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BUYER'S GUIDE

Best heart rate monitors 2022 — optimise your training with useful fitness data

Take your pick from our selection of the best heart rate monitors for cycling to find out how hard you're really working on the bike

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Why are we telling you about the best heart rate monitors for cycling when power meters have long been the ultimate way to measure your fitness on the bike? You'd be forgiven for thinking heart rate monitors had gone out of fashion, but they're still one of the most reliable methods of tracking performance and much more affordable than many alternative training aids.  


A heart rate monitor, as the name suggests, measures your heart rate in beats per minute and displays it on a screen. You can use a heart rate monitor as a training aid, setting target heart rate ranges for training sessions. Some monitors record your heart rate every second for later examination and may also estimate calories burned, useful if one of your cycling aims is to lose weight. A good heart rate monitor with lots of bonus features could prove to be one of the best cycling accessories you own, both for tracking your performance in real time and analysing it post-ride. 

While heart rate can be affected by the time of day, how much caffeine you've consumed or tiredness, a heart rate monitor is still a very useful tool and costs much less than even the very cheapest power meter. Your two main options are between heart rate monitors that fit around your chest or wrist-based, with the former taking your heart rate from a sensor strap around your chest and the latter using an optical sensor. There are also other options available nowadays, such as heart rate monitor armbands and headphones. 

Below is a selection of the best, the majority tried and tested by the road.cc reviews team... 

The best heart rate monitors: our top picks

Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor

Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor

9
The best heart rate monitor overall
Buy now for £39.99 from Wiggle
Connectivity is good
Design less prone to sweat damage
LEDs a useful visual indicator
Chest strap isn't for everyone

The Wahoo TICKR keeps things traditional with a well-designed chest strap. It can be connected to up to three Bluetooth devices at once, the dual-band connectivity is stable and the LED status lights are useful to check everything is working properly. While you can pay much less for a basic HRM, there are plenty of reasons to invest a bit more in the TICKR.

The design is really good, with the pod acting as a bridge between the two ends. This is neater than most others and acts as a reminder to remove it from the straps, thus preventing rust. The red LED flashes to say it's picking up your heart rate and the green one shows your connection status, and our reviewer found it to be highly accurate. 

You can connect to your devices via Bluetooth or ANT+, and the 2032 coin cell in the strap should be good for 500 hours according to Wahoo. 

Read our review:
Kalenji Dual heart rate monitor

Kalenji Dual heart rate monitor

8
Best cheap heart rate monitor
Buy now for £29.99 from Decathlon
Good price
Comfortable
Reliable
Slightly too easy to remove the transmitter

The Kalenji Dual heart rate monitor belt is a soft and comfortable heart rate strap that uses both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart as standard to connect with your sports watches, bike computer or mobile phone of choice. 

Considering the impressively low price our reviewer found the build quality and performance was similar to more expensive alternatives, with the sensor picking up quickly on multiple devices and the strap being made from an elasticated nylon that is similar to premium heart rate straps from the likes of Garmin. 

There's very little not to like, and overall this is a very good value dual-protocol HRM. 

Read our review:
Wahoo TICKR FIT heart rate monitor

Wahoo TICKR FIT

7
Best for indoor training
Buy now for £64.99 from Wiggle
Quick and easy to put on
Accurate
Easy pairing with ANT+ and Bluetooth
Potential jacket/sleeve and tan line issues with the strap

The TICKR FIT uses an optical sensor and goes on your forearm. It's accurate and comfortable, and it might be just the thing for indoor training, or if you don't like chest-mounted heart rate monitors for whatever reason. 

The TICKR FIT is rechargeable, and comes with its own charging cable which attaches magnetically to the sensor. It's a doddle to pair via Bluetooth or ANT+, and the claimed battery life is over 30 hours which should see you through all but the toughest multi-day rides without needing to recharge. Our reviewer found the TICKR FIT to be highly accurate, and there was no reason to suspect it was less accurate than various chest strap heart rate monitors we've reviewed previously.

The only kind of cyclist who perhaps wouldn't get on with the TICKR FIT is one that does all their riding outside and might need to pull a jacket on and off in changeable conditions, as the band would then kind of get in the way... it could also lead to some more idiosyncratic tan lines than you'd normally get! For everyone else, though, this is a solid alternative to chest or wrist-based HRMs and particularly convenient for indoor training. 

Read our review: 
4iiii Viiiiva Heart Rate Monitor

4iiii Viiiiva Heart Rate Monitor

8
Best for connectivity with other devices
Buy now for £63 from Sigma Sports
Acts as an ANT+ bridge
Accurate
Comfortable fit
Some devices don't recognise multi-device connection

The 4iiii Viiiiva Heart Rate Monitor as an extra useful function in that it acts as an ANT+ 'bridge', meaning it can send ANT+ data through to a Bluetooth device, so a traditional speed and cadence sensor can be used on an app on your phone, for instance. There are still some apps that don't currently support this multi-device connection, but this is more to do with them not being up to date rather than any fault of 4iiii's. 

Judging it just as a HRM, it performs very well according to our reviewer and was highly accurate compared to other devices. It is also simple to pair with cycle computers and phones, and the fit is good. It adjusts through two sliders at the back, keeping them off potentially angular parts of the body. At the front the strap connects to the unit itself through a popper on each side.

If you want to simply measure your heart rate then there are cheaper, options, but if you're looking for an HRM with better connectivity the 4iiii Viiiiva is a very solid option. 

Read our review:
Garmin HRM-DUAL Heart Rate Monitor

Garmin HRM-DUAL Heart Rate Monitor

10
Best for Garmin fans
Buy now for £40.99 from Wiggle
Comes included with many Garmin devices
Chest strap for high level of accuracy
Affordable
You can go cheaper

If you've already bought a Garmin bike computer such as the Garmin Edge 830 or Edge 1040 that comes bundled with a HRM then this is the one that will be included... so you're all set! If you're a Garmin computer or watch owner and feel like you missed out by not adding the HRM, then this is a perfectly reliable monitor that should last you years, and is compatible with pretty much all Garmin devices introduced in the last few years. 

The improved design compared to the previous generation includes a comfortable chest strap that is adjustable and washable. You get up to 3.5 years of battery life with a coin cell battery, and as standard it will connect via Bluetooth and ANT+. 

Coospo HW807 Heart Rate Monitor Armband

Coospo HW807 Heart Rate Monitor Armband

9
Most affordable armband-style HRM
Buy now for £45.99 from Amazon
Accurate
Easy to use
Rechargeable (unlike chest ones)
Comfortable
Needs recharging (unlike chest ones)
Heart rate zone colours a bit gimmicky

Coospo's HW807 Heart Rate Monitor Armband is, as the name suggests, another HRM that you wear on your arm rather than the wrist or around your chest. The product images show the device being worn around the upper arm, but our reviewer found it worked just as well around the lower part of the forearm. 

Our reviewer also reported that the data the Coospo HW807 yields tracks very closely to that of a chest strap sensor, and it tracked very accurately compared to a number of other devices. A claimed 20-hour battery life, compatibility with most cycling computers and watches out there and quick, convenient recharging make the HW807 a very good buy for cyclists who prefer the armband-style HRM, so long as you're not planning to be switching kit mid-ride and are worried about your tan as we've already mentioned! 

Read our review: 
Myzone MZ-Switch

Myzone MZ-Switch

7
Wearable on the chest, wrist or arm
Buy now for £139.99 from Amazon
Various mounting options
Works in water
Good accuracy
Pricey for just a HR monitor

If you're after a HRM that gives you the options to wear it on the chest, arm or wrist, Myzone's MZ-Switch is a premium option that just deals with heart rate. 

In the box you get the monitor itself, a wrist strap, an arm strap, a chest strap, a USB charger cable and a storage pouch. The monitor snaps into the holder on each strap and sits there securely. Our reviewer reported that the straps are all good quality and fit comfortably, and the monitor is accurate in all positions. You also get an app to run alongside it, and setup is just like any other Bluetooth or ANT+ device. 

You can get full budget smart watches for the same price as the MZ-Switch, and you could also buy separate chest and wrist HRMs for less; but if you want all your options in one package and have other devices for recording GPS and all your other training metrics, the MZ-Switch will do a reliable job of telling you your heart rate wherever you decide to wear it. 

Read our review:
Polar H10 Heart Rate Sensor

Polar H10 Heart Rate Sensor

10
Best premium HRM
Buy now for £67.94 from Amazon
Highly accurate
Soft, comfortable strap
Expensive

The H10 comes bundled with Polar computers such as the M460 (pictured) and on its own is known as a premium HRM option popular with pro athletes. 

For the extra spend you get some added attention to detail, such as a soft textile strap for more comfort, a solid buckle to keep the sensor from moving and high levels of accuracy without any interference. As you'd expect it will connect to any of your Bluetooth or ANT+ devices, and the internal storage means you can also use it solo and dissect the data post-session. 

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

8
Best to use as an everyday smart watch with HRM
Buy now for £319.99 from Amazon
Impressive battery life
Loads of customisation
Good looking
Clear data presentation
GPS signal takes time to be found
No wireless charging and the cable is proprietary
Navigation not as good as others

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus might not have quite as much 'do it all' functionality as something like an Apple Watch, but for something smart that can be worn for cycling or general daily use it excels.

As the price suggests this is quite a bit more than just a heart rate monitor, but heart rate tracking is via an optical sensor like pretty much all smart watches. Our reviewer was impressed with the crisp, clear and highly customisable display, and said it was a marked improvement on previous Garmin smart watch offerings. Those who are new to smart watches and HRMs won't be left scratching their heads either, as it's easy to use and intuitive. 

Read our review:
LifeLine Bluetooth and ANT+ compatible Heart Rate Monitor

LifeLine Bluetooth and ANT+ compatible Heart Rate Monitor

10
Great value HRM strap
Buy now for £29.99 from Wiggle
Light
Water-resistant up to 30m
Affordable
Lacks features of more premium HRMs

This cheap and cheerful HRM from Wiggle's in-house Lifeline brand does the job for a very attractive price. It's a traditional chest strap monitor that will pair with your ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart devices, with an adjustable belt to suit all chest sizes. 

The sensor is designed to be light and unobtrusive, and the unit also displays battery life so you can check your charge. 

How to choose from the best heart rate monitors

faq-icon
What is a heart rate monitor?

If you've got this far and want a heart rate monitor hopefully you have an inkling, but let's go over in simple terms exactly what it is! 

Simply, a heart rate monitor reads how fast your heart is beating and expresses this in beats per minute (BPM). For cyclists, it's useful to know how fast our hearts are beating to determine what effort we're putting in, and whether we need to back off or up the intensity. After you've set your training zones (more on that below) you'll know if you're working at the right level according to what numbers your heart rate monitor is spitting out. For example, if you intended to go out for an easy recovery ride but your heart rate monitor is showing a BPM that is more in line with a moderate intensity effort (usually Zone 3, or about 70-80% of your max intensity) then you need to back off. 

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What is a good heart rate?

Your heart rate will depend on a number of factors, and can change depending on the weather, how much sleep you've had and altitude amongst other things. Heart rates also differ greatly between individuals, so if your resting heart rate is the same as your mate's first training zone, it's unlikely this is any cause for alarm. Likewise at the opposite end, if your maximum heart rate is high compared to your friend's, it doesn't necessarily mean this is cause for alarm. The old rule of thumb was that your maximum heart rate should be 220 minus your age (170 for a 50-year-old, for example), but this is a very rough equation and can vary a lot between individuals. 

Off the bike, it's also useful (but certainly not the be-all and end-all) to know what your resting heart rate is, as this is a very rough indicator of your general aerobic fitness level. You can always just take your pulse of course, but if you wear your heart rate monitor day-to-day it can be interesting to chart your average heart rate and how it may change as you get fitter. 

Fitter people are able to pump blood around their body more efficiently, so will have a lower resting heart rate. A normal resting heart rate for adults is between 60-100 BPM, while for professional endurance cyclists it can be much lower than that. Five-time Tour de France champion Miguel Induráin reportedly had a resting heart rate of just 28 BPM! 

If you are concerned about any of the numbers your heart rate monitor is showing you – such as an unusually high heart rate when you're working hard on the bike – it's always best to check in with your doctor. 

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How do I read my heart rate monitor?

For cyclists, perhaps the easiest way to see the reading from your heart rate monitor is via a cycling-specific computer that is Bluetooth and/or ANT+ compatible. If you've gone for a chest strap heart rate monitor then either a watch or computer is essential to see the data in real time; and even if you've chosen wrist-based heart rate, as a cyclist it's easier to sync with your computer or phone so you don't have to keep glancing at your watch.

We've talked about how training with heart rate is much more affordable than training with power, and obviously adding a computer or watch to read your heart rate will add to the cost; however some of the best cycling computers and best cycling smart watches that are compatible with heart rate monitors start from as little as £50, and perform lots of other useful functions. 

faq-icon
How do I use the data from my heart rate monitor?

The numbers from a heart rate monitor are of little use if you don't understand them of course, so it's important for you to learn a little about your own heart rate and different training 'zones' so you can structure your training sessions. 

There are numerous different methods out there for calculating your training zones, with the most common being splitting it into Zones 1-5, whereas others such as the Coggan method use seven or more. If we were to stick with five zones, here are some ballpark percentages and effort levels to structure your training: 

Zone 1: Very light (50–60% of your max effort)
Zone 2: Light (60–70%)
Zone 3: Moderate (70–80%)
Zone 4 Hard (80–90%)
Zone 5 Maximum (90–100%)

If you want to keep things super easy, you could simply note down what your heart rate is when riding at different intensities to set yourself up for future rides. For example, if you were to go out for a very easy recovery ride using barely any effort and your heart rate stays around 100, but when putting in a little extra effort it goes up to 120, then you won't want to go above 110 during a recovery ride, and 120 is probably well into your Zone 2. To calculate what your Zone 5 is, put in a hard effort that you cannot sustain for longer than a few minutes, and note down what your average heart rate was for the effort according to your heart rate monitor. In future, if you want to do an interval session that incorporates Zone 5 efforts, you'll know how many beats per minute you need to aim for to keep the efforts honest. 

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What are the different types of heart rate monitor?

Until wearable tech really started taking over, the most common type of heart rate monitor was the humble chest strap. These 'traditional' heart rate monitors have sensor straps that actually pick up electrical signals from your heart as it beats, which is why chest straps are still arguably the most accurate heart rate monitors outside of a lab. 

The most common type of HRM nowadays is the wrist heart rate monitor, usually in the form of a watch or a fitness band. These will use an optical sensor at your wrist that shines a green light, and reflects off your flowing blood. Another sensor then uses that information to come up with a pulse reading, based off an algorithm built into the device. 

There are other types of heart rate monitor available now such as armbands and even headphones, with the latter taking your heart rate reading via the ear. 

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Should I choose a chest heart rate monitor or a wrist heart rate monitor?

If you've decided you're going with one of the most popular HRM tracking methods, it's always going to be a trade-off. Generally chest heart rate monitors are highly accurate but some find them less comfortable, while wrist-based is more convenient but often a little less accurate. 

All that said, some of the best wrist heart rate monitors are impressively accurate nowadays, while the best chest heart rate monitors will be designed so the strap is comfy against the skin and the gadget with all the tech inside is pretty small and unobtrusive. It really is down to personal preference! 

 

Explore the complete heart rate monitors reviews archive on road.cc

Arriving at road.cc in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of road.cc in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.