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Tech & Wearables

First Ride: Omata’s one-of-a-kind analog GPS

Omata's One is completely unlike other GPS units. And maybe that's why you want it.

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If your pre-ride checklist includes a heart rate monitor, the Omata One isn’t right for you. If you fixate on your three-second power every ride, this review might not be worth your time. If your current GPS head unit screen is crammed with 10 data fields … Well, perhaps you get the point.

The Omata One GPS stands apart from any other head unit on the market. It is exactly what you’ve been looking for if you’ve been resisting cycling’s march toward more and more data.

Omata’s device is different in nearly every way. It is round while others are square. There are no buttons, simply a bezel that you twist to switch between three functions — record, stop, and upload. And naturally, the analog dial is Omata’s most significant point of differentiation.

It takes a moment to decipher the different arms and inset dials. The orange hand points to speed, starting at the nine o’clock position for zero. The large hand, white with a dark tip, is distance — it starts at a 12 o’clock position. The left inset dial shows elevation gain, while the right shows moving time. At purchase, you commit to either imperial or metric units, and there’s no mixing and matching when it comes to distance and elevation.

After a few rides, it was easy to glance down at the Omata and digest the information. The brightly colored speed indicator is a smart design feature. Those who are far-sighted might have trouble with the little inset dials. On occasion, the distance arm would obscure part of the ride time dial.

However, these quibbles miss the point of an Omata. It isn’t so much about relaying specific data to the rider. It is about providing an aesthetic experience while riding, sort of like a Tag Heuer versus a Casio calculator watch.

The good news is that the data is being recorded, even if you can’t quite read it on a fast, technical descent. Omata’s One works like any other GPS device. When the ride is done, it’s simple to upload the data from the head unit to the app, and it can be shared on Strava as well. Omata provided us with a beta version of its app. We’ll wait to see the final product before we assess its functionality. Fortunately, we had no trouble uploading ride data.

Similarly, Omata says its device will be able to record data from sensors like power meters, but we weren’t able to test that with the beta app. This data is transmitted via Bluetooth or Ant+, and while it won’t be visible on the head unit, it will be available for analysis afterward.

If you’re still reading by this point, there’s one more hurdle to overcome: price. At $550, the Omata One is only slightly less expensive than Garmin’s Edge 1030, a device packed with colored maps and nearly every feature a cyclist could ask for. Wahoo’s Elemnt is a paltry $330.

But as we said at the beginning, the Omata is completely different from other GPS units. And maybe that’s why you’d want it.

An American in France

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