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Mid-Week Tidbits: Canyon supports trainer riding and Suunto clarifies platform future

Here’s a couple of updates that have trickled across my desk over the last two days that I figure are worth chatting a moment about. Some of them also have some catches as well, so while you might have seen the news already – I don’t think everyone has covered the full picture. Also, Strava’s CEO is out, but I talked about that on Twitter here.

Canyon Supports Riding On Trainers:

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I’ve oft made fun of Canyon for their up until now trainer policy (despite buying a bike myself). For those not familiar, Canyon’s bike trainer policy was basically ‘Don’t ride your bike on a trainer’, which while a stupid common bike manufacturer policy that’s never been substantiated by any incident I’m aware of, it only reached the pinnacle of hypocrisy last year when Canyon decided to sponsor an esports Zwift racing team.

Except, this wasn’t a casual sponsoring. This was a ‘hold my beer’ sponsoring. After all – this was their announcement imagery:

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I poked at them via social media, and eventually had a good chat with their esports racing team manager. It didn’t change my opinion about the situation (nor my continued comments), but he did confirm that they realized the double-standard of the situation and that they were working to resolve it.

And as of this week, they have. Kinda. More on the kinda in a minute.

Canyon published a post with details on it, including the specific requirements. These basically just state that your bike has to be attached via rear axle skewer and that the skewer has to be from your trainer manufacturer.

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No biggie there, there’s no wheel-on or direct drive trainer that doesn’t include a skewer. It is a bit of an oddly worded requirement though, which in theory excludes rollers and crazy bike-treadmill contraptions. I’m not sure if that’s on purpose or not, because according to bike industry trainer myths – a set of rollers would better for the bike anyway. Shrug, whatever.

Now – there is only one catch here. You see that list of bikes quoted above? Well, that only for *2019* models and going forward. When I asked I found out that my 2017/2018 frame isn’t included. So if already have a bike – you’re theoretically not covered. In practice, again, I don’t think this is an issue because I don’t think anyone’s ever going to ask because I think all these companies know what the rest of the world has known for years: There’s no issues here.

Instead, previous policies were mostly put in place as legal catch-alls.

So – congrats to Canyon for getting to where they are, even if it means I’m going to keep on riding my not-supported bike on various trainers.

Suunto Provides Movescount/Web/App Direction Update:

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This next part will probably hurt your head a bit. I’m still trying to make sense of it, some 30 hours after being sent the update. There’s essentially one piece of good news in here, some pieces of bad news, and then some pieces of no-news news. You can read the whole thingy here. But here’s my no-nonsense distilled version:

Suunto Ambit & Traverse Finally Get Love: If you’ve got an older Suunto Ambit or Traverse watch that doesn’t have Bluetooth sync capabilities, by next Summer (that’s 10 months from now) they’ll roll out a new desktop app that connects to the Sports Tracker backend, which is what the new Suunto App (iOS/Android) is connected to. It’s not Movescount, but it means your device doesn’t die.

Suunto Movescount App Dies: On December 18th, 2019 the Movescount smartphone app will be removed from the iOS & Android app stores. This means you won’t be able to get the app anymore after those dates. If you already have the app, then you’re good and can continue using it. If you get a new phone though, you’re eff’d again. I don’t understand why Suunto is removing this app at all. Just mark it as ‘no longer supported’ and call it done – like tens of thousands of other apps. Remember the Movescount app is primarily used by more advanced athletes to connect to the Movescount platform – so if you’ve got a Suunto Spartan series, you’re probably using this app instead of the newer Suunto app.

Suunto Movescount Web Site: This last one is the most confusing one. Suunto simply says that in 2020 Movescount will continue to “evolve”, and will no longer be called Movescount. Its name isn’t known yet. Instead, it’ll be there just for enabling “key functionality (including watch settings, routes and sport mode customization) for Ambit (1, 2 and 3) and Traverse family watches only”. It’s unclear if they’re gutting the rest of it or not, again, this item on the PR information was super fuzzy.

Ultimately, if you distill all this down, it basically means Suunto is shifting away from Movescount (as they’ve long since stated), and is instead moving people to their iOS and Android ‘Suunto’ apps. Those apps behind the scenes are 100% dependent on the Sports Tracker platform (they’re one and the same), which is owned by Suunto. That platform has seen some modest updates over the last little while, but is by no means a replacement for Movescount. Essentially Suunto is trying to take a Wahoo-like approach of app or nothing, rather than a complete ecosystem approach like Garmin or Polar.

Honestly, I’m skeptical this is going to work.

Hardcore Suunto users have long praised Movescount as one of the best bits of the Suunto platform, at least in terms of analytics and route building/management (plus things like watch configuration). It sorta just feels to me like features are basically being taken away (because, they are). Sure, the new Suunto app is great, but it’s really just doing something Suunto needed to have years ago.

I don’t know what the solution is here. I appreciate Suunto isn’t leaving the Ambit users to die – I really do. But I don’t understand how this digital service transformation is actually helping end users here. It just seems like a lot of shuffling of deck chairs.

Indoor Smart Bike Shootout Video Up!

Finally – just a quick heads up that while my full shoot-out post on the site went live last week, the video didn’t go up till this week. Because…time. Seriously, it’s nuts how long those videos take to both shoot and edit. The original shooting duration of the talking part was 42 minutes, and then I sliced and diced it down to 16 minutes. B-roll took about three attempts to get it all.

Though, it helped considerably having the post already done – because then I’m mostly mirroring that. But, there’s actually elements that weren’t in the post – for example the sound comparisons (which is also a movement comparison). Definitely my favorite part of the video (at 11:07). It harkens back to some of them I used to do in the old DCR Paris Cave (like in this video). This one came out in a single shot exceedingly well. Usually I screw it up and it takes multiple takes.

It also helps that the new Amsterdam DCR Cave is designed for getting content shot quicker. From lighting to cameras – and just frankly more space to leave things set up, it’s so much easier.

Finally, in case you were curious – the YouTube video is titled ‘Showdown’ and not ‘Shootout’, because titling it ‘Shootout’ gets you in trouble YouTube algorithm-wise. Noted.

With that – thanks for reading! Got a trainer review coming up tomorrow for ya. And then maybe a watch review on Friday. Nothing new, just backlog of things from this fall.

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23 Comments

  1. Carlton

    Ray, FYI, existing users of apps can still continue to download them, even after they have been removed from the app store by the developer. Once you purchase an app, even if it’s free, you will retain access to it indefinitely. At least until you update your phone to an operating system version that is so new/different that the old app will no longer run on it.

    On iOS, go to App Store, Select your account icon in the upper right, and then select “Purchased”. Every app you’ve ever downloaded will be available from that list, even ones no longer in the App Store.

    • So it’s interesting – I thought the same as well, but Suunto actually says differently in their press release.

      I didn’t know if perhaps there is a different in how you can remove an app from the app store? For example, I’ve actually had a few apps over the years I can’t re-install on my iPhone that are no longer in the store. Are there different methods for app owners to remove apps from the store?

    • Here’s the applicable snippet: “and if you change phones or delete the app, it will no longer be available for download.”

    • Rob_NZ

      On Android you can use an app like APK Extractor to back up the app to local storage and copy the file somewhere safe so you can side-load it onto as new phone if need be.

      I wouldn’t mind moving my Ambit 3 to the new platform, except for losing the ability to create interval workouts, which is only available in the Movescoount App and for Sport Mode Customisation.. I really don’t see why both can’t be added to the new app given they already have the functionality for the latter there on Suunto App for Spartan seriouslys and the ability to sync from Ambit 3 is already working.

    • Rob_NZ

      I suspect they utilise IOS version compatibility as a means of preventing older apps that have been removed from the store being re-installed on newer OS versions.

  2. Jani

    So no new news about the Suunto Dive watches and DM5, Movescount vs. new platform 🙁

  3. DLinLV

    As bad as the Canyon anti-trainer policy was, it wasn’t as idiotic as Krispy Kreme telling the college kid that they forbid him from reselling his donuts. That’s like Garmin telling us we cant resell our old watches or head units without their explicit approval. Yeah, right.

    Their (KK) trying to “protect their brand and reputation” is an asinine statement, riddled with ridiculousness. Talk about corporate stupidity. And bullying.

  4. Jon

    Why does the guy in the main photo look like he is about to be sacrificed into a pit of hot asphalt by the bike trainer gods?

    • John B

      Or the guy in the second foto with his eyes looking like they have demonically rolled backward into his head. Oh the whacky things they do in Koblenz.

  5. Richard J

    Hmm…wrt Canyon what about thru-axle disc bikes? Typically you would use your normal thru-axle, not a trainer mfr supplied skewer (since they only supply QR skewers). Probably a small nuance with no malicious intent, but it does seem like a bit of a loophole. Maybe the vague nature of the statement “required accessories supplied by the trainer manufacturer” covers you as long as you’re using the proper spacers.

  6. Jason

    Suunto need to wise up, I owned an original Ambit and loved Movescount, I then moved to a Garmin Fenix 3, but missed Movescount, don’t get me wrong Garmin Connect is good. I had been considering a Suunto 9 because I liked the watch but confusion and negative feedback on the new app meant I didn’t purchase, instead I bought a Fenix 6, the chances of me now going back to Suunto are slim…

  7. Chad McNeese

    “No biggie there, there’s no wheel-on or direct drive trainer that doesn’t include a skewer. ”

    The CycleOps Hammer & H2, Saris H3 do not include any skewer with these trainers… not even the “regular” trainer type quick release skewer.

    • GLT

      All my engineering expertise on on the software side of things, so I wonder if the trainer disclaimer is from engineers or from the legal side of the of the house. This vaguely ties in with the smart bike showdown in that some of the products move & sway under load while others absorb whatever the rider throws at it.

      In the captive rear-wheel trainer scenario, sprints ought to result in something similar to the rider’s weight on the downward thrust for something resembling a half turn of the crank. In the outdoor ride scenario this outboard jolt is softened by a lusty upward pull on the handlebars on the opposite side, or the bike sways a bit with gyroscopic forces or pilot talent keeping things favorable. In the indoor scenario, is the rear skewer lip the piece that has to handle all the load that isn’t negated by the trainer flywheel/resistance?

      If so, then the people that designed the rear triangle would probably want to be particular about the skewer being used. Don’t bother being polite when you correct me because I’d rather understand the actual situation from someone who knows. Agreed, we would have expected to hear sad stories by now if this was a exceptionally likely point of failure.

      None of my bikes are expensive enough to be fragile, but someone riding a gram-optimized work of art be in a different situation.

  8. kel

    Is there a way on the Suunto app to update the watch settings? If they get rid of movescount how will i update my screens?

    • Rob_NZ

      Read the third part of their announcement, regarding the website. The Movescount Website will ‘Evolve’ and still be there for Ambit and Traverse watch settings etc. But it sounds like you would need to use the USB cable if you no longer have access to the Movesount smartphone app.

      And see my prior comment about backing up the old Movescount app if you are on an Android device

  9. Pete Parfitt

    Suito review tomorrow? Let’s hope so!

  10. Kevin in De Pijp

    So you get to keep cranking Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law” when you’re trainer hammering on your Canyon. That’s a perk.

    • Neil Jones

      Or The Clash’s “I Fought the Law…” as you find yourself and what’s left of your frame in a ruck on the floor 😉

  11. Robert Koncz

    Back in 2017 I asked Canyon customer service about using direct drive trainer with my endurace bike. They confirmed that is okay…

  12. Aydin Mert

    Is there any update on what’s happening to “training programs” feature on Movescount though? That has been the key feature for me to stick with my runs

  13. Brendan M

    Hi Ray

    I am an ambit3 user and I have configured a number of custom sports modes via movescount. It’s been a great watch for me, it has recorded nearly 1000 runs/hikes/bike rides/kayaking adventures over the past 3 years and I will sing it’s praises to anyone who will listen.

    I made a switch to start use the new suunto app at the weekend and my suddenly my custom sports modes disappeared!

    So back to read the fine print and sure enough it seems custom sports mode is no longer supported for ambit3 watches.

    A quick uninstall of the suunto app, reinstall of movescount and a sync and my custom sports modes are back and working… for now.

    So where does that leave me? I have a piece of perfectly functional hardware but the software ‘updates’ for it results in the loss of a key piece of functionality I use. Have Suunto indicated that this is the approach going forward for ambit3 users?

    I do note from their transition page on the website the line ‘All our effort and development work are focused on bringing the most relevant features and functionalities for these products to Suunto app.’ is not mentioned in relation to the ambit3. I take it from this that basically the end of the line is in sight for any ambit3 user.

    Black Friday is around the corner but I’m not sure if Suunto deserve my euros anymore which is a shame.

    • Yeah, I don’t know what the future brings. It’s just confusing – and doesn’t seem to give much insights into how they’re making it better for existing users or future users. It all seems to be about trying to make it ‘usable’, which isn’t a high bar IMHO.