I’ve had several heart rate (HR) monitors since I started racing over a decade ago. And I’ve liked features of some and didn’t like features on several of them.
The worst problem that I had with other HR monitors was that the chest strap would not pick up under power lines. And since 1 of the sections that I used to like doing intervals on had a brief climb, then a long gradual uphill, I would do intervals on that section of road that was also slightly busy. After a year of being disappointed by the chest strap not picking up my HR it seemed that the best brand was Polar. I thought man, if I had a Polar HR monitor, I would always have a read out.
So, finally I dropped over 100 bones and got a Polar F6. Life was good. The chest strap picked up everywhere. Although the features are a bit more than I needed, it was just a short learning curve to figure out how to use the features that I wanted, and I didn’t have to mess with any extra’s.
I’ve checked out better HR monitors that have cool features, but I only want to know what my HR is, how long the timer has been going (intervals) and how long I’ve been on the bike (time). Although the numbers were slightly smaller on the HR feature – because when you are pushing LT +5 it gets hard to see straight!
After about a season of riding/racing the F6 HR monitor stopped working. I searched around to see what could have happened. I adjusted the strap & it would work some, then nothing. It became aggravating, but I realized that it must be the battery on the chest strap that has gotten weak, and was no longer working.
I asked several places about what to do and found out that Polar only has 4 service centers in the USA….. so, I hustled down to the postal non-service and shipped my chest strap and watch to Michigan.
It’s been about a week. And when I checked the mailbox, I didn’t expect the box to be from Michigan. In fact it took me a couple minutes to figure out what I would have coming from Michigan, then it dawned on me, the HR monitor had already gotten back to me! Sweet!!!!
Or so I thought…. I opened up the box and pulled out the contents that had been packed in styro foam. Out came the chest strap and the elastic chest band. Then I pulled out the watch that was packed in bubble wrap. I opened it and realized that the scratches that it had endured were still there – bummer.
Next I pulled out the yellow sheet – the bill. I scanned over it – it got checked out – $13 ok. They determined the chest strap wasn’t working (even though I noted that on the return form) they packed up a new chest strap – $30!??!! shipped it for $7 !?
Grand total – $50. Now granted I allowed them to charge my card to expedite the process, but for sure I didn’t think that it would be HALF the cost of a brand new one.
“Dear Polar, next time I will be more careful which chest strap I purchase so that I don’t grab my ankles attempting to get a new battery!”
….but for not a whole lot more than $50 and I could have gotten a brand new HR monitor – 1 that I haven’t scratched the watch lens yet! Those scratches will be a reminder of my aggravation with Polar’s customer no-service. I will be pedaling in anger due to Polar.
Polar has high marks in the functioning category – their chest straps seem to always pick up in any conditions. Their watches take time to figure out how to scroll through and get to the feature you want, but once you get over the learning curve it either gets easier or you don’t use it.
Although I would get another Polar HR monitor, I would make certain that it had replaceable batteries for the chest strap – batteries cost about $3 and I’ve replaced many of them in all the other brands. Also, I would not get more features than necessary because it seems challenging to scroll through the watch features to get what you want out of it.