The Most Comfortable Heart Rate Monitor I've Ever Worn – Bike Magazine Australia

As a licensed coach, certified trainer, and longtime fitness writer, I know the many benefits of heart rate monitoring. Paired with other metrics like power data and even plain old rating of perceived exertion, your beats per minute are a window into how well your training is working; they can tell you when you need recovery, when you’re ready to go, and even when something might be amiss with your heart health. I owned four or five heart rate monitors, all of which sat in a drawer far more often than were strapped around my torso because I simply hated to wear them.

Each one had something—or more than one something—that just bugged me. In many cases, the sensor was too big for my body and would poke my sternum uncomfortably. A couple were finicky and cut out during rides. One took forever—and a lot of gross saliva rubbing—to get a connection. When I did manage to get one sitting comfortably and up and running, I’d inevitably have some skin irritation from the strap when I returned home from a ride.

That all changed a few years ago when Wahoo sent me a Tickr to test. I’ll confess, my initial response was, “Here we go again…” It sat in its box longer than it should. But then one day, feeling guilty, I snapped it on, and the red and blue lights blinked almost immediately, indicating that it had picked up my heart beat (red) and was searching for my phone (blue), which it synced with within seconds after launching the app and turning on Bluetooth. So, I went out for a ride. It worked great and didn’t bug me a bit. I’ve been a convert ever since—and I’ve never had to wet the sensors to get a reading. Just snap and go. That’s pretty cool.

Aside from comfort and ease of use, the Tickr boasts a few other features that make it a standout. It offers dual band ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart technology, which means it communicates with most cycling computers, GPS watches, smartphones and tablets simultaneously. So if you record your rides with Strava or another third party app (it’s compatible with more than 50), all your data will be there.

The slim plastic monitor also snaps off on both sides, so you can easily wash the strap. Though you don’t have to worry about getting the monitor wet; it’s waterproof, so you can swim with it. I don’t have an Apple Watch,  but if I did, it would also integrate with Apple Workout app. And the Tickr is only around $70, making it one of the best-priced basic heart rate monitors. The only smallish knock is that the battery definitely hasn’t lasted up to 12 months as advertised. But since I use it daily, and sometimes multiple hours daily, I’ll say that’s acceptable. 

I realise that since I’ve started using the Wahoo Tickr, the market has flooded with bracelet-style activity trackers, many of which also use optical sensors to monitor heart rate from your wrist. I don’t want to wear a device 24/7, and my experience with wrist sensors has been hit-or-miss, especially on the mountain bike, where I bend and move my wrists a lot as I ride. The accuracy of these devices also leaves something to be desired, so much so that researchers from the Cleveland Clinic published an advisory in the Journal of the American Medical Association advising exercisers with cardiac conditions (who need the most accurate readings) to use electrode-containing chest straps instead of optical sensors; The models they tested were not consistently accurate and were more likely to be inaccurate during exercise.

If, like me, you’ve shied away from heart rate monitors for reasons of discomfort and inconvenience, the Tickr might be the one to win your heart.

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