Head unit thoughts?

Seeking opinions on using Xert for outdoor workouts (have phone to run workouts indoors)… Currently have a Wahoo Bolt which I am very happy with, just so well designed, great structured workout implementation… but no Xert w/o support

Training aside main thing lacking for me is the navigation, if there is one rule of cycle navigation its that when you get lost you will not get a phone signal (usually when its dark, and raining, and when you just had a puncture and are fed up…), so relying on a phone app is bad. I have a several year old Garmin Touring but its battery is flagging and its USB access only which seems like a pain these days. Considering options:

  • Garmin 830 - onboard nav and can run Xert player
  • Karoo 2 - onboard nav and can run EBC
  • Stick with Wahoo + keep TrainingPeaks account for setting outdoor workouts, doesnt solve my nav issues though (keep the Garmin Touring for another year for exploration and see what the options are then… maybe a Wahoo Roam 2 that allows Xert to run :o)

Specifically has anyone been able to compare the Xert outdoor training experience respectively on Garmin / Karoo?

  • How easy to skip/pause intervals?
  • Legibility of screen layout (EBC on Karoo looks quite ‘small’, can you increase size of specific fields e.g. target power)?

I am not the best person to answer this as I have gone in the opposite direction. :smiley:
Started training by HR/power with a Polar 450 (BLE) then moved up to Garmin 1030 (ANT+/BLE) then moved on to Android devices (BLE) running EBC for over a year now. Does everything I need.

I initially used the Garmin IQ Player to do indoor workouts as well as some outdoor workouts. .
However, rather than try to complete workouts outdoors I have migrated to free rides by focus type (advice on left side of the XATA training page). I find rides to focus fun to do. Same route might be to 5:00 focus one day (Breakaway Specialist) and 20:00+ endurance another day. Very different rides and training effect. Anything over 20:00 requires a flat out-and-back course and concentration to maintain an easy spin. For free rides all you need to monitor is watts for a rough target, Focus field to see where you are at and direction you need to go, plus XSS to keep track of today’s score. A skill worth learning IME. You get to ride outdoors whenever you want, and you don’t have to worry about matching defined workout intervals. You get the job done (recommended strain ratio and score for the day) by riding irregular intervals at target watts with a focus type and XSS goal in mind.

If I know I am going to be riding somewhere with spotty cell phone coverage I download the route from Google Maps for offline navigation. I don’t need to watch it on my head unit although that is possible with Android devices. But I just pull out my phone if I need to check my bearings.

If I were to consider a traditional head unit again, it would be a Karoo. Too many hiccups with Garmin. Some things stopped working for no apparent reason or an update fixed X and broke Y. Supposedly Garmin has gotten better with their firmware, but I’ve moved on.

I’m not sure if screen size will be an issue with a Karoo. One of my Android devices is a refurbished Palm phone (no SIM) and that screen is easy to read and nearly same size (3.3" Palm vs 3.2" Karoo).


As far as I’m aware, the Garmin option doesn’t allow you to go back an interval. If you get baulked by something like traffic/road works/sheep then there is no way to go back and the session is screwed.

Hey ridgerider2,

Thanks for the advice! I had not really thought of riding to Focus before but thats a great idea. Around where I live (in the South Downs in England) there is very little flat terrain, so building an outdoor workout that “works” is a quite difficult, and certainly just using an indoor workout outdoors really doesnt work at all, there are some flatter roads where I can get a 10-15 min interval but they are mostly busy with traffic. Most of the non-busy roads are too narrow/sinuous to safely blast so when training I need to target hills where I will be naturally going slower. I have considered using Strava segments but its difficult to gauge power (maybe thats where Segment Hunter comes in?)

Karoo looks great, a few of my club mates have them, also for me (as someone who works for a tech startup) my heart says go with it as I like to go with the smaller players where I can. For me I have a couple of concerns about the Karoo - primarily battery life, but reading their website it seems you can get 12 hours without too many compromises - I will be targeting a couple of 200km+ grand fondos which could be 10 hours or more of riding. Also EBC works great on my 6" phone screen on the turbo at home but if on a screen half the size when out riding I think I would like to reduce the number of visible fields / increased text size but obviously I dont have practical experience of this yet / if I am worrying about nothing.

@ridgerider2 can you describe riding to focus? How do you do this practically?

I do use RideWithGPS on my phone: you can download your map beforehand, so no SIM required if you have a problem. Sure, if you’re stuck somewhere underground, the GPS won’t really help you…
A nice thing is that it is compatible with Garmin Varia, so you have alerts when cars approach, audio and visual.

Running RWGPS on my phone, simultaneously with the training app, as well as other apps (online radio, youtube (vanced), …); my battery would last about 3h30-4h, but I also have an external battery (10000mAh) in a bag on my top tube, allowing me to ride as long as needed.

Hi GoustiFruit, thanks - I just got a Karoo 2, I wasnt planning to make a decision that quickly but Wiggle allowed me to stack a sale discount on top of my loyalty discount to get it for £270 ($350?) which puts it a bit cheaper than a Garmin 830 (or the Wahoo Roam).

First impressions good - will post some thoughts on the Karoo 2 thread once I start getting to grips with running EBC outdoors

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You are actually doing this now whenever you ride free ride outdoors. :slight_smile: Just not intentionally.
You may ride without any particular goal in mind or join a group ride. When you return and upload your activity Xert analyzes the ride and quantifies focus duration, difficulty, intensity (strain ratio), and strain score (XSS).
The difference is a free ride to focus entails monitoring a few fields to zero in on the target focus type using target watt intervals to maintain that focus point as you accumulate XSS for the day. IOW a solo ride with purpose. :astonished:

This video from Scott Steele demonstrates the process using Connect IQ data fields on a Garmin. I use EBC on one of my Android devices. There are differences between the two platforms but the fields to monitor are the same. Focus. TTE. and XSS are a default page view on EBC, but you can customize the field layout as you like.
Ride to Xert's Focus Metric with Scott - YouTube
Scott’s demonstration is indoors but he is simulating what you would do outdoors. It makes a lot more sense once you start doing it. :wink: Also note the video doesn’t show RIBs but of course they are part of the equation.
You control the outcome by monitoring watts (roughly at or above target for work intervals) and the focus field. What you end up with is a combination of these elements as your ride description on XO.

  • Rating: Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Tough
  • Specificity: Polar, Mixed, Pure (unlikely outdoors)
  • Focus: 2 min (Road Sprinter), 3 min (Pursuiter), 4 min (Puncheur), 5 min (Breakaway Specialist), 6 min (Rouleur), 8 min (GC Specialist), 10 min (Climber), 20+ minutes (Endurance)

For example, my last outdoor ride to focus in December was “Tough Mixed Puncheur Ride” to around 4 minutes on my favorite 3+ hour loop. The same loop I’ve ridden to Moderate Polar Endurance (~18 minute focus) and Difficult Mixed Pursuiter (6 min) in the past.

In practice this means being careful how you start out on a ride. An endurance ride (20 minutes and higher) requires a level of concentration to spin light and easy regardless of the terrain. A strong start or a few out of the saddle efforts will drive focus down. It’s much harder to raise the Focus number than it is to drive it down. Well, that is until you get to low focus numbers which require harder intervals to drive the number down repeatedly.
Like anything practice makes a difference plus learning which routes (or route segments) are best for a range of targets. Some routes are ideal for harder workouts (lower focus number) while a flat course is required to remain light and easy (20:00+).

There are no specific interval durations or repeats to follow. You ride irregular intervals to attain and maintain your targets. Once you learn the pattern it’s fun to do. Endurance focus is actually the harder target to maintain. Even with 1:1 gearing a steep slope or strong wind can throw you off course as will surging at traffic lights. Keeping it easy takes on a whole new meaning.
Shifting and pedaling are key factors as the Focus field won’t change at all while coasting.
The Interval Target is a rough watt number to attain. You want to stay above it during work intervals, but you can also surge higher.

Your goal is to achieve the intended focus, strain ratio. and score for the day. It doesn’t have to be exact. Focus duration points are just that. Points along your power curve. You want to end up within range of the target. When you return and upload your activity, focus duration will change some based on the deeper analysis performed on the XO server. IE, how well and how often you maintained the targets during the ride.

Riding outdoors to focus is a learned skill. Once you understand the principals and method it becomes another wrench to grab from your training toolbox. I much prefer this option than trying to replicate a workout outdoors.
This also explains what XATA means on the left side of the Training tab page. :wink:
Confusing to newbies no doubt but Focus Type and Interval Target (watts) refer to free ride to focus outdoors versus the highly structured indoor workouts on the Recommended List.
While some workouts lend themselves to completion outdoors, riding to focus adds a whole other dimension to your rides. You can completely ignore the recommended list of workouts while attaining your goals within XATA guidelines.

Related post –
Estimate outdoor ride XSS and Focus - General - Xert Community Forum (xertonline.com)

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Thanks as always for the comprehensive answer - can’t wait to get out and try this, i already have all the fields loaded up :slight_smile:

Probably practice this on a indoor freeride on Fulgaz too

Having a stupid amount of experience with all three - but limited experience with Xert, I will give you this feedback.

Wahoo - Best workout feature I’ve used. Good computers, hard to see sometimes.
Garmin 1030 Plus - Good computer, okay climber feature, complicated, stuck in the past, too many useless features, prone to stupidity, insane battery life.
Karoo 2 - best “Riders” computer. Climber feature is over the top excellent. Wish the battery was better, but is good enough.

I literally have all 3 sitting next to me and will pick up the Karoo 2 tomorrow, when I head out the door. I’ll sell the Garmin for a good offer (though the Connect IQ functionality may make me want to keep it - if I stick with Xert)

Load EBC on the Karoo 2 from the app store.
I sold my Garmin 1030 for a ridiculous price on eBay. $150 more than I was asking. :man_shrugging:

App store? I thought you had to sideload?

Or google it myself…

Yes, I forgot about linking your Xert account to the Dashboard first. :slight_smile:

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@ridgerider2 - how do you stop a workout once it’s started (like playing around after installing?)

I am currently showing “Morning Ride (in Progress)” - but when I click on Activity - it says Continue … it does, but I can’t quit?

App seems cool but far from intuitive.

Might find some helpful starter tips from the quick start guide: Quick Start Guide: EBC – Xert

Swipe up on the screen to access the in-ride menu. From there you can continue or end the activity (and save). Will automatically sync to Xert, assuming you have a network connection.

… * This will take you back to the Activity menu. From here, you can ‘Continue’ or ‘End’ – selecting ‘End’ will terminate the current ride* …

Mine has Continue, no End. (could be because I am couch surfing?)

**** After reboot - I had “Stop” - and things worked as I would expect it.

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iOS worked great, Hammerhead - not so much.

@ridgerider2 do you have to disable the sensors at the Karoo 2 level, for the Xert EBC app to see them? I had a really hard time trying to get it to work, finally connected my iPhone and did my workout.

It seems the App is not “inheriting” the native Karoo 2 connections.


This is from Elise Y. on the FB Xert users group –

I usually don’t have to. I just only allow Karoo native to use ANT connections then the blue tooth can grab EBC. If you disable sensors in Karoo by turning off all the options, then BLE gets turned off and then you get nothing seeing. Just only enable Karoo to pick up ANT

I think I just got overcomplicated with trying to use Xert on Hammerhead - and - Zwift at the same time.

o Use ANT+ for Bike
o Use ANT+ for Zwift
o Use BLE for Karee/Xert

With all those in place - I believe I can get it working, but probably BETTER to do before I want to workout (or allow time).