Author Topic: Watches for day-to-day riding  (Read 1447 times)

Watches for day-to-day riding
« on: September 26, 2019, 10:16:27 pm »
While I'm asking daft questions, any experiences with Garmin watches for recording everyday cycling mileage etc? I've got an Edge Touring Plus that I use for real riding. However, the club mileage competition, forum threads on mileage tracking and so on have got me trying to record every ride - my commuting/utility mileage probably exceeds everything else.

I was looking at a small, basic cycling GPS for these everyday rides, but I now find myself recording other activity as well, partly as a result of a recent cardiac bypass. My wife bought me a Vivosmart 3, and I've used it far more than I ever expected, for recording steps and as a basic heart-rate monitor when exercising, but it doesn't do cycling (no GPS) and it doesn't link to chest straps. As well as recording other activities, a watch would work with whatever bike I happened to use at the time, and it's more natural than fitting a GPS for short utility rides.

I've no plans to give up the Touring Plus for Audaxes, so something that just records every bike ride and sends it to Garmin Connect seems the ticket to me - as long as I can use a chest strap with it when doing gym exercises.

I can see, though, that having to start and stop the tracking for every ride would be a pain, as would anything that took a while to find its satellites.

I notice that Blacks are doing a really good price on the Fenix 5 at present. That's a bit high-end for me, as I don't need fancy features. There again...

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2019, 10:50:05 pm »
I'm using a Garmin Instinct. It is like a cheaper, slightly simpler version of the Fenix. Also a lot lighter weight, good for wearing it all day.
I use it for recording most commuting and everyday cycling etc. Easy enough to start/stop, it is pretty quick to get GPS.
Has wrist heart rate, OK for most things, or can connect to another heart rate monitor / chest strap if you want it more accurate.

Also pretty good for running, or walking, or gym etc. And does step counting. Can sync it all automatically to Garmin Connect.


Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2019, 11:17:44 pm »
It may be worth checking if it can do gps by pairing to your phone and using your phones gps.
Alternatively for commuting etc look at the latest Garmin speed sensors which can store distance data and then upload over WiFi. Dcrainmaker has an article recently.

Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2019, 11:28:18 pm »
Having owned quite a few GPS watches I have finally found one that suits my needs in the Amazfit Bip.  Most astonishing is its battery life which lasts up to a month between charges even with frequent use of the GPS and HRM.  The only slight issue that natively it doesn't export to Strava but there is a very good 3rd part app called "Notify and Fitness" which vastly enhances the functionality of the watch, including sync to Strava.  I would say that you need to be fairly tech savvy to get the best out of it but it's well worth the learning curve and its only £63 on Amazon at the moment!
Most of the stuff I say is true because I saw it in a dream and I don't have the presence of mind to make up lies when I'm asleep.   Bryan Andreas

Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2019, 11:42:50 pm »
Lots of options within Garmin's range:-

Vivosport does wrist-based HR and GPS at ~£150.

Venu is the shiny new more watch-like version at £300.

Then you go towards the multisport stuff like the 735, 935 and then Fenix.

A running type watch (like the Forerunner 35 at ~£130) will still do cycling and gym stuff along with wrist-based HR.

I used to do everything with a Forerunner 110 (no wrist-based HR) that I eventually sold for £20 on eBay. Fine for running and cycling but more of a faff to download the data as it didn't sync to a phone.

--

Garmin's wrist-based HR isn't as accurate as a chest strap though. It really doesn't deal well with fluctuations in HR. A lot of my intervals or cycle commutes (where I stop often at traffic lights) have 5-10 minute long sections where it thinks my HR is 30-40bpm lower than it really is. Then it'll jump up to the right levels for 5-10 minutes, then possibly incorrect again for a similar period. I've had very few problems with a proper chest strap though.

(I use a Garmin 935 for swimming/cycling/running and every day use. I like the 24/7 HR info (despite its occasional inaccuracies) and the battery life is great - it'll do 2 weeks without the GPS being used, and ~20 hours of activity with the GPS enabled.

I'd buy it again (or maybe the 945 as the music bit would be nice for the few times I'd like not to have my phone with me) but I'd probably pair it with a Polar OH1+ HRM on an arm strap (rather than a chest strap) as it can also be attached to the google strap to get HR from the temple when swimming, much less of a faff than a chest strap when swimming.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2019, 06:52:29 am »
I use my Garmin Fenix for just "jump on and go" cycling into town, station etc. works perfectly adequately and will connect to the usual sensors including footpod for indoor runing. Mine is a second hand older fenix 2 but still working absolutely fine, you should be able to find on on ebay for a reasonable price.

its also what I use for my indoor gym sessions, running, swimming etc
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small
Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2019, 10:26:19 am »
I've got a Fenix2 and have been using it daily for the last few years
The Bluetooth doesn't work
It takes forever to get a GPS fix
and then bounces allover the place for another minute or three.
The straps break
Battery life plunges after a while
Charging accuracy starts to fail

It's the device that killed Garmin as an option for me for anything else.

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2019, 10:45:49 am »
Really,

I didn't mention it but mine is a Fenix 2 adn don't relate to those problems at all.
I find that if I go from say Cambridgeshire to Aberdeen, it seems to "remember" where it was and gets a much quicker fix than if I were going somewhere new.  My only criticism there is that it is more affected by buildings than some other Garmins I've had.
I've had one strap break, but it's a rubber strap, they wear on any watch.
Battery life is as I expect for a device of it's age, not degraded to the point of annoyance yet, adn ceratinly lasts me a week away from home with maybe an hour of activity a day.
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2019, 11:01:38 am »
If it helps I have a little used Vivosport with charger in a drawer at home I'm not using (I ended up with a fitbit) I'd be happy to come up with a price and post it to you?

My only issue with it was that it didn't project my HR to the ANT+ display on my Etrex whilst logging an activity to Garmin connect, you can do one or the other but not both. I'm not sure if it's different on more modern devices. It is slow to connect to GPS though as mentioned above with the Fenix, Mrs trekker usually got bored of waiting and was a mile down the road by the time my watch had started and i had tried to catch her up. Fitbit just works but doesn't talk to any other devices.

I gave up bothering recording my HR on the bike anyway as I don't really train for anything and enjoy the simplicity of riding a bike
Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped

Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2019, 11:08:57 am »
I use an Apple Watch to record activities that don't require the full Garmin experience (pretty much everything up to the point where I will be following a route on the device). It works well for cycling, running and swimming and I've used it a little for gym, walking and triathlon.

It doesn't upload things to Garmin Connect, but with an additional app (HealthFit) on the phone it will upload to Strava automatically, and claims to support a variety of other services, though I have not tried anything other than Strava.

It requires you to have an iPhone, so is a very expensive proposition if that isn't already the case. It's not cheap even if you do already use an iPhone.

I was very much a skeptic about the Apple Watch when I first got it, but if the current one broke I'd buy another immediately, which is probably the best praise I can give.

Edit: Oh, it will connect to my Polar Bluetooth chest strap without complications. Not tried it with anything else.

Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2019, 10:35:57 pm »
If it helps I have a little used Vivosport with charger in a drawer at home I'm not using (I ended up with a fitbit) I'd be happy to come up with a price and post it to you?
Thank you. Because part of my motivation for this is to monitor heart rate (which has suddenly become much more important to me) and part to track my everyday cycling, the Vivosport has, I think, the disadvantage of not working with chest-strap heart-rate sensors. Otherwise that would have been a brilliant offer. As it is, I think it would be quite similar to my Vivosmart 3, which doesn't work with chest straps either (but in addition lacks a GPS and therefore a cycling mode).

Much appreciated though.

Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2019, 10:41:52 pm »
Lots of options within Garmin's range... Garmin's wrist-based HR isn't as accurate as a chest strap though.
I think you've summed up my reasons for posting ;D

I've got the Edge Touring Plus, so I didn't want to go high end. That's why I went basic with a Vivosmart 3, thinking first about step counting (because the main thing I was being encouraged to do while I couldn't ride was to walk a lot). Using a (Polar) watch and strap in the physio sessions gave me a straight comparison on the Vivosmart's optical (wrist) HR monitoring, and showed up some of the issues mentioned by Greenbank.

But there are too many options and, given that I already have an adequate GPS for my real riding, I'm looking for a cost-effective option for the other purposes. But it needs to be a Garmin because I've got into the Connect system. I can't bring myself to think that anyone would care enough about my riding to make Strava of any interest :-[

I'd not come across the Instinct mentioned by fuaran. At the price for which Blacks are doing it, that's almost affordable. Although what ElyDave says about the Fenix ones is encouraging, and Blacks also do that at a good rate.

Thanks for highlighting the Forerunner 35. I'm trying to work out why I thought it might not be enough. Good price again at Millets/Blacks.

Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2019, 11:06:17 pm »
I use a Garmin 935 for everything. I’ve got an edge 1000, but only really use it for Mac or to have visible power on the bike. The 935 has a nice suite of fitness metrics (Firstbeat analytics) that only work properly if you record all workouts on it. It also uploads seemlessly to Garmin connect over WiFi or the phone.

The only files that I don’t send to Strava from the watch are Neo rides that go direct from Tacx - that’s only because the upload then includes the map data for the synthetic route.

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2019, 11:45:29 pm »
Yes, a lot of the Garmin models are pretty similar. There's plenty of options for something that will display time, speed, distance, heart rate, and record a track. It is largely a question of what style you want.

eg the Forerunner 935 and Fenix 5 are essentially the same watch, just in a plastic case instead of metal. So the Fenix is a bit heavier and tougher. And seems the metal case caused some problems with GPS accuracy and connecting to sensors. But this is fixed with the Fenix 5 Plus.
The Instinct is plastic but rugged style. Maybe looks like a cheap Casio, but I quite like it...

Some of the older basic Forerunners only had a running mode, not cycling. You could still record a ride, just have to set the correct sport in Garmin Connect afterwards. Though I think all of the current models do cycling anyway.

Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2019, 11:56:09 pm »
This is really useful stuff, the sort of thing that Garmin will never tell you, and even product reviews miss out :-)

I had wondered about Fenix vs Fenix Plus. Now I know. The 935XT seems to be expensive by comparison with the Fenix, at least at Blacks' prices for the latter. Maybe I cross the Fenix, which is high-end anyway, off the list. It's kind of heading for the 35, or stretch to the Instinct. The 735XT is OK, but I don't like its look much.

Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2019, 10:36:16 am »
but I don't like its look much.


I used to wear my 920XT all the time, that was a fugly box of a watch but I got used to it. The 935 seems sleek in comparison although I know it's not.

Battery is the biggest driver for watch size. The 935 is designed for people to do Ironman length events (i.e. 17h max) so it needs a much bigger battery than some of the running specific Forerunners.

Also worth reading DC Rainmaker's reviews: https://www.dcrainmaker.com/product-reviews/garmin (and he'll review other brands too).

He's very thorough and really doesn't hold back if he things something is rubbish. He delves right into the technical/accuracy issues too.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2019, 11:33:52 pm »
Battery is the biggest driver for watch size. The 935 is designed for people to do Ironman length events (i.e. 17h max) so it needs a much bigger battery than some of the running specific Forerunners.
Seems the latest GPS chipsets are much more efficient, so can give better battery life. eg the Forerunner 245 claims 24 hours battery with GPS, and is still pretty small and lightweight. Or 36 hours on the Forerunner 945.
Or even longer if you use ultratrac mode, but that doesn't record as much detail in the track.

Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2019, 12:10:02 am »
So many good comments here, including that one about watch size and battery life, which I had not considered.

Alternatively for commuting etc look at the latest Garmin speed sensors which can store distance data and then upload over WiFi.

I think you mentioned that in a previous thread, before I started considering chest straps. Thinking about it again, it's a really good point - my key aims could actually be met with a speed sensor on my Brompton, and a chest strap for the gym and "serious" riding - so just need to find the right (probably basic) watch to receive from the chest strap in the gym (my Edge Touring Plus will do it in Audaxes etc.)

However, the Brompton has a 3-speed rear hub and a dynamo front, so both are large hubs. I think you can sort of cobble together a fitting for a speed sensor with those, but it's not designed for them?

So many questions...

Auntie Helen

  • 6 Wheels in Germany
Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2019, 07:00:54 am »
What about the Vivoactive? I really like my Vivoactive 3 and use it instead of the Edge for my commute and shorter rides. It connects with my chest strap if I want, and also with the cadence sensor on my bike.
My blog on cycling in Germany and eating German cake – http://www.auntiehelen.co.uk


Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2019, 07:11:22 am »
Amazfit Bip

this looks like great vfm.. I wish I'd found the Amazfit range before I bought a Fenix3, which I use about 10% of it's functionality!   (I wear the fenix all day, every day.  Works beautifully with the chest belt, tells me way more about my runs, rows, cycles and paddleboards than I ever need.  Even helps guide me on hikes in the lake district).

Mrs Pingu

  • Who ate all the pies? Me
    • Twitter
Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #20 on: September 29, 2019, 01:59:20 pm »
Having owned quite a few GPS watches I have finally found one that suits my needs in the Amazfit Bip.  Most astonishing is its battery life which lasts up to a month between charges even with frequent use of the GPS and HRM.  The only slight issue that natively it doesn't export to Strava but there is a very good 3rd part app called "Notify and Fitness" which vastly enhances the functionality of the watch, including sync to Strava.  I would say that you need to be fairly tech savvy to get the best out of it but it's well worth the learning curve and its only £63 on Amazon at the moment!
Question - how many days activities can it store, or do you need your phone on all the time?
I'm wondering whether this might be a good way of storing our tracks when we go to Cuba, where you're not supposed to take GPS receivers into the country and my phone won't get any signal.
Do not clench. It only makes it worse.

Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #21 on: September 29, 2019, 03:00:18 pm »
Question - how many days activities can it store, or do you need your phone on all the time?
I'm wondering whether this might be a good way of storing our tracks when we go to Cuba, where you're not supposed to take GPS receivers into the country and my phone won't get any signal.
I think it would make an excellent spy watch, I have the one with an orange bezel and it looks like it may have come out of a xmas cracker 8)  though the actual build quality is very good and the glass face remarkably tough.  The watch works independently of the phone and having just checked mine, it has about 2 months worth of activities stored on the watch, though I would imagine that the storage space is dependent on the size of the tracks recorded.  I must stress that to export the activities off the watch you do need the 3rd party app previously mentioned, I use it on Android so do check if its available if you use an iphone... I'm guessing it might not due to the permissions the app needs?
Most of the stuff I say is true because I saw it in a dream and I don't have the presence of mind to make up lies when I'm asleep.   Bryan Andreas

Mrs Pingu

  • Who ate all the pies? Me
    • Twitter
Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2019, 04:21:15 pm »
I've got an Android so that's fine. Thanks for the feedback, sounds like it might be worth a punt :)
Do not clench. It only makes it worse.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2019, 04:52:08 pm »
However, the Brompton has a 3-speed rear hub and a dynamo front, so both are large hubs. I think you can sort of cobble together a fitting for a speed sensor with those, but it's not designed for them?

If it's an accelerometer-based speed sensor that attaches to the hub shell with an o-ring, it just needs a longer rubber band (or functionally equivalent bodge).  The usual attachment method doesn't work very well if the hub shell is more spherical than cylindrical.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Watches for day-to-day riding
« Reply #24 on: September 29, 2019, 05:15:26 pm »
What about the Vivoactive? I really like my Vivoactive 3 and use it instead of the Edge for my commute and shorter rides. It connects with my chest strap if I want, and also with the cadence sensor on my bike.
Yes, that looks a good candidate. At least it's more modestly priced than some!

I've actually got a birthday coming up, so I've added that one to the list of possibles (and also the Speed Sensor). The final choice may be down to others ;D