Best Duathlon Watch For 2016 – Recommendations / Alternatives

Duathlon Training Plan

Source: humanrace

“What is the best duathlon watch for 2016?” you ask.

A tricky question on 2 fronts.

Firstly there is no such thing as a ‘duathlon watch’ per se and secondly the most featured watch for high level duathlon will probably be released ‘later’ this year.

You might think the question “Err, so what actually is a DUATHLON watch then?” is asking the obvious. Suitable for running and cycling right?

Yes of course. But there are nuanced answers, people reading this will be doing duathlon for different reasons to you and me and may well have different requirements. I’ll try to touch a few bases on the best kind of watch for each type of duathlete – as I see it. Rather than just saying which has the most features at any given price point.

HINT: You shouldn’t be spending more than £200/$300…

Beginner Duathlon

Polar V800 -

Polar V800 – M400

You’re most probably doing your first duathlon as a bit of fun. Maybe you’ve got bored with just the 5k Saturday parkruns. Maybe you’re doing a challenge and can’t swim. You’re probably NOT a cyclist who wants to run as well.

If you already own a running watch then the chances are that your running watch already has a rudimentary cycling mode. Most simply you can ostensibly ‘change sports’ which just means that how fast you are going will be changed from pace to speed when you stop the current sport mode and start the new one.

You probably won’t be bothered about ‘transition’ times or indeed too bothered about having to manually switch from one mode to the next.

So, as long as your existing watch can do GPS and Heart Rate, you’re probably already good to go.

Epson SF-810But if you want a new bit of kit then why not consider a Polar M400 (chest strap and GPS) or an Epson SF-810B (optical, wrist based HR and GPS).

Both are good running watches that you can use as well in ‘bike mode’. The Polar is about £100 (no HRM) and the Epson about £130 (optical HRM, Feb 2016).

But for a one off race do you really want to make such an investment? Maybe also consider a less accurate device that also will double up for more frequent use as a smart activity tracker such as the optical Polar A360 smart band.

Intermediate Duathlon

Garmin-VIVOACTIVE-HR

Garmin-VIVOACTIVE-HR

You’re taking this a bit more seriously. Maybe you can’t or won’t swim but you want to train a fair bit and maybe try to improve performances by paying attention to things like running and cycling cadence.

The Garmin Vivoactive HR is nice (Q2.2016). You can pair to a cadence sensor (see Garmin Accessories) but you still have to manually switch between run/cycle modes. Last year’s Vivoactive (non HR) is differently styled and would be  a chest strap option.

TomTom Runner 2 Spark Cardio Music - Pairing Headphones

TomTom Runner 2 Spark Cardio Music – Pairing Headphones

The second optical option here would be the TomTom Cardio Multisport or the new and super nice TomTom Runner 2/SPARK (optical HRM options).

With the Runner 2/Spark you can race and listen to music at the same time. And then get disqualified as you are not allowed to do that normally 🙂

Age Group Duathlon (b)

OK so that’s all a bit rubbish. You train a fair amount and then waste 30 seconds making sure your watch is in the right mode for the next part of the race or next part of the brick training session. You need (ahem) a watch than can go easily/seamlessly from one mode to the next. MULTISPORT MODE.

Garmin 920XT vs Garmin 910XT - Triathlon Showdown

910XT alongside 920XT

The Garmin 310XT (about £100 if you’re lucky) and Garmin 910XT (about £170) if you’re lucky) were Garmin’s first stabs at ‘proper’ multisport watches. So they’re waterproof as well. However I’ve put them in this category as they are not so leading-edge on their swim functionality, in fact poor in that respect compared to top-end 2015/6 triathlon watches like the Polar V800 and Suunto AMBIT3 Sport.

In fact these watches are a significant step up from the intermediate watches as they can also handle power meter data. With power meters coming down (well) below £500/$700 in 2016 you may even be tempted to splash out there as well (go for Favero bePRO). Maybe. These watches give you compatibility to that future option.

Don’t be fooled by the low price tag of the (discontinued) 310XT. It’s perfectly capable. If you have orange sports kit, that is the one for you.

Advanced Duathlon

STRYD: Garmin 920XT, Suunto AMBIT 3 SPORT, Polar V800

STRYD: Garmin 920XT, Suunto AMBIT 3 SPORT, Polar V800

You’ve got nearly all the kit or you want all the kit. You probably don’t need all the kit. But you’ve saved a fortune on either not buying a sports car or not paying golf club membership so there’s cash to burn! You’re probably going to buy a top-end triathlon watch. Suunto AMBIT3 Sport, Garmin 920XT/Fenix 3 or Polar V800.

However you may be missing a trick here. You could actually spend a bit more money by getting separate watches. You would save about 4 seconds in transition on a good day – and that’s the difference between finishing 18th or still finishing 18th but 4 seconds slower.

Garmin Forerunner 630 Review

Garmin Forerunner 630

Whilst that’s true there’s also a more serious side. If you do have a power meter and you are a pretty competent cyclist, which many of you are, then you might need a bit more screen real estate on your handlebars. The tri-watches can only display 3 or 4 metrics and, if you’re over 50, your eyesight is probably starting to deteriorate and so you have to use the big fonts (no disrespect intended, it’s a fact for most people).

I’m not being funny here but if you do cycle based on lots of metrics then you can easily need more than 4. OK so the tri-watches can scroll through screens of data but none of us really like that.

If that’s your thing then you would go for the Garmin Edge 520 (Expected Edge 820 in 2016). As you are then already in the Garmin ecosystem you’d probably get a Forerunner 630 as well. There possibly is a more expensive combination but I can’t think of it right now.

I’m obviously trying to be funny but the 520+630 choice IS a good choice. I’m just jealous that I can’t afford that.

Wahoo Elemnt the5krunner

Wahoo Elemnt

If you don’t want to wear Garmin, like many other people, then try the WAHOO ELEMNT (March 2016) combined with a good running watch (whichever one you already have).

You could go for the Polar M450+M400 combo but we’re still talking little screens, so I wouldn’t do that myself (even though I have both!). On the other hand if you want to go down the Bluetooth route these two could be considered.

If you want a one-watch solution then consider the Garmin 910XT or the Suunto AMBIT 2 or 2S. Both are ANT+, the Suunto also BTLE.

Elite Duathlon

You are Zen. You know and feel your body. You don’t need these devices as you are racing not time trialling. You wear whatever your sponsor wants you to wear as it will adequately tell the time and maybe also alert you to a witty tweet or two.

Off-Road – Other

You might consider the Fenix 3 or, again, the sturdy Garmin 310XT

If you asked questions (and got answers) or found any of this info or info on the site useful please make your next purchase through one of these links…standard prices. It helps support my efforts.

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Epson SF-810£127.00Link$189.00Link
Epson SF-710£130.00Link$225.00Link
Epson SF-510£110.00Link$252.27Link
Epson SF-310£89.99Link$195.13Link
Fitbit Charge HR£75.00Link$140.18Link
Garmin Edge 1000 Explore (non-bundle)£345.00Link$449.00Link
Garmin Edge 1000£345.00Link$499.00Link
Garmin Edge 520£176.00Link$299.99Link
Garmin Edge 510£300.00Link$329.99Link
Garmin Edge 810£197.00Link$305.99Link
Garmin Edge 25£100.00Link$160.99Link
Garmin Edge 20£93.50Link$93.54Link
Garmin Epix£322.65Link$549.99Link
Garmin Fenix3 (Sapphire)£424.00Link$499.99Link
Garmin Forerunner 25TBCTBC
Garmin Forerunner 220£149.99Link$190.99Link
Garmin Forerunner 225£160.00Link£248.99Link
Garmin Forerunner 230£197.00Link£294.99Link
Garmin Forerunner 235£264.95Link£329.99Link
Garmin Forerunner 620£214.00Link$249.99Link
Garmin Forerunner 630£310.36Link$449.00Link
Garmin Forerunner 635TBCTBC
Garmin 310XT£89.95Link$119.97Link
Garmin 910 XT£174.00Link$201.58Link
Garmin 920 XT£272.00Link$499.99Link
Garmin VivoActive£177.00Link$149.99Link
Lezyne Super GPS£155.00Link$200.00Link
MIO Cyclo 505HC (Bundle)£290.00Link$400.56Link
MIO Cyclo 200TBCTBC
Mio Alpha 2£111.00Link$132.99Link
Nike+ SportWatch£208.90Link$149.95Link
Polar M400£115.00Link$181.99Link
Polar M450£105.73Link$135.00Link
Polar V650£194.00Link$239.96Link
Polar V800£242.00Link$336.99Link
Suunto Ambit 3 PEAK£211.45Link$335.63Link
Suunto Ambit 3 Sport£185.00Link$318.54Link
Suunto Ambit 2R£197.21Link$159.00Link
TomTom Runner 2£110.00Link$149.99Link
TomTom Runner 2 Cardio + Music£229.99Link$249.99Link
TomTom MultiSport£100.00Link$99.99Link
TomTom MultiSport Cardio£130.00Link$164.77Link
TomTom Runner£69.00Link$89.99Link
TomTom Runner Cardio£130.00Link$169.99Link

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