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Are $50 HRM's worth the money? Also, stick with Polar only?(25 posts)

Are $50 HRM's worth the money? Also, stick with Polar only?Kristin
Jan 24, 2003 1:09 PM
I have decided that I really can't afford to drop $100+ on an HRM, but I need something to use this summer. But everyone seems to dog the cheaper models. Does anyone have a $50 or so monitor that works well for them?

Also, should I avoid the lesser name brands all together?
it will get you bycyclopathic
Jan 24, 2003 1:16 PM
Usually you can't get HRM with training zone ~50$ but
Colorado Cyclist has Sigma PC-14 for 40$ (regular 65$) check it out
it's too big for girlskenyee
Jan 24, 2003 9:04 PM
Got one for my wife after she complained her Polar didn't have backlighting (spinning class in the dark) and seconds and date.
It's a *lot* bigger than it looks. As big as the giant polar's. And the strap doesn't strap down tight/small enough, so it keeps slipping down.
Lots of functions, but they've multiplexed so many weird functions to buttons that it's really confusing (probably the same w/ most of them).
re: Are $50 HRM's worth the money? Also, stick with Polar only?No_sprint
Jan 24, 2003 1:19 PM
Yes they are. I've got several from the basic a1 up to the 510. I find myself not utilizing most of the features of the high end models. The a1 will do only one thing, show your HR. No clock no nothing. I like the clock especially for the classes I teach. I haven't owned any other brand but haven't heard to specifically avoid any in particular. The a1 can be had at the sports authority for $39.99. That is absolutely the best price I have seen for it.
I like my TimexDougSloan
Jan 24, 2003 1:20 PM
I've been using a Timex a couple of years. You get the HRM with limit alarms, plus all the stopwatch, alarm, and countdown timers. The countdown feature is useful to remind you to drink in the summer. It has worked flawlessly. You can probably find it on sale at stores like Venture or Target for somewhere between $50 and $90.

I have 3 non-working Polars in a box of stuff in my garage.

Anyone use the Nortdick Track HRMKristin
Jan 24, 2003 1:42 PM
Its normally $200, but on sale for $70...I won't say where. Will it live a long life?
if you're the Canadian Nat'l champ, noweiwentg
Jan 24, 2003 1:42 PM
but for most of the rest of us, yes. I'm not trying to rag on Nick, but if you're not very, very serious about training, you will not have a lot of use for the fancy features. just get a nice simple one.
re: Are $50 HRM's worth the money? Also, stick with Polar only?JS Haiku Shop
Jan 24, 2003 1:44 PM
i'm using a polar a1 given to me about this time last year.

they're going for $44 at nashbar.

the chest strap alone runs for $40ish, so it's almost like getting a $5 monitor with your chest strap. funny how i feel strange saying "your chest strap" when e-talking with a female. LOL. :)

the a1 gives current heart rate, average (at the end--when you turn it off), and a rough time display, in blocks of minutes, in a rudimentary graphic format. zero bells and whistles, though--when it's "in use", you're getting only your heart rate, nothing more.

if it were not given to me, and i know what i know now about it, i'd not hesitate to buy it again. on the other hand, it sure would be nice to set zones ahead of time, have zone alarms, and have summary information afterwards (all found in the more expensive models).

the upside for me is that the treadmills and stairsteppers at my office gym work directly with the polar chest strap, no setup necessary (and no wrist monitor necessary). once you roughly calculate your zones, it's easy enough to do the math in your head, if you don't mind looking at the display every so often.

FWIW, i don't think you could go wrong spending $40-$50 on an HRM, especially since--if you later buy a more advanced model of the same manufacture--you'll have (#1) a backup, and (#2) a spare chest strap, both for about the price of just a chest strap. of course, i'm not sure if this applies to brands other than polar.

ps: $10 handlebar mountsJS Haiku Shop
Jan 24, 2003 1:47 PM
instead of spending $10+ on a polar handlebar mount, i spent $2 on 6 feet of pipe insulation, and cut off a piece, taped it on, affixed the monitor, and gave the other 5+ feet of foam to my little one, who immediately converted it to giant-outdoor-silly-toy-chase-the-neighbor's-cat; best $2 spent outside of toys-r-us.
There are Polars that are $50-$60.Fez
Jan 24, 2003 1:58 PM
Check the sale sections at Performance Bike, Sports Auth or Galyans. They are very frequently available.

I don't have any loyalty to Polar, but they offer 2 transmitters, an uncoded and a coded. The chest transmitters are cross-compatible with all models. The only exception is you cannot use an uncoded transmitter with a cycling wristwatch - it needs the coding.

The only problem with Polar is they make lousy wristwatches. However there was a recent post here about great Swiss watches.
If you already have a bike computerirregardless
Jan 24, 2003 2:27 PM
and only want to use the HRM as an HRM, and you don't care about downloading the data to track your fitness over time, the A1 should be fine. The only disadvantage I see is it keeps time in 10 minute blocks. But so what if your bike computer already provides an elapsed time funcion? I have an A1 and it serves its purpose well. But at some point I decided I wanted to download information so I could track my fitness over time. And downloading heartrate alone didn't make any sense without knowing what kind of workout it was. So I opted for a combined HRM/bike computer with PC dowload capability. Now I can track speed, elevation, cadence, etc. all as a function of my heartrate, all for different rides that I normally do. It's pretty nifty, if that's what your into. If you're not, its a waste of money.
Have you seen at this oneStraightblock
Jan 24, 2003 2:55 PM
from Supergo? For only $35 it's a decent speedometer/computer, and gives you a HRM with current HR, training zone indicator, and tracks total time in, above and below training range. Maybe not the best choice if you're a data & gadget junkie or you want to use it on multiple bikes, but if you just want to know how hard you're working, for the price it's a decent starter HRM & reduces the amount of junk on your bars by combining HRM & computer together.
Hmmm...I think I'll wait for the reviewsKristin
Jan 24, 2003 3:11 PM
The blurb:
"Another Supergo factory-direct sneak attack saves you money! We found the world's top manufacturer of cycle computers - the same company that currently produces most of the computers for major brand names! At first, they didn't want to produce our "private label" products, but we offered to make a massive quantity purchase that they couldn't refuse! The result? A top quality, 7-function Cycle Computer and 4-Function Heart Rate Monitor, for less than most of the "name brand" basic non-HRM models that came from the same factory!"

First of all, if I'm the leading manufacturer of HRM's and someone wants to buy my product and then sell it at a reduced rate--making me my own competitor--how can I win? Answer: I take their money, develop the unit and put my least experienced QA's on the project.

Second, It looks nothing like SIGMA (who can be the only maker based on their blurb), which means the packaging is brand new. That makes this a version 1.0 product. Never buy a 1.0 product--it'll be buggy.
Looks like a Vetta...MRS
Jan 24, 2003 3:45 PM
Hi Kristin,

It actually looks very much like my old Vetta HR1000 cycle computer/HRM - the same display, the same buttons, the same number of features. My Vetta is about 5 years old now and I am still using it and don't really have any complaints. I don't know what that says about the supergo one though...
I've been using one for about a yearStraightblock
Jan 24, 2003 3:57 PM
without problems. It occasionally gives a 0 HR reading when riding under high voltage wires, but I think a lot of them do that. It goes back to normal function once I get away from the wires. I use it on my main road bike, and have a basic wristwatch type I use with my other bikes and on the trainer. The Supergo unit seems to need input from the speedometer functions to keep the HR display going, so isn't good for the trainer. If you want to use it on multiple bikes you'd need extra mounts, too. I'm pretty sure Supergo carries them, but they probably cost at least half the cost of the whole unit.
It's an older VettaGeekRoadie
Jan 24, 2003 4:01 PM

I picked up one of these last year for $35. Can't beat it for the price as you get two units in one. I've got it on my rain bike and although it doesn't have all the features of a mid-range HRM or cyclocomputer it's suits me just fine. One of the nice things about this one is that it works with the non-coded Polar chest straps.

I'm not a big fan of house-brand components but in this case I think it is a pretty good value.

If you already have a cyclocomp I'd suggest getting one of the "A" series models from Polar. My wife has the A1 and A5 and is very happy. More than sufficient unless you NEED the other whizbang features.

Benefits of hrmRubberbandman
Jan 24, 2003 3:23 PM
Let me start by saying I'm not a gadget guy and I don't race. I would say I'm a mid-serious rider. I ride with some clubs and I total about 7,000 miles/year.

What are the benefits of a HRM? From conversations I've overheard the hrm seem to be more of a novelty and/or an I've got one too item. How many of you hrm users really use them effectively (besides the curiousity of knowing your heart rate)?

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure they're a valuble tool if all the info is stored, reviewed and analyzed.

Go ahead, blast away.
Specific training requires oneKristin
Jan 24, 2003 3:33 PM
A scheduled training program usually requires you to ride in a certain zone (or at a certain heart rate). I will use the HRM to make sure that I am staying in the right zone on training rides.
Perceived extertionwillin
Jan 24, 2003 6:40 PM
I had a Polar A5, stopped working, havent missed it. My trainig is either putzing, endurance, LT or I am cranking in a race like group ride, or racing, or cranking on all out anaerobic intervals. In these situations the HRM doesnt help., because the HR is what it is--ie in the hard group ride or race youre working the ride, moving up, or avoiding getting dropped, etc.

At LT or alightly above/below, pecieved exertion works fine., You just need to know your body.

Having said all this, Im going to but a Polar A1, and use t on my endurance days to make sure I do not go below 125 BPM or whatever is 65-70% of my max.

A must for fast or hilly centuries or doublesirregardless
Jan 24, 2003 4:24 PM
Lets you confirm that you are riding within your range and avoiding "the bonk." Spend too much time above LT and it's SAG time.
My $50 Polar is just fine. Rudimentary, but okay. nmRoyGBiv
Jan 24, 2003 3:32 PM
At the lower price point I'd almost stay away from PolarPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Jan 24, 2003 4:12 PM
Polar HRM's are great... I love my S710. But the thing is almost any other HRM on the market like Sports Instruments ( has user changeable batteries. Polar does not and I hate the idea of taking forever to get my HRM back.

Then between my old Sports Instruments HRM (which my dad uses happily) that is at least a couple years old and my Polar in terms of just getting a heart rate I notice no difference. Of course theres no cycling computer functions, memory with 5 secs counting, lalalala... but then again its all stuff I could easily live without if I had to.

re: Are $50 HRM's worth the money? Also, stick with Polar only?wasabekid
Jan 24, 2003 4:24 PM
I think so, specially if you have a planned zone training program.

Currently own a Polar A1, so I would just echo the reviews above. Except for not taping the pipe insul on the handle bar, it is set up identical like Humma did.

Used to own the Polar A3 for 2 yrs, fancier and more features, then lost it in the gym and realized that I did not really use the other features, so A1 was the replacement.

Got it for $39 (sale) @ Big 5 Sporting if you have the patience and think its right for you...

YES!Ken of Fresno
Jan 24, 2003 4:53 PM
I got this Polar for $39, and it has been my favorite so far. All I want it to know my current hr and this has never let me down. It's never given me any problem working next to my wireless computer either.

Best of luck,
re: Are $50 HRM's worth the money? Also, stick with Polar only?rrjc5488
Jan 24, 2003 5:40 PM tfor 60 bucks, you get a whole lot more than a HR monitor.