4iiii Sportiiiis

Heads up!

Last year I became so obsessed with the idea of a perfectly paced TT that I cobbled together a system that spoke my power output to me inside my helmet. Truth be told, I was more interested in making all the pieces work together than actually riding fast, as I’ve long shed delusions of speediness. And while my solution worked and was cute in a Rube Goldberg way, it was complicated and touchy to use, unlike 4iiii’s new rudimentary heads-up display, the Sportiiiis.

The Sportiiiis is a tiny ANT+ receiver that audibly and visually reports data (power, cadence, HR, speed, running pace) in lieu of a numeric display. Ziptied to an earpiece of your sunglasses, a rear facing speaker whispers sweet nothings in your ear and a boom with a series of color coded LED’s flickers in front of one eye. A capacitive switch handles on/off and pairing duties, and accelerometer detected taps toggle the unit through paired ANT+ devices – nice touches for a device that’s destined to be drenched in sweat.

A very simple and intuitive app allows you to set your preferences and training zones. Once that’s done you simply pair it up with your ANT+ sensors and you’re ready to ride. I did several 5 minute intervals without peeking at my computer head, aiming for 280 watts. My average power for those intervals were 293, 284, 271, 280, and 286, for an average of 283. Pretty damn good for seven blinky lights. Based on those results I’ll be using the Sportiiii’s for all future TT’s. I even went ‘all in’ and Sugru’d it to the inside of my TT helmet, though I wish I’d taken some good shots of it before doing so.

Here’s a video of the Sportiiiis in action. It’s set for 1 second filtering (the fastest option) so that it responds as immediately as it can to power changes. The zones were set up like this (the same setup used in the interval tests outside):

The LED’s don’t appear true to color from the front, and my camera doesn’t fit inside my helmet, so you’ll have to go by the location of the LED’s to see which zone the Sportiiis is displaying.

I did find one flaw while testing. The battery drains while the unit is turned off, and loses all power in 2-3 days. I’m told my test unit was one of the first shipped, and the problem will be addressed.

UPDATE 5/25: The price of the Sportiiiis is now $149. I tried to use it with my TT bike but it doesn’t seem to play well with its very old Quarq Cinqo. I suspect its older ANT+ chip just doesn’t have the range to reach my head. It used to drop out when I’d put a computer in my back pocket.

12 Comments

Victor Polished

I had to check the date to make sure it wasn’t April 1, particularly because the company’s name was 4iii, sort of like 4/1

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Anonymous

Would this be useful in regulating my effort in Cat 5 races? Can it be programmed to flash red when there are hazards approaching?

In all seriousness, thanks for the review. It was quite interesting, though I guess the future is not only scary but approaching far to quickly.

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Kwai Chainring Caine

Andy Shen, close your eyes. What do you hear? That is the sound of your Fred Factor going up with each passing gadget. One day, it will consume you. The Primal Wear jersey will be accepted. Then, only then, you’ll finally be be, “That Guy.”

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Ethan Clamp

Great review Andy. I’ve seen this in several magazines but didn’t understand how it worked. Now I get it! I’m actually pretty impressed. I can see the value in having this kind of heads-up feedback, especially when I’m working in a specific zone for a long period of time. Does it work for runners as well?

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Moser

I think your voice setup actually provided better feedback for racing – the voice gave actual power readings and this thing will still visually distract.

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