DC Rainmaker http://www.dcrainmaker.com Thu, 25 Aug 2016 12:59:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.5 Everything you ever wanted to know: Garmin’s new $1,500 Fenix Chronos Watch Series http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/08/garmin-fenix-chronos-details.html http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/08/garmin-fenix-chronos-details.html#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 11:00:00 +0000 http://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=63789 Read More Here ]]> Garmin-Fenix-Chronos-Lineup-5

Well then, someone in Kansas is feeling ballsy today.  Garmin has just announced three new Fenix units, starting from $900 and topping out at $1,500USD.  Or, if you’re so fortunate to be living in the land of maple syrup, it’ll set you back $2,000CAD.  This new series, dubbed the Chronos line, takes an existing Fenix3 HR watch and completely revamps the exterior shell.  Along the way they give you a fancy new watch face, a nifty stopwatch option, and a solid woody. Wooden box that is.

I’ve spent a bit of time playing with all three new editions, inclusive of some riding.  These new editions supplement the already growing collection of now nearly a dozen Garmin Fenix3 models out there – from rose gold to titanium bands and leather strap models.  Not to mention the Tactix Bravo, and Quatix 3 variants as well.  Full house indeed.

If you’re looking for the end to end overview of what this watch is, start by watching the below video.  Think of it as a true executive summary of the Fenix Chronos lineup – complete with me in a suit:

Still looking for more deets after that video?  No problem, keep reading and looking at pretty pictures.  Because yes, the pictures are definitely pretty here.

The Editions:


The Chronos lineup is based on the Fenix3 HR.  When it comes to features, there is best I can tell only a single hardware feature difference, plus some minor user interface tweaks.  Everything else is virtually the same.  It’s got the same sport profiles, the same navigation functions, and almost the same optical HR sensor.  But more on that sensor in a minute.

First, let’s talk the three editions.  They are as follows:

Fenix Chronos Titanium: Contains a brushed titanium case with forged titanium links and buttons: $1499
Fenix Chronos Steel: Contains a brushed stainless steel case, and 316L stainless steel links: $999
Fenix Chronos Steel with leather strap: The same stainless steel casing, but with a ‘Vintage’ leather band: $899

In terms of the titanium edition, it’s forged titanium for the housing, bezel, and buttons.



On the steel model, it’s a stainless steel housing and band in an interwoven link pattern.



And for the leather variant, it’s the same base watch as the steel, but with a (genuine) Italian leather band:


Garmin-Fenix-Chronos-Leather Garmin-Fenix-Chronos-Leather-Steel-Edition

The easiest way to remember the difference between the steel version from the titanium one is that the titanium has the long links, versus the steel that has that interwoven pattern:


All three units use a sapphire crystal glass, similar to what we’ve seen on the existing higher end Fenix3 lineup.  This helps to protect it against scratches.


I found that I could easily slip all three models under a dress shirt without any issues:


The weights on them vary of course, based on materials.  I’ve weighed them in at the following:

Fenix Chronos Titanium: 103g
Fenix Chronos Steel: 184g
Fenix Chronos Steel with leather strap: 94g
Fenix3 HR: 90g
Fenix3 with titanium band: 198g

And here’s a nifty gallery of that:

Garmin-Fenix-Chronos-Leather-Weight Garmin-Fenix-Chronos-Steel-Weight Garmin-Fenix-Chronos-Titanium-Band-Weight Garmin-Fenix-Chronos-Titanium-Weight

When it comes to waterproofing, all of them retain the higher end Fenix3 HR waterproofing level of 100m deep (~328ft), and the battery life is the same as the Fenix3 HR at 13 hours for GPS mode, and 25 hours in UltraTrack mode.

While the software is virtually identical, there are three minor features differences I’ve noticed.  First is that these watches have unique watch faces not seen on other Fenix3 units.  Obviously, with Connect IQ someone could replicate these, though we haven’t really seen this level of styling before.


Next, with existing Fenix3 units you press the upper right button to dive into the sports menu.  But with the Chronos, that button is red, and red means special.


In this case, a long hold will actually take you to a special stopwatch option.  You can start/stop the timer, which in the picture below is at 22.35s.  In my overview video, I show it working a bit more as well.


That stopwatch keeps running, even if you go back to the main screen, view text notifications, etc…  Pretty cool.

And finally, the third change is more around menu styling.  There’s some minor differences in the user interface in terms of styling, with this having more of a rounded edge look in certain menus – such as selecting sport modes:


Now interestingly, as I noted earlier I did find one tiny hardware difference compared to a Fenix3 HR, which is a small change in the optical HR sensor components.  First, the optical HR sensor of the Fenix Chronos unit is notably flatter (slimmer).  The bump has been reduced by about half the height.  It’s maybe 1mm of bumpage now, compared to 2mm of bumpage before.  Here’s the two units side by side:



Also note that the Chronos body is slightly slimmer overall than the Fenix3 HR.  So it lost a little bit of pudge in there while it was at it.

Next, if you look closely at the optical sensor package when the green light is off, you’ll find they’re using slightly different lights from the Fenix3 HR (the three white dots below).  Note how the Fenix3 HR’s lights are squared, versus a more rounded look on the Chronos.


Versus the Fenix3 HR:


In pulling out the newer Garmin FR735XT, you’ll see this actually matches the Fenix Chronos with the rounded diodes, but differs from the Fenix3 HR.


So somewhere along the way Garmin made a slight component change.  Whether or not this has any impact to accuracy isn’t clear.  Given it appears the same package as the FR735XT, my guess is we’ve already seen those accuracy differences starting with that product.  Of course, I suspect most accuracy differences you’ll have seen have more to do with algorithm updates than a swap of the LED’s.  Note that in my bike ride section below, I do take a look at HR accuracy though.

The Wooden Box:

Of course, for a $1,500 watch you expect something more than just a cardboard box.  In the case of the $10,000 Apple Watch (gold variant), it comes in a cardboard shell, but with a leather-looking interior charging case.  I’d say that Garmin has slightly stepped it up here.  They’ve gone wood.

Yup, every Fenix Chronos unit comes with this super fancy engraved wood case:


You’ll find it does have an outer paper half-shell though, with the Chronos logo on it.


Here’s a better look at that carving/engraving of the wood:


Next, to open it up you’ll find the upper lid slides out and the unit sits below it protected in a hard foam.  The underside of the lid also has foam to protect it (as seen in my unboxing video below).


Meanwhile, inside you get a charging cable, a silicone sport band, and a small quick start guide and pile of legal papers.


Now both bands have a quick release system that allows you to easily pop it on and off to swap out for sport usage.


In addition, there’s actually a small change to the charging cable, which is more similar in style to that of the FR735XT than that of the existing Fenix3 lineup.  The pin sizing is slightly different, and thus not quite compatible.

Now I do a much more thorough unboxing as part of the below unboxing video – diving into size comparisons with the existing Fenix3 lineup, as well as it just being a more immersive unboxing experience.

A bit of a ride:


I didn’t have the units for long, as they’re in high demand.  But of course I wanted to at least get a ride in with it, despite them being virtually identical to other Fenix3 units.  So when it came time to return them, I figured I’d just plunk the most expensive model on my wrist and return them via bike.  The other two units were tossed in a small bag on my back.

As I expected, the units acted just like any other Fenix3 unit.  It recorded my power meter data from my power meter, and my heart rate from the optical HR strap.  No big surprises there.  You can see the file here.  I also didn’t see any obvious GPS errors either.  It handled my cross-city route without issue and matched the Edge 820.


I was of course interested in the HR accuracy piece, to see if anything notable had changed.  And overall, it did better than I expected, and better than I’ve typically seen with the Garmin ELEVATE optical HR sensor units while riding.  It wasn’t perfect, but if you look at the below comparisons to a HR strap during this ride, it was actually pretty close – only drifting a few times for a few seconds at what appeared to be stoplights and such.


You can dive into the datasets more here in the DCR Analyzer.

Given that this is supposed to be the same tech as existing Fenix3 watches, I wouldn’t expect much difference otherwise, and my ride and other usage seems to support that.  Note that at this stage, I do not plan an in-depth review of the Fenix Chronos lineup, since I don’t expect that much demand from readers to re-review something that I’ve already reviewed within the Fenix3 HR In-Depth Review.  Just like I didn’t release a new review for the rose-gold edition of the Fenix3 when it came out.



There will undoubtedly be a (large) segment of the population that screams and shouts about Garmin offering a $1,500 Fenix3.  But one has to keep in mind there’s plenty of precedent for crazy expensive smart watches.  For example, Apple Watch and their $10,000 gold edition, or Tag Heuer’s $1,500 Connected watch.  In the case of Tag Heuer, Garmin has a crapton more features, and I’d subjectively say it even looks quite a bit nicer than that watch.  And that ignores the higher end non-connected watch world at large, where $1,500 is barely shruggable.

Of course, you won’t find me buying this unit anytime soon – for the same reason you wouldn’t find me buying a $10,000 Apple Watch: Technology evolves too fast.  Within just a few short years both watches and their respective operating platforms will be dead-ended, like all technology eventually is.  That’s part of the appeal of a classical timepiece – that it can potentially be handed down to another generation and be just as stylish and functional as it might have been 50 years earlier.  Would you even be able to find a USB2 or USB3 port 50 years from now to charge it?

Which doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with buying it.  There’s plenty of purchases that we as consumers make for technology that have a short lifespan.  For example, TV’s are rarely kept for more than a decade these days, and we spend quite a bit on ensuring we have the fanciest and prettiest looking one on our wall.

And that’s ultimately what the Fenix Chronos series is about: Looking stylish or fancy.  It’s appealing to someone that would otherwise wear a non-connected watch in certain social or work settings, but wants all the functionality of a connected (and multisport watch).  And that’s a perfectly fine reason, the Fenix3 HR was the most feature capable multisport watch out there, and this simply gives folks more options to choose from that fit their lifestyle best.

With that – thanks for reading!

If you do fall into the category of being one of those people who prefers this swankier watch, you can help support the site by hitting up the folks at Clever Training, who are taking pre-orders for the Chronos series now.  And, if you use the DCR/CT VIP program, you’ll be able to get back 10% in points as well.  Which in this case is a lot of sandwiches at Arby’s worth of points, though, you can’t unfortunately spend them at Arby’s.  Still, you get the point.

Hands-on: Stryd announces new running power meter http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/08/stryd-running-power-meter-v2.html http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/08/stryd-running-power-meter-v2.html#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 13:45:02 +0000 http://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=63712 Read More Here ]]> DSC_7733

Today running power meter company Stryd announced their next generation running power meter unit, changing up the form factor and increasing the data metrics gathered.  This new model is now a small footpod that you attach to your running shoe.  This differs from the first production generation, which was built into a heart rate strap.

I got the chance to take the unit out for a spin last week, and then analyze the data afterwards with the Stryd folks.  Here’s a look at how it all works, and some of my initial thoughts.

The New Hardware:


The new Stryd pod has actually gone back to its roots a bit.  If you turn on the way back machine, the initial prototype Stryd units were actually pods, albeit pods clipped to the back of your running shorts.  That particular design was super-appealing to many who didn’t want to wear a chest strap.  However, by time shipping came on their Kickstarter campaign, the pod had morphed into a chest strap and there was no longer a pod-like option available.

This new version takes that earlier pod idea and improves upon it by placing it on the shoe. That minimizes the (previously highly likely) chance you’d forget about it and let it go through the washing machine still attached to your running shorts.


With this new pod design comes new metrics, and those new metrics take a crapload more processing power than the Gen1 strap units.  As such, they’ve had to move away from a coin cell battery, which they would have burned through in just a few hours.  Instead, the unit is now rechargeable.  The battery should last a month, and as you can see – there’s no charging port.  That’s because the thing is using wireless charging instead.  Pretty cool, ehh?


You’ll just toss it on it’s little wireless charging pad, and it’ll be good to go.  It unclips from your shoe using a standard running footpod clip. Note that this is a pre-prod version, and the final version will look a tiny bit different in terms of styling.  My understanding is that it’ll be offered in leopard print or Pokémon patterns only.


Like before, the new pod will transmit running power concurrently on both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.  And it’ll also store data.  This means that it’s compatible with Garmin devices using Connect IQ (or some workarounds for those pre-Connect IQ units).  And with recent Suunto devices natively.  The Suunto with Stryd experience is definitely still cleaner today than the Garmin experience.

Oh, and lastly – it weighs 7g and is waterproof to 1-meter for 30 minutes (IPX7 essentially).

More Advanced Metrics:


With the new pod and its positioning, comes the ability to measure more than just total power; it now comes with the ability to measure additional metrics: Running Efficiency and Leg Spring Stiffness.  Plus they already record Ground Contact Time (GCT) and Vertical Oscillation (VO) on their chest strap, though VO isn’t offered on the footpod.  This starts to wade into the same areas of data collection that RunScribe is doing, as well of course Garmin and their HRM-RUN/HRM-TRI straps with similar Running Dynamics metrics.

In addition, they’re also capturing higher quality running speed data using just their internal sensors, like footpods usually do. However unlike a traditional footpod there’s no calibration required, which is in large part due to increased sensors they’ve placed in the pod that measure more data streams that previous footpod devices (largely made by Dynastream).  As a result, they believe they’ve made the “most accurate footpod on earth”, and looking at the data from my run, it seems reasonably impressive (more on that down below).

Meanwhile, the new Leg Spring Stiffness & Efficiency metrics (as well as GCT/VO) are only available via the mobile phone and desktop apps after the fact, as Garmin’s implementation of Running Dynamics isn’t open to 3rd parties (pretty much the singular reason why RunScribe ultimately went Bluetooth Smart instead of ANT+).  That said, with Connect IQ it would be possible for Stryd to transmit that data over private channels to their own apps for Garmin users.  On Suunto devices, Suunto doesn’t currently support secondary non-standard data channels.

The consumer version of the mobile app wasn’t quite ready to show this data yet, though.  So instead they demo’d me some charts (below) of how they are thinking of displaying the data, both with my data and other sponsored athletes data.  One of the challenges that all of these companies though is how to take rather complex data points and make them meaningful for both training and racing.  Said differently: How do you actually get faster from using this data?

They showed some examples of data that demonstrates the differences in leg spring stiffness on both a pro and age grouper athlete from Kona.  What’s interesting here is actually more of the fade of the age grouper compared to the pro.  Of course, the real catch here is creating guidance that improves these metrics (and ideally finish times for races) for training.


Now folks with knowledge of cycling power meters are probably thinking: Did Stryd just create the first ‘left-only’ running power meter?  And the answer to that is basically…yulp.

Because of the fact that Stryd is operating on a single foot, it’s technically only capturing/analyzing the power as extracted from that half of the body.  Versus before on the chest it had a more holistic view of power output.  This is somewhat the whole Stages/etc left-only power meter debate, but now in running.  Stryd says they are definitely looking at being able to have users utilize two Stryd units to start to analyze left/right power differences, but out of the gate the platform is focused on single-leg usage.

They’ve also said they aren’t seeing much differences between single-leg and other placement, but, that’s kinda what left-only power meter companies say too (until they want to sell you dual-leg systems of course – in which case it ‘increases accuracy’).

Still, from a daily logistics standpoint – I much prefer the footpod design to that of a chest strap.  So for now I’m willing to consider taking that potential hit in single-leg accuracy versus having to wear a chest strap.

As a side note, they did have a handful of athletes wearing them at the Rio Olympics over the past few weeks.  They’re working to get all the approvals in place to publish that data – so that’s something that I suspect could be pretty interesting to see.

An Initial Run:


Last week one of the Stryd engineers was in Paris, so we took the unit out for a bit of a short spin around town.  The goal being primarily to capture some data with me running.  Given I’m running with just a footpod and watch, there isn’t really a whole lot of photography that you can do there.  I had it paired to both the Suunto Spartan Ultra, as well as a Garmin FR735XT.  Still, here’s some data using the cycling mode (vs the Stryd App), and showing my power.


Now in my case, the run was a bit of a slower run for my normal paces, as such some of my efficiency is lost at these paces, which is something we later see in the data.

After we downloaded my run using Bluetooth Smart to my existing app, they went ahead and provided a bunch of data charts offline (a few days later).  The first shows a breakdown for my power, which is split-up based on changes to my run form versus that of pace or terrain (it doesn’t yet account for wind unfortunately).  In such a short 5K run, you wouldn’t see an impact to my running form, as validated below.  Whereas if I did a 20-mile run, you’d likely start to see an impact to running form.


The same goes for efficiency, in such a short run – we don’t see much shift.  However, the below is interesting as they’ve overlaid one of their folks, Angus, on the graph to the right which shows different efficiency levels for different run paces.  This would be something more clearly demonstrated in an interval or varied interval paced workout, where you could start to see patterns and break-points in running efficiency.


Next, when we look at my running stiffness, you’ll see on this run I slotted between the pro athlete and the age grouper.  However, it’s probably not a true comparison, given that I only ran 5K at about 30-40% slower than race pace for me.  Also, they had just swam 2.4 miles and biked 112 miles.  Oh, and they were running in a lava field, and I was running around the Louvre.  Same-same, but different.  Still, you get the point.


Next are two graphs that demonstrate the updated speed readings from the footpod using their more advanced sensors.  This is overlaid against the Garmin speed.  The Suunto Spartan speed readings upon export are kinda weird, so, we left those off the chart.  However, the plot below includes distance on the Stryd that wasn’t recorded on the GPS (since I had stopped the unit already).

Instead, here’s the three metrics once time-aligned to run start/stop length (1,806 seconds):

Stryd: 5448 m
Garmin 735XT: 5441 m
Suunto Spartan Ultra: 5438 m

So basically, the footpod is within 7-10-meters (with no calibration).  That’s incredibly impressive.  What’s also impressive is that these two GPS watches were within 3 meters of total distance.  I’m reasonably certain I’ve never had that happen.  On the flip-side, their tracks differed a bit.


And finally, here’s a chart overlaying Stryd speed accuracy compared to GPS.


But of course the real question is what about power accuracy?  Well, that’s a bit trickier.  Obviously, I have no secondary reference to go on.  But I do have existing Stryd data that I’ve collected over the past year.  And for such a perfectly flat course as ours, as well as on a windless day – I can at least get into the right ballpark.

Here’s what that looks like when loaded up into my account on the Stryd Power Center (their website):


What I see here is that the power shows a fair bit higher than I’ve historically seen with the chest strap.  Like, a lot higher.  Typically speaking my running power and cycling power have been rather closely aligned.  Meaning that my Z2 and perceived effort in cycling power (225-250w) is about the same in running.  And my FTP power (about 310-315w) is about the same in running.  I’d do harder intervals for shorter timeframes above those levels (320-380w).  Again, roughly.


Whereas what we see above you see me floating in the 250-300w range, despite running at a much slower pace than normal.  Here’s a random zoomed in section for more detail:


In talking with Stryd, they’re still digging into the algorithms a bit and working to get them to match as closely as possible.  They noted that typically they see very good correlation between the two units, so I’m a bit of an outlier (the story of my life apparently).

(Administrative note: The graphs in this section with white backgrounds are ones they’ve created manually, they are still deciding how to display this data, so the final data pieces you see will probably be different.  The black background graphs are from the standard app today.)

Pricing & Availability:


And now for the super-quick section.  The retail price will be $199USD, however, they’re also offering a discount to their original Kickstarter backers (the ones to bought the first version).  My understanding is that those folks will receive an e-mail shortly with details on how to redeem at the magical price (I don’t have the final lower price yet, but will update this once it shows).

The unit will start shipping in the 2nd or 3rd week of September, which is less than a month from now.

Going Forward:


Regular DCR readers will remember that I had tried out their first iteration of the device very early on in their startup life, and even received and have used the final heart rate strap variant countless times since then.  But I never quite got around to writing a review.  Why?

Well, I found the whole data processing piece just too cumbersome to deal with in that era, especially if your running watch was a Garmin.  For those on Suunto, it was relatively easy.  But on the Garmin front, it was a mess (at best).  Things have gotten significantly better on the Garmin front, especially in the last 30-45 days with apps being able to record data to .FIT files in a running-like mode.  But I still get a lingering feeling that the two companies need to do a better job (with about 75% of the fault lying with Garmin).  I just want to be able to use the normal running mode and collect power meter data and show it in Garmin Connect.  That’s all. Oh, and then I want apps like Training Peaks and Strava to display that data.  No acrobatics required.  I just want it to work.

Stryd could bridge much of that gap today by using a Connect IQ data field to record the data (in much the exact same way that Moxy is doing so as of last week).  This is different than their dedicated Stryd app, because it allows me to use all the gloriousness that is the regular running mode, versus the more restrictive app modes.  Hopefully they’ll consider doing so – as that’d be pretty darn straight forward.  Alternatively, Garmin could just do what Suunto has done for about a year now, which is just enable recording of power data in running mode.  It’s really rather simple.

In any case, the second issue with my lack of desire to use earlier versions of the product was the heart rate chest strap.  However, by moving away from the heart rate strap to the footpod I’m a million times more likely to use it (and thus write a review on it).  I’d just leave it on my shoe and remember to charge it once a month.  That’s simple, and brilliant.  In this era where runners are more and more moving to optical HR sensors, being reliant on a chest strap wasn’t ideal.

With all that said, I’m looking forward to the units starting to ship, as I’m pretty darn likely to actually use it day in and day out, versus just on random occasions.  Of course…that still requires it be accurate.  And that’s what the in-depth review is for.  Dueling chest strap and footpod power meters.  Hopefully they match!

Thanks for reading!

Hands-on: The Marlin GPS Swimming Tracker http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/08/hands-on-the-marlin-gps-swimming-tracker.html http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/08/hands-on-the-marlin-gps-swimming-tracker.html#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 18:06:06 +0000 http://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=63664 Read More Here ]]> DSC_8143

I mentioned yesterday in my Ibiza weekend post that I had used the Marlin GPS swim meter during one of my recent openwater swims.  I figured I’d put together a short post to dive into a bit more detail on how it works, before their Kickstarter campaign officially closes tomorrow (almost exactly 22 hours from when I’m posting this).

I didn’t exactly realize their Kickstarter campaign was closing so soon, else, I’d have gotten this up over the weekend.  In any case – this should give you enough insight to make a decision on whether you want to join in their campaign now, or wait until later when they ship.  So let’s not waste any more time…time to begin!

An Overview:

So, what is the Marlin?  Well basically it’s both an openwater and pool swim tracker.  Indoors it’ll use accelerometers, like most swim watches, but outdoors it’ll use GPS (also like most swim watches).  But the key difference between the GPS here and the GPS on swim watches is that the Marlin sits atop your head.  This gives you better GPS accuracy than algorithms that try and figure out where you swam based on taking lots of less-accurate data from your wrist (GPS points in between swim strokes).

The hardware itself has two pieces connected by a small cable, similar to that of swimming music players.  One roundish pod has the GPS module and battery, while the longer secondary pod has the audio module.  Yup, it talks to you as you swim.  The audio portion attaches to your goggle straps on the side near your ear (but not on it), whereas the GPS pod sits behind your head facing the sky (also on the straps).


While you swim it’ll give you stats about your workout – such as pace, distance, and time.  This helps the device to overcome the lack of a display.

Now one of my big gripes about dedicated non-wrist swim trackers (such as the much older FINIS Hydrotracker) is the lack of clear-cut buttons and feedback on whether the unit is recording or not.  Or whether it has GPS.  Or whether it’s paused. It sounds simple, but it’s super frustrating to go for a swim and not have 100% clarity on whether or not it’s recording.

In the case of the Marlin, it’s got four dedicated buttons.  A power/mode button, a start/pause/stop button, and two volume/selector buttons.  Oh, and it yells back at you exactly what mode it’s in – and even if it’s searching for GPS still.


The unit uses bone conduction to make the audio clear despite being underwater.  The small pod just rests against your head and you’re good to go.  This is the same technology used in numerous swimming music players that I’ve reviewed in the past.  All of which connect via waterproof connectors in the same audio-jack style ports that you’ve known to love for the past few decades:


The unit charges using a small charging cable with any available USB port.


The total weight clocks in at 41g.  Though, this being a pre-production device, that’s 100% likely to change, since it has 3D printed parts on it.


DSC_8154 DSC_8153

(In case you’re wondering how these two components weigh more than the sum, it’s simple rounding on the parts individually up to the nearest gram.)

Now the one downside is that despite having all the core components to playback music, there’s no music storage or playback.  In my opinion that’s a bit of an obvious oversight, as putting in a small 4GB storage chip would have cost almost nothing, but have greatly increased desirability for the product.

The unit has an app that’s fairly well developed for being 4-5 months out.  The app connects to the Marlin via Bluetooth Smart, and then allows you to configure settings for the device.

2016-08-23 17.01.20 2016-08-23 17.01.41 2016-08-23 17.23.26

Within the settings you can configure both the setup for the pool mode as well as the openwater mode.  For example, in openwater mode you might have different audio alerts than in pool mode (such as course information).  Whereas in pool mode you might setup a structured workout (which you can create and save numerous editions of).

2016-08-23 17.23.40 2016-08-23 17.25.00 2016-08-23 17.30.26

Note that while my focus here has been primarily openwater, the unit does work in the pool as noted above.  However, it’s important to be clear there are two versions of the unit: A pool-only option (sans-GPS), and a dual pool/GPS option.  Given the cost differences are pretty small, I’d just go for the dual version.

Openwater Swim Test:


I took the unit out for a test over the weekend creating a route to navigate around the bay.  The app has a super simple tap to create style map system, allowing you to quickly draw up a map of where you plan to swim.  As with any time you create routes around water, be sure to use satellite view, else you may end up swimming over rocks in standard map views.

2016-08-23 17.37.42 2016-08-23 17.38.21 2016-08-23 17.38.36

Once you’ve created your course, you can go ahead and send it to the Marlin.  When you do this the Marlin will actually audibly confirm that it has received the settings and waypoint/route details, which is kinda a nice little touch.

2016-08-23 17.30.19 2016-08-23 17.36.31

Once you’ve found your way to the starting point, you’ll turn on the unit and switch to openwater mode.  At which point it’ll immediately start looking for GPS.  Like most GPS devices I found that if it was the first time I’d gone to that location it took a bit more time (about 1-2 minutes in total), whereas subsequent satellite acquisition from that location took mere seconds.

Before you left you’d have used the app to specify which openwater swim route you’ll be using (if any).  You can also specify the audio announcements interval and other audio feedback settings.  It’s all pretty straightforward.


If you don’t remember exactly where you set your course up to start from (such as starting from a random point on the beach), the unit will actually give you directions to the starting point, which is kinda nifty.  Once you begin swimming the route, it’ll give you directions to stay on course by telling you whether to swim to a given clock direction – i.e. ‘Swim to 10 o’clock’, or ‘Swim to 1 o’clock’.  This works surprisingly well.  There’s also an option for getting swim instructions as simple left/right, though I haven’t explored that piece in the water.

During the swim the unit’s GPS distance matched spot-on to what my watches were showing me, especially during the first straightaway section.  It was pretty cool.  I had configured it to notify me every 50 meters, giving me my total distance.  The audio announcements were somewhat normal up to 1,000m, and then got a bit wonky after that as it would pronounce 1,550 meters as ‘One Five Five Five Zero Meters’, which makes you concentrate extra hard on decoding the distance.  Hopefully they’ll be able to address that in the ample time they have to release.

Following my swim I hit the end button to stop the swim.  In theory, this would have saved the swim and produced a pretty swim route graph like the screenshot from their Kickstarter page.


But in reality, that didn’t happen.  My swim went somewhere, but it’s not syncing to the app at the moment.  A bit of a beta bug I’m guessing, and obviously a fairly disappointing one since I like pretty maps a lot.

Here’s a bit of a video recap of the above swim:

I also included in that video the route creation process as well as the sync process, to show you how it works.

Going Forward


Overall, for a $90 device on Kickstarter ($150 at retail), I’m pretty impressed with it.  I like the assortment of buttons on it, and the audio feedback is super clear, both for general use confirmation (i.e. which mode you’re in), but also while swimming openwater.  Not to mention that they’re still 4-5 months away from shipping, and this feels like they’re closer to 45-60 days of polish.

Of course, this is only a single swim – and one that didn’t go perfectly after the fact with the app.  I also haven’t tested the pool swimming portions yet.  And being a Kickstarter/crowd funded device – you never quite know how it’ll turn out and what type of delays they might have down the road.  If you haven’t done Kickstarter projects before, I encourage you to read this post I wrote on the risks of it.

But still – for a relatively (or totally) unknown startup – they’ve done good.  Just don’t forget that unfortunately their campaign ends in 22 hours.  While they’ve already achieved the minimum goal for production, usually more funding helps keep the project on track.

With that – thanks for reading!

Hands-on: The CycleOps Magnus Smart trainer http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/08/cycleops-magnus-trainer.html http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/08/cycleops-magnus-trainer.html#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 12:57:32 +0000 http://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=63608 Read More Here ]]> CycleOps-Magnus-Trainer-Overview

Let the new trainer games begin! Oh…crap…wait, they already began – earlier this summer with new CycleOps trainer, Elite trainers, and even Tacx trainer updates. But, with a brief summer intermission completed, we’re back into the swing of new trainer announcements.  And oddly enough, it’s once again CycleOps kicking off this round of new trainers – just like it was back in May with their new Hammer direct drive trainer.

This time around they’re focused on a trainer half the price ($599) that appeals to the $600 crowd of other trainers in the same price range.  This electronic trainer is fully controllable from apps the likes of Zwift, TrainerRoad, Kinomap and more.  Plus, it transmits all your powers on ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.

I’ve had one since early July* and have been using it throughout the summer.  While it is a pre-production unit, I’ve got a pretty good gist on things.  As such, since it’s a pre-prod unit, this isn’t a full in-depth review. Think of it as more of a preview.  Once the final unit comes out this fall, I’ll look to squeeze in a full in-depth review then.

*Funny tidbit, I had to cut short my meeting with them that day, as The Girl went into labor just prior to the meeting starting.

Magnus Tech Basics:


With this being the second trainer that CycleOps has announced this season (following The Hammer), it seems only appropriate that we start with the name – Magnus.  What’s in a name you ask?  Well, I’ll defer to Urban Dictionary to help with this one.  What follows is the official definition for Magnus:

“F@#$king most awesome name in the world. If you are so lucky to have this name, you should be a celebrity because of it. all Magnus’s are supreme beings and they kick all other’s asses”

Well then.  That settles it.  Alternatively, you could just go with the more academically Latin meaning, which is simply ‘Great’.  Hmm…, Urban Dictionary seems more 2016 to me.

In any event, the trainer is essentially competing with the Wahoo KICKR SNAP, Elite Rampa, and the Tacx Vortex.  That means it has the full electronic control of a resistance controllable trainer, but doesn’t have the direct-drive (wheel-off) design of something like the KICKR, NEO, or Hammer.  Still, it can deliver the power just fine – coming in at a peak resistance of 1,500w.

Like other smart trainers on the market these days, it’s all about being bi: Dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart transmission that is.  In this case it transmits:

ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control)
ANT+ Power Broadcast
Bluetooth Smart Trainer Control (for apps via API)
Bluetooth Smart Power Broadcast

The above line-up roughly matches what other companies have in the market.  The only difference is that Tacx and others will also transmit your speed, and cadence too on Tacx trainers (albeit estimated, but usually pretty good).  But otherwise, the above specs make them equal to others from a core power/trainer tech transmission standpoint.

It’s these transmission specs that matter though – because if you want to be able to use any of the dozens of trainer apps out there, you definitely want to be on these standards.  This allows this trainer to easily integrate with Zwift, TrainerRoad, Kinomap, and numerous others.  It also allows you to control it via your bike computer – such as the Garmin Edge series, and soon the Wahoo ELEMNT.


The unit is capable of receiving firmware updates for itself, which will be done via Bluetooth Smart wirelessly.  That’s also in-line with all other competitors.

Officially the trainer is listed at 69 decibels at 20MPH, and my testing seems to put it in the same rough region. Sound testing is full of variables, the most notable being speed (not power level), but also the exact tire used.  Some tires are louder than other tires (oddly, I find trainer tires are among the loudest).  To demonstrate the sound levels, I cover it within the video later on in this post.  Plus, I get to pull out my newest and coolest decibel meter.


Next we look at the compatibility matrix for bikes, which supports the following types on its 2” roller width: 650b, 700c, 26″, 27″, and 29″ – up to a 2.0 tire.  Note that it does not fit 650c wheels however, and not all 29er tires – so you’ll want to double-check your exact tire there if you’re looking to put either a circus bike or mountain bike on there.

Meanwhile, the skewer holding system has three settings (I’ll talk about that more later on), which support the following skewer types: 120mm, 130mm and 135mm. Additionally, you can pickup an accessory thru-axle adapter for 142x12mm and 148x12mm.

Finally, on the accuracy front – things are still a bit TBD in terms of the exact stated accuracy range they’ll be able to achieve.  Right now it sounds like at least +/- 5% (same ballpark as others for this price range), but they’re hoping to get that down a bit lower by time they make a final accuracy claim.  Note that it does support a roll-down calibration, and said calibration even works properly with the Garmin Edge units FE-C calibration menu (one of the few trainers I’ve found that does work properly there).

Hands-on Thoughts:


Ok, now that I’ve covered all the basics, let’s go hands-on with it a bit.  If you want the video version, you can skip all the text and photos in this section, and just watch this video:

For you non-video folks, we’ll continue on with the textual excitement.  First up is that the trainer is actually pretty light.  I weighed it at 20 pounds/9 kilograms, which is almost half the weight of the heavier KICKR SNAP. The most noticeable element of that being the frame itself is lighter.  The flywheel itself is 2.6lbs/1.2kg.

It’s the quick release system on the frame that’s different than other trainers in that it’s got three adjustability settings, which you can see below with those notches.  This allows you to quickly lock it in place, even with dramatically different bikes.



Once you’ve got the unit locked in, you’ll then use the clutch-knob style system that essentially works the same way as a gas cap on a car: Just keep turning until it clicks/pops. That’ll produce consistent power each time.  This is easier/better than having to spin a knob a certain number of times and hope it’s right.  As with any trainer that’s wheel-on, you’ll want to have consistent and good tire pressure (I usually just do 120psi, since that’s straight-forward enough).  The resistance knob is that yellow handle.


Now that everything is good to go, you’ll want to do a calibration/roll-down.  In theory with both the locking system and the same tire pressure, you wouldn’t really need to do so each time.  But in reality, I like to do one just before I start, and then about 10-15 minutes in after the tire has warmed up. The calibration process can be triggered from most apps, or devices – like the Edge series.

With that – it’s just a case of riding like normal via the apps you prefer to use.  In the case of CycleOps, they do have their own training suite, called Virtual Training, which is pretty extensive (actually, it’s the training suite with the most breadth out there).  Of course, if you prefer Zwift or TrainerRoad, then those work too.


In my testing, I found the power accuracy actually pretty solid for being a prototype.  Especially an early prototype unit that they’ve told me the power isn’t perfect on; and that they’re working to get me an updated/final unit which improves the power accuracy.  I’ll get some step data published shortly, but I found that as long as the resistance was strong and you did a roll-down, it was within 1-2% for me compared to both the PowerTap P1’s and a Quarq RIKEN.  If however the wheel-on resistance wasn’t done correctly, then it was far more variable.  But I’d like to see how the final units look before making any final conclusions there.

As for road feel, the unit ‘feels’ like any other wheel-on trainer with a relatively small flywheel.  It feels fine (like others in this price range), but isn’t particularly special in terms of feel.  In many ways, until you get to much larger flywheel sizes, you won’t really get that inertia feeling, but those same resistance controlled trainers tend to cost a fair bit more (or, if at this price point then lack the resistance controlled elements).  Said differently: I don’t tend to overthink road-feel.  For me, a trainer is still a trainer, and still feels like a trainer – even the high-end ones.  I’m still inside and I’m still staring at a wall.  I can’t mentally undo that.

Comparison Chart:

Just to briefly compare to this to the Rampa, Vortex, and KICKR SNAP, I’ve added the Magnus into the product comparison database.  This allows you to compare not only top-level specs, but also any trainer that I’ve reviewed or otherwise had hands-on time with.  You can mix and match and make your own product comparison here.

Function/FeatureCycleOps MagnusElite RampaTacx Vortex SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR SNAP
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated August 23rd, 2016 @ 10:16 amNew Window Expand table for more results
Price for trainer$599$549/€550/£449$529$699
Attachment TypeWheel-OnWheel-onWheel-onWheel-on
Available today (for sale)YES (SHIPPING FALL 2016)Yes (shipping Summer 2016)YesYes
Uses mouse/keyboard as control unitYES (WITH APPS)Yes (with apps)YES (WITH APPS)YES (WITH APPS)
Uses phone/tablet as control unit (handlebar)YES (WITH APPS)Yes (with apps)YES (WITH APPS)YES (WITH APPS)
Flywheel weight2.6lbs/1.2kg4.4lbs/2.0kg
Maximum wattage capability1,500w @ 20MPH1250w @ 25MPH950w @ 20MPH2200W @ 30mph
Maximum simulated hill incline15%10%7%10%
Includes temperature compensationNoTBA-Yes
Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)YesTBAYesYes

And again, don’t forget that you can mix and match and make your own product comparison here using the full product comparison database.

Wrap Up:


This being the second trainer of the season for CycleOps, it helps to fill out a lower electronic resistance controlled trainer price point (they have a number of other non-electronic trainers that are far cheaper), while still giving folks the higher end option from them with the Hammer.

Both units are slated for shipping this fall (thus a bit of a delay on the Hammer’s original August estimates).  And it’s at that time that I’ll be able to make any final determinations for things like accuracy. However, at this point this looks like a very strong contender.  As you can see, that $600 price point has numerous really solid options from a number of major players.  So it’s in some cases going to be a matter of deciding which specific subset feature is the most important to you (i.e. accuracy vs max incline vs max wattage).  Or perhaps it’ll just be styling.  I do think that simple product availability may end up being a huge driver for trainer purchasing decisions this year.

In any case – stay tuned for more on this trainer and many others as we move into the northern hemisphere training season.  Thanks for reading!

Preemptive footnote: I’ll have my annual trainer recommendations guide out in September, based on units that I have in my hands at that time.  Rather than waiting forever and ever for last minute trainers into October and even November to release the annual trainer guide (like years past), I’ll be drawing a bit of a line in the sand earlier this year.  Thankfully, most trainers being announced I’ve had some amount of hands-on time with already.  Also note, yes, there are more trainers to be announced, but you won’t see my posts/comments on them here until they are officially announced. Mmmkay?

Heads up: You can now pre-order the CycleOps Magnus from Clever Training using this link.  As usual, by using the DCR Reader coupon code of DCR10MHD you’ll save 10% and also get free shipping.  That helps support the site here, plus of course gets you a great deal.

A Long Weekend in Ibiza http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/08/a-long-weekend-in-ibiza.html http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/08/a-long-weekend-in-ibiza.html#comments Mon, 22 Aug 2016 17:51:17 +0000 http://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=63583 Read More Here ]]> Ahh yes, Ibiza – famed locale for foam parties, alcohol-fueled escapades, and stunning beaches and water.  A place where unattached 20-something’s across the world flock.  And thus obviously the perfect place to go with the little 6-week old nugget for a short getaway.  While most Parisians would head out of town for 2-4 weeks, we went with 4 nights worth instead.  It’s all we could fit in to a busy late summer schedule.

Her First Flight

At a bit over a month old, it was time for her first flight. We had done a much longer 5+ hour train ride back a few weeks ago down to Cannes, and that went exceedingly well.  But we figured this flight-inclusive trip would act as a bit of a test/trial run before some transatlantic flights in September.  Much better to figure out the faults in the baby transportation methodology on a 90-minute flight than a 12-14 hour travel day.

We headed to the airport crazy early.  Like, I think they were still checking in people for the day before early.  But, she seemed content with the whole check-in and ticketing process.  Yes, she’s actually holding onto her ticket and passport.  Though, since this was intra-EU she didn’t even get a stamp out of it!


More important than the check-in process was the actual flight itself.  She pretty much slept through the whole thing.  Apparently she didn’t see any reason to stay awake at that time of the morning, and thus just kept on sleepin’ in.  All the way to Ibiza, off the airplane, through the baggage collection process, and into the taxi.  At which point all hell broke loose when she realized she wasn’t in France anymore.

2016-08-18 12.04.25

No worries, once we started driving she was happy again.  She loves any transportation method – car, plane, train, stroller.  Anything with movement and she’s a happy camper.  Cobbles are even better.

As for her parents, we were happy campers with our room’s view – boom!


And as I write this on the plane flight back, she’s pretty much just as happy again.  Looks like she takes after her Dad in the airplane and travel department.

Swimming around the bay


I loves me some beautiful openwater swimming spots, and this definitely qualified.  It reminded me of the many bays we pulled into last summer on our Croatia sailing trip (a trip that yes…I’ve still gotta write a post on).  And this bay had numerous sailboats floating around in it too, as well as other motor boats.  Thus being a prime reason why I used my swim buoy to ensure they saw me as they (and I) puttered about.


As with every one of the workouts I did this weekend, they were more about gathering data and shots of items than they were about a hard and specific workout (though, the trail running climbs were hard).  For example, on this swim I was testing out a swimming device called the ‘Marlin’, which not only tracks your swim distance via GPS, but gives you audio feedback on it in real-time using bone conduction (like some other swimming music players).  Further, it can give you guidance on a swim course.  I’m actually pretty impressed with it, the app works reasonably well and is easy to use.  I haven’t tested the pool mode yet, just the outdoor swimming mode.

(Sidebar: Their Kickstarter ends in 46 hours…so…go quick!  So far so good.  Given how solid the product is at this beta stage, and they are still 4-5 months out from shipping, I’d have no issues backing it – especially for $90.  They’re much further ahead than most devices I test on Kickstarter. Well done.)


And of course, I had the Suunto Spartan Ultra out there as well (+ a Garmin FR735XT & Polar V800), doing my first openwater swims with that.  That was a bit…rougher.  The Spartan nailed GPS accuracy as long as I was swimming forward – virtually matching within a few meters of the Marlin’s audio announcements (GPS atop my head).


But…the second I stopped swimming (to take a photo, or just enjoy the view) and put my wrist underwater to tread water, it would add hundreds of meters to my swim distance.  Hopefully a bug Suunto can squash.


For those wondering, the shots of the bay from above were via drone.  I brought a couple of drones down with me (more on that soon), but these specific shots were from the DJI Phantom 4.  I only spent a few minutes in the air with the P4 on this trip, so not a huge selection to choose from on this unit.  Still my favorite though for getting aerial shots.

A Morning Forest Run


Saturday morning I headed out prior to breakfast for a bit of an exploration run.  I only had about 40 minutes to work with, before the breakfast buffet closed, so it was pretty much an out and back of sorts.  Obviously, missing the breakfast buffet was not an option.  Neither was waking up earlier.

I started the run with a steep three minute decent down to the beach, before almost immediately beginning my climb back up again into the mountains along the coast.  I found that while the trails were occasionally marked, they weren’t actually marked in any meaningful locations.  In such that they marked a trail about 100m after the turn.  So you had to play a bunch of trial and error anytime you came to a decision point on the trail.  So my first run through this area looks a bit rough.  It also meant the trail occasionally dropped down random rock ledges if you followed it wrong – slowing me further.


Still, the run was certainly rather scenic – as seen in the pic up above.  Oh, and it was rather hot and humid out for someone coming from the relative cool of Paris.  Gotta kick-up my heat acclimation skills!

Relaxing at the beach

2016-08-18 17.19.22

Of course, the main objective of going to Ibiza was to hang out at the beach.  If you were to divide up Ibiza, this half/portion of the island is the quiet side (we stayed in Puerto de San Miguel).  Far from the pumping clubs and gyrating humans so famed on the other half of the island.  That side is basically Vegas of the Mediterranean, except with more skin.  Whereas this side is a world away.

In our case, we split our time between the beach and the hotel room balcony depending on the weather.  We had a little tent of sorts for the little one, which was then placed below an umbrella to keep her out of the sun.  She seemed pretty happy about it.


Most of all – we were pretty excited that the beach umbrella & chair rentals were quite reasonable here.  A mere 5EUR each per day.  Not to mention the food nearby was also pretty cheap – but as anyone travelling in Europe knows, the Euro goes much further in Spain than it does in France.  One of the core reasons we selected this spot over others we looked at going to.  We’d definitely go back to this area, and probably even this hotel, which gets much cheaper in 8 days when summer ‘ends’ according to hotel pricing.

Running up to the cliffs

I wrapped up my last evening in Ibiza doing a bit of a run on some of the same trails I ran two days prior.  Except this time I found my way to a lookout/tower/fort I had seen across the way from our hotel room.  Still more trails, and lots of climbing.


But, upon arrival at the fort and cliffs edge – the views were definitely worth it!


Like my previous run, this was much more focused on taking some product shots for upcoming reviews.  Hence why I had a backpack with me – as I had a DSLR in there, two lenses, two tripods, gimbals, mics, and all sorts of crap weighing me down.  Of course, like always – I probably could have used another 2-3 hours out there.  But alas, dinner and sunset called.  Can’t miss the all-inclusive dinner buffet!

With that – our weekend was complete and we flew out earlier this afternoon (Monday).

The next two weeks are crazy-busy in terms of product announcement posts as we slide into Eurobike next week.  A number of companies are shifting those announcements to just ahead of Eurobike – and not all are specifically bike related either.  So definitely some good stuff for all readers of this blog (swim/bike/run…and more)!

Thanks for reading, and have a great week ahead!

Garmin releases Strava Live Segments for Running, Muscle Oxygen on devices, Photo Watch Faces http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/08/garmin-releases-strava-live-segments-for-running-muscle-oxygen-on-devices-photo-watch-faces.html http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/08/garmin-releases-strava-live-segments-for-running-muscle-oxygen-on-devices-photo-watch-faces.html#comments Thu, 18 Aug 2016 01:17:19 +0000 http://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=63513 Read More Here ]]> Phew, all sorts of Garmin news over the last few days on numerous fronts, and this post seems the easiest way to bundle up three totally different things into one tidy little package.  Let’s get on with the show!

Strava Live Segments for Running:


Last weekend Garmin quietly rolled out a firmware update for the FR735XT which allowed folks to compete on Strava Segments using the same technology as was rolled out last summer to the Garmin Edge cycling computers.  This would mark the first running wearable to display Strava Segments live on the watch, whereas previously it was restricted to cycling segments and dedicated cycling devices.  This update gives you both cycling and running.

But the trick with last weekend’s update was that the backend web pieces needed to download Strava segments wasn’t enabled yet (hence why they rolled out the firmware update quietly).  But as of late Tuesday night it was illuminated, thus giving life to Strava on the wrist for both cycling and running.

To get started you’ll need a Strava Premium membership, same as with how it worked on the cycling segments side of the house.  Next is that it’ll automatically download any ‘starred’ segments from your Strava account.  These being the ones you clicked the star next to, basically favoriting it (Dashboard > My Segments).  You can see those here, and I’ve highlighted the running ones.


It also appears to sync the cycling segments that I’ve favorited as well.

Next, go ahead and sync your watch however you prefer to sync it.  Be it USB via cable, or Bluetooth Smart to your phone, both will get the segments transferred over. If you use Garmin Express (that’s the desktop software), you can actually see which segments it’ll sync:


If using USB, you can actually look at the folder for Segments and see them listed in there (for those geeky curious people), but only after you’ve unplugged and re-plugged your unit in.  That’s because they’ll first be chillin’ in the ‘NewFiles’ folder, which is how Garmin devices consume new files upon starting up (courses, workouts, and everything else go there):


Now before we start running around chasing segments, the unit allows you to preview any given segment.  You can check that via the menu system, which allows you to see all the segments loaded on your device.  Simply navigate to: Menu > Training > Strava Live Segments > Running or Cycling > Select a segment.


When you do that (select a given segment), you’ll see your current PR on it, as well as both the map and an elevation profile:


DSC_7878 DSC_7877

Once done looking longingly at your wrist, go outside and start your run like normal.  As you approach a segment, it’ll start to give you a count-down, indicating that the segment is upon you:


Then, once you hit the starting point it gives you a big green GO:


During the run, you’ll see Time Ahead/Behind, Distance Remaining, and Segment Pace:


Or, like this if actually running:


Following completion of the segment, it’ll let you know if you hit a PR (and presumably a Strava Course Record or KOM):


And then after you’re done with the workout entirely, it’ll show you any segment stats like it would for PR’s and recovery time:


I’ve put together a quick video showing you how it works mid-run and all:

To summarize, your simple checklist for getting this working is as follows:

1) Have a FR735XT, and have the firmware be updated to 4.30 or above.
2) Have a Strava Premium Membership (either paid or trial).
3) Have starred at least one Strava Segment in your area.
4) Sync your device using computer or phone.
5) Be capable of running or cycling, or at least faking it in a convincing manner.

That’s it.  Go forth and enjoy!

Before you ask: Yes, I already asked if/when it’s coming to other wearable devices (i.e. Fenix3), and haven’t received an answer yet.  I’ll let you know if/when I do receive an answer.

Muscle Oxygen Recording:


You may have seen this in my ‘Week in Review’ posts over the last few weeks.  It started quietly with the FR630, but has since expanded to a number of units including the FR735XT and is being worked on for additional units.  What this allows is the viewing and recording of blood oxygen saturation and total hemoglobin data from compatible devices – namely the Moxy Muscle Oxygen sensor and the BSX Lactate Threshold sensor.

Previously you had to use Connect IQ apps/data fields to display that data, but even then, you couldn’t record it on your Garmin device.  Well this summer Garmin released (a week or so ago) the ability for 3rd party apps to record data to .FIT files, thus lighting up all sorts of interesting sensor options down the road.

However, at exactly the same time, Garmin also enabled the ability for you to simply connect straight to Muscle Oxygen sensors just like you would a heart rate strap.  So no 3rd party software needed at all – thus making your life a lot easier.

Using the FR735XT as an example, I go into the pairing menus and search for Muscle Oxygen sensors:


It’ll then show me the ANT+ device ID of the sensor in the list, which I can pair to.  Obviously ensure that your sensor is powered on.  Next, I can add the two muscle oxygen fields onto my data pages, tHb & SmO2:


Now – all of the above will display (and even record) the data just fine from Moxy/BSX…but, it won’t actually show up on Garmin Connect.  For that you’ll need to grab the Moxy data field and add it to your watch.  It’s free from the Connect IQ app store and is available for more than just the FR630/735XT, they support the Edge 520/820/1000, Fenix 3/F3 HR, FR230/235/630/735XT/920XT, vivoactive/vivoactive HR.


Without the above, you won’t see the data show up in the recorded activity file on Garmin Connect.

Finally, you go for a run.  Or a ride.  Or the horizontal shuffle.  Whatever you want, just get some interesting data.  In my case, I selected run and ensured I had the Moxy data field added:


During the run you’ll see the data displayed using the Moxy Data field.


However, a word of caution – I’ve found that the Connect IQ app and the native SMO2 capabilities don’t mix.  In fact – they block each other.  Meaning, if you pair the Moxy sensor as a regular Muscle Oxygen sensor and then view the data fields, that blocks the ability (for reasons that make no sense) for the Moxy Data Field to see and thus record the data.

Of course, all of this is totally silly (and not Moxy’s fault), because if Garmin just displayed the darn data they actually displayed and recorded to begin with, then Moxy wouldn’t have to write their own apps to make Garmin show the data that’s already there.  Sigh.


But what happens afterwards assuming you use the Moxy app is what’s most interesting.  It’s here that you can view the data on Garmin Connect natively.  You’ll notice the data fields have a small ‘IQ’ next to them, implying that they are from Connect IQ.


On the right side of Garmin Connect, you’ll also see the Moxy Data Field logo displayed:


I then did a short trainer workout, which makes the data a bit clearer as you can see the pattern of 30×30’s.


Yup – right there!  In fact, since it’s recorded to the .FIT file, 3rd party apps that also receive the data via auto sync (like TrainingPeaks or Sport Tracks) could show it as well.  At this point, only Sport Tracks shows it (I also tried TrainingPeaks, no luck):


In fact, Sport Tracks is cool enough that it even shows the data recorded WITHOUT the Moxy app, using the standard sensor pairing option on the FR735XT to muscle oxygen sensors.  Something that Garmin Connect doesn’t do.

On the downside, as of today, this breaks Strava (the files won’t import and totally failboat).  I’ve let them know and they’re working on it.

Then there’s a bunch of other bugs and oddities that exist right now – so if you try it today, certain Garmin devices work well, and others may need a bit more time baking in the oven.  I suspect things will get better, but I’d definitely say if you try this out yourself, certainly try it sitting at your desk first to see if everything is recording right – before you go out on that 5 hour long ride and it craps the bed.

Photo Watch Faces:


Last but not least (ok, it’s kinda least) is a new phone app that Garmin has released that allows you to create watch faces using pictures.  Previously developers could do this, but it wasn’t something the average Joe (or Jane) could easily do themselves.

These watch faces would be supported on any Connect IQ capable device, so basically, any Garmin watch over roughly $200.  At present that’s the Garmin Fenix3/Fenix3 HR, Vivoactive, Vivoactive HR, Forerunner 230/235/630/735XT/920XT, D2 Bravo, Epix, Quatix 3, and Tactix Bravo.  Phew!

In order to get started you’ll need to grab the iOS or Android versions of the app called Garmin Face-It, which is separate from the existing Garmin Connect Mobile app.  The singular purpose in life for this app is taking your questionable photos and putting them on your watch.

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Once installed you’ll go ahead and select your watch and then it’ll ask you for permission to access your photos:

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Next, you’ll go ahead and select a photo from your library to use on the watch:


At this point you can change it from digital to analog, as well as resize the photo to fit:

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Once done you’ll save the watch face by giving it a name, allowing you to save multiple watch faces:

IMG_3091 IMG_3092

Last but not least, you’ll go ahead and login to Garmin Connect, which will offer up your selected device type.  Then it’ll actually transfer the watch face to the Garmin Connect Mobile app, which does the heavy lifting of sending it to your watch.

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At which point you’re done and ready to enjoy it on your watch (Garmin Connect Mobile will automatically change your watch face for you on the device):


It actually came out clearer than I expected.  The above photo was taken in crazy-bright outdoor sunlight, so that helped.  My only tip would be to use the default photo editing capabilities and increase the exposure a bit more than normal, which helps to compensate for the slightly darker screen on the Garmin devices.

That’s it folks – thanks for reading!

A DCR August Wahoo KICKR Giveaway Winner! http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/08/a-dcr-august-wahoo-kickr-giveaway-winner.html http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/08/a-dcr-august-wahoo-kickr-giveaway-winner.html#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2016 12:15:28 +0000 http://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=63461 Read More Here ]]> image22

This past weekend I held a giveaway for a new Wahoo KICKR trainer!  Consider it a bit of a reminder to get back outside and enjoy those summer miles (or kilometers) while you still can!  A whopping 7,426 of you entered – which tops the previous giveaway record by nearly 1,000 peeps!  Holy KICKR’s batman!

As is usually the case, I hopped over to my lovely friend, Random.org, and stuck in the total number of entries:


Upon returning to the entry page, I found #1992:


Congrats Jun, who has been watching the swimming during the Olympics! Now get out there…err….inside…and start riding that trainer!

As for everyone else?  Well, you can still go buy some love for yourself from Clever Training, and by supporting the site through them you’ll also save 10% on basically everything they sell, either using the DCR 10% coupon code of DCR10MHD, or for some products the VIP points program. 

And if you’re in Europe?  You can simply use Clever Training Europe to save a bundle there without any tax/duty complications – it’s now up and live with free Europe shipping on many items plus the usual DCR 10% coupon savings on everything (no VIP stuff required).

Thanks to them for the giveaway, and everyone for the support! 

P.S. – If you’re also a European reader, you can double-down on giveaways with Clever Training Europe’s massive summer monthly giveaway.  Double-boom!

5 Random Things I Did This Weekend http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/08/5-random-things-i-did-this-weekend-31.html http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/08/5-random-things-i-did-this-weekend-31.html#comments Mon, 15 Aug 2016 10:49:27 +0000 http://www.dcrainmaker.com/?p=63446 Read More Here ]]> Here’s what we were up to on this beautiful and hot holiday weekend here in the nation’s capital.

1) Afternoon strolls around town

After wrapping up a few work items Saturday morning at the Studio (for both The Girl and I) we headed out for a simple late lunch stroll around town with the dog and the bebe.  First it was up the hill behind our home to the Rue Mouffetard area (one of very few hills in Paris- four?).

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Then down the backside of said hill to a small Mexican place that ended up being quite good.

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There is also a great market area there as well, although by the time we got there they were starting to wrap-up.  Realistically we wouldn’t go that far for markets, since there’s a much larger market directly behind our house. But still, it’s fun to explore other markets in case there are unique things you find that might make it worthwhile for the occasional trek.

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After a few more stops we eventually worked our way back to the Jardin des Plantes for a stroll through the flowers.

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I often run around this area, but rarely take the time to stop and smell the flowers.  Literally in this case.  So it was a nice change of pace.

2) A Saturday Night Dinner

Saturday night our friend Hitchen came over to cook up some dinner.  He was responsible for a Bolognese sauce that was made earlier in the afternoon at his place, and then the girl and I would match that with other items to complete a 3 course meal.

For an appetizer we did some fried zucchini blossoms (here’s the detailed picture-packed post on how we made them).


Then it was onto a gazpacho that The Girl whipped up:


And from there I worked on some simple fresh pasta.  As usual, using my trusty pasta attachment.


I officially made way too much fresh pasta for three people.  But really, how can you go wrong with too much fresh pasta?


For better or worse, there was no dessert this night.  Not quite sure how that oversight occurred. We’ll have to have a team meeting and ensure it never occurs again.

3) Riding to the chateau and beyond

Sunday morning I met up with Jonathan for an 80-90km ride out in the forest.  While I could have ridden out there, I ended up taking the train about 15 minutes away to meet up with him.  That time of the morning on a Sunday, it was nice and empty.

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The Chevreuse forest is well known to Parisians as a bit of an escape from the city.  It’s got a nice mix of rolling fields…


…Small picturesque towns…


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…and even the occasional chateau.  Actually, there are a lot of chateaux out there if you know where to look.


And of course, the forest itself.  Plenty of forest riding with some fun climbs and descents.


Best of all there are tons of cyclists.  Hundreds upon hundreds of cyclists out on the weekends riding around.


Though, as I noted during the ride to Jonathan, very few French riders were using GPS devices.  Sure, French riders who are readers of this blog will.  But beyond that, only a handful out of those hundreds of people had any sort of GPS device on their handlebars.  Instead, interestingly enough, most had cheap and simple wired bike computers that wouldn’t cost any more than 20-30EUR.


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In any case, the ride was great and we made very solid time and kept a strong pace throughout – especially for not being a closed course.  In the above photo, I didn’t stop the watch during our café break.  I don’t do that because it makes lining up multiple device GPS tracks more difficult later on.

4) A quick and sunny zip via Velib

After my ride in the forest, The Girl and I got a bit of a late lunch in another part of town.  After which she was having coffee with a friend.

So I grabbed a Velib for the couple mile jaunt home.  In the below picture you can see the secret signal that a Velib is broken: The backwards seat.  If a Velib needs service, you simply turn the seat around like that (2nd bike).

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Of course, any frequent Veliber knows how to quickly run through the operational checklist before grabbing a bike to validate for broken parts.

The weather was nice and toasty, and there were plenty of people out sun tanning on the river banks.

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I had crossed over the river to check out a bunch of white tents that were setup in this area, wondering if there was some sort of market going on.  But they were all empty, so not sure if we missed something or if it’s still coming up.

Either way, the stroll in the sun was nice.

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Of course, while most of the people sun tanning are locals, a large portion of the local population is out of town right now. Many (probably the majority) of non-chain restaurants are closed for another few weeks, as are many smaller shops.  Bigger stores like Starbucks and The Gap are of course still open.  But most of our favorite places to eat are all closed.  Thus, we’re basically just eating ice cream every day (they stay open).

5) Assumption Day

Last on the list of things was the annual procession from Notre Dame around our neighborhood celebrating Assumption Day.  Typically this occurs on Assumption Day itself (Monday), but this year there was also a procession on Sunday evening.  I don’t believe that was the case in years past, as I’ve only ever noticed one procession each year (such as this one).

In any case, it’s more just something for us to watch scroll by.  However, the neighborhood was heavily guarded by police this year (as compared to almost none in years past).  They closed the river down, as well as the bridges to traffic and parks about 3 hours early to sweep them clean.  Then every 50-75m were well armed police guarding.


In any case, this year the procession went along the river’s edge itself.  Starting from the church, and then upstream along the Seine.


It leads off with kids holding banners, followed by members of the clergy, and then members of the church.


Plenty of onlookers from above on the bridges.


The only challenge with this river-route is that it narrows under each bridge, resulting in a bit of a traffic jam.


From my understanding, they’ll be doing another procession this evening (Monday) – which is also a public holiday here in France.

With that – time to get back to enjoying that public holiday.  Though aside from sleeping in a little bit longer this morning, The Girl and I just treat it as any other day.  Too much stuff to do!

Thanks for reading!