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Heart Rate Monitors

Old 05-01-11, 01:16 AM
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Heart Rate Monitors

I'm looking at Heart Rate Monitors. I don't need any other information while I ride.

Are the ones that you wear on your wrist accurate? Or are there better kinds?

Thanks.
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Old 05-01-11, 01:44 AM
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You do need one with the chest strap. They can be very basic and it depends on what you want.

If you want one that will show more than your current HR then a few makes that are worthwhile- Polar is the one that I used to buy before the Garmin edge 305. Other will recomend other makes but all I want to know now after a ride is what my Max was so a basic one would do me fine.

And for those basic ones- I was once given a "Cheap" department store one that did all I wanted and I eventually gave up on it when the batterys ran out. It was going to cost almost as much to change the batterys as to buy the cheap Polar. So I bought the Garmin.
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Old 05-01-11, 04:35 AM
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They are all accurate as measuring HR is easy. What's difficult is getting one that meets your needs, has an understandable manual and works for a while. Like stepfam I went through a few cheaper ones and wound up with a Garmin. The polar ($90 years ago) was great, but the buttons were always intermittent - a common problem at least back then. The other, a cheepo just died quickly.

I would suggest down-loading the manual before you buy to check that it really does what you want and that's it's understandable. Also Google some user reviews to see if there are multiple reports of serious issues.

I blew about $250 on my Garmin wrist unit as I wanted recorded HR in 5-bands and pc charts of HR vs time/distance to support my fitness program. It has a GPS which gives me distance and pace for walking/running and a track to retrace if I get lost riding new trails.

GPS by the way is inaccuraterate for distance-travelled on trails at mountain bike speeds. It apparently can't handle the large number of turns not to mention they don't do elevation changes in the distance-travelled calculation. Garmin is consistently 10 to 15% low.

Garmin has good hardware, but their tech support does not know their products and their newer manuals are very lacking. They all have warts and the trick is to buy one with the warts you can live with.

My particular older Garmin is great, but some friends with the newer ones have serious manual issues. My wife's new $50 Garmin has a terrible manual and their tech support has no clue as to it's features nor how to operate it. We figured it out well enough over time to do what she wanted.

Garmin does at least have a forum.

Al

Last edited by alcanoe; 05-01-11 at 04:41 AM.
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Old 05-01-11, 05:52 AM
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Stapfam alluded to the thing you need to look for - make sure you can replace the battery in the chest strap. Some have to be returned to the factory for a new battery and that is expensive.
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Old 05-01-11, 07:04 AM
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The chest strap + wrist monitor works fine. You can't see it on your wrist without turning your arm, so get a piece of pipe insulation and strap the monitor on the bars.


I used mine for pacing on rides. I could speed up (or slow down) to a heart rate that I could sustain for miles. I didn't use any of the average heart rate displays or the alarms for a too high or too low heart rate. So a simple monitor worked for me. From experience, I could stay at 140-145 "forever" and at 155 for a few minutes at a time.

(I have a Garmin GPS computer now, which comes with a chest strap. It is interesting to download the ride data and see how my speed and heartrate change all the time while riding.)

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Old 05-01-11, 08:07 AM
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I have a Suunto HRM that's worked well for 10+ years. It's a Swedish company that makes HRMs, altimeters, and scuba dive computers among other things. I've used it primarily in the gym, in spinning classes, and on a trainer. On a bike, I want it all: time, speed, distance, cadence, altitude, grade, route, HR, data recording, nav guidance...and use a Garmin 705. One of these days I may even add power.
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Old 05-01-11, 08:24 AM
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Even tho you think you just want HR, I'd recommend getting cadence too. You'll probably wind up wanting it.
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Old 05-01-11, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by chinarider View Post
Even tho you think you just want HR, I'd recommend getting cadence too. You'll probably wind up wanting it.
+1
I use a Sigma BC1909STS. Has cadence and HR.
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Old 05-01-11, 10:23 AM
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As long as it has a chest strap, it should be fine. The chest strap cues off of the electrical fields generated by the heart whilst it beats. Of course, you can find some interesting readings if you are riding next to someone with a heart monitor of the same frequency.
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Old 05-01-11, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by chinarider View Post
Even tho you think you just want HR, I'd recommend getting cadence too. You'll probably wind up wanting it.
Why? I have a good idea of my cadence just by feel and experience.

I don't care how fast I'm going, I just need to monitor my heart rate. Is there something I don't know?
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Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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Old 05-01-11, 11:08 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
Why? I have a good idea of my cadence just by feel and experience.

I don't care how fast I'm going, I just need to monitor my heart rate. Is there something I don't know?
Agree--When I got the Garmin I opted for cadence version. I have it fitted on one bike and I can't remember the last time I looked at it. Once you have settled into a Cadence that you like and is efficient--I doubt you would change it unless it is very high or very low and causing you problems.

On the few occasions- and I do mean few- I have checked it- I have found that I am around 90 to 95 on the flat and 70 to 80 on the hills. Don't care if that is right or wrong but that is the cadence I ride at. Mind you- it was fun to look at the cadence after the ride the first time I went up a 20% section. Never knew I could pedal that slow and still stay upright.

But if you are going to be on a training programme- are going to start racing or just want to brag- then cadence is part of the programme (Not so much the bragging) Then I could see that it could be usefull to you.
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Old 05-01-11, 02:46 PM
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Well, my only interest is whether I'm in the aerobic zone. I'm not sure that I need any record, just a meter to tell me what point I'm at now.
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Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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Old 05-01-11, 04:01 PM
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I just use mine for data about my present exertion level, don't record the data, not really interested. I have found I only need the HRM early in the season when I an getting use to cycling again and need it to help me get back in shape, mostly to tell me when I am working hard enough during intervals. Later in the season I get used to how I feel at particular exertion levels and don't need it or use it.
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Old 05-01-11, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
Is there something I don't know?
If you haven't ridden with the other information available, then I'd say the answer to your question is yes. Does not knowing it matter to you? Who knows... that's the thing about not knowing.

I find cadence of great value, but then I'm a data junkie and also constantly trying to improve my riding fitness. Unfortunately, cadence requires a sensor that adds cost and complexity compared to something that only displays your HR.
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Old 05-01-11, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
Why? I have a good idea of my cadence just by feel and experience.

I don't care how fast I'm going, I just need to monitor my heart rate. Is there something I don't know?
I'd say the same thing about heart rate. You can feel it. When I used a HR monitor, it read high when I was going hard. When it stopped working I never bothered to replace it. I can feel when I am going hard. I don't think you need any of that stuff -- cadence, speed, HR, etc. What's your blood lipid profile when you're climbing a long hill? That would be nice to know.
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Old 05-01-11, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by scroca View Post
I'd say the same thing about heart rate. You can feel it. When I used a HR monitor, it read high when I was going hard. When it stopped working I never bothered to replace it. I can feel when I am going hard. I don't think you need any of that stuff -- cadence, speed, HR, etc. What's your blood lipid profile when you're climbing a long hill? That would be nice to know.
Just because you guys don't know something doesn't mean that it doesn't count. Lot's of info online. Buy a book. Read something useful for a change. Or maybe you can just feel knowledge?

This is getting to be the "I'm old and I know everything" forum.
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Old 05-01-11, 07:40 PM
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I never thought that I'd use a HR monitor but I got one after my wife suggested that I should get one "so that I won't overdo it and drop dead." My wife had a Garmin because she does have some minor heart issues. Some of my workouts can be pretty intense so after I tried hers out, I decided that maybe it wasn't such a bad idea after all.

I use a Garmin 305 Forerunner for multiple sports. I use it for tracking my avg and max HR and to keep me within zones 3 - 4. I'm a bitt of a data junkie and it helps me track my progress as the season wears on.
The GPS function is useful for tracking position and altitude since it seems like I'm always climbing hills and I'd like to know what sort of pace I'm keeping on the hills. Even if I'm doing 10 miles it's always at least 1000 feet. The HR alarms are very useful for me on very steep hills for cycling and especially xc-skiing. I have a bad tendency to ski at too high a tempo and my HR will soar on steep hills so it tells me that I should really back off a bit.

I use a Sigma with cadence on both bikes. I didn't bother installing the sensor kit on the Roubaix for a month or so and I found out that even though I thought my cadence was up to the usual speed, it was in reality, quite a bit slower. While part of that was due to sorting myself on a new bike, I was surprised at the difference. I've also found that tracking cadence has cut down on any issues with my knees as well as some periodic cramping issues in my calves when climbing hills. When you have muscles on your legs like a running back it's easy to start mashing too much.

I didn't get the cadence sensor and the bike cradle for the Garmin because the Garmin cradle is great big mother that apparently doesn't hold the unit very well. I've heard of people who have destroyed theirs because the unit popped out , fell on the road and got crushed by a car plus I already had a Sigma that could handle two bikes with a second sensor/magnet package. The Sigma also has nice BIG NUMBERS that are easy to read.

The Garmin GPS distance and altitude data always needs correction (which is nothing new) and there are plenty of pieces of software that can do that for you. I find that the raw altitude data always tends to be on the high side on the Forerunner. The geo coordinate data seems to be reasonably accurate when I'm on the road bike or when I'm skiing so I don't have any issues with that.

The other feature I use are the timer alerts. I limit my workouts to an hour a day during the week (lunch hour) so I hit the road covering a number of different routes, when it hits 30 minutes, I turn around and head back.
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Old 05-01-11, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Terex View Post
This is getting to be the "I'm old and I know everything" forum.
I knew that.
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Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

Last edited by Artkansas; 05-01-11 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 05-01-11, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
If you haven't ridden with the other information available, then I'd say the answer to your question is yes. Does not knowing it matter to you? Who knows... that's the thing about not knowing.

I find cadence of great value, but then I'm a data junkie and also constantly trying to improve my riding fitness. Unfortunately, cadence requires a sensor that adds cost and complexity compared to something that only displays your HR.
I've always enjoyed just riding without instrumentation. But recently I've made some discoveries that impel me to make sure that I am going aerobic. I can feel it I think, but I do need some more feedback now.
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Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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Old 05-01-11, 09:22 PM
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I never thought I'd use one but I've found that the data can be quite an eye opener. It's also helped me to resolve some issues that I've suspected but not been able to confirm in any other way.
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Old 05-01-11, 10:00 PM
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I too just wanted a simple monitor to give me instantaneous readings. Bought an Omron HR-100C, its a chest strap and wrist monitor type, is accurate and cheap. I paid about $30 for it a little over a year ago and use it 5-6 days a week. Like others here, I strap it to the bars because it is hard to see on the wrist. I've run a battery out of the chest strap but it uses common and cheap 2032's. Just me personally but I could care less about anything fancier, all I care about is what my HR is now but I care quite a bit about that piece of data. Very handy, I won't ride without.
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Old 05-01-11, 10:06 PM
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I have a basic Polar heart monitor. I think it cost about $35. It measures my heart rate, no other bells and whistles. It is coded so that other monitors don't interfere, but it does not have a user-replaceable battery. You would need to pay a little more to get the next higher version for that.
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Old 05-02-11, 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by scroca View Post
I'd say the same thing about heart rate. You can feel it.
Could agree with you except that when I ride- I like to make it worthwhile. Try to keep myself at the anaerobic working leveland for me that starts at around 135 BPM. Problem is that hot day- feeling tired and anything else that will make me feel lazy and I will not get to that level. If I am not carefull I will ride at around 125 which means that I am just turning the pedals and not working the body. So a monitor will keep me within my working zone and not below it. Similarly- If I excert myself too hard for too long early in a ride- it gets very hard or slow by the end.


So for me a monitor is a usefull aid for me to keep my fitness. Don't use it all the time and I still get out on the bike to smell the roses occasionally
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Old 05-02-11, 04:35 AM
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Originally Posted by cyclinfool View Post
Stapfam alluded to the thing you need to look for - make sure you can replace the battery in the chest strap. Some have to be returned to the factory for a new battery and that is expensive.
Exactly. No less than the Polar F11, else you will have to send it back for a basic battery change. Unacceptable.

I have the F11 and it does well for running or at the gym (spinning or whatever.) On the bike I use my Garmin Edge 305 with HRM and cadence (and lust after the new 800 series.)
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Old 05-02-11, 09:18 AM
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On my original Polar 150, the battery on the chest strap was not replaceable, and the cost of a new strap was about half the price of the HR/ bike computer. It was replaced by a Garmin Edge 305. It's chest strap had a replaceable battery, but the battery in the Edge needed replacing after 2 years, and that was if I recall $90. The whole unit had to be sent back to Garmin, and they replaced it with a completely refurbished one.

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