Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS Device

By Jenn K.

This product was provided by the manufacturer for this review.

Timex Cycle Trainer The Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 arrived and I was excited to get riding with this GPS. What initially caught my eye with this GPS is the long battery life (estimated at 18 hours) and the compass bearing. The GPS unit measures just less than 5 cm. wide, 6.5 cm. long, and has a depth of 2.5 cm. The design is simplistic with four operational buttons, two on each side and a rear port to connect the device to a computer for charging and data transfer. It is bulkier than I expected, but if it does the job intended the bulk does not matter to me. The Cycle Trainer uses SIRFstarIII GPS Technology to obtain a GPS signal.

Inside the packaging of the Cycle Trainer was a USB connector (to transfer data to Training Peaks and to charge the device), two bike mounts with zip ties, heart rate monitor, and a quick start instruction manual. I would have liked to see a more detailed manual as this one was very basic. However, a more detailed manual can be viewed and or printed from the manufacturer’s website. No cadence sensor came with the unit as this is a separate purchase. I called customer support to purchase another bike mount and they told me there are none available and could not give me an estimate of when the mounts would be available to the public. This is disappointing as I have three bikes and it is not feasible to remove the mount between bikes as it is attached by zip ties. It would be a different story if it had a more user friendly mount minus the zip ties.

After removing the GPS from the box I charged it. I then skimmed through the instruction manual to see how to turn the device on since I did not realize I had to hold down the power button a few seconds for it to turn on. I was able to scroll through the screens easily and set up my customizable screens without referencing the guide as it was straight forward. Four screens can be customized with various data that can be stored or viewed only, depending on the data type.  I also set up my configuration data such as the user profile and time, backlight, and the key silence. This was easily done once I understood how to scroll through the screens and change the pre-set data.

Then I attached a mount to my road bike. Initially I placed it on the handlebar and after one ride I decided to move it to my stem. I like the ease of viewing the GPS more on the stem. To mount it on the stem I changed the orientation of the rubber portion on the bike mount. I also placed another mount on the stem of my mountain bike. The GPS is easily placed and removed from the mount, but I need to be cautious that it fully clicks in place. I wish the mounting design was different, maybe a clamp of some sort. That way I can easily move it to my other bikes without dealing with the zip ties.

On a ride I compared the Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 with my Garmin Forerunner on a short 18-mile ride. I set up the same resume parameters for both devices and started/stopped them simultaneously. During the ride the speed would fluctuate with no set difference that I could tell. Sometimes the difference was a few tenths or at times more than one mph, more often the difference was in the tenth of a mph range. What was odd with this fluctuation is that the average speed was almost the same between the two devices; as it was only off by one-tenth of a mile.  I also compared the total distance between the two devices and there was a two-tenths of a mile discrepancy.

The Cycle Trainer can be customized for calorie calculation. In this option the options can be entered for the activity, level, and extra weight. This is to more accurately determine how many calories were burned. I am not a fan of counting calories as I really do not know how accurate it is, but at times it is nice to have a ballpark figure.

During an activity when the speedometer is running some data is recorded for later use. This includes the date/time of the ride, start time, distance, calories burned, average speed/pace/heart rate/cadence, fastest speed/pace/heart rate/cadence, time/distance/avg. speed/avg. pace/calories burned/avg. heart rate for each lap, and route. I need to tinker with the custom screens and add lap data so that I can view single lap data during my training rides.

There is other data that can be viewed while riding however it is not recorded such as: temperature, altitude (min/max), total altitude gain, heart rate percent, pace, pacer targets/trainer, barometric pressure, slope, goal distance, and time of day. I would have liked to be able to have the slope information stored so that I could hover over the route in the Training Peaks Program and have the slope/grade information on certain sections of the ride. There is also an option to use this GPS to obtain power tap data, but I do not have a power tap.

Speaking of the Training Peaks Program I already had an account so it was easy for me to transfer my data from the Cycle Trainer 2.0. I plugged the GPS in the USB port on my computer and on the main screen I selected to connect to the computer. I had to download the Timex Device Agent Software to have the GPS communicate with Training Peaks. I have received a warning when running the Device Agent that a new version of the firmware was available. The process was cumbersome as I had to save the settings of the Cycle Trainer and then restore the settings after the firmware was installed. After all this initial set-up I was then able to upload my rides to Training Peaks.

Timex Device Agent Software Timex Training Peaks Map

There are a few settings I still need to set up with the Cycle Trainer. The heart rate monitor with the heart rate zones is one of them. I was able to pair the heart rate sensor with the GPS. This was easily done on the first attempt. I also need to calibrate the compass and the compass declination. I have not used the map feature yet. But, I have viewed a map after one of my activities on the Cycle Trainer and it is a basic cookie crumb route. I have to dig deeper in to the navigation aspect of the Cycle Trainer.

I will be busy the next month exploring the many features of this GPS device. I basically want something that can record my rides and give me accurate data that I can use to monitor my progress and my goals. I hope this GPS works well for my needs.

Update 10/24/12

The Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 has been used just slightly over a month while mountain biking and road biking. Overall I am happy with the Cycle Trainer, but there are a few things I would like to see changed or enhanced.

I have used the Cycle Trainer mounted on the stems of both my mountain and road bikes. I called customer service again a few weeks ago to purchase another mount for my single speed mountain bike; however there were no mounts available for purchase. Today I called again because it is such a hassle to remove the Cycle Trainer mount from one bike to the next. It was my lucky day as the mounts are now in stock. They retail for $10.00. Customer service was helpful and knew exactly what I needed. I noticed on the mountain bike that the mount tends to turn side to side on the stem when riding on rocky terrain. I may put electrical tape on the step to help secure it more as I do with my lights. I have to be careful when placing the Cycle Trainer in the mount that it snaps in to place so it is not lost.

I found out that the Cycle Trainer picks up my heart rate monitor from my old Garmin Forerunner device. The heart rate monitor strap from the Cycle Trainer comes unsnapped sometimes. I also found it difficult to sometimes snap the monitor to the strap. If this continues to be an issue I may just use the Garmin Strap. The heart rate on the Cycle Trainer fluctuates in accuracy as all my monitors do. Sometimes it is right on and other times I get a lower or higher than normal reading. But, generally it is pretty accurate. Also I have set up my heart rate and percentage of maximum heart rate on my main page (screen) and that is helpful when I am training. I am using the custom heart rate settings for the maximum heart rate. Since the Garmin and Cycle Trainer heart rate monitors work with the Cycle Trainer, I am going to try the Garmin Cadence Sensor to see if it will work since I did not receive one with the Cycle Trainer Device.

So far I have been successful in saving my rides to the Cycle Trainer. However, there are times that I reset the lap instead of stopping/pausing the device. When I completed the Firmware update I thought I saved all my files to Training Peaks. However, that was not the case. I unsuccessfully saved two files and later had to manually enter the data in Training Peaks. I knew what my data was as I used Strava on my phone to records those same rides. Now here is an issue that I am encountering. Strava will only let me save .gpx, .tcx, .json, and .fit files to their site and GeoLadders will only let me save .gpx files. So if I want my data on those sites I have to use my phone to record the ride. I want to figure out if there is a way for me to convert the file saved by the Cycle Trainer. I really like using the Training Peaks Program for my own benefit but I also like the social aspect of Strava and GeoLadders. I may just have to contact Strava customer support and see what they say.

I have tinkered with the alert settings. I have set alerts based on time to monitor hydration and nutrition. I also set the alert for distance instead of using the lap feature and for monitoring my heart rate. These alert settings are helpful, especially when I have one set to remind me to drink.

I set up one of my pages to provide data for my laps. Instead of starting an entire workout file I use the lap feature to separate my warm-up and cool-down and also important segments during a ride. I like being able to view the specific lap distance, speed, and time. I then switch to my main screen and I can view the data for the entire ride that I have set up on that screen.

The speed and mileage seems to be accurate. I compared this data with my phone app and for the most part both the speed and mileage is right one. There is only a one-tenth to two-tenths of a mile difference. Plus I have the Cycle Trainer set to pause when I am moving less than one mile per hour. So that can cause a slight discrepancy.

I like the Trainer Feature. It helps keep me on target when I ride alone. Basically I have it set up to alert me when I am going a certain speed based on my training for the week or I have also selected to pace myself off of a ride that was one of my personal best. I do not have an abundance of personal best rides stored since I just started using the Cycle Trainer a month ago. But, I have a challenging mountain bike race in April and I am going to ride the event based off a practice ride that I will complete in the spring before the event.

Over the next month I am going to focus on following a route and the navigation features. I have created a custom route, but I have not done much exploration with that except for following it a short distance. I have not used the waypoint feature nor spent much time navigating with the compass.

Final Update 12/10/12

Another month has gone by and I have been now using the Cycle Trainer 2.0 on all three of my bikes with three separate mounts. Yes, after many phone calls I finally received an extra mount for my single speed mountain bike; this was sent from the representative that organized this review. No more cutting off zip ties and switching the mount between my two mountain bikes. What is strange is that an extra mount cannot be ordered from customer support. They sent me three mounts that were for watches then later told me the Cycle Trainer 2.0 mount is not available. This concerns me. If a mount breaks I may be out of luck. I think the mount design should still be changed to make it friendlier to switch between bikes. The Cycle Trainer comes with two mounts, but for some of us that is not enough.

Another breakthrough is that I can download the Timex files from Training Peaks to an online converter that will then convert the PWX file to TCX file. This adds two extra steps, but now I can share my files online on Strava and GeoLadders. I noticed though when I do the file conversion that it records my ride time as the time the file was converted, all the other data was accurate. No big deal, but for record keeping’s sake I have to remember to upload the file the same day.

Last breakthrough is that my wireless Garmin Cadence Sensor works with the Cycle Trainer 2.0. Apparently the Cycle trainer will work with any ANT+ sensors. I have been using the cadence sensor with the Cycle Trainer on my trainer workouts. For these workouts I am using the Carmichael Training DVDs focusing on climbing. Knowing my cadence is helpful during these training sessions. I usually do not use a cadence sensor while riding on the road. The data collected from the sensor for speed, distance and cadence seemed accurate. I had to set my wheel size in the settings of the Cycle Trainer, but this was easily done.

I am really happy with the battery life. Even in cooler temperatures the battery is not draining fast. I am happy that I could use the Cycle Trainer on multiple rides and I do not have to worry about battery life. I cannot wait to use it for my double century in February. It should last for the entire ride because so far I have used the Cycle Trainer for 16 hours and the battery was not drained. This would be a first as no other GPS unit that I have used has made it through a double century. I need a battery life of at least 13 hours.

The speed and distance seems pretty accurate. Yeah, it varies the slightest little bit when compared to other units and recording the ride off my phone app. But, if you go on a ride with a group of people the mileage is never accurate it seems we are always off by a few tenths of a mile or so.

On a few of my rides I thought the temperature was way off. But, I asked my riding buddy what temperature reading they had and it was right on. I was surprised how hot it was those days as the weather reports predicted the temperatures to be fifteen degrees cooler.

I have changed my screen settings a few times. I have one screen set up for the trainer. Another set for road ride training. And one set for recreational rides. I like having multiple sets of data available on each screen and multiple screens available, especially for various ride purposes.

Finally here are the issues.  There are not many but should be noted as one is frustrating. First of all the snaps on the heart rate monitor do not stay secure. They pop open and are hard to snap back in place while I am riding. So I have switched to using my Garmin Heart Rate Monitor. Since the Garmin monitor works with the Cycle Trainer I am going to use it. The chest strap is also more comfortable on the Garmin monitor.

Now here is a big issue. There are a few occasions that I want to follow a route that I found on the Internet or one I created on Map My Ride. Even on Strava map files can now be downloaded. I can create a route on the Cycle Trainer for a route I have already done but not a new one. Ugh! I tried with Training Peaks, Map My Ride, and Ride with GPS and I cannot send the file to the Cycle Trainer. So now I have just resorted to making route slips from Map My Ride for new routes that I never rode before.

I have not upgraded to the Premium Training Peaks Program. I really do not see a need right now. It has a hefty monthly fee. I like that I can use Training Peaks to view all my workouts (biking, yoga, kettlebell) and set weekly goals. The overview of my workouts is clean and easy to get an idea of what I am doing at a glance.

The Cycle Trainer 2.0 is working for me just fine and I believe it is a good mid-range GPS unit. I think a few improvements would make it better, especially the mount. But, I came from using a very basic Garmin GPS unit that had no frills. This definitely has more data options than the unit I was using, but it does have some limitations as compared to the more commonly known higher end units. I still plan on using this unit on all my rides and I cannot wait to use it on my next double century.

The Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 retails for $250.00 and for more information please visit www.timex.com. The heart rate monitor is sold separately.


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