to 720p).

Update 21.2.16
Recently, the Virb battery has not been lasting long. When fully charged, on 720p mode, it was lasting just 80 minutes before it would power off. Turning it back on showed the battery level at around 30-40%, before it would power off once again.
Charging until the light turned green, then setting it to record again gave a recording time of just 80 minutes.

So I tried a longer charge. After the green ‘charged’ light came on, I left it on charge for several more hours.
A further test after this extended charging gave the following results:-
Low battery warning – 2hr 25min
Virb powered off – 2hr 55min

It seems like the unit has got confused as to when the battery was actually fully charged or empty. Giving the battery an extended charge seems to have corrected this, and the unit is fully functional once again.


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Garmin 310xt Quick Release Kit (unpacking & fitting)

Just received my Garmin 310xt Quick Release Kit, so here is a step by step fitting with photographs. This is the second version of the kit, which uses the original orange watch strap.

Garmin 310xt Quick Release Kit Unboxing
The kit comes with a set of instructions which are easy to follow, and two bags of parts. One bag is for the bike bracket and fastenings, the other has the quick release bracket and the pins for securing the strap.

Garmin 310xt Quick Release Kit Bike Fittings  Garmin 310xt Quick Release Kit bracket fitted to bike  Garmin 310xt Quick Release Kit bracket fitted to bike 2

The kit comes with two bike brackets so you can fit one to a training bike and one to a racing bike if you so wish. The rubber part fits under there plastic bracket so it sits nicely on your bike. There are 2 sizes of bands that are used to fit the bracket. I fitted mine to the stem. You will likely try the small band and think it is far too small, so then try the larger band, and realise how far they actually stretch. You will then remove the larger band and stretch the smaller band to fit and secure the band in place. Well I did anyway. In the picture above I’ve actually fitted the bracket wrongly. The small slots at the top and bottom of the bracket should actually be fitted so they are at the sides.

Garmin 310xt Strap Removed Garmin 310xt Quick Release Kit Bracket Fitted

The standard strap was removed using the small tool provided to push back the spring loaded pins. The same pins were removed from the strap and reused to fit the plastic bracket from the kit. This part was pretty simple to do.

Garmin 310xt Quick Release Kit New Pins Garmin 310xt Quick Release Kit Strap fitted

The new pins in the kit aren’t spring loaded like the original pins, instead there is a hex headed threaded pin and a very small bolt that screws into the pin. Fitting the original straps to the new bracket was rather fiddly. Firstly it was difficult to get the pin lined up with the holes on the bracket but with plenty of wiggling around they finally slide into place. Be sure to insert the pin from the correct side of the bracket so that the hex head slots into the hex head sized hole on the bracket. Next fit the tiny bolt onto the other side and tighten. Using the pin remove tool to tighten, I didn’t feel the tool tightened the bolt enough so used a small pozi screwdriver to give it an extra nip.

Garmin 310xt Quick Release Kit Watch Completed 2 Garmin 310xt Quick Release Kit Watch Completed

Showing the extra height that the bracket makes the watch sit on your arm. Only a few mm really so doesn’t make it that much more bulkier.

Garmin 310xt Quick Release Kit Fitted to bike Garmin 310xt Quick Release Kit Fitted to bike 2

The watch fitted to the stem on the bike (with the bracket now they correct way around)


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Profile Design T3+ Aerobars

DECIDING

The original plan after a year of using my Felt Z95 road bike, was to upgrade to a Felt TT bike. I have however decided against this for various reasons.

  • I’ve read TT bikes are mainly for long straight roads, where braking isn’t needed too often.
  • Road bikes are better for longer rides for the comfort factor.
  • Road bikes are better for hilly areas.
  • With the state of the potholed roads around here, riding a TT bike in aero position would be pretty unstable.
  • Finally, I figure it would look better being faster on my road bike against a cyclist on an expensive TT bike, compared to me being the slower one on the expensive TT bike.

So I made the decision to have the best of both worlds. A road bike for comfort, but with clip-on aerobars for when the road surface allows.

I chose the Profile Design T3+ Aerobars after reading a positive recommendation on DCRainmaker website, however, after some testing with tubing, went for the T3+ version over the T2+ version. The Profile Design T3+ Aerobars seemed to let the hands sit in a more natural position than the T2+.

 

UNBOXING UNWRAPPING

I expected the bars to arrived boxed all separated, however they arrived completely assembled (fastened to a piece of tubing) in a plastic bag.

IMG-20130501-00446 IMG-20130501-00447 IMG-20130501-00448

 

FITTING

Fitting was straightforward. It is a simple case of removing 4 bolts (2 per bar), and re-tightening them to the specific torque around the handlebar. Luckily I didn’t need to remove any bar tape to get the bars in the position I wanted. After that, the small pads had to be fitted on to the aluminium bases which too a matter of seconds to secure.

IMG-20130502-00450 IMG-20130502-00449

 

SET-UP

This is where the pain started. The Profile Design T3+ Aerobars have a lot of available adjustment, so setting them up to fit just right can take some time.

I wanted the bars turned in slightly for a more natural position which was a simple case of loosening a bolt, rotate the bar, then tighten the bolt. This however also rotates the angle of the arm rest. “Just loosen the bolt and rotate it back” I can hear you say? Well if only it was that easy. The bolt to rotate it back is hidden under the aluminium arm rest, so that needs to be removed (or at the least 1 bolt removed and 1 slackened so it can be rotated out of the way)  to access the bolt, which can become quite a pain for minor adjustments.

I did read a forum post where somebody made a small cut into the arm rest so they could access the bolt which out the need to remove it completely.

After a quick test ride, some small adjustments need to be made but the position isn’t too bad.

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

So out I went, avoiding using the Profile Design T3+ bars until I got to a quiet road. On the way to the road I notice that the bars make a bit of a humming noise, sort of like the noise that aero disc wheels make. Also there are some holes on the underside which whistle when caught in the wind.

First time in the aero position, I did have a moments wobble, but then after that moving from aero to hoods wasn’t a problem. Checking behind for vehicles coming caused me to swerve slightly in to the road, but that was becoming less the more I used them.
I did notice while in the aero position that you use the gears less often to save moving back and forth, instead just stick to the gear you are in and spin more or grind it out until you really need to change the gear.
Finally I noticed that when in the aero position, the pedal stroke seems totally different to when riding normally which in turn makes it seems far easier to get the power down.


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