We talk about progression a lot in the mountain bike community. It’s part of the scientific how does suspension work terms that few understand. It fuels the forums globally whether or not or sport is driven by it or marketing. But here, we arrive at the GPS watch with no doubt in my it is due progression.
Years ago I would been thrilled with a bar mounted Cateye cyclometer to give me current speed, average speed, max speed, trip miles and total miles. Then and for a long time the smart phone acted as a do all for these and more. With the smart phone we would get all of the above with the addition of maps, heart rate monitors with access from bluetooth and GPS. All of that might be enough in my opinion but then Strava came along. In some forums people even claim Strava had wrecked mountain biking. For myself, it has changed things especially in regards to accuracy. I want to know I have the most accurate account if I am tracking my ride. For me, the Tom Tom multi-sport cardio fit the need.
The watch came with the red and white wrist band. Which wasn’t a look I preferred so I bought an all black version. Let to discover they also have a narrower band making the whole thing look much more like I normal sports watch. As for function the bands don’t have any special functions other then the obvious. The one thing I would add about the band is the wider band has a very nice clasp system instead of the traditional slide band to hold the extra. The red TomTom logo at the end of the band has little knobs that fit into the holes of the band and make everything clean.
Function of the watch is very intuitive. The screen isn’t touch screen, there is a square joystick just below the screen. Making navigation of the function and mode very simple. on the underside of the watch it has a built in heart rate monitor, so no need to the chest strap heart rate but one can be connected to the watch if you prefer that style.
Lastly for fit, if you don’t want to wear this on yourself and don’t need the included heart rate it comes supplied with a bar mount. Which is very nice secure and give a great easy to read in all light display.
Okay, function. I wear this everyday and it’s very comfortable. Beyond the basic functions of speed, average speed, distance, clock the heart rate monitor while riding is great. I have found many times when I feel like I am about to explode I can now look at my watch and see why. With a max around 195bpm my average rate falls around 125-135bpm. I now also can look at the same display and know I have room to go faster too. Both are very helpful. The biggest plus is not having to depend on it for GPS mapping. I came to this conclusion when I started using the watch and was still using my iPhone for visual effect and still using Strava. When both were complete and upload there were huge differences. Climbing and decent were the biggest discrepancies. Also, i found the iPhone would miss Strava segments. I assumed that was due to the phone not being as accurate. Since moving to only use the TomTom watch for Strava I have seen a more complete mapping of segments I know I hit making me assume that whatever else I am riding is being tracked by GPS accurately too.
In the end, I think if you only know one or the other and basic account of your ride is what matters then it might not matter whether you have a GPS device or use your smart phone, as long as you commit to one or the other. I have committed to the TomTom and feel with the combo of integrated heart rate monitor and GPS its the best of the two.
- Simple to navigate functions
- Very comfortable
- Simplify my riding equipment
- Strava compatible
- Battery life while using heart rate is less then full day.
- Would rather a touch screen verse the navigation button.
- Lack of altitude feature on the display.
Further good reading on this topic and some great conversation starters on GPS accuracy check out Singletracks article on GPS.
Tom Tom info
Technical specifications from Tom Tom.
Weight and Dimensions
Battery lifetime Up to 8 hours (GPS+HR), up to 10 hours (GPS)
Display size .87 x .98 in
Display resolution 5.67 x 6.61 in
Weight 2.22 oz
Strap length 9″
Location boost QuickGPSFix
Sensors (internal) Motion sensor, compass, optical heart rate monitor
Sensor (wireless) Bluetooth® Smart
Alerts Beep & Vibrate
Waterproofing 50 m / 165 feet (5 ATM)
Heart Rate Yes (Built-in Heart Rate Monitor*)
Cadence Yes (Cadence sensor – optional accessory)
Indoor Running Yes
Outdoor Running Yes
Dedicated Bike Mount Yes
Race Past activities + favorites
Goals Time, distance, or calories
Zone Pace or Heart Rate
Laps Pace or Heart Rate