Wearable fitness tracker specialist Fitbit just announced its latest watch, the Blaze. A first for the brand, this new colour touchscreen wearable is being pitched as a smart fitness watch and offers a wide choice of interchangeable band and frame styles.
With Fitbit being a leader in fitness trackers, the Blaze is new territory for the brand and is a cheaper alternative to the likes of the Apple Watch and equivalent Android devices. That said, its feature list shows that the pre-existing Fitbit Surge is likely to remain a better choice for cyclists – more on which below.
So why is BikeRadar covering smartwatches? Well, cycling has no doubt hit the mainstream and these all-purpose fitness devices now offer features aimed specially at cyclists. Sure they may not be right for those seeking power outputs and VO2 numbers, but for everyone else they can offer a suitable replacement for a bike computer.
Details in brief
The new Blaze is expected to be available in March, priced $199 /£160 / AU$330. It features integrated ‘PurePulse’ heart-rate monitoring from the wrist and a battery life of five days between charges.
Priced lower than the Surge, the Blaze doesn’t have its own GPS chip and so uses ‘synced’ GPS off your mobile phone in order to display important data such as distance and speed.
Like a smartwatch should, the Blaze will display incoming phone calls, texts, emails and allow control of your smartphone’s music – all via the colour touchscreen interface. The Blaze will work with Android, iOS and Windows devices.
Blaze vs Surge
So with this new watch, what does the older and more expensive ($250 / £200 / AU$400) Surge offer? Both watches feature wrist-based heart-rate monitoring and all-day fitness tracking. They also share many of the same ‘smartwatch’ capabilities.
With the Surge pitched as a ‘performance’ watch, its key difference lies in its GPS chip. With this, the Surge is a practical standalone device, which doesn’t need a phone synced in order to collect important cycling data such as speed and distance. Additionally, users of apps such as Strava can ride using the Surge as a standalone device, and then automatically sync to Strava through their phone when finished. The Surge’s battery is also likely to last two days longer between charges.
With that, the Surge makes for a more widely applicable alternative to cycling-focused devices such as the new Garmin Edge 25. The new Blaze, meanwhile, is perhaps better compared to the likes of older standalone heart-rate monitors and data relaying bike computers such as the Wahoo RFLKT.
Unfortunately, with neither model offering support for power meters, both these watches are still best for the recreational cyclist. Riders seeking advanced cycling features in a watch will still need to look toward the multi-sport performance watches from the likes of Garmin.
In our opinion, the Surge’s GPS chip makes it superior for the cyclist. Still, for those who always ride with a mobile phone and want a do-it-all watch, the new Blaze and its colour touchscreen and interchangeable style may still be worth a look, at least once it’s available.