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Coros PACE 2 Review | Garmin Beater at a great price?

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Coros PACE 2 Review

Coros has returned to its roots with a lightweight, run-focussed GPS watch, let’s put it through its paces in this detailed Coros Pace 2 Review. This time we have a little excitement to contend with as, at last, we have a potential ‘Garmin Beater’ on our wrists.

As usual, here is the Review Summary for the Coros Pace 2 and links for those of you who want to buy one with the detailed review following afterwards.

Coros Pace 2 Review
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  • Apparent Accuracy - 90%
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  • Build Quality & Design - 90%
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  • Features, Including App - 90%
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  • Openness & Compatability - 95%
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Summary

The Coros PACE 2 is a properly-featured GPS running watch that will suit beginners and pros alike.

Early Coros watches were sometimes sniggered at as ‘copycat’ Garmin. Perhaps that was true at the time but here we see Coros delivering innovative STRENGTH TRAINING heatmap, the first properly integrated and native STRYD implementation, and a supremely clever TRACK running mode. It’s also a customisable multisport watch that can support duathlon profiles as well as pool triathlon profiles – other than Garmin, few companies can do that.

The format is ‘perfect’ in the sense that it is effectively the lightest, mainstream running watch on the market and the size hits the goldilocks zone where it’s suitable as a running watch for just about anyone. Having called it perfect, you will probably have to like the Crown for it to be classed as truly perfect.

It can’t make you a latte and it can’t turn your garage lights on but it can do the ‘running stuff’ properly and that means you can choose simple intervals or complex structured workouts, and you can have all the alerts you need including power and nutrition alerts – or you could simply go for a run. When you came back from that run most of you wouldn’t continue to wear the Pace 2 on a 24×7 basis, not unless you like the sports watch aesthetic. Nevertheless, you could easily wear it for a week without charging it even if it wouldn’t quite match your work clothes.

Coming in at an rrp of less than $/Eu/£200, I think many of you might be nodding excitedly and already reaching for that Visa card. Get a free $30 accessory band and help support the work here by buying directly from Coros – add the extra strap to the cart and then add the code THE5KRUNNER at the end of checkout.

Use discount code THE5KRUNNER at coros.com to get a free $30 accessory

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Seriously UNDER-priced
  • Uber-featured, many innovative features. All the basics…and more
  • Running Track mode
  • Create & Share Training Plans
  • Physiology insights
  • Full, native STRYD Support
  • Straightforward sleep and physiology reporting
  • Looooong battery life
  • As accurate as a Garmin (oHR, GPS, Elevation)
  • Structured workouts, including for running power

Cons

  • The Crown (never hurt the Apple Watch)
  • The app is more than merely ‘functional’ but could do better
  • No routes
  • I had a pre-production quality strap which could be improved. Make sure you use the code THE5KRUNNER to get a free, spare strap if you order directly from Coros.com
  • Being overly critical, Coros could now start to add a wider range of workout metrics.
  • Being overly critical, Coros need to start thinking about simple music playback
  • Being overly critical, Coros will never have a meaningful 3rd party app platform

Note: I’ve used the Pace 2 a lot BUT mine is a pre-production watch running late beta/production firmware. It has a different strap and different barometer holes to the production version

Background

Coros has been on the sports watch scene for just over 2 years yet, in that short period, has established themselves as a serious challenger brand to the likes of Garmin, Suunto, Polar, as well as to the crossover smart/fitness brands like Amazfit and the watches that are ‘tied’ to same-branded smartphones, like Samsung. Coros watches (Vertix, Apex, Apex Pro, Pace 1) share the same basic firmware, although enabled features DO vary by model and some of the more expensive models have extra hardware abilities like SpO2 sensors. The Coros Vertix is very much the outdoors adventure model and the Coros Apex is aimed toward multisport. The Apex Pro has higher quality construction than the Apex, and the Coros Pace 1 & 2 are lightweight sports watches. All the current models now share a ‘crown’, as found on the Apple Watch.

What sets Coros apart from every competitor, apart from Garmin, is the awesome battery life and the amount of on-watch features – more than you will find on a Polar or Suunto.

Just like Garmin, Coros may find FEATURES to be the key to success, although Coros also needs to improve their app.

Coros Pace 2 Review – Target Audience

If you want a SPORTS watch then the Pace 2 hits the mark. It probably won’t go too well with your work suit as it is very much a lightweight sports watch with a plasticy-type construction. It’s well-made though and its medium-sized watch face (like the Garmin Forerunner 645) will suit most wrists.

Whilst it is a ‘proper’ multisport watch, I see the prime audience as all-ability runners. Why so? A: The Coros Pace 2 has special running track modes, a battery-life that endurance runners will die for, STRYD support, structured training support and very many of the more traditional running features. Surely though, ‘proper’ runners also do strength training? Yep, and the Coros Pace 2 has special strength features like muscle heatmaps and automatic rep counting.

The recommended price tag keeps it sensible: $199.99 / €199.99 / £179.99

Coros Pace 2 is a SERIOUS alternative to that Garmin you were thinking of buying and probably cheaper too.

Hopefully, I’ve grabbed your attention by now and so here are some of the many highlights which make up this Coros Pace 2 Review.

 

Coros Pace 2 Review – Unboxing, Design Overview & Specs

The overall design ethos of the Coros Pace 2 reviewed here is ‘competent yet unremarkable’, that’s said in a positive way in that Coros has designed a sensible watch for its intended purpose. As a medium-sized watch format, it will be suitable for almost all runners; the plastic-like construction makes it super-lightweight, the strap can be changed for an individual’s aesthetic wishes and the CROWN+button interface does work well (ask Apple).

The CROWN can either scroll across a sensible choice list of sports profiles or it can scroll through the 24×7 smart info we are all used to like heart rate, notifications, the watch face, calories and steps. You can press and hold the button for access to a shortcut menu where you can do more clever things like show a compass, broadcast HR, turn on UltraMax battery mode or night mode, and check the satellite positions.

There are a few specific things with the menus that are in the wrong place like the AI Trainer and, overall, the watch menus look a little old-fashioned and use outdated icons. Nevertheless, The Coros Pace 2 CERTAINLY DOES THE JOB, which is why you will buy it, right?

Hopefully, you’re also going to be buying this watch to record your sports. Naturally, it does a GOOD job at that, as we shall soon see.

Coros Pace 2 – General Sports Usage

Sports profiles are created on the app and cover indoor and outdoor versions of the individual triathlon sports plus strength and gym/cardio workouts. That covers most of the bases. If you want mountain sports, Judo and cheerleading sports profiles then you’ve come to the wrong place. It’s a RUNNING/TRI watch 🙂

For each sport profile, you can create up to 5 screens with up to 6 data metrics per screen. That’s enough for me. There are a couple of prettier, coloured metrics but on the whole, they’re just in the number format that most people want. The range of data metrics is also good enough, for example covering 3s power and NP for the cyclists, SWOLF for the swimmers and running dynamics & running power for the runners. The more intricate stuff like the ‘last lap NP’ or ‘IF’ is not there for the cyclists and neither are some of the more complex performance ratios that Garmin would offer to runners, though having said that it is possible to display aerobic TE and anaerobic TE.

Before starting any given exercise you have the option to add alerts for speed, HR, power, cadence, nutrition and distance as well as set auto-pause. Other sports profiles give you special options so, for example, with running & cycling you can add quick, simple repeat intervals and with pool swimming, you can set a custom pool length.

Overall the Coros Pace 2 ticks a LOT of boxes, more than enough boxes for me, but not all the boxes.

In Use

Operating the Coros Pace 2 during your exercise is easy enough. There’s just the lap button to play with! OK, you can also press and hold it to view battery status and the compass, plus other minor settings like night mode and UltraMax battery mode. The earlier Coros watches that used the crown were prone to accidentally pausing but this has now been solved and it is impossible to inadvertently stop and discard a workout.

Coros Pace 2 – Special Sports Usage

Here are a few highlights of some of the sports modes.

Pool Swimming & Open Water Swimming

With the ability to set a custom pool length and display SWOLF and stroke metrics, what’s not to like?

You will find similar functionalities available for the open water swim profile and, if you visit the accuracy section, later on, you will be pleasantly surprised at the accuracy of the open water swim track.

Track Running

This is cool

Coros also has a special ‘track run’ sports profile and at the start of your workout you specify what lane you are in and the Coros Pace 2 uses GPS to understand when you have completed your lap (which is only 400m in the inside lane…Pace 2 knows the distances of each lane) and it will also keep your altitude unchanged. Even better, whilst running on the running track, Coros pretty-up your GPS track so that when you review your workout, you should normally find that your laps are ‘snapped’ onto the track rather than wandering between all 8 lanes or into the stands.

Triathlon

The Coros Pace 2 works surprisingly well in triathlon considering it has a crown+button interface; a press of the crown takes you into and out of transition mode.

For the triathlon sports profile, you can customise all of the individual 3 sports – for example, to properly handle a pool-based triathlon or duathlon – Suunto and Polar still can’t do both of those.

It’s not possible to add a manual lap in one of the individual triathlon sports, that’s an omission but no big deal. That is made up for at the end when the watch displays stats for both the whole triathlon and for each individual leg and, whilst you may only complete a few triathlons a year, that’s actually a nice feature for many of the multisport training workouts (bricks) you may well undertake.

For a ‘pro’ triathlon watch, I’d still have to recommend the Garmin Forerunner 945 but for less than half the price, the Coros Pace 2 is VERY tempting.

Strength Workouts, Complex Structured Workouts & Training Plans

If you are following the exercises in a strength workout then the Coros Pace 2 can count the number of reps. That information is later used by the Coros app to show a Body Heatmap which, over time, shows your focus on strength workouts over key muscle groups.

Coros Strength Training & Workout Builder

That link also covers the addition of COMPLEX structured workouts. However, it’s sometimes easier instead to define simple reps on-the-fly and you can do that too. Like this image shows

 

Simple Intervals are shown here

Finally, your workouts can form part of a calendarised plan which you, or a coach, can share with others and that can be as simple as granting access via a QR code.

Running Power

Like Polar, the Coros Pace 2 now produces running power just from the watch without an accessory. If you have last year’s Coros pod there is still support for the power metrics produced from that.

Excitingly, the Pace 2 ALSO NOW SUPPORTS running power from STRYD. Indeed Coros claim that they are the first company to offer “COMPLETE AND NATIVE” STRYD support. How cool is that? A: Very. This support is entirely native to Coros in all the latest versions of its watches. There is FULL support which means that a wide range of power-related functionality works as if power were another metric like PACE. This includes sensor calibration, many metrics and alerts within complex structured workouts.

All the details are here including the links to 3rd party platforms.

MASSIVE Running Power Update from Coros – DEEP STRYD Integration – firmware update

UltraMax Battery Mode

Here’s some more data linked to in an old post if this feature is important to you.

Physiological Metrics

Like some Garmin watches, Coros has aerobic training effect (AeTE), anaerobic training effect (AnTE), VO2max and recovery time information.

AeTE, AnTE and STAMINA are available as metrics during the workout and, along with recovery time, are also shown in the workout summary on the watch and on the app. The app also shows your lactate threshold, VO2max fitness level, threshold pace. Whilst these metrics are NOT produced by Firstbeat algorithms, they do now seem broadly in line with the comparable metrics from Firstbeat.

For example, y

  

 

The Coros App

The app is the weak point of the Coros offering, even so, it’s still quite good and here are some highlights

Coros Pace 2 Review – Accuracy

In the round, the Coros Pace 2’s accuracy was directly comparable with that of my Garmin Forerunner 945. In a simple phrase “fairly good”.

Note: Supporter Only Content

Coros PACE 2 Accuracy

 

Coros Pace 2 – ABC and Smart Features

Use discount code THE5KRUNNER at coros.com to get a free $30 accessory

Summary

The Coros PACE 2 reviewed here is the real deal for runners and it will find its way as a winner into one or more category of my Best Running Watch recommendations for 2020 and beyond.

Like Garmin, Coros needs to give their app some love … and a few interface changes. And, also like Garmin, Coros needs to tweak the watch interface for subtle UX improvements.

There are always niche features that either Garmin or Coros could STILL add. However, Coros is in the rather unique position of having some quite significant feature sets that Garmin completely lacks.

 

Buy Coros Pace 2 Price, Availability, Free Bands and 10% Discounts

For those of you looking to buy the Pace 2, the prices are EXTREMELY competitive at $199.99 ($179.99 at Power Meter City when stock arrives) / €199.99 / £179.99 (£162 at New Running Gear when stock arrives) – stock arrives at retailers for you to buy in October 2020. With the discount at PMC and NRG, this product is seriously underpriced by at least $100.

Deals:

 

 

Use discount code THE5KRUNNER at coros.com to get a free $30 accessory
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