While I’m currently trying to do my best imitation of a slug, I used to be a very active bike rider. How active? Like 2,500 miles (4023 km) per year. This was back in the days before iPhones, and I used to mount a Garmin eTrex GPS on my handlebars as a bike computer and throw my cell phone into my bike bag. Wahoo Fitness has come up with a brilliant solution for mounting an iPhone 5 on your handlebars for fitness tracking, providing entertainment on the road, and protecting your device from falls and weather. The PROTKT mount for iPhone 5 (US$69.95) is a different solution than the previously-reviewed RFLKT ($129.99) that is a separate display unit that uses your iPhone to do all of the heavy computing. Let’s take a look!
Opening the PROTKT box, you’re confronted with a bunch of components. The most obvious is the iPhone 5 case, which is built like a tank. If you’re a professional bike racer, you’re not going to like the PROTKT because it’s not very aerodynamically designed. On the other hand, you probably shave your legs, arms and head, so maybe that lack of friction will make up for the boxiness of the PROTKT case.
Like any good tank, the PROTKT case is sealed up tight and hard to get into. I actually had to check out the instructions online to figure out how to open the case, and even there it took a good tug to get the top to pop off (it’s held down with some rubberized strips that run along the sides of the case for “grippiness”). Once that’s done, the iPhone slide simply slides into the case, and the top is replaced.
If you’re used to a slim, unprotected, and lightweight iPhone 5, then you’re not going to want to keep the PROTKT on your iPhone 5 when you’re off of the bike. It’s thick and heavy! With the PROTKT on it, the total weight of the iPhone 5 and case goes up to 7.6 ounces (215 grams) from the normal featherlight 3.95 ounces (112 grams). It also gains thickness by going from .30 inches (7.6 mm) to .787 inches (20 mm).
But all that extra bulk is protection, and that’s what you need if you’re a dedicated cyclist who rides regardless of weather. Now how do you get the case onto your bike? That’s where the other components come into play. There’s an “x-mount” adapter that snaps into place on the back of the case that connects with a simple quarter-turn clockwise to the handlebar mount. If you need to remove the encased iPhone for any reason during your ride — say, to take a picture of that bear that just wandered onto the road — you just give it a quarter-turn counterclockwide to pop it off. The rest of the time, it’s glued to your bike.
The handlebar mount will also work as a stem mount if you want your handlebars free of clutter. It comes in two pieces — a curved rubber piece to protect your bike from scratches and the hard polycarbonate mount — and is held into place with wire ties. I personally like the idea of using regular wire ties to attach the mount, since they can be purchased in a lot of places in case you want to snip the existing ties and move the mount to another bike.
So, now you have the PROTKT on your bike, you’re in your shorts and jersey, your SPD-equipped bike shoes are on, and your water bottle is full. How do you track your cycling performance? With the free Wahoo Fitness app for cycling. The app also works when running or working out, and it can receive data from other Wahoo Fitness sensors. Want to track your heart rate during your ride? There’s a Heart Rate Strap ($69.99) for that.
Perhaps you want to track your speed and cadence? Use the Speed and Cadence Sensor ($59.99). Hell, the Apollo astronauts weren’t this well instrumented!
The app provides a way to share your collected data with a large number of other fitness apps and sites, including Runkeeper, MapMyFitness, Strava, Nike+, Training Peaks, 2Peak, Ride With GPS and others.
For the serious — or even occasional — cyclist who wants to collect riding statistics and keep his or her iPhone 5 safe, there’s really no other solution that comes close. Wahoo Fitness has created an amazing ecosystem of connected fitness products that work well with the iPhone, and PROTKT is another example of the company’s commitment to its customers.