Gear: Suunto Ambit2 R Review

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone 

Ain’t that just the case? One week I’m happily logging Kms, blissfully unaware of the glorious Ambit2 (A2) strapped to my wrist and then Suunto Australia send an Ambit2 R our way and all of a sudden I’m asking myself whether my next few runs are likely to need more than 8hrs of battery life. If not, ye’ olde’ wrist anchor is getting left at home! Land-locked, confined to port.

I’ll be perfectly honest: I’m biased; I’m a Suunto fanboy. I had a T6C, I wore my pre-ordered Ambit1 into the grave and the Ambit2 is my daily companion. I love how robust they are, their long, Scandinavian back-story and the fact that most of their premium watches and wristtops are still made in Finland. So why I am leaving it at home? Sure, it’s smaller than some watches out there and it’s definitely prettier than the Garmin Fenix or 910, but it’s still a heavy piece of work. All that extra battery life and altimeter are excessive for a lot of my general training and competition.

Reviews focusing on new variations of an existing product have always frustrated me. All I want to know is how it’s different to the existing products and why I should (or shouldn’t) buy it. I’ll do my best to avoid the trap of rambling on for the sake of it when all you’ll probably read is the conclusion anyway. For those who want more of the gory details, check out the incredibly detailed, Picassoan-prolific DC Rainmaker for more depth than Challenger Deep on just about every sports watch ever conceived.

Suunto Ambit 2R

Suunto Ambit2 R – the GPS for Runners

The Ambit2 R is a GPS watch designed for runners (see our first look post here), and sports a feature set built to please. It weighs in at 70g (vs. 72g for the Ambit 2S and 89g for the Ambit 2) and offers a battery life range of 8-25 hours depending on the user-selected accuracy (vs. 16-50hrs for the Ambit2). Altitude measurements are taken from the GPS which, although less accurate than a combined GPS-Barometric Altimeter system, is certainly accurate enough for most runners; even trailites. For all intents and purposes, the rest of the running-relevant feature set is the same. Navigation, Physical Specs, Speed and Distance recording, Heart Rate monitoring and Training Analysis are all exactly the same as the other models in the range.

The similarities extend to the “FusedSpeed” technology (which has now been rolled out in updates on the other models), which treats the watch like a Wristtop pedometer to calculate distance and speed in the absence of GPS signal (think treadmill cringe). In normal conditions speed and distance would be a synthesis of both GPS and Accelerometer, the former constantly improving the accuracy of the latter. However, when the signal drops, the bounce of your stride still provides surprisingly reliable data and the real kicker: Cadence!

So how does it differ from the other Ambits? Well aside from the halved battery life, the lack of a Barometer / Pressure-based Altimeter means it lacks weather monitoring and the FusedSpeed technology which combines GPS and pressure data to improve the accuracy of elevation recording. While it also lacks a lot of the multisport functionality (think Cycling and Swimming specific features) that the Ambit 2 and 2S offer, as a runner I couldn’t tell you what half of them did anyway.

Let’s look at some criteria. If you want a super solid GPS watch that can be worn just as easily on the daily commute as it can on the trails, keep reading. If elevation interests you, but submitting survey data to the Cartographic Society doesn’t, keep reading. If you occasionally get in the water or buckle-up the helmet and get out on the lazy machine, but these sports are mere breaks between running, keep reading. If you rarely, if ever, plan to run beyond 50k and have access to charging facilities after every few training sessions, keep reading. If you’d rather strap 70g to your wrist than 89g and spend $350/399 AUD (RRP with/without HRM) over $599/$649 AUD (RRP with/without HRM), then put the Ambit2 R on your shopping list.

Gear: new Suunto Ambit2 R

ambit+2013+-+front+view+-+ambit+2r+white+-+chrono+1+positive(1)It wasn’t that long ago that Suunto launched its new range of Ambits. Okay, so it was April 2013, which in technology time is a few light years back. And while our running has probably not advanced that much since then (speaking for myself at least), gadgetry waits for no man nor his faltering training plan.

This latest release, the Ambit2 R, is  particularly pertinent to the running fraternity with features honed for our breed. Personally, I take note of the ‘don’t get lost feature’ (they call it Track Back), having a propensity to follow a trail just to see where it goes and sometimes taking the exploration that one turn too many for my memory. And of course the Apps just keep rolling out…the Ghost Runner perfect for all you A-Types.

And here, alas having not got one on our own wrists as yet, we turn over to the bods from Suunto and their press release. We hope to have a review shortly. In the meantime, here’s the shopping list:

“[The Ambit2 R] provides responsive and reliable speed and distance readings thanks to FusedSpeedTM, a unique combination of GPS and accelerometer data from your wrist. Suunto Ambit2 R also measures running cadence from your wrist.

Suunto Ambit2 R can also help you reach your performance goals. You can plan your own moves, or download complete training programs from The watch reminds you of daily targets, tracks target completion, and provides speed and intensity guidance while you run.

ambit+2013+-+front+view+-+ambit+2r+black+-+running+metric+negativeAdditionally, Track-back and full navigation offer the freedom to explore new trails without getting lost. Download routes from or simply select Track-back at any point during a run. Suunto Ambit2 R will show you the way.

Suunto Ambit2 R is available in black or white, with the white sporting a soft silicone strap for an improved fit for women. Both can be purchased with or without a Suunto heart rate belt.

With Suunto Apps, even more running features become available. Personalize your Suunto Ambit2 R with running Apps of your own, or choose from the thousands of free Apps in the App Zone on They include:

· Virtual coach: Let the coach determine when you should run easy and hard! This App is for endurance intervals. Select your pace level and the coach will give you target paces to run.

· Ghost runner: Challenge yourself against a competitor. A positive distance means that you’re ahead while a negative one means you need to pick up the pace.

· Running efficiency: This App helps you improve your running efficiency by recording the number of heart beats over a kilometer / mile.

· High intensity intervals: This App gives a short but sharp interval work out. Start with a warm up, run 15 x 200m with 30sec recovery and end with a cool down.

· Marathon time: It uses your current speed to give an estimate of your finish time during a marathon, so you can see if you’re on track for that target time., the online sports diary from Suunto, makes it easy to analyze every aspect of your training and share your experiences with others.

The Suunto Ambit2 R will become available in March.

All new features will also be made available to Ambit2 and Ambit2 S users via a software upgrade later in spring.”