Long-winded comparison of SpeedCoach XL2 and SpeedCoach GPS

Long-winded comparison of SpeedCoach XL2 and SpeedCoach GPS

Post by gdarrah9 » Mon, 07 Jan 2013 15:44:14


When I was looking around for information about the SpeedCoach GPS, I could only find sites that had recycled NK's narrative from their web site.  Even the review by Rowing News was short and didn't really say anything new.

So at the risk of getting spammed with "TLDR" responses, here is a comparative review of these two products:

SpeedCoach XL2:
I have been using the SpeedCoach XL2 for years.  It was a replacement for my SpeedCoach gold when it finally bit the dust, and it's been a great device.  I have a few gripes about it: The display is hard to read and the backlighting is dim. The battery meter is inaccurate.  It's big and bulky, and some of the numbers are too small for my old eyes.  

That said, there's a lot that I like about it:
- The memory and recall functions are great you can set it up to record at as short (or long) of an interval as you like.  
- You can configure complex workouts, and there is a handy "loop" function that makes it much easier to program workouts where you're doing multiple sets of the same piece.  
- The heart rate function is handy, but it's an imperfect implementation.  Because the cable doesn't originate on the back of the unit (with the impeller and seat sensor), you have to***it into the unit each time you use it.  This probably isn't a problem if you are a trusting soul and leave your unit in your boat, but it's fairly inconvenient when you remove your SpeedCoach after each row.  This also leaves the cable*** from your boat on the rack, so you need to come up with some way to secure it so that it doesn't get pulled off by the rigger beneath yours in the boathouse.  The sensor needs to be routed under your seat, which is potentially problematic if you have very little clearance between your seat and the deck of your boat, and it looks messy with another cable (along with the seat sensor) on the deck of your boat.  A combination seat/heart rate sensor would be interesting, but I'm not sure if it's feasible.  Finally, the sensor isn't particularly sensitive... I've had mixed results with getting a consistent heart rate when rowing.  It's a good idea, but (in my opinion) it doesn't work all that great.

Finally, some little things to like:
- Having the time of day on the screen also eliminates the need to bring a watch in the boat.  
- The unit beeps during your workout at the start and end of each piece this is great when you're hammering out the end of your piece (or enjoying your rest interval) and not watching the clock.  
- The battery life is great -- this thing will run for weeks without a charge.  But don't rely on the battery meter to tell you when it's time.

I started using the SpeedCoach GPS about a couple of weeks ago, and here are my impressions, primarily in the context of how it compares to the XL2:

Good Stuff -
- The unit is much smaller (think chubby SpeedCoach Gold rather than SpeedCoach XL).  
- I love the fact that it requires no wiring -- it comes with a strap so you can wrap it around your foot, but you can also just buy a T Bracket or an angle bracket and have a nice clean install on your boat.  The lack of wiring is great if you are not rowing stroke in a team boat and want to have your own SpeedCoach to keep an eye on things.  
- The screen is fantastic -- really great contrast of black lettering on a bluish/white background, and the backlight is very clear and consistent.  
- The resolution is much improved, and the numbers are big and easy to see.  
- The GPS function works right out of the box -- no calibration or setup needed, and it appears to be very accurate.  
- The pace smoothing is over two strokes, so you don't get instant feedback about how that nice catch helped your speed, but it also doesn't jump around a lot from stroke to stroke.
- Impeller or GPS - If you prefer the immediate feedback from the impeller, you can configure the unit to use the impeller data rather than the GPS.  
- Impeller Calibration with GPS - This feature is great, and significantly improves the accuracy of calibrating your impeller for your boat.  Instead of trying to row a set distance on a marked course, and all the inaccuracy of getting the distance exactly right each time, the unit will compare your GPS distance to your impeller distance and calculate your calibration factor for you.  This is nice.

Neutral Stuff -
- Fixed recording interval at 100 Meters -  This unit will record your data every 100 meters.  This is pretty handy, and the 200 point data memory is probably sufficient for most of us, but you hard core guys (like my training partner) may fill it up in one row.
- Battery Life - This shouldn't really surprise me, but this thing goes through batteries a lot faster than the XL.  This makes sense, since it has a radio.  But it recharges well, and the battery indicator seems to have some relationship to the state of the batteries (unlike my XL2).

Not As Good Stuff (or things I wish it had)
- Delay in starting the timer with pieces - I am still playing with this to determine if it's a problem.  Because there is no seat magnet, the unit doesn't know exactly when you're started rowing.  So when you start a piece, it's usually the second stroke when the timer starts up for you.  This is not a big deal, unless you're rowing with someone who is using an older speed coach and will always start and finish pieces two or three seconds before you. There are some sensitivity parameters you can play with, and this may fix the problem.
- No workouts - This unit doesn't allow you to program workout intervals.  This is probably the biggest disappointment with the unit.  So if you want to go do pieces with someone, make sure that your pyramids aren't that complicated, or bring along a cheat sheet of start/stop times for each piece.  This is a glaring omission from this product, and makes it feel a lot more like the entry level SpeedCoach than even a SpeedCoach Gold.
- No GPS route tracking - Although the unit uses the GPS radio to track your speed and distance, it doesn't record your GPS coordinates so that you can review your route.  If you want to look at your course on Google Maps after your row, you will still need to bring your Garmin with you.
- No clock - This is a minor nit.  But after getting used to the clock in the XL2, I miss not knowing what time it is.  The kids need to get to school, and I need to know what time to get off the water.
- No computer download - Based on the limited data capture on the device (no workouts and fixed recording interval), this isn't a very big deal.  But it would be nice to be able to use it with my SpeedCoach Communicator software.  
- No heart rate - Given my experience with the heart rate monitoring on the XL2, I'm not sure that I want this feature -- it would introduce lots of extra wiring with spotty results.  But in my ideal world it would be nice to have a heart rate monitor that works from 4 feet away (no extra wires) and is reliable.

So which one do I like better?  I think I like the GPS unit better.  The lack of workouts is a little annoying, but I think too many numbers makes me row my boat like an erg.  I shouldn't have to look down after each stroke and think "how was that one how about that one?  And so on".  I like the clean install without any extra wires, and I like not having the impeller on the boat. I think I'll hang on to my XL2 in case I miss the workout capabilities and want to dive into the numbers.  But then I'll have to put an impeller on my boat.  And I kind of like the idea of not having one.

Greg

 
 
 

Long-winded comparison of SpeedCoach XL2 and SpeedCoach GPS

Post by R.. » Mon, 07 Jan 2013 22:38:34

Greg

Many thanks for this.  Very useful to have real review rather than marketing fluff.

Rob

 
 
 

Long-winded comparison of SpeedCoach XL2 and SpeedCoach GPS

Post by Henry La » Mon, 07 Jan 2013 23:56:57


Quote:
> When I was looking around for information about the SpeedCoach GPS, I could only find sites that had recycled NK's narrative from their web site.  Even the review by Rowing News was short and didn't really say anything new.

> So at the risk of getting spammed with "TLDR" responses, here is a comparative review of these two products:

Brilliant stuff; a good read, even for someone who has no intention of
buying either unit!  As Rob has already suggested, it would be good to
have more reviews like this and fewer which are cobbled together from
marketing press release text.

Ever noticed how "reviews" of a piece of equipment (I'm not talking
about rowing stuff necessarily) seem to contain the same text?  Try
googling a fairly recognisable part of one so-called "review" some time
and see what other hits you get.  (PS this is true of news reviews too).

--

Henry Law            Manchester, England

 
 
 

Long-winded comparison of SpeedCoach XL2 and SpeedCoach GPS

Post by Jim Dwye » Tue, 08 Jan 2013 01:22:35

Here is what I use.  Half the cost and twice as good.  I now use two of
these in my boat.  The second on is for steering head courses using the
route function.  It shows a line which is the ideal course and a triangle
which is you boat. (you make a route by marking positions or turning points)
As long as you have the triangle on the line you are rowing the perfect
course without having to turn around.  This works great for head pieces,
especially one on an open lake with a long straight section.  I can row 2500
to 3000 m without turning around and be at the perfect turning point!

http://SportToday.org/

Jim


When I was looking around for information about the SpeedCoach GPS, I could
only find sites that had recycled NK's narrative from their web site.  Even
the review by Rowing News was short and didn't really say anything new.

So at the risk of getting spammed with "TLDR" responses, here is a
comparative review of these two products:

SpeedCoach XL2:
I have been using the SpeedCoach XL2 for years.  It was a replacement for my
SpeedCoach gold when it finally bit the dust, and it's been a great device.
I have a few gripes about it: The display is hard to read and the
backlighting is dim. The battery meter is inaccurate.  It's big and bulky,
and some of the numbers are too small for my old eyes.

That said, there's a lot that I like about it:
- The memory and recall functions are great you can set it up to record at
as short (or long) of an interval as you like.
- You can configure complex workouts, and there is a handy "loop" function
that makes it much easier to program workouts where you're doing multiple
sets of the same piece.
- The heart rate function is handy, but it's an imperfect implementation.
Because the cable doesn't originate on the back of the unit (with the
impeller and seat sensor), you have to***it into the unit each time you
use it.  This probably isn't a problem if you are a trusting soul and leave
your unit in your boat, but it's fairly inconvenient when you remove your
SpeedCoach after each row.  This also leaves the cable*** from your
boat on the rack, so you need to come up with some way to secure it so that
it doesn't get pulled off by the rigger beneath yours in the boathouse.  The
sensor needs to be routed under your seat, which is potentially problematic
if you have very little clearance between your seat and the deck of your
boat, and it looks messy with another cable (along with the seat sensor) on
the deck of your boat.  A combination seat/heart rate sensor would be
interesting, but I'm not sure if it's feasible.  Finally, the sensor isn't
particularly sensitive... I've had mixed results with getting a consistent
heart rate when rowing.  It's a good idea, but (in my opinion) it doesn't
work all that great.

Finally, some little things to like:
- Having the time of day on the screen also eliminates the need to bring a
watch in the boat.
- The unit beeps during your workout at the start and end of each piece
this is great when you're hammering out the end of your piece (or enjoying
your rest interval) and not watching the clock.
- The battery life is great -- this thing will run for weeks without a
charge.  But don't rely on the battery meter to tell you when it's time.

I started using the SpeedCoach GPS about a couple of weeks ago, and here are
my impressions, primarily in the context of how it compares to the XL2:

Good Stuff -
- The unit is much smaller (think chubby SpeedCoach Gold rather than
SpeedCoach XL).
- I love the fact that it requires no wiring -- it comes with a strap so you
can wrap it around your foot, but you can also just buy a T Bracket or an
angle bracket and have a nice clean install on your boat.  The lack of
wiring is great if you are not rowing stroke in a team boat and want to have
your own SpeedCoach to keep an eye on things.
- The screen is fantastic -- really great contrast of black lettering on a
bluish/white background, and the backlight is very clear and consistent.
- The resolution is much improved, and the numbers are big and easy to see.
- The GPS function works right out of the box -- no calibration or setup
needed, and it appears to be very accurate.
- The pace smoothing is over two strokes, so you don't get instant feedback
about how that nice catch helped your speed, but it also doesn't jump around
a lot from stroke to stroke.
- Impeller or GPS - If you prefer the immediate feedback from the impeller,
you can configure the unit to use the impeller data rather than the GPS.
- Impeller Calibration with GPS - This feature is great, and significantly
improves the accuracy of calibrating your impeller for your boat.  Instead
of trying to row a set distance on a marked course, and all the inaccuracy
of getting the distance exactly right each time, the unit will compare your
GPS distance to your impeller distance and calculate your calibration factor
for you.  This is nice.

Neutral Stuff -
- Fixed recording interval at 100 Meters -  This unit will record your data
every 100 meters.  This is pretty handy, and the 200 point data memory is
probably sufficient for most of us, but you hard core guys (like my training
partner) may fill it up in one row.
- Battery Life - This shouldn't really surprise me, but this thing goes
through batteries a lot faster than the XL.  This makes sense, since it has
a radio.  But it recharges well, and the battery indicator seems to have
some relationship to the state of the batteries (unlike my XL2).

Not As Good Stuff (or things I wish it had)
- Delay in starting the timer with pieces - I am still playing with this to
determine if it's a problem.  Because there is no seat magnet, the unit
doesn't know exactly when you're started rowing.  So when you start a piece,
it's usually the second stroke when the timer starts up for you.  This is
not a big deal, unless you're rowing with someone who is using an older
speed coach and will always start and finish pieces two or three seconds
before you. There are some sensitivity parameters you can play with, and
this may fix the problem.
- No workouts - This unit doesn't allow you to program workout intervals.
This is probably the biggest disappointment with the unit.  So if you want
to go do pieces with someone, make sure that your pyramids aren't that
complicated, or bring along a cheat sheet of start/stop times for each
piece.  This is a glaring omission from this product, and makes it feel a
lot more like the entry level SpeedCoach than even a SpeedCoach Gold.
- No GPS route tracking - Although the unit uses the GPS radio to track your
speed and distance, it doesn't record your GPS coordinates so that you can
review your route.  If you want to look at your course on Google Maps after
your row, you will still need to bring your Garmin with you.
- No clock - This is a minor nit.  But after getting used to the clock in
the XL2, I miss not knowing what time it is.  The kids need to get to
school, and I need to know what time to get off the water.
- No computer download - Based on the limited data capture on the device (no
workouts and fixed recording interval), this isn't a very big deal.  But it
would be nice to be able to use it with my SpeedCoach Communicator software.
- No heart rate - Given my experience with the heart rate monitoring on the
XL2, I'm not sure that I want this feature -- it would introduce lots of
extra wiring with spotty results.  But in my ideal world it would be nice to
have a heart rate monitor that works from 4 feet away (no extra wires) and
is reliable.

So which one do I like better?  I think I like the GPS unit better.  The
lack of workouts is a little annoying, but I think too many numbers makes me
row my boat like an erg.  I shouldn't have to look down after each stroke
and think "how was that one how about that one?  And so on".  I like the
clean install without any extra wires, and I like not having the impeller on
the boat. I think I'll hang on to my XL2 in case I miss the workout
capabilities and want to dive into the numbers.  But then I'll have to put
an impeller on my boat.  And I kind of like the idea of not having one.

Greg

 
 
 

Long-winded comparison of SpeedCoach XL2 and SpeedCoach GPS

Post by johnflo.. » Tue, 08 Jan 2013 23:36:46

I borrowed a StrokeCoach GPS for SilverSkiff last year and found that current made the GPS speed function useless.  My splits going upstream were about 2:45-3:00, coming down they were in the 1:40-2:00 range.  Obviously the current was particularly strong that day, but it made me realize that what I want to know is my speed through the water and to see how that is affected by my technique and effort.  Boat speed is also affected by wind but I don't know how that could be factored out.

In the head races I have been in I haven't needed GPS to steer a course: visual marks and a mirror have done the job.  Besides, steering is also affected by passing and being passed by other competitors so one can't always just follow the ideal line.

As for heart rate, one can simply use a basic chest strap/wrist receiver setup (coded if one is in a team boat!).  Glancing at one's wrist occasionally is easy.  Alternatively, the wrist receiver can be fastened around the shaft of the oar (this prevents the unit from switching to a different display if your wrist brushes too close to the chest strap).  Usually the largest numerals are on the cheapest models.  They usually have a clock function as well for when you need to check the time of day.  Additionally, the setup can be used for land workouts on the erg or other aerobic machines.

What I would really like is a watts display to monitor how effectively I am using my effort to increase the speed of the boat.  Heart rate sort of measures this but lags.  I think Croker has special oars which would do this, but I hope for something simpler and cheaper.

For me there is also the "too-much-information" consideration, especially during a race.  Watching and interpreting a lot of numbers on top of trying to row well, steer the course, keep track of other boats, monitor your physical state, all while suffering from exertion can be just too much.  I'd rather limit data to stroke rate, heart rate, and boat speed.  For races on a complicated course and/or with a lot of traffic I go with just the first two and skip boat speed.

 
 
 

Long-winded comparison of SpeedCoach XL2 and SpeedCoach GPS

Post by Jim Dwye » Wed, 09 Jan 2013 05:12:51

The Forerunner display can be changed to display only what you want to see!
Another advantage!

Jim



I borrowed a StrokeCoach GPS for SilverSkiff last year and found that
current made the GPS speed function useless.  My splits going upstream were
about 2:45-3:00, coming down they were in the 1:40-2:00 range.  Obviously
the current was particularly strong that day, but it made me realize that
what I want to know is my speed through the water and to see how that is
affected by my technique and effort.  Boat speed is also affected by wind
but I don't know how that could be factored out.

In the head races I have been in I haven't needed GPS to steer a course:
visual marks and a mirror have done the job.  Besides, steering is also
affected by passing and being passed by other competitors so one can't
always just follow the ideal line.

As for heart rate, one can simply use a basic chest strap/wrist receiver
setup (coded if one is in a team boat!).  Glancing at one's wrist
occasionally is easy.  Alternatively, the wrist receiver can be fastened
around the shaft of the oar (this prevents the unit from switching to a
different display if your wrist brushes too close to the chest strap).
Usually the largest numerals are on the cheapest models.  They usually have
a clock function as well for when you need to check the time of day.
Additionally, the setup can be used for land workouts on the erg or other
aerobic machines.

What I would really like is a watts display to monitor how effectively I am
using my effort to increase the speed of the boat.  Heart rate sort of
measures this but lags.  I think Croker has special oars which would do
this, but I hope for something simpler and cheaper.

For me there is also the "too-much-information" consideration, especially
during a race.  Watching and interpreting a lot of numbers on top of trying
to row well, steer the course, keep track of other boats, monitor your
physical state, all while suffering from exertion can be just too much.  I'd
rather limit data to stroke rate, heart rate, and boat speed.  For races on
a complicated course and/or with a lot of traffic I go with just the first
two and skip boat speed.

 
 
 

Long-winded comparison of SpeedCoach XL2 and SpeedCoach GPS

Post by gdarrah9 » Wed, 09 Jan 2013 15:10:47

Quote:

> a bunch of stuff <

You make some interesting points John.  I've thought about whether I prefer speed and distance against the land (a la GPS) or against the water (impeller).  I understand that the water measurement negates the effect of the current, but it can't do anything about the impact of wind.  And at the end of the day, we race against the land... race courses are 2,000 meters (or 1,000 for us old folks), head races are 5,000 meters.  So measuring (and timing) yourself against the land kind of makes sense.

I agree that using GPS to steer is not typically useful, except in an open water race.  I did one of those a couple of years ago on Lake Tahoe and it was surprisingly difficult to see the big orange buoy from 4 miles away.  I was jealous of the guys with the waypoint GPS units.  But I was even more jealous of the guys who trained at altitude and didn't think their lungs would explode.

And I think you're right... the chest strap/wrist receiver combo works well.  And if it's a Garmin, you can record your GPS route at the same time.  In the ideal world, one unit would do all of this.  And it would be cheap.  And it would play a little music and carry our oars.  But that's not going to happen anytime soon.

Greg

 
 
 

Long-winded comparison of SpeedCoach XL2 and SpeedCoach GPS

Post by James H » Wed, 09 Jan 2013 16:49:16

Quote:

> When I was looking around for information about the SpeedCoach GPS, I could only find sites that had recycled NK's narrative from their web site.  Even the review by Rowing News was short and didn't really say anything new.

> So at the risk of getting spammed with "TLDR" responses, here is a comparative review of these two products:

> SpeedCoach XL2:

> I have been using the SpeedCoach XL2 for years.  It was a replacement for my SpeedCoach gold when it finally bit the dust, and it's been a great device.  I have a few gripes about it: The display is hard to read and the backlighting is dim. The battery meter is inaccurate.  It's big and bulky, and some of the numbers are too small for my old eyes.  

> That said, there's a lot that I like about it:

> - The memory and recall functions are great you can set it up to record at as short (or long) of an interval as you like.  

> - You can configure complex workouts, and there is a handy "loop" function that makes it much easier to program workouts where you're doing multiple sets of the same piece.  

> - The heart rate function is handy, but it's an imperfect implementation.  Because the cable doesn't originate on the back of the unit (with the impeller and seat sensor), you have to***it into the unit each time you use it.  This probably isn't a problem if you are a trusting soul and leave your unit in your boat, but it's fairly inconvenient when you remove your SpeedCoach after each row.  This also leaves the cable*** from your boat on the rack, so you need to come up with some way to secure it so that it doesn't get pulled off by the rigger beneath yours in the boathouse.  The sensor needs to be routed under your seat, which is potentially problematic if you have very little clearance between your seat and the deck of your boat, and it looks messy with another cable (along with the seat sensor) on the deck of your boat.  A combination seat/heart rate sensor would be interesting, but I'm not sure if it's feasible.  Finally, the sensor isn't particularly sensitive... I've had mixed results with getting a consistent heart rate when rowing.  It's a good idea, but (in my opinion) it doesn't work all that great.

> Finally, some little things to like:

> - Having the time of day on the screen also eliminates the need to bring a watch in the boat.  

> - The unit beeps during your workout at the start and end of each piece this is great when you're hammering out the end of your piece (or enjoying your rest interval) and not watching the clock.  

> - The battery life is great -- this thing will run for weeks without a charge.  But don't rely on the battery meter to tell you when it's time.

> I started using the SpeedCoach GPS about a couple of weeks ago, and here are my impressions, primarily in the context of how it compares to the XL2:

> Good Stuff -

> - The unit is much smaller (think chubby SpeedCoach Gold rather than SpeedCoach XL).  

> - I love the fact that it requires no wiring -- it comes with a strap so you can wrap it around your foot, but you can also just buy a T Bracket or an angle bracket and have a nice clean install on your boat.  The lack of wiring is great if you are not rowing stroke in a team boat and want to have your own SpeedCoach to keep an eye on things.  

> - The screen is fantastic -- really great contrast of black lettering on a bluish/white background, and the backlight is very clear and consistent.  

> - The resolution is much improved, and the numbers are big and easy to see.  

> - The GPS function works right out of the box -- no calibration or setup needed, and it appears to be very accurate.  

> - The pace smoothing is over two strokes, so you don't get instant feedback about how that nice catch helped your speed, but it also doesn't jump around a lot from stroke to stroke.

> - Impeller or GPS - If you prefer the immediate feedback from the impeller, you can configure the unit to use the impeller data rather than the GPS.  

> - Impeller Calibration with GPS - This feature is great, and significantly improves the accuracy of calibrating your impeller for your boat.  Instead of trying to row a set distance on a marked course, and all the inaccuracy of getting the distance exactly right each time, the unit will compare your GPS distance to your impeller distance and calculate your calibration factor for you.  This is nice.

> Neutral Stuff -

> - Fixed recording interval at 100 Meters -  This unit will record your data every 100 meters.  This is pretty handy, and the 200 point data memory is probably sufficient for most of us, but you hard core guys (like my training partner) may fill it up in one row.

> - Battery Life - This shouldn't really surprise me, but this thing goes through batteries a lot faster than the XL.  This makes sense, since it has a radio.  But it recharges well, and the battery indicator seems to have some relationship to the state of the batteries (unlike my XL2).

> Not As Good Stuff (or things I wish it had)

> - Delay in starting the timer with pieces - I am still playing with this to determine if it's a problem.  Because there is no seat magnet, the unit doesn't know exactly when you're started rowing.  So when you start a piece, it's usually the second stroke when the timer starts up for you.  This is not a big deal, unless you're rowing with someone who is using an older speed coach and will always start and finish pieces two or three seconds before you. There are some sensitivity parameters you can play with, and this may fix the problem.

> - No workouts - This unit doesn't allow you to program workout intervals.  This is probably the biggest disappointment with the unit.  So if you want to go do pieces with someone, make sure that your pyramids aren't that complicated, or bring along a cheat sheet of start/stop times for each piece.  This is a glaring omission from this product, and makes it feel a lot more like the entry level SpeedCoach than even a SpeedCoach Gold.

> - No GPS route tracking - Although the unit uses the GPS radio to track your speed and distance, it doesn't record your GPS coordinates so that you can review your route.  If you want to look at your course on Google Maps after your row, you will still need to bring your Garmin with you.

> - No clock - This is a minor nit.  But after getting used to the clock in the XL2, I miss not knowing what time it is.  The kids need to get to school, and I need to know what time to get off the water.

> - No computer download - Based on the limited data capture on the device (no workouts and fixed recording interval), this isn't a very big deal.  But it would be nice to be able to use it with my SpeedCoach Communicator software.  

> - No heart rate - Given my experience with the heart rate monitoring on the XL2, I'm not sure that I want this feature -- it would introduce lots of extra wiring with spotty results.  But in my ideal world it would be nice to have a heart rate monitor that works from 4 feet away (no extra wires) and is reliable.

> So which one do I like better?  I think I like the GPS unit better.  The lack of workouts is a little annoying, but I think too many numbers makes me row my boat like an erg.  I shouldn't have to look down after each stroke and think "how was that one how about that one?  And so on".  I like the clean install without any extra wires, and I like not having the impeller on the boat. I think I'll hang on to my XL2 in case I miss the workout capabilities and want to dive into the numbers.  But then I'll have to put an impeller on my boat.  And I kind of like the idea of not having one.

> Greg

Great review.

I have used the XL2 for nearly 5 years and the 2 killer features for me are the speed relative to water, and the download of data to the pc which I use for post outing review.

I row on the tidal thames and an impeller based system compensates for the stream ..... which at 4 knots can move you at 1 metre per second .... on the sculler's head race being in this stream can give you 1500 metres on the 6.5k course! (Racing take me 5.5k, getting back to my club takes over 10k).

I asked NK about their future plans for GPS and they said they are developing a new version which will connect to the pc for release in 18 months or so, and then with it's impeller capability it could be really good!

The heart rate feature of the xl2 is really flaky .... I have 2 units and neither perform well.

Ps if you let the xl2 discharge, and think you have killed the battery, then soak charge it, pop off the back and disconnect the unit, and magically it will spring back to life!

James

 
 
 

Long-winded comparison of SpeedCoach XL2 and SpeedCoach GPS

Post by thomas.k.car.. » Wed, 09 Jan 2013 22:24:19

Ah that will be brilliant, I was somewhat dissapointed with the Speedcoach GPS as as has been mentioned, the lack of impeller support and the lack of any way of downloading the data post outing was a bit of a drawback. An impeller is considerably better on a river (ignores the stream) where as a GPS is better on still water (no impeller to cause drag)

Jim mentions a Forerunner which is a good option, another is using a smartphone since a lot of people now have one anyway (so no additional outlay required, other than a waterproof case) and the apps are all generally user friendly for both use and post outing analysis

Android
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.eiref.boatcoach&hl=en

iOS and Windows Phone
http://performancephones.com/speedcoach-mobile/

 
 
 

Long-winded comparison of SpeedCoach XL2 and SpeedCoach GPS

Post by thomas.k.car.. » Wed, 09 Jan 2013 22:31:52

Quote:

> I borrowed a StrokeCoach GPS for SilverSkiff last year and found that current made the GPS speed function useless. My splits going upstream were about 2:45-3:00, coming down they were in the 1:40-2:00 range. Obviously the current was particularly strong that day, but it made me realize that what I want to know is my speed through the water and to see how that is affected by my technique and effort.

You can see the same thing on my video of the race (I used my iPhone to take rate and boat speed), considerably faster on the way back with the stream

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yvnusx6I_Ao

What I would really like is a watts display to monitor how effectively I am using my effort to increase the speed of the boat. Heart rate sort of measures this but lags. I think Croker has special oars which would do this, but I hope for something simpler and cheaper.

More consumer friendly telemetry devices are starting to filter onto the market, so I suspect sometime in the near future you may be able to get something for this. Currently one product is the Smartoar which looks great although personally I would like a way for the althlete to see the force being applied (rather than just with a tablet that the coach has)

http://smartoar.com/

 
 
 

Long-winded comparison of SpeedCoach XL2 and SpeedCoach GPS

Post by Carl » Wed, 09 Jan 2013 23:03:47


Quote:
> I borrowed a StrokeCoach GPS for SilverSkiff last year and found that current made the GPS speed function useless.  My splits going upstream were about 2:45-3:00, coming down they were in the 1:40-2:00 range.  Obviously the current was particularly strong that day, but it made me realize that what I want to know is my speed through the water and to see how that is affected by my technique and effort.  Boat speed is also affected by wind but I don't know how that could be factored out.

> In the head races I have been in I haven't needed GPS to steer a course: visual marks and a mirror have done the job.  Besides, steering is also affected by passing and being passed by other competitors so one can't always just follow the ideal line.

> As for heart rate, one can simply use a basic chest strap/wrist receiver setup (coded if one is in a team boat!).  Glancing at one's wrist occasionally is easy.  Alternatively, the wrist receiver can be fastened around the shaft of the oar (this prevents the unit from switching to a different display if your wrist brushes too close to the chest strap).  Usually the largest numerals are on the cheapest models.  They usually have a clock function as well for when you need to check the time of day.  Additionally, the setup can be used for land workouts on the erg or other aerobic machines.

> What I would really like is a watts display to monitor how effectively I am using my effort to increase the speed of the boat.  Heart rate sort of measures this but lags.  I think Croker has special oars which would do this, but I hope for something simpler and cheaper.

> For me there is also the "too-much-information" consideration, especially during a race.  Watching and interpreting a lot of numbers on top of trying to row well, steer the course, keep track of other boats, monitor your physical state, all while suffering from exertion can be just too much.  I'd rather limit data to stroke rate, heart rate, and boat speed.  For races on a complicated course and/or with a lot of traffic I go with just the first two and skip boat speed.

I agree with the TMI comment.  I do wonder at racing with a continuous
data bombardment - does this start to inhibit a great racer's own unique
ability to exceed the apparent limits of their own abilities, & doesn't
it detract from the sense of individual competition?

As for speed over the ground:
While races timed over the ground, your time against that of your
opponents depends on your speed through water & your steering as we have
no connection with the underlying strata.  When training to race I
firmly believe we should measure real boat speed through water as the
sole objective measure of how good we are (or, for some of us, were) &
whether this or that bit of training or technique brings real benefit.

Mind you, we do also have brains with some residual computing capacity
(or we did).  When I raced seriously I'd measure my performance (on my
local river) by timing myself (with the sweep seconds hand on an
ordinary watch) in both directions between known landmarks.  Then it's
easy to calculate a corrected time:
  tc = 2 x t1 x t2/(t1+t2)
and, knowing the distance, calculating speed through the water is plan
sailing.

With the same sweep seconds hand it was also a doddle to check on
ratings - even in a race.

Bring back the abacus?  No, but let's be sure to know exactly what we
are really measuring.  And let's accept that we can't easily factor in
the effect of winds - some of us will handle winds & waves better than
others, regardless of our underlying still-conditions speed.

Cheers -
Carl

--
Carl Douglas Racing Shells        -
     Fine Small-Boats/AeRoWing Low-drag Riggers/Advanced Accessories
Write:   Harris Boatyard, Laleham Reach, Chertsey KT16 8RP, UK
Find:    tinyurl.com/2tqujf


 
 
 

Long-winded comparison of SpeedCoach XL2 and SpeedCoach GPS

Post by Charles Carrol » Thu, 10 Jan 2013 03:59:01

Quote:
> ... When training to race I firmly believe we should measure real boat
> speed through water as the sole objective measure of how good we are

Carl,

Why?

If you speed up, aren't you going faster? What matters the reference against
which you measure?

Take Vyacheslav Ivanov's 500 meter sprint to the finish in the 1956
Olympics. He increases his rate and this results in his going faster.
(Which, as we all know, is something that doesn't always happen.)

But my question is what does it matter whether he measures his speed over
the ground or whether he measure it through the water? Either way isn't he
going faster?

Why not just say "time against your opponents depends of you speed" period?
Why bother adding "through the water?" If I understand what you have
written, are you suggesting that is is possible to go faster through the
water but steer poorly with the result that you end up going slower over the
ground distance?

Cordially,

Charles

 
 
 

Long-winded comparison of SpeedCoach XL2 and SpeedCoach GPS

Post by Carl » Thu, 10 Jan 2013 04:37:27


Quote:
>> ... When training to race I firmly believe we should measure real boat
>> speed through water as the sole objective measure of how good we are

> Carl,

> Why?

> If you speed up, aren't you going faster? What matters the reference
> against which you measure?

> Take Vyacheslav Ivanov's 500 meter sprint to the finish in the 1956
> Olympics. He increases his rate and this results in his going faster.
> (Which, as we all know, is something that doesn't always happen.)

> But my question is what does it matter whether he measures his speed
> over the ground or whether he measure it through the water? Either way
> isn't he going faster?

> Why not just say "time against your opponents depends of you speed"
> period? Why bother adding "through the water?" If I understand what you
> have written, are you suggesting that is is possible to go faster
> through the water but steer poorly with the result that you end up going
> slower over the ground distance?

> Cordially,

> Charles

It's simpler than you suppose, Charles.

If I'd gone sculling outside our works last week I'd have been a fool,
since the water was moving a a furious rate, but going downstream I'd
have gone faster over the ground, & GPS would have agreed, than any
sculler before me.  So, should I have patted myself on the back, quit
training & claimed proudly to be the world's fastest sculler?

After a very few minutes I'd then have to return up river.  Well, I'm
none too sure I'd have made it, even if I hadn't tipped out in an eddy,
& if I'd been able to keep going at a speed through the water of which
Mahe Drysdale would have been impressed it'd still have taken me an hour
or more to cover the same distance (over the ground).  On that basis, by
GPS I'd have been the world's slowest sculler.  Or the most recently
deceased!

Well, I'm neither the best nor, perhaps, the worst sculler in the world.
  But GPS would have me to be both -  the world's first quantum sculler?

If I want to know how fast I am as a sculler, then I have to remove
extraneous influences - the first of which is the effect of movement of
the water I'm sculling through WRT the surrounding solid earth.  So on
flowing water GPS is a worthless measure of real boat speed unless I
also know the water's speed over the ground at all times & have the
brain to correct for the component of that which is moving in the same
direction as I'm sculling.

Does that make sense?

Cheers -
Carl

--
Carl Douglas Racing Shells        -
     Fine Small-Boats/AeRoWing Low-drag Riggers/Advanced Accessories
Write:   Harris Boatyard, Laleham Reach, Chertsey KT16 8RP, UK
Find:    tinyurl.com/2tqujf


 
 
 

Long-winded comparison of SpeedCoach XL2 and SpeedCoach GPS

Post by stewie.. » Thu, 10 Jan 2013 05:47:13

Quote:


> >> ... When training to race I firmly believe we should measure real boat

> >> speed through water as the sole objective measure of how good we are

> > Carl,

> > Why?

> > If you speed up, aren't you going faster? What matters the reference

> > against which you measure?

> > Take Vyacheslav Ivanov's 500 meter sprint to the finish in the 1956

> > Olympics. He increases his rate and this results in his going faster.

> > (Which, as we all know, is something that doesn't always happen.)

> > But my question is what does it matter whether he measures his speed

> > over the ground or whether he measure it through the water? Either way

> > isn't he going faster?

> > Why not just say "time against your opponents depends of you speed"

> > period? Why bother adding "through the water?" If I understand what you

> > have written, are you suggesting that is is possible to go faster

> > through the water but steer poorly with the result that you end up going

> > slower over the ground distance?

> > Cordially,

> > Charles

> It's simpler than you suppose, Charles.

> If I'd gone sculling outside our works last week I'd have been a fool,

> since the water was moving a a furious rate, but going downstream I'd

> have gone faster over the ground, & GPS would have agreed, than any

> sculler before me.  So, should I have patted myself on the back, quit

> training & claimed proudly to be the world's fastest sculler?

> After a very few minutes I'd then have to return up river.  Well, I'm

> none too sure I'd have made it, even if I hadn't tipped out in an eddy,

> & if I'd been able to keep going at a speed through the water of which

> Mahe Drysdale would have been impressed it'd still have taken me an hour

> or more to cover the same distance (over the ground).  On that basis, by

> GPS I'd have been the world's slowest sculler.  Or the most recently

> deceased!

> Well, I'm neither the best nor, perhaps, the worst sculler in the world.

>   But GPS would have me to be both -  the world's first quantum sculler?

> If I want to know how fast I am as a sculler, then I have to remove

> extraneous influences - the first of which is the effect of movement of

> the water I'm sculling through WRT the surrounding solid earth.  So on

> flowing water GPS is a worthless measure of real boat speed unless I

> also know the water's speed over the ground at all times & have the

> brain to correct for the component of that which is moving in the same

> direction as I'm sculling.

> Does that make sense?

> Cheers -

> Carl

> --

> Carl Douglas Racing Shells        -

>      Fine Small-Boats/AeRoWing Low-drag Riggers/Advanced Accessories

> Write:   Harris Boatyard, Laleham Reach, Chertsey KT16 8RP, UK

> Find:    tinyurl.com/2tqujf




Carl

As a coxswain, what I need to know is whether the boat speed is going up, or down, or staying level during a piece. This helps me know whether my calls,  and resulting changes in technique/pressure/whatever are actually changing the boat speed - instantaneous feedback. Long term comparison (did we do a 500m piece at R28 faster in 1st week or 4th week) would be a bonus, but the number of variables involved (other than the stream) make it a pretty small one. I'd rather measure this kind of thing by fitness improvements (erg tests) and change in the visible technical quality. Comparison with other crews isn't very useful unless they rowed the same course in the same conditions. That's why we go to races, rather than all row 2000m with an impeller and email our speedcoach data to BR (although doubtless they'd put it all in a write-only database that nobody can access).

If I can get this data without having to spend an hour running a wiring loom through an eight and adding weight and drag to the boat (plus another thing to get broken), then that's pretty helpful.

I would say most scullers are after the same thing - when I change a point in my technique, do I go faster, instantaneously, for the same rate and pressure? That's a measure that I don't think stream has any great effect on. Whether you go from 2:45 to 2:43 when going upstream or 1:52 to 1:50 going downstream (or even 2:15 to 2:13 either way with an impeller) doesn't matter - it's the instantaneous feedback that you're after.

Speedcoach-type gadgets aren't about whether you're faster than anybody else, or anything of the sort - they're a training aid, most useful for instantaneous feedback on how your speed changes as you change other things. I see your point about impeller systems if you want to compare yourself against world best times or similar, but from the point of view of instantaneous feedback GPS is, to my mind, as good as an impeller.

 
 
 

Long-winded comparison of SpeedCoach XL2 and SpeedCoach GPS

Post by thomas.k.car.. » Thu, 10 Jan 2013 06:22:21

"I would say most scullers are after the same thing - when I change a point in my technique, do I go faster, instantaneously, for the same rate and pressure? That's a measure that I don't think stream has any great effect on. Whether you go from 2:45 to 2:43 when going upstream or 1:52 to 1:50 going downstream (or even 2:15 to 2:13 either way with an impeller) doesn't matter - it's the instantaneous feedback that you're after."

Well as a sculler who trains on a river I can tell you, the GPS is useful but it's not as good as an impeller for training on a river. In the example you gave, I agree that id like to know if a technique change has changed the speed of the boat, but how can I know for sure that the change in speed is because of my change or if its because I've hit an eddy or moved more into the stream than I was for the previous couple of strokes? Quite often with my iPhone ill be paddling along and suddenly I'll be going 2-3 seconds per split faster without having done anything different, it's because I've slipped back into the fastest water

I still do use a GPS because they are aimple to use and if i go to a lake its definatly the best choice, but on a river the impeller is better. It takes away an unknown variable (stream) making it easier to judge your performance