Tech & Wearables

Scosche Rhythm+ arm-strap heart rate monitor review

An excellent alternative to a chest strap, particularly for indoor riding.

Review Rating


Basics

A Bluetooth and ANT+ heart rate monitor that goes around your forearm or bicep instead of the traditional chest strap.


Pros

Easy to use, easy to clean

Cons

Not cheap


Price

$79

Brand

Scosche


Heart rate monitors have long been handy training tools, and now for online racing, they are often required equipment. The Scosche Rhythm+ is a new generation of heart rate monitor that goes on your arm instead of around your chest, and for indoor riding, in particular, it’s a great option.

Besides the location, the Scosche Rhythm+ also differs from a traditional heart rate monitor in how it measures heart rate. Instead of measuring electrical signals, it uses optical signals via LEDs.

Many running watches have LED heart rate monitors now built into them. While I like the idea of eliminating the chest strap — especially for running — I found that I had to tighten the watch tighter than was ideally comfortable to get an accurate HR reading. With this Scosche strap, that isn’t an issue; just wearing it tight enough to keep it from slipping down is adequate.

The Scosche Rhythm+ comes with two band lengths and a USB charging cable.

The velcro straps are soft and stay in place without having to tighten uncomfortably.

The bands are soft, tighten with Velcro, and stay in place fairly well even when you are pouring sweat inside on the trainer.

You can wear it on your forearm or around your bicep.

The Scosche model is quite similar to the Polar OH1 and the Wahoo Tickr Fit in that they are all optical heart rate monitors that go on your arm. While some of these type of devices offer features like memory or running cadence sensing, I’m only interested in heart rate data for cycling — and how easy the thing is to use every day — so that’s what I focus on here.

In terms of accuracy, I have found optical measurement to track closely with electrical measurement.

Scosche Rhythm+ versus the Wahoo Tickr Fit

The Tickr Fit and the Rhythm+ both come with two lengths of very similar bands, dual ANT+/Bluetooth frequencies, a USB charging cable, and a $79 price tag. Both turn on and off with a single button and are waterproof enough for indoor riding.

While I like the svelter look of the Tickr Fit, I prefer the functionality of the Rhythm+. How hard is it to use a heart rate strap, you say? It shouldn’t be hard, right?!

The Tickr Fit’s button is small and angled back towards your skin when on, so it can be a little fussy to press. The Rhythm+’s button by contrast is smack on the front of the thing, and therefore much easier to use.

The Tickr Fit’s little blue button isn’t super easy to press. On the Rhthym+, the button is on the front under the ‘S’ logo. Photo: Ben Delaney

More annoying, the Tickr Fit doesn’t always pair with my computer, which is irritating when I’m scrambling to get set up for a Zwift race where heart rate is required. The Rhythm+ pops right up in Zwift every time. Wahoo I’m sure would say that this particular Tickr might be faulty and that normally this problem shouldn’t exist. But in my sample of one, it is what it is.

Both have custom USB charging cables with snap-on cradles. It would be nice if you could just use any standard USB cable, but I suppose that would compromise the waterproofness. As is, you just have one more USB cable to keep track of in your life.

For battery life on a full charge, Wahoo claims 30 hours for the Tickr Fit while Scosche claims 8 hours for the Rhythm+. I’ve never ridden anywhere near that long inside, so I’m not measuring.

The Tickr Fit has three green LEDs while the Rhythm+ has two green and one yellow LED, which Scosche claims to be more accurate. I have no idea if this is true.

What I do know is that, in my comparative testing of a single Tickr Fit versus a single Rhythm+, I prefer the latter because it’s easier to use and always pairs quickly to my laptop on Bluetooth.

You can also certainly use the Rhythm+ in conjunction with a cycling computer or a smartphone for riding outside. Just beware the funky tan lines, as my colleague Dan Cavallari has noted.

Scosche says two green and one yellow are better than three green LEDs. I have no idea if this is true. I just know that the Rhythm+ works easily and reliably with Zwift. Photo: Ben Delaney