I’m always looking for solutions to my cycling problems. The solutions can be a simple paperclip to new gear, as long as it works. One of the problems that I have is that I cycle at night with my iBike Newton that doesn’t have a back-light. No back-light means no display to check things out. This makes it hard to see what my power levels are or what cadence I’m spinning at. Without that information good intervals are out the window and the ride turns into either an endurance pace or a leisurely ride. Nothing terribly wrong with that mind you but doing intervals helps mix things up. Since I do a lot of my rides after work, that also means night-time riding at some point. I need a way to view the screen while cycling so that I can be more productive. I believe the Wahoo Fitness RFLKT+ Bike Computer will help solve that issue.
My other problem that I have is that I like to upload my rides to Strava and dailymile. I use my iPhone along with an ANT+ dongle from Wahoo Fitness to pair up with all the sensors (Heart-Rate, Speed/Cadence, and Power from the Newton). It works great except for the days when I leave the cable adapter and dongle at home. Arg!!
That’s my other problem. That darn little adapter. I rely on that it to read the sensors and without it, I’m SOL. I could switch my sensors to the Bluetooth type and pair then up directly to the iPhone, but my Newton isn’t Bluetooth compatible (only ANT+). I use the Newton to actively see whats going on and I tuck the iPhone in my back pocket to record and publish the ride. I also need the Newton because it’s also my power meter.
I’ve seen the Wahoo Fitness RFLKT system and thought it was a neat idea, but it still wouldn’t solve my problem. It was a total Bluetooth system. Then they came out the RFLKT+ system with the ANT+ bridge. Bingo! That’s what I was looking for. After confirming that it has a back-light, I placed my order.
The basic RFLKT is a device that acts as the display for your iPhone. You pair it up with your iPhone, via Bluetooth, and the phone transmits the data to the unit. This works fine if you have no sensors or your sensors are all Bluetooth compatible. All the sensors will pair up with your phone and your phone will send the data to the RFLKT (see Figure 1).
For those that still have the ANT+ sensors this doesn’t work unless you have that ANT+ dongle. The RFLKT+ solves that by incorporating the ANT+ dongle into the unit. Once you make the connection between the phone and the RFLKT+, you can now use your phone to pair up your ANT+ sensors as you normally would as if you had the ANT+ dongle plugged in (see Figure 2).
The RFLKT and the Plus version can be control with several different cycling apps such as the Fitness App from Wahoo, Cyclemeter, Strava, and iMobleIntervals. There are probably others, but these I know. In this write-up I’ll be looking at the Fitness app from Wahoo.
Upon opening the box, I discovered that the kit comes with the RFLKT+, three different mounting kits, slips of papers with a QR Code for the instructions online. The unit itself is about the size of standard bike computer from Cateye or Sigma. It’s small and light weight with four buttons, two on each side. The unit snaps into the base plate with a release tab on top. Just push down on the tab and the unit pops out.
One item I discovered is that there is no charging port. It uses one of those CR batteries so that’s cool with me. That’s one less thing to worry about. I’m anticipating that it will be a long time before I would have to open up the unit and replace the battery.
To help improve the battery life, the unit automatically shuts off if it loses connection to the app that is controlling it. Basically, if you close the app the unit will automatically shut off, so there are no worries of accidentally leaving it on.
Pairing up your phone with the RFLKT+ unit is simple, make sure that your phone has Bluetooth turned on, open up the Fitness app, and then press any button on the RFLKT+ unit to wake it up. The unit will then search and attempt to pair up. Press the indicated button on the RFLKT+ to confirm the connection.
Once connected you can then pair up your sensors on the iPhone app. For the Fitness app, that is the icon at the top left of the screen. Clicking the icon will open a slide down window listing the types of sensors you can connect as well as indicate if you have ANT+ or Bluetooth receivers up and running. You can connect with the following types of devices:
The last item on the list is where you will connect the RFLKT unit. The icon at the top left indicates how many devices are connected minus GPS. GPS doesn’t count for some reason. For me it should show 4 items (HR, Spd|Cad, Pwr|KICKR and Watch|Display). It will vary depending on what you are connecting.
One of the great features of the RFLKT is the ability to customize the screens you want to see. You can have several different screens to scroll though or just one screen. It’s all up to you. You can choose from a set of predefined templates or create your own page. Within each screen, you have a very granular control over what the screen will look like. Anywhere from the text to the number of sensors data to display can be configured to your liking. I love the flexibility the Fitness app provides!
You configure it all with in the Fitness app and push the pages to the RFLKT once configured. The RFLKT will store the pages for you to cycle through with the buttons and during the ride, only data is transmitted to the unit. Just remember that not all apps provide this amount of flexibility in the screen configurations. I will do write-ups on other applications in the following months.
I’ll walk through setting up a screen and some of the many options available. Open the Fitness app and click on the Settings button a the bottom left. From there, navigate to Workout Settings > Biking > Display Options > RFLKT.
On this page you have four tabs at the bottom to choose from. The default is the Pages screen where you define the screens, the Triggers tab to define triggers, Buttons tab to define the four buttons and finally the Settings tab for a few items to configure.
The Pages screen is where you configure the number and the content of the pages that you want on the RFLKT. You add pages by selecting the “+” icon at the top right of the screen. From there you can choose predefined templates or choose blank layout templates. Either one will work as you can change later. Back at the Pages screen you can scroll through the list of pages you have selected or delete the ones you don’t want by selecting the “X” on the top left of the screen page.
Customizing the screens is pretty easy. From the Pages tab, select the page that you want to change and then tap on the sensor data that you want to change. You will then be given a list of Cell Values to choose from. Just drill down to get the type of data you want to display. The Fitness app gives you many options for you to choose from and certainly way too many to list out here.
Triggers allows you to bring up a specific page when a trigger or event occurs. Triggers are certain events and defined as Lap button pressed, Workout State Changed (such as pausing the ride), and new Song Started. When those events happens, you can have a specific page popup on the RFLKT. It’s simple to configure, tap on the label with the yellow warning sign and select the trigger type (Lap, Workout or New song) then configure the display to how you want it to look. Not much to it. I left mine alone.
This screen lets you define how the four buttons work. It is also the default settings for the buttons. I didn’t change my settings but you can. The Fitness app gives you full control as to how they behave. You can over-ride this setup by tapping on one of the buttons to bring up the following selections for you to choose from:
- Previous page
- Next page
- Start / Pause / Resume Workout
- Backlight On/Off
- Play / Pause
- Next Track
- Previous Track
- Volume Up
- Volume Down
The image above shows the default layout and I didn’t change it on my setup. The only thing a little odd is that even though back-light was not defined it still works if I press the top right button to turn it on and the top left button to turn it off.
This page has only three options to toggle on or off. They are Backlight Always On, Auto Scroll pages and Invert Colors.
The RFLKT comes with a mounting kit that includes three options to choose from. A stem mount, handlebar mount, and a base to attach it to a mount used by Garmin. I really don’t know what those kinds of mounts are called. I see it called K-Edge, SRAM mount, and Bar Fly. Take your pick or drop me a note and educate me. Either way you got options. I opted for the stem mount version due to my current setup.It comes with two rubber bands that look pretty durable. I struggled to get the band to wrap across the stem and hook into the latch. Once on, the base stayed put. The unit itself snaps into the base and can be easily taken off if the situation arises.
I hope to use the handlebar mount as soon as a part arrives from Amazon, but for now, this setup will work.
I did two rides with the RFLKT+ and my iPhone 5. The first time around there were a few bumps. I had a little trouble pairing up the ANT+ Speed and Cadence sensors while everything else paired up just fine (all sensors were ANT+ type). The Fitness app did bomb out while pairing, but I restarted it and finished the pairing. I was a little worried that the app would bomb out while riding but that never happened.
The screen is easily readable during the day and the back-light works just fine. That’s a huge plus for me and my night rides. The unit is also waterproof and that was tested on my second ride when I got stuck riding in the rain just after cleaning my bike that same day!
My first ride, I didn’t set the Fitness app to record the GPS so I got no route info but everything else was there. I figured out the correct settings in the app and my second ride had all the data including the route taken.
Like many of us, we like to post our rides to our favorite place and the Fitness app has many options to post to. As of this writing, version 3.5.2 can post up to fourteen different sites! The two that I use is Strava and dailymile. There is no Facebook posting though. You also don’t have any choice to name the ride before posting. You will have to go to the sites and manually adjust it there. It’s one of those “Would be nice” features, but I’m okay with just getting the data there.
Here is a complete list of the Sharing options in this version of Fitness from Wahoo:
- Garmin Connect
- Training Peaks
- Magellan Active
- Ride with GPS
I gotta say, Wahoo does a great job in including so many different sites to share your rides. I wish certain other apps that I use had that flexibility
I think I’m going to really like the RFLKT+. I do a lot of night riding and this will really help me out on that. I can also leave the ANT+ dongle and cable home as it is no longer needed. Hurray! The combination of the unit and the Fitness app gives me a lot of flexibility in the setup. The extra mount kit will come in handy to mount the unit on my second bike which is super cool for me. I don’t listen to music while out riding, but for those that do then unit can help out with that too.
This is what I feel are the benefits of the RFLKT(+) system along with the Fitness app:
- highly configurable screens (via the Fitness app)
- less fiddling with the iPhone
- long battery life
- back-light for night riding 🙂
- supports ANT+ sensors (RFLKT+ only)
- multiple mounts to choose from
- do away with my ANT+ dongle and cable (RFLKT+ only)
- can pop out the unit and take it with you as needed
- can control music on iPhone
Would I recommend this to others? Yes, in fact I recommended the base model, RFLKT, to a friend of mine. She is going to get Bluetooth sensors along with it and she’ll be good to go with some more advance training.
I’m looking forward to using another app for doing intervals while I’m out riding. Should be interesting. I’ll do a write-up using that combo in a few months.
Any thoughts or questions, feel free to leave a comment. I’ll get to you as soon as I can.