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Tuesday Tidbits: Starbucks Card on Garmin Edge/Watches, COROS Mojito, Zwift Hardware Survey

It’s Tuesday, and there’s been a handful of things I’ve been meaning to post some quick tidbits about. Items that slipped out over the last few days (or weeks) but didn’t really deserve a full post of their own. But with COROS’s new watch band announcement, I figured I’d roll them all together and call it Macaroni. Or enchilada. Or sushi roll.  Mmm…it’s time for lunch.

Which, is a perfect and totally unplanned segue into my first item:

Starbucks Card added to Garmin Edge & Watches:

If you live in the US and Canada, you can now load your Starbucks card atop your Garmin Edge device, or Garmin wearable. Basically, anything that supports Connect IQ and in turn supports the Starbucks app. Which, turns out to be most devices made in the last few years, for the Connect IQ version required for the app. You can see the full list of compatible devices here.

image

You’ll load the app just like any other. Again, if you’re in the US & Canada. If you’re not, then you’re probably not drinking Starbucks as much anyway. Here in Amsterdam, Starbucks are mostly only in the more tourist focused areas (and train stations). Which, was pretty much the same where we lived in Paris too. Either way, one thing you quickly learn is that your Americana Starbucks card is worth approximately nothing elsewhere. Each country is their own little Starbucks card island.

2020-07-21 14.29.16 2020-07-21 14.29.20

Once loaded, this is what you’ll see on your Edge device:

DSC_7525

You’ll simply manually type in the card number you have. In fact, there’s no behind the scenes app connectivity or anything. It’s just type in a number, and it creates a barcode.

DSC_7526 DSC_7530

You’ll crack open the app on the Edge (located under ‘Connect IQ’), and then it’ll show the barcode of the card – just like your phone does today. The ‘trick’ here is that Garmin doesn’t even need to put NFC in their Edge devices for this to magically work, since it’s purely just basic barcode scanning.

DSC_7532

Now, as I alluded to earlier, I can’t actually test this at a real Starbucks, since the nearest US or Canadian Starbucks to me is thousands of miles away. But, given it’s simply scanning an image of a barcode, it’s gonna be pretty hard to screw up.

Of course – the main appeal here is simply stopping by Starbucks after a run or a ride and grabbing something without another thing with you. That’d be super common for me on trips in the US, where after an early morning run I might swing by a Starbucks for a sandwich and drink during the cool-down while headed back to the hotel. This way I get the Starbucks points I’ll never use, and also pay for the purchase too. In fact, I’d say that’s exactly how MOST of my early morning runs in the US go.

So while it’s easy fodder to make fun of, it’s practically pretty useful.

The COROS VERTIX Mojito:

Mojito with green nylon band

Not one to be outdone on the drink front, COROS has launched a new Mojito themed VERTIX. In addition to that they’ve added another color called ‘Space Traveler’. No drinks are served on that edition.

The Mojito one is apparently limited edition, with the company saying they’re making only 200 Mojitos worldwide. It’ll have a sorta translucent body (kinda like the icebreaker edition), which allows you to see inside. It’s unclear if I’ll also find fresh mint bits in there. The strap will be a new hook and loop lightweight nylon material. The battery life remains the same at 60 hours in normal GPS mode, and 150 hours in UltraMax mode. Here’s a gallery of both the Vodka Tonic and Space Cadet options:

All the features remain the same from a technical standpoint. The price however will set you back, as this Mojito will be much more than any bar you’d normally visit  – coming in at $599. It’ll start shipping next week.

Oh – and if you can’t justify this Mojito, you can still pick up one of the new nylon bands. They’ll start shipping immediately for the 46mm units (VERTIX, APEX PRO, and APEX 46mm), and then in August for the APEX 42mm edition. Colors will be Black, Amber, Navy, and Green. All of which are reasonable color names (no ‘Arctic Winter with a Touch of Spring Floral’), and all cost a reasonable $29USD.

Note: I don’t plan to review the Mojito edition. Unless it comes with this packaged to it. Also, ‘Merica, since when did you start making mojito steak rub?!?

Zwift Hardware Survey:

Finally, I’ve got a few tidbits from something that Zwift sent out back a few weeks ago to some number of subscribers. The survey basically asks you 2,328 questions about whether or not you want a Peloton bike for Zwift – aka a Zwift Bike, aka the thing Zwift has been not so quietly working on.

Now technically, Zwift hasn’t officially stated whether or not they’re working on a bike or smart trainer. Though, they did tell their smart trainer hardware partners last year that they’ll be competing with them (in a round-about way). To which they then confirmed in a statement. Given everything in the original job postings, and everything you’ll see below – it’s pretty clear they’re working on a bike (and probably a smart trainer).

In any case, a DCR reader first alerted me to the survey, which I then went and fished back out of my e-mail trash bin to take it myself and see what was in there question-wise. Interestingly, the questions varied from person to person.

image

In any case, for me, the first hints about bike like stuff the survey hit on was handlebar position. Obviously, this could be useful for other accessories, but ultimately, they’d be looking at the most common places people put their hands while riding:

Handposition

Next, they start asking me how big my room is that I Zwift in. This will undoubtedly be used on PowerPoint slides to show a pie chart of people’s rooms. Though, realistically any smart bike will simply fit on a standard trainer mat. Just like every bike (smart or otherwise) does today.

ZwiftRoomSize

Next, we take a slight diversion towards trainer land. This makes sense, as much as there’s appeal to selling a $3,500 or so smart bike, the reality is the bulk of Zwifters won’t be spending that cash on such a machine. So, offering something at lower price points is logical.

Thruaxle

Then it asks about accessories. I checked all the boxes. Again, this isn’t specific to building a bike, but it’s super useful. This is also just as useful for Zwift to build-out their online store, or to figure out where to focus on bundled promotions, etc…

Accessories

Then there’s the towel rack question. Or, I suppose gels, or M&M’s.

Place to put things

Then we’re definitely back in the smart bike realm with a question on pedals. Some bikes, like the Peloton bike, include pedals, while others like the Wahoo/Tacx/Wattbike either don’t, or include a clips/strap type setup.

PedalType

Now, shortly after this question, the survey told me I was no longer needed. Basically, since I was answering honestly, it probably decided I had waaaaay too much gear for my own good, and was no longer useful to them.

However, some of you sent me the questions you got – and they got super interesting. Namely, these two:

IndoorBike1 IndoorBike2

So, yeah, there ya have it – Zwift asking the question as point-blank as possible: Would you buy a smart bike with a large screen that runs Zwift?

Of course – this sort of data would also be useful to Zwift’s partners (or competitors). But they already know that. One only has to look at Peloton’s success to see that. At just shy of a million bikes sold (as of late April, they’re undoubtedly over that now), they’ve more than proven out the ‘just works factor’ concept.

Now, as I’ve said numerous times before, I think Zwift building a smart bike is a smart thing for Zwift as a business, and probably good for the consumers that buy said Zwift hardware. The biggest challenge Zwift has today from a hardware partner/perspective is just getting everything set up initially, there’s so many moving pieces that it can be challenging for new users. But also for regulars. One only needs to look at the crashes and fiasco’s I’ve had in the last three weeks with the Zwift app on varying hardware, some of which undoubtedly would be smoother if Zwift ‘owned’ everything end to end.

That said – what’s good for Zwift likely isn’t necessarily good for consumers at large (or long term). Ultimately, there will be features in whatever Zwift makes that are unique to Zwift’s hardware, otherwise, there’s little reason to buy it (unless they simply undercut on price, which is unlikely). Whether or not Zwift makes those features available to leverage for competitors is a big question. For example, smart bikes have been out almost a year now, with buttons dedicated to steering – and Zwift hasn’t enabled those for anything. That’s fine in the sense that steering is super limited today within Zwift anyway.

But what happens when we look at gear shifting display in Zwift? That’s only available for a single smart bike (Wattbike ATOM) and only on Bluetooth Smart (not on ANT+). Why hasn’t that been available to any other smart bike company? On one hand, it could simply be that Zwift is ‘too busy’ dealing with the surge in demand. But one also has to consider the possibility that by making these competitor bikes less appealing, they in turn make their own bike more appealing down the road. Plus, in the grand scheme of ‘too busy’, telling the smart bike companies which data field to populate is trivial.

Obviously, Zwift isn’t going to cut-off competitors’ hardware. That’s silly. Today, 100% of Zwift’s customers are on competitors’ (err…partners’) hardware. But it’s equally silly (naïve) to presume that Zwift won’t make choices that limit what partners can access or do. Or limit how customers may access parts of Zwift on certain hardware. And if there’s anything we’ve learned in technology – it’s that competition is good for consumers.

Still, I can’t wait for a Zwift Smart Bike with a built-in display. In other words, I can’t wait for a Zwift variant of a Peloton bike – something that ‘just works’, every single darn time, without fiddling.

Until then, I’ll be out measuring the size of my Zwift room on my non-existent yacht. Towel holders not included.

Thanks for reading!

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31 Comments

  1. Anirudh

    Personally, I prefer filter coffee over Starbucks:

    link to youtube.com

    • Anthony Leigh

      I’m wondering about it’s use in the UK if it ever made it – plenty of drive thru’s here, as a driver, we sit on the right, most people wear their watches on their left arm though! Big stretch required!! Still, I’d rather make my own coffee than pay a similar amount to a meal for a hot drink, that to be fair isn’t as nice as McDonalds coffee over here in the uk!

    • andre

      @Anirudh: me too. As a matter of fact, I prefer any coffee over Starbucks.

    • Stuart

      Starbucks make coffee? I thought they just swept the floor and ran hot water through that.

    • Nick

      These anti-Starbucks comments make me want to ask Ray to add “Like” functionality.

  2. Michael Hanreck

    Yes! Those buttons…I want them steering, please oh please.

  3. David

    I can’t understand why the Starbucks app can’t run on a fenix 3. It sure can’t be a ConnectIQ version thing. There’s nothing to the app. I still can’t justify upgrading my F3. It just works.

    • Yeah, I’d agree in theory this should be an easy one. About the only caveat I could think of is perhaps rendering the barcode with a lower resolution screen? I don’t know off-hand the resolutions though and whether there’s any meaningful difference (at all)?

    • David

      You are most likely correct. The F3 is 216 x 216, and the lowest resolution on supported devices seems to be 240×240. So, I’m about 11,000 pixels short. I guess I will have to lug out my phone, unless I’m on my bike.

  4. Eric Mills

    Hey Ray. In that first picture of Watch… where did you get that green band? I need it. 🙂

  5. Raur M H

    But what about people that use ”dumb trainer” and a powermeter/cadence sensor to ride zwift, i would like to guess that we are safe for the long run as our experience in zwift dosent depend on a smart trainer compatibility with zwift right?

  6. Ronald

    I received the zwift survey as well.

    I also got a question if it was appealing to get a bike with a financing option. (Monthly fee)

    And also some questions until what price point the bike was still interesting for me.

  7. Tim

    Part of me wonders if the Zwift Bike is the solution to all the esports calibration chatter. Suddenly it’s easy to verify someone’s setup.

  8. Michael Coyne

    I’ve been scanning my rewards cards’ barcodes and QR codes for years already on my FR 935 using generic barcode/rewards cards apps on Connect IQ.

    There’s plenty of them – give them a try! Why limit yourself to just starbucks when you can have a full wallet’s worth of rewards cards not only all in your wrist, but all in one widget!

    I even made QR codes to share my contact info, another for leaving a google review for the store I work at, and things like that and added them to some QR code widgets. The ones I use for that are called “QR Code Viewer” and “My QR code” and I just put in a direct download link for dropbox which has my contact file on it (and in the case of the review, a link to the google review page). There’s tons more you can do with it though!

    Still neat to see the Starbucks one officially from them. If you guys like that, you should try one of the 3rd part generic ones that lets you put whatever you want there! Garmin’s screens scan WAY better than phone ones – I used to hold my membership cards on my phone but they always had trouble scanning. I’ve NEVER had a problem scanning them off the Garmin screen.

  9. Pedro

    The Peloton twitter thread was the best rabbit hole of the past 3 months…

  10. BBrown

    Re: personalized Zwift survey – if you answer “All of the above” every time, does it ask “Are you Ray Maker?”

  11. roland howard

    Coffee at starbucks is like sex in prison, you can get it, but it will be rough.

  12. jww

    The Starbucks app/widget just FEELS like something that won’t work in person when you really need it.

    Totally unrelated but saw Garmin now offers the opportunity to customize watch-strap combos, in the case their 20+ options don’t suit ya.

    And bigtime US politicians are wearing Whoops to monitor for COVID. It may do them well to peruse some HR accuracy testing such as this site!

    link to axios.com

  13. Hi,

    greetings from Germany. While we recorded our velohome podcast we were asking ourselves, who is better preparde for this kind of attack, Wahoo or Garmin? Or in other words, if you got the workaround for an upload, would the same work for wahoo as well?
    And generally spoken, which one to choose in this kind of infrastructure apocalypse…