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Hands on with Wahoo Fitness TICKR, TICKR RUN, and TICKR X

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Overview

Today, Wahoo Fitness announced three new products for the fitness market, and in doing so, started what they describe as a new push towards cross-platform support.

The three products are all heart-rate strap based, but with different (cumulative) features and slightly different price points.  They are as follows:

TICKR – Heart Rate

· Concurrent dual band heart rate with ANT+ and BLE (Bluetooth Smart)

TICKR Run – Heart Rate / Running Motion Analytics

· Everything above, plus…

· Treadmill Mode tracks speed and distance while on a treadmill

· Wahoo Running Smoothness tracks running form and efficiency

· Vibrate Functionality

TICKR X – Use with Any Sport / Memory / Post Workout Syncing

· Everything above, plus…

· Vibrate Functionality

· Motion analytics measures variety of motion from repetitions to swim laps to cross-training to cycling

· Workout now, sync later: Memory allows users to workout without a smartphone and auto-sync later (Note: In cached mode, it only syncs pace/time/calories)

The prices aren’t yet final, but will start at approximately $60US, and go up to roughly $100US.  The first two (TICKR & TICKR RUN) are scheduled to be available around March.  While TICKR X will be available in the April/May timeframe.

Features & Functions:

Looking at the features, the first and most common one is the dual-band ANT+ and BLE transmission.  This means that the unit will transmit just fine to ANT+ devices (like a Garmin watch), while at the same time transmitting to Bluetooth Smart phones and apps on those devices (or even the new Polar V800 or TomTom watches).

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In talking with Wahoo about it yesterday, their push for 2014 is that all of their products will ultimately get dual-band support (concurrent ANT+ and BLE).  You’ve seen this already in some of their products like the Wahoo KICKR trainer and Wahoo RFLKT+ unit, but expect it to continue into any new products as well as revamping some of the other products they have in their stable.

As an interesting aside, on the Wahoo KICKR front, they will be releasing a firmware update to the KICKR that will enable it to act like a ANT+ to BLE bridge (like the RFLKT+).  This will allow you to use existing ANT+ cadence sensors (or even ANT+ HR straps) with Bluetooth Smart devices (such as iPads or iPhones) without a separate adapter.  Wahoo doesn’t yet have a timeframe for when this update will occur, but it sounded like the target was by summer at the latest. [Random 2019 Update: This never happened.]

Getting back to the heart rate straps, you’ll notice the addition of what Wahoo is calling “Running Smoothness”.  This is essentially the same stuff that was introduced on the Garmin FR620 as Running Dynamics (and also introduced by Scribe labs at roughly the same time as well).  These metrics will be in both the TICKR Run and TICKR X straps, and are based off of an internal accelerometer that measures ground contact time, cadence (stride rate), and pace and ultimately gives you smoothness score.

On the below non-final UI screens (far from final actually), you can see some of this being illustrated.  They’re able to start analyzing how much motion and bounce you have, and how it impacts your smoothness score.  On the left they chart this smoothness against pace, which is an interesting twist.  If you look at how Garmin does it, they only show Running Dynamics metrics charted against time/distance – and while you can start to correlate that yourself, the below chart against pace makes it really clear that pace tends to be the main component in shifts within running economy metrics.

Ultimately, running smoothness is simply a marketing term for what is effectively running economy.  It’s well known and understood that how efficient you are in your running stride has a substantial impact in your final finishing times (even if you have a lower VO2Max).  Simply looking at some of the fastest marathoners plotted against their variable VO2Max scores shows the impact of running economy.

smoothness-History-Pace (1) smoothness-Workout-Good

As you might guess from looking at the above screenshot on the left, there’s two things of note.  First is that Wahoo is working on rebuilding their app from the ground up.  You’ll see this down the road in a bit.  More importantly however, is that Wahoo is indeed determining pace from the strap.

This means that while indoors on a treadmill (or, I suppose a fun 200m indoor track), you’ll get pace and distance without having to wear a footpod.  While I wasn’t able to test that functionality yesterday, you can bet it’ll be one of the top test priorities in my in-depth review.  As it would be the first company to put pace detection in a HR strap (most do it in footpods, or within the watch itself).

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Another piece of functionality found on the two higher end units is the vibration motor.  This will allow you to configure actions to trigger a vibration alert.  For example, you can setup the Wahoo App to automatically buzz every you complete a mile (lap) during a run.  Personally, I would name this feature ‘Buzz your Boobs’, but I’m not sure that’ll fly.

In the same vein as the vibrate functionality, they can also detect taps or touches.  For example, you could configure the unit to mark a lap whenever you tapped your chest (the HR strap pod).  Or, it could change the song.  Anything you want from within the Wahoo app is configurable (for those existing Wahoo users, it follows the same configuration as the button options for the RFLKT).

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Before I wrap-up with the TICKR X’s unique features, there’s one that’s common to all units.

On the front of the unit you can see two little LED lights on the left/right sides.  These lights will blink during connection, indicating the strap is actively communicating (a handy way of double-checking that the battery is working).  You can see on the left the little blue light illuminated (hard to take a picture of in bright sunlight).

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Last but not least, we get to the TICKR X.  The TICKR X is named that simply because it’s implying there’s features yet to be announced and/or decided (or, one could argue: yet to be figured out).  Essentially, a platform for continual development of new functionality.

Wahoo looks at the TICKR X as sorta the pinnacle of creativity when it comes to use of accelerometers.  In addition to all the stuff I’ve noted above, they’re also planning features including swimming detection.  They believe they can capture swimming metrics such as distance and pace data in the strap, and then download it afterwards to your phone for later analysis [Update Mar 2017: Note, this never happened].  Of course, it’ll also track heart rate too underwater without any issues (transmission of HR underwater doesn’t work across either ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart, it only gets about 1” of transmission distance).

They also believe they can apply this technology to other sport areas, such as cross-training (core training, gym routines) to track data and movements – similar in many ways to what the Motorola MOTOACTV did in later firmware updates across a variety of sports (i.e. tennis, yoga, etc…)

You’ll note the ‘Workout Now, Sync Later’ tag line.  This is because the TICKR X contains memory in it that allows it to store the data.  This enables you to train without having your phone or ANT+ device nearby. For example, you could go for a run and it would track pace/distance/heart rate/cadence/running smoothness all within the strap – and then later allow you to download that afterwards [Update: Mar 2017: You cannot offline sync running smoothness, just duration/heart rate/calories].

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In talking with them, there are of course many new metrics that don’t fully line-up to existing standards.  For example, while Garmin does Ground Contact Time and Vertical Oscillation within their Running Dynamics, all of that is considered ‘Private ANT’, and not open to ANT+ members.  Wahoo is looking to go back to ANT+ and get some of that made into a specification that’s more widely accessible.  This would benefit not just them, but other companies like Scribe that are looking to leverage data in similar ways.

Further, it would benefit companies like Training Peaks and Strava.  Both of which Wahoo has talked to a bit about the technology.  While it’s one thing to have the Running Smoothness data within the app, it’s likely far more beneficial for the most interested endurance consumers to have that data visible in 3rd party apps such as Training Peaks and Strava.

Ultimately, it’ll be really interesting to see where Wahoo goes with this technology, and how accurate it can be made.

Thanks for reading!

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Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

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Wahoo TICKR
Wahoo TICKR X

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465 Comments

  1. Adam

    Wanted to say tickr-x works well for me for device free workouts e.g. Soccer where a watch or phone sit possible. Download off the tickr is slow but tolerable

  2. Paul D

    Does anyone know if the Wahoo TICKR sends valid/accurate inter-beat-interval (R-R) data on both BLE and ANT+ yet?

  3. Phil

    Ray, your review says you can run and then download the running analytics later. Wahoo’s website also strongly implies this is the case, but it is not. The Tickr X does NOT sync anything but duration, HR, and calories in offline mode. I think it’s incredibly misleading of Wahoo to imply it does, but you could easily change that part of your review. In fact, that part of your review was a main reason behind my purchase (and now return) of the Tickr X.

    • Thanks, this was written prior to the unit coming out (this post isn’t a review actually, just a preview). I’ve updated it accordingly.

      Thanks!

    • Phil

      No problem! I really enjoy all the stuff you do. Any idea why they would take that feature out of the product when the released it?

    • Many times features pre-release never make it to release. Sometimes those are talked about, and sometimes not. Not sure why in this case. :-/

  4. James

    Hi Ray, you mentioned in this article that Wahoo were planning to update the kickr to act as an Ant+ / BLE bridge. Have you heard any more about that?
    With Zwift launching the beta TVos version, it would be great to be able to keep using my Garmin Ant+ HR and speed sensors via the Kickr.
    Thanks

  5. Antoine

    Hi there!
    Thank you for your site, I’m a big fan! After a year with my Tickr X, I’m a bit disappointed… The device worked perfectly, the metrics are great, the offline recording is a must, but after a year it’s over. First the battery is emptied in a week (three batteries tested) meaning I have to remove the battery after each training, then a 50 minutes workout is turned into a 2h workout with no reason, since the Tickr was powered only during the exercise. Since it’s fairly pricey I’m quite reluctant to offer me a new one! With all the issues to download an activity to TP or Garmin from their app, I wonder if it’s a very reliable company. I cross my fingers for my speed and cadence sensors…
    Thanks, Antoine

  6. Henrik

    DC Rainmaker: Should I buy a Garmin HRM Tri or the Wahoo Tickr X? I’m a triathlete with a Garmin Fenix 3HR.

    (By the way, the HRM Tri doesn’t have any data in the product comparator)

    • I’d generally recommend the TICKR X. Even more so since Wahoo plans to add support for the Running Dynamics pieces shortly, which the Fenix 3 HR will actually pick up.

      (And thanks on the note for lack of HRM-TRI in product doohicky, I’ll get it added!)

    • Henrik

      Thanks for the swift reply! 🙂

    • Henrik

      DC Rainmaker: I bought the Tickr X, but it doesn’t seem to be able to send the stored heart rate to my Fenix 3 after a swim (e.g. during a triathlon). So I guess I should have bought the HRM tri instead 🙁 Are you able to make it work?

      Here’s what Wahoo support says: ” While swimming, the TICKR X is unable to send Bluetooth frequencies. If you have the TICKR X paired to your watch prior to beginning your swim, it takes the TICKR out of offline mode which means that it won’t be storing the HR data within itself.
      Additionally, any data stored in offline mode on the TICKR X can then only be shared with the Wahoo Fitness App.”

    • Mike

      This never happened. Tickr X doesn’t give any data(running dynamics) apart from HR when used with garmin watch.

    • Correct, they never ended up implementing it (despite it becoming open standard and even easier for them to implement).

  7. FenryrMKIII

    How to sync an offline activity recorded by the TICKRX with a garmin watch ? (forerunner 935 in my case)

    Thanks for the help !

    • William Sherman

      I, too, would like to know if this is possible. Luckily, Garmin Connect still shows all of the stride length, pace, cadence, etc.

    • The TICKR-X doesn’t support at this point. In this case, it’s in Wahoo’s camp to implement it. The Garmin watches use an open-standard here for offline sync, so anyone can implement it pretty easily.

  8. DXXPublic

    I have a question regarding the accuracy of Calories burned. I have the Garmin Vivoactive HR, the Fitbit Blaze and recently got the Tickr X. The difference of calories burned on the watches are huge related to the tickrx. For example i lift weights 4 times a week and between 1:40 and 2:00 hours and the average daily calories burned is 1200-1300. The watches say around 700.

    So my question which one should i believe? Is the information from TickrX accurate?

    Thanks

  9. Bill

    Is it safe to say the Kickr update with ANT+ to BTLE bridge function is dead?

  10. Oscar James

    Hi,

    can you advise — Wahoo TICKR or used Scosche Rhythm+?

    Plan is to use with Runtastic.

    Thanks for your time,
    Oscar

    • Both are solid. Really just depends on whether you want an optical HR sensor that you charge more frequently but don’t have to wear on your chest, or if you want a chest strap that you don’t have to charge. I use them both.

  11. Roger Attard

    Tickr X with Apple Watch

    I get that you only get running dynamics recorded with the app.

    Given that we are moving to using the Apple watch without phone, does anyone know if the watch app specifically records running dynamics without a phone?

    Thanks

  12. Peter

    Hello!

    Which other products (Chest HRM’s) will also record different metrics reliably over and above HR & R-R, e.g by using accelerometers etc?

    (Specifically Android compatible, and / or Suunto (BTLE) )

    Thanks

  13. Richard

    Any insider news if wahoo will be releasing any updates to their heart rate monitor range?

    Although the Tickr X is probably still one of the best on the market must soon be time for a new model?

  14. Hans Battle

    Does anyone know if the Tickr X logging feature captures and saves HRV (R-R) such that it can be downloaded to a .FIT file later via Wahoo’s app? I know that the Ticker X transmits HRV in real time to a connected device that can record it… but specifically I’m keen to know if the Ticker X can log the HRV itself. Or does it log heart rate bpm but not the R-R (this is what 4iiii’s HRM does… transmits R-R but doesn’t record it).

    As somebody else here noted, according to Firstbeat software, the R-R error rate of the Tickr X was unacceptably high when I tested it some time ago (40 or 50% error rate if I remember). By the way, at the same time, I measured 4iiii’s HRM and it also high 40 to 50% error rate, despite their marketing claim that it’s super-duper accurate.

    Garmin, Suunto and Polar HRMs transmit R-R with an error rate of 3 to 10% in most circumstances, which I presume is normal and acceptable. This is just my personal experience though.

    Please let me know regarding the HRV or R-R logging on the Tickr X if anyone happens to know.

  15. Alistair

    Bit of weirdness happening with TICKR X(s) and me; Seems on most activities, but more noticeably on runs the HRM suffers from spikes and flat line readings :-/ Wahoo support were a massive help and sent me out a replacement unit straight away but still getting the same issue on my second TICKR-X (pairing with FR-630). HR recording generally seems to correct itself 15-20 mins into the run/activity. Any idea what’s going on or if it’s some kinda operator error?

  16. Daniel Lao

    I had recently purchased a Stryd foot pod and I’m in the market looking for a new HR strap (because I don’t think anyone trusts the one that comes on the Garmin Fenix 3HR) for a more stable reading and measurement of my heart rate.

    Would there be any merit for me getting a TICKR X or should I just stick to the basic TICKR?

    • dan

      i’m also in the market for a new chest strap but honestly the amazon reviews have scared me away from Wahoo for a chest strap monitor. I understand Ray buys and uses everything he tests but its amazing to me the differences between his experiences using these things almost if not daily, compared to the reviews. Dozens upon Dozens of negative reviews for missing data and strap breakage. I thought at first it was just old reviews and the bugs have been worked out, but no some of the dates are only days ago. straps still corroding and breaking years into the product? I just do not understand that.

  17. AlexL

    Hi Ray, do you know if the Tickr now communicates using the Ant+ standards for running Dynamics and if so can you use it for running power on a Garmin

  18. Michael

    Hi there,
    I have a question to all you Ambit3 users. I am annoyed by the Suunto HR Belt. Meanwhile my second belt starts to get unreliable. So I am thinking of getting a 3rd party one. I read a little about the Wahoo Tickr X but I’m not sure if it is the right belt for me. Most of the time I run. I want my HR displayed on my Ambit3 Peak and I do not want to run with a smartphone. So does the Wahoo connected to the Ambit record the HRV intervals? Is there any possibility to read out the running efficiency data afterwards? And is it possible to add those efficiency data to my move in movescount after synching it from my watch?
    Thanks for your help

  19. Michal Maliarik

    I bought tickr x to pair with suunto spartan ultra for triathlon. I was hoping to see HR on Sunto spartan ultra and on Garmin Edge 1000 at the same time which works. But tickr did not sync swim HR wit Spartan. I am dissapointed…

  20. Johan van der Hijden
  21. Sam

    Hi Ray, can you have a look at an issue i’m having with my Tickr (file attached). I have my tickr paired to my Garmin Edge and am having issues with the data. My edge gets stuck on the same reading. For example yesterday I was riding hard and my hear rate was stuck on 117 for five minutes. A little while later it would be stuck on 166 for five minutes before changing. I’ve sent a support ticket to Wahoo, but haven’t got a response yet. The file below is taken from my Strava activity yesterday (33km bike ride). You will be able to see the flat areas where my heart rate plateaus (according to the tickr) for long periods of time. I bought the tickr new and have had the same issue since day one. It seems to work fine using the wahoo app – I can see my HR fluctuate in real time, but not with the Garmin Edge 520.

  22. TK

    I am on my third Wahoo Tickr Heart Rate Monitor and they are typically dying just before or after the one year warranty is over – is this a general issue and as such I should be looking at a different brand for a new heart rate monitor or is the life expectation of heart rate monitors only a year in general and I just keep on replacing them.

    The Wahoo Tickr seems to be the cheapest on the market – so if this is a problem with heart rate monitors in general – I would just stick to this particular brand and model – if I can get a longer life expectation out of the other brands I would be willing to spend the extra money – of course nothing is guaranteed.

    • Frederic Carrier

      I use garmin HRM-TRI and it lasts about a year (n=2). Prior garmin units lasted a year too.
      Which such short life, chances are it will fail me during a race.
      I’m reading this review because I’d like to find an ANT+ HRM that’s precise, solid & reliable.
      Ohh and I want running cadence too.

  23. Dan

    I had a brand new Tickr which I had bought as a spare fail on me the first time I tried to use it. Thought I had bought it though amazon but couldn’t find a newer recprd. No surprise that Wahoo wont replace the device and was only willing to offer a 20% discount code. Given the shortcomings of the ELEMNT and the fact Ive recently noticed it start randomly dropping rides I may be in the market for a new bike computer and HRM.

  24. Shane Porteous

    So 5years since this came out, is all this information still relevant?? I am looking to upgraded my original Scosche Rhythm+

    And wanting something that could send run Cadence to Zwift as well as all the usual HR metrics.

    Should i go this or the new SCOSCHE RHYTHM 24 ?

    Not fussed about wearing a chest strap or armband. More wanting best value for money out of the product.