What's Cool In Road Cycling

Sports Instruments Fit 3: Simple Pleasure

Sports instruments US distributor, Paceline Products, stocks a full line of their products, and we thought for sure they would want us to show the top line Pro 9 Metal unit. Most folks like to show the best example of what they do after all, and the Pro 9 is one of those do it all things. But the boss at Paceline had a better idea and that was for us to test the tool that the Pro’s (the Healthnet guys ran the Fit 3) chose to use most often. Surprisingly enough it was this little 99 dollar jewel.

Right from the go I liked that the case was slightly less bulky than the others I have. It’s both slimmer and the face is a bit smaller than the mega function units I have (but the readout is huge and also has a zoom function).

The strap is also on the thin side compared to the leading brand.

Another great feature of both the strap and case is that they are very easy to service. One of my chief gripes are transmitter straps (or any transmitter) that you have to toss out when the battery dies. Call me nuts, but replacing something for 5 bucks is nicer than replacing something for 25 bucks… And I like being able to unscrew and drop in a battery in a main unit with ease (a tiny screwdriver like the one in an eyeglass repair kit is a plus though).

Battery replacement might seem trivial to some folks, especially those that have stopped using a monitor altogether because some are overly complex pains in the ass. But it’s more important on the Fit 3, as it’s extremely easy to use and effective enough that you’ll not be bothered at all getting on with it. And when something is that easy, it gets used a lot, and for any type of exercise you like…

I wanted to see what functions people were actually using, so I went on rides with a few different groups (there are loads of them in Phoenix…) and made a few calls, quizzing several folks over the past couple of months. I found that the vast majority of people had stopped using the download capability (yeah, even pro’s) and only used the heart functions (and they mostly used the simple % of max readout). Almost all non racers had the unit permanently strapped to the bars where it functioned more as eye candy and insanely expensive clock than training tool…

The long and short of it is that most folks get caught up in the electronic version of the weight hype that frame and part makers use, meaning they’ve just got to have the thing with the most buttons and functions… That’s as dumb as a 200lb rider walking down a line of bikes in the shop, carefully hefting each one to see if they can “feel” that extra few grams that are so irrelevant to them.

There is no doubt that some riders out there need an advanced training tool. But there are far more people that will get less use out of something because there are too many steps between them and the information they need. That’s where this little baby comes to play.

My favorite screen is the picture above. If you’re reading this at Pez, there’s a huge chance you know where your target heart rate zones are. You know where you want to be for winter base miles, you know where you want to be for a TT or for the interval you’re pushing through. With the Fit 3, you hit one button and you’re on the screen above. The big button on the side changes functions, and the button on the face changes to any screen within that function… I didn’t need to learn a single button “combination” for the Fit 3. Pressing one button gets me started or stopped (the SS button above). And if I went out the night before and have no brain cells to spare, pressing the little Question Mark button flashes each buttons function on the display, immediately answering the “I wonder what this button does” question…

Yes there is a bar mount.

No, the Fit 3 won’t die a slow useless death as a bar clock if you have other bikes or anything else you would like a monitor for…


That’s basically it…

Don’t get me wrong, the Fit 3 has all the functions needed to give you quite a bit of info, like an ECG accurate heart monitor, Training Zone alarms, memory and a slew of others. Hit the Sports Instruments Site for the full list of what the Fit 3 does. My point isn’t that the Fit 3 does less, it’s that it does what you need, tosses out a few “junk” functions and mostly that it’s just way easy to use.

The fact that we have posted a review on something that costs a nickel less than a hundred bucks is something I will have to learn to live with, as folks are asking for reviews of items that might be a bit more affordable. In fact, this story is one you might want to forward to your Santa (there is a forwarding link now at the bottom of our stories). While we reserve the right to review stuff that goes way past expensive, we will try harder to bring you things not requiring a second mortgage.

The guys at Paceline Products distribute Sports Instruments stuff, along with lots of other products (like the Butt’r I can’t live without). You can hit the site or ring them at 816-781-0287 for a dealer close by. But there’s a great chance that your shop already does business with them… You might also ask about their Ba-Bump heart monitor cream. It’s super easy to use, way more effective and slightly better hygiene than licking a heart monitor strap…

Where To Get ‘Em:

Note: if you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

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