One of the ways we judge the performance of the products we evaluate is by looking at lap times. Nothing else provides such a clear and simple answer to the question “will this product make me go faster?” It either does or it does not, plain and simple. While not all products can be subjected to this kind of by the numbers testing, most can. The trouble with this is, in order to record lap times someone has to stand at the side of the track with a stop watch, actually paying attention, and record laps. Sounds simple right? Yes maybe… But we want really simple and idiot proof when it comes to recording laps. What we want is something that does not require human input at all.
The benefits of recording lap times have been proven by trainers and mechanics worldwide. Make an adjustment to the suspension or try a different line, if it cuts time from a lap it works. We know definitively by monitoring lap times, if we make an adjustment to a test bike and we get faster lap times we are doing something right. If lap times go up, the opposite is true. It’s pretty straight forward. What is not so simple is getting your pal or GF to hang out at the edge of the track with a stop watch to record laps.
Over the years we have utilized several different models of non-human timers with mixed results. We’ve found many that work well and some not so well, some that are simple to use, and some that are fantastic but just too expensive to justify for the average rider. In the not so well category, we have used a lap timer that works via GPS – total PIA, just try to get satellite reception through dense trees. Another one in the not so easy category had a wire that needed to be buried under the track. The information provided from this unit was fantastic but digging two 20 foot trenches that are 8 inches deep is not as much fun as one might think. These are the higher priced units.
In the low priced range we have used lap timers that require the rider to press a button mounted to the handle bar each lap to mark a start/stop point for that lap. This is not as accurate as we need plus it can be distracting on a MX bike and often leads to missed laps if the button isn’t depressed properly or is forgotten altogether. The good thing about these units is they are pretty low in price and do give good results – as long as you hit the button!
After searching hi and low for a reasonably priced, low effort, wireless system, we happened upon the MyChron Light TG by AiM Sports and found the perfect solution to our problem.
AiM has been making portable lap timers for auto and road racing for the past decade and with the MyChron Light TG they have a unit that suits the MX application superbly. The unite measures 3.2″ x 2.5″ x 1″ (82 mm x 62.5 mm x 24.5 mm) with a giant display that measures 2.4″ x 1.3″ (61 mm x 31.4 mm). The MyChron Light TG is not designed for MX so it doesn’t come with any sort of mounting kit. We modified a fatbar pad by cutting out a recess for it to fit into. The IR receiver needs to face out to the beacon/transmitter so we made a bracket that allowed us to hang it on the lower triple clamp. And the beacon/transmitter needs to sit on something so we mounted it to a photography light stand. While this seems like a lot of effort the trade off is a lap timer that actually works, without hassle, every time you turn the power on.
The advanced pixel-based display uses clear crisp fonts. Combined with a display angle of +/- 45 degrees the display is extremely easy to read, even while riding. You have your choice of display color: high contrast green LCD or brilliant blue backlight (the high luminosity blue display requires 12V power). Onscreen display review items include: best laps, time and date, Best of the Best, Theoretical Best and Best Rolling.
The MyChron Light TG has three different “Session Modes” for recording laps, choose: Lap, Qualify, or Race Mode. The default mode is Lap, which shows an incremental lap counter. Qualify mode displays a countdown timer showing the remaining time until the end of the session. Race mode shows how many laps remain in the race. The TG Lap Timer integrates a clock and calendar that puts a time and date stamp on every lap of every session, you also attach a track name to laps allowing you to compare lap times on the same track from month to month, year to year. The pixel-based display lets you customize the display however you like, including the display of custom graphics, logos and images.
Another option for recording lap times is “Segmented Timing”. This allows you to focus on one section of the track at a time by setting up optional Segment Beacons. For example, say you have a corner that has three line options. With Segmented Timing you can set a beacon at the beginning of the corner and another at the exit then take a different line each lap and review the segment times when you are in the pit area. This can help immeasurably with bike set-up and enable you to make competitive adjustments by isolating distinct sections of a track or section of a trail. When used with dedicated optical beacons, you can have up to 5 split times (segments). The split times will tell you which line choice is the fastest so you can choose based on fact rather than seat of the pants.
The MyChron Light TG lap timer manages split times in three ways: Accumulative, Variation, and Sector. Accumulative Split Time shows the total time elapsed at the split. Variation Split Time shows the difference (variation) between the current split time and the previous split time, so you can see how you are progressing through that segment. Sector Split Time shows the time for each split (sector) as you go.
The TG has a 128 kb of non-volatile memory, enough for 2000 laps. Non-volatile memory means your data is saved even when the batteries are out. Track subdirectories let you organize your laps and get to them quickly. Internal power comes from included “coin” batteries at 6V, or from external 12V power.
The optional USB (300 kb/s) cable allows you to download the data from the TG lap timer to your PC for archiving and analysis with Light Analyzer software. You can review your data on the unit’s screen or on your PC with Light Analyzer software (optional). An internal database manages laps and can store up to 50 track names. Display modes include table and histogram. The USB connection also allows you upload firmware upgrades from your PC to the TG.
The only problem we have with the unit is it’s not waterproof or even water resistant for that matter, which means it has to be removed from the bike before washing.
What’s in the box?
The MyChron Light TG lap timer comes with the display unit, IR sensor/receiver, and IR beacon/transmitter. The optional download kit with USB download cable and Light Analyzer software is available for an additional $65.00. If you want more data The MyChron Light TG Log adds on a full data logger with 8 MB of memory and four input channels: RPM, temp, speed and throttle.
Get more info at www.aimsports.com