Booyah! A Bia Sport Watch Review

The little watch for women makes a big splash.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

The little watch for women makes a big splash.

It took sports watch start-up Bia exactly 40 days to raise $408,160 on Kickstarter. The promise of a slim, lightweight design, quick-connect GPS and SOS button had female athletes—77 percent of whom were first-time Kickstarter investors—flocking to back Bia.

The gadget itself is the brainchild of open-water swimmer Sylvia Marino, and Ironman triathlete Cheryl Kellond. We knew the watch had to be something special to keep up with those two, so we put it to the test. Below, the results of several runs, a long ride and a two-mile ocean swim.

First, let’s talk about what the Bia is not. It’s not a full-fledged Garmin 910 with a cadence sensor, a backlog of all of your workouts and the ability to see your splits, speed, average pace, heart rate and whatnot in every way imaginable on one screen. It doesn’t have a backlight, so it’s impossible to see your stats at night without a headlamp or flashlight, but your mom will say you really shouldn’t be working out at night without lights anyway, and she’s right.

Ladies who wear their watches on the right hand will want to wait until Bia issues an update that will flip the screen when upside-down, so it will sit squarely between your wrist bones without pressing on them, as it does for left-wrist wearers.

For now, the watch is so lightweight (30 grams, compared to the 72 gram Garmin 910xt) it’s not uncomfortable even if you do go right. Bia’s founders whittled the watch down smaller than a Gu packet by separating the GPS unit—called the GoStick—from the watch face. The GoStick is about the size of a pack of gum (50 grams, weight weenies) and clips imperceptibly onto a shirt, shorts, goggle straps or slips into a Bento box. While the watch battery can last up to two years, the GoStick will soldier on for 17 hours before needing a recharge, making the Bia an ultra-athlete’s delight.

RELATED: Two Bike-Friendly Kickstarter Campaigns

Workouts auto upload to Bia’s website immediately after completion. No plugging in or manual input required—and no monthly fees. You can also set it to auto-upload to Strava, MapMyFitness and Training Peaks, and the thing pairs with any ANT+ heart rate strap. An added perk: When you’re done with a workout, the watch will display a little inspirational message like Booyah, Fierce and High 5.

The big test came at the Dwight Crum Pier to Pier Swim, a two-mile ocean swim between Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles. (Yes, the same Manhattan Beach where a great white shark bit a swimmer a few weeks before.) Worried flailing arms would knock the GoStick off of my goggle straps in the mass women’s start, I carefully avoided other ladies until we rounded the Hermosa Pier and spread out. With the GoStick still on my head and watch tucked under my wetsuit, the thing worked flawlessly.

As for the SOS, it’s nice in theory, but right now there’s no way to tell whomever you’ve listed as your SOS contact the severity of your situation. Did you hit the button because you’ve been kidnapped, or because you locked yourself out of the car? Because you broke your leg bushwhacking, or because you’d really like someone to show up with some Tang and a bag of M&Ms right about now? Without being able to rate the issue, it’s nearly impossible for your contacts to gauge the appropriate response. Call the police, or tell you to suck it up?

Like many other triathletes, I was skeptical of the Bia at first. Two pieces means there’s more to lose. But I quickly found myself reaching for the Bia over every other tracking gizmo for its simplicity and lightning fast acquiring speed. It’s ready to go before I’m out the driveway, and those little end-of-workout messages are addictive. Not to mention the zero-effort uploads make keeping a training log a literal no-brainer.

With a thousand other things to think about on race day, I wouldn’t want to add the GoStick into the mix. But for training, I just found my favorite partner.

The Bia costs $279, comes in six colors, and is currently on sale. For more on Bia, go here.

RELATED: Soleus GPS Fit 1.0 Vs. Garmin Forerunner 10

Jan Frodeno Reflects on His Final Ironman World Championship

Immediately after finishing 24th place at his final Ironman World Championships, the Olympic medalist (and three-time IMWC winner) explains what his race in Nice meant to him.