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Reviews > Electronic Devices > Watches > Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes
TIMEX - IRONMAN GLOBAL TRAINER W/GPS & HRM
Initial Report: May 30 2011
Field Report: August 11, 2011
Long Term Report: October 10, 2011
The Timex Ironman Global Train being charged for the first time
I live in Northeast Alabama. I enjoy biking, hunting, fishing, canoeing/kayaking and most other outdoor activities, but backpacking is my favorite pastime. I enjoy hiking with friends and family or solo. I hike throughout the year and actually hike less in the hot humid months of summer. My style is slow and steady and my gear is light. However, I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability. A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9 kg) not counting food or water.
Where to begin... I'm pretty sure most readers of this review are aware of the Iron Man Competition. But for anyone who is not, it is not for the faint of heart. It combines a 2.4-mile (3.9 km) swim a 112-mile (180.3 km) bike ride and a marathon (26.2 miles 42.2 km), raced in that order and one right after the other. I get tired just watching it on TV. This event is the inspiration behind the Timex Global Trainer GPS watch. In other words, the watch is designed to be used while training for and then tracking these events as they take place. And for us mere mortals, it can be used to track several outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, swimming, kayaking etc. The watch I received came with a Heart Rate Monitor which can also be used to track fitness progress or just tell the user if they are within a predetermined heart rate range. And since the watch uses GPS to track speed and distance, it can also be used as a navigational tool. As a matter of fact, it also has an electronic compass and altimeter.
The unit comes with a quick start guide that has adequate instructions on using the watch but the print is very small. I found the complete User Guide on-line and it was much easier to read and of course more detailed. It is in a pdf format. It provides all the information on how to set the watch up using the buttons on the watch and how to use the watch. There are really too many features to list but I like that it tracks what I feel are the most important ones like time elapsed, speed, average speed, altitude and elevation gained and lost during an event. The watch determines many of the parameters such as speed and altitude using GPS. The watch will also keep track of heart rate when used with the optional heart rate monitor using ANT+ (in a nutshell ANT+ is used for collecting and transferring sensory data. Using the ANT+ protocol ensures compatibility among different manufactures). There are other ANT+ sensor devices available such as cadence and speed sensors, and power meters. It should also be noted that if planning to use the watch in an event where others are using ANT+ sensor devices then each of my devices needs to be paired to my watch. The on-line user manual gives directions on how to do this. There is also a bicycle handle bar mount included and in fact, the watch came wrapped around it. Here is the mount which is almost as wide as the watch.
To get the full benefit from the Timex Global Trainer the Timex Device Agent needs to be downloaded on the computer the user plans to use to transfer the data from the watch. It can be found on this page. http://timexironman.trainingpeaks.com/device-agent.aspx
The program is compatible with both Windows and Mac but not all operating systems are compatible. However, the page tells what version is needed. For example, my old Mac does not have the required operating system but my PC does. Here is a brief summary taken from the website on what the Device Agent does.
TIMEX DEVICE AGENT
The Device Agent, along with your Timex® Global Trainer™ or Race Trainer™ / Race Trainer Pro™, is your complete solution to monitoring and tracking your training program. You can easily download your workout data from your watch and then send it to your own personal online Timex Trainer account.
Device Agent is a free desktop based software program that:
* Allows you to extract data files from your Timex® Global Trainer™ or Race Trainer™ / Race Trainer Pro™ and upload them to your online web account.
* Manage all watch settings using a simple PC or Mac application, set time, alarms, date, intervals and more!
But for me, one of the biggest pluses of the device agent is the ability to set the watch up on the computer screen verses setting it up using the buttons on the watch. For example, the watch allows the user to enter their personal data such as age and weight to more accurately determine calories burned. It is much simpler to type in my information on a computer instead of slogging though all the various button presses that must be made to enter it manually on the watch. I can also control all the various display modes and set up what data fields I prefer when in various training modes.
While on the subject of the Device Agent, other than setting up the watch, there is not a lot of viewable information on it. Therefore, Timex recommends also signing up for Training Peaks. This is an online website that will take the data from the Device Agent and present it in a user-friendly manner. It is then much easier to view or share various information from training sessions. It will even display routes on a map. The personal version is free but there are several levels of upgrades which have an annual fee. I am using the free version.
Before getting into the details of the watch, I think it might be a good idea to briefly go over the different Modes the watch can be used in. I took the liberty of copying what each Mode on the watch is for (in italics) and added my comments under each.
Performance Mode tracks data for up to 20 workouts and up to 1000 laps. Keep track of multiple variables during your workout, including speed, distance, elapsed time, pace, and calories burned. See data during your workout in five customizable view screens, each with up to four fields for displaying data.
This is the Mode I plan to use the most.
While Performance Mode tracks performance data for one activity, Multisport Mode links up to five sports together, and manages transitions between sports as well. Choose the performance data for each of up to five sports, and use the transition periods in between sports to prepare for the next activity in the MULTISPORT sequence. For example, use the transition period between MULTI-BIKE and MULTI-RUN to change from cycling shoes to running shoes.
This is pretty cool but since I am not a tri-athlete and doubt I'll need it. But who knows, I might get the tri bug one day.
Use Navigate mode to find your position at any time using GPS technology. You can also create a waypoint at any time, saving your current position in the Global Trainer™ Bodylink® System watch memory. Combine these waypoints in any combination you wish to create workout routes. During your workout, view the compass feature to find your direction and speed, and view the map to see where you have been during your workout.
While the watch is not a full blown GPS, it has enough basic information that can be used to get me back to my starting point. I do like that I can keep track of my hiking speed and that I can keep up with such variable as altitude etc while on the go and then later review and share the information using Training Peaks. The watch will hold up to 100 waypoints and up to 50 routes. They can be named but there is a six-character limit. This could get to be challenging when needing to save a bunch of routes or waypoints but that's just how it is.
Use Review Mode to inspect the details of your workouts. While Performance Mode and Multisport Mode allow you to monitor at most four workout statistics on each view screen, additional data is recorded during your workouts, and you can view all of this data in Review Mode. You can also view the data for individual laps.
While handy to have on the watch, I will probably review my data with Training Peaks after downloading it using the Device Agent.
Use Configure Mode to customize all of the settings on the Global Trainer™ Bodylink® System watch, from time settings to sensor pairing to GPS settings.
This is where nearly everything on the watch is set. For example, alarms can be set for heart rate, altitude and several other perimeters. They can be set for visual or visual/audible. Auto Start, Auto Stop and Auto Resume is a handy feature for bike riding because it will cause the watch to stop recoding data after dropping below a speed the user selects. I have mine set at 2 mph (3.2 kmph) because when below that speed I'm either walking the bike or planning to stop (OK, I could have wrecked...) This is also where the different sensors are paired to the watch. The only one I will be using is heart rate monitor. By the way, the watch automatically sets what it thinks my different heart rate zones will be by using the gender, age and weight I entered but the settings can be changed manually. It also calculates calories burned from the same values.
PC Sync Mode
Use PC Sync Mode to make setting changes to the Global Trainer™ Bodylink® System watch from your computer. All Global Trainer™ watch settings can be changed from the device agent and downloaded to the watch. You can also upload workout data from the Global Trainer™ watch to your computer for long-term tracking, and use this data with your Timex Trainer powered by TrainingPeaks account to optimize your workout program.
Everything I said about the Configure Mode can be done here, only more easily. This is the mode that not only allows the user to set up the watch but also transfer all the training data from the watch to the Device Agent which than can then be transferred to an online training account such as Training Peaks.
When I opened the packaging to get the watch out I was thrilled to find I did not need a knife or scissors to get the watch and all parts out. Yea! I then looked over everything. The first thing I noticed is that this is a pretty big watch. Of course I was expecting this so no big surprise there. The package contains a wall charger and the cord needed to charge the watch. It should be noted that the charge cord is also the same cord used to connect the watch to the computer. One end clips onto the watch (they call it the download/charging clip) and must be placed so that the red dot on the clip matches the red dot on the watch. At first I did not see the red dot on the clip but it is on the underneath side. To charge the watch plug the USB end into the wall charger adapter. To get data from the watch use the same cord, attach the download /charging clip and plug the USB end into the computer. This is also how settings can be adjusted on the watch but I'll cover that later. A heart rate monitor was also inside the package. It has the ability straps around the chest with the receiver placed close to the heart and transfers heart rate wirelessly to the watch. The Heart Rate Monitor uses a watch-type battery.
Using the watch
I'm not going to give a step by step guide as it is pretty tedious, but using the Timex Global Trainer Watch is not that difficult. I did make several mistakes as I was figuring out how to use it and figured a logical (my logic...) step by step guide at my level might help.
First up is charging the watch. It was showing 30% charged when I first plugged it into the wall charger. Timex suggest that it takes about 3.5 hours to fully charge the watch so after 3.5 hours I checked and it was at 80%. I charged it about one more hour and it was fully charged. Now I was ready to set the watch up. I hooked the watch to my PC and went to the PC Sync Mode and used the device agent but it can be done on the watch. I picked the language I wanted to use and then entered a few basics such as my personal information and whether I wanted to use Imperial or metric units. I chose English for the language and Imperial units for measuring data. Then I needed to decide what data I want to display when using the watch in Performance Mode in each of the five fields provided. The watch was originally set with swim, bike, run and then two custom fields. I changed mine to bike, hike, kayak and then the two custom fields (more on that later). When I enter Performance Mode to track an event or training session, the watch will take me to the last field (bike for example) I used, but I could easily go to hiking by mashing the up button. It will cycle all the way through the 5 fields (one at a time as I mash the button, or fast if I keep it held down) and then to a basic watch display (time and date) and finally back to bike display. However, it is still in Performance Mode and will still track all my stats, even if I select the time and date display. I should also note that even thought I may not be displaying something, the watch is still keeping track of it. For example, when in the first three fields, I don't have altitude set to display, but when I download the data from a training session using the Device Agent, it will all be saved. I can then send that information on to Training Peaks where I can view all my data and even see a map of where I have been. I chose to have the watch display the same 4 perimeters for biking, hiking and kayaking, but I could have chosen from dozens of others. I chose speed, average speed, distance and time evt (event) which is really just time elapsed. For custom 1 I set it to display heart rate and calories. For custom 2 I set it to display altitude and ascent total. I would most likely view custom 1 when I have the heart rate monitor on. I might want to view custom 2 when hiking up a mountain.
OK, got all that...it gets easier after doing it a few times. Now to use the watch. I went out in the yard and turned the watch on, it went straight to Performance Mode and then to the bike screen without me touching a thing. It locked onto the GPS satellite pretty quickly the very first time and has been almost instant since then. If I'm satisfied that I want to stay in Performance Mode and on the bike screen I then hit the Start/Split button and take off. It will record my ride until I hit the down button. I could change to a different screen during the ride, say hiking since it is next (mash the up button) and it would not change anything on my watch display but I could keep advancing to custom 1 and view my heart rate and calories burned. It will still continue to record the ride as one event. One thing to note, before hitting the start button, I can change to different screens by mashing the up or down button. But if I mash the down button to switch screens after starting a recording, it stops recording for this session. And to do it right, I hold the down button 2 seconds, I am then prompted to save the session, I then mash the up or down buttons to highlight yes or no and then mash enter. It then saves that workout. I can then turn the watch off or mash the start button and start a new session. However, the above only applies when in Performance Mode. When in Multisport Mode mashing the down button transitions the watch to the next event. To end the recording session press the Start/Split button. Yep, it is a little confusing, but I should be OK since I plan to use Performance Mode most of the time. And for the record, Timex says the watch will record up to 15 hours with the GPS on and up to 20 different workouts.
There are many more aspects of this watch but the above covers the basics. However, as I went over the online manual I picked up on a few tidbits that are important to keep in mind;
* The watch is waterproof to 50 m (164 ft) but do not mash any buttons on the watch while it is submerged.
* The Heart Rate Sensor is water resistant to 30 m (98 ft) but heart rate data will not be received when the sensor or the watch is underwater.
* When storing for an extended time, store within the following temperature range: 32 F to 77 F (0 C to 25 C).
* The Global Trainer watch should only be charged within a temperature range of 32 F to 113 F (0 C to 45 C).
* Do not operate the unit outside of the following temperature range: -4 F to 131 F (-20 C to 55 C).
* Avoid storing the watch in direct sunlight or in a vehicle.
* The watch has an INDIGLO button which lights the watch face up for a few seconds. However, it can be set to night mode by holding the INDIGLO button for 4 seconds. Then mashing any button will cause the watch to light up a few seconds. If held 8 seconds the watch will stay lit up for 8 hours. To deactivate either function, hold the INDIGLO button down for 4 seconds.
* In Performance or Multisport Mode, press and hold the enter button for 2 seconds to lock all buttons except the INDIGLO button. Press and hold it again for 2 seconds to unlock all buttons.
* And last but not least....don't try to view the watch data while moving (I assume this means on a bike) because it is dangerous. Do it later in review mode or after transferring data to a computer. Speaking of which, here are a few photos of what the Review Mode look like after a short test ride. Oh and I took several photos of the display while riding. That don't count as looking does it?... Anyways, here are a few of the Review Mode screens.
1st page in Review
2nd page in Review
3rd page in Review
Trying out the Global Trainer
I have to admit, I'm really not that tech savvy so it took a little bit of trial and error to figure out how to use the watch. Shortly after setting it up and fully charging it I put it in Performance Mode and rode my Rans Dynamik (a crank forward bike) around the 3 mile (5 km) loop by my house. I then mashed the Start/Split button and turned the unit off. Of course this is not the correct procedure so when I went inside to download my data I didn't have any. I went online and reviewed the section in the manual that covers Performance Mode and saw I needed to hit the down button to save an event. I then went out and did the same lap again and successfully saved my data. The watch went from 100% charged to 95% during these two short loop rides which totaled about 30 minutes. I didn't have a chance to do any more testing the next two days but I next used it for a 14 mile (23 km) ride on the same bike. The watch was 80% charged when I started. So why the drop in charge even though I was not using the watch? I have it set for no display when powered off, but remember, the Global Trainer is still performing as a watch when powered off. Anyways, I rode the 14 miles (23 km) in 1 hr and 16 min for an average of 10.8 mph (17 kmph). It was showing 70% charged after this ride. I skipped another day before my next ride. This time I rode my recumbent. The watch was showing 60% when I left the house. I rode 10.3 miles (17 km) in 44 minutes. I did stop a couple of couple of times so the watch was in Performance Mode a little over an hour. After this ride the watch was showing 50% charged. I say all this to say that if there are a few days between events I would be surprised to be able to get the advertised 20 hours of event recording. Hopefully after a few cycles of charging the battery it will hold a charge longer when in standby. Right now it looks like it is loosing somewhere around 5% charge each day when not being used and about 10% per hour when being used in Performance Mode. I also need to use it for several hours in one use for a more accurate estimate.
As far as performance, the watch is doing very well. It seems to lock onto a satellite almost instantly. I have not noticed any dropped signal. I did notice that the handlebar mount is slightly too big for the handlebar on my Dynamik and the watch kept sliding upside down. I finally quit turning it back upright and it did not loose the signal during the ride. I have to wear reading glasses to read the info on the watch display so when wearing my sunglasses I just have to trust the watch is doing its thing. Actually, I can see it well enough to tell if it working, just not read the numbers. I'll wrap up with a couple of shots from my last ride and a few more from screen captures of my ride data as displayed on the Training Peaks website.
The image above shows the Global Trainer mounted on my recumbent along side my Schwinn cycle computer. I'm not trying to do a shootout but it is the only free spot left on my bike to mount it. It shows that I am traveling 23.4 mph (38 kmph), I have averaged 13.96 mph (22 kmph), I have traveled 9.83 miles (16 km) and I started the ride 1 hour and 4 minutes ago (this is not moving time obviously).
This image (above) is from the Training Peaks website. It is called the Summary. It shows that I was moving 43 min 54 sec, I traveled 10.27 miles (17 km) and averaged 14 mph (23 kmph). The watch thinks I burned 673 calories. It also displays my elevation gained and lost. They are slightly different even though I started and stopped the watch in the same spot.
And finally, this image (above) shows the map view and basically repeats the Summary information. Well I say repeats, I noticed the totals were slightly lower than what the Summary page is showing. However, the timing was only 1 second lower. I'm not sure why they are different? It also displays adds my min and max speed and my min, avg and max heart rate. One thing notably missing is an elevation profile. I think this come with the upgraded versions because I have seen the charts before when viewing other people's Training Peaks workouts.
Test Locations and Conditions
Since receiving the watch I have logged 31 hours and 8 minutes of actual chronograph time. This was spread out over 23 uses. I used the watch hiking and riding my bike near home in northeast Alabama) and on a three day canoe trip on Black Creek in Mississippi. Temperatures have been hot. It was near or at 100 F (38 C) nearly every day, with heat indexes as high as 114 F (46 C). I actually rode in the morning when possible to avoid the oppressive heat. On the canoe trip we were out all day and often with no shade. Fortunately, there was a mild cool down and temperatures only hit about 90 F (32 C) each day. It was still hot at night and hard to go to sleep while sweating. The only precipitation I experienced while using the watch was during this trip.
I usually averaged about an hour for each ride. My longest single use was 3 hours and 48 minutes while paddling 10.9 miles (18 km). This does not count the time we were stopped. The watch was actually on for approximately 7 hours during this day's paddle. My shortest ride time was 7 miles (11 km) in 39 minutes but that does not count a short minute break I took about midway up a mile long climb. My longest bike ride was 21 miles (34 km) in an hour and 56 minutes. My total distance was 248 miles (399 km) and 222 miles (357 km) of the total was on my bike. I would have a little more use but I had to send my watch in for repair which meant I did not have it for a little over two weeks starting in mid June. I missed recording my longest ride which was 29 miles (47 km) the day after sending it in for repair. More on that later. Most of my rides were short but a great workout nontheless since they included a 600 ft (183 m) climb back up Word Mountain Road near where I live. Here is the Training Peaks view of the climb for this training ride
Field Test Results
I used the heart rate monitor for all my bike rides and hikes but did not take it on the three-day paddle. And honestly, if I were not testing the watch I would probably not use it for every ride since I like to take long slow rides where monitoring my heart rate is not needed. However, I learned a lot about my heart rate while using the heart rate monitor. For instance, when I kept my heart rate under 120 beats per minute (BPM) I could pretty much ride all day (not that I ever came close to riding all day). When my heart rate got up around 130 BPM I had noticed I tired out pretty fast. Of course when it went this high, it often went higher. At around 140 BPM I was getting close to my maximum and could not hold this pace very long. The maximum rate I recorded was 156 BPM and I was pretty much exhausted, as in I could not have peddled more than a few more feet without falling over (I was on a steep climb at the time). And speaking of the heart rate monitor, I changed the display in biking to show my heart rate. I found it more interesting to see this information in real time than the total time of the event which is the field I removed in order to put heart rate on the screen.
Not everything went perfectly during the testing. About 3 weeks after getting the watch I decided to take a hike to the holler with my daughter. I loaded my day pack with plenty of water for both of us and headed out in the yard. I turned the watch on and waited for it to pick up the satellite signal but it kept saying no signal and did I want to reset the GPS. I would tell it yes and in a few minutes it would do the same thing again. I checked to make sure I had everything enabled. It was so I then brought out another GPS unit to make sure there was a satellite overhead. The other unit picked up a signal in just a minute or so. Anyways, after about 30 minutes I gave up and went for my walk with the watch still on and on my wrist. It never did pick up a signal on this hike. Too bad because we ended up hiking about 4 miles (6 km) which was my longest day hike during the time I've had the watch.
I called customer service and was instructed to send the watch back to the repair center located in Little Rock Arkansas. I sent it the next day which was on a Friday, June 17th, and got the watch back on Tuesday, July the 5th, two weeks and 3 days after sending it in. That is very reasonable turnaround in my opinion considering this includes the time it spent being mailed to them and then returned to me. I am not sure what was wrong with the watch or if they sent me a new one or fixed the old one, but I do know they sent me a new manual along with the old one. They also sent a new bike mount but kept the old one. And since getting the watch back I have not encountered any refusal to acquire a satellite signal. It did act a little strange one time but that was when I was paddling. It happened on the second day of a three-day paddle. We had already paddled about a half an hour when I realized I forgot to turn the watch one. For some reason it took awhile to acquire the signal (I'm guessing 15 to 20 minutes) but I think it was because we were moving and I was already a couple of miles from the last position when it was powered off.
We ended up paddling about 6 miles (10 km) this day but stopped even more often than on the first day so the watch was on for about 8 hours this time. I had been using the watch at night to check the time periodically and on the second night it stopped working after checking the time at around 4 AM. I'm not sure if it was giving me any kind of warning as I was half asleep, but when I got ready to turn it on to record the last day's paddle, it was dead. I'm not sure exactly how long the watch was on during the trip but I know it was on at least 15 hours, and even when in auto pause the GPS is still activated. In retrospect, I probably should have powered the watch off during extended breaks, but then I would not have a continuous record of the days paddle. This would also apply for hiking or even bike rides if many long breaks were included.
I had one other problem but it was operator error. On the day I got the watch back from customer service I set the watch back up with all my personal info and preferences. I set the auto pause at 2 mph (3 kmph) and auto resume at 3 mph (5 kmph) but did not notice the auto resume function was set for off. I then went for a quick ride to check it out. Everything was going good on the ride but I noticed my average speed was not dropping on a long climb. Turned out that when I dropped below 2 mph it never did come back on. I had originally set the watch to auto pause at 2 mph and restart at 2 mph. This worked OK, but I started doing some hill training and soon found out that this caused the watch to auto-pause and restart a lot. Yes, I'm that slow on hills, but keep in mind I'm talking about 15 percent grades when I slow down this much. It is hard to walk at 2 mph on a slope this steep. As a matter of fact, I would occasionally walk my bike a little ways to recover before starting back on my bike. Anyways, I set it to stop at 2 mph and restart at 3 mph and solved the problem. For hiking I go in the watch setting using the device agent (or manually if not near my computer) and disable the auto pause/resume feature. I wish the watch would let me keep different settings for different types of use but it is not a big deal as long as I remember to change the setting before heading out.
There are several things I have come to appreciate about this watch. On the canoe trip I wore it on my wrist for the first day but found it easier to look at if I placed it around a thwart in front of me ( I was in the stern). The display was easy to read in bright sunlight, and believe me, I experienced some bright sunlight during the day. I did notice that when I had my sunglasses on it was harder to read, but I could still manage. Being waterproof was also very important on this trip. We would stop ever hour or so and go swimming. Even after I stopped wearing it it was still subjected to rain several times.
The distance and elevation tracked by the GPS also seem to be fairly accurate. I compared the displayed elevation to know elevations and it was always within a few dozen feet of being dead on. Sometimes it was dead on. I'm not sure if the GPS tracks distance with elevation gained taken into consideration because when climbing a really steep hill my speed would drop more than the speed showing on my bike computer which is based off wheel revolution. However, after a ride my distance was usually pretty much the same as what my bike computer was showing and the same as the last time on a particular route and even matched what I had already determined the distance to be using the route feature on MapMyRide.
It is also easy to read during lower light conditions. Due to excessive heat, I recently started several of my bike rides at around 6:30 AM when it was really not very bright outside. In fact, on a few mornings it was also foggy, which cut the daylight even more. Of course this also meant I did not need my sunglasses so that was a help. I say all this because I do use reading glasses to read. In fact I have on a pair of 1.25 strength readers as I type this report. I used 1.5 strength readers to read most newspaper and magazine print. I was able to see the display on this watch without them and this was with four fields displayed. And since 4 fields is the maximum amount I could display, it also meant that the numbers and words were the smallest they could be. I should also note that while I could read the display without my reading glasses, this was only at a few feet away. Fortunately, the distance when mounted on my bike handle bar and the distance when mounted on the canoe thwart were just about perfect. I could also read the numbers easier than the letters but I pretty much know what each number represented. For example, I watch my speed more than anything, but it was easy to see in the upper left display. I could also see my distance traveled, average speed and heart rate with just a quick glance at the display. Here my speed is showing zero but I was stopped to take the photo. My heart rate had also dropped considerably because I had also been stopped a few minutes.
I do have a few dislikes, but they have as much to do with the device agent and Training Peaks as the watch. A perfect example is that when loading workouts from the watch into the device agent, every workout stored on the watch is transferred, whether it has already been transferred during a previous sync. Then once I open Training Peaks it finds all those workouts and transfers them onto the calendar. In other words, I end up with duplicate workouts unless I cleared the watch after each device agent sync. I would prefer it were smart enough to only upload the ones that are not yet transferred. I learned to just delete the watch memory (workouts) after each sync so that I would not have to go into Training Peaks and delete the ones it showed as duplicates.
One other small gripe is that the chronograph start/split button (the one near the bottom but on the face of the watch) is easy to accidentally mash. I only had this happen few times when riding, but when it did, I would come home and download my data only to find it broken down into two or three laps. It would usually happen when I would be trying to advance the watch to a different display field. However, it was worse when I was day hiking. Seems like every time I took my pack off I accidentally mashed it. I might start just hanging it on my pack to avoid this but I like being able to see my progress on my fitness hikes. After one short 3 mile (5 km) hike I came home to find it broken down into 5 laps.
I mentioned in my Initial Report not liking the Training Peaks software, but after getting used to it, I like it a little better. I really liked being able to view my maps in Google Maps with the terrain view selected. This gives a much more detailed look than the MapQuest view, which is the default view when opening up the map view of an event. One thing I noticed was that I could not find a way to view my heart rate and speed information in detail when logging on to Training peaks, but if I sent myself a link to an event, it would show me a detailed report of all this information. And by this I mean, it would break my data down to show my best 2 second heart rate and speed, and continue with my best 5 seconds, 10 second, 20 second 30 second, 1 minute 2 minute 5 minute, 6 minute, 10 minute, 12 minute, 20 minute, 30 minute etc. I also liked being able to view graphs of my training. For example, looking at the Fitness Summary graph I was able to quickly see that my rides had covered 222 miles (357 km) in 21.6 hours. I could also see a chart for last week's data, or last month's (28 days is the default setting) on up to two year's. Anyways, from the above data I was able to quickly calculate that my average speed was 10.3 MPH (16.6 kmph). Not bad considering a lot of the rides were on steep hills and either on my slow comfort bike or even slower trike. It does not show the number of events so I had to count them by looking at the calendar view but I was able to determine that my average ride length was 11.7 miles (19 km). This seems about right since I know about a dozen of the 19 rides were right at 7 miles (11 km) and the rest were around 15 miles (24 km). I was also pulling a trailer full of groceries on half of one ride.
So in summary, The Timex Global Trainer is a very useful tool for training. But I personally liked just being able to later review stats from my outings and even share them with friends, which is how I discovered the additional information on heart rate and speed. I was able to track my progress doing a climb I do regularly each summer. When I got the watch (last of May) I was averaging about 8.5 mph (13.7 kmph) on this route, but was up to 10.3 (16.6 kmph) by my last recorded ride on August the 9th. However, my heart rate monitor seems to have died one ride before this one. I will be getting a new battery for it the next time I'm in town. This concludes my Field Report.
Test Locations and Conditions
I have continued to use the Timex Global Trainer to record all my outings which have included one 5-mile (8 km) backpacking trip, several more day hikes and bike rides and a demo kayak paddle. The weather was hot until just a couple of weeks ago with a high of 104 F (40 C) a couple of times. I did not ride, hike or paddle at this temperature but I did finish up a 26-mile (42 km) bike ride at 97 F (36 C) and several others in the low 90s F (around 34 C). My bike rides were mostly on paved roads but I recently got a mountain bike and have been riding it quite a bit lately. According to the watch (as recorded on Training Peaks), I logged another 202 miles (325 km) of road riding. I logged 39 miles (63 km) on my mountain bike since getting it in mid August. I know that don't sound like many miles but to tell the truth, a 5-mile (8 km) ride on the mountain bike felt harder than a 20-mile (32 km) bike ride on the road, and my heart rate data back it up. I logged 18 miles (20 km) of hiking and 2 miles (3 km) of kayaking.
Long Term Test Results
After getting the watch back from customer service it has performed pretty much without a hiccup. However, I did have a one instance when it acted a little strange. I'm still not sure why it did what it did but I turned it on one day and saw my settings had been changed. I did not write down what they were but I know one was pace and I never put the watch in that setting. I hooked the watch up to my computer and synched it back up (the settings I had originally chosen were still in play) and turned the watch back off. I turned it back on and it went back to the same wrong settings. I then manually changed the settings, but it every time I turned the watch off and back on it went to the wrong settings. I did this about three more times before it magically started with the correct settings. That was several weeks ago and I have used the watch at least a dozen times since then with no further problems. I am still bugged that the watch shows one distance (and the correct one) when I view my ride stats on the watch and even on the computer in Training Peaks, but then cuts off a lot of distance when I look at the ride in "Maps and Graphs", especially since this is the one that shows up when I share a ride link with someone else.
What I have really liked is the ability to use the watch to track my speed no matter what I was riding or paddling. For example, I met a group of kayakers for a swap-your-ride paddling session, the idea being to try out several different kayaks. I actually got in the first kayak and forgot to turn it on. I then tried a surf ski but turned over before I got a chance to start the chronograph. After this I tried three more kayaks. I was slowest in my own SOT kayak with a top speed of 4.7 mph (7.6 kmph). Next was Kevlar Nimbus Seafarer and I managed a top speed of 7.1 mph (11.4 kmph). This was also my fastest speed. After paddling the Nimbus I got the nerve to try a different surf ski and was able to paddle it. My top speed was 5.5 mph (8.9 kmph) which is not super fast but this was pretty amazing to me because I was not able to paddle hard for fear I would tip it over.
This same ability to use it no mater what I was riding came in handy when I recently got a mountain bike. I have wired speedometers on all my other bikes which are ridden on the road. However, I was leery of putting a similar setup on my mountain bike for fear I would hang the wire from the magnet sensor that then goes up the fork and then on up to a display mounted on my handlebar. The Timex Global Trainer solved this except I did have to decide whether to use the watch by either wearing it or attaching it to the bike handlebar using the provided bike mount. I chose the latter because I can keep my eye on the display and I like watching my heart rate and speed. I was a little concerned that the rough conditions would cause the watch to spin downward and I would not be able to see the display since the watch is much heavier on the face side than on the other side where the straps connect but so far the display side has stayed up.
I also experienced a little discrepancy in elevation change on a couple of trips over the same course. I was surprised because I have been riding up and down the mountain on my road bike and the elevation gained and lost was always right at 600 ft (183 M) which it correct. The discrepancy happened when I used the watch while clearing a trail to later ride. It took me 4 and a half hours to clear the trail. I spent a lot of time bent down to move logs, rocks and sticks out of the trail. I also spent a lot of time bent over to chop off briers at the roots. When I got home I downloaded my data and saw I had walked 1.41 miles (2.27 km) with a moving time of 2 hours and 40 minutes for an average speed of 0.5 mph (0.8 kmph) I was stopped 1 hour and 24 minutes which seems about right considering I was stopped a lot. But what really got my attention was that the watch showed I had gained 3353 ft (1022 m) and lost 3301 ft (1006 m). I knew this was wrong because while the trail is constantly up and down, it does not come anywhere close to this much elevation change. After resting a couple of hours I decided to give it a go on my mountain bike. After returning I downloaded the data to see the difference in elevation. My data showed I had gained 354 ft (108 M) and lost 377 ft (115 M). My distance was almost the same at 1.46 miles (2.35 km) but my speed was a lot faster at 2.8 mph (4.5 kmph). I did want to find out what would happen if I walked the route again without all the bending so a couple of days later I did just that. This time my distance was shown as 1.38 miles (2.22 km) and my elevation gain was 499 ft (803 km) and loss was ft 449 (723 km). This is a lot more in line with what I got on my mountain bike but it is still higher. I can only assume that the watch is sensitive to my arm swing and was recording that. I also had to wipe away several spider webs I ran into. My average speed was the exact same as my bike speed at 2.8 mph (4.5 kmph). I know, sad... but on the bright side, I have ridden the same route several times now and the elevation change has remained about the same for all trips by bike. I am also proud to say my speed has steadily increased. As a matter of fact, my last ride on this route saw an average speed of 3.8 mph (6.1 kmph). Below are two screen shots from Training Peaks which show the walks in question. The first is while doing the trail maintenance and the one under it is when I walked it a few days later.
Data from trail maintenance trip
Data from same trail but walking instead of working
I did experience a little difficulty keeping the watch charged once. I have it set to not display the time when powered off and my understanding is that the watch should hold a charge for months in this setting. However, I once went for a week without using the watch and found the watch dead when I was ready to use it. This was strange because a couple of other times I went 4 days without using the watch and after using it an hour or so I would come home and find it at 80 to 90% charged.
In my field report I mentioned that the battery for the Heart Rate Monitor I am also testing was about dead. It would record my heart rate for part of the ride but might start and stop recording three or four times during the ride. There was really no pattern as to when it would work or not. However, I stopped using it for a couple of rides and then put it on for a ride only to find it was working again. I then used it for about a half dozen more rides before it started acting up again so I finally broke down and got a new battery for it. So how did this go? Getting the cover off was easy, as was installing a new 2032 watch-type battery. However, I have not been able to re-close the back cover correctly. The cover does not screw on, but rather has three extended sections that fit in slots of the same dimensions on the body of the monitor. I know I have to line up the cover and give it a turn in the correct direction but I have placed it in all three possible positions and still have not got it on tight. I finally gave up and had my wife try. She too was unable to get it back on correctly. The day I bought the new battery I had a paddle planned and was really looking forward to trying out several fast kayaks. Not using the Heart Rate Monitor was not going to be a big deal but I decided to wear it anyways. If there was going to be a problem it needed to be in my report. The strap holds it pretty tight against my chest so I was not too worried about the cover coming off but I was worried that the rubber o-ring might not be held tightly enough to keep water out of the battery compartment. I need not have worried because when I got back in my truck to head home I took it off and the cover stayed on. Once I got home I tapped it on the table and the cover popped right off but the inside was completely dry. I went for a bike ride the next day but this time the cover stuck to my chest when I took the Heart Rate Monitor off. I did not even notice it as I removed it from under my shirt but was looking at the Heart Rate Monitor and saw it was missing. I figured it was lost forever on the trail but as I walked across the living room it fell off my chest and hit the floor (I still had my shirt on). However, this was enough warning that I decided to go ahead and tape the cover on with some electrical tape. I was a little concerned that it might interfere with the sensors ability to pick up my heart rate but so far the watch picks it up fine. Here is the Heart Rate Monitor with the battery cover held in place with electrical tape.
electrical tape holding battery cover in place
The Timex Global Trainer is a great tool for recording routes, speed, and heart rate. It also does a good job at recording elevation changes on my road bike rides. However, when riding my mountain bike I think it was overestimating elevation change by a little and even more so when I was walking. I can not say for sure how much it was off but I know about what it should have recorded walking from the swimming hole back to my house and it was usually double what it should have been. In looking back, I think the watch is just very sensitive to elevation change and was recording every little up and down move I made while swinging my arms as I walked along. I was real impressed with the way the watch keeps up with my routes. For example, on one of my hikes I turned around where some TVA main transmission lines crossed the trial I was hiking and when looking at the map of my hike in satellite view, I could see this was exactly where it showed I turned around. I plan to continue using the watch for my hikes and mountain bike rides. I may not use it every time I ride my road bike or recumbents since I have speed and distance sensors mounted on them. However, I will still use it occasionally even with these rides so that I can check on my heart rate. The fact that the watch is waterproof is a big deal for me, not because I ride or hike in the rain very much, but because I like using the watch for kayaking. I did not get many chances to use it on the water but when I did it worked perfectly, even the one time when I was upside down when trying a surf-ski.
This concludes my testing of the Timex Global Trainer with Heart Rate Monitor. I have enjoyed using the watch and would like to thank Timex and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test it.
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Reviews > Electronic Devices > Watches > Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes