My regular reader knows that this site tends to be forward-looking as well as rooted in the present. I tend not to do retrospective things and dwell on the past too much.
However, looking back on 2019 I saw some good products. Naturally, I never used some once the review was published and, in other cases, I just kept using what I had for years because of inertia or unwillingness to go down yet another learning curve.
Well, here are the products that really have changed my sporty, techy life to some degree in 2019. You can take them all as recommendations and I tend to avoid using that word.
Table of Contents (Click to Expand)
The mount-thingy broke on my Wahoo ELEMENT so I had to switch to the ELEMNT BOLT on my road bike 😉 That only counts as a big change because my eyesight is starting to get a bit flaky and the BOLT is smaller.
More seriously, I never thought I would like and continue to use any kind of HUD and that would apply to both Varia Vision and Raptor.
However, I was very impressed with the FORM GOGGLES and then super-impressed when the clip-on Polar OH1+ was added to their offering soon afterwards. Whilst I don’t wear these in group lessons I really do err towards wearing them for my long swim at the weekend. It’s really quite neat to have live (ish) pace and HR beamed into my eyes. I don’t use the data afterwards though, only DURING the sets.
I have to say I’m a bit hacked off here as well as a bit delighted. My perennial bugbear is a lack of my main device’s ability to mount as a drive letter to my PC. I traded in the 935 for the 945 and forgot that all Garmin’s music watches fail to support that precise feature. There is a solution but I don’t like it. Had Polar or Garmin properly integrated DROPBOX or DRIVE support into CONNECT/FLOW then I could have lived with that as a workaround but they haven’t (I appreciate there are apps and sites that, sort of, do this).
On the positive side, the 945 has brought back the joys of Spotify-music to hours of treadmill running and has also been very handy buying-cake-device with its NFC payments. I tend to have the Garmin as my main record-all device for ‘my personal stats’, so it’s often there on my wrist for group bike rides and hence the cake.
Polar Vantage has also been on my wrist a lot. I know a few of you don’t like it…but I do. It would be my main sports watch if Polar did the dropbox thing plus I did use it for key races in 2019. It didn’t make me faster but I managed a few, sneaky ETU/ITU qualifications.
I have lambasted and derided wrist-based oHR for so long that I was thoroughly unimpressed when Garmin finally got around to enabling oHR for swimming. I scoffed as I tested it and found it was not as accurate as a chest strap…no surprise there. I then promptly went on to use it pretty much all the time to record my swim oHR (it calculates HR-Load for me) and sometimes I look at it at breaks between lengths. #Sigh
Despite wanting accurate data I have lowered my standards for the sake of convenience and not wearing a stupid-looking chest strap whilst swimming. By the end of the year I’ll probably be using an Apple Watch for my sports (HIM…nah).
Smart 24×7 Tech
I don’t really like wearing watches outside of sport but this blog forces me to. Consequently, I don’t really want a smartwatch. However, I have included this section because my partner LOVES Polar products and was very impressed with both the Polar Ignite as well as the OTHER Ring.
Once Black Friday dropped the price of the Garmin Varia Radar lights to a sensibel level, a lot of you bought one. I already had mine and it’s now my go-to light and early-warning system. It’s a great product even if it can sometimes beep too much and require charging more than it should. If I was richer and more generous, I would have bought all my cycling friends one for Christmas as I’d rather they didn’t die and kept cycling with me. Instead I’m probably going to be giving a few of them some old power meters in a few months time.
My 2019 Cervelo (S3) was also my first introduction to regular Di2 usage and I have to confess to really loving it. So much so it’s now on my 2020 Cervelo R5. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I bought the bike (R5) just to put Di2 on it. Naturally, Di2 is just pure vanity, laziness and fitting in with my cycling mates. But hey…I love it, leave me alone 😉
I love my HR tech. And that is probably what got me started writing about running sports tech in the first place. The new mioPOd has almost got me to use that in preference to the Polar OH1 but I just can’t get the cached data out of their app easily enough so I’m sticking with the Polar OH1+ (again dropbox, Ms Polar)
I tried to switch to the Polar H10 as it enabled dual-BLE and ANT+ support. Then I gave one of mine away to a friend and lost my other two #Sigh. So I’m still using my mouldy Garmin HRM-TRI, which is still going strong despite the mould, smell and occasionally high readings at the start of some workouts.
Power Meters & Turbo Trainers
I don’t need anything too fancy here, just stuff that works. So Assioma and Kickr 2017 are great for me. The only things that would get me to change here in 2020 are 1) Shimano cleat compatibility for the Assioma and 2) Some sort of rocking device for the Kickr for pedalling out of the seat (I saw DCR had one)
I’m currently looking at other PMs from Shimano and Stages and they are cool but there’s little point in me changing.
I suppose I should add that Favero’s new IAV firmware (more accurate power readings) is something new that I use many times a week. However, I’ve not especially noticed any difference and I’ll just take their word that it’s more accurate than it already was (it certainly seems accurate in 3-way tests I’m doing ATM)
I changed my go-to tyres from Conti GP4000 to Conti GP5000. Big shakeup there!! Buy some.
Any post like this is never complete without me mentioning Stryd. Sorry 😉
Their new 2019 pod finally accounted for wind. I have to confess to not really looking into the details of my daily wind power readings (no…there is no pun coming on that one). However, the main difference is that wind power usually makes your power output higher and so my stats have been improving, even if I haven’t.
I use the new STRYD all the time. It’s pretty much there now as a ‘perfect’ product (albeit with unverified industry-standard accuracy). All it needs to do for me now would be to be automatically handle treadmill incline variations (but I’m not overly bothered about that).
I love the new and improved ROKA SIM shorts and I REALLY love my new Zone3 Vanquish wetsuit. Both feel awesome and make me feel faster even though I’m probably going the same speed. Money well spent for me.
I use a few pairs of shoes but my default preference is the Shimano RP 901 and I am currently wearing the branded ‘toe-thingies’ over the front to keep my toes warm.
I think that’s all. Actually it was an expensive year when I add the price up of some of that lot.
What Might Change me in 2020?
I could perhaps see me using the Stages Dash, it’s pretty good and hasn’t got Garmin written on it…I like to be a bit different. But it does have some drawbacks, so you’ll have to wait for the review.
I’m definitely going to buy a new chest strap..probably the Garmin HRM-PRO that I keep talking about.
I think Polar will excite my wrist more than Garmin this year.
I perhaps could go for Shimano 12-speed (see earlier link) if that happens in the next few months yet, in reality, I don’t think I would make that jump as I’m still getting rid of my older non-11-speed bikes. Then again, I will probably get a newish TT bike so maybe 12-speed could work on that?
My beloved SportTracks 3.1 is coming to end of life. So I will be forced to change, kicking and screaming, to something else. Maybe Stages/Today’s Plan or maybe FinalSurge – not Training Peaks, just out of principle (I do use it a bit already, sometimes)
I’m probably going to invest in some top-end tri shoes and, maybe, Mr Nike might get even richer as I need some running tech that can give me a few minutes in my HIMs.
I might get some 80mm (front) aero wheels too. I saw some Hunt ones announced today that looked cool.
So, I can’t see that many changes ahead that will change my persistent sports tech. Then again…
the future is notoriously hard to predict. But I try
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