Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Front Page - BY KEVIN MACKINNON


“OK Radar,” I said as I was rid­ing up Snake Road be­tween Hamil­ton and Wa­ter­down. “Stop lis­ten­ing.”

It’s a good thing that In­tel and Oak­ley man­aged to build in a ton of pa­tience into Oak­ley’s new Radar Pace. A part­ner­ship be­tween Oak­ley (well, Oak­ley’s par­ent com­pany, Lux­ot­tica) and In­tel, the Radar Pace is a coach, a com­puter and a light­weight pair of high per­for­mance sun­glasses all in one. I felt like I should be apol­o­giz­ing for my ru­de­ness. The rea­son I had to ask Radar to stop lis­ten­ing was be­cause I was rid­ing with a friend and our con­ver­sa­tion wasn’t mak­ing any sense to the com­puter, so I kept be­ing asked to re­peat my last ques­tion. (My train­ing con­ver­sa­tions prob­a­bly don’t make a lot of sense at the best of times, so I am cer­tainly not hold­ing that against the crew from Oak­ley and In­tel.) Once we got it all fig­ured out, though, the sys­tem hap­pily went quiet and waited for me to ask for some help.

In fact, the most amaz­ing thing about the Radar Pace sun­glasses is just how well they re­spond and un­der­stand any ques­tions or com­mands you have, even while rid­ing and even while rid­ing very fast. Dur­ing a work­out all you have to do is say “OK Radar” and, once you hear the glasses re­spond, ask your ques­tion. Dur­ing a test run along the beach while I was at Chal­lenge Aruba I got more than a few funny looks from peo­ple. “OK Radar … what’s my pace?” “OK Radar … what’s my heart rate?” While to those I was go­ing by it looked like I was talk­ing to my­self, I was get­ting feed­back in­stan­ta­neously with­out hav­ing to look down at my wrist or press any but­tons. You don’t have to ask ei­ther – the voice in your ears will chime in if you’re not do­ing some­thing right in hopes that you’ll get things back on track.

Dur­ing my first run, good ol’ Radar was dis­tinctly un­happy with my stride rate.

“Your stride rate is low … 76 strides per minute,” I would hear through the headphones. “For op­ti­mal per­for­mance, your stride rate should be at least 88.”

I’m not sure my stride rate has ever been 88, even in the days when I ran cross coun­try and track in univer­sity, so I chose to ig­nore that bit of coach­ing ad­vice, but I did en­joy the vast ma­jor­ity of the feed­back. Rid­ing with the Radar Pace and get­ting pe­ri­odic updates on how far I’d gone, my av­er­age speed and some en­cour­age­ment based on how well I was climb­ing (“You climbed 15 m in 20 sec­onds”) was nice feed­back.

But all that is just a tiny bit of what the sys­tem is ca­pa­ble of.

Radar glasses, with a lot more

If you’ve been an Oak­ley fan for as long as I have (they were ac­tu­ally one of my first spon­sors when I turned pro in the ’80s), you might re­mem­ber the com­pany’s first foray into sun­glasses with headphones – the Thump, which was re­leased in 2004. (The Thump was one of the first re­views we did in Triathlon Mag­a­zine Canada, too.) The Radar Pace looks re­mark­ably sim­i­lar to the Thump, but other than the fact that both can play mu­sic, there is no com­par­i­son be­tween the tech­nol­ogy.

The frame is based on the Radar­lock glasses and you get all the same per­for­mance fea­tures we’re used to in those – in­ter­change­able lenses, com­fort­able nose­pieces and tem­ples with ear­socks that grip more as you sweat. While the Radar Pace is heav­ier, the dif­fer­ence in weight isn’t no­tice­able at all. You can take the ear buds out, too, mak­ing them look pretty much iden­ti­cal to a reg­u­lar pair of Radar­lock glasses.

The Radar Pace comes with two lenses, a Prizm Road lens, which is pos­si­bly one of the nicest rid­ing and run­ning lenses we’ve ever tried, along with a clear lens for low-light or night work­outs.


Get­ting started with the Radar Pace is a breeze. All I had to do was down­load the Radar Pace app to my An­droid phone and then sync up the glasses. (The word was that ini­tially there were some is­sues with an IOS up­date when the glasses were first re­leased, but that was quickly sorted out.) In set­ting up the app you punch in your data and let the sys­tem know what your goals are. The soft­ware then comes up with a train­ing pro­gram based on your goals and fit­ness level – you can ac­tu­ally start your work­out with the ques­tion: “OK Radar, what’s my work­out for to­day?”

Since I am far too much of a con­trol freak to ever let any­one tell me what my work­outs were go­ing to be, I used the Radar Pace in what’s called “freeform mode” where I was do­ing my own thing and sim­ply us­ing the glasses for feed­back and to mon­i­tor my progress. My guess is I won’t be unique on the triathlon front – if you have a coach or are fol­low­ing a spe­cific train­ing plan you’ll be in the same boat.

There’s one other thing you might want to set up on the glasses, es­pe­cially if you plan to use them on the bike. In­cluded in the pack­age is a wind guard that helps block the wind from the mi­cro­phone at higher speeds. I tried the glasses both with and with­out the wind guard and had no prob­lems com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the sys­tem, but my guess is that in re­ally windy con­di­tions you might ap­pre­ci­ate the wind guard.

There’s a touch pad on the side of the temple that lets you con­trol mu­sic and calls or use Siri or Google Now, too, if you plan to use the glasses for day to day ac­tiv­i­ties along with your train­ing.

The Radar Pace can con­nect to both Blue­tooth and Ant+ de­vices, so you’ll be able to ac­cess pretty much ev­ery heart rate mon­i­tor or power meter, not to men­tion cadence and speed sen­sors. The Radar Pace also has a num­ber of sen­sors built in – an ac­celerom­e­ter, gy­ro­scope, barom­e­ter and some oth­ers. (Which is how it was able to fig­ure out that my stride rate was so low and also knew just how much climb­ing I was do­ing.)

Work­ing out

As I was set­ting things up I re­al­ized the is­sue that would chal­lenge me with the Radar Pace: the fact that I had to have my phone with me while I was work­ing out. That’s not a prob­lem at all on the bike, as that’s pretty much stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dure. Run­ning, on the other hand, was more of a chal­lenge. I typ­i­cally run in tri shorts or run­ning shorts with pock­ets de­signed to hold a key or a card, which left me hav­ing to carry my phone along with me. If you’re one of those peo­ple who typ­i­cally car­ries your phone while you’re run­ning, this won’t be an is­sue. For the rest of us it takes a bit of plan­ning – ei­ther us­ing a run­ning belt or strap to carry the phone.

Once you get all that sorted, though, you’ll be off to the races. It’s easy to stream mu­sic from your phone if you’re so in­clined, but de­spite the fact that the ear buds pro­vide ex­cel­lent clar­ity and sound pretty good, you can still hear the out­side world, which ob­vi­ously is an im­por­tant safety fac­tor.

I would have liked to be able to pause the sys­tem, but you can’t do that man­u­ally – it fig­ures out when you’ve stopped and pauses it­self.

The soft­ware does an amaz­ing job of fig­ur­ing out what you’re ask­ing. You will, though, run into times where the sys­tem thinks you are try­ing to talk to it when in fact you’re mak­ing a joke about how slow your train­ing part­ner is that day, at which point you might have to re­sort to the “stop lis­ten­ing” com­mand.

The sys­tem is said to be good for up to six hours of use. The long­est ride I used it for was four hours, which I fol­lowed up with a few runs over the next few days with­out hav­ing to charge things up, so Oak­ley’s es­ti­mate on battery life seems about right. So, do you need this? How many of our train­ing tools do we re­ally need? Many triath­letes tend to have a bit more ath­letic ex­pe­ri­ence, spe­cific race goals and lots of ac­cess to coach­ing and train­ing groups, so they’re not go­ing to be able to uti­lize as many of the in­no­va­tive train­ing prop­er­ties that Oak­ley has built in to this sys­tem. If (and, pos­si­bly, when) Oak­ley ties the sys­tem into some­thing like Train­ing Peaks, where you could load in a work­out or even an en­tire pro­gram from a coach­ing plat­form like Train­ing Peaks, it would be­come a much more use­ful de­vice for more se­ri­ous com­peti­tors. Whether or not Oak­ley will go af­ter that crowd will de­ter­mine just how much of those kind of fea­tures we’ll see built into the app.

The freeform func­tion, though, has some real ben­e­fits. I have a few friends who strug­gle to see their bike com­put­ers be­cause they only need their glasses for read­ing. (There’s one ad­van­tage for need­ing bi­fo­cals, I guess.) The Radar Pace would be a great op­tion in that sce­nario. If you like to train with mu­sic, this is an easy way to wire­lessly con­nect with lots of other ben­e­fits, too. The Radar Pace is, to me, much more use­ful than some of the heads up dis­plays I’ve re­viewed, pro­vid­ing some great info with con­sid­er­ably few vis­ual dis­trac­tions.

Even if you have to tell it to stop lis­ten­ing ev­ery now and again.

“While to those I was go­ing by it looked like I was talk­ing to my­self, I was get­ting feed­back in­stan­ta­neously with­out hav­ing to look down at my wrist or press any but­tons. You don’t have to ask ei­ther.”

Rest gives your im­mune sys­tem a chance to re­cu­per­ate

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