Garmin Launch the VIRB X and XE

Garmin VIRB XGarmin have unveiled the VIRB X and VIRB XE calling them the ‘next generation of HD action cameras.’ Both have been fully redesigned – looking more like GoPro – for extended mounting options, but underneath the shell they look fully stacked with new features.


The VIRB XE is designed to shoot professional HD footage at 1440p/30fps (a step up from former models) and 1080p/60fps with super slow-mo, image stabilisation and various zoom levels, whilst the VIRB X shoots at 1080p/30fps and 720p/60fps with slow-mo and zoom options. Neither require external housing for underwater shooting (up to 50metres) and the flat glass front panel is designed to repel water droplets for better action in suboptimal weather conditions.


The range of telemetry looks impressive too with built-in sensors such as GPS, accelerometer and gyroscope being complimented by compatible external tech including the Garmin Fenix 3 watch and Vector power meter – all of which can be graphically overlaid onto footage. Both models have new continuous photo mode and photo burst rate has been increased to 10 frames-per-second for VIRB X and 30 frames-per-second for the VIRB XE.


Through the built-in Wi-Fi users can now connect VIRB X and XE to the VIRB Mobile app on both smartphones and tablets and Bluetooth adds further options for communication with external devices.


Dan Bartel, Garmin VP of worldwide sales comments: ‘With the updated design, enhanced recording options, built-in sensors and the introduction of G- Metrix, VIRB X and XE represent a bold step forward in the evolution of action cameras for consumers and professionals alike… We are extremely excited to bring these cameras to market, and see not only the content that users share, but also how far, how fast, and how crazy their adventures really are.’


The Garmin VIRB X and VIRB XE will be available in summer 2015, with the VIRB X will having a suggested retail price of £239.99, and the VIRB XE selling at £319.99.

Featured Reviews Tech

Wahoo Fitness RFLKT

Wahoo Fitness RFLKTWhilst you would be hard pushed to find a full-function bike computer for under £100 the RFLKT from Wahoo Fitness offers an affordable and surprisingly comprehensive solution by utilising the power of the iPhone.


Put simple the RFLKT mirrors, or reflects (hence the name minus some vowels and a random K), various popular iPhone apps, including Strava, Cyclemeter and own-brand Wahoo Fitness, bringing all the data wirelessly to a neat handlebar-mounted screen. Out of the box the RFLKT includes a ‘Quick Start Guide’ so stripped back it may as well say ‘look online’, which, to all intense and purposes, it does. Thankfully the online instructions are comprehensive, easy to follow and exceptionally straight forward. It’s a quick step to pair the RFLKT with the iPhone and get the chosen app running and synced – beyond that the complexity is really up to the user with no end or tweaks and personalisation available.


There are a number of particularly useful functions to the RFLKT not least the ability to customise a number of screens to only illustrate the data you require most often – with more info available at the touch of a button, of which the RFLKT has four (slightly stiff at first use, but quickly bedding in.) And, if you’re the kind of cyclist who listens to music on the ride rather than paying attention to your surroundings, you can even control volume straight from the handlebars.


Wahoo Fitness RFLKTWhilst you could achieve much of this by mounting your iPhone direct onto the bike it’s obviously advantageous to have that tucked away in a jersey pocket or seatpost bag, safe from weather and potential tumbles. The screen, monochrome but of sufficient quality, is also much more readable than using just an iPhone screen, which are notoriously reflective in bright conditions.


There are though a couple of issues to take note of: using Bluetooth is an infamous drain on the iPhone’s already infamous battery life and you’re going to feel that extra time pressure on the longer training rides. That said the RFLKT can display the iPhone battery percentage so at least you’ll know how long you have left to get to where you’re going. Also those with smaller capacity iPhones or with lots of apps already loaded and taking up space are likely to struggle with being able to add more of the ready-made screen configurations within the Wahoo Fitness app itself. But at a basic level the RFLKT works exactly as advertised and does so very well.


For less than £80 the RFLKT actually achieves an incredible amount. It’s conceivable to spend entire days experimenting with the possibilities and configuring various data options rather than actually getting out there and training. But once you do all the data you could ever require will be right at your fingertips.


The RFLKT ships with everything needed for mounting on stem, bar or via ‘quarter-turn’ mount. Whilst it works predominantly with the iPhone, there are Android options with full details of compatibility here.


Wahoo Fitness RFLKTWorth considering as an extra, and something Cyclo had on test with the RFLKT, is the Wahoo RPM Cadence Sensor. Costing £39.99 the wireless sensor pairs quickly with the Wahoo Fitness app and can be mounted with zip-ties to the crank or via Velcro and a silicon pod directly onto the shoe. Those that really love crunching the numbers after a ride or race will appreciate the addition metrics.


The Wahoo Fitness RFLKT retails at £79.99 and the RFLKT +, which adds ANT+ connectivity, altimeter, and thermometer, retails at £109.99. Further details and online purchase at



HTC RE to Rival the GoPro?

HTC REThe GoPro range of action cameras have always dominated adventure sports, but HTC have now announced the RE, a waterproof, wide-angled digital camera, aimed at the same market. The cylindrical RE is 9.7cm (3.8in) tall and weighs just 65.5g (2.3oz), making it marginally lighter than the GoPro cameras, which weigh in at around 75g naked and 150g in their protective casing. The RE though is considerably taller and less conventional looking – more of a mini-periscope. Like the GoPro it lacks playback screen but can be paired wirelessly to apps on smartphones and tablets.


Commenting on the RE Peter Chou, HTC’s chief executive, said: ‘Combining incredible hardware with unrivalled software, HTC is reinventing the way we think about imaging… We are taking you out from behind the viewfinder and putting you back where you belong, at the heart of the action.’


The RE features just two buttons: a short tap on the base button takes a photo, whilst a longer press starts/stops video recording and a side button is used to change functions such as selecting slow-motion and time lapse. The camera is 16MP compared to the GoPro HERO4’s 12MP and is capable of shooting in 1080p high-definition video at normal speed, and 720p in slow-mo.


As shipped the RE has a waterproof rating of IPX7 allowing it to be submerged to 1m for 30minutes with an optional casing taking it down to 3m for up to two hours – a limiting factor when you consider the GoPro’s mighty 40m credentials. The initial US release price for the RE is $199 (£124) compared with the HERO4’s heftier price-tag of around £370.00


The RE is bound to find a market, but rival the GoPro? That very much remains to be seen.


More on the HTC RE at and on GoPro at

Featured Reviews Tech

AfterShokz Bluez 2 Headphones

AfterShokz Bluez 2 HeadphonesWhen Cyclo first looked at the AfterShokz Sportz 2 Headphones almost two years ago we were suitably impressed by the bone conduction technology that both sets them apart from other sports ‘phones and by the additional safety that they offered. Now though there are the AfterShokz Bluez 2 to consider…


The tech first: unlike conventional headphones the AfterShokz Bluez 2 and their predecessors use bone conduction technology to deliver sound through the user’s cheekbones to the inner ear, a technique that leaves the ears open to ambient sound with obvious safety advantages when it comes to listening to music on the bike. Of course the use of MP3s on the ride is a divisive issue, but if you’re going to do it there’s arguably no safer way than with the Bluez 2.


To use the tech for the first time is something of a revelation – if you’re expecting metallic vibration like picking up radio through a filling you’re in for a huge surprise; the sound – from deep bass to high-ends – is remarkably clear with little discernable difference from in-ear options and there’s really no learning curve when it comes to effectively listening to two things at the same time.


The AfterShokz Bluez 2 are wireless Bluetooth with a charging time of around 2 hours (via mini USB) that promise approximately 6 hours of playback – on test we were certainly getting close to this time, although as with most rechargeable tech this is likely to drop off a little over time and extended use.


The headphones are held in place via a one-piece wraparound headband that sits at the back of the head, drapes casually over the ears without adding pressure, and holds the headphones gently against the cheeks. An optional tension band can be added at the back for both stability and for those with smaller heads. The 45g weight feels heavy in the hand – certainly in comparison to traditional bud earphones – but once on and correctly positioned they proved perfectly comfortable on the bike. Getting everything snug under a helmet (assuming you’re not daft enough to ride sans lid and listening to music) takes a little wiggle but, once sorted, is barely noticeable.


The controls on the AfterShokz Bluez 2 do however take a little getting used to. Volume and power / Bluetooth pairing buttons sit under the right ‘arm’ whilst the multifunction button (MFB) is over the left cheek. The MFB is used for a host of functions from skipping tracks to answering calls on a connected phone, we found that using it for basic functions – like pausing the music – worked just fine, but trying to learn the more complex clicking-combinations (answering a second incoming call, whilst putting the first on hold) was beyond both our ability and desire. Definitely pure user incompetence rather then tech-fail, but as we don’t work in a call centre we won’t sweat the fact that this function will be forever beyond us.


The AfterShokz Bluez 2 pack in a huge amount of technology and innovation from the ‘Audrey Says’ voice prompting to the brilliantly named ‘LeakSlayer’, which helps reduce that annoying (to everyone else) music leakage from headphones – something you might imaging is compounded by bone conduction but isn’t.


Even if you only use the basic functionality of the AfterShokz Bluez 2 there is much to recommend them; beyond the great sound quality, improved aesthetics, and Bluetooth convenience it’s the added safety of ‘open ear’ music enjoyment on the bike that’s really likely to appeals.


The AfterShokz Bluez 2 retails at £89.95 with further details and online purchase at

Read the Cyclo review of the AfterShokz Sportz 2 here.

Featured Reviews Tech


beatbikeThere is an indisputable love or hate factor when it comes to folding bicycles and an equally binary set when it comes to the subject of electric bikes. Where then is this likely to leave people when it comes to the two-in-one beatbike?


Divided is the obvious answer, and so it may prove to be, but stick with us on this and rest assured we were firing on all cynicism cylinders too when we first took delivery of the beatbike for an extended test period…


First the tech: beatbike has an anodised alloy frame, folds flat to around 300mm, incorporates an 80watt hub motor – powered by an internal lithium ion battery – for a maximum speed of 12mph and a maximum running time between charges of 3 hours. It ships in a carry case and, packed, looks not unlike lugging a set of golf clubs around.


Unfolding the beatbike takes a little practise – a good few minutes and some colourful language should do it on first attempt, but with a little practice it’s actually a doddle. The pedals flip up, then handlebars clip into place and are secured with a lever pad, the front upright swings into place by simultaneously pulling up a lever (this is the tricky rubbing head/patting belly trick bit at first) and the rear upright lifts into position. The only non-integrated part is the separate seat-post and saddle, which slot in and secure with a swing-fastener. Re-folding the beatbike is, obviously, just a case of repeating the above in reverse order – there’s a knack to the whole process, but it’s a perfectly simple one to get the hang of.


beatbikeThere’s something both urban and a little utilitarian about the aesthetics of the beatbike, it does lack the graceful lines that have made Bromptons such a design classic, but in a slightly industrial and brutalist way it’s really rather lovely. There are spots of tape, where a neat anodised clip would have added appeal, but most of the angularity is a functional aspect of having the majority of the tech contained within the frame. Its looks, we have to admit, grew on us considerably over time.


We’ve been taking the beatbike out on test for over two months to get a full flavour of what it’s all about and repeatedly people have flagged us down to demand to know more and, invariably, ask to have a go. Not one person got off the beatbike without an enormous smile on their face and this, perhaps, is the secret to the bikes potential success. Cycling should, after all, be fun.


To get your motor running, to channel Steppenwolf, it’s a simple matter of switching on via the controls mounted on the left side of the handlebars and selecting from the three speeds – the motor runs as long as you keep pedalling (without effort) and cuts out either as soon as you stop or when the breaks are applied (front disc, rear drum.) The breaks are sharply responsive, without being dangerously over-eager and the only things that takes any real practice is getting used to the more upright position on the bike and understanding the turning circle.


Aside from when power-assisted there are no gears on the beatbike so pedalling uphill on a 14kg frame tests the legs, but then that’s what the motor’s really for…


It’s important to put this bike in context: As a ‘final-mile’ commute bike, it makes enormous sense (the carry bag converts into a rucksack, a really nice touch), as an option to take on a canal boat or caravan holiday, ditto and for getting out and just having untold fun in a park it’s hard to beat. There are some limiting factors in terms of the distance/time between charges but the beatbike compares well here with other makes that weigh considerably more.


Are we going to convert any ‘real’ cyclists here? Maybe not, but they’re the ones missing out on the fun, which beatbike delivers in spades.


The beatbike is currently only available in anodised silver, but a larger range of colours are promised – it retails at £499.99, just about on the money for an electric folder and less than half of what you might expect to pay for something like the Raleigh Velo XC.


Cyclo is offering its readers a £50 discount on the beatbike; just use code ‘cyclo50’ at the checkout at