Product Review: Bia Sport GPS

I first heard about Bia Sport during their Kickstarter campaign a couple of years ago.  It sounded like an awesome alternative to my Garmin.  I didn’t come off the money to be an original backer, but I’ve been keeping my eye on the company ever since, knowing that my Garmin Forerunner 305 would eventually bite the dust and I’d be looking for a replacement.  The initial backers are now starting to receive their units.  Since it’s been so long since they initially backed the product, I guess in the meantime some people had to buy new GPS watches because I’ve seen the Bias popping up for sale.  Thanks to Kristi who pointed it out to me, I bought one on eBay for $125–half of what the backers had paid for it.  It was brand new, but the backer had in the meantime bought and fell in love with her new Garmin and didn’t need the Bia anymore.  Well, I didn’t NEED it either, but for $125 I couldn’t pass it up.  If nothing else, it’s nice to know I have a backup for the days I pick up my Garmin on my way out the door for a run only to turn it on and be greeted with the low battery warning because my dumb ass forgot to turn it off before I stuck it in the drawer.

It came in this cute little box with the watch, one strap, the Go Stick, and the USB charger for the Go Stick.



There was no instruction manual, which I found odd, but after some googling and reading posts from other users on their Facebook page, I found the answers to most things I wanted to know.

I’ve used it for a few runs now, and it definitely has its pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Size and weight.  It’s smaller and lighter than what I’m using now, and I like that.
  • It’s cute!

  • The SOS feature.  When you set up your user profile, you can program in cell phone numbers that an SOS message will be texted to if you push and hold the button on the watch.  From that text, the recipient can find your location and come save your ass.  In future software updates, the emergency services notification will also be added.
  • The run data automatically uploads to your My Bia Sport account wirelessly.
  • You’re connected to GPS in NO TIME.  Seriously, like MAYBE three seconds.
Cons:
  • There’s no lap feature.  Their latest backer update says that it was supposedly pushed to all units last week, but as of today I haven’t seen any sign of it.  At the end of a run, you have your total time, total miles, and average pace displayed, but you have no splits.  That’ll be okay for me on most runs right now since I’ve shifted my focus to low heart rate for a while.  I won’t need that info when I’m just out running to be running, but I hope to see the feature added soon.

  • During the run, I like to see my average pace, but the watch only displays your cumulative time, your miles, and your current pace.  And the current pace is VERY inaccurate.  During a run, it shows everything from a 4-minute to an 18-minute mile.  If you’re using the watch to race and you’re chasing a specific pace, you’d better be damn good at math or have a pace band because there is no way you’ll be able to pace yourself using the Bia.
  • The distance measuring doesn’t seem to be consistent.  I have a tried-and-true 3-mile course.  I’ve run it no telling how many times.  Start at the corner in front of Lowe’s, one lap around the park, down the street a bit, into a cul de sac and retrace.  It’s always 3.0 by my Garmin and was even 3.0 the first time my Bia measured it.  The next time I ran it with the Bia it measured 2.91.  I did nothing different at all.  Could have just been a fluke.  I’ll know more about this the more I use it.
  • There are still some quirks with the upgrades.  They are done automatically, and when I finished my run Saturday, my watch displayed a message that said, “Get ready to upgrade.  Keep your Go Stick close by!”  A few minutes later, my watch displayed Error 34.  Their latest backer update states “On April 10th we made (another) total amateur mistake with our first over-the-air update.  About 15% of customers got the now famed “Error 34″ message while the update to their watch was installing.  Turns out the update file got a teeny tiny bit larger, but the timing window we gave for that update to install didn’t.  Good news is that this problem has zero effect on doing workouts with your Bia, but Doh!  Let’s just say, that won’t happen again.”  Well it happened to me on April 19th, so I’m not sure what to make of that.

I get that this is a fresh-off-the-ground project and there are bound to be unexpected issues crop up.  That’s a given with technology!  So I’m not terribly upset about any of these things.  They seem to be working hard to resolve the problems.  And the fact that I only gave $125 for it makes it even harder to get upset.  haha  Now if I’d given the full backer price, I might be a little less patient.  For now I have kind of “it’ll do” feeling about the Bia.  When more of the updates go live, I’ll do an updated review!
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10 thoughts on “Product Review: Bia Sport GPS

  1. I do know that the Garmin has a +/- 3% for the distance.
    And, I like to see my average pace as well. My Garmin 405 is way smarter than me. S had to restart it for me, and somehow it now does mile laps, which I don't even care about. I used to make fun of people for “beeping” every mile, but now I'm one of them, haha.

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  2. Honestly it's really not an issue for me. I just clip the go stick to my waistband. And there will be times that I won't even need to do that. When they DO get the lap feature activated, I'll be able to just use the watch without the go stick when I'm at the track doing 400s and 800s. But I only run with it. I can see how it would be a total pain in the ass for a triathlete though, having to move it (and trying not to forget it!) during transition.

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  3. My friend B was a backer, and STILL has not received her watch.

    I am so glad I did not back this product; in addition to what seems like never ending software issues and “updates” on things that were supposed to be included when the system launched, their customer service is kind of jerky.

    I'm sure some people are happy with their product. I just don't know any of them…

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  4. Their customer service was pretty great in my short encounter with them yesterday. They followed right up with me on the Error 34 issue. When I said the same thing as you about “these things should have been live when the units shipped” to someone else yesterday, they pointed out that they were already so delayed with the launch that they figured people would be happy to have a somewhat functional unit in their hand to be updated later rather than nothing at all. That very well may have been their line of thinking, but it wouldn't have been mine. I wouldn't want a less-than-100%-ready product going out to the public.

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  5. I love my Garmin 220, but it's twice the price. Once they get off the ground and have experience, it sounds like Bia will have a great product, but they have a *large* market to compete with. I think for now I will stick with my pretty purple Garmin 🙂

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  6. Okay, why are you the only person whose comments don't generate an email notification??? lol

    I'm holding out hope that the updates will bring lots of improvements!

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