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Gamechanging BSX Insight sensor achieves Kickstarter target and is scheduled for release later in the year

A project to bring ‘the world’s first wearable lactate threshold sensor’ to market has achieved more than double the funding it was seeking on Kickstarter. The BSX Insight sensor pairs with a sports watch to provide your heart rate, cadence, pace and calories burnt too.

The BSX Insight was designed and developed by endurance athletes Dustin Freckleton and Nithin Rajan who met at the University of Texas in Houston. If it delivers on its promises, this could be a valuable training and racing tool.

“Lactate Threshold is one of the most common, and THE most effective, performance marker used by competitive coaches and athletes,” says BSX Insight. “For over 50 years it has been the gold standard for performance measurement and has repetitively been shown to be over 95% accurate at predicting race finish order. This means it can be used with near perfect accuracy to personalize the appropriate training intensities of each athlete.”

There’s a big debate about the exact role of lactic acid in exercise, but once it starts to build up in your body you’re on a slippery slope. That’s why it’s such a crucial measurement in endurance sports. Go beyond your lactate threshold and you’re exercising at an intensity that isn’t sustainable for a long period.

“When lactic acid starts to build up in the body it does so very dramatically and very quickly,” says BSX Insight.

“This event is known as lactate threshold and it signals a state of imbalance—when the body is starting to depend on less efficient energy sources. Exercise intensities at this level can only be maintained for a short period of time before fatigue and exhaustion occurs.

“Since fatigue and exhaustion are never the goal of an endurance athlete, lactate threshold is an important event to both know and train for.”

That all sounds fair enough, but how the hell do BSX Insight measure your lactate threshold through a wearable sensor?

“The primary sensor is comprised of an LED array that passes light through the muscle belly of the gastrocnemius (also known as the calf muscle), and a detector,” says BSX Insight.

“As the light passes through the muscle tissue, it is reshaped by elements within the tissue (known as chromatophors) to produce a unique signal (similar to a fingerprint) that contains information about the local metabolic activity.

“This profile is then processed by embedded BSX algorithms to analyse identifiable signal features which exist within the profile. When combined together, these are used to accurately generate a lactate threshold curve. Real-time monitoring of this curve allows the athlete to always know where they are along that curve and their proximity to crucial training thresholds.”

If it works as BSX Insight claim, this sounds like an incredibly valuable training tool. If you train by heart rate, for example, you might work to training zones based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate (you might have determined your zones more accurately by other means). Your lactate threshold is usually estimated at between 80% and 90% of max in trained endurance athletes.

The key word there is ‘estimated’. An accurate lactate threshold monitor would take the guesswork out of it. You can move your lactate threshold by training effectively. Essentially, the higher you can raise your lactate threshold, the faster you can race (yes, plenty of other factors come into it too, and the importance of those factors vary between events).

Potentially, the BSX Insight could help you train more effectively and race at your maximum sustainable intensity. It’s a lot like a power meter in that respect (there’s a whole conversation to be had there on the pros and cons of each).

You can, of course, get your lactate threshold measured in the lab, but it’s a pretty expensive and time consuming business. Plus, the advantage of the BSX Insight system is that you get constant feedback as you’re exercising.

The monitor snaps into a compression sleeve that you wear on your calf, and you pair it to a sports watch using ANT+ or Bluetooth. It can give you audio/visual alerts to speed up or slow down.

At the end of your activity you can wirelessly upload the data and check it out on BSX’s web-based software (trainBSX)

The BSX Insight Kickstarter campaign received $121,897 of pledges, more than doubling its $50,000 target. BSX says that this will enable the brand to take its prototypes to full-scale manufacture, complete the software to enable the BSX Insight to communicate with sports watches and other wearable devices (currently it works with only Garmin), integrate with social and training platforms like Strava, Facebook and Twitter, and to miniaturise the design.

BSX aim to begin manufacturing in September and deliver the Insight in the final quarter of this year.

The BSX Insight will be available in a Runner’s Edition ($249 with six months’ trainBSX premium access), a Multi Sport Edition (with both cycling and running profiles, $329 with six months’ trainBSX premium access) and in a Team Edition (for multiple users).

For more info go to www.trainbsx.com/insight.

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

13 comments

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Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
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Many a time i have been dragging my fat hairy arse up a steep climb and cursed to the heavens above
"If only someone would invent a wearable lactate threshold sensor!!!!!"
Now my prayers have been answered and my cycling odyssey is complete.

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WolfieSmith [1326 posts] 2 years ago
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Oh for Christsakes. Just go out and enjoy the riding. I'm so sick of the beeps and trills of Garmins and all the stat watching. People with no set training programme, with no chance of staying in the pack on a race are out there staring at screens and worrying about aerobic v anaerobic and how their fat burning intervals are going.

It's all BS. If you want to lose weight, get fit, get faster or race - join a club, meet people, get battered by people who know what they're talking about - and stop buying daft kit.

It'll be HUD TT helmets next. I might market a helmet with a bottle on it and a feeding tube. Some twerp would buy it.  4

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Joeinpoole [441 posts] 2 years ago
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MercuryOne wrote:

Oh for Christsakes. Just go out and enjoy the riding. I'm so sick of the beeps and trills of Garmins and all the stat watching. People with no set training programme, with no chance of staying in the pack on a race are out there staring at screens and worrying about aerobic v anaerobic and how their fat burning intervals are going.

It's all BS. If you want to lose weight, get fit, get faster or race - join a club, meet people, get battered by people who know what they're talking about - and stop buying daft kit.

... and for that reason, I'm out.

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Mr Turning [120 posts] 2 years ago
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Some Fella wrote:

Many a time i have been dragging my fat hairy arse up a steep climb and cursed to the heavens above
"If only someone would invent a wearable lactate threshold sensor!!!!!"
Now my prayers have been answered and my cycling odyssey is complete.

Maybe if you made effective use of technological tools you wouldn't be so fat.

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giff77 [1256 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Some Fella wrote:

Many a time i have been dragging my fat hairy arse up a steep climb and cursed to the heavens above
"If only someone would invent a wearable lactate threshold sensor!!!!!"
Now my prayers have been answered and my cycling odyssey is complete.

I detect a note of sarcasm here do I not.  39

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Mr Turning [120 posts] 2 years ago
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Riding at the most effective intensity to develop fitness isn’t bullshit, it’s at the heart of pretty much every training plan out there. A tool that helps you do that – be it a heart rate monitor, power meter, this LT meter – is going to be valuable to many people.

If you’re the sort of person who’s happy to just go out and ride, do that. But this is clearly a training tool aimed at people who want to train and get the most fitness benefit they can from their training time. It's very straight forward!

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arfa [767 posts] 2 years ago
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I thought the point of lactate threshold training is you need to push into it ("feel the burn" in old fashioned parlance) to push it out over the long term.
If you have got some beeping gizmo telling you to quit all the time, it kinda defeats the purpose !

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Paul J [901 posts] 2 years ago
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Yeah, as arfa says, knowing you're near or at threshold might psychologically stop you from pushing past it, and so make you train less.

It's just like heart-rate. You can psych yourself out from pushing more if you know your HR is near peak. I remove HR from my main screen for that reason! It's useful for analysis afterwards, but you can be better off not knowing during!

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Paul J [901 posts] 2 years ago
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Oh... that said, there are implantable blood glucose sensors. Small surgical operation. Not sure how long they last. Researchers seem to be working on glucose + lactate implantable sensors, not sure if any are on market yet. That would be quite interesting information to log for post-ride effort/intensity analysis to help optimise training.

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Ham-planet [112 posts] 2 years ago
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//i.imgur.com/XoPqTEv.jpg)
Are you kidding? This baby's off the charts!
I have been waiting some time to use that image.

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KiwiMike [1225 posts] 2 years ago
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Not surprised at the knockers who feel the need to vent at something that upsets their Personal World Order OF What Cycling Should Be.

It's clearly not a scam. 30 years ago you could have said the same thing of wearable HRM's. This whole 'just get out and ride' line is BS if you are serious about getting fitter. Yes, 'getting out and riding' is a good thing, and a given. But to do so effectively/efficiently and not to waste time is the key. You could 'get out and ride' for a year and not improve overall fitness at all. I've just done a second LT / VO2 Max test at Southampton uni, a year after my last one as part of a sports science PhD. Despite 'getting out and riding' about 150km a week in the intervening year I am ***exactly*** the same as I was 12 months ago. All that 'getting out and riding' - short 60-min all-out efforts, longer hilly 2-3hr rides and all-day treks - has simply maintained the level I was at.

Another tool that will give accurate, real-time feedback as to effort and 'system state' will allow a better application of a training plan and less hit/miss. If this gadget upsets you then you must get upset about every_single_thing that's even remotely different to your own personal bubble of cycling perfection.

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abudhabiChris [692 posts] 2 years ago
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It would be a great tool to use in training in conjunction with a power meter. It's not about telling you to stop, it's about knowing when you hit certain levels so you can adjust and plan your training accordingly.

As others have said, if you don't want to train like that, then don't - your choice. But most of the serious racers I know apply a fair degree of science and analysis to what they are doing.

As for the idea of a HUD TT visor, funnily enough after a TTT a few weeks ago we were saying that would be an awesome idea.  41

Let me know when I can get one.

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DESMODUCATI [2 posts] 2 years ago
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If you don't want the technology, don't buy it. If you don't like derailleurs, get a fixie. If you don't like composite frames, get a steel frame.

If you don't like the fact that everyone in this world is not exactly like you, then that is your problem, and most people aren't interested in hearing about it.