There’s no shortage GPS enabled fitness computers on the market, many of which are designed specifically for use on a bike. But most of us already have a fully featured fitness computer, one that we carry with us every day, everywhere we go.
The average smartphone can do everything that even the most feature packed fitness computer can do, but you can’t wear it on your wrist, and you probably wouldn’t want to strap it to your handlebars either. That’s where the Wahoo Fitness RFLKT comes in – it might not have the snappiest of names, but it’s certainly a very clever bit of kit.
What is it?
As you can see from the photos, the RFLKT looks much like any other cycle computer, but under the skin it’s a completely different beast. You see the RFLKT isn’t so much a cycling computer as it is a window to your iPhone. So while the RFLKT can display all manner of useful information, none of that information is being gathered or processed locally.
The RFLKT uses Bluetooth 4.0 to connect to your iPhone, while using very little power to do so – ensuring that both the internal lithium battery and your iPhone battery can go the distance, how ever long your ride may be.
The central cog to this equation is the Wahoo Fitness app that can be downloaded free from the App Store. From within the app you can pair the RFLKT to your iPhone, along with a host of sensors. As with traditional fully featured cycle computers, the app can support a heart rate monitor, a speed sensor and a cadence sensor.
Wahoo Fitness sells a speed/cadence sensor, plus a heart rate monitor that also make use of low-power Bluetooth 4.0, providing comprehensive functionality while conserving your iPhone’s battery life. Of course you don’t really need a speed sensor, since the GPS in your iPhone will be able to track speed and distance, but if you’re a serious cyclist a cadence sensor is always welcome.
Hardcore cyclists will no doubt want some kind of power meter support, but to be fair to Wahoo Fitness, that’s not really the target market for the RFLKT.
What’s in the box?
Not a lot really. There’s the RFLKT itself, with a handlebar mount pre-fitted. If you prefer to mount your cycle computer on your stem – as I usually do – there’s also a stem mount supplied.
There’s not much in the way of accessories, not even a USB cable. Of course you don’t really need a USB cable, because the RFLKT automatically sends all its data to your iPhone, so there’s no need to sync it. There’s also no need to charge the RFLKT, since it runs on a standard lithium battery, which Wahoo Fitness claims will last you around a year.
Wahoo Fitness sent me its Blue HR heart rate sensor to go with the RFLKT. It too utilises low-power Bluetooth 4.0, which should ensure that your iPhone doesn’t die mid ride. As chest straps go, it’s not quite as comfortable as the Polar items I use regularly, but it’s not uncomfortable either. More importantly, I didn’t encounter any spikes or dropouts while testing.
Setup and configuration
The first thing you need to do is download the Wahoo Fitness app to your iPhone 4S or 5. From here you should be able to pair the RFLKT to your phone. I say should, because when I tried to do that I found that it didn’t work. In fact, I ended up having to download a second app (Wahoo Utility), – which allowed me to pair both the RFLKT and the Blue HR heart rate monitor.
Once I’d paired the devices using the Wahoo Utility app, they then appeared within the Wahoo Fitness app. At this point you can configure the RFLKT from within the app – here you can decide what info screens you wish to display, how you’d like the buttons configured and which sensors you want active.
The handlebar mount is a pretty standard collar with an Allen key mount. However, Wahoo Fitness doesn’t supply a rubber cushion to wrap around the inside of the collar. You therefore need to be pretty careful when mounting the RFLKT to your bars, especially if they’re carbon fibre.
The best option for safe mounting is to wrap some insulation tape around your bars before mounting; that way you won’t need to tighten the bolt so much, and you’ll reduce the risk of scratching that lovely carbon weave.
In the saddle
Once the pedals are turning you completely forget that the RFLKT is simply a reflection (see what they did there?) of what your iPhone is logging. To all intents and purposes, the RFLKT is a fully featured cycle computer, with all the data you’d want just a glance away.
While I was testing the RFLKT I had my Polar CS500 running on my bike, and my Polar RC3 GPS on my wrist. The data presented by the RFLKT was completely in line with the data on my Polar devices, and there seemed to be no evident lag in update either.
The RFLKT has four buttons mounted around its edge, and although they’re not too difficult to press, it’s nowhere near as easy to flick between info screens as it is on the Polar CS500, or even one of the touchscreen Garmin devices.
Measuring only 70 x 40 x 13mm (LxWxD), the RFLKT is pretty compact. However, the screen takes up a large portion of the fascia, and the display isn’t really any smaller or harder to read than a Garmin Edge 500.
After your ride you can paw over all the data that the Wahoo Fitness app has logged, including a map of the route you’ve just ridden. You can also share all that data with other apps and services, so if you regularly use Garmin connect, Runkeeper, or a plethora of others options, you can import the data from your ride.
The Wahoo Fitness RFLKT is a clever piece of kit, very clever in fact. Leveraging the technical powerhouse that is the iPhone, Wahoo has created a device that’s as simple as it is smart – why provide the same functionality as the phone in your bag or pocket?
However, when you start to factor price into the equation, the RFLKT starts to look a bit less convincing. While the RFLKT itself costs a fairly reasonable £119.99, you’ll need to spend an additional £69.99 on the Blue HR heart rate monitor. I managed to find the Blue HR online for only £42, but that still makes a total cost of around £162.
By comparison you can pickup a Garmin Edge 500, complete with premium heart rate monitor and speed/cadence sensor for only £25 more. Okay, that’s from a single retailer, but there are a fair few others not too far off that price. Also, a Wahoo Fitness Blue SC speed/cadence sensor to go with the RFLKT will set you back a further £43 online.
But let’s not forget that a traditional cycle computer ties you into a specific app or portal, whereas the Wahoo Fitness RFLKT can be used in conjunction with a whole host of apps and services, with more being added all the time.
As I’ve said already, the RFLKT is a very clever piece of kit, and if it was a little bit cheaper I’d be recommending it wholeheartedly. Even so, it’s clear that Wahoo has a plan to evolve and expand its fitness ecosystem, increasing app compatibility and no doubt creating more ingenious hardware. And that alone could make taking a punt on the RFLKT worthwhile.
- A clever idea, well executed
- Excellent iPhone integration
- Wahoo Fitness app is simple, yet comprehensive
- Ability to export to other apps & services
- Decent amount of information displayed
- Low power Bluetooth saves battery life
- Easy to read screen
- Lithium cell means no battery charging
- Accurate speed, distance and HRM data
- Relatively expensive
- Not the best handlebar mount
- Buttons could be better implemented
Manufacturer: Wahoo Fitness