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Archives for February, 2012

Finis Tempo Trainer Pro


The Finis Tempo Trainer Pro is a nice simple timer that slips into a swim cap or under the band of your goggles.  It has 3 buttons and a clock.  The top button is for mode select and timer reset.  The bottom two buttons are for the timer up/down and the on/off functions.  Push the right button to turn it on.  The top button is to select your mode and push both bottom buttons to turn the unit off.
It is really easy to set the unit up.  Select the mode you want to try, set your desired time, push the reset button and you are off.  The tempo trainer is advertised as a stroke tempo timer.  I really like to use it as a lap tempo trainer.  The instructions give you a lot of good advice on how to set the timer to suit your needs.  It is also easy to figure it out for yourself.  I don’t like to carry instructions around so I just do my own thing.  Here are some of the things I like to do with the temp trainer:

  • Set the timer at 30 seconds then see how long it takes me to lap the timer.  Take a 30 second break the repeat until I can’t catch it anymore.
  • Set the timer at 30 seconds, increase the speed by one second until I can’t keep up any more.  Take a 30 second break then repeat.
  • Set the timer for 25 seconds then maintain the pace for a mile.  If I want to see if I can do a sub 30 minute mile, I try to stay ahead of the timer.

I like the tempo trainer.  It is a simple device that helps me vary my workouts.  I tend to get into a rut with swim training.  Having an easily changeable metronome in your ear encourages change.


  • Fits well under the Finis Lightning goggle band and does not fall out
  • Very comfortable
  • The timer is very easy to reset while swimming
  • Easy to use while swimming
  • It encourages change to workouts
  • Instructions are not really required to get the thing working
  • Different beep tones, I prefer the triple beep
  • Easy to reset, when things go wrong
  • Replaceable battery
  • It floats


  • It falls out of the headband of wide lens goggles
  • If it falls out, it can cause weird things to happen to the timer.  The timer has to be turned off then back on, to reset the matter

I really like the Finis Tempo Trainer.  It can be found for $40 to $50.  If you have wide lens goggles, it can be troublesome to get in the band just right.  You have to be careful when using the cadence timer.  It can cause short stroking, in an effort to keep up with the clock.  I did not feel the timer under the race goggles.  When I was wearing wide goggles, I did not feel the timer until it fell off.  Once I got it into a good position, I could not feel it on my head.  This is one of those times, when simple is good.


When I got home from work to discover a couple of water bottles on my desk for review, I thought to myself “Water bottles, eh”.   I usually get water bottles handed to me at expo’s or triathlons.  They are not really something I give much thought.  I expected to be carrying around a $2.00 water bottle that I would have nothing to say about.  I was wrong.  I was carrying around $15 water bottles that I love.


When I removed the lids to wash the bottles, I noticed a clean smell.  New water bottles always smell like plastic.  After washing, I took my water bottle out for a trial run.  The water did not taste like plastic, quite impressive.  The flow out of the cap was perfect.  Now it was time to take the bottle out for a bike ride.  When I go out for long bike rides, I add an extra 50% concentration for my electrolyte drink in both bottles.


I like to drink my fluids warm which really adds to the plastic leaching into the drink.  I spent more than 5 hours on my bike with no odd flavors to my drinks.  After my bike ride, I threw a half full bottle in my clothes bag, filled up the other bottle then took off for a run.  At the run turn-around, I stopped for a gel pack and drink.  I noticed that I was not dripping water on my shirt before I started drinking water.  The water tends to stick in the bottle before you squeeze.  Nice touch.  When I got back to my car, I found that I did not push the cap closed on the bottle before I threw it into the car.  It did not leak.


The Specialized website for water bottles state that infused silicon dioxide create a barrier to the plastic.  If a waiter tries to sell me infused food, I tell him to take a hike.  If a water bottle is infused, I say it is cool.  I guess there is no way of explaining how I think.  Check out their website.  It is pretty good.  It is not really detailed but I probably would not understand the details anyway.


For some odd reason, this review wound up in the in process queue since last year.  After about a year of use, the Purist bottles are still my preferred water bottles.  I left a purist bottle and a $20 running bottle in the car overnight.  The running bottle had a distinct taste of plastic.  It was very sad for me since the running bottle is my second favorite bottle.  I plan on replacing my water bottle collection, now that I can taste the plastic.  I hope Sports Basement has a sale.

Mike’s Note:  Specialized bikes have become even better in recent years, with the company’s accessories also making huge efforts as of late.

Finis XtreaMP3

Finis XtreaMP3

An MP3 player that works under water! Finis is not an MP3 player manufacturer. They are a swim equipment manufacturer. That being said, you need to read the instructions to figure out how to work the MP3 player. It is not too hard to operate the MP3 player but it is not intuitive.

I turned on the player, strapped it onto my arm, stuffed the ear buds in and jumped into the pool. I suppose I should have had some faith that it would work. I expected a total failure and I was happily surprised that it worked. It has quality sound under water.

I started swimming laps and immediately noticed a pull on the wires for the ear pieces. I tucked the wires up under the strap for my goggles and that helped for a while. Clips that support the ear piece wires to the goggle strap would be nice.

After a couple of laps, I had to stop and adjust the arm band as it got too tight for an arm that is working. This happened two more times during the swim. A bit of elastic on the arm band could go a long way towards improving the comfort. I am sure that I could figure out a way to attach the player to my goggles but I won’t go through the effort for a loaner.

It is hard to find music to match a swim pace. I swim at about 36 strokes per minute, the music I had was running at about 120 beats per minute. The pace was a bit awkward but it was really nice having music while I swam. After about ¾ of a mile one of the ear buds pulled loose and did not work any more because there was water in my ear. I took the player off and really missed having the music. Something like this MP3 player will be great for long, timed swims and I am not counting laps. The music really helps keep me distracted. I haven’t tried it in the bay yet but I am not too sure about open water swimming with an MP3 player in my ears. I like to be able to hear boats in the water.

This is a demo unit. I wonder if I will buy one when I see it in my local swim shop.

This is a two year old review that wound up in the archives.  I don’t know what happened to the review or demo unit and I have never seen the swim MP3 player in a swim shop.  I might add that I have a lot of swim stuff so I don’t venture into the swim shops very often.

Sella Italia Flite Gel Flow Saddle

I am a reluctant cyclist who likes to ride up a big hill every now and then and survive the middle leg of a triathlon.  For me, a bike saddle is nothing more than a fancy term for a bike seat.  Sella Italia heard about my feelings when we did an interview with them recently so they sent us a couple saddles to review.

I wound up with the Flite as my test saddle.  I put it on my titanium frame with semi-stiff Aksium wheels and never looked back.

I understand there are various renditions for the Gel Flite saddle.  I have the latest and greatest with titanium rails.  There was something about the geometry of the saddle that confused me during the installation.  I wound up putting the seat a little bit forward and tilted down slightly.  I rode like this for over 100 miles when I decided to try riding without cycle shorts.  My old saddle often felt like the seat was loose because of some weird wobbly feel.  The Flite never gave me that sensation.  I rode with spandex shorts and I was comfortable for an entire 50 or 60 mile ride.  With that test out of the way, I decided to put aero bars on my bike and try it like that.  I kept the seat on a slight angle and slightly forward.  My bike is setup for a single purpose, to survive the Vineman triathlon.  The way the saddle is configured, I am up on the nose when I am in the aero position and in the middle when I am on the handle bars while climbing and descending.

The feel is pretty good when I am down in the aero position.  After an hour or so of aero, I am ready for a hill so I can get into the middle of the seat.  Riding in the middle of the saddle offers a unique feel.  It is not a soft ride, it is comfortable.  Soft gets squishy while comfortable feels like it is formed to my body and it absorbs a lot of the shock from the road.  I could tweak the setup some more but I am not going to mess with something that works until after my triathlon next week.

What I like about the Sella Italia Flite

  • It is comfortable
  • It fits my butt when I sit on it
  • The flex from the carbon fiber base or the gel give it a molded feel when riding
  • It is the only visible bling on my bike
  • The long rails give the nose a firm feel
  • No two seats are exactly the same
  • The shock absorbing action from the middle of the saddle
  • I can’t really say what I don’t like about the saddle as it is the only high end saddle that I have ridden but I can say I like it.