Not sure if this should go in the Gadgets forum or the Training forum, so I'll just pick one.
I picked up a Polar F11 HRM the other day and did my first ride with it today. Just thought I'd share my first impressions.
I have been riding consistently for about 3 months, anywhere from ~100 to ~200 miles per week.
First, I set the F11 up with height, weight and birthdate info and then did the test function. For my age bracket (55-59), the F11 tagged me at 45 (top of scale). Which sorta surprised me, no more than I've been riding. (about the only exercise I do.) I don't really know what that test means yet.
Due to rain this week, I first tried the HRM out on our NordicTrack Ski machine. I ran it in ownzone and found the max heart rate at 146 to be too easy to trip. Automatic also wanted to peg the max HR at 146.
For the bike ride, I changed over to manual and set limits of 100 to 170. After a 55 mile ride, the HRM indicated calories burned at 2996, max HR at 172 and avg HR at 146 for a time of 3 hours and 28 minutes. I found I could comfortably cruise in the 130-140+ range indefinitely. When I got in the 150+ range, I was spinning up hills and starting to huff and puff a bit. When I got in the 160 range, I was getting close to running out of energy and having to climb my little hills at a slower cadence (60-70 or so).
I tried to ride as I normally do, but found myself somewhat distracted by the constant flow of info and I missed shifting lower to catch upcoming hills... shifting down to take advantage of a downhill, etc. My times and speeds were a bit slower than usual. But that could have been due to gusty winds, being off the bike for 5 days, etc.
Honestly, I thought I was more of a lazy rider than the HRM indicates. However, based on the info I saw today, I think I ride more in the top end of that zone than I thought I did.
This is all new to me so I don't know how accurate the zone thing is. The HR zone in ownzone and auto seem really low for the top end. Or else I've been exceeding safe limits for a while. Not sure what to think about that.
The HR seems pretty accurate. I never saw it miss a beat and it kept a steady HR indication as long as I was within a few feet of the watch (mounted on the handlebars).
Speaking of zones, I have a HRM training book that I've just started, so I really don't know much about this subject yet. I guess it'll tell me somewhere in there what zone is suitable for my age and conditioning.
I haven't tried any of the programs modes yet. Not sure how applicable that is to cycling anyway.
I have lots of learning yet to go on how to make the best use of this new information and tool.
from my experiance (only 6 months) with my polar forget about the "ownzone" functions. you just need to figure out what your MHR is for cycling (and other acticvities if interested).
as mentioned above do the 2x20 if you can (something i have yet to do!!!) to figure this out. personally I guaged mine from the age formula then attended a few spin classes and after reaching my age formula max on a couple of occaisions (when i was about to black out) concluded that for me my age formula max was pretty spot on (not always the case for everyone)
mine MHR (192, set mnanually in my polar) probably isn't spot on but i don't race and it serves as a useful benchmark for some rough zone training. I found the biggest thing it taught me was riding what felt at first to be painfully slowly during recovery/endurance rides. 3 centuries later, i conclude the polar has haelped me no end! good luck