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First look at new Wahoo Fitness RFLKT Bluetooth Smart bike computer

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Today Wahoo Fitness showed off their newest product here at Interbike; the Wahoo Fitness RFLKT bike computer.  The RFLKT (pronounced ‘Reflect’) is the Bluetooth Smart driven bike computer that connects directly to your phone and displays the content of the bike app running on the phone.

In short, the RFLKT is essentially an external display for your phone – allowing you to take your phone along for the ride (which most do today), but not have to place it out on the handlebars in the face of danger.  Further, it reduces the battery hit to the phone by not requiring the phone’s display be turned on

Technical Details:

The unit is different from most bike computers in that it does not connect directly to sensors, nor contain any GPS chip, or even have any user accessible storage.  Again – it’s part display, and part control.  With the buttons on the side, you can control the compatible applications and drive menu selection.  Or, depending on the app – even items such as song selection or announcements.

The RFLKT works with any Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth 4.0) enabled phone, though today only apps are available for the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 (as well as the newest iPad).  The unit pairs with your phone in a manner pretty similar to pairing of an ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart Sensor:

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The device gives developers a clean slate (and display) to determine how to display data on the unit, as well as what the four buttons do.  In effect, this is like a Pebble watch for your bike.  The phone does all the work, and connects to any applicable sensors (i.e. heart rate strap, power meter, etc…) on behalf of the RFLKT.  There is no direct connect between the RFLKT and the sensor – only between the RFLKT and the phone.

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Today, there are two apps available – the Wahoo Fitness app (free) and the CycleMeter app ($5).  The Wahoo Fitness app is a good starting point for most, but the CycleMeter app offers far more flexibility in configuration (which I’ll dive into in a moment).  However, any other developer that currently uses (or wants to use) the Wahoo Fitness SDK can leverage the RFLKT display.  For example, in talking with the TrainerRoad folks, they are looking at how they could leverage this to act as a head unit for TrainerRoad – connecting over Bluetooth Low Energy straight to a PC (with tiny $10 USB BTLE adapter), or most new Macs (includes Bluetooth Smart built-in).

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The RFLKT runs on a single user changeable CR2450 coin cell battery, that should get about 18 months of use before you need to swap it out.  After which, you’ll swing down to your local drug store and pick up a new one for $3-5.

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The unit includes twobike mounts inside the box – a mount that can be used either on the stem or handlebar, and then a forward bar mount (like the SRM):

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Because the unit is simply displaying data from the phone, you’ll be able to display and control the Wahoo Fitness KICKR trainer via your phone, which was announced last month at Eurobike.  This gives them a head unit for the KICKR that doesn’t require the user interact with a phone while in the middle of a hard trainer workout.

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As you can see above – the unit is pretty slim, slightly smaller than an Edge 500 in both width and height.  Here’s a quick size comparison shot I took.  You can see the RFLKT is a hair bit smaller than the Edge 500, but the screen is definitely bigger.

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From a width standpoint, they’re nearly identical as well.

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Here’s a couple of individual profile shots of the RFLKT:

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CycleMeter integration:

CycleMeter on iPhone is the first app to offer integration with the RFLKT.  They are using the RFLKT to display user customized data from their iPhone app onto the RFLKT display.  This effectively allows them to directly compete against companies like Garmin, Timex, Polar and others – despite their app only costing $5US.

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In playing with the app, it has some pretty immense customization options around data display.  With the compatible build they had at the show, they were showing up to four data fields on the RFLKT, but he noted that by time release they’ll allow you to display up to eight data fields – the same as the higher end Garmin bike computers:

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As they near release, they’ll also be adding in graphing too – enabling apps to display simple graphs of your choice, such as elevation or heart rate.

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In the case of CycleMeter, they allow a ton of flexibility when it comes to modification and control over the buttons.  As noted earlier, the RFLKT is essentially a blank slate for developers, so in this case, they allow you to pick what each of the buttons do.  Plus, there’s the ability to recognize the difference between a single and double press, which means that buttons can be used for more than one purpose.

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Like most Wahoo Fitness compatible apps, CycleMeter also supports playing of music – as well as control of music.  On top of that, you can use different buttons on the RFLKT to read out announcements to you via the audio stream, over the music.  For example you could have a button press that reads out to you your average pace on the ride – without changing display screens.

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Pricing and availability:

The RFLKT unit will sell for between $100US and $120US (not yet final), and will be available on January 1st, 2013.   They’ll also be shipping the unit international as well, like they do for the remainder of their products.  As noted, it includes the bike mounts as well.

As always, if you have any questions – feel free to drop them in the comments below and I’ll be happy to circle back with the Wahoo folks at the end of the day and get them all answered.

Thanks for reading!

48 Comments

  1. This is really interesting news Ray. I recently ditched my Polar CS600X in favor of Wahoo's SC and HR sensors, but have been feeling a bit uncomfortable with mounting my iPhone on the (semi-) aero frame of my Venge. Also, on a recent 95 mile ride I ran out of Apple juice about half way - and was actually considering adding more bulk in the form of an external battery. Wahoo's external display would solve all these problems at once.

    Reply
  2. Tks Ray for the review. Tons of news in the sport industry, hard to keep up without you!
    So if it could be a replacement for the Garmin, it relies on the Iphone gps. You may have cover it before but how good is the iphone in terms of gps accuracy?

    Reply
  3. Eli

    Know if there will be any compatibility with the pebble? Maybe the pebble could also be used as an external display but guessing not as that would cut into their profits

    Reply
  4. This is a potential Garmin-killer (why have an expensive garmin, while you can gear up your iphone with the rflkt for 100 bucks with more options?).

    In my opinion there are 2 critical success factors the rflkt has to challenge:
    1. It needs to lengthen the battery time of a iphone to more than 10 hours.
    2. It should transfer more than only simple data. Like maps and live data from the interwebs. If so, app-programmers can finally make an app for the rflkt with "find your friend-function", "rainradar-function" and "find the strava-segment-function".

    And yes, than i will ditch my android for an iphone.

    Reply
  5. Oooooh that would be awesome in a watch-like package for running... (Yes, I know, Pebble should do something similar...)

    Reply
  6. This product is awesome for training rides and recreational riders. However I believe USAT and WTC don't allow cell phones in races (don't know about road race rules). This means that if you want data durring a race your still getting a garmin, polar, etc.

    They should develop a wrist mount for it also. Then you also have a running watch with the right apps. Might be easier than checking a phone in your pocket or on an armband.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    Except info. from the Wahoo Fitness app and the CycleMeter app , would it also be able to notify me about incoming call , SMS or eMail ?

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    Between $100 for this and $50 for the ant+ receiver for the phone you're already most of the way to an Edge 500. Sounds like a great idea, but just too expensive.

    Reply
  9. Hi Anon-

    Yup, it could if the application programmed that - but the app developer would have to accommodate that. I'll check with both teams and see if there's something like that in there today.

    Reply
  10. Hi Bugsy-

    Actually, USAT and WTC do allow cell phones in race use. However, if you make two-way communication (inbound), the rules state you must pull over and not make forward progress.

    I've had long discussions with the head USAT ref about the rule. Regrettably, for the life of me I can't seem to get them to actually externally document it. Not for lack of trying however.

    It's a battle I eventually intend on winning...I just want them to document what they've already decided and semi-communicated.

    Reply
  11. Interesting product -- hate the name... What's with Wahoo and vowel-less product names (KICKR, RFLKT)? Not a fan of that trend...

    Reply
  12. Could you get a picture of the forward mount?

    Reply
  13. JaapW

    Very interesting, thanks for the information!

    This is a really nice development, especially because it shows what is possible with Bluetooth Smart. This is quite innovative stuff.

    I would almost dump the Garmin Edge 705 as head unit. However, the Garmin still does a great job at displaying courses on its maps. I'm using BikeRouteToaster to create a courses and put it on the Garmin Edge - works great.

    Reply
  14. StGeorge

    Hi Ray,

    Started reading your blog a few weeks ago and love, love, LOVE it! What a terrific resource.

    Regarding GPS - and in response to Vivelevelo's post, I've been playing around with an Emprum GPS chipset that plugs into my iPhone 4 - great for when I am riding in Contra Costa county where cellphone reception/GPS on my iPhone is patchy at best and often non-existent. Of course, it means that I can't plug in a Wahoo bluetooth adaptor to pick up HR/speed+cadence sensors. But, as you say somewhere else on your blog, in 12 months, all new smartphones will have BT 4.0 and will be able to hook up to a wide range of sensors.

    Anyway, curious to get your thoughts (if any) on using an external GPS adaptor on the bike for where GPS might be sub-standard in a smartphone. The above setup seems like it might work well with this device too.

    Thanks,

    Will.

    Reply
  15. Anonymous

    May I ask the scenario of swap battery per 18 months ?

    Reply
  16. I would like the newly proposed version that will work with my simple iPhone 4. I hope they produce both versions. Thanks Ray, for the great review and site.

    Reply
  17. Anonymous

    Iphone 4 doesn't have the chip for Bluetooth 4.0. Looks like we might be out of luck.

    Reply
  18. Hi Inner-
    RE: Vowel-less

    I was fine with the KICKR, since that was sorta cute. But I agree tehRFLKT is just a mess to spell. :(

    Hi Unknown-
    RE: Forward mount

    Yup, sorry, I added it a few hours after your request, just forgot to note it. Thanks!

    Hi StGeorge-
    RE: External GPS

    Indeed, there's been talk about external GPS pods (both ANT+ and BTLE). I suspect you'll see one come out on BTLE before ANT+, primarily to do exactly what you said.

    Hi Anon-
    RE: Battery in 18 months

    It's just a coin cell, so simply swapping it out will take unscrewing the back and then plopping a new one in. Most drug stores have them for $3-5. Online for about 10 for $5-10.

    Hi Bob/Anon-
    RE: iPhone 4

    Unfortunately, Anon is correct, the original iPhone 4 doesn't have Bluetooth 4.0 in it, and thus can't communicate with BTLE/BLE/Bluetooth Smart devices like this. IU don't see anything changing in that department since the costs involved in creating an adapter are a bit high (plus, battery issues). Sorry!

    Reply
  19. Just wondering if the RFLKT has any sort of backlight facility - seems a killer product but won't suit me unless it works in the dark!

    Reply
  20. mlehky

    Ray....reference the external GPS

    There actually already is a BlueTooth GPS for the iphone.

    link to bad-elf.com

    It mostly marketed to the aviation community, but if you look at their websites list of compatible apps, there are quite a few fitness apps that work with it. The same company also make a dongle GPS for the iPhone.

    Has there been any talk of showing distance to next turn and turn by turn directions on the RFLKT?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, it is regular BT however, and not BT4.0 thus not Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth Low Energy) - which is the key to getting the data in sport-like devices.

      I think we'll see lots of stuff like turn by turn end up on RFLKT, no doubt by spring.

      Reply
  21. RTO

    This technology is moving so fast you're gonna need some sort of device to pace yourself so we don't lose you to burn out. Keep up the good work.
    Can you elaborate more on the differences between ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart - i.e. difference in battery consumption, signal reliability, is ANT+ going obsolete, etc...?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hi RTO-

      This post should help a bit. I wrote it last summer, and some of the products out there have changed slightly, but the fundamentals of everything else and where the technology is at is the same:

      link to dcrainmaker.com

      I'll probably write an update in two weeks, following CES2013.

      Enjoy!

      Reply
    • majorhunadadun replied

      Well here we are at CES 2013! Can't wait for an update on this product and how well it will interact with the hrm and cadence. I'm holding off on getting a Garmin.

      Reply
  22. Jeff

    Any updates on the Wahoo Fitness RFLKT bike computer?

    Reply
  23. Mel

    I've been waiting patiently. When is this coming?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      They've publicly promised to give an update by the "end of the week" (per their FB page).

      Reply
  24. Cleve Waterman

    I hope the display is more customizable. Need at least heart rate, speed, cadence and distance on the screen simultaneously without having to push buttons.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, it's a ton more customizable than the screens above. The latest version of the app released last week helps that a ton.

      Reply
  25. Keith Hatounian

    RFLKT is finally available to order on the Wahoo Fitness Web Site for $129.95. Cant wait to switch. My Garmin Premium Heart Rate strap started acting up again yesterday (reading 1/2 what it should) so I have had enough of Ant+. This is my 4th Garmin Strap to fail in 18 months. Even though Garmin has been replacing them for free I'm switching to a full Wahoo Bluetooth setup.

    Reply
  26. Dennis Van Damme

    If I buy the RFLKT now.. and the turn by turn navigation comes later this years. Can my 'older' RFLKT also been used for the new features?

    Reply
  27. Niall

    Still no confirmation on backlight - the sole user review on the Wahoo site seems to say that it has that facility but it isn't listed in the specs in the store. Confused and waiting for a full independent review before ordering as it is a "make or break" feature for me - too much commuting in the dark in my life!

    Reply
  28. Keith Hatounian

    Wahoo Fitness posted this response to the backlight question on Facebook:

    "Yes it does have a backlight, although leaving the backlight on greatly reduces the battery life, but you still have the choice."

    Reply
  29. So how is it going to do power Ray if the iPhone 4s and 5 only use Bluetooth Smart? Is there a Bluetooth power meter out there for a standard road bike that we haven't heard about yet?

    Reply
    • Niall replied

      There's a variety of ANT+ adapters available for the 4S that will allow the phone to take in data from multiple sensors and just dump that data out to the RFLKT unit over Bluetooth Smart. The RFLKT is just a "dumb terminal" and (as far as I know) doesn't talk to the sensors directly. There was talk of another version which would act as an ANT+ bridge to send ANT + data to the phone over BT smart and then send it back to RFLKT for display - it may have been just a rumour though!

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The Stages Power Meter is Bluetooth Smart (and works with the app, as it follows the Bluetooth Smart device profile). It started shipping about two weeks ago.

      Additionally, the Wahoo KICKR and Kinetic inRIDE are also Bluetooth Smart power meters, and transmit identically to that of the Stages PM.

      For ANT+ devices, it's as Niall noted. You can route via the Wahoo Adapter to the Wahoo App (for ANT+), or, down the road they'll be also offering a RFLKT ANT+ variant.

      Reply
  30. Cleve Waterman

    I have my new RFLKT attached to my bike. Works great. It came attached to the "handlebar" mount. After a little struggling, I was able to figure out how to separate the RFLKT from the handlebar mount. The RFLKT made a sharp click when I inserted it into the "stem" mount. I have not been able to figure out how to separate the RFLKT from the stem mount. I guess I have 18 months to figure it out before the battery dies.

    Reply
    • Keith Hatounian replied

      There is a shiny silver piece of metal included in the RFLKT box in a plastic bag. This is used to remove the RFLKT from the mount.

      Reply
    • Cleve Waterman replied

      Thanks. I got it figured out. A YouTube video helped as well. I am accustomed to putting screwdriver heads into slots and applying a twisting motion in order to separate things. This is not the correct motion for the RFLKT. You put the shiny metal bar (or a screw driver) into the slot at the top of the RFLKT and apply a front-to-back pressure. Only a very small amount of force is required to separate the RFLKT from the stem mount.

      Reply
  31. Andy

    I am still struggling with the choice between the Garmin Edge 510 bundle or this Wahoo RFLKT. If I look hard enough, can get the Garmin bundle for $350. If I get RFLKT + the sensors, it is around $280. I already own an iPhone 5 and I think I would likely carry it with me regardless of what head unit I end up getting. So the costs are somewhat comparable especially since RFLKT does not yet have any direct compatibility with 3rd party Apps and even Cyclemeter is close but there is no guarantee on timing for others. Especially since the install base is low. What would you guys do?

    Reply
    • Chofo replied

      I´m gonna wait for wahoo to come up with the iphone 5 case. in the mean time, gonna use a frame bag with a front bag for the phone.

      Reply
    • Mike replied

      The new 510/810 do not work correctly with power meters if you use one. To date they won't say when they will have a fix. I've been having a hard time trying to return my 810... If you get a Garmin I'd suggest the 500/800 as those work correctly. Be sure to check forums.garmin.com though, you'll see all the issues with the new 510/810. It is almost like these are the first cycling products ever made by Garmin, definitely a huge disappointment.

      Reply
  32. Here is the direct link to RFLKT compatible apps: link to wahoofitness.com

    As of late Feb. there are two apps supporting RFLKT: the Wahoo Fitness app and iMobileIntervals (link to imobileintervals.com).

    iMobileIntervals RFLKT display has HR, watts, speed, cadence, total elapsed and interval/lap times, current music selection or current/next interval activity, and live data telemetry status. iMobileIntervals also has control from the four hardware buttons on the RFLKT to pause/skip music, toggle backlight, restart the interval workout, skip forward/backward the interval, or take a lap split.

    Reply
  33. Laurie Loraine

    Does anyone know when the turn by turn will be implemented and if so will it come to the current model or will you have to update the whole unit!! I'm seriously considering getting this unit but i also worry about the accuracy of the speed as i doubt the iphone has a comparable chip to the Garmin's. One advantage for me would be the ability to connect my rides to Strava.

    Reply
  34. Bobby

    Great Blog and reviews. Thanks.

    Any experience on how the bluetooth signals and gps pick up are for the cell phone when its in a saddle bag? Im thinking this is a great way to protect the phone while MTBing but worried the BT signal isnt strong enough.

    Reply
  35. Steven

    Any update on how the turn-by-turn navigation is going?

    Reply

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