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Road Gear

Why I prefer heart-rate straps on the arm, despite one common drawback

Easy to wear, less annoying than chest straps, and more accurate than wrist monitors. However...

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I was never a big fan of wearing chest heart-rate straps, but many of us appreciate the data, whether monitoring it for training or health purposes. So the latest wave of arm-based heart-rate monitors is a welcome advancement.

Models from Wahoo, Polar, and Scosche all use LEDs to measure your heart rate and transmit it via ANT+ or Bluetooth to your bike computer or whatever device you’re using for TrainerRoad or Zwift. In my experience, they are more accurate than wrist-based monitors, and a heck of a lot more comfortable than both watches and chest straps.


Female riders like Kae Takeshita have told me arm-based monitors are more comfortable for women, too, who already have a sports bra where a chest strap would go.

Sports bra or not, moistening the transmitter by licking a plastic strap to wrap tightly around your chest before exercise is a great idea — thought no one, ever.

Polar’s Verity Sense recharges with a dedicate snap-on key.

The Wahoo Tickr Fit is a good option, with a soft strap and user-friendly visual indicators. The Schoshe Rhythm+ is a touch better, in my estimation, simply because the on/off button is a big fat button on the face of the unit, instead of a tiny button on the side of the Tickr Fit. Otherwise, they are pretty darn similar.

Polar’s new Verity Sense is my favorite because it’s the smallest. I can wear it above my bicep under a jersey and it’s not too obtrusive.

All three are particularly good for riding indoors, where you are often sopping in sweat.

But the one thing that bugs me about arm-based monitors is the recharging. Not the fact that they are all rechargeable — that’s a great thing. But the fact that all three each require their own unique charging devices. I don’t know what your table or counter situation is, but mine is already littered with a phone charger, and always at least two or three micro USB chargers for head units, headphones, and SRAM batteries. I’ve also got USB C cables tangling around for GoPros.

Rechargeable batteries are a positive thing. Just not the tidiest.

The Wahoo and Scosche have their own cradle that the unit snaps into, and you plug that USB in somewhere. The Polar has a USB key of sorts; you remove the circular monitor from the strap, snap it into the key, and plug the key into a USB port.

I understand that a micro USB port on a monitor designed to be somewhat waterproof just won’t work. I get it. But I’m also annoyed that the trade-off is more recharging clutter, and the potential to lose the special recharger or forget it when traveling.

Anybody else’s desk look like this?

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.