Suunto Ambit2 Saphire HR  2014 Mountain Bike Review

Suunto Ambit2 Saphire HR 2014

Reviews / Watches

Suunto 862,171

At A Glance

Suunto have been making tools for explorers for some time now, and the guys have things pretty dialled in when it comes to making great products. The Ambit2 series of watches is their flagship range offering the most advanced technology that they have at their disposal. There are three models in the range, the Ambit2 Black, Silver and this special Sapphire edition. All three watches share the same internals and battery life, but the Sapphire boasts Sapphire glass which is tougher and a slightly different bezel. It’s a considerable amount more for the Sapphire version, but so far with 2 months of hard use the glass has suffered no damage whatsoever, while the silver bezel is showing definite signs of abuse. At the heart of the Ambit 2 is the GPS tracking system which not only allows you to track your rides but you can also upload GPS tracks to follow other routes and navigate your way around the woods.

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Combined with a heart rate monitor the Ambit2 offers a fully integrated training solution for riders serious about their progress and fitness. The heart rate monitor integrates seamlessly and allows you to record all sorts of data onto the watch, maximum heart rate, average, calories burned and Suunto even use an algorithm to illustrate your training effort.

In addition to all this you can set up to ten sports in the watch and customise up to 8 displays for each sport offering more information than even the most eager tech head could ever want. All of this is controlled using the excellent Movescount software so you can set the watch up exactly how you want it quickly and easily without fiddling with a load of buttons and looking at a small screen.

The watch also features a barometer and thermometer affording you some fairly comprehensive weather information. An altimeter can be coupled with the GPS altitude setting to give you a more accurate reading for height too. It’s waterproof to 100m with a battery life of 30days in watch mode and between 16 and 50 hours in recording mode depending on your settings.

In addition to this you can put Suunto Apps onto the watch, these are downloadable from the Sunnto App store and there are a huge range of these available, from serious training add-ons to more fun beer related ones! You can even make your own, although a pretty solid understanding of maths and computing is needed for that…

On the Trail

Or should we say on your wrist! I initially got hold of this watch with a view to using it for riding and that was it. I can safely say it has remained pretty much permantetly attached to my wrist ever since though. Yes it’s quite big and a little heavy, but I’m a fan of statement watches anyway and the Ambit2 Sapphire certainly makes a statement! Instead of being just a time piece though, it has become the most useful game changing piece of equipment I own. I’m a bit of a stats hound, and I regularly ride my bike off road, kitesurf, stand up paddle, swim in the ocean, run and workout. The Suunto helps me to track all of this, not just with the GPS, but with the heart rate monitor too.

I can see how far, fast and furious my training is going, and the watch is just so customisable for each of these sports you can get as much or as little info as you like. Initially I thought the heart rate monitor was going to be overkill on the stats front, and while I don’t wear it all the time, it’s proved immensely useful.

The watch picks up a GPS signal exceedingly quickly and is very accurate, far more so than my phone. It’s been interesting to run the two together and see the difference in the results. The barometer and altimeter are also very accurate, although you do need to reset the altimeter every so often. When the GPS is on though it is pretty much spot on according to the local Ordinance Survey maps.

The battery life is perhaps what impresses me the most, it seems to last forever in watch mode and depending on the settings you can get a very respectable 16 hours in the most intense recording mode. Plenty for even the longest of rides and you can adjust the recording intervals to increase that battery life should you be entering any 24 hour marathons!

In short this has totally changed the way I think about riding and training, and for all you Strava lovers out there the Movescount software now links up directly to Strava so your rides appear on that platform too.

Overall

The useful apps, ability to customize just about everything and seemingly limitless amount of recordable information makes the Suunto Ambit2 one of the most comprehensive sports watches out there. The styling is suitable for everyday use and even smart evening wear, and when someone shows off their new Rolex or Tag you can calmly ask them if it will accurately record their GPS position for up to 50 hours, allow them to navigate their way down a trail with ease, tell them the weather, temperature and altitude and even give them a warning if a storm is coming. When they look dumbfounded you can explain that your watch does all this and more and ride off into the sunset knowing your Strava times are going to be as accurate as can be… Like a boss!

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This review was in Issue 30 of IMB.

For more information visit Suunto

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By Rou Chater
Rou Chater is the Publishing Editor of IMB Magazine; he’s a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, but his passion for bikes knows no bounds. His first mountain bike was a Trek 820, which he bought in 1990. It didn’t take him long to earn himself a trip to the hospital on it, and he’s never looked back since. These days he’s keeping it rubber side down, riding locally and overseas as much as possible.

Tried this? What did you think?