Over the last few weeks I have been trying out the Suunto Ambit 2S. As with our other report on the Suunto Ambit 2GPS this is very much a personal review from an average user rather than an in depth technical review, which if you are interested can be found here. Given that it is a personal review it is useful to know the points of comparison, for years I was a Polar fan, the last model being the RS800CX, but a year ago I switched to the Garmin Forerunner 910XT for the internal GPS, multisport and swim training features. The Garmin has been my constant companion ever since. For the purposes of reviewing the Suunto I wore both the Garmin and the Suunto for swim, bike and run training sessions.
What struck me straight off was that the Suunto is more of a watch, whereas the Garmin is essentially a training computer on your wrist. The Suunto looks good, and I am happy to wear it around all day. The Garmin is only worn when training and to be honest I find it a pretty ordinary â€˜time piece’. What also impressed over the period of the trial was the battery life of the Suunto. With the unit in constant use I only needed to recharge it after 8 days, and the unit recharges anyway when it is plugged into the computer to download your training sessions. With the Garmin I switch it off between all training sessions, and still need to recharge it every 2-3 days. I suppose it is all relative, the Polar used to have its battery replaced after about 18 months.
The second thing I was struck by is that the Suunto requires a bit more effort to get set up than the Garmin, which is ready to use out of the box. I found the watch buttons and menu screens to be rather less intuitive than the Garmin and spent about 30 minutes or so preparing the watch to be ready for my first session. This also only gave me basic functionality, to set the watch up to record 1K intervals on the run, and to change the screen so that I could see the data I was interested in required me to download the www.movescount.com software onto my computer and make the changes there for upload to the watch. Even then it was that not easy, and I was annoyed to return from a 21K run to find that contrary to expectations I only had a single run split and could not track my pace over the course. More reading up and set up required on my part. Am I the only one that gets annoyed by the lack of anything other than a very basic user guide being included with purchases now?
In terms of fit and feel, the Suunto feels a little heavier than the Garmin on my wrist, and being circular did not fit quite as comfortably into the wrist as the rectangular Garmin, but this was only minor, and the Suunto was comfortable. The loops used to keep the strap in place are very effective, so effective in fact that releasing the strap requires a bit of effort!
The Suunto scores very highly in my books on the display. The display is really big and easy to read when training in all sports, and the backlight (with a really nice feature of being able to reverse the display lighting) makes reading the display in poor lighting super easy. Much better than either the Garmin or Polar in this regard.
Unlike the Polar and Garmin there is no wireless transfer of data to your computer. My initial reaction was that having to plug your unit in to the computer was a bit of a pain, however I have changed my mind. Often with the wireless transfers I encounter problems with data not transferring correctly or at all. No such problems when you directly connect the unit, with the added advantage that your units’ battery is also being recharged. I now think this is a plus.
In terms of the analysis you are able to do on your training, the Movescount software does not appear on first glance to be as flexible and detailed as the Garmin software. Having said that as you can see from the screen grab (below) it provides all the basic information you need, including (on the run) maps, speed/pace and altitude, and splits when you work out how to set them! Suunto have also provided the ability for users to create Apps, which allows you to access a great range of features that will continue to grow. There are hundreds of pages of Apps, you can track your heart rate zones, the incline of the hill you are ascending, and my personal favourite one that tells you how many beers you have burnt (and therefore how many I can have after the session!)
My big bug bear with the Garmin is the altitude recording. While originally this feature worked well, after one of the not infrequent firmware upgareds this feature stopped working, and going by the blogs this is a common fault. I am often amused to see now that I can gain 19,000 meters in a swim squad. No such problems with the Suunto.
So in summary I think if you want one unit that combines as a cool time piece and a serious training tool the Suunto ticks the boxes very nicely. It does require a little initial set up, but in reality this is minimal and a poor reflection on us if we have become so lazy and in need of instant gratificaton that we cannot expend a little bit of effort up front.
Quintana Roo Unveils Its All-New PRsix Disc Triathlon Bike
American Bicycle Group (ABG), the manufacturer of award-winning high-performance bicycles – Litespeed (LS) and Quintana Roo (QR) – this week unveiled its all-new PRsix Disc Series of triathlon bikes at the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona. Disc brakes enhance safety and reliability and are opening the door to improved wheel designs. With the PRsix Disc, there is no longer any restriction on rim shapes and tire sizes. The PRsix Disc is available in five colours – electric blue, neutron, atomic orange, teal, red, black/stealth – and limited colours and sizes are available now. The full line will be available in December 2017.
With no-nonsense braking, easy wheel changes, no rim width adjustments, and thru-axles front and rear, the PRsix Disc is stiffer than ever before and virtually eliminates wheel slip. New internal brake cable routing (front and rear) makes for a clean and more aero overall profile. The PRsix Disc is ready for new levels of aerodynamics, traction, and aero position comfort while racing at any distance.
According to ABG engineer Brad Devaney: “The placement of the callipers is unique and no-nonsense, and avoids gimmicks in the way of shrouds and covers. The rotors are incredibly aero efficient, and because of that, we’ve chosen not to add surface area and complexity. QR remains focused on efficient leading edges of the fork. For the rear brake, we’ve parlayed the LEA technology, which makes the non-drive side chainstay better than invisible. With no leading edge and an optimized ‘sail effect’ surface, we’ve nestled the calliper out of the amplified flow created by our SHIFT+ downtube orientation. I’m super excited to see the linking of technologies integrate so well in our latest design.”
“I’m thrilled about what we have done here,” said Peter Hurley, president, American Bicycle Group. “Our engineering staff has created a bike that is unlike any other in the market. The disc configuration they developed is a huge step and means that changing rim shapes no longer requires brake adjustment. We think it’s the best design ever.”
The PRsix Series, including the Disc, are nearly do-it-yourself bikes when it comes to mechanical fixes and shipping. No need to pay for specialized services when only two sizes of Allen wrenches and a basic knowledge of bike mechanics is needed. Easy to disassemble, ship and reassemble.
The new PRfive and PRsix Series bikes are painted and assembled at ABG’s 40,000 sq. ft. facility in Chattanooga, TN. QR is offering a frameset for $4,295 and has two bike versions – Shimano Ultegra Di2 disc with carbon race wheels for $9,595 and Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 Disc with carbon race wheels for $12,495, all of which can be preordered today.
Review: KuaiFit Multisport headphones, not your usual set of sports headphones
The complicated and over catered for sports headphone market is certainly jam-packed with products competing for your aural dollar. Most of the headphones are simply ‘sportified’ copies of the standard headphone (with a price tag to match), with limited, if any benefit to a multi-sport athlete. Most of us will appreciate the frustration the first time you try to run without an ear loop on your headphones and the tinny base marketed as a safety feature! Kuaiwear the company responsible for the KuaiFit headphones take a drastically different approach to the market, their multisport headphones are developed as a training enabler, providing real-time feedback, coaching, and improvement plans all while providing a decent set of headphones to blast Tay Tay to your heart’s content.
Models, Options & Pricing
The KuaiFit headphones currently come only in a sweat resistant run, bike and gym dry land multi-sport model, which is the focus of this review. Kuaiwear tells me that there is a swimming model due to be released Q1 2018 rounding out the appeal for triathletes, something we will update you on when they are released. The KuaiFit headphones current retail for $159 USD on Amazon. You can also buy the headphones with an ANT+ Cadence sensor for $209 USD or the Cadence sensor later for $49 USD, which when compared to the standalone and compatible Garmin GSC-10 is a bit at the expensive end of town.
Update: – Amazon currently have both the swimming model available for pre order and the base non swimming version.
Unboxing, construction & Fit
The first thing that strikes you when opening up the Kuaifit box is the size of the headphones, and they’re huge. This has to do with Kuaiwears decision to enable changes to the heart rate, plan and in-flight programme and music without the need for an app, more on this in a minute, but the inclusion of physical switches is a welcome one. The large loop fits snugly over your ear (excuse my ear and grey hair in the picture), and I couldn’t help feeling that these would look great next time I was to get assimilated by the Borg.
I did multiple runs and bikes with these headphones with some significant efforts thrown in, and they stayed in place throughout, an impressive feat, granted I did get some strange looks and a few questions!
The earphones come with the standard set of interchangeable earpieces, depending on the size of your ‘ere oles’ and they all feel very comfortable.
The headphones can be recharged using a standard Micro USB charging port under one of the earbuds, as you can tell this design will certainly keep the sweat out.
Update – Post review Kuaiwear tell me that the USB port has been waterproofed to 5m to provide an added layer of protection for the base unit.
Background and Framework
KuaiFit was successfully funded on KickStarter back in 2015 and shipped in 2017. They are more of an integrated system than a pair of headphones with multiple parts which I will talk about individually. In summary, its comprised of a set of sports headphones with an integrated Heartrate Monitor, a website used to track stats and plans, a phone App (Apple and Android) for real-time visual feedback and a desktop App for syncing music and maps (in the future).
The first step is to establish a user account on the Kuaifit website, used to download plans, manage your activities and settings. The App on your phone, is your real-time visual interface into your headphones, displaying metrics such as Heart rate and cadence. Finally, you have your headphones, which you pair with your phone as a regular set of Bluetooth headphones. The process isn’t particularly onerous and well documented. However, you do find yourself jumping around websites and phone functions a fair bit with the overall process taking me 20 minutes or so. The headphones strangely come pre-loaded with some euro trance music and ‘train-esque’ easy rock which plays during setup and whenever you start the App, presumably to get you in the mood.
Headphones, Sound Quality & pairing options
A good pair of sports headphones need to be able to blast out your tunes to keep you motivated, right? Well, the KuaiFit headphones are surprisingly full-featured. The headphones have 8GB of memory inbuilt, enough for 1,500 songs (more than sufficient for an Ironman build), but it can also actively stream music over Bluetooth. Once the tunes are cranking through the headphones, they provide clear audio, high volume, and solid bass. Something that’s important when you’re trying to blast out 150 BPM running bangers. Overall even without the training capabilities, these are a solid set of sports headphones.
One thing to take into consideration is that most of the earpieces for me almost entirely blocked out any external sound. I didn’t mind this running. However, it did make me feel uncomfortable riding outside. Now I’m not a big fan of riding with headphones anyway, however, if you do, best to keep one out.
Kuaiwear tell me they have multiple earbuds available to help choose the amount of noise let in. They were not present on the review unit, but suffice to say they should give you some control over the noise.
Stated playtime is 7 hours, and I found that the be pretty much bang on, so props there.
An innovative feature in the integrated heart rate monitor (HRM) within the headphones themselves. It’s an interesting decision to do so, and I initially wondered how it could produce an accurate measurement given the position. However, the science supports it seamlessly and accurately captured my max heart rate and in-flight heart rate as accurately as my Garmin does. When you are ready to go, you just select the activity using your controls and start the session using either the headphones standalone or via the mobile app.
Once in a session, you use the buttons on the side to adjust heart rate zones with the earphones providing real-time feedback as to where you are currently are against the zones. If a training plan is in place, it will dynamically range and alert you if you are overperforming or underperforming.
The headphones also act as an ANT+ receiver, automatically detecting ANT+ devices near the unit and presenting them via the mobile App. There is no way to set up a manual paring, which is a huge oversight by Kuaiwear – it gives us an indication as to the target market. More on this later.
The Kuaifit ear phones also send data via ANT+ and Bluetooth, allowing Gym equipment and Garmin devices to use the earphones as a heart rate monitor. A cool feature that could conceivably see you removing the need of a dedicated Heart rate monitor.
I initially tested the device at my squads Mag Trainer session, the device automatically picks up sensors within range, whilst simple to use, it can cause some issues if there are multiple devices around. This issue needs fixing in a future release.
Paring with devices is simple in concept however I had trouble connecting to my earphones to some devices, in particular, power meter’s (Rotor and Vector) and could only get a cadence sensor reading from a Garmin GC – 10. Some ability to troubleshoot connectivity would be welcome via the mobile app.
Most likely your first point of call is the KuaiFit website. The bare-bones interface gives you access to your history with the standard set of activity stats. It also gives you the ability to customise individual alerts for each of the sports, calorie burn, heart rate levels, etc. The website and App doesn’t allow you to change your heart rate zones for each sport (you can overall), which again is a major problem for cyclists. Our achievable maximum heart rate on a bike is often 10-15 beats per minute lower than running, something that you cannot adjust. Therefore the cycling programmes and heart rate will always be higher than where it should be.
The website also gives you access to a series of training plans for both cycling and running which are well constructed with real-time feedback. However, there are only six plans available, focused towards beginners, with plenty in the pipeline
The mobile App provides real-time feedback depending on the activity. It captures heart rate and cadence and is easy to understand. It’s quite limited in its stats so far. However, I’m sure this will improve over time.
As you can tell the headphones are very clearly a version 1 release product. As a runner I find these headphones quite a competent set, providing solid sound to keep me entertained. However, would I ditch my Garmin for them? No way…not yet anyway. The real-time feedback is nowhere near what I need as a runner (admittedly one obsessed with stats), and if anything, it just gets in the way of my tunes. The coaching features are simplistic and will work if you’re building up to your first 5km. As a cyclist, I found the device connectivity to be troublesome (Power Meters in particular) and with limited troubleshooting I found it to be a frustrating experience.
So would these work in the context of being a Triathlete? Not really, partially as these don’t support swimming as of yet and the features don’t meet my needs for the individual component sport, particularly cycling.
But would I buy a pair? ..well Yes. If you’re in the market for headphones, the build and audio quality put these at the top end of the market, competing at an audio level way beyond the price point. The real interesting aspect is that the headphones are a solid platform for Kuaiwear to build on. The proof will be in the pudding to see if Kuaiwear continues to invest in the platform and deliver on the promise. Looking forward to seeing the swimming version in the near future and the improvements to the overall framework!
A solid set of Sports Headphones with great future potential.
- Solid set of headphones
- Great bass
- High levels of potential
- Generation 1 product
- Cycling support misses the mark
- No swimming support (yet)
3 Reasons Why You Should Look at The New Wahoo Kickr + Kickr Climb
The new Wahoo Kickr Climb is the best way to get more out of your indoor training thanks to increased bike compatibility and integration with real-time gradient training. New developments make your indoor training more realistic than ever before to enhance your fitness and make the most of your indoor training.
1. Your front wheel is replaced with a carbon steel attachment that simulates real-world elevation
Why is this cool?
When you pedal on your trainer, your whole bike will tilt in real-time according to the elevation of your route. If you pair Zwift with your Wahoo KICKR, you can climb the virtual hills of Watopia (One of Zwift’s awesome areas) If you thought Watopia’s peak was tough before, with KICKR Climb you’ll be exhausted to a whole new level.
If you don’t have Zwift, no worries. If you’ve saved a route on your ELEMNT, KICKR Climb can adjust your route according to the gradient of that route.
Why it’ll make you faster
You’ll have to stand up and adjust to new angles. You can work harder than on any other indoor trainer and get more out of your indoor sessions.
Climb works with the KICKR (2017 model only) and KICKR Snap.
2. 12×148 Thru axle compatibility
Why is this cool?
Your favourite bike can plug right into your indoor bike trainer without an adapter
Why this will make you faster
You can practice the toughest climbs on the actual bike you’ll ride outdoors, so you’ll know exactly what to do on race day.
3. Improved disc brake clearance
Why this is cool
More bikes are using disc brakes, so it’s likely the next bike you use on the KICKR will have disc brakes.
Why this will make you faster
You’ll get real-world practice with bikes with disc brakes indoors and outdoors. Simple.
Training indoors is the reality for most triathletes throughout the seasons, for post-race recovery and as a vital part of any training regime. The new Wahoo KICKR is the perfect way to maximise your indoor training and get fitter than the athletes next to you on the start line.
Danish Start-up Launches the World’s First Custom Fitted Swimming Goggles
New Danish technology has paved the way for the world’s first custom fitted swimming goggles, making the swimwear comfortable and 100 percent waterproof. The product is being crowdfunded on Kickstarter until October 31st.
Have you ever experienced water leakage or discomfort with your swimming google? Problems with swimming goggles are well known among professional swimmers, triathletes and fitness enthusiasts. But soon it will all belong to the past.
The Danish start-up THEMAGIC5 has developed a new groundbreaking technology that can 3D outline your face directly through your smartphone on THEMAGIC5’s app. Based on the 3D animation, your swimming goggles are custom fitted to perfectly match the shape of your face.
“It has been our ambition to develop the world’s best swimming goggles – completely custom fitted for you,” says Rasmus Barfred, Co-Founder of THEMAGIC5.
The product is on sale through a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter until October 31st. THEMAGIC5 is targeting to sell around 1,000 goggles and raise 50.000 USD in capital.
Several World Championship swimmers have already begun using their custom fitted THEMAGIC5-goggles. Most recently at the World Cup in Budapest in July.
“We have the ambition to be the leader in the market globally. We have launched a product and technology that the world has never seen before. Therefore, of course, we are extremely pleased that our goggles have been well received by World Championship swimmers,” says Rasmus Barfred.
“Since I started using THEMAGIC5s swimming goggle I have not felt the urge to adjust my swimming goggles all the time. When you swim as much as I do, the irritation you get from your swimming goggle seems a part of the game. I am happy that this problem has finally been fixed so I can focus my attention on the joy of swimming,” says Marina Heller Hansen, Part of the Danish national team and participant at the 2017 FINA World Championships.
CorSense HRV Monitor: Optimise Health and Fitness Without Wearables
Elite HRV, creators of the popular heart rate variability (HRV) app and platform, has launched the CorSense via a global Kickstarter campaign.
CorSense is an HRV sensor that slips onto any size fingertip. With CorSense, in just two minutes/day, users can optimize nutrition, training, recovery, sleep and stress without the use of chest strap monitors or 24/7 wearables. HRV is a unique biomarker used by hundreds of thousands of coaches, athletes, clinicians, wellness seekers, and researchers. It is a comprehensive “check-engine light” for the body and mind that is also non-invasive and responsive. HRV is linked to biological aging, athletic performance, and risk of numerous chronic illnesses.
CorSense is a highly-accurate, easier, comfier, non-wearable alternative to chest-strap heart monitors, patches, ear-clips, fitness bands, and adhesives. Utilizing advanced sensor technology, CorSense slips onto a fingertip and automatically activates, senses the pulse waveform, syncs via Bluetooth, and transmits HRV data to any compatible HRV app.
“The number one request from our 130,000-plus users has been to make HRV tracking simpler and more comfortable without compromising accuracy. Based on this feedback, we designed CorSense from the ground up to precisely track HRV with no user intervention apart from slipping it onto their finger. CorSense does the rest.”
With CorSense and HRV, enhanced health, fitness and wellbeing takes just 2 minutes/day.
Do Your TrainingPeaks workouts in Zwift
Are you a TrainingPeaks user and also love using Zwift on those days that aren’t great to be outdoors? Well, today marks a significant step forward for both companies as the integration just got a whole heap better for us.
Many of us are using TrainingPeaks because our coach uses it and they put the required workout information in there for us to complete (or not) plus it’s great for understanding certain key metrics.
From today, you can now do your TrainingPeaks Structured Training within Zwift without doing any fancy export/import or be recreating those sessions in Zwift – and hands up who has done that before? Just login to Zwift and make sure your account is linked to your TrainingPeaks account – you can check this on the connections page. If they are connected, disconnect and connect them again just to be safe. Next, make sure your workout has been saved via TrainingPeaks Structured Workout Builder.
Lastly, login to Zwift, select workouts, and find today’s workout under the TrainingPeaks dropdown. You’ll only see the workout for the current day, and it updates automatically each day.
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