I bought a Polar heart rate monitor a few years ago (Polar FT1). I didn’t use it very much because:
- The strap tended to slip down. You would tighten up the strap, but during the ride it would become loose and slip down
- It took a long time for the heart rate to get detected. Also I often got randomly high heart rates, especially at the start of the ride, this may have been due to some kind of electrical interference
- I didn’t make much use of heart rate numbers. Obviously when you try hard, your heart rate goes up – with a bit of a lag. But, I never really looked and never thought to make too much use of heart rate numbers. I never looked at it after a ride, and wouldn’t have really known what to have made of a heart rate file after a ride. I got out of the habit of wearing it, and it just sat in a cupboard.
- I did use it on the rollers in the winter as a rough guide to effort when I didn’t have a power meter, but it often took 15 minutes for the heart rate to get going, and by then I was looking forward to finishing my rollers session.
I’ve been using a Garmin 500 for a few years, but have never thought to make use of the heart rate feature. When I bought, I just bought the Garmin, thinking I wouldn’t use the HR anyway.
For this hill climb season, I’m getting some coaching from Gordon Wright. He is keen on the science of sport and says looking at heart rate can be helpful. I decided to buy a Garmin compatible strap so that I would have power, speed and heart rate all on one file.
A quick look at reviews suggested the Garmin Premium was better and not much more expensive, so I bought that.
It is comfortable for a heart rate monitor. I’ve not had it slip down chest. It is a little complicated to adjust, but once adjusted it seems more sturdy than the Polar. It seems to be made of pretty good material and has a feeling of durability and comfort. Once adjusted it will stay. Once fitted, it was quite easy to forget it was there; I haven’t had any chaffing or problems.
There is a garmin connector which just clips on to the front of the heart rate strap. To wash the heart rate strap, you can just un clip the device
It was easy to set up. Just press and hold Menu on Garmin 500,
go to: Settings – Bike Settings – Heart Rate – ANT+Heart rate. Select Yes and rescan. (Garmin 500 manual)
It recognised heart rate straight away.
So far I have not had any problems with heart rate interference. It seems accurate and quick to get going.
Note: I’m comparing a Polar – bought about three or four years ago. The model may have improved since then.
Using Heart Rate
One thing with heart rate is to check resting heart rate first thing in the morning. An elevated heart rate is one of potential signs of over-training. My resting heart rate this morning was around 45.
I doubt I will be looking at the heart rate whilst training or cycling. But, it may be an indication of something. I may even get to learn more about the benefits of using a heart rate monitor.
The Garmin Premium heart rate monitor strap is a nice piece of equipment. It fits well and has easy integration with a Garmin device like a Garmin 500.