There’s no proper way of describing how technology has transformed human lives. Things we only imagined as fantasy not so long ago are within our reach today.
Among the many areas that have benefited from technology is the wearable devices sector, notably heart rate monitors. We’ve gone from using a huge ECG machine to a small wearable wrist strap and chest strap.
Heart Rate Monitors (HRM) are small wearable devices that keep track of the heart rate, displaying all the relevant data in real-time. They can be used by runners, swimmers, cyclists, and anyone invested in physical fitness and can be worn as a chest strap, an armband, or an optical heart rate strap on the wrist like a watch.
How is this important?
There’s a myriad of reasons why heart rate devices are necessary in our modern world. Developments in technology have pushed what they can do even further; HRMs can now measure heart rate variability and it’s for reasons like this that having the best heart rate monitor is critical.
We’ll take a look at the best heart rate devices on the market, what to consider when buying one, and the reasons you need a heart rate monitor with you.
- At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Heart Rate Monitors for Cycling
- Top 7 Best Heart Rate Monitors for Cycling 2020 – Our Reviews:
- Why Use a Heart Rate Monitor When Cycling?
- What to Consider When Buying a Heart Rate Monitor?
- The Bottom Line
At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Heart Rate Monitors for Cycling
If you’re in a hurry, you can jump straight into our top picks (these are the best heart rate monitors for cyclists that most people buy).
- Wahoo Tickr Heart Rate Monitor Top Pick
- Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor Runner-up
- Garmin Flexible FR60 Heart Rate Monitor Runner-up
Top 7 Best Heart Rate Monitors for Cycling 2020 – Our Reviews:
1. Wahoo Tickr Heart Rate Monitor
The Wahoo Tickr HRM is one of the best heart rate devices for cycling. The monitor goes beyond measuring your heart rate; it also tracks the calories you burn and keeps tabs on your cycling routine.
The wearable device is integrated with over 50 mobile devices that can be synced with your smartphone for a seamless transfer of data anytime you want to.
- Very accurate
- Equipped with Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity
- App integration is seamless and has no bugs
- Sweatproof, which gives you the freedom to go all out without worrying about damaging it
- Doesn’t have internal storage
- It may be sweatproof, but its water resistance is limited to 5 ft only
- The strap the device comes in isn’t machine washable
2. Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor
The Polar H10 heart rate monitor is one of the most comfortable wearable devices you will ever encounter. It’s so comfortable that at times, you wouldn’t even remember you’ve got it on.
The monitor comes with Bluetooth and ANT+ that allow compatibility with other brands like Garmin and Apple, making it a good value for money.
It’s also very sturdy with a temperature resistance of up to 122°F and can still function in cold conditions that can reach 14°F without any interference.
- The device is very comfortable on the wrist
- Receives regular software updates
- Has a long-life battery that makes it ideal for long rides
- Has Bluetooth
- Most of the apps available aren’t free
- The GymLink connection has lots of lags
3. Garmin Flexible FR60 Heart Rate Monitor
Garmin is a leading player in the wearables industry; they have all kinds of products tailor-made for health and fitness trackers. The Garmin Flexible FR60, which runs on a Garmin HRM dual processor, is one of their best heart rate monitors that have become a hit with cyclists around the world.
The HRM dual strap is the part that reads your heart rate then sends that information to the optical sensors which then process it and display it.
The Garmin HRM features a quality build despite its affordability and packs many features that you would expect in higher-end models. Another feature that is sure to excite cyclists with this Garmin HRM is its ability to connect to your PC, smartphone, or tablet quickly using Garmin connect.
Garmin Flexible FR60 also uses ANT+ technology to send and receive heart rate data to and from the devices it’s connected to.
- The Garmin HRM comes with straps of all sizes, so heavy riders shouldn’t get worried about that
- Both sweat and waterproof
- Has durable, quality construction
- Garmin HRM dual processor is fast, a very handy feature when it comes to the transfer of HR data
- Not Bluetooth smart
4. Scosche Rhythm Heart Rate Monitor
The Scosche Rhythm is a heart rate monitor for cycling that uses a dual-mode processor to run its many functions. The heart rate monitor armband fits perfectly, safely secured for any bumpy ride without as much as slipping an inch.
The arm band monitor starts tracking the heart rate from the moment you strap it on up until you take it off. This gives you a good amount of heart rate data that you can use to draw accurate conclusions on what you need to do more or cut on.
Its integration with other devices is also top-notch, thanks to the Bluetooth and ANT+ technology. You can share the data with head units, PC, bike computer, or smartphone.
The Scosche Rhythm has a heart rate zones feature that allows you to set limits for your cycling routines to stop you from overdoing things.
It also comes with a battery life that can last for more than 8 hours and is waterproof to a depth of 1 meter.
- Can pair with as many Bluetooth and ANT+ devices at once
- Displays one of the most accurate heart rate values of most devices within the same range
- Breathable and soft to the arm
- The cost is too high for most people
- Has so many add-ons that it may feel clunky for those used to smaller wearables
5. 4iiii Innovations V100 viiiiva Heart Rate Monitor
With a mouthful of a name, the 4iiii Innovations V100 viiiiva is a Canadian product that employs the beat-to-beat technology as opposed to the pulse rate detectors that most of the other monitors in the market use.
According to the manufacturer, this technology makes the device raise its accuracy levels more than 10 times the normal. Combine that with its relatively low price and bike power meters and you’ve got yourself a beast of a heart rate monitor for cycling in your hands.
The device has a unique feature called Liiiink Connectivity Module that can convert your smartphone into a cycling computer.
Its biggest flex, however, comes in the form of the internal battery. You can clock an impressive 200+ hours of uninterrupted usage.
- ANT and Bluetooth enabled
- Has a 9-day non-stop battery life
- Extremely sensitive and accurate
- Can pair with other devices easily
- The high capacity battery isn’t rechargeable
- The heart rate straps that the monitor comes with are too small for a big person
6. CooSpo Fitness Heart Rate Monitor
At first glance, the CooSpo Fitness heart rate monitor may look drab and plain, but that shouldn’t make you think that it can’t perform. The CooSpo Fitness is one of the best budget wrist-based heart rate monitors with Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity that enable link-ups with the bike computer.
It also comes with a one-size-fits-all strap that can be adjusted for any size of arm or wrist, something that heavy riders will appreciate. The device is also waterproof and sweatproof, giving you the freedom to go wild on the trail.
- Has a compact design without any unnecessary clunk
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Equipped with a companion app
- The battery life is impressive; can last up to a year
- Features a fitness tracking system
- Has ANT and Bluetooth
- The battery is non-rechargeable, which turns the device into a dud once it drains
- The module is exposed, which makes it prone to damage
7. Fitbit Charge 3 Heart Rate Monitor
Fitbit is another brand that is heavily invested in the health and fitness data business with an impressive catalog of wearables. The Fitbit Charge 3 is just one of the many wrist-based heart rate monitors they offer.
Fitbit Charge 3 runs on a rechargeable battery and uses PurePulse technology for monitoring the heart and other physiological vitals in the body.
The monitor also supports ANT technology for easy transfer of data. The ANT connectivity comes in very handy when linking up with multiple devices.
A feature worth mentioning is its inbuilt optical heart rate sensor called the SpO2 Sensor that can detect low levels of oxygen in the bloodstream. The heart rate sensor can also be harnessed to monitor sleep.
- The rechargeable battery is powerful and lasts for long
- The head unit display is large and has an intuitive interface
- Can perform tracking all day without skipping anything
- The device is waterproof and can operate in temperature as low as -10°C
- Comes equipped with ANT and Bluetooth connectivity
- Doesn’t have GPS
- The accompanying charger is proprietary; this means you can’t use another USB cable you may have
- Can’t download apps
Why Use a Heart Rate Monitor When Cycling?
Cycling is a form of exercise. Whether you’re commuting to work, going for a leisurely ride around your neighborhood, or having your routine training sessions, you’ll expend some energy in the process.
For this reason, having the best heart rate monitor with you will benefit you in the following ways.
Helps you track your heart rate
It doesn’t matter if you’ve got an underlying heart condition or you’re healthy; the prospect of being able to see the workout data of your heart rate is irresistible. In medical terms, this is called Cardiovascular Output, which essentially refers to the rate and stroke volume of your heart.
Keeping track of these two using the best heart rate monitor when you are engaged in physical activities is essential as it gives you instant insight into your general health without having to visit the doctor.
Tracks your progress
If fitness is the driving force behind your cycling routines, then a heart rate monitor is necessary.
When working out, your heart rate has to go above your resting heart rate; that is the most accurate way of gauging if you’re doing something or just killing time. You can use the monitor to set a target heart rate then work towards it.
Being able to see your real-time heart rate can help you readjust your cycling routine on the move to achieve your training goals.
The scary thing about many heart complications is that they rarely show any symptoms; they simply strike unexpectedly. The best chance you’ve got of detecting any anomaly is by using the best heart rate monitor you can find.
You can tell if something is awry by comparing your heart rates and blood flow with what is considered to be the normal margins. The normal heart rate is about 72 beats per minute.
What to Consider When Buying a Heart Rate Monitor?
As it is with any purchase, you don’t dive headlong without considering some critical factors. The market is full of heart rate monitor brands and vendors, each promising astounding results.
Here are some factors to consider first to help you narrow down on what you need.
There are two major types of heart rate monitors: Chest Straps and Wrist Straps.
Chest strap monitors are the most accurate as they’re placed near the heart and have strong optical sensors. However, chest straps can be a little uncomfortable to walk around with.
On the other hand, Wrist straps are more versatile and comfortable, but they lack the accuracy of their counterpart. The pulse area doesn’t give the best heart rate data, and readings may be affected by cold fingers.
Ease of Use
The reason why the best heart rate monitors went digital was to make them more accessible and smaller than ECG machines.
Therefore, you should aim to make work easier for yourself when selecting one. Go for one that has a big and easy to read head unit display.
It has to have a good chest strap or wrist strap, depending on your preference. It has to be able to connect to other devices for easy transfer of heart rate data.
The best heart rate devices are more expensive and vice versa; however, there’s absolutely no reason for you to spend an arm and a leg for this, you will need those arms and legs for cycling after all. Chest strap monitored are costlier than the wrist and armband monitors.
Countless budget heart rate monitors are affordable but still pack most of the features you would find in a high-end device. This is the niche you should be focusing on, and you’ll come across a decent heart rate monitor eventually.
Some heart rate monitors are just that—heart rate monitors—nothing more, nothing less. At the same time, some brands can go a step further with advanced heart rate sensors that monitor your sleeping, your breathing, and other physiological processes.
If you’ve got to spend more on a heart rate monitor, you’ll get more value for your money going for a device with these types of sensors.
Heart rate monitors that can use health apps are a better fit for you as a cyclist as they provide more in terms of functionalities. Apps also come with extra controls that may not be available for non-app devices with physical buttons only.
Some apps can even allow you to create heart rate training exercises you can follow to improve your health and body.
The device should also support connectivity technology like ANT and Bluetooth which make the sharing of data easier even in places where the internet isn’t reliable. It should also be equipped with GPS in case you get lost while out cycling.
The Bottom Line
Cycling is both a recreational activity and a fitness routine; combining the two is the most fulfilling thing that a cyclist can ever indulge in. Rather than conquering that treacherous trail in your local area for giggles, how about getting a chest strap monitor to collect vital data on your health’s account?
The benefits you can get from doing this are many. It isn’t uncommon to hear about people who accidentally discovered something serious building up in their bodies without their knowledge; it’s devices like heart rate monitors that make that possible.
Therefore, find a heart rate monitor that best suits your cycling habits, strap it on, put on your riding gear, go hit the road, and see how that turns out.