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Week in Review–March 28th, 2021

WeekInReview22

The Week in Review is a collection of both all the goodness I’ve written during the past week around the internet, as well as a small pile of links I found interesting – generally endurance sports related. I’ve often wondered what to do with all of the coolness that people write, and while I share a lot of it on Twitter and Facebook, this is a better forum for sending it on to y’all. Most times these different streams don’t overlap, so be on the lookout at all these places for good stuff!

So with that, let’s get into the action!

Sports Tech Deals:

There’s a handful of sports tech deals out there right now, note that the REI deals end at the end of Monday the 29th.

ProductSale PriceAmazonOther siteSale Notes
Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case - $50 Off!$149⚡ I use AirPods primarily when I'm travelling just to listen in airports, planes, etc... I don't tend to use these for workouts due to them falling out. Personally, I just use the basic model.
Apple Airpods (2nd Gen) - $30 off
$159
$119I use AirPods primarily when I'm travelling just to listen in airports, planes, etc... I don't tend to use these for workouts due to them falling out.
Apple Airpods Pro - $30 off!
$249
$219
Garmin Edge 130 Plus - 25% off!
$199
$149This is the first time we've seen the Edge 130 Plus on sale. The 'Plus' variant is notable compared to the regular unit for having ClimbPro on it, plus a handful of other tweaks. $149 is a good deal for it.
Garmin Edge 130 Plus Bundle - 20% off!$199This is the first time we've seen the Edge 130 Plus on sale. The 'Plus' variant is notable compared to the regular unit for having ClimbPro on it, plus a handful of other tweaks. This bundle includes a heart rate chest strap as well.
Garmin Forerunner 745 - 10% off
$499/499EUR
$452The FR745 multisport GPS watch has music support (including Spotify), and is otherwise a full triathlon watch. This is notably the first time we've seen it on sale since release. So $50 off is better than nothing off.
Garmin Forerunner 935
$499
$269⚡ Sure, it's not the latest edition, but the FR935 is the staple of many triathletes and runners, and it still an incredibly solid watch. We saw this a bit lower last summer on Amazon Prime Day ($239) - but beyond that, this is pretty darn low. Also, I say $100-$200 off, because the 'base' price fluctuates a bit these days. Sometimes retail is $399 sometimes $499.
Garmin Instinct - $100 off
$299
$189Sure, the new Solar variants came out last summer with a few new features, but at their core the Instincts are mostly the same. $189 is still a strong price for this watch.
Garmin RVR315 Varia Radar - Save 20%$120I believe this is the first sale of the Garmin Varia RVR315 cycling radar. This unit doesn't have a taillight, so it's a bit smaller as a result. Same radar tech though, and compatible with Garmin/Stages/Hammerhead/Wahoo bike computers.
Garmin Vivoactive 4/4S - $100 off
$299
$249This is Garmin's current offering to compete with the Apple Watch series (alongside the Garmin Venu), and this is a good price, though, it does go lower from time to time (not since Black Friday 2020).
GoPro Hero 9 Black - $50 off$399⚡ This is the camera I use for all my daily shooting during sports. Actually, I've bought a few of them. Note that if you're a GoPro Plus Subscriber, then it's a bit cheaper at $349 from GoPro directly, but otherwise, it's $449.
GoPro Max - $50 off
$499
$449

DCRAINMAKER.COM Posts in the Past Week:

Here’s all the goodness that ended up on the main page this past week

Wednesday: Polar Vantage M2 In-Depth Review
Wednesday: Garmin Rally Power Meter In-Depth Review (SPD/SPD-SL/LOOK KEO)
Friday: Peloton Acquires Atlas Wearables: A Peloton Wearable Ahead?

Those two In-Depth reviews were beasts! I’ll probably touch on the Polar Ignite 2 this week, more of a detailed hands-on post than a review, since it won’t ship for another month.

YouTube Videos This Past Week:

Here’s what hit the tubes over on the You of Tube, definitely don’t forget to subscribe there to get notified of videos the second they hit!

Stuff I Found Interesting Around The Interwebs:

Here’s a not-so-small smattering of all the random things that I stumbled on while doing my civic duty to find the end of the Internet. Also, there’s a few things this week that were actually from a week or two ago – I’m just catching up on this list:

1) Apple Considering a Casio-like Rugged Apple Watch version: This would be the first meaningful design departure in the Apple Watch series, if true. Sure, they had the crazy expensive Hermes ones, but by and large, those all looked the same and had the same underlying specs. The key question here though in my mind isn’t so much ruggedness, but what sets Casio and like-watches apart: Battery life. I suppose no matter what Apple does, they sell enough units to make it work, but if they err on the side of prolonged battery life, then that could have ripple effects elsewhere in the industry.

2) Zwift Pace Partners Start Rotating Routes: I love this. Mostly, cause I really enjoyed pace partners. I use past tense because while I loved them for a few months, I could only do so many 100% pancake-flat Coco (Coco Cadence, before her rename) rides, which is all she ever rode. The other faster pace partners were generally too fast for me on the hillier routes, so I’m jazzed that now Coco will meander to other routes with more terrain variability. In fact, I used Coco on a new route today using this. Though, I do wish it was easier to see where the pace bots are within the pack. There are countless times it’s not clear on the screen whether you’re in front or behind the bot, as the symbol isn’t showing properly (on screen, on mini-map, or in list of names). Still, one of my favorite ways to do a ride without a plan.

3) How exactly Canyon is impacted by Suez failboat: This is a surprisingly detailed article, going into all the nuances of how much this will start impacting companies like Canyon and others (but specifically Canyon) and how they source parts.

4) Karoo adds ANT+ Lighting Support: I might cover this tomorrow or so in a dedicated post, as it’s notable enough because it’s the first time a non-Garmin entity has added ANT+ lighting support to their product. Previously, this has been solely limited to the ANT+ Varia Radar. Interestingly, this is a really good example of Hammerhead understanding that while ANT+ lighting support would hardly be called mission-critical to the vast majority of users, it is mission-critical to some. And at this stage in their product development, they’re transitioning from checking off bigger ticket items to more nuanced ones. It’s going to be very difficult to argue in a few months’ time as to why exactly someone would purchase a Wahoo ROAM over a Hammerhead Karoo (currently, that reasoning would be around structured training, primarily with TrainerRoad & Today’s Plan integration).

5) Speed Skating Rink Design gives skaters tailwind: This has been in the news for a few months now, but now there is a final study. It’s just super fascinating to me. To begin with, the concept that there’s a wind curtain to keep the spectator area from warming the ice, and then the concept that such an invisible curtain could be slightly tweaked to improve the chances of records at a facility.

6) Fitbit & Tile integration: You can now convert your Fitbit Inspire 2 into a Tile tracker, allowing you to use your phone to find your Fitbit. Now, at first glance I’d say that’s kinda weird, because most people don’t take-off their Fitbit for long (given the long battery life). However, the inverse is also possible and more useful – you can use your Fitbit to find your phone. Though, if it’s anything like Garmin’s find your phone feature, I find the moment you need it most, is the moment it doesn’t seem to want to work (perhaps the app is closed or not responding or whatever). Also, it’s unclear to me why this is only on the lower end Inspire 2, and not offered on the higher end Fitbit watches too.

7) Three cyclists unofficially compete in Netherlands Wind Championships: The event officially can’t be held this year due to various COVID-related event restrictions, however, in the last windstorm three cyclists did earn themselves honorary slots for next year. As I write this, it’s currently winding out very strongly. Interestingly, it’s been so strong these past two weeks that the very long breakwater/wall/pier I usually use for wind test videos for drones has been closed due to the exceptionally high wind. Gotta find me another pier…

Sports Tech Device Firmware Updates This Week:

Each week I quickly highlight some of the new firmware, app, software, and website service updates that I see go out. If you’re a sports technology company and release an update – shoot me a quick note (just one-liners are perfect, or Tweet it at me is even better) and I’ll make mention of it here. If I don’t know about it, I won’t be able to post about it. Sound good?  Oh – and if you want to get a head start on things, this page is a great resource for watching Garmin, Wahoo, Polar, and a few other firmware updates.

Garmin Fenix 6/MARQ/Enduro BETA Firmware Update: Bug fixes

Garmin Instinct/Solar BETA Firmware Update: Bug fixes

Garmin Vivoactive 4/4S/Venu BETA Firmware Update: Bug fixes, plus added languages

Garmin Venu SQ/SQ Music Firmware Update: Added broadcast HR control, plus other tweaks.

Fitbit Charge 4 Firmware Update: This adds SpO2 tracking and skin temperature tracking.

Hammerhead Karoo Firmware Update: ANT+ Lighting controls, 4iiii Viiiiva support, a slew of UI changes, sensor changes, and lots more

Wahoo RIVAL GPS Watch Firmware Update: Stability improvements

With that – thanks for reading!

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21 Comments

  1. David E.

    Notice that RIVAL firmware update. I’ve sort of lost the plot on the RIVAL. Have they added any significant features that were missing (eg, structured workouts) or corrected any of the HR or GPS issues that seemed to make the watch such a disappointment when it was released?

    • Nothing major unit. Most of the things would be smaller/minor things – like the paused timer reminder (if you forgot to unpause and started going again), though, broadcasting running pace from Rival via ANT+ & BLE is a nice touch (and appropriate for winter).

      The full list is here: link to support.wahoofitness.com

      My understanding is GPS has been improved a bit as well, and I’ll probably circle back around to testing it soon as other features near.

    • David E.

      Cool. Thanks. My 935 has been acting a little squirrely lately. Wish the Rival was where it needs to be. Or wish Garmin would just go ahead and release a 955. Sigh.

    • Ben C

      Im also holding off buying another watch and waiting for the 955. Knowing my luck if I bought a 945 today, the 955 will come out tomorrow.

    • Brian

      My 935 is also acting “squirrely” lately. Sometimes, mid-way through a run it will stop recording and display the “caution” triangle sign on the screen. Only plugging it in will help get it out of this mode, and each time I discover the battery had not run out and it didn’t delete the workout that was in progress – it just got “stuck”. Also, over the past year or so, the battery life has progressively degraded a lot; it no longer has the awesome 2-week battery life it once did, now only lasting 4-5 days. The only additional feature I really want is maps, although pulse ox would be fun to play with too. I’m thinking the 945 is the new one for me and keeping my fingers crossed that once the 955 comes out, the 945 will drop in price. I think I only paid around $300 for my 935 new when it was on sale. Honestly, spending more than that for a watch – especially one that will only last a few years – is the most I’m willing to pay.

    • Ryan Colligan

      My 935 has also been finicky lately. Only getting through 1 or 2 workouts a week without needing a charge… I’ve been hopefully about the 955 for just over a year now but to no avail…

  2. A Zwifters

    I did a quick post on my blog with the complete pace partner schedule: link to zwiftforkids.com

  3. Mike Richie

    Garmin is doing a sale right now (until April 4) on the Vivoactive 4 for $100 off ($249) which is reflected in the link above from Amazon as well (not $279). Now I just need to decide if I should get this or a 935. Decisions, decisions (but I am tired of not having open water swim capabilities).

    • Mike Richie

      Not sure if anyone will see this in time, but Amazon just dropped the price of a NEW (not refurbished) Forerunner 935 to $269.00. That just convinced me to pull the trigger as it’s only $20 more than the on-sale Vivoactive 4. The 935 doesn’t have Music or Garmin-Pay nor the Maps of the later 945 or Fenix 5 Plus (and above), but it has most of the important fitness activity features (at least to me) with most of the later watches really just refining stuff or adding frills. And my Apple Watch has Maps, ApplePay and Music (which now does Spotify).

    • Thanks for the heads up Mike! Added it in!

  4. Duncan Tindall

    @DC Rainmaker – there’s an easy way to tell if the pace partner is ahead or behind. If you aren’t sure, she (they) are behind. When in front there’s a big column of blue that goes up to the clouds showing where they are. And that’s visible from way way back. So if you aren’t sure if ahead or behind then 99.99% they are behind. At least the ‘gap’ indicator is working properly now and shows it in the right order as you are detaching from the front.

    And Coco is just right for a couple of hours of quality riding. B and A have their places I’m sure, but if I’m doing a short intense workout then I’ll do a structured session not pace partner.

    • So I used to get the column, though I don’t see that anymore. I often – but not always – see the chevron, like in the attached image. Though, it can disappear just as easily often (fwiw, this was, and usually is, Apple TV).

      However, what I don’t understand is why the Pace Partner icon on the mini map comes and goes. Meaning, if the point of it is to show me the pace partner location on the mini-map, why does it seem to not be there most of the time. It’s almost as if the mini-map icon is tied to the main icon. And if one is working, the other is, but if one isn’t working, the other isn’t.

    • JP Miller

      I also don’t like how her chevron is almost the identical color to the thumbstorm of “ride on”s that is always present in her group

  5. Bob

    I can not get my Edge 130 plus to recognize my Bontrager ANT+ lights. Old Edge 520 did work.

    Anyone got this to work?

  6. Will

    For anyone interested… there are only a couple hours left in that REI 20% off Members Sale and they just added the Garmin Rally line to their website (note: they qualify, but the sale ends at midnight PST, USA on March 29th)

    • Ahh, bummer, caught this about 12 mins too late!

      It’s funny, I had a feeling REI might do that. Or more specifically, might be why they held back on adding them last week. REI has a quiet tendency to supposedly go out of stock of Vector 3 every time the 20% sale is on, and then magically the day after it ends, they come back in stock.

      Used to be the same with Wahoo & Tacx trainers, until they finally got pressured enough to add in the ‘no indoor trainer’ clause last year.

    • Will

      That was my suspicion as well when they didn’t have them at all last week and Amazon was out of stock. I just happened to check one last time. We’ll see if power pedals get added to exclusions for the anniversary sale.

  7. usr

    That Apple Watch rumor almost sounds like a company used to dominating the status category panicking upon realizing that in some circles, the Apple Watch might actually be considered the poor man’s Fenix.

    Or perhaps it will be awesome, the mechanical engineering of the Apple Watch has always been exceptional (whereas Garmin, judging by FCC internals, seem almost delightfully “good enough”: “what’s the point? it’s a piece of electronics, just make a small PCB, hook it up with battery and display and call it a day” – and they are right about it!)

    • In my opinion it’ll totally come down to two B words: Batteries & Buttons.

      If Apple changes neither, then it won’t impact Garmin considerably. If Apple changes one of them, then it’ll impact Garmin. If Apple changes both of them considerably, then Garmin could be in a touch spot at the low-end (e.g. Vivo series).

      The higher end (e.g. Forerunner/Fenix) is more tied to the platform, which Apple is nowhere near when it comes to the sports functionality that people expect in an endurance sports watch. It would take years for them to reach that level of maturity. Developing deep endurance sports watch/bike computer platforms is ironically not an area you can easily throw money at, as much of it takes many iterations with real-world feedback. In Garmin’s case, we’re talking roughly 10-13 years of finding out the nuances of what Type-A athletes love and hate.

      It’s easy to dismiss the depth of that, until one tries to make a competitor product, and we look at the never ending graveyard of companies that have tried to enter the endurance or even mid-range market.

  8. Pavel Vishnyakov

    Regarding the bike against the wind challenge – I don’t think those riders qualify. As far as I remember from previous years, you are supposed to ride a typical Dutch city bike – that heavy gearless non-aero thing. Looking at the pictures, I see modern road bikes.

    • Patrick Utrecht

      It’s not qualify as “you’ve competed successfully” but they get an automatically assigned slot to participate in the next event. So they’re qualified and allowed to compete in the next time the event takes place (which is rather random).
      As for the event itself, you’re correct. You get the bike from the organization and are by no means modern road bikes.