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HRM or smart watch?

Old 07-25-20, 09:14 PM
  #1  
The_Joe
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HRM or smart watch?

Hello all,
I'm hoping you can make some suggestions for me. Here's my quick story-
Climbing is not a strength of mine. I don't shy away from hills but I do struggle. I notice my heart rate increasing as I'm really putting power into climbs. Obviously this is just what happens. My situation is that I come from a family with heart issues and while I'm fairly in shape, I sometimes worry (usually insincerely) that I'll collapse on my bike.

My plan is to get some sort of device that will monitor my heart rate but I'm not sure which. I'm not really in training mode, I don't usually ride more than a few hours at a time, and I already use my phone/komoot for navigation.

Would any of you experts be able to advise me? I'm thinking that a simple Fitbit HR or the like would suffice. All I'm looking for is something that will ping or alert when my rate really gets up there.

Thanks,

Joe
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Old 07-26-20, 09:53 AM
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HR monitors for fitness are only measuring beats per minute (BPM) of your heart. There isn't much medical about that except whether or not you are doing hard work or no work. And if your heart is healthy, there is nothing wrong with it running at it's maximum if that is what is needed for your level of effort.

If your doctor has said that you shouldn't exert yourself hard, then that might be a reason where they may be of medical use. But if your doctor didn't tell you to avoid high HR situations, then you'll wind up limiting yourself for no reason and your performance won't be as good as it could be.

You can learn a lot about performance by knowing your HR and how it reacts to different efforts. I use one. But there is a time in every HR users life that they probably went through a phase where they were controlled by their HR monitor and plateaued at a performance level well below what they might have attained.

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Old 07-26-20, 10:12 AM
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I do not have heart problems, but I am a retiree that is up in the years. And several of my friends have been rushed to a hospital to get a stent after a bike ride, one during a ride. And some of them did not have heart problems before that first episode either.

I have used a cheap heart rate monitor for years, one with a chest strap and there is a wrist watch that I instead mount on my handlebars. I consider it to be the same as the tachometer on my truck, it tells me how fast the engine is turning over. When exerting myself, I will often check my beats per minute. Cheap unit, no averages, not blue tooth, no alarms, just the current beats per minute number. And bike touring where I have a load of camping gear and food on a very heavy bike, I use that to tell me when to quit pedaling and get off the bike and walk up the hill at a slower pace. Over the years, I have had several conversations with my doctor on this, he pretty much thinks what I am doing makes sense. The one I use is:
https://www.sigmasport.com/en/produk...d-series/id-go

Display is big enough I do not need reading glasses to read it.

I do not carry a phone with me, or if I do it is usually in airplane mode. And I do not use a smart watch. A HRM that works with your phone may make more sense for you but that would not work well for me.

Alternatively, if you might later buy a bike computer that can work with an ANT+ heart rate monitor chest strap, maybe accelerate your plans to buy such a bike computer.

I used to use ones made by Sports Instruments (a now defunct company) and they all died, I suspect from water ingress. The Sigma that I now use, last summer it lived on my bike for a five week tour in the Canadian Maritimes where there was a lot of rain, it kept working great with no sign of water problems. The Sigma I now use works with my old Sports Instrument chest straps, thus I am still using those straps and not the newer Sigma strap.
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Old 07-26-20, 12:59 PM
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Thank you both for such great information. I do think It'll be a good idea to get an understanding of where my active heart rate sits and how quickly it recovers from heavy work. Your responses were indeed helpful.

​​
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Old 07-26-20, 01:10 PM
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I am also not young, and try to pay attention to my level of exertion on rides. I'm a big fan of the "Younger Next Year" book, and one of the key suggestions therein is to get an HRM so you know how hard you're working.

Ages ago, used Cateye cyclometers (no HRM). Then went through several iterations of Polars, mounted on the bars. With the V800, they finally got around to putting a GPS in the watch, but it was REALLY slow about acquiring satellites, and the darned thing used proprietary cadence and speed (and everything else) sensors with non-user-serviceable batteries. As those began to die, I jumped ship to an Elemnt Bolt. I'm using it with their HRM, cadence and speed sensors, but could use pretty much anything. Have recently added a Garmin Varia radar to the gadget pile, which I quite like.

You can customize what fields display at three different levels of detail on four or five different display pages. My "max" detail shows me HR, speed, cadence, feet climbed, current grade, elapsed ride time and wall clock time. That really allows me to keep my heart rate at or under 160bpm, and to coorelate how hard the heart is working against cadence and grade. And to make sure I am keeping my HR *above* 120bpm. The thing will also do turn-by-turn directions. It's not perfect. Garmin (and others) have head units with similar levels of function.

For me, the choice would be clear: get a decent head unit and whatever sensors float your boat. I ride with a phone in the bag and wear an Apple Watch, but having all the info out just in front of the bars where I can see it at a glance really works for me. Yes, it's a unitasker. For me, well worthwhile.

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Old 07-26-20, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by The_Joe View Post
... I do think It'll be a good idea to get an understanding of where my active heart rate sits and how quickly it recovers from heavy work. ...
​​
Yeah there are runners that as soon as they stop, they watch their heart rate to see how much it drops over some set period of time. I do not do that, but I know that it drops faster when I am in better shape. Like I said before, I like to know how fast the engine is turning over. Yesterday did a 44 mile ride, most of the time I was in the 120s to 130s range. It was mostly flat, not much for hills, but the temp was in the low 90s (F) and dew point was in the low 70s (F) for an oppressive humid day. On a day like that I did not want to work too hard. Talk to your doctor and see if he or she has any good info or advice. And ask if there are any particular numbers where you should change what you are doing.
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Old 07-26-20, 09:29 PM
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I believe you can set up both Wahoo and Garmin head units to give you an alert when your heart rate enters a certain zone. If you're worried about your heart rate going over a certain number, I think it makes more sense to have an automatic audible alert than to be watching a screen waiting for it to happen.

You'd want a regular chest strap HRM for this--Fitbits don't really play nice with other devices. I had a Fitbit (recently defunct) and it had no way of giving this kind of alert—it didn't even offer HR zone customization. Newer models might be smarter.
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Old 07-27-20, 12:46 AM
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I have a chest band heart-rate monitor that is EKG accurate. If I want to see the heart-rate displayed I fasten the watch part of it to my handlebar where I can see the heart-rate at a glance.

I'll have to look and see which make it is. Al it says on the band and on the unit is Sports Instruments. I'll look later today and see if I can locate the manual.

Cheers
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Old 07-27-20, 07:30 AM
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Got back into bicycling about 18 months ago after 25 years off. My how things have changed in that time!

I started off not even thinking about anything except speed and distance but very soon discovered that just about everyone uses a computer that measures just about everything. I progressed as follows: A Samsung smart watch for HRM and a couple of apps on my I phone. The Samsung never was satisfactory reporting heart rate information. After much debate with myself I decided to try a HRM with chest strap. I settled on a Wahoo. This is a solid device but I had problems pairing with my phone.

I wanted to try an optical arm HRM, got an inexpensive unit off Amazon, worked great for a few months then went wonky. I then got a Wahoo optical and between the chest strap model (use that on my indoor trainer) and the optical (use that outside rides), I'm happy. Personally I would skip the wrist watch approach and go with either a chest or upper arm HRM.

At Christmas my wife gave me a Garmin Edge 530 computer. I had a few inexpensive Amazon purchased speed and cadence sensors. I usually get them to work but just enough problems to annoy. My primary road bike has Wahoo speed and cadence sensors, they are solid.

With the 530 I display 9 data fields including HR. Yesterday I hit 180 BPM, I think that is the highest I've recorded and to be honest that made me a bit uncomfortable. I think the cost of a decent GPS/computer with speed, cadence and HR is worth the expense. A year ago I had never ridden with a HRM, today I feel naked without one.
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Old 07-27-20, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
I have a chest band heart-rate monitor that is EKG accurate. If I want to see the heart-rate displayed I fasten the watch part of it to my handlebar where I can see the heart-rate at a glance.

I'll have to look and see which make it is. Al it says on the band and on the unit is Sports Instruments. I'll look later today and see if I can locate the manual.

Cheers
Unless someone bought the Sport Instruments brand name, they are still out of business, as defunct as one of my Sports Instruments HRMs.



I really liked them while they lasted, I think I had about five of them die. I suspect that water or sweat got in them, the buttons did not appear to be very well sealed.

I just did a google search and found this summary:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-r...SIN=B000EPIEEU

Some of the Sports Instruments HRMs included a plastic handlebar adapter for the wrist watch unit, I still use those adapters for my newer Sigma HRMs.
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Old 07-27-20, 08:40 AM
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Tourist in MSN You had five of them die? I'm not certain if your post is a positive or negative about them. <grin>

Sadly, I've only owned one cyclometer. A lowly Garmin Edge 500 that's I've used since about 2010 maybe 2009. Still does most everything I want. Except control my bike lights. It's been trouble free so I have a hard time trying to justify replacing it.
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Old 07-27-20, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Tourist in MSN You had five of them die? I'm not certain if your post is a positive or negative about them. <grin>
....
I liked to keep my HRM on my handlebar. Someone stole my first Sports Instruments HRM when i was in a grocery store.

I went on Amazon and Ebay looking for another, nothng out there. Then a few weeks later, someone had about four or five of them in a bundle that they were selling on Ebay. Not sure if it was a dealer or what, but I bid on the batch and won the bid. I think my cost was less then I would have paid for one Polar or other brand.

So, yeah, I had several of them. I have several bikes and ride them frequently, I prefer to keep my HRM on the bike and for that reason i like having several of them, one on each of several bikes.

Does not matter if it is a positive or a negative, they are no longer made so nobody is selling any new ones anymore. The last one that died was the one in the photo above, that was during my Iceland tour, so for the last half of my bike tour I had no HRM to warn me that I was working too hard on the uphills.
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Old 07-27-20, 09:51 AM
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I like mine on my bike too where I can see it without having to take my hands off the bars. Going down a hill on a bumpy road at 35 mph and faster, it's a little much to ask me to take my hand off the bar to look at a wrist device just to see my gee whiz speed. <grin>

However my Edge 500 can be easily moved from bike to bike and it has profiles for 3 bikes. I even used to use it when I walked with my wife, though I'd have to change some of the sensor settings for one of the bike profiles so it would not auto-pause when I got too slow.

Newer Edges allow for more bikes and even different activities. I'd think Lezyne, Wahoo and others do too. I don't remember if the OP stated a budget or whether a HR monitor with GPS with all sorts of data to argue about was a negative as an option.
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Old 07-27-20, 03:31 PM
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I've used the Polar and Wahoo optical HRMs. The Polar needed a charge every other ride. My first Wahoo developed big dropouts after a few hundred miles - the lights would stop flashing and then start up again after a few minutes. The warranty replacement has worked well for 1500 miles, but it started dropping out again recently. When the dropouts get too frequent, I'll switch to a chest strap or Scosche optical HRM; I'll decide when I need to.

My heart, luckily, is fine. I get exuberant. If I start out feeling really good on a nice day, I wear myself out well before I get home. My exuberance shows up in my HR. I use the HRM to hold myself back for the first half of most rides.

Check out dcrainmaker's website for reviews. IIRC, most optical HRMs aren't all that accurate, although Wahoo, Polar, and Scosche come very close to matching good shest strap HRMs.
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Old 07-28-20, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
... My first Wahoo developed big dropouts after a few hundred miles - the lights would stop flashing and then start up again after a few minutes. The warranty replacement has worked well for 1500 miles, but it started dropping out again recently. ...
Wahoo has been having problems with sensors dropping out and they are aware of it. It seemed to have started after one of their upgrades in March. There is much talk about this in Google's Wahoo Elemnt Users Forum. It appears the problem happens when the sensors are connected via BTLE. If you have dual band sensors, you can avoid the dropouts by unpairing your sensor(s) from your Wahoo device. Have a cycling phone app installed on your phone that supports sensors (Wahoo Fitness is a good and free one) and connect all your sensors to it via BTLE. With the phone ON and still connected to your sensors, connect your sensors to your Wahoo computer via the Ant+ channel. Do this directly from the head unit and not the companion app. This will keep the sensor(s) from dropping out. I have had my HRM, speed and cadence sensors connected via Ant+ to my Bolt for over 2 years and, except for batteries dying, have never experienced any connection dropouts.
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Old 07-28-20, 08:22 AM
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That's good to know. Alas, my 'puter is Bluetooth only. I always wondered if I should have spent more to get more features....
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