Training with a heart-rate monitor may no longer be the preserve of the elite, but choosing a model perfectly suited to your needs and budget can still be a minefield of technical jargon and seductive (read expensive) features if you’re uncertain what you should be looking for in the first place.
Well, not any more. We sent four RW members (former competition winners, and some of our very best gear critics) a selection of the latest heart-rate monitors (ranging from £40 - £149) and asked them to report back on the pros and cons of each.
The result? These frank and honest assessments of some of the most recent models to emerge from the major brands.
Cardiosport GT5 £149 |
Tested by Andy Fowler
Features Heart rate shown as a % of maximum heart rate, countdown timer, Hi/Lo Target Zone with audible and visual alarm.
Reader Review The GT5 is heart-rate monitor with all the typical functions; basic stopwatch, training zones, interval training and the ability to record workouts and then upload them to a PC for analysis. At a basic level the GT5 was easy to use, with a bright backlight, which was key in poor visibility. However there was a lot of information being displayed at once on a small LCD. I did appreciate being able to see my heart rate displayed as both a percentage and in BPM (beats-per-minute) no matter what mode I was in.
Cardiosport Go15 £40 |
Tested by Richard Davis 6
Features Hi/Lo Target Zone with audible and visual alarm, daily alarm, memory of scan data for previous workout, scan feature showing time spent exercising, maximum, average and minimum heart rate for workout.
Reader Review Cardiosport’s entry-level heart rate monitor came with a very comfortable chest strap, while the watch itself was a little disappointing. The build and functionality were very basic and despite the low price I’d recommend runners shopped around and found something a little more expensive and comprehensive for their training needs. It does what it says on the tin, but certainly no more.
Timex Heart Rate Monitor - T5H911 £80 |
Tested by Richard Spooner
Features Average and maximum heart rate per split time and for total workout, 5 target zones, display of training time within target zone, recovery timer and calorie counter, Indiglo night light display
Reader Review The build quality, both in terms of the chest strap and watch unit are very good and even put to shame my Forerunner 305, with it’s comfortable and light-weight strap that I barely felt when running. The unit is also very easy to use and understand with my only major gripe being the poor illumination from the Indiglo light. Functionality wise, its quite basic and even beginner runners might outgrow its capabilities within a few months. Overall though, it does the basics well enough.
Timex BodyLink Trail Runner £180 |
Tested by Big Kev
Features Simultaneous display of heart rate and speed distance, 2 linked interval timers, latitude, longitude and altitude, navigation to Waypoint mode, summary mode allowing you to review navigational, speed, distance and heart rate performance data at end of your workout, predictive finish, modes can be hidden, 100-lap memory with recall system data, countdown timer.
Reader Review This speed and distance monitor, with heart rate has a bagful of functions available. Of note was the Chrono Mode displaying the normal information of pace, time, distance, heart rate and the Navigate Mode in which waypoints can be set for navigation purposes displaying direction and distance information. The watch itself has a large selection of menus but with the navigation of these being a single button, scrolling through the different menus is painstaking at times.
The biggest downside is that it’s a three-part device with the GPS being the bulky Achilles’ heel. It’s not the most sensitive receiver and compared with my Garmin 305 you start to see the holes appearing. Now bring in the fact that you can’t upload your running data to a PC without a fourth device (the data recorder), you may feel the need to recruit a team of sherpas for each run.
For your chance to join our exclusive online testing panel, all you need do is submit a product review of any item listed in our Gear section. Then, if you’re judged one of our top critics, we’ll be in touch with further details of how you could be trying the latest kit for absolute free.