Review of Wahoo Fitness cycling pack (RFLKT+, TICKRx & BLUE SC)
Wahoo has a host of products for cyclists, runners and generally active people, but for this review we tried out the cycling pack. This trio of products includes the RFLKT+ bike computer, TICKRx heart rate sensor and BLUE SC speed & cadence sensor. I’ve been using all three items for a variety of different rides (short and long, on and off road), as well as trying out the TICKRx for walking and visits to the gym.
WHAT IS TRACKED?
RFLKT+: The bike computer is the central hub for the entire Wahoo cycling system, so while it doesn’t track much itself, it does have an altimeter built in and connects to your phone and all the other devices in the pack to show you how you’re doing on your ride. This is all done through Bluetooth and Wahoo’s ANT+ system to connect the devices and allow them to communicate happily.
TICKRx: Funnily enough, the heart rate sensor tracks your hear rate while you’re exercising. But the TICKRx also has motion detection that can monitor your laps, reps or the smoothness of your running (depending on what you’re using it to track). Most importantly, the TICKRx has an onboard memory too, so you can just throw it on and go out — no phone or anything else required.
BLUE SC: Last, but by no means least, tracks your speed, distance, tempo and cadence. All of which are delivered back to the iPhone through the Bluetooth/ANT+ connection (no on board memory here, but it’s simple enough to hit go on your phone and then tuck it in your pocket before a ride).
RFLKT+: With only the altitude figures to really check, it was relatively simple to double check certain point on my ride (not least the start and finish altitude). Otherwise the GPS data from my smartphone was all correct too and represented regularly through the RFLKT+
TICKRx: Testing an active heart rate was slightly more challenging, but I was able to pause during certain exercises in order to check my pulse on the Wahoo device compared to another heart rate sensor (and manually with the 15 second estimate). In all cases the TICKRx appears accurate over both quick workouts in the gym and longer rides on the bike.
BLUE SC: The speed and cadence sensor I already had on my bike is very reliable, but with that being made up of two pieces and the BLUE SC being just a single bit of kit on the bike I was interested to see how it would compare. Using the RFLKT+ and the computer for my other set-up at the same time, I was able to directly compare them while riding and am happy to report that the single item gave exactly the same readings.
ALL: The Wahoo Fitness app is simple enough to use and set up your devices on, it’s also the place where you can customise certain things on the device (such as the data on the screens of the RFLKT+ or the tap function on the face of the TICKRx pausing the music you’re listening to). Overall the app is a strong and user-friendly service in itself, but most excitingly with the Wahoo devices, they all work happily with a host of other apps or services — including Strava, MapMyRide, Cyclemeter and Runtastic Roadbike. This means that if you’re already a keen Stravan (for example) you can keep all your data there or with a quick export from the Wahoo app have your data shared on both.
RFLKT+: Being the centre piece of the cycling pack, it’s important that the RFLKT+ is not just good, but great. Set up was simple enough and I was able to quickly build a couple of personalised screen options to show exactly the information I wanted. During rides the screen has been easy to see and even changing screens was a simple press of a button. The only issue I had was during a 100 km ride, which meant a full day in the saddle for me, and about 5 hours into the ride the RFLKT+ appeared to simply switch off. I understand from the team at Wahoo that this was actually an issues with the app that has since been resolved, but I haven’t had the chance to test it over such a long distance as yet.
TICKRx: Like the RFLKT+, Wahoo’s heart rate sensor was really easy to set up and the elastic strap is simple to put on. The TICKRx just works from there on out and the built-in memory means you don’t even have to have you phone with you.
BLUE SC: Speed and cadence sensors are often a bit of a pain to fit and then test that they’re on correctly, not least because the bike (or at least the wheels) need to be moving. Having said that, having a single receiver to add to the bike (rather than the normal 2) and then two sensors it was actually fairly straightforward to fit. The set-up was again simple enough, but you will need to know some measurements from your back that are pretty standard for these trackers.
ALL: All 3 devices use Bluetooth to sync the data back to your phone and I was impressed by the lack of issues with the sync I’ve had. With the exception of the one long ride and the live-sync dropping out (which I’m assured has been resolved in the app) I have no complaints about the speed or stability of the data syncing.
ALL: All 3 devices use standard watch-style flat batteries and I have not had to change any of them as yet. There are hand manual check lights on all the bike-based and you can also check them through the app too.
RFLKT+: The RFLKT+ is available for around £110 online and while it’s a fantastic piece of hardware, the fact that you can’t leave your phone behind makes me wonder about the expense. Also, you can pick up one of the entry level Garmin devices, for example, which will give you much of the same data (if used on its own), but also provide navigation data too. That’s why it feels a little overpriced for what you get, although the RFLKT (without the ‘+’) is available for around £60£60 and appears to have many of the same features.
TICKRx: Again, the Wahoo TICKRx feels a little on the expensive side at the £100£100 mark — though it is a great piece of kit. The slightly lesser TICKR will set you back around £45, which may be slightly closer to the right cost for someone wanting to track their performance across multiple activities.
BLUE SC: The last piece of the puzzle is the speed & cadence sensor, which will set you back around £50, which considering the information it gives you is about right, especially when compared to similar devices from the other big cycling tech brands. When could with the £110 for the RFLKT+ or £60 for the RFLKT that could be a little too expensive, but an alternative might be to simply by the BLUE SC in the first instance and a good phone mount could give you the data you want for a little less expense.
All in all, the Wahoo system is very good. All three devices that we had the chance to try out are easy to set-up, use and sync. While it would be nice to have the addition of GPS Navigation in front of you too, which I can’t help but think wouldn’t be too difficult to incorporate into the app and then show the requisite information on the screen (given the need to have your phone with you for the Wahoo system to work anyway).
The fact that both the app and hardware Wahoo have created will work with a host of other services is also a credit to the design forethought of the team behind them too. Rather than trying to lock people into their platform, the business clearly understands that by making strong hardware they can build their marketshare even if people opt to use a Strava or RunKeeper on their phone.
However, the one area the Wahoo gear does fall down on is price. All in all the 3 devices could set you back in excess of £250, which for some might be a little more than they’re willing to spend (particularly without the navigation function I’ve already mentioned). So would I recommend the hardware to someone looking for a good bike computer? Certainly, but I would advise them to opt for the cheaper versions of each. And lastly, is anyone asked me to recommend a heart rate monitor for any type of activity, the Wahoo would certainly be top of that list — but the TICKR rather than the TICKRx.