The Nike Lance 4 Titanium Cycling watch is the star of Nike’s ACG Oregon outdoor watch collection. Inspired and partially designed by five-time (consecutive) Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, the Nike Lance 4 packs an impressive set of features into a relatively lightweight and even fairly nice looking (in an outdoor sports watch kind of way) titanium case.
Before I list all the features of the Nike Lance 4, I want to talk about one feature in particular: the altimeter. Since cycling — and especially the Tour de France — is so much about ascents and elevation, naturally the Lance 4 contains an altimeter. The problem with most altimeters which are built into watches, however, is that they are barometric altimeters, which means they attempt to measure your altitude by measuring the atmospheric pressure, and in some cases, the temperature. That also means natural changes in atmospheric pressure dramatically influence altitude measurement. Usually the best way to use a barometric altimeter is to calibrate it before you begin your ascent using a GPS, map, or a nearby sign, then to measure your ascent as quickly as you can before the atmospheric pressure changes. Since that obviously won’t work for races that span days or weeks and hundreds or thousands of miles, Nike incorporated their patented Zero Drift technology into the Lance 4 cycling watch. Zero Drift technology is apparently able to determine whether a change in atmospheric pressure was caused by changing weather patterns, or by an actual change in altitude. Very clever, assuming it works.
Features of the Nike Lance 4 Titanium Cycling Watch
- Altimeter with Zero Drift Technology. The Lance 4 uses a special algorithm to attempt to distinguish between barometric pressure changes, and actual altitude changes. Measure your ascent/decent rate, current altitude, and the maximum altitude achieved.
- Barometer. (The watch even charts changes in barometric pressure.)
- Real-time digital compass. Displays your current heading as well as both magnetic or geographic north (see my review of the Tissot T-Touch for an explanation of the difference). The watch even has a level bubble built into the face to help you keep it level when using the compass. The resolution is 1 degree.
- Thermometer. (Can be calibrated to compensate for your body temperature.)
- Dual layer LCD display so you can view the compass and other information simultaneously.
- Date display.
- Solid titanium case.
- 1000-hour chronograph. Enough for a race that spans over a month.
- Seven different alarms (for time, altitude, and hydration). The hydration alarm can be configured based on temperature and race conditions.
- Echo-chamber to make the alarms extra loud (since racing outdoors at high speeds is seldom tranquil).
- Dual time zones.
- Mineral glass crystal.
- 48 mm in diameter (about 1.9 inches).
- Cross-cut, textured buttons to make it easier to operate the watch while wearing gloves.
- Polyurethane strap.
- One-piece, pinless strap construction (for extra durability).
- Strap keeper to keep the unused portion of the strap from flapping and causing unnecessary drag.
- Stainless steel buckle and caseback.
- Electroluminescent backlight.
- Water resistant to 100 meters (10 ATM, 10 BAR, or 330 feet).
- Lance Armstrong signature engraved in the caseback.
- Battery hatch on caseback for convenient and quick battery replacement. (I’m not sure how long the battery is supposed to last, but I’d guess it’s a little on the short side considering all the watch’s features, and the fact that battery replacement is made so easy.)
- About $260, give or take.
So support the Lance Armstrong Foundation with a yellow LIVESTRONG wristband on your right wrist, and if you’re into cycling or other outdoor sports, you might want to consider supporting Lance Armstrong himself (and Nike, of course) with a Lance 4 titanium cycling watch on your left.