Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Garmin Training Status Explained


I been getting a few queries about “Training Status” on the Garmin device, and why after the weekend KLSCM (Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon), their “Training Status” went into “Unproductive”. The conversation triggered as I showed my “Unproductive” status after sharing my 42km run results. It raised a lot of questions. Many asked how can one be unproductive (as a negative verb) when you just, well, ran a freaking 42km? I realized this can be discontenting for some, while for me, having understand how this work, not too worried and fully understand the message that is being sent by the device, to me.
Should you be worried?
Training status is a feature by Garmin that analyses your historical training load and habit and put them into an easy-to-understand bigger picture. If you do not use your device when you go for your exercise, or loan your device to another person, this will screw up your overall reading. This is because many of the user settings are set based on your ability; your Maximum Heart Rate, Lactate Threshold, Resting Heartrate, sleep, VO2Max, and even your sleeping time. These metrics has significant impact to how the “Training Status” are derived.

What Training Status does is to help provide a guidance and help your training plan in future – should you consider putting more intensity, train longer, and if you are working hard enough to see changes. Your effectiveness of your current training is being considered (in the form of the past 7-days training load) and your fitness level changes.
Training Status vs VO2Max vs Training Load - All related!
If you look at the logic, if you reduce your training, your fitness level will decrease. But if your previous training load is too high (meaning you need rest), a break or slow down or “recovery” may actually result in increase of fitness level – hence sometimes you get a surprised “new VO2max detected” after a day or two or rest, followed by a hard workout such as interval and speed work.

Along the same way, logically, if you train everyday and have the training load (in past 7-days) to be high, and you are happy with your progress – only to see your fitness slip into unproductive (like in my case), you know you may be bordering on “overtraining” if you are not too careful.

So, if you been training consistently for weeks, and your fitness level has been good. You make small day-to-day improvement in terms of load (optimal), the device will identify this as “productive”. Similarly, if you keep putting in hard training (intervals, hill work, speed work) day after day, the device will detect this as overreaching and you may have to cut back down on the intensity, or even take days off from training to recover.

In the device, these are the typical indicator to help you understand. These definitions is available in your Garmin Connect and also on Garmin website.

Peaking – You are in ideal race condition! Your recently reduced training load is allowing your body to recover and fully compensate for earlier training. Be sure to think ahead, since this peak state can only be maintained for a short time.

Productive – Keep up the good work! Your training load is moving your fitness in the right direction. Be sure to plan recovery periods into your training to maintain your fitness level.

Maintaining – Your current training load is enough to maintain your fitness level. To see improvement, try adding more variety to your workouts or increasing your training volume.

Recovery – Your lighter training load is allowing your body to recover, which is essential during extended periods of hard training. You can return to a higher training load when you feel ready.

Unproductive – Your training load is at a good level, but your fitness is decreasing. Your body may be struggling to recover, so pay close attention to your overall health, including stress, nutrition and rest.

Detraining – You’ve been training much less than usual for a week or more, and it’s affecting your fitness. Try increasing your training load to see improvement.

Overreaching – Your training load is very high and has become counterproductive. Your body needs a rest. Give yourself time to recover by adding lighter training to your schedule.

No Status – You typically need a week or two of training history, including recent activities with VO2 max results from running or cycling, before we can determine your training status.

So you been “unproductive”
The mystery of this can easily be explained this way. If you been running and exercising and you get this beep on your device that says “Performance Condition +5” or “Performance Condition -10”. On Garmin Connect, Performance Condition is defined and classified as this:

“As you run, performance condition analyzes your pace, heart rate, and heart rate variability to make a real-time assessment of your ability to perform compared to your average fitness level. During the first 6 to 20 minutes of an activity, your watch displays your performance condition score. Performance condition can also be an indicator of fatigue level, especially at the end of a long training run.”
Performance Condition indicator
Now it starts to make sense… despite having a good “fitness base”, the 42km run that I did returned a performance condition that denotes me having only a “fair” condition, which is below my baseline. Hence, the decline and the fatigue indicator.
The KLSCM 42km, my Performance Condition has been at average -3, which is "Fair", which resulted in "Unproductive"
When my Vo2Max went from 55 to 56 about 3 weeks ago, my Performance Condition during a 5km BRICK run was on the +4 and at baseline. The device algorithm checked this as Productive and hence the increase.
Compared to this 5km BRICK Run, which I completed in 22mins, It's on "Good" level, which help me to record new VO2Max
I will not touch into the Training Load for this article – as I am assuming the concern here is because despite a good Training Load, the status is on the decline. If your Training Load is already sub-optimal, it is expected your Training Status will be on the lower end as well.

Your Training Status ties in very closely to the Performance Condition at the time you are doing the exercise. If your heart rate (hence why finding your HRMax and LTHR is important) is higher at a particular pace (hence why it is important for you to put in the correct lactate pace in your User Setting) for your Garmin calculated VO2Max then you will have a negative Performance Condition. 

Likewise, If your heart rate is lower at a particular pace for your Garmin to calculated VO2Max then you will have a positive Performance Condition. Make sense – as you are now more efficient (lower HR threshold) and running at a higher speed (pace), a good indication you are improving.

To maintain a Productive status you must be working out above your Training Load while keeping positive Performance Conditions during workouts that calculate your VO2Max.

My personal take on this Training Status is to use it as a guidance, and to provide insight into our own training regime – we tend to fall into three categories; training too hard (in desperation to improve) or thinking we are training hard (in denial that the fitness is on decline) or training insufficiently (or wrongly) because of other factors. For this “Unproductive” status to show on my device since September 24 – it closely relates to the detraining status in the run up of KLSCM, and the 42km itself being take much easier (ave HR Z2/3) vs a very slow pace (Z1/2 threshold pace) which resulted in the “unproductive”.
Ruled By Device #FeelMyPain
Am I worried? Not really. I believe it will go up back again within the next 2 weeks. Even if it doesn’t show “Peaking” before my Ironman Langkawi on October 26, 2019 – I will still be racing at my own personal peak condition. Use these as guidance, not absolute indicator, very much like how Maximum HR calculation of 220-age is too generic for someone that is active and train at least 7 times a week!

Hope today’s article help you to understand how to continue to maximise your Garmin device!


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Nike Flex Run 2017 vs 2018

With Skechers Malaysia no longer collaborating with me and a few of my team mates in Team 2ndSkin, as they moved into a different market segment in Malaysia, I found myself having to start looking again for shoes that will suit me. I be lying to say it be easy - because over the years, I've been so used to Skechers that I can tell you what model I am wearing even with my eyes closed. If you read my Review sections, you will see the numbers of Skechers I've worn, and loved. All good things come to an end, and I found myself looking at options.
Cheap options if I may say so myself.
A Ringgit Saved, is a Ringgit earned.
When Royal Sporting House (RSH) had a warehouse clearance sales at the end of May 2019, i went to take a look and was lucky to have chance upon two pairs of Nike Flex Run, one a 2017 model, and the other a 2018 model. They were sold for RM90 (Original when launched, RM490!) and RM110 (also RM490 when launched) each, with the 2018 being more expensive (because newer). I found both to be my size, and the price point was hard to say no to. Those of you that were there for that RSH sales, will remember how they put in another 50% off if you buy a third pair - and that was what I did as we got another pair for wifey (Saucony) and paid RM80 for a RM160 on-sale Litefoam series.
Nike - What Is There To Hate
Nike Pegasus 36. Image from Nike Malaysia
My last pair of Nike was courtesy of Nike Malaysia. They were the Pegasus+, which had the integrated hole to put in the Nike+ footpod. This was in 2008. That was 11 years ago, which made the Pegasus I had to be series 25, or Pegasus 25+. For those of you not in the know of the series, Pegasus is now at series 36. I was given a Nike Triax 10+ back in 2007 as well, and a pair of Adidas Supernova 7 (in 2007). I have written extensively of these shoes, and has put them all in a write up comparing it here. These shoes back in 2008 cost about RM350 onwards (RRP, not after discount). A bargain if you compare the pricing of running shoes now. Pegasus 36 full price is RM495.00 on Nike official store. Even the cheapest Skechers running shoe (GoRunRide5) is going for RM300 discounted. Who will buy Skechers at that kind of pricepoint when they now go "Britney Spears" with BTS? I won't.
The Nike Flex Run
With that kind of shoe pricing, you can now understand my excitement of getting a pair (or in this case, two), at total of RM200. Now, Nike Flex Run is a version of running shoe made for beginner runner. It's not even close cousin of the Nike Free (now called Nike Free RN, maybe leaving the "u" made them a gram lighter?). Flex Run as a model only came up in 2014, and they were super ugly.
Nike Flex Run 2014. Image from RunRepeat.com
3-years later, the Flex Run had a full refresh, and with complete material change and design, made to look more "Free" like. It has now looked like a kissing cousin of the Nike Free. Sexier. 
Nike Flex Run 2017
This pair has clocked close to 380km since I wore it in June, 2019. It was my main pair until Asic Relay 2019 run soaked this pair up with so much sweat it now been washed twice to rid of the un-dried smell (thank you Haze for blocking the sun!)
Super Striking Orange
This pair is light (221gram for men US8) and the fabric was thin. Reminds me of the quickdrying Skechers GoBionic series. Drop is 7mm, and does not qualify as a minimalist trainer. Although it gives the close to the ground feel, it is more because the sole were thin. Because there were humps at the bottom due to how the sole were laid out, you will feel strange for a first few run - and you get used to it. The aggressive lugs of the 2017 provides it with great flexibility, and you almost felt "free" in it. It bounces pretty well, providing a bit of energy return.
How the Flex was run
As this was the 2017 unit, I was fearing it may not last long due to the storage time potentially deteriorating the glue of the sole to the upper. For RM90, i had some hope it won't. Happy to report, it's holding up nicely until now. Two photos down will show you when this shoe was made - 17th Feb 2017, and this batch received and order for production (PO Date) at 14th December 2016.
Disappointing finish
The insole is removable, and i was disappointing to see how Nike finished the shoe. It is as if no thoughts were given to at the very least, make them nicer. This also meant, you will not be able to run this without insole, or risk hotspot/blister. You be surprised that insole adds up stack height of shoes, and removing insole in this Flex 2017 may give you a 4mm drop, close to ground feel.
The upper however, pretty impressive finishing
The Flex 2017 is a lightweight trainer, and what they lack in structure, they have these latex/silicon band that help to keep shape when the runner uses them. The toebox borders on E (wide), but more likely a D (narrow). I've learnt to size up shoe and knows what to look for. For this, I took a EUR46 when i usually wear a 45. Many times, some shoes are very pretty and nice, but it is at risk of you not being able to run in them. Many fashion "running" shoes nowadays. 
I went a full size up due to the toebox. Left date number is PO date, right date number is manufacturing date. US system -MM/DD/YY
The tongue is just nice padded, and it does bites into the top of your foot if you do not adjust it correctly before tying the shoelace. The arch support is neutral (read: none). There are many ventilation holes which helps to provide both light savings and also breath-ability. My fear is getting one of these snagged in some sharp corner or stones, and the it may tear it. But that's like some far-out possibilities. Interestingly, online review did mention that the top was easily damaged after a few months.
Support comes in form of some thread doubling as shoelace holes
This shoe completely lacks any reflective materials. There are none on this shoe. So if yo run a lot in early morning or late evening, you may want to remind yourself to bring along some lights so others can see you. A bit disappointing as small things like these should be standard!
How it was laced. And no reflective tags anywhere
Problem after second run
The shoe, due to the narrow toebox, placed a very uneasy, and turned to be painful hotspot right under the big toe's bone. It was so bad that both feet swelled after a 15km run. I was super disappointed and I found out through interactions online, that it's "normal". I do not except the "normalcy" because a shoe like these are made to be used for running. 
see the swelling
Trying to identify the problem of the shoe, and understanding where the pain radiated helped me to pinpoint the exact issue. It was the end of the shoe tongue, that adds thickness to the first shoelace hole where my middle finger pointed to. This has caused the shoe toe-box to be closer/tighter, and disallow natural movement. The extra thickness acted as a persistent pressure point everytime you bend the feet to run. Understanding the issues, I re-laced the shoe and skipped the first hole completely on both shoes.
Yes, I experimented with one side fully laced, and the other skipping one hole
Happy to report, that solved all the pressure point on this Flex Run 2017. So, if you have similar problem with any of your tight ended shoes, do give this a try!
inner side profile
Nike Flex Run 2018
The Nike Flex Run 2018, or renamed as Flex RN 2018 was built similarly to the 2017 version in terms of structure. I can't understand the missing "u" though. Jokingly, maybe that helped Nike saved a gram of ink. 
Tongue retained the same honeycomb structure
This shoe priced at RM490 brand new when launched, and weight 255grams, with 6mm drop. Unlike the Flex2017, this 2018 update was classified as "Recreational" vs the 2017 "Competition". Unlikely the 40+grams extra pushed it to the next level. However, the Flex2018 does looked bulkier vs the 2017.
Outer side profile of Flex RN 2018
I took the same EUR46 size, and the front was a bit tight. While both 2017 and 2018 retained the same heel cup (they are super flexible and smooth), the front is noticably missing the latex line in the 2017. A slight update and the shoe material has none visible ventilation holes. It is also made in "flyknit" which was what Nike is known for recently in saving weight on running shoes.
Flyknit. Close mesh. 
The sole of the 2018 has been refreshed fully. It now carries a closed honeycomb pattern that were more similar to some of the Nike Free range.
Still gives you the "lug" feel
The closed pattern were less prone for small pebbles to get lodged in between - which really doesn't really effect the performance of the 2017 shoes.Maybe visual wise, as you will remove anything stuck in between the (2017) sole. The 2018 doesn't have that "space", and the flexibility did not change as shown in the photo below.
able to bend it 90degrees
Upon removing the insole, happy to report that the finishing is much better. I may try to run it without insole to see how it feel, though I doubt the material will be OK for longer run without socks (if no insole).
Much better
The 2018 also came with the thread that is used to secure the laces. I believe these help to provide good support once laced up. While some part felt restrictive on first feel, it may actually be because I did not pay attention to the 2017 when i first laced it up. You know what they say about new shoe, you get excited and all you want to do is to go out and run. 
Inner side profile. Noticed the higher arch cutting of the sole - it's still for neutral runner (read: no arch support)
The heel cup is worth a mention for both 2017 and 2018. I like them soft and actually hugs your heel. Because it's elastic, it sits in every curve of your heel, and help in preventing any chaffing and blister usually associated with "harder" heel cup.
The soft heelcup that molds around your heel as it's elastic
Learning from the Flex Run 2017, I decided to just skip the first shoelace hole, and lace up from the second onwards. With 48 days to Ironman Langkawi, I can't afford any injury due to new gear. And it is also a good time to test/try and see which one will be suitable for the upcoming SCKLM and the Ironman run league. Be reminded not to try new gear on your race day! This rules still holds true (eventhough I used to be a sucker to my own advice years ago, as I put myself and the gear to try for the sponsors).
Skipped the hole...
Can you see how my feet trying to break free from the toebox? It is that narrow, likely to be smaller than a D. But un-lacing the first hole help a lot! Please do note that the 2018 version comes with round laces vs 2017 flat laces, this may had added some weight too. Pros and Cons of flat vs round? not much if you know how to properly secure your laces, and never worry about it coming off ever even in the harshest of run. How? Here is how to tie your laces correctly.
As disappointing as the 2017 version, this doesn't come with a sliver of reflective material. So, if you are running on traffic area in early morning or at night, kit up with a flashing LED light and stay visible.
Front end similar with Flex Run 2017
Road Feel
Both shoes offer great traction and provide sufficient cushioning for average runner (like me). For speedwork it perform as you require it to be, never slips and secure feel. Longest I've ran with the 2017 is just 25km at tempo paced, and fastest so far is at my LTPace of 4:30 for 10km. The shoe lacks ventilation, and it soaks up in our hot and humid weather. I've had three incidences where the shoe (2017 and 2018) soaked up after a 21km and 10km run. I run without socks, and this only happened like a week ago - likely to be the hotter and humid weather. 
Flex Run 2017, and me
If you found a 2017 version, do consider to buy them if the price is right (remember, i paid RM90), as I felt it to be a better version of the Flex Run or RN. The 2018 version is more padded, and felt more cushioned, which is not what I prefer. But if you prefer slightly more padded shoe, 2018 is a good start - or go check the newer 2019 up, and make a visual comparison of it vs this 2017 and 2018, never know it it became a much better choice, as long as you are willing to part with your money for a newer model.
or
Just consider the newer Pegasus series, because that is what makes Nike, Nike. There is a reason why it's at their 36th iteration. My experience with Pegasus 25+ makes me wonder if 36 is "the shoe to have". Maybe I've just see if Nike Malaysia willing to give me a pair for review!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Training Zone Using Your Heart Rate Data

As social media evolves, and "blogging" become old school, I need to progress with time, to engage and re-engage the audience. So, over the past 20hours, coupled with everyday's working obligations (yes, i do work), here is a 10minutes read on trying to make sense of Heart Rate Training Zone using Maximum HR, Reserve HR, and Lactate HR.
10mins read, if you are interested :) Have a great weekend!

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Continental UltraContact 6 SUV - UC6SUV

Introducing the Continental Ultra Contact 6 SUV or UC6 SUV
This was a year decision in waiting and making. Today I am changing the Bridgestone Dueller HL400 stock tires (6 years, only 23k km, 40% tread left. Pitting on the tire shoulder, time to go) to Continental UC6 SUV (manufacture week 24 and 25 of 2019). 

Significant tread differences
The tread pattern differences is significant and obviously the Continental has an advantage of being more recently launched and researched, which include all the bells and whistles of tire technology by Continental. 
40% tread life left. Pitting on the outer tire shoulder as you can see in this pic. 
This UC6 SUV is not the same as the UC6 as the SUV was built with harder sidewalk for better stability. My experience with the stock tires was “too soft” and you can feel the car floating while taking corners and even on the straight at cruising speed. 
Deeper Grooves. Larger channel for water dispersion. The "dot" in the middle actually helps with water dispersion, though I would question the effectiveness past 30% life span. Conti call them "Aqua channel", and the aggressive grooves, Aqua-Drainage". 
I was looking for the 225/55/R18 size which is not a size you find easily. So choices like Pirelli Scorpion Verde, none from Goodyear, and the Bridgestone (Japan) is hard to find (which, why would I want to get back the stock tire, right?). The other option was Yokohama RV02, not too great of wear and review.
The rib between the grooves (what Continental call "double tie bar") on the lower left will provide rigidity to this version (SUV) for better stability. 
Decided this over Michelin Primacy4 as reading feedback from tirereview.co.uk doesn’t sound too convincing (not even close to as the Primacy4 is not meant for SUV (Car and Van). Was hoping for Michelin Pilot Sports 4 SUV, or PS4 SUV to be available in market, despite it being launched earlier this year, no luck even after calling Michelin Malaysia.
Will be interesting to see how noisy this big blocks will be. The bumps in the middle of the second channel is "Noise breaker 2.0", which reduces noise.
With this Forester XT capable to churn 245hp and 350Nm torque, it be fun to see how this tire hold up on the road, wet and dry. Wait for both short and long term review, if i have the time.
34psi as always. 
Tire Run-in Review
Much is not expected as the tires are new. So, it's all quiet when compared to the worned rubber. However, one thing i noticed immediately, improvement of the braking. It is significantly different that I had to re-learn my car braking capability. The car now stops faster vs the older rubber. Good sign of safety there!
Notice that the "outside" of the tire has the "box" like pattern. Perhaps mimicking "smaller" boxes to reduce noises.
As it has it, the sky opened up and it poured on my way back from the workshop. I know a few spot where the road often pond (with water) and no better way than to try to test for aquaplanning at 70km/h. Yes, Malaysian road is dangerous that even highway ponds! The reference is of course the Bridgestone, which will cause the body to dive when i hit a pond of water (since 40% wear rate about 1.5 years ago). Since then, I never hit a pond of water at anything faster than 60km/h. Bear in mind that my car is all wheel drive (AWD) and the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) is always on. With this new UC6 SUV, it cuts through the water. Just like that. No drama. No diving. No feedback at the steering (of losing traction). Maybe still new ;-)
Consistent with the other side, installer can't get this wrong.
Taking corners at 70km/h (think the Butterfly interchange at Jalan Damansara down to Jalan Duta) is also less roll - evidence that the side wall is harder than the Dueller. Will be interesting to see how it holds up on the way up to Genting. 
The space in the tire well doesn't auger well with many fast cars lover ;-)
 Stay tuned for more reviews, soon.
Get your tires need completed at Perniagaan Tayar Sing Yu Huat, Jalan Ipoh. It's near Sentosa Hospital. Ask for Loon. He is my friend, 3rd Generation Tire Specialist in the family.
More Info of the tire at Continental Malaysia Website. Currently they are running a promotion where you can get a gift with every 4 units of tires 15inches and above. Details at their FB page here
Mine will be on the way.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Shell Eco-Marathon : Driving an Awesome Prototype


What happen when the Sun, Moon and all the stars are all aligned (or when members of the media pass the opportunity)??? You get a once in a lifetime blue moon moment to be in the Shell EcoMarathon Prototype vehicle and take if for a spin around the Sepang International Circuit!!!
The Shell Prototype!
That was what happened to me today. Suited in the Nomex, wearing a ballerina shoe (to fit into the tight feet spaces), pulled up the leather gloves, covered the hair (or for me, lack of), and helmet - the one lap of 2.67km remains an unknown for me.
Press this, not that
A full 5-mins briefing by Ian from Technical - including knowing where is the engine start switch, the emergency kill switch, throttle control and the speed control device (brakes!), all the bits and pieces of emergency response - and the all important “toot the horn three times to overtake” (vision of speed flashed through my mind), I was all ready to go.
Sub 71kg, 173cm, in a tight space
“Remember to go faster on the incline at the first left bend or you will stall”, Ian’s word of wisdom echoed between my ears. I know there will not be something more embarrassing that to have the all sleek Prototype rolling back down the small hill and me walking back in “walk of shame”. 

“I will leave the walkie-talkie here with you so I can give you instructions”, Ian said as the carbon fibre enclosure closed over me. It was then I realised just how tight, warm and limited spaces I had inside. There was no chance of selfie (no IG/FB/Twitter upload? Where can!)

Not if you are claustrophobic
“Start Your Engine”, I heard it through the walkie-talkie. The 125cc internal combustion engine of the Prototype that runs on Shell V-Power rumbles lowly right behind my head, sending vibration through the helmet and the green flags was waved! Off we go!

Controlling the Prototype was easy. It take corners like being stuck on a rail. Point the 12inches handle that doubles up as throttle, brakes, horns, and emergency stop button, and it goes with a lot of feedback from the simple rack-pinion system. Motörhead will says “got road feel lah”. 

Not too bad of a line!
As the Prototype was made with fuel efficiency in mind, the power generated was sufficient to get you across the racing line, up the small elevation (+13m) and it was cruising downhill all the way to the finish line. 

It was a shame I was only allowed a lap, just as I was getting ready to improve on the second lap... but alas, this once in the blue moon experience will come again, when the Sun, Moon and all the stars aligned (and the media declined the opportunity) to do this again in the next Make The Future event!

2.67km of fun!
“How was it?” Ian asked as I twisted the release buckle on the 5-point harness.

“Nothing short of awesome!”, I replied as I continue to count how lucky I was today! 

Thank you Shell EcoMarathon 

The aim was to go as slow, as efficient, as "off the throttle" as possible. Not too bad for a sub5:00 pace

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Shark Skawl One Fullface Helmet - Review

There are plentiful review online if you care to find/look/google/research to know about this fullface helmet. The most comprehensive and detailed review was from www.rideapart.com which I truly enjoyed. So, let me start by sharing my decision to purchase this helmet (brand).
Home Safe
The Years before Shark
About 5-years ago, I bought a Nolan N91 modular helmet to compliment my ride, and priority to safety. I spent almost 1/3the value of the bike on riding gears. Partly because life is priceless, and you can never be too overly cautious with good gears. The Nolan was bought at slightly less than RM1.1K.
Surprised myself I took similar photo 5 years ago!
The Nolan has been serving me, alongside another helmet from Givi (Model 11.0 HPS), which has been discontinued. It is a open face helmet, suitable for short commute from home to shops to get some eggs or bread. As both helmet (Nolan and Givi) is already at it's End-Of-Life (past 5-years), I need to get a new one though there are still plentiful of life still in them due to the fact of my short ride, which doesn't happen everyday due to my extensive work travel.

However, the decision were more based on the "want" to get a new one to complement the new (pre-loved)  Modenas Elegan 250i, which is a Kymco rebadged X-Town 300i. 


Back in 2013, Motorbike helmets brands are limited, and do not have more than the usual brands (Arai, Bell, Givi, Nolan) and you do not typically get an expensive helmet to ride on an underbone (kapchai) or a "non-superbike". Hence you can see my investment on helmet, padded safety wear and leather gloves seems to be an overkill when riding a China-made Keeway TX200 Motard, and a 13-years old Modenas Kriss 110.


SHARP Rating

My selection to replace the aging helmet went from LS2, Givi and HJC. SHARP or Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme, is a scheme to help motorcyclists make an informed choice when buying a helmet. They independently buy and test helmets, and provide the results openly.
 
The details on the box

My Nolan N91 is 4-Stars rated, the LS2 FF396 (fullface, Sub RM600) and the HJC CS-15 (fullface sub RM350), are also 4-Stars rated as well. At this point, only one Givi fullface helmet (benchmark on affordability level) Givi 50.4 (RM1.5K) has 4-stars! At price point below RM1000, I was down to LS2 and HJC. I was ready to commit...and then i saw someone wanting to sell his Shark Helmet for RM500. He bought it wrong sized (XL), wore it once, and complained it was a bit tight for him. He was nice enough to tell me how much he bought it for (RM550) new; I thought he was pulling my legs until i went online to search using "Shark Skwal One Helmet RM550 Malaysia", and bingo. I found myself staring at Shark helmet at RM550 (on clearance sales). 

In Come Shark

I known of Shark about 5 or 6 years ago when they debut with a video showing how 5-riders were swung by their legs while wearing using a generic helmet, and then Shark helmet. Watch it below, you see how it had pique my interest 6 years back, right before I bought my helmet.
A polycarbonate helmet that are French made, absorb impact, stylish and make my Nolan looked like a relic (as with everything British). As I intended to try the XL helmet, and it is best that I know how L would feel (RM50 differences is small savings but still savings). I am wearing L on my Nolan and Givi, so I wasn't too sure if XL will be too loose. Ony one way to find out - visit the Authorised Distributor and Seller!
Tell me you are not in Shark Helmet Heaven
I was like a boy in a toyshop when i entered the shop. Who won't when you see so many different model of Shark helmet all at once. Something maybe a biker can understand.
Top of range and new range of helmets

Other ranges, including open face
D-Skwal Replicas


Skwal One LED Lorenzo
Skwal One LED
I had my eyes set on the Skwal One LED from the word LED. Imagine a Helmet that has LED lights built in, that lend visibility actively, rather than passively (reflective material). While I try not to ride in the dark too much, sometimes, it does happen. And when it does, at least I know I have done my best to be visible - and hoping other motorists will sees me too! I have previously came across products such as Fiberflare (no longer selling) that can be attached to helmet. So, having something permanently, and with rechargeable battery like this, a big bonus for me!
Skwal One LED White Lorenzo

Skwal One LED Black Lorenzo
Skwal One LED Spinax



Skwal One LED Instinct Hi-Viz
The news of the sales was at least 7-weeks old by the time I found out. My wish of getting a high-viz yellow did not materialise as they only have 3-designs with sizes. I have choices of the older Spinax, the white  Lorenzo or the black Lorenzo. I went with the black Lorenzo after consultation with my fashion advisor.
Skwal One LED Lorenzo - Photos on internet always looked better
Features of the Skwal One LED - special attention to Safety Rating and certification


  • SHARP 4 stars rating (out of 5)
  • Rechargeable LED lightings (two front, two back)
  • Comes with Pinlock 70 insert
  • Intergrated drop-down sunvisor
  • Bluetooth communication possible
  • Multivent with two intake (chin and top) and one exhaust (back)
  • Removable cheekpad (if you do not like the squishy feel on cheek feel)
  • Removable padding to wash
  • Removable visor (no special mechanism, just very very careful removal by pulling slowly)
  • Micrometric adjustment (like my Nolan N91 and Givi 11.0 HPS)
  • Polycarbonate constructions with 2 Shell sizes (XS,S and M share same shell, L and XL same shell) Differences in thickness of the padding to determine good fitting
  • 1.5kg (for L or 58-59cm head) already lighter than my Nolan N91 by 250grams
  • ECE 2205 - compliant with latest SIRIM standard MS1-2:2011, which refers to UNECE R 22 (see photo below)
Sirim 1-2:2011 is the latest requirement for helmet testing. It call for compliance to UNECE R22
UNECE R22 has reference to the ECE 22-05

The Skwal One LED i have carries a E11 (UK) 05 (comply to ECE22-05) 0537 is the manufacturer reference and P stands for Fullface protection, including chin.  The X84 is likely the model number refer to Shark. Number after the P is the batch test number.
Important to know, as the helmet will save your head when needed!
Some fullface with no chin protection will turn up to be NP, and open face, or Jet helmet will be J. So best to be educated when you next buy a helmet! This helmet carries no DOT (US) certification. 
Fit and Feel
I was measured and lands at between M and L size (57.5cm). As the M and L doesn't share the same shell, it is not possible to switch the padding if i desire a different design (Spinax, which only left M size). I was taught how to wear the Shark Fullface helmet, which is from back to front. Unlike my Open face and modular, which is front to back. The L was a good fit. I was told to wear it for 10minutes - so yes, I was walking about in the shop with a Fullface helmet on. I was to pay attention to the top and front of the head - and if it is uncomfortable, it is too tight. 
Cheek pad pressing my cheek and making me pout under cover
Due to the new pad, the L was tight fit, but it was comfortable. I did the tilt, rock, shake test to see if the helmet moves more than it should. It stayed firmly with no undue pressure to the front head, ear or the back of the head. I then tried the XL - and it was a looser fit where I can actually move the chin section more than half an inch. It's an indication of too lose. As the padding starts to age, I may end up with a helmet that bobs in all direction - not ideal! So L it was!
After a 20km ride home, photo with main visor down, installed with Pinlock.You can see how much my cheek were compressed.
Wind Noise and ventilation
Maybe because the helmet is new, wind noise was definitely more muffled compared to my Nolan. However, i did remember the Nolan to already be quiet, so this is even quieter. I can hear the noise of wind hitting the helmet, but not wind in the helmet where it can gets to your ears. FYI, i ride with earplugs in my Givi open face, and Nolan. And this Shark Skwal without earplugs is quieter than Nolan with earplugs! Making a note here to revisit in a year's time if it's still the same feel.
Sunvisor down - completely mysterious! I do not blame motorist thinking I am up to something sinister - in pink!
Ventilation was good. Maybe due to the helmet insert to be more open compared to my Nolan with more cloth. The insert reminds me of my cycling helmet, and I actually feel the wind passing on top my my head! I however, do not feel anything against my mouth maybe due to the air being directly inwards and upwards towards the main visor.
Huge top vent, green strip is the LED
Chin vent, with the air directing upwards towards the main visor


Insert of the helmet, with a lot of air-space for circulation

Sharks claims that the seal of the helmet is good, which reduced the wind noise, and that the helmet also comes with a chin curtain - non-retractable though (the more expensive range has the chin curtain that can be open or close to help with more ventilation.
Helps with windnoise


Reduce windnoise, and allow for ventilation
There is one complain though, the top toggle for the ventilation sort of clicks as it stay open. It moves as the rider moves or tilt the head. I have to push it until it has a bit of resistance, and the sound went off without compromising the ventilation from the top. Not sure if it is a defect and I will check with reseller soon. 
Have to push the toggle/switch to the front, till there are some resistance and it stops clicking or loose
The LED Function
One of the main attraction for me to get this helmet is the LED lights. Eventhough D-Skwal has more color choices, it doesn't come with LED lights. It has one at the chin, near the ventilation; one on top, also near the ventilation, and one behind (which looked like two) near the exhaust.
Rear where the LED is split to two side with the exhaust in middle

Close up of the rear LED

Close up of the chin LED

Top LED near ventilation
The LED is pwoered by a rechargable battery placed inside the helmet. With a micro-USB port on the back left side. The switch is placed at the bottom of the left side, right under the ear area.
The white is part of the helmet charger. Black is Micro-USB connected to wall plug source. Was advised not to charge with powerbank as it may not provide suffficient power to charge it.
The LED claimed to be able to last 10-hours on blinking mode, or 5-hours on steady mode. I left it to charge for about 5-hours, and may keep them charged on weekly basis when not riding. The video below shows how the LED lights up in the darkness of my home. May not be representative as I switched off all lights. 

Pinlock and Other Extras
My Nolan N91 Pinlock failed in 2-years and I have been riding without it. It fogs up, and I have to open the visor a little when I am riding to prevent severe fogging when it rains. Cost to replace the Pinlock is half what this Shark Skwal cost (at discount), and it was one of the motivation to get a new helmet (apart from 5-years shelf life).
Pinlock70 - clear.
I may attempt to remove the visor, and the Pinlock to clean them, one day.
The other feature that Shark Skwal has is the helmet has grooves for peple wearing spectacles! Sounds good for those that love their sunglasses vs the built in sunvisors. 
will try with my sunglasses so we know how it fits!
Almost forgot to show the micro-lock retention system. I also noticed that retention system requirement differs between ECE (micro-lock is ok) and DOT (double-D ring). 
Micro-lock grooves

quick release buckle
Another close up look of the charging port. It doesn't really bother you except when putting on and taking off the helmet
The package comes with reflective sticker for it to be compliant to the French regulations. You also get a charging cable, and a CD for the helmet. There is also a bag for you to keep the helmet from dust when not wearing them for a period of time. 
I love stickers

The warranty card and serial number, CD and cables

Oui?

This helmet retail for about RM1200, and considered to be within the medium range. Great value for a 4-Stars SHARP rating!

You can find this nice place by googling Slipstream Helmet on GoogleMap or searching on Facebook. This is a not a paid review, and I paid good (bargain) money for the helmet I bought, and very happy about it!

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