Read Michael's full account of his first time using the FORMA body position sensor here
For those who don’t know of him, Michael Liberzon is the host of the Endurance Innovation Podcast. The show's guest list is a who’s who of those involved in developing aero sensors, and Michael’s passion, interest and knowledge have him at the centre of the coverage of this evolving field.
A Solid First Experience!
I first learned of the Streamlines Forma body position sensor during a chat with founder John Buckley on an August 2022 episode of our Endurance Innovation podcast. The promise of a device that could measure and then report - live - a rider's head and torso position had obvious utility. I could see using it for both aero testing and in competition.
So I was stoked earlier this summer when John offered to send me a media loaner to test. The Forma ecosystem includes the device, mounting plate, USB-C charging cable, a companion app for firmware updates, and the Garmin Connect IQ data field. The physical unit looks and feels polished. This is clearly not a prototype! The mount, the tilt adjustment, the power button, indicator LED, and even the charging port cover all fit together in an attractive and solid-feeling package.
The Forma mounts using the now-ubiquitous Garmin quarter turn interface - a choice I - and my drawer-full of Garmin mounts fully support! Finding a home for that mount with a clear view of my face was a little bit of a mission however. I ride a Quintana Roo VP-R and use a traditional round bottle between-the-arms mount. The BTA takes up all the real estate between my extensions, leaving the stem of the one-piece base bar-stem the other obvious option. A little creative elastic work snugged the mount well enough to keep the Forma stable on its new perch.
Next it was time to aim the device. For this, Streamlines incorporated a Class II visible laser that is meant to peg the rider in the sternum. A little fiddling with the built-in screw, got lined up.
With the unit mounted and aimed, and its firmware updated using the iOS (for me) companion app, I was ready to pair it to my Garmin Edge 840. Setting up the Connect IQ data field was straightforward, but I did run into some trouble when trying to measure my baseline distances. Speaking with John, I learned that this was a known issue specific to the 840, and one that is likely already resolved at the time this review is published.
In an ideal scenario, setting that baseline would happen during an aero test or a tunnel session. But with my last race of the season in a few days, I didn't have time to spend a day testing. So I had to settle for my basement, my trainer, and a pair of screens to help me eyeball it.
For race day - a local Olympic triathlon - I set up my main data screen to show the Forma data, my 3s power, and my lap power. The bike course at this race is 90% on closed highways, which lends itself beautifully to focusing on holding power and holding position without the fear of being smoked by a careless motorist.
On the course, I knew pretty quickly that holding my target power was going to be a mission. If the legs weren't there, I figured, then I was going to nail that basement aero position! With the Forma data field immediately in front of the visor of my aero helmet - so much so that I connected with my Garmin on at least two bumps - it was a rather straightforward exercise to keep the two indicator dots - one for my head and one for my torso - in the green.
Green means go. The Forma data field can display physical distances between the unit and your head / torso, but colour-coding that information is a far better way to communicate it. I don't need to know how many centimeters of air separate my head and the device. What I do need to know is if I'm deviating from my tested position: green means that my position is within tolerance - and tolerance is user-adjustable - blue means that I am closer to the unit / lower, and red means that I am farther from the unit / higher. Super simple. Totally actionable.
The end result was satisfying too. The field wasn't exceptionally deep, but I was very pleased to ride the 4th best bike split on the day on very average legs. It was a course PB for me by a wide margin.
I'm very much looking forward to using the Forma to properly dial in my position in an aero test and also to use it with clients after their best setup.