Wahoo Fitness Fisica

Photographer:

Andy Shen

Virulent flaming notwithstanding, I continue to believe the "smartphone bike computer" category has legs. To that end, here’s a look at Wahoo Fitness’ Fisica, an iPhone case/bike mount that gives iPhone owners full power and GPS functionality for $120.

Hardware

Like the iBike Dash, the Fisica is a weatherproof case for the iPhone 3G, 3GS, and 4, with an ANT+ transceiver built in (check the videos here for a full rundown on the Fisica.) Unlike the Dash, the Fisica doesn’t house a supplemental battery, which lends it a much lower profile and better aesthetics. It’s still much bigger than a typical bike computer, but it’s creeping towards the ‘tolerable’ range. A piggyback battery is available (which I didn’t test), but my iPhone 4 handled 4 hour rides with more than 20% battery to spare. 3G/3GS owners will probably have issues with battery life for longer rides. (Wahoo claims 9+ hours w/o GPS, 5+ w/ GPS for the iPhone 4.)

The case is a sturdy two piece design, with six snaps and a rubber liner to keep out moisture. Mounting and removing the phone’s a bit more painstaking than with the Dash, so on muffin stops I just took the whole case with me rather than removing the phone.

I had a bit of trouble with the stem mount. My pre-production sample came with thinner zip ties, one of which snapped when I hit a big bump. Switching to heavier zip ties fixed this problem, and the Fisica will ship with heavier zip ties. Of course, this just serves to highlight the unavoidable bugaboo of the iPhone bike computer concept: it’s BIG.

Software

The most intriguing aspect of the Fisica is that Wahoo has opened up its API to third party programmers. Wahoo has an app available for free, but the real interesting thing will be to see what others create in the future. One promising app listed in Wahoo’s directory is EZ-Bike, which, among other things, streams your bike data to a desktop computer so you can train with your stats overlaid onto your videos, like a Tacx VR or an ErgVideo for a fraction of the price.

Wahoo’s own app is simple and clean. Pairing up your sensors is quick and intuitive, and the app stores multiple sensors so you can switch between bikes. The power display is especially nice, as it simultaneously displays power, average power, normalized power, intensity factor, TSS, and mean max power for 20s, 1m, 5m, 20m, and 1h. Raising each of those numbers is a real boredom killer on the trainer. Once you’re done with the workout you simply email the file to yourself or upload to cyclingpeaks.

Verdict

So why would you want one of these? Here’s some possible reasons:

•You have an iPhone, you need an ANT+ computer head, and this is the cheapest option available.

•You want GPS and power for $120 instead of $450 for the Garmin 800.

•You’re an Apple fanboy and you want to do everything with your iPhone.

•You train at night and you need an illuminated display.

•You want something you can use on MTB rides to get speed and altitude from GPS data, without adding sensors to your bike.

•You need more stimulation on indoor sessions.

•You’re a triathlete and you want something that’ll record bike and stride sensor data.

•You’re a data freak and you want to see where in the race you attacked (or blew up spectacularly), and you figure your phone’s safer on your bars than in a bag by the registration table.

So there you have it, an ANT+ bike computer that does a ton of stuff, has unlimited potential on the software side, and is the cheapest option out there if you’re an iPhone owner. And to pre-empt the inevitable comment, here’s a shot of a porn streaming trainer ride.

93 Comments

A

When I train indoors, i set my lap top on the bars so I can watch movies/video. I like the set-up so much I’m going to use it during the racing season as a power meter head unit.

James A. Brannan

Wahoo Fitness has two products, the Fisica – which is a dongle you plug into your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch – and a case, which you put your iPhone into.

The screenshot with the rider is for EZ-Trainer. This is an app to be released within the month for iPads. It uses the Fisica dongle.

EZ-Bike is for iPhones/iPod touches. Although currently on the app store, is being totally overhauled to look more like EZ-Trainer, have power, training levels, and to broadcast to both Macs and PCs (it currently only broadcasts to Macs).

James A. Brannan
Founder, iNtervalSoft

watts_your_problem

can you guys do us a big favor and possibly put a quarq, powertap, ibike dash, wahoo on the same bike and give us the results.?

I am guessing you have the ibike dash already from the previous write up, won’t be hard for you fellas to borrow a powertap wheel.

Do an indoor trainer test 10min to 20min
Do a short ride outdoor with part flat and part hill road
Do a sprint

If I had the equipment I would have done it myself.

Andy

Quarq vs Powertap, numbers are very close. I rode both on the rollers to test pulleys and the numbers match very well, close enough that I thought I could discern differences in pulleys, but the difference was within the margin for error so inconcluscive. For sprints, PT will give higher max numbers, reason given here (3rd to last question):

http://nyvelocity.com/content/equipment/2009/tech-talk-quarqs-jim-meyer

Dash (as a receiver only) vs Wahoo, they’re just receiving and displaying the data. They might apply different smoothing, but ultimately the raw data goes to Golden Cheetah or Cycling Peaks, so no difference in terms of power numbers.

Dash (as power meter) vs Quarq and Powertap… that’s a looooong story.

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Andy

SRM mount for this thing wouldn’t be a big leap. A 3rd party could even step in and create one, as well as a landscape format app. Checking with Wahoo now.

Evan Pulley

This looks like a neat product… The power numbers are coming via the Ant+ link from a SRM / PowerTap setup, right? Or is it more like iBike Dash+Power that provides a calculated power number? I have heard that, for outdoor rides, one aspect of the larger iBike Dash enclosure is its measuring wind speed to refine the power calculation. Thoughts here? Does this product provide power without SRM / PowerTap?

Andy

It’s just a receiver, doesn’t calculate power like the iBike. Power comes from SRM/Powertap/Quarq. The iBike doesn’t refine power numbers from SRM/Powertap/Quarq, it reports those numbers straight up. The wind data only refines the iBike’s own power calculations.

watts_your_problem

ohhh so Andy, I misunderstood… so the WAHOO doesn’t actually do the Power Calculations like the Ibike Dash, it only displays the readings from some other source. Correct?

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Gherardo Flange

… can it still perform the usual iphone functions, like watch video/play music/make calls (not that you can normally make calls, but theoretically), without interrupting the data recording?

Andy

The app is the easy part. A nice aluminum SRM style mount will be the hard part.

As for multitasking, oddly enough I haven’t been interrupted while training in a while. I did get a text alert just now, which I closed. I’ll check on that next time and let you know.

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Matheo Brakepad

nothing says, “i wasn’t cool in 6th grade and i’m still not today” like an easy bake oven on your stem.

Brutus Chowchesskew

No, the cool kids were the ones who got tossed on their bikes in middle of winter and told by their communist uncle Piotr Schmalzenstrudel to go ride 50 miles on a rusty Peugeot, don’t come home until done. Then a meal of raw horsemeat and grape nuts, followed by gym work, then schoolwork, then scoop shit out of barn, and before bed go change grandpa’s smelly bedpan. And do it all again the next day. Those were the cool kids.

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Andy

From Chip Hawkins of Wahoo:

Definitely,

Our time trial bar mount should be ready in a couple of weeks.
Production samples are supposed to get to me Monday.

Minimalist types may prefer this one:
http://www.nc-17.de/en/products/bike-mount-en/iphone-bike-mount-en/
http://www.nc-17.de/en/stuff/iphone-bike-mount-testride-en/

It is really nice machined aluminum. Doesn’t protect from weather,
but it looks “European” and it works great. I’m going to stock them.
We’re working on a hybrid mount that will put our case on that mount.
It is extremely adjustable. I will definitely go out front SRM style.

James

I think Wahoo refers to the fish…their previous business was fabricating boat docks or something like that.

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shampoo

The cheapest option is the Bontrager Node: http://bontrager.com/model/08858?lang=en $75.

It doesn’t have the same feature set as this iPhone thingy but it is cheaper.

If you have a Sony Xperia (and others) you can do ANT+ without paying the $120 and soon get free Android software from Google.

http://blogs.sonyericsson.com/developerworld/2011/01/06/use-your-sony-ericsson-phone-with-ant-enabled-health-and-fitness-products/

But I still think mobile phone as bike computer is a piss poor idea. Lack of battery life, poor display in sunlight and OMG it’s ugly as sin.

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Bob Goodman

This looks like a fantastic combination. Can’t wait till EZ Trainer is released! One question, though. It sure would be nice to put the Ipad image on a bigger screen. I’ve got the Apple cable that plugs into the dock port to give you video out, but with the Fisica key in there, you can’t use both. Is there a way to do this?

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