Wahoo Tickr & Tickr X Heart Rate Monitor Review – Useless, save your money. Heart rate locks & dropouts. Would be good if they actually worked

Featured image not me, unfortunately.

The Wahoo Tickr & Tickr X came out in May last year and looked to be the best HRM options on the market, more affordable than Garmin and with superior Bluetooth options.

As usual, Dcrainmaker had an in-depth review almost as soon as the product was available for pre-order. Both heart rate monitors received very favourable reviews with statements like:

  • Wahoo has stepped up the bar – and options – for runners specifically
  • I’d struggle to find a reason you’d get the Garmin HRM-RUN strap these days
  • It’s frankly hard to find much fault in either the TICKR or TICKR X.

He is not entirely wrong either, with me doing so much indoor cycling this past year as well as continuing to run a lot, the Tickr X ticked all the boxes I want.

So, I ordered the two latest Tickr heart rate monitors as soon as I saw they were available. I think the Tickr arrived sometime in May while the Tickr X didn’t arrive until July. So I have had them a while.

Unfortunately, my experience has not been as positive as Dcrainmaker, maybe I got unlucky with the devices sent out, but I don’t appear to be alone in experiencing issues.

One of the reasons this review has taken so long is that they rarely work properly so I just kept putting the review off while I worked through my backlog on normal samples.

Wahoo Tickr – failed within a month, 2nd unit failed within months

Wahoo Fitness Unisex's Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor,...
  • TICKR connects heart rate to your favorite...
  • Equipped with Bluetooth & ANT+ technology, TICKR...
  • TICKR is the lightest and slimmest heart rate...
  • Record workout data with the Wahoo Fitness app and...

The Wahoo Tickr worked well when I first got it, I primarily used this one for indoor cycling. Within a month of me having the HRM, it started to experience problems with locking onto my heart rate at the start of an exercise.

This would typically last 10-20 minutes, so on a 45m to 1hr session all the averages were completely ruined which presumably affects all the other variables the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro has such as recovery time, load etc.

In one example, I have tracked an indoor ride with Garmin and the Polar OH1 and the other with Zwift and Wahoo. Plotting the two in DC Rainmakers tool shows just how useless the Wahoo could be this brought my average HR down to 136.40 bpm vs 142.79 bpm on the Polar.

20 mins of completely useless data
5 additional drop outs and consistent hear rate locks

I contacted Wahoo Fitness Support and every credit to them, they are quite good. I was first advised to make sure the firmware was up to date then reset the unit. None of that worked.

Once this was confirmed they sent out a replacement for free with no faffing around with returns.

However, a similar thing happened. This one lasted a bit longer, and I was happy with it for a while, but eventually, it succumbed to the same problem with my frequently having to rip it off and root around for my Polar OH1 mid-session.

Wahoo Tickr X – Rarely locks onto the correct heart rate

Wahoo Fitness Unisex's Wahoo TICKR X Heart Rate Monitor with...
  • TICKR X connects heart rate to your favorite...
  • Equipped with Bluetooth & ANT+ technology, TICKR...
  • Motion and Memory – 50 hours of built in memory...
  • Run Smart - Track efficiency and improvements in...
18mins of useless data before I gave up and ripped it off

A similar story, but more annoying for me. This worked well at first, I like all the additional data you have from run dynamics not that I particularily apply any of it to my training, though I have increased my cadence, so I guess it has helped.

Anyway, the annoying part is that I use my heart rate quite a bit in an attempt to pace myself on longer runs. So having the HR data completely broken when you start running is incredibly annoying, and it is not like I can just easily switch out devices. This normally involves me throwing a tempter ripping off the HRM and switching my watch to wrist-based HRM, which is sometimes nearly as useless as the Wahoo.

Ripped the HRM off in a tantrum

Overall

I don’t take great pleasure in writing poor reviews, I try to be as lenient as possible, sometimes you get a bad sample, so I am happy to retest replacements with no major influence on my overall outcome.

I am not exactly YouTube famous or an influencer, so I can’t get away with slating companies without good cause unless I want to get blacklisted by a PR company (not that Wahoo or most fitness companies work with me).

In this case, it is hard to ignore three failed devices over a few months. I appreciate a lot of people won’t have the same experience as me, when either of the Wahoo Tickr HRMs work, they are superb overall, so if you receive one that doesn’t suffer from faults, you will be very happy with it.

I don’t appear to be alone with problems either. 9% of Amazon reviewers have given this a 1-star review. I know Amazon isn’t the most reliable source for reviews, but many of the complaints reflect my issues.

Looking at competing options, they typically only get 5% or less 1-star reviews and 5-star reviews sit close to 80%

Looking at all the one-star reviews, each respective product has people complaining about known issues with that product. Garmin dies after a year; the Polar OH1 has a poor battery whereas this suffers from HR lock, signal drops and complete failure within a few months.

So overall, I don’t recommend either of the Wahoo TICKR HRMs. I have not had much luck with the options from Garmin either, while they always work perfectly, they inevitably die after 12-18months even with battery changes. So I am stuck with the optical Polar for now.  

Alternative options

I don’t have much luck with HRMs in general, I exercise a lot, sweat more than normal and have a particularily toxic sweat, it would seem.  Generally, chest straps don’t survive long.

My go-to is the Polar OH1, it has been going strong for almost 2 years now. It is not perfect, but it is good enough. I will probably buy the Polar Verity Sense at some point, which should be better overall

The Garmin HRM-Pro is probably the best overall HRM if you cycle/run and use Zwift, but it is very expensive and I am scared my sweat will kill it in a  year.

The Garmin HRM Dual worked better than the Tickr, but inevitably this died on me too

The Scosche optical HRMs are also supposed to be good, but I have no experience with them.

Wahoo Tickr & Tickr X Heart Rate Monitor Review

Summary

The Wahoo Ticker heart rate monitors are amazing on paper, and when they work I do love them. Sadly, an HRM that works a very small percentage of the time and then dies within weeks is pretty much useless. This won’t apply to everyone, but after 3 units and a similar complaint with other users, there seems to be something fundamentally wrong with these two HRMs

Overall
30%
30%
  • Overall - 30%
    30%

Pros

  • When they work they are excellent
  • Lower price and superior specs compared to competing options 

Cons

  • Doesn’t lock on to HR for first 10-20 mins
  • Dropouts
  • Regular hear rate locks
  • Generally doesn’t work

Last update on 2021-05-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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