The market for wireless training tools that work straight out of the box with gadgets we already own—like smartphones and tablets—is growing quickly, and understandably so. For those of us frustrated with fitness monitoring gear that requires fancy hubs, head units, and heart rate monitors—not to mention a PhD to make it all work—a more Zen-like approach is most welcome.
Wahoo Fitness’ $100 TICKR X fits nicely within this niche, leveraging the computing power of your Apple iPhone (only for now—an Android version is in the works) and offers a cost-effective, comprehensive option for people interested in taking their training to the next level.
Connecting to smartphones and watches via either the ANT+ or Bluetooth 4.0 protocols, the TCKR X transmits real-time distance, duration, heart rate and calorie burned data. It also boasts a motion analytics feature that measures your cadence when cycling, and gives you a smoothness score for your stride when you run (you know, if you’re into that).
Device works alone or with smartphone
One of the most compelling features of the TICKR X is its internal memory which allows you to track workouts even without your device. This is particularly handy if you don’t want to carry your expensive phone in harsh elements, or if you just want to ride minimalist.
While you obviously can’t view any workout stats in real time this way, you can mark specific points during your workout for later examination by “rapid double-tapping” on the monitor strap. Afterwards, you can sync your activity with more than 50 compatible training apps including Strava, TrainingPeaks, and MapMyRide.
I tested the TICKR X on a handful of road rides (and runs, despite my better judgment) and the first impressions were based on the initial set-up and usability, as well as function during the workout. Straight out of the box, the TICKR X is pretty easy to set up. It’s just sensor on a heart rate strap with a ANT+/Bluetooth transmitter, and I didn’t even glance at the instruction manual before I had it synced with the Wahoo Fitness App on my iPhone.
After linking, you can choose four different types of workouts—running, cycling, treadmill, or indoor cycling. If you have GPS activated, it will create a route and track your distance.
The app includes a customizable “audio announcement” feature designed to inform and encourage you as your workout passes predetermined milestones. While effective, it was a shock when the app informed me of my workout time and duration randomly after I thought I had disabled the feature. The app also allows you to quickly select music, volume, lap starts/pauses. This is a neat feature because it doesn’t require staring at your phone while riding—as ill-advised a practice on a bike as it is in a car.
The TICKR “double tap” feature allows you to set one command that will take place when you tap your monitor twice, such as changing your music or pausing your workout. In theory, this is great, but I found that when I hit anything that resembled a bump in the road it would activate the double-tap and my music would start blaring. I could have probably avoided the continual confusion with a closer look at the app, but it’s a feature that is probably best saved for spin classes.
The TICKR X is a good option for a simple way to train using data without getting over-complicated. It’s more comprehensive than other phone apps and the need for only a heart rate strap and phone is a big plus. Being able to sync the software with apps you might already use is nice too.
- Memory capability allows you to sync workouts later without bringing your phone
- No other equipment is needed
- Syncing capability with other apps
- “Double Tap” is too sensitive on rough roads and almost any trail
- The strap can be uncomfortable due to sensor size
- Tracks speed, workout duration, heart rate, cadence (cycling), smoothness (running), calories
- Compatible with ANT+ and Bluetooth 4.0 devices (full compatibility currently only with Apple iPhone)
- Memory function for device-less workouts
- Modes: running, cycling, treadmill, or indoor cycling
- LEDs confirm connectivity/function
- Compatible with Wahoo’s Burn & Burst Training Plans
- MSRP: $99.99
For more information visit wahoofitness.com.