Author Topic: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?  (Read 13018 times)

Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« on: March 31, 2013, 07:46:16 am »
Hi all

I am looking for a heart rate monitor, primarily for monitoring heart rate zones. I want to be able to monitor my heart rate throughout a ride, not just get an average.

I started out looking for simple and since my research began have found so many other stats I can measure! As a mathematician this is music to my ears, sad I know, but I now cannot make a decision.

I will be using the monitor inside on my turbo trainer and outside on my bike, so is it worth getting GPS at the same time. My cateye velo 8 is good, but less than accurate at all times and being 7 years old might be in need of an upgrade.

All in all I need your wisdom, knowledge and advice please. I have about £200 now. Though could wait a little longer so I can afford to pay a bit more if necessary, but impatience to get on with heart rate training also makes me think 'I want to buy it now'!

Thank you in advance.

redshift

  • High Priestess of wires
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Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2013, 09:40:36 am »
I bought mine from BHIP.  I have no affiliation with them, but I rang to chat with them and they will talk you through what you want to achieve with the monitor and suggest appropriate models.  It seems to be a small team there, which includes at least one triathlete, and they understand what they're selling.  My first one was a Polar 610i, because I wanted to record over long periods and needed sufficient memory to do so.  Later on, when I wanted to do speed/distance/cadence I went with Suunto, as I could buy whichever 'pods' I wanted to add to the mix.

These days, I mostly don't bother any more!
L
:)
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Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2013, 09:44:07 am »
I'm a big Garmin fan, the 500/510's monitor zones, function properly as a cycle computer and can work indoors with a speed/cadence sensor. Plus if you ever decide to use one to navigate although they don't have mapping you can preload and follow a course which appears as a line on a blank background, I've completed 170 mile rides using that method so can vouch for it!

There's a comprehensive review of the 510 here: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2013/01/garmin-edge-510-in-depth-review.html
And the older model 500 here: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2009/12/garmin-edge-500-in-depth-review.html

The 510 is only recently launched so less readily available currently, prices should soften slightly once it's been out a while. List price is £299.

The 500 is currently available at Handtec with heart rate, speed & cadence for £169 which frankly is a bargain! It may be available for less elsewhere but I've used Handtec a few times before including having to return stuff and they were great.
http://www.handtec.co.uk/garmin-edge-500-heart-rate-monitor-speed-cadence-010-00829-01.html

Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2013, 09:48:44 am »
I'm using a Garmin Etrex30 with a Bontrager soft strap ant+ HRM, and the Trek combined speed / cadence monitor. Seems very reliable. I hear the 510 / 810 can do more interesting things with HRM signal, but the first priority for me was GPS battery life. In that the monitors use ANT, you can always add another 'display'. I trend to use the GPS in map display with time and distance showing, and have a Bontrager Node 2.1 showing speed, cadence and HR displayed.

fboab

  • It's a fecking serious business, riding a bike
Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2013, 11:18:09 am »
I use a zephyr hxm ($80 imported from the USA by a friend) that talks (Bluetooth) to my Android phone. It's relatively cheap, there's a range of apps it links with, which will give all the data you can shake a geek-stick at, it's USB rechargeable (no fecking about with CR### batteries) & the same sensor will work when I upgrade phones with regulatory.
HRM training is 'fun' for a bit, then the monitor sits in a drawer for 6 months while you have actual fun riding, then comes out again for the next round of training. By choosing a sensor that works via Bluetooth means I'm not tied into a monitor that will become obsolete (hopefully).
TSS is not Total Sex Score, Chris!

Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2013, 11:31:28 am »
If you decide to get a Garmin hrm strap, bear in mind there's the older (but reliable) strap which isn't strictly waterproof, andthe new comfort strap which is waterproof but has some issues (unless they've fixed it) re glitchiness - there's a bit more detail on dcrainermaker. IMO the old strap's perfectly comfortable - a bit like the old polar straps in form, but the battery is replaceable (which is why it's not waterproof)

Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2013, 11:53:44 am »
I use a zephyr hxm ($80 imported from the USA by a friend) that talks (Bluetooth) to my Android phone. It's relatively cheap, there's a range of apps it links with, which will give all the data you can shake a geek-stick at, it's USB rechargeable (no fecking about with CR### batteries) & the same sensor will work when I upgrade phones with regulatory.
HRM training is 'fun' for a bit, then the monitor sits in a drawer for 6 months while you have actual fun riding, then comes out again for the next round of training. By choosing a sensor that works via Bluetooth means I'm not tied into a monitor that will become obsolete (hopefully).

Zephyr are awesome. The epidemiologists I work with are all giddy about the Bioharness.

The HXM looks great =- works with strava et al. I'm tempted to get one for phone nerdiness.

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2013, 03:37:05 pm »
If you decide to get a Garmin hrm strap, bear in mind there's the older (but reliable) strap which isn't strictly waterproof, andthe new comfort strap which is waterproof but has some issues (unless they've fixed it) re glitchiness - there's a bit more detail on dcrainermaker.

There is a newer improved version of the soft strap, which apparently fixes most of these issues. Though still maybe not quite as reliable as the older version. See this photo from DC Rainmaker:


Quote
IMO the old strap's perfectly comfortable - a bit like the old polar straps in form, but the battery is replaceable (which is why it's not waterproof)

Yes, the old style strap is mostly comfortable for me, though I have found it sometimes slips down my chest. This is mostly when running, its less of a problem when cycling.
The newer style strap doesn't slip as much. I found it was sometimes chafing, causing red marks/cuts on my chest, though I have fixed that with a sticky plaster. See http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2012/08/how-to-fix-heart-rate-strap-chaffing.html

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2013, 04:39:26 pm »
As per fboab's comments, I would go for a Bluetooth hrm for future-proofing reasons, especially if you already have a smartphone. Don't know the Zephyr but the Wahoo one is also good - and there's the Wahoo RFLKT bike computer out soon.

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2013, 08:18:13 pm »
The future for HRMs is probably Bluetooth Smart. Though this is not compatible with older Bluetooth devices. It seems so far it only works on the Iphone 4S or 5. Quite a few Android phones have the hardware, but the required drivers are not available yet.

I don't think its worth worrying too much about future-proofing - HR straps are cheap enough, and don't last forever anyway. Just buy something that works and does what you want now.

Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2013, 08:24:05 pm »
I've never had an issue with the waterproofness of the older style Garmin straps. Not exactly comfy but they do the job nicely.

Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2013, 09:06:07 am »
Thank you to all of you for your contributions I am now a VERY pleased owner of an Edge 510. Statistical collections begin today! I am VERY excited.

First step: obtain max heart rate.

Thank you again.

Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2013, 06:03:11 pm »
Too late I know, but I've had an Aldi one for about six years now and it still works well. All of £12.95.
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Oscar's dad

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Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2015, 06:31:49 pm »
Hmmm, I think I've shot myself in the foot, I should have done more research ...

I have a Garmin HRM which talks to my eTrex 30 although it seems to take a while to connect up.  I was hoping to monitor heart rate zones which the E30 doesn't do.  And my Garmin HRM won't talk to my iPhone which only receives Bluetooth not Ant+

Any ideas???

PaulF

  • "World's Scariest Barman"
  • It's only impossible if you stop to think about it
Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2015, 07:10:46 pm »
I have a Mio which rather than a chest strap you wear like a watch. Mine is Bluetooth but here is an ANT version as well.

Links with my phone for Strava etc..

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2015, 07:34:53 pm »
I have a Garmin HRM which talks to my eTrex 30 although it seems to take a while to connect up.  I was hoping to monitor heart rate zones which the E30 doesn't do.  And my Garmin HRM won't talk to my iPhone which only receives Bluetooth not Ant+

Any ideas???
Depending on what version iPhone, you can get a dongle which adds Ant+. eg Wahoo fitness make one. Though it costs £50, and means you have another bit sticking out of your phone, which could get broken etc.
Probably easier/cheaper just to get a heart rate monitor which can transmit in both Ant+ and Bluetooth Smart. There's a few of these, eg Wahoo fitness have a chest strap. Or Mio or Scosche for wrist strap style.

T42

  • Tea tank
Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2015, 09:52:35 pm »
I recently bought a CicloSport CM 9.3A which is a classic counter with an atmospheric altimeter, and direct measurements of speed, elevation, distance, heart rate and cadence. It will also give you a roughly-derived power figure or will take an ANT+ power meter.  It records every n seconds, n being a user parameter. Nice thing is that it outputs its data as .FIT or .CSV files (plus one other that I can't remember).  The .FITs upload to Strava, the .CSV can be gobbled by Excel; but I'm writing my own prog to process them. Fun.

The batteries on counters such as these last for months, which isn't the case for rechargeable GPS units. I use an Etrex 20 alongside.
I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2015, 10:11:02 pm »
Hmmm, I think I've shot myself in the foot, I should have done more research ...

I have a Garmin HRM which talks to my eTrex 30 although it seems to take a while to connect up.  I was hoping to monitor heart rate zones which the E30 doesn't do.  And my Garmin HRM won't talk to my iPhone which only receives Bluetooth not Ant+

Any ideas???

Pretty sure mine (old strap/E30) connects up fairly quickly, tho' normally I'm waiting for it to find satellites.

Yeah, you can't do heart zone stuff like you can on a Polar (and presumably the Edge range), but the HRM data *is* in the gpx log, tho' that's kinda after the event.

fboab

  • It's a fecking serious business, riding a bike
Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2015, 10:51:25 pm »
Hmmm, I think I've shot myself in the foot, I should have done more research ...

I have a Garmin HRM which talks to my eTrex 30 although it seems to take a while to connect up.  I was hoping to monitor heart rate zones which the E30 doesn't do.  And my Garmin HRM won't talk to my iPhone which only receives Bluetooth not Ant+

Any ideas???
When you say 'monitor zones' do you mean you want to use the HRM to deliberately work within a specific zone? What's to stop you working those out yourself (is not rocket science) and self monitoring as you go?
Mr Smith is supposed to keep his HR low and watches as we ride. It would be just as easy for him to remember intervals at 170 and 'rest' at 140 and aim for that.
TSS is not Total Sex Score, Chris!

mattc

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Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #19 on: May 21, 2015, 10:59:55 pm »
Don't be silly fboab. You wouldnt get to use Ant+, or Bluetooth, or an iPhone, or Strava, or Instacardiogram, or ....

And it would only cost about £30. That can't possibly have any benefit!
Has never ridden RAAM
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fboab

  • It's a fecking serious business, riding a bike
Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #20 on: May 21, 2015, 11:12:35 pm »
That's true.
I use a Bluetooth HRM, connected to my phone and get endomondo to talk to me as I go. And then upload it to Strava, share it on Facebook and post pictures of my red sweaty assets on instagram. Much better. (and it cost £80- though it was several years ago now. I'm probably due an upgrade)
TSS is not Total Sex Score, Chris!

Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2015, 09:35:42 am »
I don't do strava, and I don't care about zones- I can work out whether it's hard or easy myself ;) I'm not sure why you need it to tell you zones, can't you just work them out and then you know what they are, or am I missing something?

But I'm lazy and I lose things all the time, so I only want one item, not one I have to swap with every bit of equipment.

So I love my wahoo tickr, the strap thing was about £50, but it's a million times more reliable than the useless garmin ones- it talks to all my garmins, plus phone, plus HRM watch if I want but never actually use that, plus spin bike.

Karla

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Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #22 on: May 22, 2015, 09:49:48 am »
I got myself a Garmin 500 as a belated Christmas present, along with one of the 'new' (they've been around for over four years now?) Garmin HRM straps.  I decided on this as it does everything I want it to do - act as a bike computer, display HR so I can monitor as I go along, record HR so I can pore over it later, act as a basic GPS nav if I want and record my track so I can link HR to how fast I was going at the time.  It does that in one neat unit so I don't have a speedo on one side of the bars, my phone on the other etc etc (plus my phone is pretty pants and I'm not due an upgrade yet).  Whatever this talk is about Garmin HRMs being unreliable, I've had absolutely no problems with mine so far and I'd happily buy another one.

Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2015, 09:54:42 am »
I don't do strava, and I don't care about zones- I can work out whether it's hard or easy myself ;) I'm not sure why you need it to tell you zones, can't you just work them out and then you know what they are, or am I missing something?

I like having zones for pacing and training.  Also, on the Edge series you get the zone plus a decimal place, so Zone 2.8 is high endurance, Zone 3.2 is low tempo, etc.  If I'm doing a long ride then I'll try to keep my HR between these two, i.e. in a high endurance, low tempo range.  Obviously it goes up on hills.  If I'm doing a short ride, < 1h 30, then I'll try at mid Zone 3 to mid Zone 4 (threshold).

I guess it depends on whether you're happy just riding at the same speed all the time.  I'm quite time limited and I know that, after the winter layoff, I can get back to a decent fitness by mixing long rides (3hrs) at Zones 2.8 to 3.2, short rides (1.5hrs) at 3.5 to 4.5 and intervals on the turbo (high Zone 4, 5 mins, 4 to 8 repeats), in a much shorter time than if I just rode a lot of miles.

Re: Heart rate monitors: which to choose?
« Reply #24 on: May 22, 2015, 09:59:24 am »
I’ve had three HRMs to date. Just simple ones with upper alarms. I set the alarm to the ‘so called’ max for my age and went riding.
When the alarm sounded, I put an X on the routesheet as soon as possible to remind me never to go there again with the same gearset.

Now, my Audaxy bike has a 21” lowest gear.

I went on ‘The Towering Trees’ which has a 28% hill for at least 100 m. The alarm didn’t sound so now I don’t bother with a HRM.