Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0

Garmin 500 alternative

The Garmin 500 is fast becoming the premiere bike computer for racing types. It’s small and unobtrusive with an intuitive interface you can master in a day or two. And once you’ve learned to use it it just disappears and does its job – it’s not one of those gizmos you want to chuck in frustration. Downloading files is a cinch as well – it simply shows up as a drive on your computer, and you pull your files off it just as you would any USB drive. Strava loads rides directly from it. It’s becoming so ubiquitous people are making aftermarket mounts for it. So if the Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 GPS wants to unseat the 500 from its throne, or more likely grab some market share, it better do everything the 500 does and offer something more.

You might say the CT 2.0 is a Garmin 500 clone. It’s nearly identical in size (though clunkier in shape), and its four buttons perform the same exact functions. Unfortunately they’re a bit harder to locate by touch and harder to press. The CT 2.0’s mount is a bit taller than the 500’s so it sits higher than the 500. The mount interface is a bit loose and the unit wiggles slightly on it.

The CT 2.0’s firmware is pretty similar to the 500’s with a few key differences. You can custom configure 4 screens with 2-6 fields of data. Just about every metric is available to display, averages and maxes of speed, cadence, HR, power, pace, slope and more, with the notable exception of lap average power, a very useful number for interval training. Timex says this is coming in a firmware update, but with no ETA for the update.

Unfortunately, you can’t specify the number of screens, so with its 4 data screens, time of day, GPS, and optional map and compass screens, there are 8 total. I’d rather just have 2 or 3 and not have to cycle through so many screens to get back home.

Unlike the 500, you can navigate with the CT 2.0. You don’t get road maps, but your route is drawn as you ride, and you can input waypoints as you go. At the very least you can always find your way back when you’re riding in a new place.

There’s also a magnetic compass, which, strangely enough, needs to be calibrated while the unit has a GPS signal in order to work properly. It also seemed less accurate when the GPS signal is weaker.

Finally, you can’t save multiple profiles on the CT 2.0, so if you have multiple bikes with power meters you’ll have to re-pair the CT 2.0 each time you switch bikes. This is a relatively minor oversight, but it does mean you’ll have to walk 30 feet away from other bikes should you need to pair your sensors. Once again, multiple profile capability is planned for a future firmware update.

Generally speaking, you really have to read the instruction manual carefully to get the most out of the CT 2.0. If you’re not the type to read manuals, the 500 is far more idiot proof. My first ride with the CT 2.0 was a comedy of errors.

Timex have partnered with TrainingPeaks for ride analysis – purchasing the CT 2.0 gets you a free account with TrainingPeaks. So unlike the 500, the CT 2.0 doesn’t appear as a drive in your finder – you’ll need to download TrainingPeak’s Device Agent software to access files. While this is slightly less convenient, Device Agent does allow you to input your preferences on your PC and load them to the CT 2.0, a much quicker process than punching numbers in with the device’s 4 buttons.

Device Agent lets you upload your files to TrainingPeaks or save to PC. The files are .pwx files (TrainingPeak’s file format), which (sort of) open in Golden Cheetah but are not supported by Strava or RidewithGPS. You’ll have to upload to Golden Cheetah and export to .tcx if you want to play on Strava or RidewithGPS. Increased Strava compatibility is planned for a firmware update (also no ETA).

The CT 2.0 doesn’t log GPS speed or distance in its .pwx files, so that has to be calculated later by your ride analysis application using GPS coordinates. Golden Cheetah doesn’t do this, so files appear in GC as 0 miles ridden, and many other metrics are gibberish as a result. Mileage does appear correctly in TrainingPeaks, and once exported to .tcx and opened in Strava or RWGPS. If you’re a GC user, you’re SOL with the CT 2.0.

Timex has stated that they’re not tied to TrainingPeaks and are open to other partnerships. My hope is that future firmware updates will use more universally supported file formats such as .fit or .tcx instead of TrainingPeaks’s .pwx. As it stands now, if I want to load a ride onto Strava, I have to connect to Device Agent, save the file to disk, open in Golden Cheetah, export to .tcx, then upload to Strava. This hack is a nuisance for a geek like me and likely a dealbreaker for normals.

The CT 2.0 has two GPS options (the 500 has just one): normal (accurate within 15 meters) and the more precise WAAS/EGNOS (within 3 meters). Because it is more precise, getting a fix takes longer with WAAS/EGNOS – I had to leave the buildings of midtown Manhattan before I could get a lock. Since I’m not directing any drone strikes (that you know of), I chose the normal setting (WAAS/EGNOS is the default setting). Even on normal the CT 2.0 often took longer to get a fix than the 500, so its ride files started later than the 500‘s. This, of course, is not an issue if you don’t live in an urban canyon or under a forest canopy.

The flip side is that once locked in, the CT 2.0 was more precise than the 500, even in normal mode. The CT 2.0’s trace is on the left in the two screengrabs above. The top map was recorded in normal mode, the lower shot in WAAS/EGNOS. For the most part this is a trivial distinction, that is until the day you kill yourself to win a KOM on Strava only to find out later that you never crossed the segment’s start line due to GPS drift.

The CT 2.0 gets its current time from GPS data, but doesn’t save that time for long once it’s shut off. It reverts to 2/14/09 8pm as its current time until it gets another GPS lock. Since I normally start my ride timer as I set off in midtown Manhattan and let the GPS lock in on its own, my ride files were all dated 2/14/09 until I figured this out. This needs to be a firmware fix, or all indoor trainer rides will be dated ’09.

The CT 2.0 usually recorded a higher max power than the 500. Both were set to 1 second recording. Other metrics (average power, max and average speed and HR) matched up.

The 500 comes two ways, $250 for the unit alone or $350 for the unit with HR strap and speed/cadence sensor. The CT 2.0 is $250 for the unit with HR strap, and you can find it for $185 online. If you’re a Quarq or SRM owner you won’t need a cadence sensor, and you can get speed data via GPS, so for some a speed/cadence sensor is unnecessary. Considering that ANT+ HR straps typically run about $50, we’re talking about a $135 computer, and that’s enough of a savings to consider the CT 2.0.

Remember when we used to buy things and expect that they’d be perfectly functional out of the box? Now we buy things that we think are good enough now and hope they’ll be bug free and more capable with software and firmware upgrades. The CT 2.0 came out just last September, and its firmware is a work in progress. The good news is that its hardware seems solid, with a superior GPS chip. If its bugs are worked out, and if it adopts a more open platform than TrainingPeaks, it could be a viable alternative to the 500, with the advantage of rudimentary navigational capabilities and a lower price.




I don’t know… cheaper, more accurate and better on board navigation? With the firmware kinks worked out and better Strava/ RwGPS compatibility, this could be a real deal…


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saddle sorz

You don’t say it outright (aside from a mention regarding HR monitors) but you should note it is an ANT+ compatible device.


Great Review Andy

Using PWX as the file format for me is a huge deal breaker. I can’t imagine ever buying a device that ties me to one website to do my ride analysis when the overwhelming majority of sites, and ride analysis software all use .fit as their format.

Not sure what Timex was thinking there.

It also sounds buggy as hell. But then again, the Garmin 705 was and still is very buggy. The 500 though is now quite stable.

If you were choosing between one or the other, the 500 IMO is a no brainer. I don’t see what Timex is bringing to the table here.

If they had thrown in a WiFi chip for uploading to Strava, Ride With GPS or Dropbox, that would have been something.. But this is just a 500 clone with less functionality and more bugs.


Not surprising that Garmin is getting some clones now. Strava has been a totally transformative innovation in the endurance sport GPS market. I think we’ll begin to see more and more Garmin clones within the next few years, as well as different Strava-esque platforms and programs to plug that data into.

Strava was the factor that absolutely inspired me to go through with a purchase of a Garmin 200. It’s really amazing to see this groundbreaking program expand and take virtual reign over the rides and roads that we indulge ourselves on.

Andy Shen

Wait a sec, I’m going to brand that and charge $500. Speedspackleâ„¢, Aerocaulkâ„¢, Yawgooâ„¢?

Jordan Tank

Garmin sales of outdoor/fitness items are estimated at $760m for year to Dec 2012. Operating margins are about 33% and 60% gross, representing approx 50% of total Garmin operating profit. Market cap is $7.3bn so this area is worth at least $3.5bn, perhaps more given the faster growth rates. Apple ($533bn) could wipe these guys out by accident.

Jordan Tank

Whilst real estate on our bikes is a valuable business, even if Apple were to take away all of Garmin’s outdoor business, it would only increase the value of Apple by 0.56% – so they might destroy Garmin by accident rather than by design.

Warre Sealant


We need a review of the Motorola Motoactv It seems to hit all the same functionality in a much smaller package, the size of a Apple Nano.

Andy Shen

I heard it has pretty limited battery life, around 4-5 hours, which would make it kinda useless. But I’ll check. (If you’re a New Yorker, you can ask David Somerville what he thinks of it)

Matthieu Dropout

anyone who utters the words “totally transformative innovation” in regards to a bike computer really needs to stop watching online porn and go ride their bike, sans electro do-dad’s, and smell some car fumes, stop for coffee, have a muffin and appreciate the real world.

Baptiste Tracknut

Nelson at Strictly Bikes recommended this computer to me, i was using the iphone so far, it really is a great computer for the money, more accurate than the garmin 500 and a lot less money. I’m a strava fan, so allyou have to do is upload your info into the device agent, then just translate it here: http://pwx.raytracer.dk/ from there to strava and you have all the info you need, heart rate info and all. its a great computer, I’m sure Timex will upgrade and better more and more.
Can’t say I wasn’t annoyed when I found that I couldn’t upload to strava as easy as with my iphone, but its a lot more accurate, I’ve gone and busted my a$$ on some segments to just miss them due to the inaccuracy of the gps on the iphone. so that was definitely appreciated!
I also see Strava is seriously considering doing something with Timex devices so everything may change. one thing is for sure: Strava changed the way we all cycled forever!

Andy Shen

Thanks for that comment. I was wondering how accurate the iphone GPS was in comparison. Thought it might be better ’cause I think it can use cell and wifi info to refine location.


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Thomas Chainline

Got one new for $73 to my door with a HRM chest strap that looks to be worth about $35. Spent too much on my bike so I needed an economy computer that would do speed, cadence, distance and HR. This seems to do all of that and more with GPS. I don’t like the mount and wish there were something to put it out front of the bars like the Garmin has so available.

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