In this week's Over To You we want to know your thoughts on the wave of 'smart' Bluetooth and WiFi enabled cycling gear.
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Somebody once told me everything is better when it comes with Bluetooth. It’s been around for a while now, and between Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity these wireless technologies have changed the way we interact with cycling computers, watches, cameras and even power meters.
This smart revolution has taken the bicycle industry by storm and now you can get everything from bikes to suspension tuning devices that are operated solely through your phone, but has it gone too far? A quick scroll through any crowdfunding website reveals a plethora of locks, lights, and other gear where Bluetooth connectivity is touted as a defining feature, and I can't help but ask why?
It’s not all bad, through an app on my phone my power meter will let me know when it needs a firmware update, and with a swipe and a couple of taps it’s done. It also means that once I finish a ride the activity will automatically upload to Strava, Training Peaks, or wherever else I may want it to go, with no need for a USB cable ― now if only I could remember to keep my Garmin charged.
Heck, even my soon-to-be 63-year-old father has jumped on Strava to show me how much faster he still is then me, all because his head unit will upload his rides automatically. Finally, it’s given my family peace of mind that I’m OK because the ICEdot crash sensor on my helmet will send them a text message with GPS coordinates if I take a bad tumble.
A whole new world?
But, and there’s always a but, Bluetooth connectivity has also opened up a world of headaches and influx me-too products. Now my watch, head unit and phone can all vibrate in unison to let me know someone is calling, has sent me an email or liked one of my photos on Instagram. Almost every day I wake up to an inbox full of info on ‘smart’ stems, sunglasses, jackets, helmets, backpacks, cameras, bells, lights, and gloves, and as someone who struggles to keep their phone charged on a daily basis, it sends a shiver down my spine when I think about trying to add more electronics to my routine.
Not to worry however, because just today I stumbled upon a hydration pack with a built-in solar panel for charging your phone, iPad etc, because what could possibly go wrong mixing electrical devices and water right?
For me, the joy of riding is getting away from social media, email and a ringing phone. While I’m the first to admit that for certain things Bluetooth connectivity is a welcome feature, there are however a fair few instances where I think brands are adding the wireless technology to pad out a spec list.
So now over to you... what’s your take on Bluetooth everything? Are you one to take advantage of all the functionality wireless connectivity can add, or are onscreen notifications the first thing you turn off on a new head unit? What’s the best use for wireless connectivity you’ve seen, or the dumbest? Let us know in the comments section below.