Journal

Bia Sport Watch Review

UPDATE: AS OF MARCH 2015, bia is shutting down. You can no longer purchase a bia watch and any functionality from previously purchased watches will end as of April 3rd, 2015. 

I received special tester pricing for my watch. 

I’ve been working on this Bia Sport watch review for what feels like weeks. It’s been written and rewritten at least a dozen times, mainly because each draft has been the length of an epic poem. I’ve decided there’s no way around it. There’s just too much to say. So sit down, get comfortable, and read all about my experience with the Bia Sport watch.

Bia Sport Watch Review

The Bia Multi-Sport watch is a GPS watch that grew out of Kickstarter project. It’s geared towards female athletes, with its slim design and offset watch face. The Bia is comprised of two parts: the watch and the GoStick, which functions as the GPS unit and also houses 2G cellular connectivity. It’s a trisport watch, functioning for running, biking, and swimming. It’s also the first watch to offer SOS alert services for added peace of mind. Bia is available for purchase online and, now, in select Fit2Run stores in the Florida area. It retails for $279.

I have been testing the Bia Sport watch throughout my Chicago Marathon training and used it in three races (10k, half marathon, marathon.)

So what do I think of the Bia Multi-Sport watch?  Well, let me break it down for you this way:

Pros:
1. By far, my favorite feature of the Bia Sport is the SOS function. I do not like running with my phone because it’s weight I’d rather not tote around, but I don’t like being without a means of communication in the event of an emergency. I programmed my Bia Sport to alert my husband’s cell phone in the case of emergency. All I need to do is hold down a button for a few seconds and it automatically texts my contact with my exact location. It keeps alerting them of my location, updating it when necessary, until I disengage the SOS.

Bia Sport Watch Review SOS Screen Setup

In the future, the SOS function will also alert emergency services, although I am perfectly happy with it only alerting my chosen contact. Thankfully, I’ve never needed to use the SOS function on my runs, but I did test it out at home and it worked quickly and accurately. Two huge thumbs up for an added piece of mind.

2. The battery life on the Bia Sport is insane. I am awful at remembering to charge my devices. Thankfully, I can get in several days of runs without charging my GoStick. I made it through the Chicago Marathon and could have probably run it again on the same charge. It’s made to last up to 17 hours. Seventeen! The actual watch unit never needs charged and the GoStick charges quickly. I have had several instances where I wasn’t paying attention and put the GoStick on the charger the wrong way, but that’s user error so I can’t hold it against Bia.

3. It’s fabulous having a watch that actually fits my wrist. Because the GPS unit is located inside the GoStick and not the watch, Bia was able to create a watch that actually fits on narrower wrists. The offset face makes the watch extremely comfortable, especially because it doesn’t bump on my wrist bone. Both the watch and the GoStick are lightweight. In fact, the watch unit is so comfortable you could wear it as an everyday watch.

Bia Sport Watch Review

4. Bia Sport has unleashed Live Tracking. I had the opportunity to beta test the Live Tracking feature during a half marathon in September and my husband was able to locate me along the course easily. He didn’t need to guess when I’d reach a certain mile marker and hope he was able to see me on-course. By checking the Live Tracking link, he was able to arrive at a location ahead of me and know exactly when I’d pass by. It was also fun to have my friends at home be able to track my race and cheer me on along the way.

Bia Sport Watch Review Live Tracking Screenshot

Live Tracking is now available for all Bia Sport users, for a small fee:

There are 2 ways to use Live Tracking; on Race Day, or Anytime. Race Day links are public, but only visible for 48 hours. Create one on my.bia-sport.com and share it everywhere with your fan club. OR, give select friends and family private access to track you anytime you have turned on live tracking on your watch.

An unlimited Live Tracking subscription is available for $3.99/month or $9.99/ 3 months or $36.99 / year. I will most definitely be investing in Live Tracking during my upcoming training cycle when my mileage and run frequency increases. Live Tracking, in conjunction with the SOS feature, is just another way to put my mind at ease with running.

5. No uploading to my computer for data sync or software updates. The only cord that comes with your Bia Sport is the charger. You never plug your Bia into a computer. Ever. All of your run updates are sent via 2G cell service to your account instantly. I can end a workout, walk into the house, and pull up my run under my account within minutes. If you use MapMyFitness or Strava, Bia will automatically sync your data to that account for you, too. The same goes for updates…they’re all run through the 2G cellular connection. One thing I’d love to see is a dedicated Bia app. Right now, you can access your Bia account through your phone’s browser, but an app would allow for greater functionality and convenience.

Bia Sport Watch Review Data Screenshot

6. Set up was a breeze. I unboxed my Bia and was ready to use it in minutes. The website walks you through setting up and account and registering your unit. It’s all very straight-forward and simple. The website is very user-friendly and provides a ton of great data.

7. The GPS signal connects in seconds. I do not miss the awkward “searching for satellites” moments from my previous GPS watch. The Bia Sport has never taken longer than 30 seconds to find and connect to GPS. No more awkwardly staring at my watch, waiting for it to connect so I can start running. It connected easily when I went from home to Chicago, too. Normally, changing states would mean an even longer delay for connectivity, but the Bia never skipped a beat. The GPS did not work for the majority of the Chicago Marathon (in fact, it says I ran 32 miles, some of which it claims I ran at Kara Goucher pace), but I’m not certain if that was a watch malfunction or due to the buildings and city noise. Otherwise, I’ve never had a GPS issue.

8.  It’s good for your ego. I can’t wait to finish my run simply because I want to see how awesome my Bia thinks I am. No other watch calls you a Badass or tells you you’re En Fuego. It’s a little thing that gives me a smile, even after the worst workout. It’s a great motivator.

 

A photo posted by Ashley (@fiddledeeme) on

9. Straight forward design and function. The Bia is extremely easy to use. The touchscreen has been responsive and having one start/stop button makes things even easier. The menus are simple to navigate and starting a workout takes just a few taps and a shake of the GoStick.

Cons:

1. By far, my biggest gripe about the Bia Sport is the lack of a useful beep/vibrate function. The watch does have a beep function, but it is completely inaudible on a quiet outdoor run, let alone in a race situation. The watch does have an interval/run-walk/Galloway feature, but it’s useless without knowing when the intervals are changing. I like to lose myself in a run and not have to constantly check my watch to see when I’m supposed to walk or run. Some people claim they’ve started to subconsciously become aware of the beep, but this never happened to me. Bia has been completely open and honest when it comes to the lack of this feature, which I do appreciate. They wanted to keep the watch unit as small as possible, so certain things were sacrificed. Rumor has it the 2.0 version of the Bia will have a functional beep and/or vibrate. I’m crossing my fingers original Bia owners are able to upgrade for a smaller cost.

2. There is no backlight. The Bia makes running in the dark difficult. There’s no way to see the screen when I run early in the morning or late at night. With the winter months approaching, the majority of my runs will start or end in darkness. Having to hold my Knuckle Lights up to my watch or wait until I’m under a street light to see my time/distance/pace is pretty frustrating, especially when the interval beeps are inaudible. Again, this was sacrificed to keep the watch unit compact, but I’m not sure it was worth the sacrifice, honestly. I’ve had to wear my other watch during dark runs and I miss having my Bia.

3. Having to wear the GoStick is sometimes a pain. If I don’t get it clipped onto my shirt just right, it slides around and sometimes I just don’t feel like wearing it. At the Chicago Marathon, I was having a heck of a time keeping the GoStick in place and I fiddled around with it for the first five miles. For the most part, I don’t mind having to wear the GoStick, but those times I do mind, it seems to bother me a lot. I’ve also left the GoStick behind by accident in an early-morning run fog. I try to make sure it’s sitting in my shoe so this doesn’t happen, but I’m not so bright in the mornings.

4. The Bia doesn’t keep track of “records”. I have to admit, I loved seeing “Fastest 5k” or “Fastest Mile” on my old watch when I ended a workout. It was nice to get that feedback immediately instead of having to wait until I can sit down and look over my data. The website does not list records, either. In fact, it lacks an overview screen with cumulative mileage, ect. I would love to see a homescreen with miles-to-date, records, ect listed, much like the Garmin Connect homescreen. For a data nerd like me, it’s something I definitely miss.

5. You can not scroll between data screens during a workout. Bia wants you to focus on your workout and not your data, but sometimes a girl just wants to switch between pace measurements mid-workout. This isn’t a huge downside for me, but I do know it would be a big deal to others.

So here’s what you really want to know…would I buy the Bia Sport Watch again and do I think you should buy it?

Yes, with one caveat. If you’re a strict Galloway runner who needs a beep/vibrate function and want it in your watch and not in a separate interval timer, the Bia may not be for you. If Bia Sport can upgrade the beep or add a vibrate function in their next model, it will absolutely be worth every penny for interval runners, without a doubt.

For me, the Bia is worth it  because the positives strongly outweigh the negatives. I can work around the lack of beep/vibrate for now. The lack of backlight is a bit harder to work around, but I’m willing to figure it out so I can have a watch with 2G connectivity, killer battery, an SOS feature, Live Tracking, a watch that fits my wrist, and an easy-to-use design.

Curious about the Bia Sport Watch and my experiences? Leave a comment below and I’ll answer the best I can! 

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11 Comments

  • Reply Sara November 10, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Totally awesome thorough review!! Looks like an amazing little device!

  • Reply TriGirl November 10, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I remember the buzz when the kickstarter campaign began. The watch sounded cool in a lot of ways, but I was nervous about the first iteration of it. Thanks for the thorough review!

  • Reply Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom November 10, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    So it was kind of difficult to tell, but how much smaller is this than the iphone?

    • Reply Michael November 13, 2014 at 8:47 am

      The watch is about 2/3 the size of the latest generation of iPod Nano. The GoStick is about the size of a five stick pack of chewing gum.

  • Reply Kerri Olkjer November 10, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Thank you for such a balanced review! I’ve been so curious about this. You answered my questions here!

  • Reply Melissa November 10, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    This really looks amazing. I think the pros definitely outweigh any cons. I love the live tracking, SOS and the look of it!

  • Reply Hanan November 11, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    The SOS feature is amazing! Love seeing Kickstarter projects like this!

  • Reply Stacey November 12, 2014 at 9:31 am

    I too have the Bia and for the most part love it, BUT if you live in a rural area with limited 2G the automatic upload of your run/race does not work. I have to go to our town 23 miles away to send the info to the Bia site. It does seem to get the signal fairly quickly but will not upload at the end of the run. Another quirk is that when I change destinations for my run, I sometimes have a hard time linking up to the GPS.

    Just my 2 cents 🙂

    • Reply ashley November 14, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      Thanks for sharing! I didn’t have the chance to test it out anywhere rural and that’s really great to know.

  • Reply Rachel Piotraschke November 13, 2014 at 9:06 am

    My Bia has a really hard time with accuracy in downtown areas with tall buildings, too. That’s probably actually one of the biggest downsides since I actually live in a downtown area so lots of my runs go through there! Lots of upsides too, though, and customer service has always been really helpful when working through any issues. I’m really excited to give live tracking a try at my marathon a week from Sunday!!

    • Reply ashley November 14, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      Fingers crossed fro you! I know a lot of people had GPS issues at Chicago. It stinks because I would have loved to see my real splits. I heard a lot of people manually lapped at each posted mile marker during the race instead of relying on GPS, and I kinda wish I would have done that.

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