The triathlon industry is full of numerous wordplays linked to tri/try. Following that theme, rather than my ‘first run with the COROS Pace’, here is my first ‘try with the COROS Pace‘. More specifically a swim, bike and a run all in one day…but not a race.
The swim was over 2km OWS as I prepare for an IM swim; the run was a nice steady 20km effort; and the bike was purely recreational and I hit the heady heights of NP=69w. I inadvertently left my bePRO pedals on my mountain bike so, as we rode with kids, I had my double-digit power display on another device to keep me entertained. I’m only including the bike as it helps with the ‘try’ title to the post and I have done other earlier rides with the COROS that I will REALLY be referring to here.
COROS are a newcomer to the market. They have made 2 smart bike helmets (OMNI/LYNX) that look interesting and are also nicely featured.
COROS saw a gap in the sports watch market and have come up with the COROS PACE (aka PACE MULTISPORT or PACE M1)
COROS Pace Multisport
The COROS PACE MULTISPORT is a genuine triathlon watch that offers a ‘triathlon’ sports profile. It is styled like a Garmin 735XT and has smartphone-connected features and activity-related features. It’s very much a SPORT watch that does other stuff, rather than a 24×7 watch that can also do sport. That is refreshingly different from the current crop of watches in the sports area which are increasingly intentioned as being good all-rounders to appeal to people who want to wear a watch 24×7 and then also do some sport.
Sure you can wear the COROS Pace 24×7 (it’s actually quite comfortable) but to do so you would need to be keen on displaying an obviously ‘sports-style’ watch. That suits me from a personal point of view but if I were still inhabiting suit-world then I wouldn’t wear it for work.
The watch itself does feel like the designer had an unhealthy admiration of the Garmin Forerunner 735XT. Some of the menus are scarily similar. However it’s a 4-button watch (not 5) and clearly no newcomer is going to match Garmin’s extensive feature set nor their higher prices.
The COROS Pace is squarely aimed at multi-ability triathletes and runners.
We could look at the tri-watch market to include several sub-sections. At the top would be the ‘pro’ tri watch and really there is only the Garmin Forerunner 935, Polar V800 and Forerunner 920XT in that space. At the lowest end would be something like the Amazfit STRATOS (reviewed here).
In the middle there are ‘the rest’, most notably the Suunto Spartan Trainer and Garmin Forerunner 735XT. The ‘middle’ is defined by me in terms of the seriousness of the watch to the intended purpose – ie usefulness to triathlon. Not by price. Also in the middle would be some of the other more expensive Suunto’s like the Spartan Sport and the new Suunto 9 which essentially have the exact same tri capability as the Spartan Trainer just with some non-tri extras and/or a better case. Epson’s ProSense range also fit here and will stay in the middle section until they support external sensors.
The COROS Pace is definitely competing in that middle space.
I’m expecting new entrants in 2018 to come into the ‘pro’ space. I don’t ‘know’ that for sure, it’s more of an educated guess.
That middle space we just talked about is relatively crowded. So the COROS Pace needs to stand out.
COROS state their differentiators as 25 hours of GPS usage and a barometric altimeter.
I don’t fully buy that. I’d take the battery life as being an important feature for longer distance triathletes but I would put price into the mix as well. We’ll come back to that later.
What’s In It
Here are the headline COROS Pace Specifications
There are boxes nicely ticked in that table. The screen is no more or less pretty than the 735XT but it is perfectly fine for the job to which it is intended.
Two things need clarifying
- Glonass cannot be disabled. It is permanently on.
- There are currently no supported external sensors. However ANT+ sensors will be supported in the next firmware update which is any minute now (July 2018).
Provisionally I’d say that the GPS+GLONASS accuracy looks perfectly ‘normal’ for running. Instant pace, distance and the sanity of the track recorded look cool. For cycling it’s hard to go wrong and the OWS GNSS track was also generally good BUT I’ve had a few wobblies where the COROS Pace lost position.
Provisionally the optical heart rate looks to be what I would expect. It seems pretty cool for steady state running and I’ve not yet tried any intervals with it.
Heart rate IS recorded in OWS. And, promisingly, it looks tentatively quite respectable.
I’m also finding it hard to get all the data I would like out of the COROS ecosystem. There is synchronisation to STRAVA but I am having issues. For example the unwillingness of STRAVA to take data without GPS and the unwillingness to take duplicates. These issues should be addressed in the July update (below).
Watch Features To Note
- There are no customisable multisport sports profiles but there IS a triathlon profile
- Laps and autolaps are supported and laps are supported within the triathlon profile
- There are no calendarised plans and structured workout functionalities
- VO2max will be added (Jul18)
- ANT+ power meter support will be added (Jul18)
- ANT+ sensor support will be added (Jul18)
- Data export from the app will be added (Jul18)
- STRYD compatibility is undecided
- Custom Pool Lengths allowed
- Barometric altimeter
- Strava syncing is supported with the intention to quickly cover MapMyRide, MapMyRun, TrainingPeaks
- HR/power zones are supported
I’m using v1.2.7 of the app on Android now. It seems perfectly fine with a few feubles.
Some of the graphs are a little unusual, in a nice kind of way.
It has the zones, the laps and the normal charts. From a few uses of the app it seems to meet the normal sensible needs of someone in that middle market I described earlier. It’s got stuff missing that I PERSONALLY would like to see for me…but I’m not the intended target market. So all is cool.
The COROS ‘UltraSync’ feature, where there is very speedy data syncing with the smartphone, seems to actually work! ie It’s quick
The one PITA is the inability to export data. My data. Apparently that will be added.
ANT+ vs BLE
COROS have revisited their direction since DCR had an earlier unit. The decision now is ANT+ only with BLE ‘coming later’. Coming later might mean never.
My view on BLE/ANT+ support is starting to change. This aspect of the market seems to be very close to a point where all sensors are becoming multi-band (I expect the same from Garmin soon). So if all sensors support both bands then a new watch manufacturer needs only support one. That’s especially true in the middle market where the athlete is less likely to have diverse 3rd party sensor needs – ie Moxy is only ever going to in the realms of the pro.
My view falls down somewhat when a smartphone app user want to upgrade to a tri watch. It’s likely they wil lhave BLE sensors. Similarly the Zwifter may well also inhabit BLE-world.
But, on the other hand, the cost of replacing a BLE pod is not so great and there is an onboard OHR sensor after all which means that you might not want to use a chest strap.
This looks like it is going to be a credible contender in the middle market space for triathlon watches with most of the key elements of functionality either already there or planned to be there.
I like the potential of a ‘proper’ athlete’s triathlon watch, the middle market certainly needs a new contender for the best triathlon watch. Perhaps to really pull that off they will either have to periodically lower the price OR introduce selective higher-end, sport-specific features like custom multisport profile creation (eg supporting Otillo and Bricks)
Price, Discounts & Availability
Availability now in the US is good and the PACE is going to come to an Amazon store near you very soon. Other retail outlets will also shortly be stocking the PACE.
Recommended Retail Pricing for the PACE is: US299.99 and GBP249.98
Compare to suunto.com and garmin.com pricing (as of 17Jun2018):
- Suunto Spartan Trainer – £240 & $279
- Garmin Forerunner 735XT – £350 & $449
Of course EVERYONE discounts from the RRP from time-to-time…or even pseudo-permanently.
So the COROS Pace pricing is broadly in the right place but priced a little too high at RRP. If there are plans to often discount from those levels to $230 and £200 then that might work, it just depends what sort of volumes COROS want to achieve in the market AND WHAT THE COMPETITION ARE DISCOUNTING AT ANY GIVEN TIME..
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