“What the heck is ANT+ USB stick and how will it help with my indoor bike training?”. Great questions, I’m glad I asked.
Like Bluetooth, ANT+ is a wireless protocol to allow connected devices to communicate. It’s very much the standard for fitness devices, especially in cycling. It allows various brands of devices to work together so that, for example, you can wirelessly connect your Powertap hub to your Garmin Edge 510 bike computer.
An ANT+ USB stick will allow communication between your various sensors and your home computer.
For my indoor training this year I wanted to display data from my bike sensors onto my laptop in real-time. If you want to go with TrainerRoad or similar training software, and it’s not running through an iPhone app, then this is one way to do it.
Suunto makes the cheapest ANT+ USB stick that I could find – The Suunto Movestick Mini, priced at just over $40CAN.
Suunto markets this device as a way to upload your data from various Suunto watches to their on-line training software at Movescount.com. They don’t even have the ANT+ logo on the packaging, so you’d have to look at their website for even a hint that this is in fact an ANT+ device. So despite the many assurances from my otherwise trusty retailer that this would not work with my bike sensors, I picked up the Movestick Mini and headed home to give it a try.
The first thing you’ll notice is how tiny this thing is!
The 2nd thing, is how easy it is to setup. Plug it in as you would a flash drive and it is auto-detected immediately. Windows will then auto-load the device drivers and it is good to go!
So now what?
Now you’ll want some training software. I went with the free Golden Cheetah v3.1 training software. Its setup wizard gets your device(s) paired with ease. For now it’s just pairing with my Powertap SL+ hub and my Bontrager Heart rate monitor, but will pick up any ANT+ device. According to DCRainmaker, this USB stick has 8 channels, so you should be able to pick up every sensor that you need.
So, during my indoor rides (on my Kurt Kinetic Road Machine), Golden Cheetah now displays my speed, cadence, heart rate and power data, saves my workouts and offers a dizzying number of power data analysis tools.
Your screen can look a little something like this as you’re riding, but it is customizable:
…but more on Golden Cheetah in another post.