Nike+ Sportband Review

Nike+ Sportband Tracks Speed and Distance

Nike+ Sportband
Nike+ Sportband. Wendy Bumgardner © 2008

The first Nike+ system in 2006 relied on the iPod nano for display and upload of data from an in-shoe sensor. In spring of 2008, Nike debuted the Nike+ Sportband: You no longer need an iPod nano, and you can view your data on the wrist Sportband and upload it to your computer via a USB connection. The Nike+ Sportband kit includes a sensor that fits inside Nike+ ready shoes and communicates wirelessly with the Sportband.

Get visual readouts of your time, speed and distance while working out (walking or running); this system is not meant to be used for continuously recording daily steps. The Nike+ Fuelband that debuted in 2012 does the opposite -- counts total daily steps but doesn't track walking or running workouts.

Nike+ Sportband Kit

The kit comes with a sensor meant to fit in a special pocket under the sock liner of a Nike+ shoe; these shoes have a Nike swoosh and a "+" sign. If you do not have these shoes, you can find vendors who sell pouches to attach to the laces of any shoe or use duct tape as I did.
Using and Calibrating the Sensor in Nike+ Shoes and Unauthorized Shoes

The Sportband has a detachable receiver that is ready to use right from the box. First, you download the Nike+ Utility for either Windows or Mac. Then you charge the Sportband receiver by plugging it into a USB port on your computer.

The first charge takes two hours, while the charge lasts for 14 hours of operational time. If you are joining for the first time, go to and create a user profile.

The Sensor

The sensor is a piezoelectric accelerometer pedometer, which is waterproof and shock resistant. This type of pedometer is more accurate and less picky about being tilted.

It senses steps and estimates distance. I found it to work fairly accurately right out of the box, attached in the forbidden fashion (with duct tape). It estimated my distance within 10% of what my route showed on the online mapping program. Use the calibration mode for the Nike+ sensor to set it to match your walking and running strides.

The sensor does not have a replaceable battery. When the battery dies in a year or less, you will need to buy another sensor. You shouldn't wear it in the shoe when you aren't doing a workout, and you may want to turn it off between uses to save battery life.

The Sportband is already pre-linked to the sensor included in the Sportband kit. You can link it to a different sensor by pressing the side button for 10 seconds when you are not recording a walk or run. You can also link your Sportband to eight different sensors. This means you can have a sensor calibrated for walking and running and a sensor for each pair of shoes.

Workout with the Nike+ Sportband

To begin your walking or running workout, put the sensor into your shoe and plug the USB receiver back into the Sportband. Nike suggests you wear the display on the inside of your wrist for easier viewing.

It is a fairly dark display.

Press the top button for 3 seconds until it flashes "WALK," and then walk to connect the shoe sensor with the Sportband receiver. A little shoe will blink in the upper-left corner until it is connected to the shoe sensor.

When you are ready to begin your workout, press the top button again and recording will begin. A bar at the bottom of the screen will animate to show that it is recording your walk or run. You can choose to view your walking time, distance, speed or calories, and you can switch between modes at any time. It will continuously show the last mode you selected.

To pause your workout, press the top button once. The display will blink until you press it again to resume the workout, but you can also still scroll through the different modes to see your data while paused. At the end of your workout, press the top button for three seconds. You get a summary of your workout for time, average speed, distance and calories burned, but no steps or step total. You can also view the "weekly totals" and the "grand total." The Sportband will save 28 hours worth of workouts in memory if you don't download the data via the USB port.

When not in use, your Sportband displays the time of day, which it updates from your computer whenever it is plugged into the USB port.

Upload Your Data to

The Nike+ Sportband includes free access to the website. Simply plug your Sportband USB receiver into your computer, and it will download to the site. There you can view graphs and totals of your workouts. You can set goals and challenge your friends to virtual races and goals. I love uploading and tracking my data online. The website changes quite often, adding new options for members.

Speed and Distance Accuracy

The distance and speed will only be as accurate as your calibration for your walking and running strides. It is great to get a speed readout, but it pays to calibrate the unit so you can trust it a bit more. It should be more accurate when used with the Nike+ ready shoes, rather than just taped under the laces -- such as I did in a pinch. The speedometer function works indoors or outdoors, while GPS units (such as the Garmin Forerunner or Timex Speed + Distance) work only outdoors.

Overall Rating

Very easy to set up and use.
The wristband is comfortable, and you can use the Sportband receiver as a watch.
You can also use the sensor in other shoes by using a shoe pouch. It is smart to calibrate it for whatever shoe and holder combination you try.

The Sportband system is only for dedicated walks and runs, not for counting total daily steps.
It gives no step count.
Batteries in the sensor are not replaceable.
You need a computer with a USB port to use the system.


Top Picks for Sensor Pouches Shop for the Nike+ Sportband