My take on the Garmin 920XT Triathlon Bundle!

Well I have owned the 920XT triathlon bundle for a little over 2 months (September 23rd) now and I’m suitably impressed!  It does everything my old trusty 910 did and combines it with quite a few good features to help with my day to day training, health and recovery.

I am enjoying the activity tracking features, competing (even if they don’t see it as a competition) against friends and family on the daily step count is a personal highlight.  I have adopted the 920xt as my daily watch, the tri bundle watch is a very nice black and grey 🙂  I have had a few people question what watch it is, and refuse to believe it is a 920xt cause the colour is wrong!  Well at this point, I believe, Garmin are not releasing this colour in a watch alone, but only as part of the tri-bundle.  What is the tri-bundle you ask?  Really the watch is identical, except the colour, the difference is you get two heart rate bands.  One band for triathlons, swimming, cycling, running and the second band for pool swimming only (it can do all the others sports, however it is bigger, stickier and uncomfortable our of the water).


As pictured, I think it looks every bit stylish enough for an everyday watch.  Now lets get serious why did I buy this piece of equipment?  Or why did I upgrade to the 920XT?  Well as I have noted above the activity monitoring if a nice little tool, but not my main reason!  I was chasing the added bio-metric measures this watch was able to provide, specifically running cadence, ground contact time, vertical oscillation and swimming heart rate.  First lets talk about the size, yes its big for an everyday watch, but for a full GPS sports watch with activity tracking capabilities I think it is actually quite reasonable.  Size as per the specifications is 48mm x 55mm x 12.7mm, here’s my measurements, closer to 50mm x 50mm x 15mm:

Garmin 920xt Size.jpg

Now into the nitty gritty, the real reason I purchased this watch was for the running metrics, swim heart rate and activity tracking.

Explaining the running metrics is hard, so here is my quick (laymans / dumbed down) version, hopefully my interpretation is close enough and easy to understand.

Elevation is pretty self explanatory and is available in most GPS watches on the market, its a measure of the elevation climbed both up and down.

Pace is pretty obvious for most people, this is generally the focus of every session.  It is a record of how quick you are running, generally recorded as min/km.

Cadence is a new dynamic measure for the 920, it is a measure of how many steps/strides you are taking per minute.  Elite runners generally run at 180 strides per minute, that’s my target for all my runs!

Vertical Oscillation another new metric measure introduced for the 920, it is a measure of how much bounce (vertical) movement you have while running, measured in the heart rate band.  Elite runners are under 8cm, unfortunately I can’t get under 10 at the moment, but I’m trying!

Ground Contact Time is exactly that, how much time each foot spends on the ground, I don’t know what elite is, but I do know that the higher the cadence the lower (less) ground contact time!

So with that brief summary here is an image from Garmin Connect showing how the metrics are presented from one of my runs at Capalaba parkrun course:

Running Metrics Capalaba parkrun

27/11/15 Ted’s Capalaba parkrun

As you can see its all very exciting and I love nothing more than to churn through the data over a coffee post run, ride or swim!

The only change with the swimming metrics is the addition of the heart rate.  Which to explain, the heart rate band does not transmit a live heart rate underwater, it saves the data in the pod and transfers it tot he watch when out of the water.  It does present live heart rate data when both the watch and heart rate pod are out of the water!

Swimming Metrics Chandler Pool Swim

11/11/15 Ted’s Pool Swimming

Probably my personal favorite in the activity tracking features is the sleep, it still puzzles me how it know when i’m in a deep sleep, a light sleep and awake!  But the 920 does and Garmin Connect present the data on a nightly basis as follows, in a neat little graph!

1 Nights sleep data

It can also generate a 7 day report of total sleep just like this:

1 Week sleep time

As you can see, I really like my sleep, minimum 6 hours but prefer closer to 7 or 8!

The step tracking is a pretty cool feature and really rounds out the 920 as an everyday athletes watch.  The watch can automatically adjust your daily goal based on your history, which is a nice feature.  Again Garmin Connect presents the data in a pretty cool little graph.

7 days step data

Garmin Connect also has the ability to enter step challenges or even compare your progress to your other connections.  That is my favorite thing to do, life is always a competition, even if my other connections don’t know they are competing against me!

The last feature worth discussing is the 920’s ability to sync through Bluetooth and the Garmin Connect app with my phone.  Instant data following my session, generally within second / minutes.  No more having to wait till I got home, being within 3m of my ANT+ stick and my laptop waiting for the data to sync.  It can all happen as I am sitting having a coffee at the shop, a laze by the pool at home or even playing with my kids!

Probably my only disappointment with my purchase has absolutely nothing to do with the watch or Garmin Connect, but with the data transfer between Garmin & Strava.  The swimming data does not transfer well at all and the heart rate data doesn’t transfer at all 😦

11/11/15 Ted’s Pool Swim – Strava

That said, I don’t believe Strava’s priority is catering for the triathlete in us all and the way the present the cycling and run data is amazing, second to none and perfect for the amateur / everyday athlete like me!

So all in all the Garmin 920XT is an amazing tool for my training and the investment was well worth every dollar!  The ability to analyse the bio-metric data so quickly and easily after every session is one of the best training tools / equipment I own!

Till next time build consistency, keep smiling and live to Tri!

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