Apple Watch ships tomorrow: Will it work for cyclists?

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It’s expensive, won’t work without an iPhone, and requires charging every day BUT it’s the coolest gadget on the planet right now and there’s going to be a bunch of cycling apps available including Strava.  The Sport version starts at £299 and has an aluminium case and plastic strap, the non-Sport version is £479 and comes with a steel case, more choices of strap and tougher glass.

Apparently the Apple Watch Sport has been designed to suit a broad demographic of active people (with money to burn) and there’s plenty of technology and features that could make it very useful for cycling. With other well established devices out there we wonder how the Apple Watch Sport will stand out against other strong competitors.

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vivoactive

The built in activity tracker could be quite useful, although some new sports watches include this now as well (Garmin Vivoactive) and it effectively replaces those fitness bands lots of people got for Christmas (then threw in a drawer). The Apple Watch accelerometer measures your total body movement and steps. It detects when you’re running or walking and calculates your calories burned from the activities you do throughout your day.  It uses a built-in HRM to give an accurate measurement of calories which is something the TomTom Runner Cardio pioneered.  The Activity app provides a simple and powerful graphic of your daily activity, with three rings telling you everything you need to know. The Move ring shows how many calories you’ve burned. The Exercise ring shows how many minutes of brisk activity you’ve done. And the Stand ring shows how often you’ve stood up to take a break from sitting.  Like a good personal trainer, this is designed with customisable coaching options that will motivate you to reach your daily activity goals each day, and use your success to motivate you to new milestones.

The biggest problem though is lack of GPS.  This means you have to take your phone with you and this will drain the battery of both devices, potentially leaving you stranded in an emergency.  Integrating the GPS hardware would almost certainly have made the watch much bigger so you can see why Apple have left it our but this ultimately means a compromised setup.  So, if you have the Strava app on your iPhone and on your watch you will be alerted to upcoming segments via your watch instead of the phone.  The watch is also in a more useful position if you want to see how you are doing – although a £15 smartphone bar mount will do this too.

So, what are the real benefits for cyclists?  TBH we can’t think of any right now – other than showing off!  Garmin rules the world of cycling activity trackers and it’s hard to see why a committed cyclists would make the change.

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