WAHOO TICKR x review
Just think back about 5 or more years to your old Polar or Garmin plastic Heart Rate strap. If you had bothered to think about the future of HR straps your thoughts might have stretched to replaceable pods or multi-band connectivity. Even soft straps may have seemed a feature-too-far for many of us!
IMO the amazing features that the latest HRM from WAHOO Fitness contains, really delivers something extra for the athlete in us. ie It delivers ALL of the above features plus MORE, I would argue that you probably would not have imagined what this sort of HR strap could do a few years back. Here’s why…
An unusual usage scenario:
Imagine that today is the day for that big holiday run session! You get up, kit on, nutrition in and off you go. Oh hang on a minute, you didn’t charge your Garmin Forerunner 910XT up and you left it on all the way through that flight. Not to worry you can at least use the TICKR X to store all the data as it has inbuilt memory. Cool. (It will even light up to show you it is recording).
Maybe your mate has a spare watch? Ah great s/he does but it’s a Polar v800 and that uses Bluetooth. Not to worry the TICKR X will work with that too. You could of course have downloaded the WAHOO FITNESS app onto either your Android phone (please check availability of our desired features, iOS comes first) on his/her iPHONE and used those instead of a watch. (Of course you could have used MANY other apps such as Runkeeper, Strava, MapMyFitness, and Cyclemeter/Runmeter). No watch needed and most watches will connect if you have a watch.
At least you got a HR track for your session! Great. (Actually you’ll probably also have a cadence track and Garmin-like Running Dynamics info as well if you use iOS!)
You come back and its downstairs later for an evening swim in the hotel pool. Keep that strap on. Because, yep, it does HR underwater as well. OK the strap might move a bit as you push-off too hard (unless you have your tri-suit on a push -off of more than 5m may be tricky) but that’s a small price to pay for data that you’ve not had before on your Garmin. Note: Bluetooth/ANT+ only travel tiny distances underwater but the TICKR-X strap STORES the HR data during your session – it should also upload to a poolside device or out-of-the-water device if you rest during your session.
Next morning you wake up and it’s time to take a Resting HR and R-R reading with ithlete/bioforce or similar…yep no probs there. HRV works like a dream.
So you’ve gathered it’s an open-standard (ANT+ or BLUETOOTH 4.0) HR monitor that works underwater and caches data for later upload.
Cool. If you need a new HRM; you buy one of these as, to a degree, it’s future proofed. Future firmware releases will also add more functionality.
Well. There’s more. (Sorry this is sounding a bit QVC – apologies 🙂 )
Let’s say you are a Garmin 910XT owner; slightly envious of the Running Dynamics information on the Forerunner 620. Grrrr. To make matters worse Garmin have just extended that functionality to the 920XT, Epix and FENIX 3 but you’re not ready to upgrade your watch yet.
Well, don’t. Instead, save yourself £400+ and get similar info (and more!) from the TICKR X.
So let’s now say that you’ve bought a TICKR-X to augment your 910XT. The 910XT will pick up only the HR AND you will have to install the app to get all the special metrics. The special metrics only go to the app. Not to the 910XT.
The TICKR X can also save your run (or indoor bike!) cadence in your session to the app.
The WAHOO FITNESS App: Look for the logo to the right, it’s Free ! [Limited functionality On Android At Present edit: Dec2014 – now added to Android but I have not yet tested]
The app has training programs at all levels that you can follow. I don’t want to go into those in this review but they are there. There are some screen dumps of the App further below showing the efficiency metrics.
1. VERY IMPORTANT: If you choose NOT to use the Wahoo app then all you get is HR data. So you use it with the 910, you get only HR data; the Garmin 920, you get only HR data; for swim usage, you only get HR data. For ALL the special stuff you need the app ie even to up/download your offline/underwater HR data you must do so through the app. The app is the gateway to the special stuff that you’ve not had before.
2. You can only pair with one bluetooth device. So if you pair it with your ipad it won’t then simultaneously pair with your iphone UNLESS you turn off the bluetooth on the ipad (ie first break the existing pairing). Easily forgotten.
3. You can, for sure, simultaneously use it with multiple ANT+ devices . You can simultaneously use it with one Bluetooth device and AND several ANT+ devices. I’ve done it.
4. HR underwater generally works. Even with a tight HR strap worn under a tri-suit I still had periods when there was no data recorded – it flat-lined.
5. HR underwater I found that somehow I turned it off mid-session by tapping it or fiddled with it in some way that I shouldn’t have. More research on this one. Session number 2 worked fine but with a few small dropouts. Edit: The functionality of the ‘tap’ mechanism may have been set to turn recording on/off. I now have it set just to do lap markers.
6. HR underwater with a 910XT or 920XT. This will not produce a single session. It will nto record on the 910/920/Epix/Fenix. You cannot combine a POOL SWIM session with a TICKR-X HR track in any way other than SportTracks (that I have found). eg Garmin Connect would show 2 separate activities. When you import into SportTracks you *ARE* able to merge 2 activities ie to update your pool session with the HR track. (EDIT:) In SportTracks the pool swimming plugin WILL NOW display the HR track once merged into the normal track from the 910/920XT. In theory you could then export from SportTracks to, say, Garmin Connect … I’ve no idea what will happen as I can only do so much importing and exporting in one evening to retain my sanity 🙂
6. Edit: Dec 2014 now fixed in Android but I have not tested: The Android app is short of functionality at present. This is being actively worked on by the developers. Currently it effectively only shows basic HR/pace/location type data. Currently the Android app only lets you email someone your session in tcx format (that’s the only export option).
7. Sessions can be manually exported from the APP in tcx format and emailed or exported directly to online apps like Strava, dropbox and Garmin connect. Once in dropbox presumably tapiriik.com can sync on to other site from there. I didn’t check that. That could be the route into SportTracks.mobi, for example, and thence automatically to your desktop SportTracks if you are into that sort of thing.
8. The fancy running metrics and even the simpler metrics (eg bike and run cadence) will PROBABLY NEVER be sent to your Garmin 910XT from the TICKR-X (presumably not to any other Garmin either, yet). Although the new CONNECT IQ app facility on the 920XT / FENIX 3 might open that up in 2016.
9. There are a few nuances that I have not yet properly tied down. For example I think that cycling cadence works in indoor mode (yes) but not outdoor mode (unsure eg on MTB). I’m going to find it hard to test every single scenario as this all takes a lot of time.
10. Very hopefully I tried the strap with a legacy Polar device and with a legacy TACX trainer. They were not compatible ie it really does only send Bluetooth and ANT+ data not any earlier proprietary/analogue standard.
11. Via bluetooth it pairs to a Samsung S3/4 and the bioforcehrv app works fine with it. Proper R-R data is transmitted and received. However going via the app does NOT appear to export RR / HRV beats in any format, presumably the cached data is not stored beat-by-beat.
12. HR Data accuracy is as good as Polar/Garmin. No better, no worse.
13. COMPLAINT: I think this is a really great product. My one gripe is that you can’t easily get any of the clever running metrics or the cycling cadence without using the wahoo app. I don’t make a habit of running with my phone. That’s just me of course. There are hundreds of thousands of you who DO run with phones and music. There’s also lots of people like me though in this respect (ie who run with a watch not a smartphone). If it could mimic the sending of the Garmin HRM-RUN running metrics (in terms of their precise ANT+ schema format), so that the 620 or 920 or FENIX 3 could read them, then I think they would steal quite a few (replacement-) strap sales from Garmin – mostly because of the extra stored HR functionality (eg for swimming)
14. The Wahoo pod seems to fit my Garmin strap nicely and vice-versa. However the Wahoo pod does not seem to fit well onto my Polar H7 HR strap for some reason. No idea why as the Garmin pod fits it fine. It just doesn’t. Not really a game changer!
15. AFAIK There are no plans to add swim metrics. However after completing a swim session, for example, and uploading it to the app it IS possible to classify it as a LAP-SWIM before exporting the data elsewhere.
16. The files that are exported from the app do contain data that cannot yet be displayed on the app eg bike efficiency info. ‘Proof’ that the developers will add more goodies in future firmware releases of the app. So expect more to come from this great product/app.
17. Running efficiency stats DO display in the app (see below) however the link to Garmin Connect does not seem to send these stats beyond the WAHOO environment. (I will have to double-check this)
18. I am experiencing a limited number of HR dropouts.
Screen Dumps From The iPAD App – Wahoo Fitness
The first image shows running smoothness. Not quite sure what is good or bad and what to compare it to – other than myself over time. These were all from an iPAD in a rucksack…so that may well throw out the accuracy somewhat.
Various measures of wobbling in all sorts of direction. Looks like my running style is shuffling head-banger. Maybe 🙂
Lap info and pace. Fly like the wind, the stats clearly show I am an international elite athlete….hmmm. I was running and not cycling, honestly! I suspect the readings are out a little.
The HR track looks accurate. The burn and burst information refers to time in various HR Zones that I have not configured the app to do for me.
Here are the equivalent to the Garmin GTC and VO stats.
Finally cadence…which comes from the HR Pod NOT from a footpod. This looks accurate to me.
What do the lights on the TICKR-X mean?
[Source Wahoo]: The TICKR X Heart Rate Monitor uses a Blue and Red LED to give instant feedback to the user during the pairing process. These LEDs operate for about 30 seconds before shutting off to conserve battery. The Red LED flashes each time a heartbeat is detected. The Blue LED represents your connection state and has three modes:
- Slow Blink (about once every second) – TICKR X is awake and not paired.
- 4x Flash – Occurs the instant a connection is made.
- Quick Blink (about twice every second) – TICKR X is paired to a device.
Why would you buy this or use this?
- You might just need a new strap.
- I’d buy it for the underwater HR alone. I would AND WILL only use that functionality periodically on lane swims but I would AND WILL use it with every OWS/wetsuit session.
- You use a smartphone and want some more running metrics that you would get with a basic strap.
- You want some more interesting data for your indoor/treadmill/turbo training.
- You want running cadence without a footpod on each pair of shoes or you want cycling cadence without having to have a sensor on each bike. I would use it for this purpose.
- You just can’t be bothered to put a watch on ie you want watchless recording for some reason. I’ve been doing that for the last couple of weeks for reasons I won’t go into! And yes you do feel naked without a watch.
- You want something that you can tap so it changes your running/cycling music! (I haven’t mentioned in the review that you can configure the double-tap functionality to do this but you can!).
Here are the trends in price since launch followed by a comparison of prices to similar competitor products.
And here are the competitor prices:
|HRMs Comparison June 28th 2015||Amazon||UK||Amazon||USA|
|4iiii Viiiiva V100 HRM||£79.99||Link||$77.00||Link|
|4iiii Viva Mini||TBC|
|SMS Bio Sport Ear Bud||£114.97||Link||$150.00||Link|
|Garmin Heart Rate Monitor (Hard)||£29.95||Link||$39.60||Link|
|Garmin HRM-RUN (Soft)||£51.93||Link||$99.99||Link|
|Garmin Premium (Soft)||£33.07||Link||$42.44||Link|
|Jabra Sport Pulse||£199.95||Link||$174.49||Link|
|LifeBeam Smart Helmet||£99.95||Link||$228.00||Link|
|PowerTap PowerCal ANT+||£80.99||Link||$89.95||Link|
|PowerTap PowerCal Bluetooth||£90.36||Link||$99.95||Link|
|Suunto Smart Belt||£49.00||Link||$55.91||Link|
|Under Armour Armour39||$70.95||Link|
External Wahoo TICKR-X Resources:
———————- Manufacturer Info Follows ———————————
The following is from the Manufacturer Website (Wahoo Fitness):
The TICKR X (£80) has all of the TICKR (£50) and TICKR Run (£65) features, plus all of the features in all 3 lists, below:
- Memory: Allows you to track your heart rate, calorie burn, and duration while you workout without your phone and auto-sync later – holds up to a 16 hour workout!
- Motion Analytics: Measures your cycling cadence during indoor cycling classes. More activities to come in firmware updates!
- Rapid Double Tap Control: Without your phone – double tap adds markers for specific points throughout your workout. With your phone – control app functions such as music playback and laps
- Vibration Alerts: Let you know your TICKR X is connected and indicate when you add a marker during a phone-free workout
The TICKR RUN has all of the TICKR features, plus:
- Wahoo Running Smoothness™: Built- in accelerometer measures running form across three dimensions to help you improve your individual running form and become a stronger runner
- Indoor Training: Mode for tracking speed and distance data while on the treadmill
- Cadence Measurement: Replaces a traditional footpod by providing stride rate data
- Additional Analytics: Measures several emerging indicators of running form including vertical oscillation and ground contact time
The TICKR has these features:
- Real-time Tracking: See heart rate and calories burned while you exercise
- Dual Technology: Both ANT+ and Bluetooth 4.0 capabilities connect the TICKR to smartphones and GPS watches
- Visible Connection: Equipped with two LED lights to show the TICKR’s device connection and heart rate detection
- Third Party iPhone App Compatibility: Works seamlessly with over 50 iPhone Apps including Runkeeper, Strava, MapMyFitness, and Cyclemeter/Runmeter and select Android apps.
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