Bluetooth heart rate monitors have been out for quite a while now, though we were thoroughly unimpressed with the Polar WearLink we used back in 2012. Since then not many Bluetooth HRMs have been released, with HRMs sticking to dedicated sports watches, and now wearable's.
However Wahoo decided to release a follow-up to its BlueHR this year with 3 versions of its new device the TICKR. All 3 TICKR's offer similar functionality but with some additional features as you go up models.
The options available are:
- Concurrent dual band heart rate with ANT+ and BLE (Bluetooth Smart)
- Everything above, plus…
- Treadmill Mode tracks speed and distance while on a treadmill
- Wahoo Running Smoothness tracks running form and efficiency
- Everything above, plus…
- Vibrate Functionality
- Motion analytics measures variety of motion from repetitions to swim laps to cross-training to cycling
- Workout now, sync later: Memory allows users to workout without a smartphone and auto-sync later
Today we are reviewing the basic model. The main feature that all the devices share in common is e dual-band ANT+ and BLE transmission. This means that the unit will transmit just fine to ANT+ devices (like a Garmin watch), while at the same time transmitting to Bluetooth Smart phones and apps on those devices.
Setting up a Bluetooth transmitter in theory should be simple, but in the past this has been the major downfall from Polar and the previous Wahoo I used. Getting a reliable connection has been a huge hassle bordering on impossible. However after 7 days use the Wahoo TICKR appears to being working as it should, it uses Bluetooth 4 running the low energy protocol, so you do not need to type in any passwords, and the low energy protocol allows it to connect and disconnect as and when needed.
I skipped any apps made by Wahoo as I was already committed to Endomondo, and the TICKR appears to work flawlessly with it. I was able to track my current, average and max heart rate without any dropouts during around 15 workouts with varying intensity, from walking, running, spinning, and outdoor cycling.
If you have ever worn a HRM around your chest before then you will be sued to the comfort level. They are OK, it can feel a little weird having something strapped around your chest to start off with, as it can feel a little restrictive, but you get used to it.
Lastly, optical HRMs are becoming more popular and are often implemented in smartwatches. These in theory offer a much more convenient solution rather than the awkward chest strap, but for the time being if you want a cheap way to monitor your heart rate I think this is the best option.