Pafers XSPIN/XKIT – A Tracker for Indoor Equipment? [Updated]

It was with great excitement that I read about the Pafers XSPIN on Gearist in the post Winter Fitness Survival Accessories. A device that worked with elliptical trainers and stationary bikes using iPhones and Bluetooth LE to track workouts. Ah, such great promise. But such a challenging experience to set it up. This was so drawn out that I will have to heavily edit myself or this could become a novella.

 

UPDATE

In the next section of this review, I describe the difficulties I had getting a reading from the Pafers XSPIN. This was due to my installing it incorrectly. It has to be installed to have radial movement. I had it installed 90 degrees off. This was pointed out to me in the comments for which I am thankful.

 

I connected the XSPIN to my elliptical trainer in the manner shown in the directions. It was clear of any bar and could spin full rotations.

Next I had to connect to an app. The Pafers XSPIN comes with two apps Cycle on Earth and CycleRush2. My experience with Cycle on Earth was short lived because I was aggravated immediately.

When the app is opened, the default profile is Guest as shown above on the left. You can fill it out with your information. The problem? When you leave the screen and come back, it reverts to Guest. Extremely annoying. I moved on to CycleRush2.

In order to get the full benefit of the device, I wanted to track my heart rate as well as my speed and cadence. This involved getting a Bluetooth Heart Rate strap. I bought the least expensive one that I could find, an Oregon Scientific SZ999.

$32.36

It was a great price and it connected to Strava, Runkeeper, Runtastic, MapMyRun and other apps. The one app it wouldn’t connect with… Yep. CycleRush2. I had to get another Heart Rate strap. This time I got a Polar H7 figuring that Polar is likely the most compatible strap out there. After all, they did introduce the first wireless heart rate monitor.

It was picked up immediately and I could pair it with no problem. So I then hit the button on the XSPIN and selected it as well. It gave me the option for either a bike or an elliptical and I chose the elliptical.

I decided to use one of the built in classes. Chose Rookie’s Ride from the Beginner section. It looked like a good 30 minute workout which should give me plenty of data. And I started my workout.

The workout was short lived. Almost immediately I had problems. The app was not picking up the cadence sensor consistently.

I got the message that it was unable to get the sensor data. Then there would be an RPM value, then it was 0. The heart rate was reading just fine. It picked up my spikes from annoyance right away.

The elliptical itself of course was showing my RPM just fine.

After moving the iPhone all over the place trying to get a consistent signal, I started to get desperate. I held the device in my hand and while using the elliptical handles. Surprisingly, it consistently read the RPMs. I got industrious and strapped it to the handle using velcro tape.

So I was off and running. I was going to get a full workout in and have some lovely data to track finally right? I wish. First I had to get set up to collect the data. The CycleRush2 app allows connectivity to Facebook, Twitter, Runkeeper and DailyMile. I was happy. I have a Runkeeper account along with DailyMile. I connected to them and begin the workout.

While working out, some good data is available. The display shifts between Speed, Watts (it actually approximates a power meter), and Distance. The RPMs and Pulse remain constant along with time elapsed.

As you progress in the workout, the bars fill up and you move to the next one in the sequence on the bottom of the screen. Between each target, a screen appears with a graphic of a rider on a spin bike. This display advises the Target RPM and Resistance settings.

During the workout as well, you can shift the bottom half of the screen to look at the progress of the workout. The screens show the average heart rate, the RPMs and the recommended resistance for each stage completed.

So far so good. A lot of great data is being collected and displayed. After 30 minutes, the workout is complete and it’s time to send the information to RunKeeper.

The workout does not automatically share to any of the services when complete. You will need to go back into History, pick the workout you wish to share, and click the SHARE button on the bottom.

Once the workout has been imported into RunKeeper, you have the ability to change the type to Elliptical.

But that isn’t enough to be excited about. Remember that heart rate? Gone. All the other info in the workout? Gone. The only thing that comes over is the bare basics of the workout. That, and a truly over the top pre-populated message:

I just finished the “Rookie’s Ride” Beginner Class with Cycle Rush 2. It’s the best indoor cycling app with great music tracks with 27 audio-guiding training programs. Download the app and try it now!

The message is just ridiculous. The initial message when connecting to RunKeeper is even worse:

THE BEST APP FOR INDOOR CYCLE TRAINING HAS ARRIVED! Cycle Rush 2 provides a gym-like experience without needing to leave home. The app is packed with great features that will keep you both motivated to work out and on track with your fitness training. Cycle Rush has lots of GREAT features: **Professionally recorded training music tracks** **In-session audio coaching** **Compatible with Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Sensors and Cadence/Speed sensors** **27 training sessions in 5 levels** **Exciting training music tracks**

I am a believer in plugging your product, but that is just ridiculous. I have an idea, instead of writing over the top ad copy to insert into Runkeeper, how about if you send the freaking heart rate? Sound good?!

Well, obviously the CycleRush2 app and Runkeeper won’t work for the tracking purposes. We have to come up with something else. Sadly, DailyMile does’t offer much more.

That means another app will be needed. When I was researching the XSPIN, I read that it was compatible with Strava. That sounded fine because I already have a Strava account and you can always export a workout from the tool by adding /export_tcx to the end of the url. That will download a TCX file that is compatible with most online services.

So, I connected Strava to my HRM and the XSPIN. Both were detected and the RPMs were available. I started working out. I was going nowhere. No distance was being recorded. I touched the screen and confirmed that both devices were being read.

I started researching the problem. It appears that Strava will not track a workout without a GPS signal. REALLY?! Are you kidding Strava?! I guess no one is supposed to work out indoors.

Well, time to move on yet again. The cash register rings and I get MapMyRide.

Both sensors are picked up and it has no problem tracking indoors. It even offers to turn off GPS tracking on the phone during the workout. Very courteous.

The screen display changes to reflect Distance with Duration, Current Speed with Calories, and Current HR with Cadence. Everything I could ask for. And when the workout was completed, all the information was both retained and viewable. But there is no real way to get all the data out. MapMyFitness only likes to export GPX files which just show the route.

Time to move on yet again. Next app up is Runtastic Road Bike. What’s that sound we hear? Oh, yeah. The cash register again.

I decided to try the free version and of course, as soon as I started to connect the sensors, I was informed that I would have to pay for the Pro version. So I coughed up the cash and bought it. It picked up my HRM, but alas, it would not pick up the XSPIN. Moving on again.

This time I decided to look at Digifit. I quickly saw that I would have to pay to play and gave up.

Late breaking news!

The hero Mike Palumbo created a MapMyRide conversion tool. He writes about it in his post MapMyRide to Strava.

Maybe he saved the day. The plot thickens and this journey will continue.

 

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Eric Hunley

RRCA Certified coach. Started to change lifestyle in 2012 when weight was up to 283 lbs. Eventually started running later that year and racing in 2013. Has run in dozens of races and has been featured in some podcasts. Full Bio on About Page.
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