Polar RCX5 Run Multisport Training Watch review

For those runners, cyclists, swimmers, triathletes, and pure over-the-top endurance athletes, Polar has always been a name associated with tech-gear engineered to help you train better, smarter, faster. While I look around my spinning class, a healthy percentage of participants wear Polar gear. The same can be said about my running click. The RCX5 multisport watch is one of Polar’s top-shelf training computers design to more efficiently optimize, analyze, and archive your workouts. Being a long time runner who has used many such devices, I hope the RCX5 lives up to my tech-geek hopes and expectations. :)

Polar released the RCX5 in the middle of last year, and it remains one of their flagship training watches. As I stated above, the Polar RCX5 Run Multisport Training Watch is designed/accessorized for runners who want to optimize their training experience. With that in mind, the RCX5 itself is engineered for the hardcore triathlete, expandable for any number of endurance sports boasting the latest “performance enhancing technology”. Polar designed the RCX5 to be extremely versatile in its ability to help you train for not only running, but swimming, biking, cardio, any sort of multisport effort you are up for. This is accomplished by adding various dedicated, specialized sensors and the ability to customize the watch’s preloaded workouts, screens and user interface.

Package Contents:

  • Polar RCX5 training computer
  • Polar WearLink®+ Hybrid transmitter
  • Polar s3+ stride sensor
  • Polar DataLink data transfer unit
  • RCX5 Getting Started Guide
  • s3+ stride sensor User Manual

FEATURES:

As you can see below, the RCX5 has a VERY feature-rich set of capabilities. The sports/training geek-out potential with this watch is nearly limitless.
Body measurement features
  • Automatic age-based target zone – bpm / %
  • Average and maximum heart rate of each lap
  • Average, minimum and maximum heart rate of training
  • Heart rate – bpm / %
  • HR-based target zones with visual and audible alarm
  • HRmax (age-based)
  • HRmax (Polar Fitness test-based)
  • HRmax (user set)
  • Manual target zone – bpm / %
  • Polar Fitness Test
  • Polar OwnCal® – calorie expenditure with fat percentage
  • Polar OwnCode® (5kHz/2.4 GHz W.I.N.D.) – coded transmission
  • Polar sport zones
  • Polar ZoneOptimizer – personalized sport zones
CS cadence sensor W.I.N.D. features
  • Bike settings – for three bicycles
  • Cadence – current, average and maximum
CS speed sensor W.I.N.D. features
  • Autostart/stop
  • Bike settings – for three bicycles
  • Distance based interval
  • Distance – training, lap, trip and total
  • Race Pace
  • Speed – current, average and maximum
  • Speed-based target zones with visual and audible alarm
  • SpeedPointer
Data transfer
  • Compatible with Mac (Intel-based) via Polar DataLink
  • Compatible with PC via Polar DataLink
  • Compatible with polarpersonaltrainer.com via Polar DataLink
G3 GPS sensor W.I.N.D. features
  • Distance based interval
  • Distance – training, lap, trip and total
  • Race Pace
  • Route mapping – opt. with polarpersonaltrainer.com web service
  • Running Index
  • Speed/Pace – current, average and maximum
  • SpeedPointer
G5 GPS sensor features
  • Distance based interval
  • Distance – training, lap, trip and total
  • Race Pace
  • Route mapping – opt. with polarpersonaltrainer.com web service
  • Running Index
  • Speed/Pace – current, average and maximum
  • Speed/Pace-based target zones with visual and audible alarm
  • SpeedPointer
Polarpersonaltrainer.com features
  • Advanced training analyzing
  • Endurance programs
  • Map view – optional with GPS sensor
  • Training computer settings
  • Training Diary
  • Training Load
  • Training programs
Recording features
  • Memory left indication
  • Totals
  • Training files (with summaries) – 99
  • Weekly history
s3/s3+ stride sensor features
  • Average stride length
  • Cadence – current, average and maximum
  • Distance – training, lap, trip and total
  • Race Pace
  • Running Index
  • Speed/Pace – current, average and maximum
  • Speed/Pace-based target zones with visual and audible alarm
Training features
  • Automatic lap recording
  • Display zoom
  • Graphical target zone indicator
  • HeartTouch – button-free operation of wrist unit
  • Interval trainer guided workouts – heart rate / pace / distance
  • Number of laps – 99
  • Sport Profiles
  • User configurable displays – all lines
  • ZoneLock
  • ZonePointer
Watch features
  • Backlight
  • Date and weekday indicator
  • Display text in English, German, Finnish, Swedish, French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian
  • Dual time zone
  • KeyLock
  • Low battery indicator
  • StopWatch
  • Time of day (12/24h) with alarm and snooze
  • Training reminder
  • User replaceable battery
  • Water resistant – 30m

Useability:

For how feature-rich the watch is, it is surprisingly simple to use, yet has the feature set and ability to be customized for this power / tech / training enthusiast as well. It took just minutes to get the Polar WearLink+ Hybrid transmitter and s3+ stride sensor paired and talking to the RCX5. After that, the stride sensor needed to be calibrated to my running gate. Total time for setup was less than 30 minutes. Unlike rechargeable training watches, the RCX5 uses a standard 2032 battery that lasts up to 8-11 months depending on use. This is a definite plus in my mind, it makes the watch much more day-to-day wearable, always ready for use without the hassle of needing to charge it.

The Polar RCX5 comes with a handful of built-in sport profiles allowing for swift switching between different activities. The RCX5 is extremely tweakable, you are able to customize many training variables and review your training data right on the screen. You can also download/import various endurance training programs from the polarpersonaltrainer.com via the Polar DataLink.

The Running Package includes the Polar WearLink+ Hybrid transmitter, s3+ stride sensor, and DataLink data transfer unit. The chest strap is comfortable to wear and the stride sensor worked well with all of my running shoes.

Pairing/Websync:

Pairing my MacBook Air with the RCX5 was simple and easy. It involved installing the free WebSync app, inserting the Polar DataLink into the USB port, and getting the two wirelessly talking.

The WebSync app downloads your exercise/training data and then uploads it to polarpersonaltrainer.com.

The Polar Personal Trainer website enable you to do all sorts of data analysis on your exercise efforts.

Accuracy:

I compared the data the RCX5 and its sensors gave me to what various pieces of exercise equipment I used (treadmill for distance and elliptical machine for heart rate) told me. The RCX5 data was within/less than a few percentage points differential with every piece of exercise equipment I used.

Looks & Style:

Compared to many other sports/training watches I have used, the RCX5 is the best looking, least assuming, most wearable of the lot. This watch is relatively stylish, thin and lightweight (46g)….perfect for daily use.

Quality:

The RCX5 is very well made and finished. It has a strong, black aluminum frame/body with well made rubber wristband. The screen is easy to read from both a size of digits and contrast standpoint. The RCX5 will definitely standup to the many, many miles of pounding pavement, spinning wheels, and laps swam.

Bottom Line:

I have used many sports/training watches over the years, most were either big, bulky and/or ugly. This is especially true for those with GPS capabilities. Unlike those watches, the RCX5 is a great physical size and weight, all the while stylish in a sporty-tech kind of way. To achieve this, Polar enables you to expand this training computer capabilities via optional accessory sensors that you keep on yourself or your gear/equipment while exercising. Thus, allowing the RCX5 to be a great wear-whenever timepiece.

I am very pleased with the RCX5 in all respects. It is a great training computer, definitely a tool for those who want to take their efforts to the next level. The RCX5 is expensive, especially when compared to those $50 Ironmans on Amazon, but not when compared to others in its class. The RCX5 is not only available in the black you see in this review but a bold red/black as well. The RCX5 begins at $350, the Run package is $420 and goes up from there. But in this case, you are getting what you pay for; a great, feature-rich, highly expandable training watch for the hardcore athlete.

 

Product Information

Price:The RCX5 begins at $350. The Run $420 / Bike $390 / GPS $470
Manufacturer:Polar
Pros:
  • - Engineered for the hardcore athlete
  • - Well made
  • - Easy to use
  • - Expandable thru optional sensors
  • - Customizable
  • - Downloadable data
  • - Accurate
  • - Great form factor
  • - Stylish
Cons:
  • - Expensive
Posted in: Health, Fitness, Sports, Outdoor Gear, Reviews, Watches, Clocks

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • David March 18, 2013, 10:00 am

    i bought this a week ago as it’s the only HRM on the market that enables readings whilst swimming; something I do every weekday morning. I’ve been able to program the watch for my other activities, weight training, elliptical machine, exercise bike etc.
    paid just over £360.00 so not cheap, but a HRM without swim data would be a waste of money, at least in my case.
    looks great and endless options. Especially like the mapping when used with GPS for running and cycling.

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