Curiosity/Survey: Do you use a different device for running than cycling?

Over the past few weeks as I’ve been talking to folks in the industry a point that keeps coming up is whether or not folks care that Bluetooth Sensors (i.e. HR straps, cycling Speed/Cadence sensors, etc…) can’t be concurrently paired with two devices at the same time.  This is contrasted today with ANT+ (or even Polar W.I.N.D. or analog devices) that can be paired to as many watches or head units that you want, at once, at the same time.

To simplify:  Today with ANT+ (and similar) you can wear a watch displaying your heart rate as your bike computer can also concurrently display the same information.

Who would care about this?  Primarily triathletes and/or other multisport athletes.  Especially during the few minutes when you come into/out of transition.

Today in the Bluetooth Smart world, a single device “owns” the sensor connection and once established that sensor can’t be shared with other display devices.  So for folks that may use one device for cycling and another for running, this could cause issues if both devices tried to connect to the heart rate strap at the same time.  This is a limitation that won’t change overnight with a software update, and will require a hardware change.

Here’s my super-over-simplification drawing of this concept:

The debate amongst many is whether or not the loss of this functionality actually matters.  While it’s most common amongst triathletes  – it’s actually used quite a bit in gyms and by pro teams/coaches.  For example, in talking with SRM they walked through how TdF teams are using this functionality today in training sessions, and how they plan to leverage it further next season with their PC8 platform.  Similarly, we see gyms like Lifetime Fitness doing this in scale in spinning and other group sessions, as well as to things like treadmills and other gym equipment.  Additionally, applications like TrainerRoad and others are in the same boat.  And then of course there’s fools like me who use this daily in product testing five things at once.

But, I want to focus just on you with a super-simple survey.  Thus, here’s what I’m looking for in the embedded survey:

A) I have different devices for running and cycling, and do use them at the same time (or dual display at the gym).
B) I have different devices for running and cycling, but don’t ever use them at the same time.
C) I have a single device only, and thus, life is simple and grand.

If you don’t have any devices, then you can go ahead and skip right ahead to your weekend. Do not collect $200.

Here’s the survey embedded below (or, you can use this link to a separate page):

Feel free to drop additional/expanded information and/or related scenarios below that I may not have considered, or, that you may think various industry peeps would be interested in.

Have a great weekend, and thanks for reading!

DC Rainmaker :

View Comments (170)

  • Update to my previous comment:
    Given how versatile and reliable the 310xt has been for me, the only REAL REASON I would want to get the Forerunner 220 is I would want another gadget to play with. Some of the features on the 220 are appealing, but the 310xt does everything I need well and has a few things the 220 lacks.

  • It is not true that Bluetooth can not support data on multiple displays. A Bluetooth device can be in a connection and broadcast at the same time. Companies so far has elected to implement mostly connections as the connection mode is robust (frequency hopping), reliable, secure & authenticated etc. A company with an interesting strategy is Wahoo that actually controls all devices from the phone and have data on multiple devices. Wahoo is betting that everybody will want a cloud connection and the phone for Bluetooth audio/music, messages etc.

    • You're talking about a broadcast link but those aren't really the same as an Ant+ link as they lack lots of functionality from what I see. Ant+ is bi directional just mostly one way while bluetooth is this mode is true one way (bi directional is used for things like power meters that have to be told to calibrate) Ant+ channels know to listen to data at a set interval so the radio receiver isn't constantly awake (battery drain) and so a packet of data is only sent once. Seems like bluetooth just depends on broadcasting many times and hoping one gets through

  • I use 2 devices simultaneously when cycling.
    A watch to monitor heartrate in realtime, and an iPhone that records GPS data and heartrate (Strava).
    So I need a multi-protocol solution like the Viiiiv or the Polar H7.

  • I use an fr910xt for running and edge 810 for cycling, because the course function of the 910xt is horrible.

  • i use my Garmin FR910 for running, riding and swimming. For gym use i wear a Polar HR band in addition to my Garmin HR band.

  • I use a FR60 or FR610 for running/spinning, and FR610 and/or EDGE500 for cycling or nordic/cross country skiing. I like sometimes to compare, then I’ve often been using them all three at a time for comparison.

    I do prefer ANT+, for the following reasons:
    I have a Tanita BC-1000 scale for logging my “body condition” ;-)
    I have two Cycleops ANT+ power wheels on different bicycles to perfect my training and TT races.
    I am sometimes comparing stability on different heart rate straps; Polar, Garmin etc. with different Garmin transmitters.
    I would like my Tacx Flow to transmit the power readings, then we wouldn’t need using the extra power wheel while doing indoor watt intervals.

    RAY: If you care to read this; a result I got from running with both the running pod and the three computers is that the result measured by the FR60/pod was a distance BETWEEN the result from the FR610 and EDGE500 in GPS mode. This accuracy on the pod measured distance impressed me as it impressed you while you were running through tunnels etc. ;-)

    • Indeed, it's impressive to see how accurate it can be once calibrated. I've always been amazed there. Thanks for your thoughts!

  • FR 910XT for everything since your fantastic review. Tried all sports individually, no triathlons (yet). Only downside is shipping to the UK through clever training was really expensive, especially import tax. Great product, great blog. Thanks for kickstarting my fitness again. David

  • Well I don't mind using a couple of devices for this purpose! Especially for cycling, I prefer relying on some fantastic devices. In fact, I also use iPhone to track pulse rate while cycling. You can also find some awesome apps in the Apple app store such as Runkeeper App!

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