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.
Like virtually every other Timex product, the Timex Cycle Trainer comes in their standard orange Timex box kit:
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).
Once you finish wrestling with the twisty ties, you’ll find the following collection of goodness.
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.
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?
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.
The bottom half of the mount kit, along with the zip ties:
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.
And finally, the Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 unit, complete with a fake display sticker:
Don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of non-fake display shots in a bit.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Once you’ve got it to the top, try and get it ABOVE the edge line, like a little bubble.
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.
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.
Once it’s done – it’ll look like this. Note that the Timex lever piece is still movable.
With that, I can now mount the thing anywhere I’d like with simple rubber bands.
Here’s what it looks like once mounted, nearly indistinguishable:
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.
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).
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:
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
The unit holds about 20 hours at 1-second recording with GPS/power/heart rate/speed/cadence data all on.
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:
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):
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:
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):
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:
Then, I took the unit and rotated it 90*, notice how the compass headings (i.e. North) still stays oriented the correct direction:
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:
Once there, you can go into the waypoints list on the unit and select waypoints to get ‘as the crow flies’ routing.
In other words, no street recognition, instead, just straight line.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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 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.
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:
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
Once connected, the TrainingPeaks agent will go ahead and download the data after you press download.
In general, it’ll only take less than 60 seconds to download a ride, usually far less.
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.
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:
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once done, you’ll hit a few button presses and be on your way in less than 60 seconds to a new firmware version:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/Feature||CycleOps Joule GPS||Garmin Edge 500||O-Synce Navi2Coach||Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS|
|Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated April 9th, 2021 @ 10:29 am New Window|
|Product Announcement Date||Jun 15, 2011||SEP 1, 2009||AUG 31, 2012||JUN 13, 2012|
|Actual Availability/Shipping Date||Jun 2012||Dec 2009||OCT 2012||JUN 2012|
|GPS Recording Functionality||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Battery Life (GPS)||17 Hours||18 hours||16 hours||15 hours|
|Recording Interval||1-second||1-Second or Smart||1s, 5s, 10s, 20s, 30s, 60s||Configurable: 1s, 2s, 4s, 8s|
|Quick Satellite Reception||Good||Great||Great||Great|
|Ability to download custom apps to unit/device||No||No||No||No|
|Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)||No||No||No||No||Connectivity||CycleOps Joule GPS||Garmin Edge 500||O-Synce Navi2Coach||Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS|
|Bluetooth Smart to Phone Uploading||No||No||No||No|
|Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)||No||No||No||No|
|Live Tracking (streaming location to website)||No||No||No||No|
|Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)||No||No||No||No|
|Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)||No||No||no||No||Cycling||CycleOps Joule GPS||Garmin Edge 500||O-Synce Navi2Coach||Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS|
|Designed for cycling||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Power Meter Capable||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Power Meter Configuration/Calibration Options||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Power Meter TSS/NP/IF||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Speed/Cadence Sensor Capable||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Strava segments live on device||No||Running||CycleOps Joule GPS||Garmin Edge 500||O-Synce Navi2Coach||Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS|
|Designed for running||No||No||No||Can show Pace|
|Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)||N/A||N/A||N/A||No|
|Recovery Advisor||N/A||N/A||N/A||No||Swimming||CycleOps Joule GPS||Garmin Edge 500||O-Synce Navi2Coach||Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS|
|Designed for swimming||No||No||No||No||Triathlon||CycleOps Joule GPS||Garmin Edge 500||O-Synce Navi2Coach||Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS|
|Designed for triathlon||No||No||No||No||Workouts||CycleOps Joule GPS||Garmin Edge 500||O-Synce Navi2Coach||Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS|
|Create/Follow custom workouts||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|On-unit interval Feature||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Training Calendar Functionality||No||No||No||No||Functions||CycleOps Joule GPS||Garmin Edge 500||O-Synce Navi2Coach||Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS|
|Virtual Partner Feature||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|Virtual Racer Feature||No||No||No||No|
|Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)||No||No||No||No|
|Tidal Tables (Tide Information)||No||No||No||No|
|Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)||No||No||No||No|
|Weather Display (live data)||No||No||No||No||Navigate||CycleOps Joule GPS||Garmin Edge 500||O-Synce Navi2Coach||Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS|
|Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (Barely)|
|Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)||No||No||No||No|
|Back to start||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Impromptu Round Trip Route Creation||No||No||No||No|
|Download courses/routes from phone to unit||No||No||No||No||Sensors||CycleOps Joule GPS||Garmin Edge 500||O-Synce Navi2Coach||Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS|
|Optical Heart Rate Sensor internally||No|
|Heart Rate Strap Compatible||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Heart Rate Strap Capable||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Speed/Cadence Capable||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Footpod Capable||No||No||No||No|
|ANT+ Power Meter Capable||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Weight Scale Capable||No||No||Yes||No|
|ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)||No||No||No||No|
|ANT+ Lighting Control||No|
|ANT+ Bike Radar Integration||No|
|ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)||No|
|ANT+ Remote Control||No||No||Yes||No|
|ANT+ eBike Compatibility||No||No||No||No|
|Shimano Di2 Shifting||No||No|
|Bluetooth Smart HR Strap Capable||No||No||No||No|
|Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence Capable||No||No||No||No|
|Bluetooth Smart Footpod Capable||No||No||No||No|
|Bluetooth Smart Power Meter Capable||No||No||No||No|
|Temp Recording (internal sensor)||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Temp Recording (external sensor)||No||No||No||No||Software||CycleOps Joule GPS||Garmin Edge 500||O-Synce Navi2Coach||Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS|
|PC Application||PowerAgent||Garmin Express||TrainingLab||Training Peaks Agent|
|Web Application||Training Camp||Garmin Connect||Trainingsplan.com||Training Peaks|
|Phone App||via MapMyRide||Garmin Connect Mobile (not direct to device though)||No||Training Peaks|
|Ability to Export Settings||No||No||Yes||Yes||Purchase||CycleOps Joule GPS||Garmin Edge 500||O-Synce Navi2Coach||Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS|
|Clever Training||Link||Link||Link||N/A||DCRainmaker||CycleOps Joule GPS||Garmin Edge 500||O-Synce Navi2Coach||Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS|
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.
– 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)
– 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
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 DCR10BTF 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.
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.