TomTom's Multi-Sport Cardio GPS Watch features a built-in heart rate sensor and GPS to easily record specific data for a wide number of sports, from running to cycling. Although expensive and quite bulky, it's really easy to use and has a generous battery life.
As the name implies, the watch is designed for a wide range of sports, including running, swimming and cycling. If you want one device that can be easily used for all your activities, the Multi-Sport Cardio GPS Watch ticks the boxes.
It's a smart, if slightly bulky, design, and looks okay on the wrist when worn during the day, where it can serve as a normal watch. The clear screen constantly display the time and date.
The really smart bit of the watch is the optical heart rate sensor in its base. This makes it really easy to monitor and record your heart rate without needing to wear an uncomfortable chest strap. It quickly picks up your heart rate, though you do have to wear the watch reasonably tight for best results.
An obvious and immediate downside to having the watch on your wrist when you're cycling is that you can't easily glance at the screen to see how fast or hard you're riding. But if you just want to record your ride and aren't fussed about constantly wanting feedback, having it on the wrist works just fine.
You can pair the Multi-Sport Cardio GPS Watch with a Bluetooth heart rate monitor strap, and the watch can be mounted to your handlebar using the supplied rubber mount. Just remove the watch unit from the red strap and pop it into the bike mount. That does kind of defeat the point of buying a watch with a built-in optical heart rate sensor, but the option is there if you want it. I had no issues just leaving it on my wrist and just glancing at it to see the time I had been out for a ride, and then poring over the data once at home.
The watch is quite comfortable to wear, and even though you have to wear it quite snug you forget it's on after a while. Wearing it under some closer fitting jackets and with big winter gloves can be an issue because of its bulky size, though not such a problem in summer.
What I really like about the TomTom watch is how easy it is to use. It quickly picks up heart rate and a GPS signal is found very quickly. The watch has a number of menus but the company has smartly kept the navigation very simple, the result being that it's very intuitive and you only need a quick glance at the manual to grasp the basics.
A four-way button below the screen is your main navigation device. Press left and it displays remaining battery life and the firmware version. Press right and you can choose your desired sport, and press right again to start your activity recording. It's that simple. You can pause your activity at any time by pressing left, or end it by pressing left again.
When you're recording an activity, the screen displays three bits of data: duration and distance in small at the top, and the choice of metrics like speed, distance, heart rate, time of day and so on in a larger font in the centre of the screen. You can scroll through the different available screens by pressing the navigation tab up or down.
Some people might find the data display a bit limited but considering the size of the screen, keeping it simple works well and means you can quickly glance at the watch to see how fast or hard you're working. Delve deeper into the menus and you can choose from five training modes, and set up interval sessions, laps, zone-based training and set specific goals by distance or time.
The watch uses Bluetooth Smart but not ANT+, so while you can partner it with a compatible heart rate chest strap or cadence sensor, you can't pair it with power.
The supplied docking cradle charges the battery from a suitable laptop computer and your data is downloaded to TomTom's own MySports application. From here you can install any new firmware updates (there have been a few since I've been testing it) and share your ride automatically with any number of websites, including Strava. There is a smartphone app that can bypass the computer completely for uploading rides.
I've been using the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio GPS Watch for some time now, in a wide range of scenarios. I do a small amount of running, though I wouldn't call myself a runner, and the TomTom works brilliantly on my trail runs. An unexpected advantage is that I can hop on any bike, from the latest road.cc test bike to a mountain or cyclo-cross bike, strap the TomTom to my wrist and hit the road/dirt without having to worry about swapping over the Garmin mount from one bike to the other.
Battery life is good – the company claims eight hours and I got about that in testing. It finds a GPS and heart rate quickly, and the data is accurate and consistent. Tested alongside a Garmin Edge with a chest strap, the heart rate, distance and speed data was all virtually identical.
The TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio GPS Watch will appeal to a large number of cyclists who want to easily record heart rate and distance when cycling but aren't too interested in glancing at the screen all the time, and for any cyclists who also dabble in other sports. It's a great tool that's easy to use, provides plenty of data, and has a good battery life.
For dedicated cyclists, a cycling-specific handlebar-mounted computer is arguably going to be more useful. While the TomTom is expensive, it's cheaper than a Garmin Edge 510 with HRM bundle, but that Garmin can be partnered with a power meter and displays more data on its larger screen. If you don't want data overload, though, the TomTom is worth a look.
Easy to use with built-in GPS and heart rate monitor, and ideal for multi-sport activities, but it isn't cheap
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road.cc test report
Make and model: TomTom Runner Cardio GPS Watch
Size tested: red/white
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
TomTom says: "The newly-launched TomTom Multisport Cardio watch has a built-in Heart Rate Monitor delivering on-the-go stats during your running sessions.
"The watch features 5 intensity zones to help you achieve your goals: Sprint: mostly used as part of interval training; Speed: high-tempo training to improve Speed and fitness; Endurance: moderate to high-tempo training to improve your lung and heart capacity; Fat Burn: moderate tempo training, ideal for aiding weight loss; Easy: low-tempo training, mostly used for warm-up and cool down.
"The built-in Heart Rate Monitor accurately measures your heart rate through a sensor that monitors changes in the blood flow in your wrist. This is achieved by passing a harmless light through the skin and detecting the changing light reflections to read your heart rate."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Runner Cardio and Multi-Sport Cardio include advanced features that are designed to address the needs of runners and multi-sport enthusiasts:
Extra-Large Display: Track time, distance and pace on an extra-large, high resolution display.
Full Screen Graphics: Achieve goals with the help of the TomTom Graphical Training Partner.
One Button Control: Navigate easily through menus with the intuitive One-Button Control.
Indoor Tracker: Accurately track indoor runs using built-in sensors to count strides, so that users can monitor pace and distance even while running on a treadmill.
Ultra-Slim Design: Run with a lightweight watch designed for runners. The slim design comfortably fits all wrist sizes.
QuickGPSFix: Get started faster by using the latest in GPS and GLONASS satellite technology to quickly find their precise location.
Multi-Platform compatibility: Sync, analyse and share stats on popular running sites and community platforms, including the TomTom MySports website, MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, TrainingPeaks and Strava.
Super-Tough Display: Run with a durable, scratch-resistant display. Super-tough scratch and impact-resistant display stays easy to read, run after run.
Weather and Water resistant: Run in all kinds of weather. Waterproof up to 165 feet / 5ATM.
Long-lasting battery: Run more, recharge less, with up to 8 hours battery life (GPS+HR), up to 10 (GPS only)
Bluetooth® Smart: Connect to sensors using the latest wireless technology.
Mostly comfortable but you do have to wear it quite snug to get the the heart rate sensor working properly.
Pretty expensive but cheaper than a Garmin with heart rate and it's really versatile if you count a number of sports as hobbies.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
SImple to use with easy navigation and accurate and consistent GPS and HRM data recording.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Really easy to use and works quickly with good results. The battery life is good and it automatically syncs with Strava.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Limited data display on the screen when working out.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio GPS Watch will appeal to a large number of cyclists that want to easily record heart rate and distance when cycling, but aren't too interested in being able to glance at the screen all the time, and for any cyclists who also dabble in other sports. It's a great tool that is easy to use, provides plenty of data and has a good battery life.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.