Cycling smartphone app pioneer Wahoo Fitness is spreading its wings for 2013 and applying some of its clever design methodology to a brilliant new Rflkt handlebar-mounted bicycle computer and a feature-rich (and seemingly engaging) indoor trainer.
Wahoo Fitness built its business on its iPhone app and surrounding hardware but for many cyclists, the idea of mounting their expensive (and bulky) phones to their handlebars has never been appealing. The new RFLKT, however, offers a far more elegant solution with a tiny standalone remote display that works with the company's own app or Abvio's popular Cyclemeter app, leaving the heavy computational lifting to the phone but providing most of the numerical information in a more durable and compact form factor.
Of course, the RFKLT's monochrome dox-matrix LCD screen can't match the iPhone display's vivid colors, resolution, or size. However, the RFLKT's multiple display screens are is fully configurable through the iPhone app for a customizable interface and physical buttons on the sides of the unit control functions such as starting and stopping the timing and toggling through pages.
The Wahoo Fitness RFLKT obviously can't match an iPhone's impressive full-color display but the key information is still available on the fully configurable, multi-page monochrome LCD screen.
Users can even control music playlists through the RFLKT and the system will even provide spoken prompts through your earphones if desired.
Battery life is another key benefit. According to Wahoo Fitness, moving the display off-site cuts the iPhone's power consumption by half so users can use the setup on longer rides while the RFLKT's own user-replaceable CR2025 battery will supposedly last for up to a year.
Pricing is still to be determined but we expect the RFLKT to be fairly reasonable.
KICKR stationary trainer
New for 2013 from Wahoo Fitness is the impressive-looking KICKR stationary trainer.
Wahoo Fitness also debuted a powerful new indoor trainer called the KICKR. The KICKR's physical setup is somewhat similar to the LeMond Fitness Revolution with a direct drive system instead of a tire-driven roller and a high-inertia flywheel to better mimic real-world riding conditions. Instead of a loud fan, though, the KICKR uses an electromagnetic resistance unit that's wirelessly controlled via Bluetooth or ANT+ through an iPhone, iPad, or MacBook app. There's even a built-in strain gage that directly measures power output for more effective training.
However, the KICKR wouldn't be a true Wahoo Fitness product without some clever software to enrich the experience. In this case, though, Wahoo has partnered with third-party software companies Kinomap and TrainerRoad. We're particularly smitten with the latter, which pairs crowd-sourced (or user-sourced) video footage, embedded GPS information (to control the resistance based on the terrain), and a Google-powered overhead map view to create a more immersive virtual-reality environment.
Wahoo Fitness hasn't just concentrated on the KICKR's software aspects, either. The sturdy frame adjusts in height for multiple wheel sizes (from 29" mountain bike down to 24" road) and the legs fold inward for more compact storage.
Retail price is a premium US$999 and projected availability for both the KICKR and RFLKT is January 1.