This week we have something really special. The tech boffins at Suunto have asked Trivelo to review their spic Suunto 5 triathlon watch. We didn’t have to look far for candidates in the Trivelo associates to do this one. Shayne has stepped up to provide this article with the Suunto 5 Watch Review: Everything you need to know. With big pre-Christmas sales on the horizon before you make that sports watch purchase read this review.

Introduction to Trivelo Test Associate

So I’m Shayne, typical age grouper really. I first got into triathlon as a dare in 2011, after a friend of mine who I played hockey with lost lots of weight and got really fit over pre-season. I inquired how he’d made such a transformation and his reply was that he’d entered the Virgin London Triathlon. Having been a decent swimmer as a kid, I naturally asked what he thought he could do the swim in. He scoffed at my reply and the bet was on! The rest is history. I was 16.5 stone. Bought a £300 bike (Claud Butler Roubaix!) and was hooked on the training.

Having done my first triathlon in Pendle. With competitors dropping out with hypothermia, I was hooked. Not only that, I scalped a few folk wearing GB suits in the swim and on the bike. So with a bit of confidence in my belt I set off on a journey to represent GB in my age group. Something I aspire to do again. Though now I balance Dad, husband and work duties so have to make the most of a spare training moment!

First impressions of the Suunto 5

Packing and delivery are great. Really exciting and can’t wait to get it open! Look just like a normal lifestyle watch that you’d buy.

First Impressions of the Suunto 5

The watch looks really impressive, so impressive I wore it with my suit to an interview that afternoon. It looks like a smart everyday watch, with the functions of a top end training watch and I’ve had many comments on how cool it looks.

When I took it out of the box, I remembered how solid it felt and thought it would be quite heavy. It actually feels light and un-noticable when you wear it. More on that later. It’s certainly less heavy and far less bulky than my Garmin Forerunner 920xt.

Setting up the Suunto 5 Watch

It’s very simple to set up. Simply connect the watch to your mac / pc to begin charging. Download the Suunto App to your phone and begin to connect your watch to your phone via your app. I had to also download the SuuntoLink software to update my watch’s software before I could get it to work. If you use a Garmin, think of Suunto App as Garmin Connect to view your workouts and SuuntoLink as Garmin Express to download software to your watch.

There are 5 function keys, 4 of which you’ll use more regularly to access the watches functions.

Phone connectivity with the Suunto

My phone battery absolutely drained within an hour or so by having it permanently syncing to the watch. However, after this first usage the watch became somewhat of a dynamo. I estimate, that with my 1-2hrs per day average of training, I got 4 to 5 days use before charging. It then only took an hour to fully charge itself again. It has Bluetooth connectivity. If you have Ant+ Power Meters that don’t use Bluetooth it would be a serious consideration ahead of a decision to buy the Suunto. Without Ant+ connectivity you may have to sell those connected peripherals and reinvest. I use Garmin Vectors 2s. Which only connect via ANT+ so I’ll have to train to power using my Garmin 520 bike computer.

Suunto 5 phone connectivity

Swimming Using the Suunto 5

It’s great to have a Heart Rate monitor while swimming. Its not 100% accurate but it points in the general direction of my perceived effort. It is certainly more accurate than taking HR at the end of a rep or set.

The watch delivers monitoring all the things you’d want from a swimming watch. The Suunto 5 covers SWOLF, stroke rate, pace, speed, time for laps.

Remarkably, the watch is totally unnoticeable during the swim. With my Garmin watch, I’d “feel” a chunky thing on my arm while swimming. With the Suunto I don’t even know it’s there.

Cycling with the Suunto 5 Sports Watch

Testing the Suunto while cycling was principally using the Turbo given time of year of test. Without the adaptor to connect the watch to your bike handle bar its pretty difficult to see from the wrist. However, it’s connected to my turbo trainer without any issues via Bluetooth. It performs well reading, speed, cadence and power from it without an issue.

I had read that the wrist Heart Rate takes up to ten minutes to sync correctly and be as accurate as chest strap HR. I haven’t noticed this with the Suunto. It’s not quite as accurate due to the way wrist HR is calculated. However, it gives steady readings and reads well immediately. I have noticed the location on your wrist to read accurately is slightly higher up than you would normally wear your watch. It can also be a little temperamental if you sweat buckets, in a similar way to how HR is a little temperamental during a swim. To get the best results while wearing this watch out on the road, you’d get best results from having the Suunto watch on the bike adapter on your handle bars. Additionally you can supplement the wrist HR with the add-on Bluetooth chest HR strap.

The watch connects seamlessly and quickly to any Bluetooth device. So my turbo trainers connects very easily as does the Wattbike at my local gym.

Running with the Suunto 5

I love this watch for running!!! It’s simply outstanding.

Shayne Wilson – Trivelo Test Associate

The Suunto picks up a GPS signal within seconds. I’m used to waiting 5 or so minutes for my old Garmin 920XT to pick up GPS. Important when I’m literally running out the door to cram a session in during my baby’s nap time. Vital if I want to keep accruing triathlon points with my wife and finishing my session on time.

Running with the Suunto 5

The watch is easy to read while on the move. I’ve customised my watch face to have 5 readings on and can see them all perfectly.

The biggest benefit I’ve seen from using this watch is my new found ability to measure cadence without the need for a foot pod. The accelerometer in the watch allows me to view my cadence accurately and has given me some vital information over the last few weeks. My coach and I have had to make some adjustments to technique as a result of the readings and my previously lower cadence. No more! It’s also no coincidence that this change of focus has had my previously injury ridden calf, injury free.

One point I’d raise is that while easy to read, I’d say that they could make the screen a touch bigger. There is a black gap between the bevel and the screen, which I’d like to see used as screen instead of a border. They’d either get more info on the screen, or larger digits.

Navigation with the Suunto 5 Sports Watch

This app is simply great. Within seconds and really very easily I can have a route mapped off road, on road, mixed terrain or even off piste using my mobile. The map is clear and easy to use, you can pick a road or point of interest and it will calculate the best route via road, path or trail. A quick sync of the watch to my phone and we’re off the navigation is clear and the alert to change direction easily noticeable. While on your wrist, its probably not advisable to navigate while on the bike, at speed, there is a bike adapter you can get to fix the watch to your handle bars.

General usage of the Suunto

This watch is highly customisable, with over 80 sports to choose from. Via the app you can very easily change the data, fields and pages in use for each of the activities to ensure you have all the data you need and can get the most from your sessions.

As an age group triathlete, time is precious. Working, dad duties, husband duties and training, finding time to recover properly can be hard work. As I’m learning due to the stats from the watch on my sleep patterns, recovery and sleep is a skill! Monitoring the hours of sleep, the quality of sleep has given me some focuses to ensure that I’m going to bed at a good time. But also getting into good sleep habits. Now if only Suunto could bring one out for my 15 month old daughter and give her some good sleep habits!

Living with the Suunto 5 Watch

Steps – Its been great to count my steps. Even on recovery days, its important to remain active. So I ensure that Bruce (my dog) gets an extra long walk to ensure that I’ve kept a minimum level of activity.

Calories – This has been brilliant for me. It has absolutely confirmed my hunch that I have been under-eating and forced me to take a proper look at my diet.

Durable – I have deliberately and nervously left this watch with my 15 month old daughter. Unsurprisingly, she has bitten it, hit it, thrown it, dropped and done just about it everything a 15 month old can. IT LIVES!!! Not only that its in perfect condition. Bomb proof, well maybe not but certainly toddler proof which is good enough for me.

Overall impressions of the Suunto 5 Sports Watch

If you are contemplating an everyday, 24hr watch and training watch, then this is a simply outstanding acquisition. While there are no doubt considerations to be made:

  • HR wrist tech can be unreliable while training.
  • You’ll need additional accessories for the bike.
  • The watch face could actually be a bit bigger, without the need to make the watch bigger.

However, if you were using the watch as a bike computer you’d need a chest strap anyway so make sure you get one. Ultimately, a test of a watch is how much you enjoy wearing it and I’ve not taken mine off in the time I’ve had it! It has undoubtedly shown me areas I can improve my lifestyle with regards to sleep and diet. This has led to improvements in training. Far more valuable than that treadmill or power meter you’ve been eyeing up. You don’t get fitter if you’re not eating, sleeping or recovering properly.

I love the ease of set up and the ease of use. No more faffing about programming intervals and work outs into my Garmin, which took hours. Now it takes seconds. When training hard, and with family demands on time, sometimes every second does actually count. The Suunto is so user friendly and fast, that when I have a gap for training, its as simple as kit on and out the door. No pausing for GPS, route mapped in minutes and intervals planned out in a flash.

I would recommend this watch to any of my team mates or competitors (well maybe not competitors actually ) as a step into the everyday watch market.

Shayne – Trivelo Test Associate

Buy the Suunto 5 for £299.

Or go for the Suunto 9 for £499 if budgets will permit.

Or Garmin addicts the Garmin Forerunner 935XT currently reduced to £329

If you are looking for something second hand as your budget won’t stretch to the Suunto 5 check our review of the Garmin 920XT.

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3 Comments

Marla Chelmsford · 27/12/2019 at 5:24 pm

Been looking for a watch and the Suunto looks beautiful. Review helps cement my decision!

June Fry · 24/06/2020 at 9:38 pm

Like!! Really appreciate you sharing this blog post.Thank you! Keep writing.

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