Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wahoo Fitness Releases 2nd Generation RFLKT+ on Kickstarter

It was only a few short days ago that I posted my full review of the Wahoo Fitness RFLKT iPhone Powered Bike Computer. Yesterday, in an unexpected (but very cool) move, Wahoo has released information about the second generation of product, the RFLKT+ (RFLKT PLUS), on Kickstarter.

The project is still very much in it's infancy, but you can visit the RFLKT+ Kickstarter page to contribute and reserve yours early.

RFLKT+ prototypes. Who has 1, 2, 6, and 7! Photo credit: Wahoo Fitness.

New Features on the RFLKT+

The RFLKT+ features all of the same functionality of the original, but also comes with a built in barometric altimeter and Bluetooth Smart (BLE)/ANT+ bridge. The later allows owners to use all of their existing ANT+ sensors, instead of replacing them BLE versions. The RFLKT+ essentially converts ANT+ signals into BLE, which is then accessible by the Wahoo Fitness app on the iPhone 4s and 5. Here is a quick video from Mike at Wahoo that explains the process.

Why Release the RFLKT+ on Kickstarter

When I first heard about the release on Kickstarter, I was a bit confused. But after reading this piece from Wahoo, it makes a ton of sense:

Given the costs to bring the RFLKT+ to market and the uncertainty of demand, we see KICKSTARTER as a safe vehicle to fund the project. If we sell out of the products we are offering here on KICKSTARTER, we will bring the product to market and it will be on the shelves of your local bike store. If we don’t sell out, we will re-evaluate the project and ANT+ for iPhone in general.  

We only intend to sell enough products on KICKSTARTER to fund the project and get it on store shelves – hopefully yours. Our intent with this project is to minimize our risk and your risk.  Our risk is the hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring this product to market. Your risk is taking a chance on this product and not being able to sell it. Hopefully, this project will be successful and we can provide you another successful Wahoo product.

Initial Impressions

First Look from DC Rainmaker

First off, when you have time go check out Ray's first look at the RFLKT+ on DC Rainmaker. He got one of the early demo units and gives an awesome rundown of all the features.

The Public's Take

There are definitely some mixed emotions out there in the social and blog spaces. People all seem to be really excited about the technology, but many recent RFLKT buyers are upset that their new purchases are now seemingly out of date.

I personally feel for them, but it is just like any new technology rollout. Companies have to introduce new things, but they cannot stop selling their existing line months in advance. If they are really passionate about the new version, put the old* one up on Ebay and they're only out $30 to $40 and a bit of time. That's the price early adopters have to be willing to pay in most cases.

My Take

I think this is a great move by Wahoo Fitness. The RFLKT concept is very compelling, and adding the BLE/ANT+ bridge effectively lowers the barrier to purchase for many people who currently have ANT+ wireless computer/sensor setups. The addition of the quarter turn (Garminesque) mount also adds stability and easy install/removal for an extra layer of safety from theft.

I already employ a similar setup with my 4iiii Viiiiva heart rate monitor, which also features similar signal bridge technology, and believe it has proven it's value over the course of this season.

I am not going to jump in on funding the project from the get to, but have a good feeling the RFLKT+ will be available in mass by early 2014. Plus, my wife would kill me (I buy lot's of cycling things...)

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