Updated August 2019. I recently bought a Garmin Vivoactive 3, and I am very happy with how easy it is to record bike rides with my new Garmin smartwatch. So, I thought I would publish this simple, step-by-step guide to how to use your Garmin Vivoactive 3 to record activities such as bike rides.
Step 1: Press the Button on the Side of your Garmin Vivoactive 3
My Garmin Vivoactive has a button on the right-hand side. (You can set up your watch to have the button on the left side, if that works better for you.) Below is my Garmin watch. I got a white strap because I am so tired of grey and black clothes and accessories!
Simply press the button when you want to record an activity. The very first time, it will ask you to pick your favorite activities. I picked Bike and Walk. So, every time I press the button, I am offered a choice of these two activities.
Update: For the first few months I only recorded bike rides and hikes with my Garmin. However, I recently started using it to record when I swim laps in the pool, and it works really well. It’s a great motivator, because I can compare how fast I completed my laps on previous days. Note that it does not record your heart rate while swimming, only your distance, time, pace, and strokes. Which is definitely enough for me!
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Step 2: Select Bike on your Garmin Vivoactive 3
Next, simply choose Bike by touching the word on the watch with your finger tip. Because recording a bike ride requires GPS, your Garmin activity tracker will immediately start searching for a GPS signal. It will ask you to wait until it finds the signal.
Once your Garmin Vivoactive 3 finds the signal, it will let you know that it has found it, and so it is ready to record your bike ride.
Step 3: Press the Button Again
My Garmin Vivoactive 3 finds a GPS signal in a few seconds. I have to say, it seems to be a bit faster than my Garmin Edge 520 bike computer. As soon as it finds a signal, it lets me know that it has found it, and reminds me of what to do next – press the button again!
Step 4: Ride Your Bike!
You can now start your bike ride. I always check that the timer has started, so I can be certain that the recording has started.
Step 5: When You Have Completed Your Bike Ride, Press the Button Again to End the Recording
As soon as you finish your bike ride and press the button, you will see the display below, which tells you that the recording has paused. If you had stopped to have lunch, for example, you could just leave it like this. But if you are done, you can just press done.
Step 6: Save the Recording of Your Bike Ride
Next, you will be prompted to either Save or Discard the recording of your bike ride. If you save it, it will automatically upload the recording to your Garmin Connect account.
Step 7: Review Your Bike Ride Online
Next, you can review your bike ride online. It will of course be in your Garmin Connect account, where it will automatically sync within a short period of time. In my case, I have set up my Garmin Connect to automatically upload my activities to Strava, because I prefer the Strava interface. You can read more about how to use Strava here. Note that your Garmin Vivoactive 3 will automatically record your heart rate all the time (plus your sleep patterns). So you can review how your heart performed on your bike ride, as well as keep a check on that all-important stat – your resting pulse rate. With Strava, you will only be able to review your pulse rate during your bike ride, and that only if you have two elements in place:
- You are wearing a heart rate monitor.
- You have paid for Strava Summit (which used to be called Strava Premium).
Of course, with the Garmin Vivoactive 3, the heart rate monitor is an optical monitor built into the watch.
Watch the Process on a Video!
You can also see the whole process of recording an activity in this handy intro video. Recording an activity starts at minute 1:15.
How Easy is it to Record Activities with Your Garmin Vivoactive 3?
I am a big fan of Strava, so I usually use the Strava app on my phone to record activities. However, I was pleased and surprised to find that it is even easier and quicker to use my Garmin Vivoactive 3 to record activities, than it is to use Strava. The best part is that I can record activities even if I forget my phone at home, and I don’t have to use up my phone battery. My iPhone is two years old, and I often find that recording activities on Strava really burns through my phone battery. This is especially a problem if I am also using my iPhone to monitor what my GoPro Hero is recording, or using Google Maps to find my way home.
On the other hand, I must say that the Garmin Connect interface has got steadily better and better over the last several years. (The mobile interface is especially impressive and clear.) For example, this is the overview of a recent bike ride as it displays on the Garmin Connect app on my smart phone:
Below is some of the information supplied about the same bike ride on the Garmin Connect web site on my computer . As you can see, I can quickly correlate how my heart performed while doing hills and higher speed.
Bottom Line on Recording a Bike Ride with a Garmin Vivoactive 3
All in all, my first impressions of my Garmin Vivoactive 3 is that it is a great tracker for recording bike rides, and I expect to spend a lot of happy hours riding my bike with it!
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