Watch vs Computer vs iPhone

What do you use to track your training?

  • Bike Computer

    Votes: 21 46.7%
  • GPS Watch

    Votes: 14 31.1%
  • Smart Phone

    Votes: 18 40.0%

  • Total voters
    45

LemonCowboy

Active Member
Location
Yorkshire
Can a GPS watch eg Fenix 3 (with HR) replace a bike computer eg Garmin 810?

I haven't got either at this point.. but I'll be investing soon and I don't want to be wasting money only to have to buy something else the next month.

I don't train with HR atm so want a device I can use on the bike with HR that can track my ride and upload to Strava. My problem is i also will be back running soon - obviously a bike computer isnt much help there.

At the moment im just using an iPhone for everything - there is also the argument that all i need is a mount and a bluetooth HR strap..

What are the pros/cons of the each aside from the logistics of having to carry a phone while running for example?

Thoughts?
 

cyberknight

As long as I breathe, I attack.
You can get mounts for handlebars
http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/...gclid=CKzBlIXIjdICFQ6eGwodoG0AaA&gclsrc=aw.ds
In your situation i would by one of those rather than a dedicated bike gps
 

Tin Pot

Guru
Can a GPS watch eg Fenix 3 (with HR) replace a bike computer eg Garmin 810?

I haven't got either at this point.. but I'll be investing soon and I don't want to be wasting money only to have to buy something else the next month.

I don't train with HR atm so want a device I can use on the bike with HR that can track my ride and upload to Strava. My problem is i also will be back running soon - obviously a bike computer isnt much help there.

At the moment im just using an iPhone for everything - there is also the argument that all i need is a mount and a bluetooth HR strap..

What are the pros/cons of the each aside from the logistics of having to carry a phone while running for example?

Thoughts?
I used just phone for years, the Apple Watch makes things easier for running and swimming - and bike too. Just glance at your wrist for stats or directions.

I've never wanted a bike computer but I may get one to display watts now I have a power meter.
 

dfthe1

Senior Member
I used my phone for a while but it wasn't ideal -- having the screen on constantly really drains the battery, so I ended up having a cheap Aldi cycle computer to show speed and distance and keeping the phone screen off.

I now use a Vivoactive HR which I love. It tracks activity and heart rate throughout the day and I use it for both running and cycling. Garmin Connect syncs directly to Strava and also shows some data that I would need Strava premium for.

I have a mount to attach it to the handlebars and have a chest strap. In practice, as I have the Aldi computer on the bars already, I often just keep it on my wrist.

One downside is that you can only show 3 pieces of data one screen at a time, which can be limiting -- but again the Aldi cheapie helps with that!
 

BikeCurious

Über Member
The advantage of a bike computer like the Garmin 810/820/1000 is that it can show you a map of where you are in real time + provide turn by turn navigation. Of course your phone can do this too but as others have said the battery life may not be too great with the screen on all day. Plus your phone may not be waterproof compared to a dedicated bike computer and probably costs a whole lot more to replace if it accidentally falls off your bars. If you're not interested in mapping then a GPS watch may be the ideal solution.
 
I use a Suunto Ambit2 watch, which is one of the watches used by triathletes (mine was bought for mountaineering and hill-walking). If someone gave me a Garmin 810/820/1000 I really doubt I'd use it as the only thing it does beyond what my watch does is display actual maps. I plan routes in advance and the watch can display those and give directions (as can a Fenix) so I don't need the map and don't especially want to be tempted to stare at a map whilst cycling along in any case (which I am sure I would). The watch also has battery life of at least 16 hours, and up to 50, with the gps active and recording data.

If the 'phone is sufficient in terms of battery life, and if the accuracy and gps log is adequate for you then the handlebar mount option may be a simple, cheap choice. Running with a 'phone as your recording device sounds pretty unappealing though, certainly I think merely walking is and people I know who run don't tend to think it's a great option, mainly since you need to strap it somewhere where you can maintain gps lock, which pretty much means 'lump on arm' and even then (by repute) doesn't work terribly well. In contrast, watches are light, maintain gps lock extremely well (well, mine does) and do all the same things, bar the map display bit. i.e. the Suunto can record cadence, power, HR, running cadence, plus all the track items and customisable application data (I record HR zone data, for example). The data can be automatically synched to Strava from the Suunto Movescount application, which is the Suunto equivalent of Garmin Connect; same applies with the Fenix via Garmin Connect.

So, for multiple activities, a high end watch which can display and record all the data you /might/ find interesting or useful seems to me to have a lot of advantages and only one downside (actual maps).
 
U

User33236

Guest
There are multi sport watches available that are used by triathletes.

I've no personal experience of them, though I think @User33236 has.
For running and cycling a multisport watch is a good idea. Mrs SG has gone through numerous sports watches over the years, from couch potato 9 years ago to completing Ironman last year, and started out with a basic watch which was simply a timer up to her latest Garmin, the 920xt. The 920xt is an excellent bit of kit but pricey. I was lucky enough to get one for myself cheap from a colleague who'd stopped due to repeated injuries.

I've no personal experience of the Fenix 3 but first read of the specs look good.

Pluses for it
  • The strap looks to be replaceable. Some watches the strap in an integral part of the casing and cannot be replaced easily if it breaks.
  • It has ant+ so can use a chest strap for HR. Sweat etc interferes too much on those with wrist pick up.
  • The ant+ can also be used with other accessories like speed and cadence and, I believe in the case of the Fenix 3, ant+ power meters.
  • Batery life varies quite a lot but on paper the Fenix 3 looks good.
  • It was Bluetooth and wifi making it easy to sync data even when out and about. Note the Bluetooth is almost certainly for data tramsfer only and will not work to connect to Bluetooth sensors.
Negatives:
  • Whilst cycling it's more awkward to have to look at your watch to see data that look an at Edge or similar on your bars.
  • The watch is attached to you and not the bike and makes it more prone to damage if you come off. A friend broke the screen on her 920xt afrer tripping whilst running.
  • Small screen gives limited data without switching views and can be difficult for some people to see.
  • It can be hot and sweaty to wear on your wrist in warm weather.
 
OP
LemonCowboy

LemonCowboy

Active Member
Location
Yorkshire
I use a Suunto Ambit2 watch, which is one of the watches used by triathletes (mine was bought for mountaineering and hill-walking). If someone gave me a Garmin 810/820/1000 I really doubt I'd use it as the only thing it does beyond what my watch does is display actual maps. I plan routes in advance and the watch can display those and give directions (as can a Fenix) so I don't need the map and don't especially want to be tempted to stare at a map whilst cycling along in any case (which I am sure I would). The watch also has battery life of at least 16 hours, and up to 50, with the gps active and recording data.

If the 'phone is sufficient in terms of battery life, and if the accuracy and gps log is adequate for you then the handlebar mount option may be a simple, cheap choice. Running with a 'phone as your recording device sounds pretty unappealing though, certainly I think merely walking is and people I know who run don't tend to think it's a great option, mainly since you need to strap it somewhere where you can maintain gps lock, which pretty much means 'lump on arm' and even then (by repute) doesn't work terribly well. In contrast, watches are light, maintain gps lock extremely well (well, mine does) and do all the same things, bar the map display bit. i.e. the Suunto can record cadence, power, HR, running cadence, plus all the track items and customisable application data (I record HR zone data, for example). The data can be automatically synched to Strava from the Suunto Movescount application, which is the Suunto equivalent of Garmin Connect; same applies with the Fenix via Garmin Connect.

So, for multiple activities, a high end watch which can display and record all the data you /might/ find interesting or useful seems to me to have a lot of advantages and only one downside (actual maps).
Maps I definitely don't want/need so it sounds like the bike computers don't hold much value over the watches for me personally. Maybe one day if I get a power meter..
 
OP
LemonCowboy

LemonCowboy

Active Member
Location
Yorkshire
UPDATE:
I've found a Tomtom multisport (not HR) to record swim/bike/run, and purchased a Coospo bluetooth HRM I can hook up to both the watch and my phone (for flexibility to use either).
Will update once I've received both and used them..

If interested, I found the Tomtom multiport for £45 on Sportspersuit and the coospo HRM for £21 from Amazon, so if all is well should end up quite a cost effective cover-all bases answer to spending big £££ on other bits of kit.
 

EltonFrog

Legendary Member
Can a GPS watch eg Fenix 3 (with HR) replace a bike computer eg Garmin 810?

I haven't got either at this point.. but I'll be investing soon and I don't want to be wasting money only to have to buy something else the next month.

I don't train with HR atm so want a device I can use on the bike with HR that can track my ride and upload to Strava. My problem is i also will be back running soon - obviously a bike computer isnt much help there.

At the moment im just using an iPhone for everything - there is also the argument that all i need is a mount and a bluetooth HR strap..

What are the pros/cons of the each aside from the logistics of having to carry a phone while running for example?

Thoughts?
You can get mounts for handlebars
http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/...gclid=CKzBlIXIjdICFQ6eGwodoG0AaA&gclsrc=aw.ds
In your situation i would by one of those rather than a dedicated bike gps
I use an old Garmin 610 for running and cycling with the mount as @cyberknight has posted, the mount is very substansial and you done need the zip ties as the watch strap holds it all in place, im guessing the new wathces are even better. Both work very well, I too have no use for maps, on the rare occasion when I do I use the phone on I.
 

MrGrumpy

Huge Member
Location
Fly Fifer
For me I`ve come from cycling only to start doing a bit of running, so had already bought an Edge 810 2 years ago and now I`ve bought a forerunner for running :/ . Maybe should of sold the Edge 810 and bought a multisport watch but I quite like the big screen on a bike and map screen has been useful !
 
OP
LemonCowboy

LemonCowboy

Active Member
Location
Yorkshire
UPDATE: I've got through 4 swims 3 runs and two cycles with the Tomtom multisport (bike + run w/HR).

Thoughts so far;
Run: Works fine - better than carrying a phone. Neat features like setting 'laps' (i set every km) which buzzes and lets you know your split which i like.
Swim: Works ok? Still getting into the swing of my swimming and i've found if lengths are anything less than a full start to finish effort it wont record the length. Should you find yourself Doris-dodging as I have (sometimes busy pool) and have to stop/slow a lot to swerve, this can either not count the length or count it twice if you have a good strong start again in the middle of a length. Seems fine when completing full lengths uninterrupted.
Bike: Worked fine but not convinced the battery life is adequate for anything further than an Olympic distance tri (TBC). Using HR on first ride the stated 10 hours of use battery lasted 1 hr 45.. reading Tomtom documentation afterward advised this is probably when we stopped for coffee and i left the device out of range of my hrm. Apparently the battery usage is MUCH greater while searching for connected Bluetooth devices. My second ride was without HR for 4+ hours and coped well. Clear screen for speed and easy touch buttons to flick through Speed, Total Distance, avg pace etc.

All in all a few more longer rides req'd to fully test with HR but happy i've not spent more so far as it's doing the trick well. Upload to strava/elsewhere is easy too just open the Tomtom sports app and it'll sync then upload your activities automatically.
 

xsubsquid

New Member
UPDATE: I've got through 4 swims 3 runs and two cycles with the Tomtom multisport (bike + run w/HR).

Thoughts so far;
Run: Works fine - better than carrying a phone. Neat features like setting 'laps' (i set every km) which buzzes and lets you know your split which i like.
Swim: Works ok? Still getting into the swing of my swimming and i've found if lengths are anything less than a full start to finish effort it wont record the length. Should you find yourself Doris-dodging as I have (sometimes busy pool) and have to stop/slow a lot to swerve, this can either not count the length or count it twice if you have a good strong start again in the middle of a length. Seems fine when completing full lengths uninterrupted.
Bike: Worked fine but not convinced the battery life is adequate for anything further than an Olympic distance tri (TBC). Using HR on first ride the stated 10 hours of use battery lasted 1 hr 45.. reading Tomtom documentation afterward advised this is probably when we stopped for coffee and i left the device out of range of my hrm. Apparently the battery usage is MUCH greater while searching for connected Bluetooth devices. My second ride was without HR for 4+ hours and coped well. Clear screen for speed and easy touch buttons to flick through Speed, Total Distance, avg pace etc.

All in all a few more longer rides req'd to fully test with HR but happy I've not spent more so far as it's doing the trick well. Upload to strava/elsewhere is easy too just open the Tomtom sports app and it'll sync then upload your activities automatically.
LemonCowboy, I just stumbled across this forum while idly contemplating this issue for myself and noted your post above and here. I recognize the thread is old, but perhaps my information might be valuable to someone somewhere. I think there are multiple potential solutions available. Here's how I handle it:

I use a Garmin Fenix HR watch and have my cadence and speed sensors connected to the watch.* The watch feeds the information post-ride to the Garmin app on my Android phone. The Garmin app then ports the data to Strava, Endomondo, MyFitnessPal and Virgin Pulse (an app my employer contracts with for earning money for exercising - keeps the sheep healthy and gives me the money to buy expensive adult toys).

Strava feeds another app called Charity Miles, which allows me to turn each ride into a donation to the charity of my choice.

Endomondo is my repository of all exercise data since I ride bikes, trikes, sail, hike, run, walk etc. Strava is a bit limited and doesn't cover 1/100th of the activities Endomondo covers.

MyFitnessPal keeps me from overeating and is the reason I've lost 70 pounds.

I still find myself contemplating the cycle computer idea, but I haven't convinced myself. Power drain on the watch is not that bad except in areas with weak GPS signals. At the same time, even on my most isolated sections of the New York State Erie Canal trail with the watch in cycle computer mode for 8 to 10 hours, I don't think I ever dipped below 20% remaining after starting the day with a full charge. Since the thing can fully charge in the time it takes to enjoy a nice dinner somewhere, power has never been an issue.

As for the map functions of a cycle computer, that's about the only aspect that has me interested. My phone is perfectly fine for that purpose right now, but after retirement there's a part of me that would like to ditch the smart phone for a dumb phone with hot spot. There's less chance of annoying people wasting my day that way. In that scenario, I'd want the cycle computer to take over map duties. It remains to be seen (6 years) if I really feel so strongly about the issue that I decide to carry through with it. After all, putting the smart phone in airplane mode rather solves the problem nicely too.


*As a side note, I'm a 3-wheel recumbent rider as a well as a biker. For 3-wheel recumbent users, DO NOT buy the package deal Garmin speed/cadence sensor. You need the two to be completely unique, individual. There's something shared about the package deal and on a recumbent, with the cadence sensor out front, and the speed sensor on the rear wheel, they won't pair together with the watch or a cycle computer. I don't pretend to know why. I only know multiple attempts with multiple devices proves it to be the case.
 
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