It was quite strange how I ended up doing this Kiprun GPS 500 by Coros review. I was invited to the launch of the new Kiprun KD900X (very decent running shoes), and while at the event, I was also given the GPS 500 watch, which, as it turns out, was also launched at the same time, a week before in Decathlon's home country France.
What was strange is that no one talked about the watch – it was just part of the goody bag. Needless to say, the mystery running watch, which was created in collaboration with Coros, instantly piqued my interest. A cheap running watch from a company (Kiprun) famous for its excellent value for money sports equipment? And Coros is involved?
I had to find out more about this watch, so I started setting it up as soon as I left the event (didn't want to look too eager). I thought if the watch performed decent enough, it could be a game-changer for beginners, considering the price point. I even ended up running the London Marathon with it, just to see how it performs under proper race conditions.
Can this be the best running watch for novice runners? Would I be able to add it to the best triathlon watch guide, too (Decathlon says on its website that the Kiprun GPS 500 can be used for measuring, analysing and recording... indoor and outdoor swimming, cycling, triathlon... activities)? How does it compare to the also accessibly-priced COROS Pace 2 and the Garmin Forerunner 55? Read this review to find out all about my findings.
Kiprun GPS 500 by Coros review – Price and availability
The Kiprun GPS 500 by Coros was launched in August 2022 and is available to buy now directly through Decathlon UK for a recommended retail price of £130 (approx $147/AU$233). Currently, the Kiprun GPS 500 by Coros isn't available in the Us or AU; price and availability TBC.
Kiprun doesn't complicate things too much and only offers the watch in two colours: Black and Black Grey. The Black Grey edition has a grey strap, but the watch body is the same (black). The watch also only comes in one size (47mm watch case). Simples.
Kiprun GPS 500 by Coros review – Build quality and physical design
For a watch that costs less than the already competitively-priced Coros Pace 2, no one should expect unbelievably-solid build quality and sophistication. And indeed, the Kiprun GPS 500 is a bit clunky and thick, and it also has a rather sizeable bezel. The 1.2-inch display has a resolution of 240 x 240 pixels and can render 64 colours – nothing to write home about, but it gets the job done.
At least the 47mm watch case is light enough (the Kiprun GPS 500 weighs only 48 grams), probably due to the mainly polycarbonate construction. The lens covering the display is made of 'glass mineral', and the strap is silicone. The Kiprun GPS 500 is water-rated to 5 ATMs, and you can even swim (but not dive) with the watch. The heart rate sensor is also said to work underwater, although I'm yet to try this function.
There are four buttons located around the edge of the case, and to my delight, each button's function is displayed on the bezel of the watch, so even if you aren't used to Kiprun's setup, you can operate the watch without clicking into the wrong menus 1,000 times over. There is no touchscreen, though, although, for the price, I'm not surprised about it.
Kiprun GPS 500 by Coros review – Features
Despite being a multisport watch, the Kiprun GPS 500 focuses on runners the most with its features, which is evident from the first tile you see when scrolling through the menu on the watch (it shows your Running Performance percentage). The watch also estimates fatigue based on workout load, suggests recovery, provides daily summaries of activities/steps/calories burned, measures heart rate, etc.
What this wearable lacks are smart features; I'm not even sure if it tracks sleep. There are smart notifications (the watch can prompt you when you receive a message, for example), but the Kiprun GPS 500 is by no means a smart smartwatch. It's a running wearable that can also be used for tracking other sports activities (I counted 11 on the watch).
The Triathlon mode is actually pretty good and provides a one-button operation for tracking all three disciplines, including transition times, which isn't too shabby for a cheap wearable like the Kiprun GPS 500. As mentioned in the intro, I haven't had the chance yet to try mode out in detail, but at least there is a framework available for tracking triathlons.
Kiprun GPS 500 by Coros review – Battery life
Maybe because of the lack of smart features and additional sensors, but the Kiprun GPS 500 has a very decent battery life for a GPS watch. Official battery life is 30 days in smartwatch mode and 25 hours in GPS mode – compare this with the 14 days/20 hours battery life of the Garmin Forerunner 55 (more info on this can be found in my full Garmin Forerunner 55 review). The tiny Forerunner 255s manages 12 days/26 hours (Garmin Forerunner 255S review).
My experience with the watch confirms these numbers; if anything, they seem modest. I started using the watch straight out of the box and didn't have to charge it for the first two weeks, despite the battery being less than 100% charged when first booted up. Considering average use, you won't have to charge the Kiprun GPS 500 more than once every two weeks. For people who tend to track indoor runs, three weeks isn't unrealistic, either.
Kiprun GPS 500 by Coros review – Heart rate and GPS accuracy
I was genuinely surprised by how accurate the GPS was on the Kiprun GPS 500. It managed to keep the pace (pun intended) with the waaaay more expensive Garmin Fenix 7X and Garmin Enduro 2 on my runs in non-complicated environments (e.g. not in densely-built urban environments). It might have taken a bit longer for the chip to latch on to the signal, but once it did, it tracked distance as accurately as some of the best Garmin watches.
As a matter of fact, I tracked my London Marathon run with the watch (alongside the Enduro 2), and both GPS and heart rate tracking seemed to be on point. It recorded the full distance as 43.08 KM, which sounds realistic as I haven't followed the blue line all the way through the race, so some deviation from the 42.195km is to be expected.
The same goes for heart rate; on the charts in the Coros app – the Kiprun GPS 500 uses the Coros app to compile data – you can clearly see when my form fell apart after 30k. The heart rate went down and stayed under the threshold for the rest of the race as my pace was much slower than what my heart could cope with. Overall, an impressive performance from a cheap running watch!
Kiprun GPS 500 by Coros review – Verdict
In the current economic situation (i.e. cost-of-living-crisis), it's impossible not to recommend a cheap running watch that performs well. To be fair, there will always be a market (and demand) for decent inexpensive sports wearables, even in good times, and the Kiprun GPS 500 by Coros is one of the best ones of those right now.
It might not be the most innovative running watch, but what the Kiprun GPS 500 is supposed to do (as in track runs), it does really well. It won't recommend specific workouts each day, but it'll tell you your training load and how long you need to wait to recover. It might not monitor sleep, stress or heart rate variability, but beginner runners might not need those features anyway.
Get the Kiprun GPS 500 if you need a no-frills, affordable multisport wearable for training. If you want to buy the Forerunner 255S but decide to buy this watch instead, you can also get the On Cloudmonster (one of the best running shoes for training) and still have money left over.
Kiprun GPS 500 by Coros review – Also consider
Apart from the watches mentioned above (Forerunner 55, Forerunner 255, etc.), I can also recommend the Huawei Watch GT Runner, which is in the same price category as the Kiprun GPS 500 but sports an AMOLED screen and a running coach feature. Read my full Huawei Watch GT Runner review.
In the multisport department, the Polar Pacer Pro might be a good alternative, although being somewhat more expensive. It's an old school fitness wearable that heavily relies on people knowing and loving Polar's design and user interface. Battery life isn't as good, but the Pacer Pro is excellent for recovery. Read my full Polar Pacer Pro review.