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Tech & Wearables

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?