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Polar 5/7 series effectiveness as cyclocomputer?(10 posts)

Polar 5/7 series effectiveness as cyclocomputer?rockbender
Feb 21, 2003 12:47 PM
I have been debating getting an HRM, as it seems to be a valuable training tool from what I have read here and people I have talked to.

What I gather so far is that if you are going to get a HRM, you might as well get a Polar - even if it costs you a few bucks more.

As I currently don't have a computer for my roadie, I am thinking that a 510 or 520 Polar would be a nice package with wireless sensor and basic bike functions I need (I really don't care about being able to download info...I spend enough time screwing off at work on RBR without needing to download and plot my HR during my workouts!)

Am I better off getting a (more) basic HRM and separate bike computer or are the Polar units worth it? LFR - I saw your rant about the 7-series setup, so perhaps you can shed some light?

thank you!
Polar 5/7 series effective as cyclocomputer? Yes!davet
Feb 21, 2003 1:11 PM
I use my 710i on three different bikes as a computer as well as an HRM. It works very well and the integrated charts that it downloads to your PC is enlightening, entertaining and imminently useful.
Great HRM, but...Fez
Feb 21, 2003 1:32 PM
I would still use a separate cycle computer.

1) The S710 is a great heart rate monitor. I would use it even if it didn't have bike functions.

2) However, I like the reliability of a wired cycle computer.

3) Even if I wanted to use the S710 for everything, it would mean trying to press a bunch of rather small buttons to scroll back and forth to get different info. No thanks. I just like my monitor to display heart rate info, time and stopwatch and I never touch it during the ride.

So I use a separate cycle computer as well. This computer shows speed, distance and everything else I need.
Question about weird signalsBR7288
Feb 22, 2003 1:14 AM
I use a Polar S710 and on every ride the HRM picks up some weird signals that causes it to record obviously incorrect data (i.e. on every ride, my max speed is reported to have been in the 50s or 60s when I know it was in the mid 20s). Has anyone experienced similar problems with wireless devices generally or this device specifically, or is my HRM messed up?
I like the cyclocomputer functions, but...lonefrontranger
Feb 22, 2003 6:51 AM
My rant was based on the premise that the unit itself is highly non-intuitive and the user manual is next to worthless. C'mon, I don't want to have to go twenty pages deep through all the setup stuff I had figured out anyway just to see a simple diagram of the watch and what the buttons do. Instead on the overleaf they give you some useless directory tree that doesn't really explain HOW to get there, just what it does when you do. And NOWHERE did I find, anywhere in the whole frigging thing, the simple explanation that to zero out your trip function, you have to press and hold (for a very long time, too) the "backlight" or 11 o'clock button, while you are in the trip screen.

Fortunately, a good friend of ours, my SO's teammate in fact, happens to be a programmer for those little cameras used in quality control systems on assembly lines. Dude *thinks* in 3-dimensional optics code. I've also seen him sit and out-stubborn a Windows 98 system to determine where random .dll conflicts were causing havoc with software drivers, for three hours and about seventy reboots mind you. Hence he had the patience to actually sit down and figure his 710 out. Then, since he's also that rare bird who can decipher geekdom into plain English, he gave a little workshop for my teammate and I who also both have 710s and are both probably too blonde and female to have a license to run the damn things. He explained to us in about five minutes how to turn the stupid alarm off, and what all the buttons actually do.

Here was his crash course explanation, verbatim: The 5 o'clock button selects your main screen, the 1 o'clock button selects the subsets of that main screen, you hit the big red button twice to set it into a mode that works well for most rides, and don't hit the 7 o'clock button while you're in the middle of a ride or it will stop the timer and cause your ride to "end" there on your download chart. Don't bother with the programmable exercise sets because accessing them requires far too much thought while you're above AT, instead just toggle the lap counter function to track interval sets.

Now that I actually know how to use the stupid thing I actually like it. Wireless is always a risk in areas where you get strong EM fields (door openers, some security systems and all overhead power lines), and the bike mount itself is the worst design I've seen in a long time, at least for Ergo setups, but I'm well satisfied with my purchase (got it half off retail). My favorite feature so far is the "climb" one; it gives you how many feet you climbed over the course of a ride in 20 foot increments. Using this readout the other day, I discovered that one of my key "flat" training loops actually has over 1,000 feet of elevation gain on it; it was nice to see this occurring real-time instead of having to wait to download the ride to track it. I also like that there's a screen which shows speed, lap counter and HR; no other combo computer I've ever had will do this, and I have some intervals in this year's program that use a function of speed over time.
Feb 24, 2003 1:05 PM
I guess I didn't realize until now that the 710 had an altimeter too! Guess I'll have to spring the extra bucks for the 7-series.

I'll have to bookmark your response for a directions manual - thank you for sharing.

I must admit I have had to deal with the .dll problems in my office as well, with much less patience!
the thing's like a Swiss army knife once you decode itlonefrontranger
Feb 24, 2003 2:14 PM
I got the 710 on closeout, as the 720 is now out and significantly more expensive. I'd recommend you snap up one of the 710's on closeout or on Ebay while you still can, definitely don't pay full retail if you can avoid it.

Functions I've used and liked so far:
- Clock (stopwatch, lap timer, split timer, 2 separate time zone watch); mostly use the lap timer to track interval training.
- Speed (max, avg, current)
- HRM graph showing time spent in zones (on download)
- Distance (both trip and cumulative)
- Altimeter includes current altitude, real-time ascent feature and graphable gain. The downloaded graph also shows % gains. You fist have to turn the altimeter on, though (use the software).
- Current temperature
- Cadence (you need a separate $30 unit for this which I don't have yet)
- Features on the calendar/training journal like tracking of weight and resting HR, training hours per week, how many miles ridden per week, and especially the ability to key in additional training data from gym workouts or the Sports Instruments cyclo-computer on my 'cross bike (it won't graph this data, but it does accumulate it to totals of time spent in zones, training hours and mileage, which is key).

The USB IR interface download feature works very well, and entering / uploading changes to preferences / defaults is immensely simplified by doing it on the software then transferring it all to the watch. I like the calendar and journal format, although it is pretty comprehensive and easy to get lost in. The bonus is that it is also nearly infinitely customizable to your preferences. Also, as soon as you buy the thing, go onto and download all the updates. One of the more recent ones allows you to change the X axis from elapsed time to distance, which is important for the big mountain climbs out here as this allows a better representation of what long climb profiles actually look like. One of the nicer features is the ability to error correct your graphs. This is awesome for those times when you ride under high-power lines and your HR blips up to 240 or something stupid like that.

Things to watch for: Some of the defaults are weird, like the speed graph being defaulted to 0-250 mph. You'll want to fix that unless you're using it on a road racing motorcycle. If you live at high altitude, you'll have to adjust the defaults on the altimeter, it comes set for 0-1000 feet, meaning that since I live above 5000', my climb data was 'off the graph' until I adjusted this then set it as a global preference.

silly or useless features include the "fit-test" and the power meter. Word on both is: don't bother.

The bottom line: I'm using it as a tool to track a high volume of training, for which it seems to be doing a good job. Unless you're interested in or need a lot of this detail though, it may probably be just another expensive toy.

As far as the best overall cyclocomputer interface, I'd have to give that nod to Shimano's Flight Deck. It's highly intuitive and easy to install.
thanks again-rockbender
Feb 25, 2003 9:49 AM
I just ordered one off the net- I will surely find it cheaper tomorrow, but that is the game we play, right?

Last nite at spin class another guy had a 710, which he loves - that helped seal the deal and it was nice being able to check it out too. He lucked out and picked his up on e-bay for $100! I payed a little more than twice that, but that is still far better than retail.

At this point I am not too concerned with the downloadability function. It IS indeed another toy, but I have been thinking about getting an HRM for quite a while and think it will be a great tool.

I was previously thinking about getting the Flightdeck, which I still might, but this will at least temporarily cure my curiosity and kill two birds with one stone.

Thanks for all your input, it is much appreciated!
re: Polar 5/7 series effectiveness as cyclocomputer?techie470
Feb 22, 2003 12:53 PM
I use my Polar 710 to display the timer, heart rate and cadence, along with a cheap wireless computer to display time of day and speed. I agree with LFR about the complexity of this unit. Guess that's the price we pay for all the info this unit tracks. I still get lost in its menu and I am one of those computer geek types.

I download the info to my computer, and can see my speed improvement. Other than that it's just another toy. If your serious about training the software that comes with it could also be used as a training diary.

Feb 24, 2003 9:26 AM
Well, we'll see what happens! I havn't totally made my mind up yet, but your input helps a lot! Sounds like my $ might be better spent on a good HRM and cheapo computer than springing for the Flight Deck! ahh, the toys (did I say 'toys'? I mean necessities!)