The Best Cycling Sensors, Wahoo

The Wahoo Cycling Sensors are the smartest and most versatile purchasing decision a cyclist can make.  I’ll show you how they compare to the most common option; the Garmin Cycling Sensors.  What makes Wahoo so special?  The ability to transmit over ANT+ and Bluetooth 4.0 at the same time.  This gives you a multitude of connection options.  I’ll also show how Wahoo stacks up financially compared to the Garmin sensors that are ANT+ only.

I make a really strong argument in the video below.

Here are the links if you want to purchase the Wahoo Speed and Cadence Bundle or the Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor.

Why Is This An Article?

I work customer service for a company that makes an indoor training App.  I’m writing this article because I see people struggling with the decision all of the time.  This is a very common question I get all the time.  There are so many choices out there, it becomes difficult to know if you are picking the correct sensor.  Just look at this Amazon link of Cycling Sensors.  That’s right, there are ton of sensors out there.  I’m going to look at the most common sensors first.

The Most Common Sensors Chosen

What is the most common sensor I deal with?  It is, without a doubt, the Garmin Sensors.  Here is a typical choice that most people make.  Look at the image below and with the standard Garmin 520 purchase.

Screenshot 2017-02-21 14.26.03

That is $299 for the Edge 520 without any sensors.  Garmin gives you the next option of upgrading the 520 for $100, and that will give you the Speed, Cadence, and Heart Rate sensor.  That is not a bad deal for 3 extra sensors.

Screenshot 2017-02-21 14.26.21

 

Here is the downside for this purchase, the Garmin sensors are only transmitting over ANT+.  This causes issues if a cyclist ever want to take his or her riding inside.  A rider that is only riding outside is done at this point.  If you are never going to ride inside, then you don’t need to read this article anymore.  The Garmin sensors work well and that is the best deal out there.  However, if you do want to ride inside, then we need to look at a few other things.

What Happens When You Want To Ride Inside

The problem with ANT+ only sensors, is they incur an additional cost if you want to connect to a Windows PC, Mac, or iOS device (iPhone/iPad).  Those devices need an ANT+ receiver and do not have internal receivers.  This means we are now going to incur an additional cost with our Garmin Sensors.  I will add up the costs for each solution.

Garmin Plus ANT+ Receiver for Mac and PC

The cheapest option to connect your Garmin sensors to a Mac or PC is the Garmin ANT+ Dongle plus USB extension Cable.  The Mini USB will allow your computing device to talk to your Garmin Sensors.  The extension cable is used to get the ANT+ device off your computer.  Trust me on this, there is mucho interference around your computing device.  The USB extension cable helps clean up the signal and get the ANT+ receiver away from any interference around your computer.

Screenshot 2017-02-27 18.45.18

That $100 dollar investment in your Garmin sensors is now costing you $139.99.  This is our cheapest option right now, so remember that number.  Connecting to an iOS device is about to get much, much more expensive.

Garmin Plus Receivers for iOS

Your iOS device is about to empty your wallet a bit more.  There are only two options on the market right now for iOS connectivity.  You can get an ANT+ to Bluetooth 4.0 bridge or you need to buy the ANT+ key that Wahoo sells.

IMG_5619

North Pole Engineering (NPE) sells the CABLE which is a ANT+ to Bluetooth bridge.  It works very well. (Previous Review of The Cable)  However, this will cost you $59.99.  This device will convert your Garmin ANT+ sensors over to Bluetooth 4.0 which works with your iPad and iPhone.  Now our total investment is $159.99 for Garmin sensors and the Cable Bridge.

The next option is the Wahoo ANT+ Key for iOS.  This is the only thing that will work as an ANT+ receiver for iOS and indoor training apps.  Don’t be fooled by the devilish siren song of the Garmin Key, it will not work and will empty your wallet.

The Wahoo 30 pin ANT+ receiver costs $59.99 and the Apple Lightning to 30-Pin Adapter (MD823AM/A) for iOS runs $20 to $30.  Our grand total now for connecting our Garmin sensors is up to $180 to $190.  This is getting expensive.

Let’s add this up real quick!

  1. Garmin sensors plus USB ANT+ dongle = $139.99
  2. Garmin Sensors plus CABLE Bridge = $159.99
  3. Garmin Sensors plus Wahoo Dongle and Lightning Adapter for iOS = $180-$190.

Next, let us take a look at the Wahoo sensors that run both ANT+ and Bluetooth 4.0 signals at the same time.

Wahoo Sensors

The Wahoo Speed and Cadence Sensor bundle runs $69.99.  Add the Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor and that is an additional $49.99.  That is a grand total of $129.98.  As you can see, Wahoo gives you everything you need for much cheaper than that original Garmin Bundle investment of $100.

Conclusion

This is why I am writing this article.  I see too many people making that initial investment with the Garmin bundle only to end up spending more money in the long run once they transition to indoor training.  Take it form a guy who gives advice every day on sensor selection.  Buy the Wahoo sensors and save yourself a huge headache down the road.  They work seamlessly with everything.  Thanks for reading everyone and I hoped I helped someone out there.

One last note, there are cheaper options out there.  Watch my video to find out why I don’t like the cheaper options.

Aaron Johnson

Aaron Johnson

Aaron served in the military for 20 years. Multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He retired from the military after 20 years of service to take care of our three small children in 2013 as a Stay At Home Dad.

athletictechreview has 55 posts and counting.See all posts by athletictechreview

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