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  1. #1
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    Most accurate and reliable heart rate monitor

    I'm looking to buy a heart rate monitor for cycling, running and the gym. I've looked at numerous reviews of a dozen or so of the most popular models and there is a lot of conflicting information out there. I don't need a lot of bells and whistles, just reliable and accurate. I'm looking to spend in the neighborhood of $60 +/-. It would be nice to have something that records max and average HR.

    Polar, Timex and Omron all seem to have models in that price range but all have mixed reviews. Most negative reviews seem to revolve around problems with pickup and transmission from the chest sensor and/or accuracy.

    Information about particular pro and cons of various models would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    Lead, follow or get out of the way

  2. #2
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    I've had good luck with Ant+ models from Wahoo and Garmin… I got a bluetooth one from mapmyrun store and it sucks. Wrote the company and they have not even answered me back in 2 weeks.

  3. #3
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Polar is very good. Most gym cardio equipment responds to a Polar transmitter. All of their stuff is good. Just pick your price point. Folks who have trouble with a transmitter belt just don't know how to use an HRM. That would be most folks. The simplest thing is to put a gel on the electrodes every time you use use it, and wash it by hand with soap after every use. Don't ball the transmitter part up while washing it. Keep it kind of flat. Spectra Gel.

    Polar HRM belts do wear out. The little wires in them get tired or something. I go through about 1/year. Replacement belts without the transmitter are $17-$20. I always have a spare.

  4. #4
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    I have been using a garmin hrm that came with my 305 for around 6 years.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    ... Folks who have trouble with a transmitter belt just don't know how to use an HRM. That would be most folks. The simplest thing is to put a gel on the electrodes every time you use use it, and wash it by hand with soap after every use. Don't ball the transmitter part up while washing it. Keep it kind of flat. Spectra Gel.

    Polar HRM belts do wear out. The little wires in them get tired or something. I go through about 1/year. Replacement belts without the transmitter are $17-$20. I always have a spare.
    Nice job at first insulting just about everyone that has had the well documented issues with Garmin Premium belts. Then do an about face on belts wearing out.

    Myosmith, I would recommend steering clear of the transmitter belts that are marketed as "soft" or "premium" and which rely on a pair of snaps to connect an all elastic belt with built in contanct points to the small transmitter pod. They have well documented reliability issues. Although ever so slightly less comfortable, the transmitters that encompass the contacts and componentry in one plastic module and where the elastic belt serves no other purpose are significantly more durable and allow you to disconnect said, sweaty strap and wash frequently, by any means, without concern for electronics. Just my $0.02
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

  6. #6
    Senior Member elcruxio's Avatar
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    I've had several polar meters and never had any issues...

    Umm... well not exactly. If I'm using one while cycling and ride under a major power line the meter will go a bit haywire for a few seconds. But that's about it.
    I can heartile recommend polar meters. There are some in the lower price ranges also.

  7. #7
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    I too have been using a Polar H7 Low Energy Bluetooth monitor most days of the week since May -- so it has had a good, but short test.

    The only "problem" I had was when the battery went dead -- so now I carry spares. Just be careful you do not misplace the plastic battery holder when you replace the battery.

    And, as posted above, take care of the strap. They say to dribble water on it. I simply run it under a faucet and have had zero problems with it.

    It syncs well with 2 apps that I run on my IPhone 5: Strava and Digifit. Of the 2 I find digifit the most useful as it gives the best analysis and history of heart rate. One nice feature is it lets you setup your own unique heart rate zones. In addition, I have it set to call out my heart rate every 1 minute -- which keeps me in the zone where I want to be.

    But, browsing around the Apple Store yesterday I noticed a cycle computer that looks like it will pair with the IPhone and display heart rate and a bunch of other stuff. That would be nice.

    As for displaying on gym equipment: When I use a treadmill, I simply start Digifit and set my IPhone on it and it shows me time and heart rate info. But, it also tracks it for me and maintains a history of each 'run' so I know how often I've worked out and how I did.

    It's a pretty flexible piece of equipment -- if you have an IPhone ...
    --------------------------------------
    bikes: 1992 Cannondale R500, 2012 Trek DS 8.5, 2008 LeMond Poprad

  8. #8
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    Another vote for Polar here. I have one of the cheaper Polars and two more expensive Timex's. The Polar is consistently accurate while I find that both of the Timex HR's are very erratic in their heartbeat readings. I do have a pacemaker however and after much research I found that the Timex HR's do not work well for people with pacemakers, yet the Polar one works okay. Also as earlier stated the Polar transmitter strap works with the machines at the gym.
    My experience only for what it's worth.
    James

  9. #9
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
    Nice job at first insulting just about everyone that has had the well documented issues with Garmin Premium belts. Then do an about face on belts wearing out.

    Myosmith, I would recommend steering clear of the transmitter belts that are marketed as "soft" or "premium" and which rely on a pair of snaps to connect an all elastic belt with built in contanct points to the small transmitter pod. They have well documented reliability issues. Although ever so slightly less comfortable, the transmitters that encompass the contacts and componentry in one plastic module and where the elastic belt serves no other purpose are significantly more durable and allow you to disconnect said, sweaty strap and wash frequently, by any means, without concern for electronics. Just my $0.02
    Yep, they do wear out. So do tires. I have no problem with wearing out my bike equipment. In fact, I just had to order a new pair of Pearl Izumi Thermal tights - $135! I've ridden in the rain so much in the past 3 years that I've worn them out. That's a good thing.

    The very nice thing about the soft strap is that the transmitter battery is user replaceable and seems to last forever anyway, and you can swap back and forth between Polar and ANT+ transmitters, since the snap centers are the same. Been using Polar equipment for 15 years with no problems other than wearing out the new, better belts, no big deal. If you do as I suggest, use a gel and wash the belt, the fabric belts last a long time. You'll also have fewer or no spurious readings, the main thing that folks complain about with their HRMs.

    If you really want a rigid belt instead of fabric, Garmin makes a rigid belt with a snap-on transmitter. I don't know if Garmin sells the belt itself separately, but they might.
    Last edited by Carbonfiberboy; 12-11-13 at 08:47 AM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Yep, they do wear out. So do tires. I have no problem with wearing out my bike equipment. In fact, I just had to order a new pair of Pearl Izumi Thermal tights - $135! I've ridden in the rain so much in the past 3 years that I've worn them out. That's a good thing.

    The very nice thing about the soft strap is that the transmitter battery is user replaceable and seems to last forever anyway, and you can swap back and forth between Polar and ANT+ transmitters, since the snap centers are the same. Been using Polar equipment for 15 years with no problems other than wearing out the new, better belts, no big deal. If you do as I suggest, use a gel and wash the belt, the fabric belts last a long time. You'll also have fewer or no spurious readings, the main thing that folks complain about with their HRMs.

    If you really want a rigid belt instead of fabric, Garmin makes a rigid belt with a snap-on transmitter. I don't know if Garmin sells the belt itself separately, but they might.
    We all have our acceptance level for consumables. I felt the 6-12 months I was getting from the Garmin soft straps to be less than I would expect. The older garmin strap's trasmitter is not removable. It is molded into the plastic that also houses the contact points. However, the battery is way easier to change than the snap on transmitters, due to it being a simple coin twist lid versus removing the screws of the snap on transmitters.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

  11. #11
    Senior Member digibud's Avatar
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    my original garmin strap that came with the garmin 500 stopped working. I got another that does snap in and out. Just changed the battery on it yesterday. The original molded-in strap was never terribly reliable and seemed affected by synthetic clothing and wind but the new strap has been 100% reliable.
    Alaskans for global warming.

  12. #12
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by digibud View Post
    my original garmin strap that came with the garmin 500 stopped working. I got another that does snap in and out. Just changed the battery on it yesterday. The original molded-in strap was never terribly reliable and seemed affected by synthetic clothing and wind but the new strap has been 100% reliable.
    I have seen on other threads a lot of complaints about erratic performance, spikes and so on from heart rate monitors. Yet, on my newer Polar H7 I have never experienced that. So, maybe you hit on why so many people complain about it: older equipment.
    --------------------------------------
    bikes: 1992 Cannondale R500, 2012 Trek DS 8.5, 2008 LeMond Poprad

  13. #13
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    I've found Polar HRMs to be pretty much stone-reliable, but not to last forever. Wife and I bought A4's perhaps a dozen years ago. We used them a few times a week in riding season, replaced watch batteries about once each and had one strap give out - it has a battery, too, but you can't replace it without major surgery to the transmitter. I figure we did not wash the straps well and the salt residue created leak paths.

    One watch just quit after 10 years, regardless, so I replaced it with a more modern RM-100 (I think) with the coded T31C transmitter. Coded strap quit after 2 years, but I now have bought a replacement. I'll keep using it but my better bike is going to get either a Sigma ROX 9.1 or a ROX 10.

    As far as accuracy, I don't know how any of us could tell what is or is not accurate, better than counting wrist pulse against a sweep-second hand or digital watch. But there the accuracy is not better than 1 incorrect count per minute (for a low resting HR), which is worse than 1% in general terms. You'd also have to test against an HRM average reading over the same minute. Any error level lower than 1% cannot be evaluated, based on this method.

    And I'm not sure that any better accuracy is useful at least for me.
    Last edited by Road Fan; 12-22-13 at 01:55 PM.

  14. #14
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    Just started using a Mio monitor. I had no idea, other than perceived exertion, where my heart rate was in spinning class. The Mio I got was about $60, and doesn't seem to be the latest generation of Mio. No chest strap. Just hold two fingers on the monitoring buttons until the watch spits out a number. Pretty simple and I doubt I need more for now.

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