September 14, 2021
Apple announced their new Series 7 Watch today, which has some key new features that may be of specific interest to cyclists, including a fall detection featured that can detect bicycle crashes.
I've previously taken a look at the Apple Fitness+ service, as well as the AirPods Pro headphones, both of which have ready applications for road, mountain, and gravel riders. Notably, the AirPods Pro have become a mandatory part of my "getting ready to ride" daily checklist. With the release of the new Series 7 Watch and features for athletes, Apple has further expanded the reach of their "ecosystem" for cyclists. Let's take a look at some of the features of the new watch.
Apple Watch 7 adds some features specifically for bicycle riders. The watch detects when you start riding and can remind you to start a workout; your workout can pause automatically as you start and stop riding (like stopping for stoplights.)
There's also fall detection that can monitor your safety and alert others of accidents while riding. Watch Series 4 and later already had this feature, but it was focused mostly on people falling while walking - like tripping and falling down the stairs. The new fall detection on the Series 7 Watch is designed specifically for the speeds and motion associated with cycling.
Finally, Apple claims "better support for ebikes with an improved algorithm for workouts" (not sure what that means specifically yet, but I assume it means more accurate estimates of calories burned when your legs are supplementing an electric motor.)
As with any annual upgrade, Apple promises "better/faster/newer" - here's what's new with Watch 7:
Maybe. With Apple Watch now offering built-in GPS, optional cellular models, fall detection, and other features for athletes, many riders are considering dropping their Garmin, Wahoo, Bryton etc. handlebar-mounted GPS and going watch-only.
Depending on your specific needs, you might also be able to skip carrying your iPhone on roads, too, since cellular-equipped Apple Watches can make and receive phone calls and SMS text messages with your phone not present.
Pros of replacing your Garmin with Apple Watch:
Replacing your Garmin with an Apple Watch also has limitations:
Getting rid of a Garmin or Wahoo GPS entirely probably makes good sense for casual riders, but limitations may stop serious riders from replacing them entirely with an Apple Watch. It seems like a better bet for casual / recreational riders.
I'm especially intrigued to try the Apple Watch 7 for cyclocross racing. Unlike long training rides, I don't typically want a bunch of data during a race; while I've used a Garmin Edge GPS for cyclocross racing in the past, it's mostly for recording purposes, and I set it to display just my heart rate during competition.
Elite athletes often use GPS watches instead of handlebar-mounted GPS for cyclocross, largely due to the bike changes common in the sport. If you change bikes in the pits, you can't readily swap your handlebar GPS from bike to bike, but with a watch, the recording stays with the rider, not the bike. An Apple Watch would allow speed, distance, and heart rate tracking in an unobtrusive fashion during racing. Because the Apple Watch 7 has built-in heart rate monitoring on your wrist, it might also be possible to ditch your ANT+ / Bluetooth heart rate monitor strap - this could be more comfortable and less constrictive during a race.
Bicycle riders are likely going to be interested in the cellular-equipped Apple Watch 7, which might allow at least some riders to leave their much more expensive and fragile mobile phone at home or in the car while riding.
The cellular Apple Watch 7 will set you back $499 or $529, depending on which screen size you choose. Depending your carrier, you'll also pay a monthly charge to add the watch to your plan.
September 23, 2021
September 18, 2021
August 31, 2021