What do you look for in a device that enables you to monitor training?  Easy navigation?  Concise and comprehensive detail?  Something cool?  The team at Fitbit have produced what they consider one of their finest creations yet, the Fitbit Surge, and we got the chance to try it out.

The Fitbit Surge is the first specifically performance fitness product that the Fitbit crew have introduced.  Up until now there have been the basic Everyday products – the Zip, One, Flex and Charge – and then the Active product – the Charge HR.  The idea of the Surge was that it was a step up.  So what does the Surge do that the Charge HR doesn’t?

While the Fitbit Charge HR is a device that monitors your steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes, sleep, caller ID, continuous heart rate; the Surge can do all that plus a few extras.  GPS tracking is the principle extra feature that attracted me.  That and a few other add ons all combines to a handsome package of $349.95 worth of tech on my wrist.

The first thing that I find striking about it is it’s appearance.  It is cool, I do like it, although it is a little on the large side.  You cannot be discrete about wearing the Fitbit Surge, while you could with the Charge or the Charge HR for instance.  That said the looks that have come my way regarding the Surge have not been skeptical in a kind of ‘you’ve got something on your wrist’ the way one might look down on an unnoticed stain on someone’s shirt.  The looks that have come my way have instead been very inquisitive and intriguing; as they can see only too blatantly that the Surge is cool-tech.  I know this because of the questions that have followed by the way; not just my ability to read facials.  Compared to something like the similar Garmin GPS Smartwatch I’ve got to admit the Surge looks better.

Moving on we now progress to what is actually beneath the coolness.  And to be honest there’s a fair bit.  To someone not familiar with performance tech-wear it may seem quite overwhelming.  On your Surge you can measure time, your heart rate (with a monitor built into the device), calories burned, steps taken, distance walked, stairs climbed throughout the day; that’s a given, automatic and continuous regardless of specific exercise undertaken.  But there are also a number of activities that you can track workouts for ranging from hiking to weights, spinning to kickboxing, tennis to golf and walking to cycling.  And within that there are a number of things tracked within each workout.


We’ll focus on the cycling for now.  While out riding I was able to monitor my average pace, time on the ride, distance ridden and heart rate.  Added to that my riding was GPS tracked.  Unlike the running option though, the cycling workout on the Surge only tracked average speed, while the running option tracked current pace as well as average pace.  At the end of my workout I was immediately presented with a summary of my workout on my watch, my average heart rate and maximum speed among the additional information here that was not present during the workout.

Workout done, once I had returned home I didn’t need to enter data into my Fitbit account, in fact I didn’t need to get to my computer at all; the Surge automatically synchronized the information to my account and presented me with an even more concise assessment of my workout.  This included detailed graphs of how my speed, heart rate and calorie burning all changed during the workout.  It’s a smart device and certainly possesses benefits for use in training.

I would have said that I expected more from the Surge in terms of what it offered cyclists though.  It is certainly a device more able to give runners detailed workout analysis, and that’s saying something given what I’ve listed as trackable for cyclists.  Any duathletes reading this may find it very advantageous; although triathletes may find it’s lack of being swim proof a little irksome.  Current speed during the workout was something I missed.  The running option provided information on steps taken during the workout, it would’ve been good to have had RPMs recorded as well; but then that would be a whole other advancement in technology if it was to remain a device that had no need of extras on or around the bike.  

The battery life is interesting.  Impressively it takes just one to two hours to charge fully; that I did find to be true.  But unfortunately the battery life was a little exaggerated.  Fitbit claim that the Surge has a battery life of up to 7 days when in reality I’ve worn it out in 2.  Sure it probably does have a 7 day battery life but that would more likely be when it is idly left around the home and not worn at all for 7 days.

The only other thing to note is with regard to the GPS tracking.  It’s not that it doesn’t track your ride, it does and accurately, but to activate the tracker you may sometimes be waiting several minutes to get things underway or have to start your workout and wait for the GPS tracking to kick in a little further along the road.  Fitbit have provided the Quick Start option on workouts though so that when riding you don’t have to constantly monitor whether the GPS tracking has begun or not, it will simply automatically start as soon as it does; you may have just ridden a kilometre or two already.

For more details on the Fitbit Surge as well as other products check out the Fitbit website.




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