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I am an absolute novice around heart rate monitoring and its implications, just trying to validate/argument my knowledge through a discussion here.

I do 30 kms a day commute and upto a 100 km a day on the weekends, Over the past one year, I haven't seen a significant dip in my weight, although I can definitely fell that I am less fat. Thinking of optimizing my cycling for better results, for which a lot of people recommend considering your heart rate.

I am using Strava for a while now, and I think Wahoo HRMs are the best to use, as people mostly recommend it. There is also the Polar H7, which is a cheap and supposedly compatible HRM with Strava.

I have a budget of around 100$ but can stretch to 150$ if I get good value for money.

My questions are -

  1. How do you guys use heart rate monitors with cycling?
  2. What are the features that you guys consider as a must in a cycling/Running centric HRM.
  3. Any other suggestions/trivia.

Update

I guess I just need a basic way to monitor my heart rate while cycling. Any value addition would be nice, lets assume for now that strava integration is not necessary but would be a significant value addition.

Conclusion

I brought a Garmin VivoActive HR. Have been training with it for almost a month now and its serving me just fine so far. :)

  • We specifically don;t do product recommendations here because they become out of date so quickly, but if you take that part out I think your question is quite a good one. Can you please edit it to remove your point 3, otherwise it's likely to be closed as off topic. – Móż May 28 '16 at 8:39
  • Done. Just that all the information out there is pretty overwhelming, hoping that this discussion here would help me make a imformed purchase. – Swayam Siddha May 28 '16 at 8:49
  • Do you use a cellphone for strava? If so, please can you add the model to your question? I personally use a Samsung S5 active, which has ANT+ and talks to a cheap $30 chest HRM, and is supported by the Strava app. This works almost perfectly, and is well under your budget. – Criggie May 28 '16 at 10:12
  • @Criggie I use a cellphone, Honor 7 with android 5.1.1. for strava. I will check but I think I dont have an Ant+ in my phone. Can you let me know the HRM that you are using? – Swayam Siddha May 28 '16 at 13:01
  • One hint is to make sure sweat cannot get into the chest unit. They don't work after that. – andy256 May 28 '16 at 13:04
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I've had a couple of basic heart monitors that don't integrate with anything. They suited me and are cheap to try. One of them came with a handlebar mount for the wristwatch display which was solid enough when I tried it briefly.

I bought them for running, and found that I didn't like the zone notifications and alarms (on the treadmill analogue models are prone to false spikes in HR from interference from other units).

A major advantage of these basic units is that they don't rely on battery-sucking Bluetooth running on a phone. I also find it much easier to read a wristwatch riding than a phone screen in bright sunlight. But if you've (unlike me) got round to solving the latter, that won't be an issue for you.

  • Hi Chris, Can you let me know the models. I am open to just wristwatch mounts, my objective is to just monitor my heart rate in realtime while Cycling. I will update my question accordingly, – Swayam Siddha May 28 '16 at 13:03
  • They were just the basic ones from polar and oregon scientific. The model number of the first was obsolete by the time it broke and I bought the second. – Chris H May 28 '16 at 14:13
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Interesting and personal topic. I'll ignore your budget for now...

Ok i make use of a Garmin Edge 1000 with a HR monitor. I like to monitor my HR by % of max rather than beats. Makes it easier when looking at zones thinking of it in %.

For a indoor training on Zwift i use the Wahoo Kickr you refer to above. Now here it records in beats since thats what Zwift shows but whats good here is it supports Bluetooth and ANT+

Different tools for different applications.

On the bike Polar works fine easy enough to upload and you can see tour zones, HR in beats or %. Garment n provides a few more options like routing, HR graph even these days on the edge 1000 and 520s.

Coming back to your budget... The Wahoo kickr is a simple cheap option to use with your phone if you only using Strava. If your using other apps like Garmin connect, Polar etc a dedicated monitor and strap has more advantages.

But you pay for those advantages. I guess flexibility and compatibility are the major things to consider.

  • Hi @Ioanburger lets consider for now that I am ok with a HR that doesnt sync with my phone, (I have updated my question accordingly), What do you suggest then> – Swayam Siddha May 28 '16 at 13:11
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    Hi id start looking at polar's entry level monitors. Nice thing with polar is they have great after sale service. Also consider looking at Garmin's vivo range- my son has a vivo fit 2 - has hr and a stack of other features plus syncs with Garmin connect, good luck! – loan.burger May 28 '16 at 19:15
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The main time I train by HR is for training off the road (on a turbo (or erg - I row as well)). I use it to train in certain bands eg long steady sessions at low intensity holding 150-160 etc.

On the road I'll keep an eye on HR and use it as confirmation of perceived effort.

I used to use (and still have) a Suunto HR watch (t3c - I think it's discontinued now) that didn't do much more than give a live HR readback. I find it's more useful to have something to log the HR and let you compare it to other efforts (eg, this ride I was 15s faster up climb X for the same HR I must be less tired etc)

I would definitely recommend going the ANT+ dedicated unit route rather than using your phone. I use an edge 810 and the tracking/gps is much better than on a phone (the edge 25 uses GLONASS as well as GPS so should be even better). For $150 you should be able to pick up something like the Garmin edge 20 or 25 which will let you record your trips with HR/cadence/speed etc in one place. It integrates nicely with Strava and lets you compare efforts easily. You also get the benefit of it all being in front of you while you're riding.

A benefit of ANT+ is that you aren't tied to a brand. If you want to get a new HR strap or want add a cadence sensor.

I would also recommend using VeloViewer. It's based on your data from Strava and lets you do much greater analysis (or just makes prettier graphs).

  • I think (mostly based on your suggestion), that I will for now just get an ANT+ compatible HRM strap, and maybe in the due course get a watch/console that will be compatible with my sesor – Swayam Siddha May 30 '16 at 6:51
  • @SwayamSiddha What phone do you have? Without something to connect to the strap you won't be able to get data from it. Some phones (mainly Samsung and Sony) can use ANT+ sensors. – Holloway May 31 '16 at 11:49
  • I have an Honor 7, and I use strava which is ANT+ Compatible. Compatibility is not an issue with my phone afaik – Swayam Siddha May 31 '16 at 11:50
  • @SwayamSiddha, whether the phone is compatible is a feature of the phone hardware not of the app. You might want to check if it'd work; I can't see it on here. You can get usb ANT+ adapters and use an OTG cable if your phone supports that, but by then you might be better off with a cheapish watch/computer. – Holloway May 31 '16 at 11:54
  • Prolly I think I will go get the cheapest HRM with watch/computer then. – Swayam Siddha May 31 '16 at 12:37
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Your phone is http://www.gsmarena.com/huawei_honor_7-7269.php which makes no mention of ant+ support. However that site also doesn't state my phone has ant+ http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_galaxy_s5_active-6356.php

If you can find your phone's chipset on http://forum.xda-developers.com/hardware-hacking/hardware/ref-devices-ant-hardware-t2879990 it will confirm whether the hardware can support ANT+

https://www.thisisant.com/directory/filter/~/115|118/~/~/ shows the strava app is ANT+ aware on android. For completeness, iphones don't have ANT, they only might have Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) but they can use a WAHOO RFLCKT to mirror/bridge ANT+ signals to BLE. Windows phones don't even have a strava app.

As for HRMs, I bought one of these http://www.dx.com/p/ant-wireless-heart-rate-monitor-strap-for-smart-phones-computer-black-256722 for $24 USD. Its worked fine for ~4 months now.

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