Spring has sprung–and some first thoughts on the Basis watch

Woot!  For a brief moment on Saturday, it was both sorta sunny, and sorta warm.  Which, by my definition means it’s spring.

This weekend was crazy busy, but also a nice segue into a semi-normalized triathlon-focused training schedule for me.  While I’ve been doing lots of running, and a fair bit of unstructured cycling, I’m now switching over to a more structured schedule for the next 3-4 months.  The plan was the Paris Triathlon in the first week of July, but that’s been cancelled due to some river permit issues.  So I’m poking around at a few options in that same timeframe for Olympic distance (I don’t have the time in my work travel schedule right now to adequately train for a Half-Iron or Ironman event).

So with that, let’s dive into the weekend.


Friday evening started off with a solid 75 minute trainer workout.  I think I went into it thinking it would be only about 45-50 minutes.  That’ll teach me to actually read the workout instructions fully ahead of time.  On the bright side, the workout went by pretty quickly, probably because I didn’t realize how long it actually was.


It was officially 3 x 6 minutes at 310w (+ warm-up/cool-down/etc…), but in reality, it was more like 4x6m @ 310w, as there was a pre-interval that was the same value as the main set intervals.  Then it finished up with some 20s sprints.  My first few of the sprints were too low, but by the final one I was where I should have started.  Will start at that final value next time.


This is one area I really wish the Wahoo KICKR had a button in the default app that’s like a TV ‘Go back/Return’ button.  To be able to go from no-resistance (well, about 70w worth) to 775w without a bunch of tapping.  Right now I’ve gotta hit a bunch of buttons to make it happen.  And yes, I could program the workout in, but that doesn’t really fit my style as much.  I like to be able to control it on the fly.  The CompuTrainer has this if you just use calibration mode (it removes all resistance) to swap back and forth.

Post-workout I very quickly showered and headed out the door.  Since I was now about 25-30 minutes beyond what I thought I’d be, I was running a touch bit late.  The Girl was hosting a magazine event at the CupCakery that was somehow tied to wedding planners at the top.  The details are slightly unclear to me.  All I know is cupcakes were being custom decorated by the folks involved.  And since cupcakes are always good, then the event was in turn all good.


Hers’ a picture that one of the folks involved in the group took:



Each person decorated their own cupcakes, and in addition, The Girl had some also available as well.


However, I couldn’t stay long – I had to execute on our Friday Night Date Night…solo-style.  As you may remember, Friday nights are normally reserved for heading to the restaurant supply store.  With her tied up, I headed on out.

I tried not to get too distracted in the wrong aisles, but somehow I always end up back at the cheese aisles.


Regrettably, there’s no cheese utilized in the CupCakery today.  So, mostly I just lugged around a lot of sugar, eggs, butter and flour.  Oh, and pink napkins.


Soon I was done and headed back to the shop for unloading.


With my shopping complete, it was onto Saturday I went.


As I mentioned last week, we began the process of hiring a new employee (or two) at the CupCakery.  We did this for a few reasons, first was that with tourist season heating up – The Girl realistically wouldn’t be able to meet demand any longer just by herself.  Secondly (and most importantly), we really want to be able to take advantage of our time over here in Europe (and my travels elsewhere), so being able to have employees makes that easier.

Last Friday/Saturday/Sunday we had the first of two selected applicants do a trial run.  It was cool to watch.  On Saturday afternoon, The Girl was feeling good, so she gave the prospective employee a few hours to hold down the fort by herself (the cupcakes had been made in the morning, so this was just selling at this point).  Which in turn gave us the first opportunity for a weekend run in Paris together since about October.

We had 6×1-mile intervals on the calendar, and thus took off to the gardens to run them.


Being somewhat warm (mid-50’s *F), and somewhat sunny (ok, barely sunny, but less grey than normal), the park had a fair number of folks in it.


Even some of the animals in the zoo attached to the park came out.  That’s an owl up there.  I know, kinda hard to see, but I do what I can in between my work intervals.


And the little red panda even came out too!  Unfortunately, our rest interval spot never quite lined up to his cage, so I had to take the photo on the run, so you can’t quite see him well in this photo (but he was just hanging out on the wooden thing in the lower left corner).


Oh, here’s us.


And here’s proof of the sun:


On the way back the sun was even creating shadows!  Crazy!  And, the boats were all full.  About the first time since September I’ve seen more than one boat in succession full.


Of course, like a mom having babysitters for the first time, The Girl wanted to swing by the shop on the way home just to ensure everything was good.  And indeed, it was perfectly fine!  She was easily working through the crowd inside and out.  Good deal.


With our run complete, she headed back to the shop a short bit later – and I headed over to check out the bell ceremony that I wrote about in our Paris Blog post.



My ride for Sunday morning was scheduled as 1hr 30 mins at Z2 HR, plus some sprints.  I decided to simply start the timer when I left the house, and then I’d complete 1hr 30mins over at Longchamp doing circles.  When done with that, I’d just call whatever was after that on the way home as ‘leftover’.  Worked for me.

I was also testing out the O-Synce device.  I’ve been using it a lot indoors, but less outside.  I think it’ll probably be my next cycling device to hit the reviews.  I may put out some other reviews prior, but my goal is for this to go out in the next few weeks.


As usual, my route  takes me across the city.  Though, I still end up adding a bit more distance than required on the outbound segment.  Gotta perfect that more.


This means I hit all the major monuments, as well as some of the less-famous typical Parisian neighborhoods.



Once there, you’re swallowed up by never-ending looping cyclists.  As usual, there were some big groups, and then small groups – and everyone in between.


The trick to riding here from a steady-state workout standpoint is really to just as best as possible ignore everyone else.  It’s not always super-easy because some of the groups take up the whole road, and aren’t always terribly fast.  So there are small surges from time to time as I try and get around them.  Which in many ways is pretty similar to larger triathlon races where draft-packs occur and you need to get around them.

As usual, I’m continuing to test and gather data from power meters.  I moved the Edge 800’s down slightly so this way I could actually use my aerobars just fine.  I think I might slide everything back perhaps half an inch or so, and then it’d be perfect.  Your arms actually normally sit to the outside of the bars, so the inside of the bars and the top of the bars tends to be dead-space (which is why water bottles are commonly mounted there these days).


The ride went quite well actually, fairly solid wattage (223w for this segment), especially on the 1hr segment of doing loops that I was most interested in.  And my HR stayed fairly consistent in Z2, save for the little sprints you see at the end.


On the way back I noticed they had freshly painted the kilometer markings on the ground for the Paris Marathon in two weeks (which we’re running).  There were also mile markings as well, though not quite every mile, just major markings.  We can use either, though I appreciate the mile markings.  And, for those Europeans who will say I should forget mile markers, I’ll note that most major American races do actually have both mile and kilometer markers.   So this is pretty similar, just inverted.



As I had tweeted on Sunday, I got back with about 2 minutes to spare prior to a 12:30PM conference call I had.  No time to change, just stick on the headset and go!  For those wondering why a conference call on a Sunday, well, most Middle Eastern countries don’t have the same ‘weekend’ days as we do.  In my case, talking to folks in Saudi Arabia meant that it was already the equivalent of their Tuesday.


Finally, post-ride, I was able to spend a bit more time analyzing data from the Basis B1 watch.  It’s pretty fascinating actually.  First and foremost, the biggest thing I’ve gotten clarity on is the purpose of the unit.  And it’s definitely not performance athletic data.  In other words, it’s great for monitoring data for the 22-23 hours of the day you aren’t working out.  But it totally sucks for the 1-2 hours you are working out.  Let’s start with the good.


Below is a look at my Friday, showing steps overlaid with HR.  Around 3PM you see a small peak, this is when I was biking home from the office.  Then around 6PM you see a pretty big spike – this is when I was doing a trainer workout.


Now, you can do patterns as well – and here’s the patterns for the last few days from a HR standpoint.  Note that the coloring on the scale is somewhat limiting, and that dark red at 90BPM (for example, a brisk walk) is the same color as a hard interval workout at 170BPM.


Looking at the flipside – sleep – this is perhaps even more interesting.  Here’s Friday’s sleep (went to bed around 12:40AM, and woke up around 8AM):


It’s cool in that the resting heart rate data will be interesting to truly track day after day.  Previously, to gather resting HR (RHR) data I would have to take a moment out of my day and actually spend time to calm down enough to get consistent data.  Over the last few years of taking RHR data, I can pretty accurately predict how good my runs and rides will be based on that data.  I can tell when I’m getting close to getting sick, or when I need more sleep.  It’s pretty interesting once you start understanding yourself.

Now, a look at athletic data.


The below is during the run I did on Saturday.  What you’re looking at in orange is step-rate.  In this case it was an interval workout, so you can very clearly see those intervals.  The red dotted line is my heart rate.  You’ll see that before and after the run it was capturing data just fine.  But during the run I only got two data points, well, maybe three.  Either way, for 1hr and 15m of running, that’s not ideal.


Cycling had a few more data points, but certainly not enough within the HR realm to be useful:


On the bright side, perspiration did track well:


As I noted during the Mio Alpha review, the two optical HR watches have different focuses.  The Alpha watch is very clearly for athletic purposes, and since it lacks any recording capability it’s not good for 24×7 monitoring.  Whereas the Basis is clearly for 24×7 (err…23×7) monitoring.  Different goals, different purposes, different audiences.  Neither is right or wrong, just different.  I think there’s some really interesting value in the Basis watch for monitoring the rest of your data, à la FitBit/Nike FuelBand, etc…

I’ll dive into it in far more detail in my review.  I want to collect about a month’s worth of data before writing it up.

With that, thanks for reading!


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  1. Quix

    I’ve got the Basis myself and consider a very promising 0.5 release. Perspiration tracking is cool but there’s no context around it. How much is a little or a lot? Can I use that information to track how much I should be drinking? Tracking resting heart rate is interesting but there’s no graph and again no context other than here’s your resting HR. Not even a place for average resting HR.

    Not having integration with the iPhone is a huge missing link as there’s no way to tell how we’ll or not you are doing on goals you set for yourself without the visibility that an app would provide.

    Now don’t get me wrong I like the device for its potential, but I’d highly recommend waiting for the polished product.

    • DC Rainmaker

      I agree on the lack of cell-phone connectivity at this point. It’s a big gap between what the solution could be, and what it is today.

      I see average resting heart rate within the insights pages, for exactly – for sleep. Additionally, on the detail side I can look at the average over a chunk of time.

      But I agree on the other metrics. I’d like to do what “actionable” information I can do with perspiration or skin temp.

  2. Anonymouse

    Sorry to hear about the Paris Marathon. If I recall correctly, that was an “A” race for The Girl and you were her pacer. Are you going to be able to find another race for her to PR? Or is your mention of short tris to fill the gap mean that her marathon goal is off the table for 2013?

    • DC Rainmaker

      There Paris Triathlon is the one that was cancelled (in July), the Paris Marathon in a little under two weeks is still definitely on.

      My mention of short tri’s is mostly in reference to after pacing her in 11 days, I’ll be focusing on my own races for a few months.


  3. Amedeo

    I like very much reading your training weekend! ;)

  4. How does the skin temperature track during workouts?
    Living in TX where it can be as cold as 32F and as hot as 115F that would be interesting to know.
    BTW, I see NO value in cell phone connectivity as I analyze my data on a PC anyhow.
    I think you should have the community write a requirement/wishlist for the ultimate workout gadget.
    It seems Garmin and Polar and other are working on things, but I am not sure if they really hear the customers?

    • DC Rainmaker

      It’s ‘smooth’, but I haven’t nailed down whether or not it’s smooth because the outside air temp is overriding it. Meaning, I see a drop in the skin temperature when I go outside to workout, not an increase. I do see significant changes in skin perspiration however.

    • Alan

      While you may choose to analyze your data on a desktop or laptop, their lack of phone connectivity means that: 1) one gets no data until one is back at the computer (even notifications about one’s habits e.g. you are 500 calories short of your goal, better get moving), 2) one has to travel with a laptop if one wants to see one’s data.

      For short trips, I would normally travel with only my iPad. Their lack of an iOS app means that if I want my data, I need to bring my laptop along.

  5. kab

    random, i know- but how is the girl in the pic holding the cupcake, holding her purse? is it a purse-like fanny pack?

  6. Pablo

    Really enjoy reading about your training. Often times more than so much about gadgets.

  7. Jordan

    Hey Ray, total bummer about the Paris triathlon. Like you I also moved to europe to check out what life was like across the pond and have been living in Heidelberg the last 3 years. I have to say the tris over here in my opinion are very well set up, and there are a fee that are right on the border (Wiesbaden, Kaiserslautern) that are really good and can be reached by fast train from Paris in 2 hours. I also recommend the Heidelbergman Tri here in Heidelberg, but you gotta love climbing because it is pretty much uphill on both run and bike! Greetings from Germany, Jordan.

  8. Steve

    I’m curious about what the sleep heart rate data looks like when a person has had a bit too much alcohol to drink the evening before going to bed?

    Do you have any interesting charts with this info?

  9. When do you think will you have the final review of the Basis?
    ALso any idea how the Basis stacks up versus the Amiigo?

    • DC Rainmaker

      I had lost my charger for it for a few weeks, and just bought a new one last week. I’ve been wearing it the past few days again just to have more fresh data (I had worn it almost 4 weeks straight nearly 24×7 except swimming). So hoping here with a week’s worth of fresh data (mostly for screenshots), I’ll be able to get it out shortly.

      Ammigo is a bit different, and there’s a lot of unknown there. I’m putting it in the category of ‘so-so’ right now (Amiigo) until I really see it work as they describe it. I like the Basis unit, but really wish they’d get their act together on the phone connectivity.

  10. Lisa

    This is a great review! It drives home the point that this is a watch for the other 22 hours in the day when you’re not working out. I’ve found that the heart rate monitor won’t be tracking you as much while you’re moving a lot. Sometimes it won’t register steps when you’re on the treadmill and just resting your hands on the rails. So I’ve decided to sell the one I bought for my boyfriend here: link to bit.ly I’m still thinking if I should sell the one I’ve been using for 2 weeks. It does work great though and it’s a pretty darn cool piece of wearable tech.

    • Alan

      So far, I am not even sure it is for the other 22 hours. I have been wearing my Basis Band for several weeks. I find that it is not accurate for any of the three most important readings it gives: Steps, Calories and Heart Rate. Today, for example, I went for a very slow walk – twice around the block. I wore my Basis Band and my Polar Bluetooth Smart HRM. I used RunKeeper to measure the walk. Twenty two minutes later, I had completed .66 miles, with a heart rate that never reached over 93. My Basis Band showed only 352 steps (giving me an impressive 9.9 foot stride). It also showed my max heart rate was 138.

      This was a very slow walk (33 minutes a mile pace), just designed to test the Band’s performance, yet it still missed quite a bit.

      Since I started wearing my Basis Band, I have lost 10 pounds. Basis’s lack of an open API and lack of integration with anyone else’s products means that I would have to manually update my weight on their site, something I have yet to do. This means that its estimates for my calories burned should be high (it thinks I am 5% heavier than I am in reality). Unfortunately, when I compare it with RunKeeper used with my Polar H7 it is always low (sometimes by as much as 50%). While I am not sure which is correct, unlike my Basis Band, RunKeeper is linked to my WiThings scale (so it always has an accurate weight) and my H7 giving it an accurate heart rate.

      Not being able to link it to my WiThings scale and Blood Pressure Cuff, nor being able to pull its data into RunKeeper or WiThings Health app, makes it much less accurate and useful. Not having an iOS app makes it difficult to collect the data (it requires me to carry my MacBook Pro even on short trips), and makes the “Habits” is measures almost useless (in that one can only tell if one has met a goal when one connects to a desktop, and not during the day when one could adjust to meet a goal).

  11. Brent

    I love your reviews, I am anxious for your complete Basis B1 watch write up. Basis has been backordered for months now and I finally got my invitation email to purchase the next small order that they have received. When do you think you will be finishing your final review for the Basis? I don’t want to make the purchase until I read your final review. Thanks!

    • I put out the TomTom review this past Monday, and then the 4iiii’s Viiiiiva review today.

      Next on the writing front are: Finis Netpune, Basis B1, Bryton Cardio 60.

      I’m not 100% sure which order they’ll be in, but I suspect they’ll all be done within two weeks.

  12. Looking at the 3 products the Basis B1 is really the one I am most interested in.
    Why? – Glad you ask:
    Finis Neptune – it is a enhancement of the “old” Finis Swim MP3. The old version was the best in the water and there is no doubt that the Neptune will be even better. But increasing 2g memory and having a display in the rear will most likely not justify upgrading from the old to the new

    Bryton Cardio 60 – Looks like a very nice multisport watch. Though it does not support indoor swimming and lacks power meter support. This disqualifies it for the serious triathlete. Power meters become more affordable and more common and are the best method to measure effort on the bike. Not supporting power meters rules out any bicycle device for the serious athlete (IMO).

    Basis B1 – It now is finally available. There are really no other 24hr devices that log as much data as the Basis B1. The jawbone Up is close, but was off to a bad start and the lack of display is a real turn off (though a review would be great). The soon (or not soon) to be available Amiigo would be an interesting competitor, but again lack of display and uncertainty about availability is not a plus.

    • Noted. :)

      From my perspective (in case you asked):

      Neptune: The quickest review to write. It has less functions than a bedside alarm clock, and my photos are all complete for it.

      Cardio 60: Fairly complex, but lack of PM support and lack of indoor swimming makes it easier to deal with from a review standpoint.

      Basis: I have lots of data (months worth), but the gaps I have for a few days here and there are annoying to me from a pretty graphics standpoint in a review. This is primarily due to the battery only doing about 6 days worth. And while that sounds like a lot, it’s not exactly if you’re constantly on the move. I’m also troubleshooting my Android phone so I can load the app.

      That said, I’ll definitely try and prioritize the B1 over the Cardio.

      Oh, and one more complexity: Starting Monday I’ve got two weeks of incoming guests in the house – meaning my ability to get away for a few hours (or 20) is somewhat limited. :-/

    • Just ordered my B1,since a 24×7 tracker is the one of few gadget I don’t have yet ;-)
      So I might be able to share my thoughts on it soon…

      See your points on the Neptune and the Cardio 60.

  13. Have had my Basis for several days and am shocked at how poor of a device it really is. I waited for a year assuming they’d work out the kinks but it shouldn’t even be shipping. I’m going to write a long explanatory post about it shortly. Sending it back to Basis inside my 15 day return window. Short version: doesn’t track HR even for minor movement, steps are off by 20-30%, calories I don’t bother with, syncing is broken (have to quit and restart sync software every single time to sync), sleep tracking doesn’t include light/deep sleep (and quality metric is broken – reporting zeroes). I ordered the watch, a spare band, and a spare charger. I’ll be sending it all back. Nightmare product release. Oh, and sent 4 emails to support – not even an auto-responder. And their help forum is filled with spam about breast cancer. It’s shocking how bad it is.

    • Not sure why you have HR measuring issues.
      My HR tracks fine on a day to day basis, mostly fine on the bike and sometimes even on the run.
      It is not a real time HR as the Garmin would give me.

      Some questions:
      Do you shave your arms?
      How tight is the Basis?

      I shave my arms and wear it snug (it leaves a bit of an imprint)

  14. I know have the basis for a bit over a week.
    My expectation towards the performance are based on the price point it is offered and the way it is worn. Considering that a good Garmin device costs twice as much and every device that measure HR during sporting activities uses a HR strap it was clear to from the get go that the basis will not compare.
    Nevertheless the reason why I wanted the basis was to measure my bed time, see my resting HR easily without measuring manually in the morning and know for sure how much I sleep.

    The interface to my android phone works flawlessly and there is no complaint about that.

    I have worn the basis during tri (except for the swim) and during practice sessions. For calories and HR I rely on my Garmin data. Though I have found that the basis is usually pretty close with the Garmin on the HR. The data I am interested in is the skin temperature as well as the sweat rate. Living in Texas the heat and humidity can vary a lot and impact exercise drastically.

    Another thing is that I always sweat a lot at night and I am trying to find the root cause. The basis has confirmed that my skin temp and sweat rate go up at night. I am happy to see that the data is there, now I just need to find the root cause.

    Looking at the market it is clear that no competitor has a product out that compares to the basis.
    It is a little bit like the first cell phones, not fantastic, but it is a right step in the right direction. The software needs improvements to connect your sleep time and list interruptions, rather than breaking it into independent sleep segments.

    The support is great, I asked a question and got an answer within hours.

    Overall I am happy with the product given that there is no alternative (Amigo still has no release date), the price is quite affordable (I understand that is very subjective), it provides me data that my Garmin doesn’t give me.

    In the end I still wish that there would be a device that:
    – can be worn all day as a watch
    – measures: HR, skin temp, sweat, ambient temp, swim metrics, run metrics, bike metrics, programmable interface, show text messages, show incoming calls, voice controlled…

    basically a combination of these: ambit 2, 910xt, basis, recon jet, fenix, 810, iwatch…

    • Alan

      Wow, your experience could not be more different than mine. I find its heart rate to be far off from my H7, and often it gives no readings at all (even during casual activity). I have tried wearing it tight and a bit loose (no difference). Like Troy above, I find its step count to be inaccurate.

      Its calorie counts are far off from RunKeeper’s numbers (when linked with my H7 and an accurate weight from my WiThings scale), but not even in a very consistent way.

      As for its sleep measure, on several occasions, I was woken by phone call in the middle of the night, went to use the bathroom before returning to bed and had it show “no interruptions” in my sleep.

      I have had many syncing problems (it routinely – 90% of the time – gives me error code 1.214.22 letting me know it cannot communicate with their website, and forces me to reenter my email and password).

      Not having an iOS app (and knowing that there will not even be one for several months, if ever), I cannot comment on its connection to my phone.

      I agree with you that it is a great concept, I just think its implementation is severely lacking.

      My wish list:

      Sensors: HR (accurate even in moderate exercise – even if I have to tighten the strap at those times), GSR, sweat, skin temp, ambient temp, accelerometer.

      Open API (a requirement – Basis’s closed system means that its data is disconnected from everything else I do).

      Bluetooth Smart (lower power use, standard health profiles), also allowing it to talk to a heart rate strap like the H7 (for heavy exercise) and/or a foot pod for more accurate foot step counting.

      Extras: Pebble/Strata like interaction with my phone to display incoming SMS messages/iMessages/phone calls/alerts.

      The Amiigo looks interesting, but doesn’t seem like it is there yet either. I would consider the Body Media Core 2, but I am not paying a monthly fee to have access to my own data.

  15. Not to get in the middle of the discussion, but I did make an interesting discovery late last week on accuracy of the step-counter.

    On my left-wrist (I’m right-handed), I found it low by about 30%, but on my right wrist, it was much closer – within 5% or so.

    When I say ‘closer’, I’m referring to both a FitBit Zip and a Withings Pulse step counter worn on my waistband. I have no idea who is ‘right’, but those two are tracking fairly closely. Additionally, I had two friends who were more or less side by side with me wearing step counters, and in the case of the left-wrist, I was always significantly below them, but in the case of the right-wrist I was roughly in line with them. Obviously, different folks have different steps, but in comparison there have been some clear trends.

    For those with low-readings on steps, I’d be curious if swapping wrists changes anything.

  16. This is all very interesting.
    I switch my basis from left to right about every day.
    I would think my steps on my non running days are about the same, so I will keep an eye on this and see if my left days will differ a lot from my right days (non running days)

  17. Just as an FYI/Update, I’ve posted the full in-depth review for the Basis watch, it’s located here: link to dcrainmaker.com

  18. Hi Ray,

    I have a sleeping problem. (My body-clock cycle does not conform in society’s standards) so tracking sleep is very important to me.

    I have been interested in buying a sleep+activity tracking wearable device for about a year now. My shortlist include only the following :

    (1) Bodymedia Fit Core

    (2) Basis Band B1.

    Finally I decided to wait for the technology to mature because the current body media fit core is too bulky and they have announced to release Bodymedia Fit Core 2 which was a smaller one. They’re the only fitness tracker that published a scientific study which confirmed that it has a 90% accuracy in sleep detection and calorie counting. Basis band in the other hand did not publish any study regarding the accuracy of its sleep detection algorithm. More over, a few Basis band b1 users in the forums complained about inaccuracies in detecting sleep.

    Would you recommend that that I should basis band b1 given my sleep condition?

    I saw the comment about LifeTrak Zone C410. I can’t believe that this device has not been extensively compared with Body Media Fit devices and Basis Band. After much googling, I have a lingering feeling that this device is subpar or a scam even.

    What do you think?

    I am looking forward to your reply.

    Thank you!