HRM monitor that isn't a PITA ...- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    HRM monitor that isn't a PITA ...

    I gave up on HRMs almost 20 years ago, because the current state of the art (Polar chest HRM) were inaccurate, finicky about perspiration, unreliable, and in general a royal PITA. Have things gotten better? If so, any particular recommendations? Are Fitbit, wristband stuff ready for prime time? A Wahoo Element Bolt is in my future if that is a factor. Thanks in advance for your insights!

  2. #2
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    I use a Wahoo Tickr when I wear the HRM. I don't always wear it on trails or around town - mostly on the Road Bike. I've had it about 16 months and it is working very well.

  3. #3
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    I've been using the same Garmin HR strap since 2010 and it's been bulletproof. The only issue is when it's cool, dry and I haven't started sweating yet. The pads don't make good contact with the skin. Rubbing a little water/spit into the pads solves that. This is the old, non-"Deluxe" strap. The Deluxe had issues due to poor contact between the removable pod and strap. New Deluxe works well.

    About 6 mo ago I got an optical arm band sensor, Scosche Rhythm 24, which records so I can use it for workouts in the gym or otherwise. It's been working very well and reliably. Personally, I find the chest strap a bit less obtrusive than the arm band. Few optical sensors work well with vibration and movement. I know Polar has been weird in the past, but their new optical sensor, OH-1 Plus, is supposed to be very good. Check review:

    https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2019/03/...th-review.html
    What, me worry?

  4. #4
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    I haven't used an optical sensor, but have had pretty good results with a couple of more recent chest strap types. I had one of the 1st gen garmin straps and it worked reasonably well, though comfort could have been better. The one I have now is a Bryton brand, but similar in concept to the newer soft strap types with a pod that snaps on. It's a bit more comfortable and still reliable enough.

    I don't use it terribly often, but I should probably use it more.

  5. #5
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    I've been using the Scosche Rythm+ for a few years and it's been awesome for my needs. Probably some lag compared to a chest HRM but I find it way more comfortable. I usually wear it on my upper arm, beneath my cycling jersey/shirt.

  6. #6
    Armature speller
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    ANY wrist, arm or chest HRM is going to be FAR better than the old Polar's.

    The things we had to do to try and get stable readings out of the old sensors...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by driven916 View Post
    I've been using the Scosche Rythm+ ... I usually wear it on my upper arm...
    The stock strap won't come close to going around anywhere on my upper arm...and I'm not bragging. I'm very average size and weight and just assumed it would when I bought it. Nope. I'm thinking of getting some elastic and making my own strap.
    What, me worry?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    The stock strap won't come close to going around anywhere on my upper arm...and I'm not bragging. I'm very average size and weight and just assumed it would when I bought it. Nope. I'm thinking of getting some elastic and making my own strap.
    Gotta do whatever works for you. Still a very HRM inmy opinion. Mine came with 2 bands, a smaller one and a larger one. I can use the smaller one on my wrist but the large one works for my arm. I'm 5'10, 175 lbs but slighter build I guess.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by driven916 View Post
    I've been using the Scosche Rythm+ for a few years and it's been awesome for my needs. Probably some lag compared to a chest HRM but I find it way more comfortable. I usually wear it on my upper arm, beneath my cycling jersey/shirt.
    I've no experience with hrm's but am interested now that I have invested in a garmin 520 plus this year. The wrist strap is where I'm leaning. Much more user friendly than chest strap.
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  10. #10
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    Something about the angle I hold my wrist at when riding a MTB makes my wrist HRM (on the Garmin VA3) read low.

    It's not as bad on the drop bar road bike.
    The above statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration

  11. #11
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    Optical HR monitors need to fit fairly snugly and held in close steady contact with the skin to work reliably. Watch and wrist types often don't work well on the bike with the movement and vibration. The Scosche and new Polar optical monitors are generally worn on the forearm or upper arm.


    Quote Originally Posted by driven916 View Post
    ... Mine (Rhythm 24) came with 2 bands, a smaller one and a larger one. I can use the smaller one on my wrist but the large one works for my arm. ...
    Mine only had one, too big for my wrist and too small for my upper arm, and I'm the same size and weight as you. Do you have Popeye arms? :-) I checked their website but they only had the one size strap available.
    What, me worry?

  12. #12
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    I have noticed that the Garmin optical is not reliable for me. It doesn't pick up hard efforts for a good 10-15 minutes (just guessing, but it's a while). But eventually gets close enough. But looking at the data on my girlfriends rides (I gave her my old watch), the data looks pretty good. So I am guessing something about my skin doesn't play well (thick skinned?). But I use that data on any rides where my HR isn't a concern. If I want accuracy, I use a strap.

    That said, the few Garmin straps I have used since 2012 have been great. The most recent one seems to be the most reliable of all of them. I bought an HRM/strap combo instead of just a strap as the price difference was surprisingly low, and the new one has been working after a couple years of abuse.

    I would say that if optical works for you, and you don't mind a watch, the Garmin watch's are very convenient. They do transmit data to your head unit, which is what I do on my road bike when I don't use a strap.

  13. #13
    Loud tyres save lives
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    I have the HR strap that came with an Edge 800 but I've found performance from it is inconsistent as it sometimes works, sometimes doesn't. It stopped entirely so I popped some new batteries in and it lasted a ride and a half before it conked out again although it had managed reasonably well for a while before I'd replaced the batteries. I don't know if it's just faulty or if a newer HR strap would work better.

    I have the optical HR on a Fenix 5s which I get constant results from and works fine broadcasting to the head unit but it underreads by around 10-20bpm on average compared to the heart strap. Most of the time it doesn't matter but I've been trying to do some more structured training recently and would like to get more accurate HR data for some of those runs.
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  14. #14
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    Wahoo chest strap seemed pretty accurate, but I did not like wearing it. Apple watch could not get reliable reading. I got a Scosche Rhythm 24 (wear on the forearm) and it's great. Seems just as accurate as the Wahoo, and I don't even notice when I'm wearing it. I often forget to take it off after a ride.

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