Review of the new Suunto Ambit 2R

Since I first challenged myself to an ultra-distance 

race back in 2012 I’ve been attached at the wrist to my Polar RCX5 and all the related accessories but as someone who works with tech I’m constantly learning and hearing about the other new tech coming out and I’ve been keen to try out a Suunto watch for a long time. When Suunto recently launched the running focused Suunto 2R I thought this is time for me to lay my hands on one and find out if this could be my next watch of choice.

Previously my apprehension to the Suunto watches has been the fact that you need to charge them up every couple of days which seems odd as my previous sports watches and day-to-day watches only need me to think about the battery about once a year. In fact I ended up using the battery life as the foundation of this review – I set out to review the Suunto 2R as thoroughly as I could from a single charge on the battery.

I charged her up on Thursday afternoon and set off on a series of training sessions to see how long the battery would last. On the Thursday evening I tackled a 10km trail run, Friday was a 3hr night road cycle, Saturday we went out for a 60km road cycle, Sunday saw another trail run of 14km and on Monday I sped through a 2.5hr MTB session. After all this there was still 14% of the battery life remaining and I felt that this was a pretty good test of the watch across various multi-sport training sessions using as many different features as I could. Let’s go through some of the features and details which I liked and some others which I didn’t. 

Trail Running Pros & Cons

Pros  

  • The large screen makes it easy to read the stats at a quick glance
  • GPS tracking gives you the freedom to run wherever you like without being tied into a predetermined route to achieve your target distance
  • You can save and share these routes on the Moves Count social network
  • You can invert the screen’s colours on the go which makes it easier to see in twilight. When it’s dark you can also set the screen light to stay on permanently.

Cons

  • The built in GPS makes the watch quiet large and I could definitely feel the extra weight on my wrist
  • If you’re doing a brick training session then you can’t switch from running to bike or swim. You need to stop the current session and begin a new session.

Cycling Pros & Cons

Pros

  • The Suunto handlebar mount is the best I’ve used. The rubber designed mount grips on and stays in place (even through the roughest of MTB sessions)
  • Pre-setting a route onto the GPS gives you a big arrow on the screen to keep you on track which is awesome
  • You can have 3 of you main stats showing nice and big on the main screen and you can easily toggle through another 5 chosen stats by the press of a button.

Cons

  • The GPS distance of my road cycle was 400m too far (when compared to Google Maps, Map my Run and the Polar GPS tracker)
  • When I stopped moving the speed sensor still showed that I was moving at varying speeds. The photo below was beside my car five minutes after we had finished the ride. I would assume that this may have something to do with the extra 400 meters.

Other points worth noting

  • Charging it up from 14% to 100% took 2.5hrs while connected to my laptop via USB.
  • From my usage I’ve calculated that the battery will last 25hrs through my normal use.
  • When the watch doesn’t pick up any movement it goes into a sleep mode which is a clever way to preserve the battery life.

 

My Overall Opinion

After this review my next sports watch will certainly have built in GPS as this will make my life so much easier. If I then need to compromise on the bigger size then I will live with that as it is worth having all the extra functionality which built in GPS offers.

I feel that some of the bugs which I picked up with the GPS on this Ambit 2R are bugs which will easily be fixed by a fireware upgrade so that doesn’t bother me too much. What I will however do is increase the frequency of the GPS pings so that my distance and locations are more accurately captured. This too requires a compromise and this time it is on battery life but unless I’m doing a ultra-distance race then this will again be worth it.

So with all this compromising would I use the Ambit 2R? Unfortunately my answer is “No”. Will I however use a Suunto? “Yes, 100%”!

My reason for not wanting to use the Ambit 2R is purely because a large majority of my training is multisport brick sessions so I don’t want to have separate workout sessions stats when I’m assessing my training. This luckily can be very easily solved by going with the Suunto Ambit 2 or 2S which include mostly the same features but importantly for me it has an easy to use multisport switch.