Do motocross and enduro dirt bike riders need heart rate monitors to tell them when they’re tired and how tired they are? Wrestling a 200 lbs. dirt bike up a dry riverbed strewn with boulders or maxing out your energy in a hotly-contested 20-minute MX race will leave you sweating and panting for hours. So, why do dirt bikers use heart rate monitors?
Of course, heart rate monitors do tell you how tired you are. However, that’s not its primary function. A heart rate monitor will tell you how hard you’re pushing during your training sessions and help you better control and harness your performance during races. What’s more, these also offer vast amounts of insight into how your heart rate and body behaves and how it can better recover.
Those are the fundamental measures of fitness. Heart rate monitors help you push yourself harder in training and practicing to match your intensity of race days so that you can improve and enhance your overall fitness come next race day. Remember, the fitter you are, the harder you can push, and for longer.
The best heart rate monitors for dirt bikes are easy to use, have a great battery life, are comfortable to wear, and provide accurate information. There is much debate raging in fitness and cardio wearables about the accuracy of information of heart rate monitors.
There are two ways to measure and monitor heart rate: wrist-based optical heart rate sensors, and chest-strap heart rate sensors. The fitness gurus, such as the ones that train Supercross riders, believe the chest-strap heart rate monitor is the most accurate. Pairing a chest strap to a fitness watch and connecting to an app or computer software will enable you to examine in detail your heart rate and recovery for improved performance. Simply pair it with your GPS watch, and you’ve got the best dirt bike heart rate monitor with GPS for a comprehensive activity tracker second to none.
How do we recommend the best heart rate monitors for enduro or the best heart rate monitors for motocross? We test them all, inspect them and put them through their paces in a comparison review for objective evaluation.
The Best Dirt Bike Heart Rate Monitors:
We’ve compiled a list of the best-rated heart rate monitors available you’ll find in this review:
- Wahoo Tickr II Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap
- Powr Labs Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap
- Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap
From our list, we can put forward their pros and cons, features, and accuracy in order to recommend which ones are best for certain riding types and certain types of riders.
To objectively assess each heart rate monitor, we’ve benchmarked various aspects in order to evaluate their performance. These specifications are accuracy, battery life, compatibility with devices, ease of use, comfort to wear for extended periods of time, and of course value for money.
The most important aspect of any heart rate monitor is, well, how accurately it is able to track and monitor the heart rate of a user. Most, if not all, chest-strap heart rate monitors need to have a close grip on the skin areas and to do so it is best to wet the strap and the area below your sternum where the chest strap’s sensors are located for an accurate connection.
The best heart rate monitors for trail riding and MX use ECG (Electrocardiography) sensors (mostly chest-strap models) or PPG (photoplethysmography) sensors (mostly arm- or wrist-based models). Simply put, ECG measures the expansion and contraction of heart chambers, while PPG uses a light-based technology to measure the blood volume passing through an artery that is controlled by the heart’s pumping action.
They both use incredibly clever algorithms, advanced electrodes, and high-powered light-based sensors to measure heart rates. The chest strap heart rate monitors, when compared to the wrist-based optical heart rate sensors on a motocross fitness watch, are superior in their consistent tracking, connection, and accuracy during vigorous sports such as trail riding. For running or light gym work, they’re pretty similar in terms of accuracy.
2) Battery Life:
Of course, you don’t want your heart rate monitor’s battery to be as short as your body’s internal battery. Fortunately, these devices do have a far longer battery life. For the most part, they would require new batteries (coin cell versions) every 4 to 7 months. With low-pulse energy devices such as these, when the connection begins to drop intermittently, it is a sure sign that the battery needs replacement.
3) Ease of Use and Compatibility:
The best heart rate monitor for dirt bike riding must be able to be paired and synced easily with other devices. For that, Bluetooth is a minimum requirement. Stepping up the levels, dual-band Bluetooth, ANT+ and internal memory are more the norm than the exception here. With software integration (such as smartphone apps) and compatibility with hardware (like fitness and GPS watches and computers), heart rate monitors offer users even more compelling reasons to buy one and keep using it. Syncing data to third-party apps and platforms allow for greater insights and deeper research for more performance gains in training and practice.
If you need to turn on and pair your device each time you wear your heart rate monitor, you’ll slowly be driven to frustration. The device must be quick to fit on, ‘wake up’ and begin recording your workout or session with the minimum of fuss. Especially if you must wear gloves and pile on chest protectors, too.
Dirt bike riding protective gear can sometimes be uncomfortable. For most us, it takes some fine-tuning of our gear to find the perfect setup that is light, comfortable, and doesn’t restrict our movements. A chest strap must be comfortable to wear no matter the intensity of activity or length of time worn. For most, textile straps and soft fabrics are used. While these straps must sit tightly to make a good connection and reading of the heart rate, they must also not be restrictive. They are usually available in different sizes for all shapes of bodies.
Dirt Bike Heart Rate Monitor Reviews:
Wahoo Tickr II
The Wahoo Tickr II offers one of the most accurate and user-friendly heart rate monitors to rival the big-name brands – at far less expense.
Ease of Use:
The Tickr II is easy to use. Simply tie the strap around your chest and snap it together, and LED lights will confirm your heart rate is detected by the sensors and connectivity. The front-snap design makes it easy to fit and the heart rate tracking sensors grip you tightly. The module is small and lightweight, and you’ll soon forget it is on your chest.
This Tickr II is compatible with both Android and Apple products and more than 50 apps, including Strava, Runtastic, Endomondo, Zwift, Runkeeper, MapMyRun, and more. It seamlessly syncs via Bluetooth to fitness and GPS watches. It also pairs easily with smartphones and bicycle computers with Bluetooth and other ANT+ equipment. The Wahoo Fitness app is comprehensive and exhaustive in its measuring metrics.
With up to 3 simultaneous Bluetooth connections, a dual-band ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity, it measures metrics such as heart rate, calorie burn, workout duration, and more. For the best performance, the chest strap and skin area where grips need to be damp or wet for the best connection. Once your smartphone app of fitness watch has locked on to the heart rate monitor, and the connection remains uninterrupted, it delivers accurate metrics.
The Wahoo Tickr II has a coin cell battery (CR2032) that provides around 500 hours of tracking. For most people, that’s about 6 months or more of fitness before the battery needs to be replaced.
The Wahoo Tickr II has a small and lightweight sensor pod that weighs only 1.7 oz. and is just 12.01mm thick. It is 6.3cm x 1cm x 3cm. The design includes a comfortable front-snap buckle design that’s easy to use. Once it is on, it uses LED lights on the top of the device’s sensor pod to indicate when it is ready to go and when it is recording and tracking data. The strap is comfortable: not too wide, not too narrow in design, and it sits securely to your skin for close contact. The strap isn’t overly tight and is quite stretchy for the best comfort. It also doesn’t slide down your chest or back even when you’re sweating heavily.
Value for Money:
The Tickr II is priced far less than its big-name brand rivals. Plus, they don’t offer as many Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity options and app integration.
Powr Labs Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap
This is a no-fuss, straightforward heart rate monitor chest strap that does the basics of the job very well.
Ease of Use:
As with the other two heart rate monitor chest straps in this review, the Powr Labs unit must be connected to be activated. It will then ‘wake up’, detect a heartbeat signal, and then begin recording your heart rate once it has locked onto the smartphone or fitness watch you’re syncing it with.
The Powr Labs heart rate monitor is compatible with Apple and Android smartphones, GPS watches such as Garmin, and smartwatches from Apple and other brands too thanks to its dual-band Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. It also sports ANT+ technology which means you can use it with your bicycle computer, footpods, and various gym equipment.
We paired it with our smartphones in just a few seconds, and we could use the data with apps such as Map My Run, Polar Beat, Zwift, Endomondo, Elite HRV, iCardio, Heart Graph; Map My Ride, Wahoo, Garmin, and Peloton. Unfortunately, the Powr Labs heart rate monitor will not work with Google Fit and requires an Apple Watch to connect with Apple Health’s features.
The Powr Labs Heart Rate Monitor system records, tracks, and monitors heart rate activity in real-time. As with the Wahoo model, it boasts dual-band Bluetooth 4.0 protocols and ANT+ technology. It measures heart rate, calories burned, and other typical workout measurements, and more.
It is easy to pair this heart rate monitor with smartphones GPS and fitness watches, gym equipment, and also bicycle computers and other such equipment with its ANT+ offerings. Using third-party apps from Polar, Wahoo, Garmin, and Peloton, you’ll have access to all the same metrics as their own chest-strap heart rate monitors provide.
The Powr Labs Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap has a battery life of a claimed 450 hours. It is powered by a CR2032 coin cell battery. After our tests and measuring of the battery, we’d advise rather replacing the battery every 6 to 7 months.
It is built with a soft stretch material strap with no seams for a chafe-free experience. We slept it on, went to work with it on and it was comfortable. Under dirt biking safety kit, it is hardly noticeable. The strap isn’t as high-quality in manufacture or materials as the Wahoo and Polar models, so expect to be replacing it once a year.
Value for Money:
Although it is competitively priced, it does lack its own fitness app, and isn’t able to match the Wahoo for connectivity. However, at a little over $10 cheaper, it does make a case for dirt riders seeking a basic and functional chest strap. For dirt bike trail riders that don’t want a ton of gear with them on rides, and who might expect to be out on their bikes for four or more hours, this heart rate monitor makes sense. It uses a lot less battery power and therefore means it won’t drain our smartphones or GPS watches’ batteries either.
Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor
The best for heart rate monitor for those dirt bikers that spend time in the gym and other exercises.
Ease of use:
The Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor is compatible with just about every fitness watch, GPS watch, and smartphone app on the market. Pairing the device is simple and straightforward: a few taps on your phone’s screen and it is synced and ready to go.
The design of the Polar H10 is different to the Wahoo and Powr Labs models in that this one’s straps connect at the rear. We found that clipping it together on the side of your chest and then sliding the buckle to the rear was the best way to put it on.
Once it is on, it will detect a heartbeat and when you open the Polar Beat app on your phone or watch, you’ll find it has already connected and is ready to begin your session. While it is compatible with a host of apps via Bluetooth and ANT+ gym equipment, the Polar H10 also boasts a standalone mode that we found to be most useful and the easiest way to track our heart rate in a gym environment and on our bikes.
With a built-in memory of up to 10 hours, you can hit the trails or MX track for hours, and when you’re back near your phone it will simply download all the data to the app. You do need to open the Polar Beat app and start recording a session before you leave your phone in your car.
The Polar H10’s connection between devices is in real-time. This is the gold standard by which all other heart rate monitors are measured; after all, it was the first company in the world to offer this technology to consumers.
This device is the leader in accuracy thanks to its ECG (Electrocardiogram) technology to measure heart rate activity. We were able to pair and sync the Polar H10 with other devices with ease, and the data was also accessible by all fitness apps. We also paired it via Bluetooth to the cardio equipment in our local gym, and it was perfect. It offers simultaneous Bluetooth and ANT+ connections, as well as 2 Bluetooth connections simultaneously.
The Polar H10’s battery lasts about 400 hours of monitored activity. It uses a CR2025 coin cell battery. In our experience with this heart rate monitor, the battery lasted about 350 hours before we replaced the battery. That was about 6 months of use.
The Polar H10 comes with a soft stretch-material strap that is comfortable to wear for long hours. The silicone dots dotted around the strap’s length on the inside (which sits on your skin) helps keep the strap in place on your body no matter how much you sweat or move. Of the three heart rate monitor straps, this one was the most comfortable to wear during intense activity. It makes do with a buckle system that clips at the rear, as we’ve described already.
That’s not a negative point at all. It means that the sensor pod and the electrodes are actually more snugly fitted to your skin around your chest. It is a small point, but it probably helps to increase the accuracy of the sensors, we think.
Value for Money:
The Polar H10 is the most expensive heart rate monitor in our review line-up. It does offer full waterproof functionality and class-leading technology with their fantastic Polar Beat app.
|Product||Powr Labs HRM||Wahoo Tickr II||Polar H10|
•Unlimited battery replacements for 12 months
|•3 Bluetooth Connections and ANT+|
•500-hour battery life• Excellent connectivity
|• 2 Bluetooth Connections and ANT+|
• 400-hour battery life
|Cons||• Bluetooth OR ANT+ Connection at one time|
• Average battery life
|• Band adjustment is tricky|
• Strap material begins to wear after 3 months of use
|• Polar Beat app sometimes loses connection with HRM|
• Rear-snap buckle
|Best Feature||Price is unbeatable||It offers live beat readings||Polar Beat app offers excellent data with this HRM|
Heart rate monitors are only as good as the effort you put into examining your fitness and efforts measured. We’ve found that using the various third-party and native apps to analyze exercise, training sessions, and our overall fitness levels, helps to work out our recovery rates and pinpoints where we can improve our fitness and strength.
After a few weeks of fiddling with the apps, and finding your preferred metrics, you’ll never want to work out or ride without a chest-based heart rate monitor. We would recommend the Wahoo Tickr II for those wanting an all-round heart rate monitor for dirt biking and gym work.
The Powr Labs heart rate monitor is an affordable model without the frills, while the Polar H10 is the best in materials, quality, and technology – but is 50% percent more expensive than the Wahoo which we think isn’t worth that extra cash.