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Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS In-Depth Review

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The Timex Cycle Trainer is Timex’s first foray into an ANT+ enabled and fully downloadable dedicated GPS cycling computer.  It also represents Timex’s third integrated and downloadable GPS product into the endurance sports market, following the Timex Run Trainer and Timex Global Trainer over the past two years.

Make no mistake about it, the goal of this product is to compete with the Garmin Edge 500, and the upcoming Joule GPS.  All three of which are priced in the same $250 range.  But, can it hold on and compete with the nearly ubiquitous Edge 500?  And what features differentiate it from the competition?  Well, I set out to find out.  Over the past month I’ve been using it on one ride after another – and here’s my results.

So, with that introduction, let me put up the usual notes about my review:

Like all my reviews, they tend to be pretty in depth (perhaps overly so) – but that’s just my trademark DC Rainmaker way of doing things. Think of them more like reference guides than quick and easy summaries. I try and cover every conceivable thing you might do with the device and then poke at it a bit more (especially so in the Timex Cycle Trainer unit’s case). My goal is to leave no stone unturned – both the good and the bad.

Lastly, at the end of the day keep in mind I’m just like any other regular triathlete out there. I write these reviews because I’m inherently a curious person with a technology background (my day job), and thus I try and be as complete as I can. But, if I’ve missed something or if you spot something that doesn’t quite jive – just let me know and I’ll be happy to get it all sorted out. Also, because the technology world constantly changes, I try and go back and update these reviews as new features and functionality are added – or if bugs are fixed.

Unboxing:

Like virtually every other Timex product, the Timex Cycle Trainer comes in their standard orange Timex box kit:

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Inside, you’ll find the Timex Cycle Trainer very well secured to the first of two mounts that is included with the unit.  In other words, don’t throw it away!  It will eventually attach to your bike (well, you can throw away the twisty ties).

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Once you finish wrestling with the twisty ties, you’ll find the following collection of goodness.

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Above we have the heart rate strap (which it comes with), the quick start guide, the extra mount kit and pieces (two bags), a mini-USB charging cable, and the unit itself.

Here’s some close-ups of the items in question.  First, the heart rate strap.  This ANT+ compatible unit will work with any existing ANT+ units you already have.

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Then we’ve got the rather small quick start guide.  In general, you can ignore this – after all, you’re going to read the full review here, right?

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Then the USB cable – basically the same cable you likely have 50 of around your house.  So, if you lose it, they’re fully interchangeable with the reset of the flotilla you have of them already.

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The bottom half of the mount kit, along with the zip ties:

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And here’s the top-half of the mount kit.  There are two of them in total in the box, thus making two complete sets.

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And finally, the Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 unit, complete with a fake display sticker:

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Don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of non-fake display shots in a bit.

Size Comparisons:

There’s quite a range of options today on the market when it comes to dedicated cycling computers.  In order to give you a quick feel for some of the competitive offerings, here’s what they look like size-wise.

From left to right: Edge 705, Edge 800, Timex Cycle Trainer (this unit), Edge 500, Magellan Switch.

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You’ll notice that the Edge 500 and Cycle Trainer are basically the same size.  Perhaps the Edge 500 is a hair bit bigger, but otherwise basically the same.  The Magellan switch is a bit smaller than the rest.

And here’s the same shot from flat on the table.  Again, you’ll see the Edge 500 (the nearest competitor) is essentially the same height.  The eldest of the bunch, the Edge 705, is the thickest.

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Mounting it to the bike (Default/Included Mount):

The included Timex Cycle Trainer mount is pretty quick and easy.  You’ll simply take the two zip ties, feed it through the mount, and then snip off the ends.  You can rotate the mount portion 90*, such that you can attach the unit it any direction you’d like.

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Mounting it to the bike (Geek DIY Quick Release Edition):

I’ll admit it, the one thing that annoys me the most with sports devices is zip ties.  Perhaps it’s just because I’m constantly removing/adding devices to test, or perhaps it’s because I can never find either my scissors or nail clippers to cut off the zip ties.

So with the Timex Cycle Trainer including a zip tie based mount system instead of the more modern new rubber band style mounts, I decided I wanted to find a way to make it work with the quick release band systems.

So, I did what any self-respecting guy would do: Pulled out a circular saw.

Regrettably, I didn’t get to use it here.

Instead, I’d have to go all arts and crafty, and just use a hot glue gun (don’t worry guys, it’s OK if this is the only reason you’re going to Michael’s craft store…just keep it quick there, no buying Halloween decorations for next year).

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In order to solve this problem, you’ll need a simple $9 pack of Garmin Edge 500 mounts.  The $9 pack includes a gazillion industrial strength rubber bands (actually, 26) along with two complete mount systems (in other words, you can hose this up once and still be good).  And since the Timex Cycle Trainer also includes an extra mount in the box, you can ‘do it again’ if you have to.  But let’s not, and just get it right once (hint: read this section just once before you apply the hot glue).

First, turn the Edge 500 mount right-side up, and fill the thing up with hot glue.  Kinda do this is layers like those fancy colorful Jello molds you see at Christmas time.  Just wait 15 seconds between layers.

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Once you’ve got it to the top, try and get it ABOVE the edge line, like a little bubble.

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Then, while it’s still hot, add the Timex mount.  Just be sure that it’s ‘square’.  It doesn’t matter which way, just make it square one of the four ways.

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Then, while the glue is still hot – flip it over.  The goal here is that the still hot glue (but not too hot) will float down into the Timex piece.  The trick is to not have it so hot that it goes all the way down and clogs up the Timex release lever.  Don’t worry, it’s really not hard – just be aware.

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Once it’s done – it’ll look like this.  Note that the Timex lever piece is still movable.

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With that, I can now mount the thing anywhere I’d like with simple rubber bands.

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Here’s what it looks like once mounted, nearly indistinguishable:

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Yup, you can thank me now.

For me, this was great as I was able to quickly mount it on a string of rental bikes I’ve been on in recent travels.

Core Cycling Functionality:

Once you’ve got the unit all set on your bike, it’s time to ride.  When you turn the unit on, it’ll be ready to go shortly after finding satellites.  Generally outside in the open this will take less than a minute.  If it’s in roughly the same spot as last time you rode, it’ll be within 15-20 seconds.

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Each of the data fields that you’ve configured will automatically update as you ride.  I’ll talk about data fields in the next section and how you can configure them.

Data fields update once per second, and recording rate can be configured to as frequent as once per second (or as infrequent as once per 99 seconds – your choice of anything in between those two values).

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While riding the unit will give you all core information that you’d expect from a GPS unit, such as speed, distance and time – as well as a map that can you can activate:

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The map is more of a breadcrumb trail than an interactive diary of where you’ve been.  Meaning, Tom-Tom it is not.

In addition to showing you how fast and how far, the unit also allows you to enable and configure alerts for the following parameters: Time/Distance, Speed/Pace, Heart Rate, Cadence, and Power.

In the case of all of these except Time/Distance, it’s a low/high watermark scenario, like below.

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In the case of Time/Distance, you’re specifying to alert you at a specific time or distance.  For example, to alert you every 5 miles, or, just once at the first 5 mile mark.  You can configure it either way, for single-instance or repeating alerts.

For those city riders, you’ll probably want to enable the Auto Hold feature, which is more commonly known as ‘Auto Timer Pause’, or simply ‘Auto Pause’.  This means that when the unit believes you’re stopped, it’ll stop the timer.  And, when you resume, it’ll resume the time.  You can override the default settings to provide custom speeds if you wish.

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For many, cycling is a method to burn calories (and thus eat more Pizza, right?).  The Timex Cycle Trainer shows calorie burn metrics dependent on entering in both body weight, and training level, as well as sport.  I thought it was interesting that they handily left in walking/hiking and running as alternate sport activities.

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I also thought it was interesting that there’s an ‘extra weight’ parameter, presumably for those carrying a heavy backpack.

Speaking of extra weight, the Cycle Trainer allows you to configure up to 5 bikes, though, it only remembers a single sensor set.  So really, the bike size setting is only useful for wheel size on an indoor trainer, which, is kinda a pain unless you’re swapping ANT+ sensors that you’ve paired.

Like most watches, the Cycle Trainer includes an automatic lap setting option, which will automatically demark laps at specific intervals.  You can configure this by either distance or time, customizable at a distance or time of your choosing.  In general I leave this off except for long rides, as I’m usually using laps to demark certain segments of my training ride (i.e. the different intensity portions).

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Once you’ve completed your workout, you’ll merely hold down the lower right reset button to save the workout.  A few seconds later and it’ll be saved to memory.

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The unit holds about 20 hours at 1-second recording with GPS/power/heart rate/speed/cadence data all on.

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Data Fields and Pages:

The unit supports four configurable data pages, plus a map, compass and lap summary page being added.  Each of the fully configurable pages can show up to 6 pieces of data (fields).  Here’s a few examples of the different display layout options:

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Below, I’ve typed out all of the data fields that you can select to display, as of June 12th, 2012 with the latest firmware as of then (in the exact terms as listed):

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Notable fields that I would have expected to see were some additional power meter smoothing and power meter lap fields.  But otherwise, the majority of the fields that I use day to day are there (of course, different folks use different fields based on personal preferences).

The biggest item for me over the past month has actually been getting used to some of the slightly odd names for different fields.  Take for example CUMULATE+ and SLOPE, which the rest of the world simply calls Ascent and Grade.  But like anything, once you get used to it, you’re all good.

Course & Navigation (Magnetic Compass too!):

One of the interesting surprises with the Cycle Trainer is the inclusion of a legit magnetic compass.  Only one other GPS enabled endurance sports and downloadable device on the market today has this – the Suunto Ambit, but even then, that’s not a cycling computer.  And feature-wise, it doesn’t come near the Cycle Trainer.

Note that out of the box the magnetic compass it not configured, but it only takes a few seconds to configure.  You’ll wander down into the Settings menu, then Configuration, then Accessories, then ‘Set Compass, and finally, Calibration:

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Once there, you’ll get to be like a kid again and do a 360.  Or rather, just spin the unit 360* instead.  It’s probably more accurate that way (albeit less fun):

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Once this is done, the unit will automatically respond to movement and change the direction of the compass.  This is important because this can be done even when standing perfectly still, whereas other cycling computers use forward movement via the GPS to determine direction.

To exemplify this, I went ahead and lined up my bike on a parking spot strip, so you can have a bit of reference.  First, with the unit facing ‘forward’, note the direction on the compass:

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Then, I took the unit and rotated it 90*, notice how the compass headings (i.e. North) still stays oriented the correct direction:

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In addition to calibrating it, you can also set the declination, and use it to follow a specific bearing.

Now, using this compass isn’t quite as simple as calibrating it.  It requires a bit of forethought.  First, you’ll need to know the exact coordinate of the place you’re going, or, have already been there and marked it on the unit.  You can save a waypoint at whatever spot your at – which is probably a good idea before you leave your car at the start of a long ride (or, perhaps to mark the ice cream shop).

If however, you know the coordinates, you can enter them in either on the device or on the TrainingPeaks device agent.  Note that you’ll need to ignore the comma in the coordinates, and just enter the whole thing as a massive string.  Kinda weird, I know:

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Once there, you can go into the waypoints list on the unit and select waypoints to get ‘as the crow flies’ routing.

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In other words, no street recognition, instead, just straight line.

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In order to get any resemblance of routing, you’ll need to enter in a slew of waypoints, which you can then combine into a list – aka – a route.

I’ll be straightforward: This is a nightmare compared to how easy it is to import GPX files and Course files on other units out in the market today.  If I were to try this for even a simple 40 mile ride, I’d spend more time doing it by hand than just riding the route and getting lost 22 times.

Nonetheless, it’s there.  Again, the magnetic compass is really the star here – not so much the routing/waypoint functionality.

Indoor Trainer Use:

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The Timex Cycle Trainer supports using the unit inside on a trainer and gathering speed and distance information via ANT+ sensors.  In addition, it’ll still gather any ANT+ heart rate or ANT+ power meter data you have.

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When indoors you can (and should) select to turn off the GPS.  This ensures that it doesn’t give erroneous data points, which can in turn result in incorrect workout analysis.  While most modern sports logs and filter this out, I still see sites/apps on occasion that mess it up.

With the GPS off, you’ll complete your workout just as normal.  Once complete, the data will display as normal – the only exception being you won’t see map data, since a map isn’t recorded with the GPS off.  The next time you start your unit, it’ll automatically power back on your GPS chip, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting.

Use as a running GPS unit:

Unlike most other cycling specific units out there, the Timex Cycle Trainer actually supports a running data field view.  Most cycling units only show speed as speed, displayed as Miles per Hour (MPH) or Kilometers per Hour (KPH).  The Timex Cycle Trainer however also can be configured to display Pace, which is shown as either Minutes per Mile, or Minutes per Kilometer – standard running pace metrics:

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Now, the only trick to using the unit while running is finding a place to stash it.  If you’ve got a pocket, that’s ideal.  Otherwise, you’re going to have to hold onto it since there is no band attachment for it.  I suppose you could pickup the Garmin FR310XT quick release kit and then glue a mount onto it though – sorta like above with the bike mount.

Waterproofing:

The unit is fully waterproofed to IPX7 levels, which dictates that it can take submersion in 1 meter deep water (3 feet) for up to 30 minutes.  This means that it can easily handle any rain or melting snow that you might throw at it.  Additionally, if you find yourself up a creek (or in a creek), you’ll still be good.  As long as you remove yourself and the bike with the Cycle Trainer on it within 30 minutes.

Power Meter Integration:

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The Timex Cycle Trainer supports ANT+ power meters, which means you can use it with any power meter currently on the market that supports ANT+.  Common examples of supported units would be the PowerTap lineup, the Quarq Cinqo units, the Power2Max, and many others on the way.  Here’s my power meter primer if you’re not super familiar with power meters.

The Timex Cycle Trainer includes what I would describe as ‘very basic’ power meter support.  Sorta like when the Garmin FR310XT first came out with power meter support, except, a bit less functionality than even that.

Included Power Meter Related Data Fields: The Timex Cycle Trainer does have the following basic data fields, which are as follows:

POWER (Instant)
POWER AVERAGE (Ride average)
POWER MAX (Ride Maximum Power)
PWR ZONE (Current power zone as defined by your custom zones)

Calibration options: The Cycle Trainer does not contain any manual calibration options for any ANT+ power meters (to see the calibration/zero offset value).  It does however accept automatically transmitted zero-offset values from power meters that support it (SRM and Quarq).  For example, by pedaling backwards on the Quarq Cinqo it’ll automatically transmit this to the Cycle Trainer, which in turn updates the head unit.

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TSS/NP/IF: Despite TrainingPeaks running the entirety of the Timex training platform, the TrainingPeaks metrics of TSS/NP/IF are not available on the unit today.  As always, TrainingPeaks can calculate these afterwards online though (and does so for the free accounts as well).  These metrics are available on both the competing Edge 500 and Edge 800, and FR910XT.  Note that the Timex guys have said they are looking into adding this in an upcoming release.

Zone Configuration: The Cycle Trainer supports custom power zone configuration both on the head unit itself, as well as within the TrainingPeaks device agent software:

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Power Smoothing: Power meter data is inherently very ‘noisy’, in that you are on a per-second-by-second basis fluctuating your power +/- potentially dozens of watts (or more) – even while trying to maintain perfect equalization  To counter this, almost all power meter companies offer a visual smoothing of data.  This doesn’t impact the recording of the data, but rather smooth’s the display while riding.  Typically, companies offer smoothing options from 3-seconds to 30-seconds.  Note that the Timex guys have said they are open to adding this.

To see what this is look, I’ve put together a short video showing the Timex Cycle Trainer w/o smoothing, and the Edge 800 with smoothing.  I’m on a trainer, which means the data is inherently even more stable than outdoors, further, it’s a CompuTrainer – so the wattage is actually hard-set, meaning that the only fluctuations are pretty minimal.  Sorry for the slight jumpiness, I’m in the middle of an interval and holding the camera as well.  On the right side of both units, you can see the power numbers.  The Edge 800 is showing both a 30-second and 3-second smoothed value (third line down), while the Cycle Trainer shows the instant power:

(Side note: The video is a bit shaky as noted above, so I tried to apply YouTube’s anti-shaky feature, which sorts works.  Just kick up the resolution to HD and it’ll look much better.  I’ll try and re-shoot this here in the near future with a tripod).

Timex Cycle Trainer Smoothness vs Edge 800

Lap Power: Typically in order to counter the lack of smoothed power meter data (or just to provide useful metrics), companies add a lap power value – which you can then set to a relatively low auto-lap value (such as 1KM).  However, the Cycle Trainer does not contain any lap power averages, or similar data fields for power.  This is an area that they have on the radar for an upcoming firmware release.

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Power Summary: Ultimately as a head unit for use with power meters, it’s hard to recommend the unit as-is today.  Now, once all the future updates are added – then absolutely, it would be on par with the competition.  Of course if you don’t have a power meter, or don’t plan on getting one – then obviously this section is pretty much irrelevant to your purchasing decisions.

GPS Accuracy:

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(Note: On above units, the Polar CS600x was not via GPS, but wheel circumference, which I hadn’t configured to my specific wheels.)

Ultimately, there are few things I enjoy less in the world than trying to consolidate GPS data across multiple devices for accuracy tests.  And this would be no exception.

In general, I found the Timex Cycle Trainer in line with other GPS units in the marketplace.  It wasn’t always perfect, but it wasn’t predictably off in one direction or the other compared to other units (meaning that unlike the TGT initially be 2.5% short always, this was always one way or the other in the ballpark).  I wish I could say with 100% certainty it was perfect, but there exists so many variables in long-distance GPS tests.  Which is primarily why I do so many shorter tests.

Timex does have a long history of struggling with GPS accuracy, though, as shown above, it’s inline with other units.

Backlight and display (it can go horizontal!):

I’m really happy to see that the Timex folks have moved away from the backlights used on both the Run Trainer and Global Trainer, and instead gone to a much brighter backlight system.  This new backlight is glorious and clear.  Here it is in a dark room.

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You can configure the backlight to either automatically shut off after a period of time (15s, 30s, 1m, 2m), or to simply stay on.  I just go with staying on.

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One really cool and totally unique features is the ability to turn the entire unit horizontal.  I’ve heard a few requests for this from Garmin Edge owners (which doesn’t have this feature).  I like the flexibility of it, even if I probably won’t use it.

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Note that in the event you do turn the unit sideways, you’ll want to ensure you’ve turned the mount that way as well.

From a language standpoint, the unit supports English, Spanish, Italian, French, Dutch and Chinese (SC).

Downloading data from the Cycle Trainer to TrainingPeaks:

The Timex Cycle Trainer allows you to download all of your ride data afterwards.  You’ll do this via the included mini-USB cable, or any other mini-USB cable you happen to have lying around.

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Once connected, the TrainingPeaks agent will go ahead and download the data after you press download.

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In general, it’ll only take less than 60 seconds to download a ride, usually far less.

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Once downloaded, the data can be uploaded to TrainingPeaks, which I’ll talk about in the next section.

In addition, it’s with this Device Agent software that you can configure every setting that you would on your device, from your computer.  It’s really rather extensive – even if the software is a wee bit clunky looking.

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You’ll see along the left side all of the major setting areas of the Timex Cycle Trainer, which, for the most part align with the Timex Global Trainer triathlon unit, since they share the same codebase.  Each one of these setting areas has a ton more settings with it.

Online Analysis and Software (TrainingPeaks – included):

TrainingPeaks is one of the top endurance sports analysis sites out there.  Much of the site originated from the functionality that was in WKO+, and older desktop app for analyzing cycling.  Since then it has grown up to include just about every endurance sport you can think of.

In the case of the Cycle Trainer, Timex has partnered with TrainingPeaks to let TrainingPeaks provide the application layer instead of Timex developing something custom.  From a website standpoint this works out well (though, I think the device agent interface is clunky in relation to specifying Timex settings).

Once you’ve clicked the ‘Save’ button and uploaded the workouts to TrainingPeaks, they’ll be available on the site to view and analyze.  In the case of the Timex Cycle Trainer, you get a free TrainingPeaks account that roughly sits halfway between their ‘free’ level and their paid ‘premium’ level.  You’ll notice the very vibrant orange branding upon opening your workout:

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Within a workout, you can dive into any portion of the chart and highlight it to get details of just that portion of the workout.  The chart can be viewed as either time or distance.  And all of the different metrics can be turned on/off by clicking the colored labels.  Below, I’ve highlighted just a single climb, which then shows the stats for just that climb on the right side, along with highlighting the section on the map as well:

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Additionally, if you’ve recorded laps and splits, you’ll see those visible both on the right side, as well as within the separate reports window in a Laps and Splits

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You’ll note above the cool ‘peak’ feature, which shows my peak power outputs for different time intervals.  I can also change this to pace and other metrics as well and show peaks for that.

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All your recorded ANT+ data is visible within the activity, and if you didn’t record a given channel, it will simply be hidden.

In addition to specifics about your activity, the base TrainingPeaks version included free also has a calendar view and a handful of training plans you can follow for free.  Unfortunately, neither of these plans are terribly useful for the Timex devices, since they focus on swimming. Additional training plans require purchase however.

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As a user of the full paid TrainingPeaks site, it’s a bit of a downgrade coming back to the free/Timex variants.  Sure, it’s better than Garmin Connect – but it leaves quite a bit to be desired compared the full Premium TrainingPeaks site, especially around the ability to add extensive dashboard pods (the basics aren’t terribly useful).  But again, having seen what others (Soleus) have done with providing horrible software, this is so much better.

Updating the Firmware:

The Timex Cycle Trainer supports firmware updates, and in fact, prior to this review one already has come out.  In this case, it fixed a bunch of initial issues – so be sure to update your device, especially if you use other ANT+ accessories.

To update, you’ll go ahead and connect your device and then start the TrainingPeaks device agent.  From there you’ll select update, and it’ll walk you through the steps.

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One item of note is to be sure you backup your settings (it’ll warn you first). This allows you to export out all your settings and then re-import them in later on.

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Once done, you’ll hit a few button presses and be on your way in less than 60 seconds to a new firmware version:

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Accessories (Compatibility):

The Timex Cycle Trainer supports a number of ANT+ accessories.  These accessories can (in some cases) be purchased as Timex branded, or using any other ANT+ accessory out on the market.  As long as it has the ANT+ logo on it, it’ll work – regardless of whether or not it’s made by Timex or a competitor.

One quick note about accessories and the Timex Cycle Trainer that drives me nuts though is that it won’t remember to re-pair the accessories each time you start the unit up.  Instead, it requires you to manually enable them each time.  Super-annoying (especially in race situations).

ANT+ Heart Rate Straps

Depending on which bundle/unit you buy, it may include an ANT+ heart rate strap.  But even if not, you can still pickup one for about $35, or if you already have one from another Timex device (or a Garmin device), it’ll work just fine.

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As long as the heart rate strap has the ANT+ logo on it, it’ll work just fine with the Timex Cycle Trainer.

Heart rate data will be recorded alongside other data captured by the Cycle Trainer, such as speed, distance and elevation.  See the earlier section on TrainingPeaks for how this data is displayed.

ANT+ Power Meters

As noted above, the Timex Cycle Trainer is compatible with ANT+ enabled power meters.  This ends up being the vast majority of power meters on the market today.  The only exceptions would really be the Polar power meters (pedal or chain stay), a few of the older wired SRM and wired CycleOps units, and the Ergomo units.  Beyond that, just about everything else is compatible.  The easiest way to tell is to simply look for the little ANT+ symbol on it.

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ANT+ Speed & Cadence Sensors (Combo Units)

The Cycle Trainer supports the standard ANT+ Speed & Cadence combo sensors.  These are the most common speed/cadence sensors out there.  Almost every ANT+ vendor sells a variant of one of these units.  If you have an existing unit from Garmin or the like, it’ll work just fine with the Timex trainer.  As long as it has the little ANT+ logo on the outside, you’re golden!

Here’s my post on all you ever wanted to know about ANT+ speed and cadence sensors.

Below, is the Bontrager ANT+ sensor (with quick release bands), which is what I use while indoors.

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ANT+ Speed Sensors & ANT+ Cadence Sensors (Separate Units)

The Timex Cycle Trainer supports both of these ANT+ unit types (device profiles).  Though, I lack either one to be able to test it.

Non-supported accessories:

It should be noted that the Timex Cycle Trainer does not support ANT+ foot pods for running indoors on a treadmill.  This one is probably self-explanatory, but I figured I’d note it.

Comparison Chart:

Here’s a high level comparison chart of the core features between the Cycle Trainer and the main GPS competitors in the dedicated cycling unit category:

Function/FeatureCycleOps Joule GPSGarmin Edge 500O-Synce Navi2CoachTimex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS
Copyright www.DCRainmaker.com - Updated April 8th, 2014 @ 9:11 pmNew Window
General: Price$220.00$169$249$190.00
General: Product Announcement DateJun 15, 2011SEP 1, 2009AUG 31, 2012JUN 13, 2012
General: Actual Availability/Shipping DateJun 2012Dec 2009OCT 2012JUN 2012
General: GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYes
General: Data TransferUSBUSBUSBUSB
General: WaterproofingIPX7IPX7IPX7IPX7
General: Battery Life17 Hours18 hours16 hours15 hours
General: Recording Interval1-second1-Second or Smart1s, 5s, 10s, 20s, 30s, 60sConfigurable: 1s, 2s, 4s, 8s
General: Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerNoNoNoNo
General: Quick Satellite ReceptionGoodGreatGreatGreat
General: AlertsYesSound/VisualAudio/VisualAudio/Visual
General: Backlight GreatnessGreatGoodGreatGood
General: Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoNoNoNo
General: Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoNoNo
Function/FeatureCycleOps Joule GPSGarmin Edge 500O-Synce Navi2CoachTimex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS
Connectivity: Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNoNo
Connectivity: Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingNoNoNoNo
Connectivity: Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)NoNoNo
Connectivity: Live Tracking (streaming location to website)NoNoNoNo
Connectivity: Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNo
Connectivity: Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NonoNo
Cycling: Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYes
Cycling: Power Meter CapableYesYesYesYes
Cycling: Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYesYesYesNo
Cycling: Power Meter TSS/NP/IFYesYesYesNo
Cycling: Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYesYesYes
Function/FeatureCycleOps Joule GPSGarmin Edge 500O-Synce Navi2CoachTimex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS
Running: Designed for runningNoNoNoCan show Pace
Running: Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)N/AN/ANo
Running: VO2Max EstimationN/AN/ANo
Running: Race PredictorN/AN/ANo
Running: Recovery AdvisorN/AN/ANo
Swimming: Designed for swimmingNoNoNoNo
Triathlon: Designed for triathlonNoNoNoNo
Function/FeatureCycleOps Joule GPSGarmin Edge 500O-Synce Navi2CoachTimex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS
Workouts: Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesYesYes
Workouts: On-unit interval FeatureYesYesNoYes
Workouts: Training Calendar FunctionalityNoNoNo
Functions: Auto Start/StopYesYesYesYes
Functions: Virtual Partner FeatureNoYesNoYes
Functions: Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoNoNo
Functions: Records PR\\\'s - Personal Records (diff than history)NoNoNoNo
Functions: Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNoNoNo
Functions: Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNo
Functions: Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoNoNo
Functions: GeocachingNoNoYesNo
Functions: Weather Display (live data)NoNoNoNo
Function/FeatureCycleOps Joule GPSGarmin Edge 500O-Synce Navi2CoachTimex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS
Navigate: Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesYesYesYes (Barely)
Navigate: Markers/Waypoint DirectionYesYesYesYes
Navigate: Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNoNo
Navigate: Back to startYesYesYesYes
Navigate: Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNo
Navigate: Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNoNoNo
Sensors: Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometricBarometricBarometric
Sensors: Compass TypeMagneticGPSMagneticMagnetic
Sensors: Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYesYes
Sensors: ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesYesYes
Sensors: ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesYesYes
Sensors: ANT+ Footpod CapableNoNoNoNo
Sensors: ANT+ Power Meter CapableYesYesYesYes
Sensors: ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoYesNo
Sensors: ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNoNo
Sensors: ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoYesNo
Sensors: ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNo
Sensors: Di2 Shifting IntegrationNo
Sensors: Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoNoNoNo
Sensors: Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoNoNo
Sensors: Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNoNoNo
Sensors: Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNo
Sensors: Temp Recording (internal sensor)YesYesYesNo
Sensors: Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoNoNo
Sensors: Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsNoYesNoNo
Function/FeatureCycleOps Joule GPSGarmin Edge 500O-Synce Navi2CoachTimex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS
Software: PC ApplicationPowerAgentGTCTrainingLabTraining Peaks Agent
Software: Web ApplicationTraining CampGarmin ConnectTrainingsplan.comTraining Peaks
Software: Phone Appvia MapMyRideGarmin Fit (not direct to device though)NoTraining Peaks
Software: Ability to Export SettingsNoNoYesYes
Purchase: Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Purchase: Clever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10AKG)LinkLinkLinkLink
DCRainmaker: Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Pros and Cons:

Here’s a quick table of pros and cons, though, in general I’d recommend that there’s nearly 6,000 words of detailed information above that probably give a more complete picture of how the device works and my opinions of it.

Pros:

- Quick and easy recording of speed, distance and map data
- Magnetic compass (very rare)
- Barometric altimeter (more accurate elevation data)
- Very bright backlight – works great
- Included access to TrainingPeaks online software is very comprehensive
- Landscape mode is pretty cool for those that need it (unique to this device)

Cons:

- Limited power meter support
- Somewhat clunky terminology used in display
- Device agent configuration is functional, but a bit dated looking
- Mount system isn’t up to par with most quick-mount systems of units today.
- Method of course, waypoint entry is cumbersome

Summary:

In summary, the Timex Cycle Trainer offers itself as a viable alternative to the Edge 500.  However, there are certain features that will make it difficult for advanced cycling users to utilize the Timex Cycle Trainer, in particular the lack of power meter features.

Outside of the power meter features, the parity between it and the Garmin Edge 500 is largely the same.  There are certain features that each unit does slightly differently.  I find some of the terminology on the Timex Cycle Trainer a bit confusing, but ultimately I can decipher it.  I also find the mount system used a bit 1990’s compared to most units today using rubber band mount systems.  But for $9, you can fix that via the method I noted above.

Now, as noted above, there are definitely some cool and unique features in the Timex Cycle Trainer.  For example, the ability to use it as a running watch – since it supports pace (for comparison the Garmin cycling computers only show speed – MPH/KPH) in minutes/mile and minutes/kilometer.  And the inclusion of a magnetic compass is definitely a differentiator that’s really important for some folks.

But I just feel that at $250 (even with the HR strap included) it’s lacking features that other units have at that same price point.  if we were talking $199, or $175, it’d be a different ball game.

That’s it, thanks for reading!

Found this review useful? Here’s the super easy no-pain way you can help support future reviews! Read on…


Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

Thus, if you use Clever Training (at left) to pickup the device, you’ll save 10% on your entire order, and get free shipping for US folks.  Oh – and you’ll really help support the site!  Just add coupon code DCR10AKG to the checkout page.

As you’ve seen throughout the review there are numerous compatible accessories for the unit. I’ve consolidated them all into the below chart, with additional information (full posts) available on some of the accessories to the far right. Also, everything here is verified by me – so if it’s on the list, you’ll know it’ll work. And as you can see, I mix and match accessories based on compatibility – so if a compatible accessory is available at a lower price below, you can grab that instead.

AccessoryManufacturer Street Price Amazon Link Clever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10AKG) More Info
Copyright www.DCRainmaker.com - Updated February 27th, 2014 @ 7:32 pm
PowerTap G3 ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)CycleOps/PowerTap$790 (hub only)LinkLinkLink
PowerTap Pro ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)CycleOps/PowerTap$899LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Classic Plastic Strap) - HRM1Garmin$37.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM2Garmin$69.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM3Garmin$50.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (GSC-10)Garmin$35.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin Edge Series Mini-USB Car ChargerGarmin$10.00LinkLinkN/A
Motorola ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (Quick Install) - BEST!Motorola$55.00LinkN/ALink
Power2Max ANT+ Power MeterPower2Max$970 (no cranks)N/AN/ALink
PowerCal ANT+ Estimated Power MeterPowerTap$99LinkLinkLink
SRAM Quarq Cinqo (Original) ANT+ Power MeterQuarq/SRAMDiscontinuedLinkN/ALink
SRAM Quarq Elsa & RED ANT+ Power MeterSRAM/Quarq$1,995 (with cranks)LinkLinkLink
SRAM Quarq Riken ANT+ Power MeterSRAM/Quarq$1,595 (with cranks)LinkLinkLink
Stages ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Power MeterStages Cycling$699N/AN/ALink
Timex ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap)Timex$48.00LinkLinkN/A
Timex ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling SensorTimex$50.00LinkLinkLink

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. Further, you can always e-mail me at the address on the sidebar. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

Finally, I’ve written up a ton of helpful guides around using most of the major fitness devices, which you may find useful. These guides are all listed on this page here.

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53 Comments

  1. Hi,
    I paddlepusher from Tenn. I own and operate a paddle board company here in E. Tn.
    I’m looking for a devise that would be similar to my cardio trainer on my Droid, but that will be waterproof, that will show my water routes and distance when I’m paddling with my clients and that will have some fitness readings…I would like to stay around $100-150 if possible.

    Cheers and thanks for any advise.
    T in Tn.
    tmayzil@gmail.com

    Reply
  2. As always, great review. You said you can pick up the Timex Ant+ HR monitor “for about $35″. Where did you see them for close to that price???

    Reply
  3. crazedmodder

    In the comparison graph for workouts you wrote “not really” and I am wondering what you mean by that?

    Can I create custom workouts based on power/time/distance/hr like in Garmin Connect? If not then is it available through TP premium or WKO+? Having no pre-made training plans in TP is not a deal breaker but being unable to add custom workouts is.

    Thanks for the review! Hoping to see lap power at least in an update, that would be great.

    I currently own a Garmin Forerunner 305 but I want power so I am looking at the Timex (200$) and the 500 (250$).

    Reply
  4. For $35, you can pickup a number of compatible ANT+ heart rate straps. Here’s a handful of ones, looks like this week they are about $40 – the price goes between $28 and $45 depending on tidal patterns: link to amazon.com

    For the workout piece, you can’t create simple/straight workouts and/or intervals, instead, you have to use this semi-funky ‘trainer’ feature that operates on a repeating basis with rest/work intervals. Very basic, and honestly, a bit confusing to use.

    Reply
  5. @ Theresa,
    I row and use a Timex Global Trainer in order to track my training on and off water.
    It could be the best solution, but the tracking of speed on water might be tricky if you’re paddling on the water as the gps wont take notice of the current.
    I hope it helps.

    Pierre

    Reply
  6. The Polar would be great, I tell others about your website reviews all of the time. Much better than reading a magazine or advertisement for someones own product. Looks like I missed the Motoactiv.

    TerenceK

    Reply
  7. I want it!! please!!!

    Reply
  8. ” kinda a pain unless you’re swapping ANT+ sensors that you’ve paired”

    I find that it swaps between different Ant+ devices effortlessly. I will loose anyh if you stop, unless you use the PC software to tell it to stay in scan. Both Power meters and HR straps.

    Reply
  9. The tech rep said the unit should get speed from a power meter, but mine still uses GPS. Temp is recorded on the unit but not recorded to Training Peaks or WKO+. Speed does not show in WKO+ either. After I installed the Timex branded Device Agent, my Garmin 705 would hang upon upload attempt. And ditto on all the “advanced Power Meter features” that should be standard, at least average lap power. Oh yea the avarage power on the unit read 10-30 Watts higher than the Garmin or the downloaded file.

    Reply
  10. Yeah, I don’t have a specific/official order of speed source list from Timex (each head unit does it differently). I’ll see if I can get one.

    On the Device Agent, I just use the non-Timex one – since nowadays TP includes the drivers for both in the regular one. :)

    On the Avg differences, I suspect it’s the usual case of one or the other not including zero’s.

    Reply
  11. Does the Timex allow you to upload a course via GPX or TCX files? Couldn’t tell from your review whether you can do this (like the Edge) or if you have to manually record waypoints to string together a route.

    Reply
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  13. Hi,
    Did you check out the barometric altimeter performance ie does the total ascent and slope (gradient) displayed make sense compared to say an Edge 500 or results you get from Training Peaks? How did you find the “Train Against a Previous Ride” feature compared to what Garmin provide with their Courses function?

    This unit looks to be an OEM product manufactured for Timex possibly by GlobalSat. I’ve used the GlobalSat GB-580 and is quite a well made unit but agree with you re the retro bike mount. Recent firmware upgrades to that unit were supposed to improve altimeter operation so curious as to how the Timex manages this.

    Cheers, Steven.

    Reply
  14. Hi,
    Did you check out the barometric altimeter performance ie does the total ascent and slope (gradient) displayed make sense compared to say an Edge 500 or results you get from Training Peaks? How did you find the “Train Against a Previous Ride” feature compared to what Garmin provide with their Courses function?

    This unit looks to be an OEM product manufactured for Timex possibly by GlobalSat. I’ve used the GlobalSat GB-580 and is quite a well made unit but agree with you re the retro bike mount. Recent firmware upgrades to that unit were supposed to improve altimeter operation so curious as to how the Timex manages this.

    Cheers, Steven.

    Reply
  15. HELP ¡¡¡¡¡

    My cycle trainer don´t get any satelite signal… it alwys say weak signal…. any sugestions ??

    Reply
  16. Martin

    Is there support to use the cycle trainer with linux cumputers? I use Ubuntu
    // M

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      The new TRT 2.0 opens as a standard mass storage device (like a USB thumb drive), and the files themselves are in the .FIT format (same as Garmin, Magellan, and a few others).

      Reply
    • Shane replied

      I just got my cycle trainer 2.0 … plugged it in, it does NOT load as a mass storage device in linux. I’ll be digging and will report back. ( something about “CDC” and USB ACM device )

      I updated firmware and still no luck. Ouch. Thought I read here and somewhere else that it would mount as mass storage … it appears maybe the run-trainer does, but not the cycle trainer.

      Now that I read the comment more closely, I see “RTR” not “CTR” ( Run vs. Cycle ) I just assumed it applied to the cycle trainer because the comment was under the review.

      boo-hoo

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Sorry! I should have been more clear.

      Reply
  17. Jeff

    “If we were talking $199, or $175, it’d be a different ball game.”

    Might want to check out the GlobalSat GB-580P that appears to be the same unit (or, more likely, Timex OEMs from GlobalSat), with speed, cadence, and heart-rate sensors for $156 at Amazon. (The “F” model appears to be the same; the “B” omits ANT+ support and compass.)

    FWIW, my initial reading suggests that there is no Mac support for this device.

    Reply
    • HennyXIII replied

      I found it for $160.00 and it comes with a heart rate monitor. Final total with taxes is about $170.00
      link to avantlink.com

      DCR: (Note from Ray: Using the link above still goes to REI at the same price, but supports the site just like Amazon and Clever Training – thanks!)

      Reply
  18. Michael d.

    I’m just about ready to pll the trigger on this, but I have a small hang up about the courses. Basically, how hard is it to pin out a route with training peaks on your computer and upload it to the device? Is that even possible?

    Is garmin connect better for that, or no real difference?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No, nothing new in that area to my knowledge (that allows for easy course creation for the Timex devices). On Garmin Connect it’s FAR far easier. Just click around on a map, like MapMyRide or similar (or heck, even use those sites).

      Reply
  19. GreatKatuna

    Does this unit calculate altitude gained? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  20. Luciano

    But, now add the IF/NP/TSS on the firmware.
    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  21. Larry

    Nice review. I’ve got one of these as well and to my knowledge I have to go into “configuration”, then “sensors” and tell it to scan for my Quarq every time I use the darn thing. Am I correct in doing this? Or is there some way to get the thing to just remember my Quarq when I turn it on. It’s super-annoying to have to make about 10 button punches every time I want to get power and cadence to show up. Or is this just the way this thing works?

    Reply
  22. Mike

    I have the Timex and for me it is just perfect. There is only one small thing that would be an improvement,and that is something like the Tate Lab Bar Fly 2.

    Is there something available for the Timex or is it just better to modify the Bar Fly using either hot glue or super 7 Silicone.

    Cheers

    Reply
    • Mark replied

      I did Ray’s garmin mount hack but fettled the Timex mount to sit lower. Then I got a Bar Fly Universal so it can sit out front. I did some test fittings with a SRAM outfront mount but it sat too high and caused a shadow when using a headlight. Opted for the Bar Fly Universal for some mounting flexibility so could have a headlight on the Bar Fly and the Timex on the stem or both on the Bar Fly etc etc.

      link to bikeradar.com

      Reply
  23. Timothy Summers

    Great review,I just bought my cycle trainer based on your review.I have a question.How do I export my workout to Strava? I can’t find any files gpx,fit or tcx files.I don’t know how to export from training peaks.Any help would be appreciated Thx.

    Reply
    • Shane replied

      The exported files ( if you save locally ) will be in the Training Peaks folder on your machine. ( look for a “saved” folder ) They are .PWX files – and you can convert them to TCX using this web site:

      link to pwx.raytracer.dk

      Seemed to work for me. ( I did not sign up for an online Training Peaks account, so when I save they save to disk automatically. )

      There are a bunch of posts on the Strava forums asking for PWX support, maybe they will add it someday.

      Reply
  24. Shane

    My few thoughts on this ( bargain right now on Amazon, $140 shipped … couldn’t resist )

    Buttons are hard to press. ( don’t know if its similar to Garmin or what )
    I wish that speed stat showed +/- the average — then I wouldn’t need to show the average speed as a data field. ( minor, I know, but it saves a field and makes others larger — and pressing buttons while riding is not easy )
    Mounts a bit “high” for my tastes. ( but will clear the stem and top cap so that could be a plus )
    No Linux or Mac support. ( have requests in to both GlobalStat and Timex … waiting to hear )
    PCX format isn’t the most common … but you can get around that.
    Functionally, does everything the Garmin 500 does for less. ( assuming you pick it up on sale )

    Reply
  25. Rob

    I just got this unit as well brand new but dirt cheap. Did the firmware update immediately. I’m uploading my ride files to a Mac Mini just fine, converting them to .tcx via the raytracer site, and uploading the files to Strava. No loss of data but only using the HRM. So far I like this unit and it is serving me well. My only complaint is no odometer. Am I missing something?

    Reply
    • Shane replied

      Oh, my bad, there is Mac support. Price dropped to $130 on Amazon!

      Odometer … you mean distance? Its there.

      Reply
  26. Marlon

    So I got the unit on an amazon deal for $80, I’ve been reading the review and trying to plan how to get it all setup so that I can ride with it tomorrow before we get snow on Wednesday. I’m pretty stoked to find out that it’s pretty much a Garmin 500 as far as features go. Pretty much what I’ve been looking for.

    Reply
  27. georg

    That review was a labor of love-much better than any magazine or web product review I have ever seen- thanks

    Reply
  28. Bob

    Does Timex have Mac compatible software?

    Reply
  29. Marcelo

    Thanks for product demonstration. I found it very enlightening and definitely influenced me in buying the product, Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS.
    I would just like to ask some questions. Have you used the product to navigate through a route or path? Used the map screen? Could be a good guideline? Why am I asking? Because I like to do diferenes trails and plan to use the map to give directions where to go.
    It imports files routes in GPX format or some other format maps?

    Reply
    • Marlon replied

      After using this GPS for a few rides, I learned that you cannot download routes or paths to the GPS unit. Only way I found was to manually enter waypoints for a route and follow that.

      You cannot imports the GPX or FIT files to the GPS for guidance.

      Reply
  30. Fred Allsen

    My new Timex Cycle Trainer dose not work right. The Altitude is not correct. It shows -95 feet. This the 2nd time I have had this issue. The 1st time Timex told me to send it back to timex which I did. Got it back yesterday and still shows incorrect. Am I doing something wrong? Thank you Fred

    Reply
  31. Darwin

    Zip ties and that ugly color alone are enough to make me look elsewhere.

    Reply
  32. Eduardo

    Hi there, first of all, very nice review Rainmaker!
    I have a question that you may be able to help me with.
    I have a computer like this one, can you tell me if it is compatible with the garmin edge 205/305/605/705 mounts?
    If it is i will buy one of these: link to i.ebayimg.com
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Offhand, I’m pretty sure it was just slightly different. Barely. But I can check when I return home.

      Reply
  33. alan b

    Purchased timex 2.0 cycle trainer, the hr monitor pairs up okay, but my timeex cadence/ speed sensor won’t. Changed battery and tried different distance from spoke magnet and crank sensor still no luck. Any ideas??

    Reply
    • Eduardo replied

      The sensor is ANT+. Try pair it with another device that accepts ANT+. This way you may find a problem with the sensor or your device. Best luck

      Reply
  34. Alan

    Any input on my earlier post i see speed but it is in decimals. still no cadence response.
    Thanks

    Reply
  35. Mark

    How do I change my distance units from ft to miles?

    Reply
  36. DDD

    At the current prices this unit is might tempting. Great to find a detailed review from you on it since info is hard to find. Wondering when i first got my garmin 510 the elevation was a little wonky similar to what Fred Allsen mentioned earlier about his timex. But the garmin had feature that helped, you could set the elevation for a given location. Like if you knew the elevation at your house was 95 ft and not -91 ft. You could enter that info and the starting point elevation would then be 95 ft. Does the timex have this feature?

    Thanks for the help and great info.

    Reply
  37. Fouad

    Hi,
    Where can i buy this GPS nowdays??? Seems hard to find online.

    Reply
  38. Paulo Roberto

    Hi, thanks for thr review, i got the Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS In, and im havein a hard time to finde compatible sensors for speed and cadence here in Brazil, tha garmin store tells me tha no garmin sensor are compatible, but a see in your review that they are! Can you show me some sensors that are compatibles, so i can buy ??

    Regards ens thanks in advance!!

    Paulo

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, the Garmin sensors will work just fine. As long as it has an ANT+ logo on it, you’ll be good (and all Garmin sensors do). Enjoy!

      Reply

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