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Time is Everything: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Watches for Cycling and Triathlons

by Thomas Jentzsch on May 17, 2023


Why Choosing the Right Watch is Important for Cyclists and Triathletes

Cycling and triathlons are highly demanding sports that require precise tracking of time, distance, speed, and heart rate. Having a reliable and accurate watch can make a significant difference in training sessions or competitions.

A good watch can help you track your progress towards your fitness goals, improve your performance, and keep you motivated to push yourself to new limits. In addition to tracking performance metrics, watches designed for cycling and triathlons come equipped with GPS functionality that helps cyclists navigate unfamiliar terrain or follow predefined routes.

Other features like weather updates or sunrise/sunset times can also be incredibly helpful when planning long-distance rides. Whether you’re a recreational cyclist or an elite athlete, choosing the right watch is essential for getting the most out of your training sessions or competitions.

What this Guide Covers

This guide provides a comprehensive review of the best watches for cycling and triathlons available on the market today. We have researched and analyzed dozens of models from various manufacturers to identify key features that matter most to athletes in these sports. The guide is divided into three main sections:

1. Key Features to Consider When Choosing a Watch for Cycling and Triathlons: This section covers essential features that every athlete should consider when selecting a watch. 2. Top Watches for Cycling and Triathlons: A Comprehensive Review: This section provides detailed reviews of some of the best watches available on the market today based on research conducted by our expert team.

3. Niche Subtopics: Specialized Watches for Different Types of Cyclists/Triathletes: This section provides additional information about specialized watches designed for particular types of cyclists or triathletes. By the end of this guide, you will have a comprehensive understanding of the key features to consider when selecting a watch for cycling and triathlons, as well as some of the best models available on the market today.

Key Features to Consider When Choosing a Watch for Cycling and Triathlons

As a cyclist or triathlete, you need a watch that can keep up with your active lifestyle. A watch that can track your workouts, monitor your heart rate, withstand harsh weather conditions, and remain on for an extended period is essential. Here are some key features to consider when choosing the best watch for cycling and triathlons.

GPS Tracking Capabilities

GPS tracking is arguably the most crucial feature of any cycling or triathlon watch. It allows you to map out your routes accurately and keep track of the distance covered during each workout.

Besides distance tracking, GPS also provides data on speed and elevation changes. This crucial information helps you accurately gauge your performance level and adjust accordingly.

When comparing GPS capabilities between watches, look at the accuracy of location tracking, as well as how fast it acquires satellite signals. You don’t want to wait too long before starting your workout while waiting for GPS signal acquisition.

Heart Rate Monitoring

Heart rate monitoring is another critical feature that every cycling or triathlon watch should have. It helps determine how hard you’re working during exercise sessions so that you can train effectively without overexerting yourself.

Many watches come with built-in optical heart rate monitors (OHRM). OHRMs use LED lights to measure blood flow through your wrist’s skin surface and estimate heart rate from these measurements.

Other watches may require attaching an external chest strap to get accurate heart rate readings. Chest straps provide more accurate results than OHRMs since they pick up electrical signals directly from the heart rather than just estimating them based on skin surface measurements.

Water Resistance and Durability

Cycling and triathlon watches must be waterproof since they’re likely to encounter water during workouts in rain or swimming portions of triathlons. Look for watches with at least 5 ATM (50m) water resistance to withstand the splashes and quick submersion that come with these activities.

Additionally, choose a watch with durable materials such as stainless steel or titanium. These materials can withstand harsh conditions and potential impacts from falls.

Battery Life and Charging Options

Battery life is essential when choosing a cycling or triathlon watch since you don’t want the battery to die during an extended workout or race. Look for watches that have a battery life of at least 10 hours of GPS use. Also, consider charging options.

Some watches come with proprietary charging cables, while others use standard USB connectors. Proprietary chargers can be more challenging to replace if lost, so go for standard USB chargers if possible.

Display Features such as Readability in Different Lighting Conditions

Readability in different lighting conditions is crucial when choosing a cycling or triathlon watch. You’ll want to see your stats clearly whether you’re biking on a sunny day or running in low light conditions. Choose watches with high-resolution displays that have adjustable brightness levels.

A backlit display can also be helpful in low-light conditions. Make sure the display has an anti-glare coating to minimize reflections that may affect readability under bright sunlight conditions.

Top Watches for Cycling and Triathlons: A Comprehensive Review

Garmin Forerunner 945

An All-in-One GPS Watch for the Serious Athlete

For the serious athlete, the Garmin Forerunner 945 is a top-of-the-line GPS watch that does it all. In addition to tracking your workouts, this watch also provides detailed maps and turn-by-turn directions. The battery life of the Forerunner 945 is impressive, lasting up to two weeks in smartwatch mode and up to 36 hours in GPS mode.

It’s also water-resistant up to 50 meters, making it suitable for swimming. The watch has a host of features including wrist-based heart rate monitoring, VO2 max measurement, altitude acclimation assistance, and incident detection.

The Forerunner 945 can also store up to 1,000 songs for those who prefer music while working out. One downside is that some users have found the watch too bulky or heavy.

Overall, users rave about its functionality and reliability as well as its sleek design. It’s an expensive option but worth the investment for athletes who want an all-in-one device that can handle any type of workout.

Polar Vantage V2

The Versatile Multisport Watch with Cutting-Edge Technology

The Polar Vantage V2 is another highly advanced multisport GPS watch designed with serious athletes in mind. Its standout feature is its Precision Prime™ sensor fusion technology which combines optical heart rate monitoring with skin contact measurement to provide highly accurate readings even during intense workouts.

In addition to tracking your heart rate, this watch offers advanced performance metrics such as running power output and running cadence. It’s water-resistant up to 100 meters so it’s great for swimming and diving activities as well.

Other features include a long battery life of up to 40 hours in training mode, sleep tracking, and an always-on display. The watch also allows for easy customization with interchangeable wristbands and watch faces.

However, some users have reported issues with GPS accuracy. Overall, the Polar Vantage V2 is a versatile multisport watch with cutting-edge technology that can help athletes improve their performance and achieve their goals.

Suunto 9 Baro

The GPS Watch Built for Endurance

The Suunto 9 Baro is a robust and reliable GPS watch designed specifically for endurance athletes who need a device that can keep up with their most grueling workouts. It has an impressive battery life of up to 120 hours in Ultra mode and up to 25 hours in Performance mode, making it perfect for ultra-distance events. The watch’s built-in barometer provides accurate altitude information which can be helpful during mountain biking or hiking activities.

It also offers wrist-based heart rate monitoring as well as advanced training features such as interval workouts and recovery time recommendations. One downside is that some users have found the watch too bulky or heavy compared to other models.

However, its durability makes it suitable for extreme outdoor environments. Overall, the Suunto 9 Baro offers exceptional battery life, accurate tracking metrics, and durability – making it an ideal choice for endurance athletes who want a reliable device that can withstand any type of workout.

Apple Watch Series 6

The Ultimate Smartwatch for Active People

The latest Apple Watch Series 6 offers many features that make it appealing to active individuals including upgraded GPS capabilities, blood oxygen level monitoring (SpO2), ECG tracking, fall detection technology and swim-proof water resistance. The always-on Retina display makes it easy to read even in bright sunlight or underwater conditions In addition to fitness tracking, the Apple Watch Series 6 has a host of smartwatch features including Siri voice control, cellular connectivity, and mobile payments.

The watch also offers sleep tracking and mindfulness exercises for those who want to focus on their mental health as well as their physical health. One potential downside is that the battery life is shorter than some other GPS watches, lasting up to 18 hours with regular use.

Also, it’s on the expensive side compared to other GPS watches in its class. Overall, the Apple Watch Series 6 is a stylish and versatile smartwatch suitable for active people who want a device that can handle fitness tracking as well as everyday use.

Niche Subtopics: Specialized Watches for Different Types of Cyclists/Triathletes

Watches for Road Cyclists

Road cyclists have unique requirements when it comes to selecting a watch. While GPS and heart rate monitoring are essential features, factors such as mapping and navigation may not be as important.

For road cyclists looking for a top-of-the-line watch that focuses on performance tracking, the Wahoo Elemnt Rival is an excellent option. The Wahoo Elemnt Rival offers advanced performance tracking features such as real-time coaching, recovery time estimation, and personalized heart rate training zones.

It also has a crystal-clear display that can be easily read in bright sunlight or low light conditions. Additionally, its long-lasting battery life ensures that it will keep up with even the longest rides.

An Innovative Approach: The COROS VERTIX Watch

For triathletes focused on mountain biking or trail running, the COROS VERTIX Watch is an exciting new option worth considering. This rugged watch is built to withstand even the harshest environments and boasts impressive battery life – up to 60 hours in full GPS mode.

What sets the COROS VERTIX apart from other watches on this list is its innovative approach to measuring altitude changes during mountain biking and trail running activities. The watch leverages a unique combination of GPS data and barometric sensors to provide highly accurate altitude measurements, which can be crucial when navigating tricky terrain.

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Choosing the right watch for cycling or triathlon events can be daunting, but it’s worth spending time researching which features matter most for your specific needs. While this article offers some examples of top-performing watches for cyclists and triathletes alike, it’s essential to evaluate each product carefully before making any final decisions.

Ultimately, finding a watch that offers the right combination of performance tracking, durability, and battery life can make a big difference in your training and racing experience. With the right watch by your side, you can focus on pushing yourself to new limits without worrying about technical glitches or limitations.


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