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Measuring heart rate has been an essential cycling metric for years, even as far back as the 1980s. It is a great way to understand your body’s response to efforts and training. Beyond that, it is a great way to track progress for cyclists not using a power meter.
For me, wearing a chest strap heart rate monitor was uncomfortable. Sure, they have improved over the years, but they are still not ideal. While significantly more comfortable, the newer designs with a completely soft strap seem only to last about one or two seasons. However, there is a better solution, and it isn’t normally marketed to cyclists. Optical heart rate monitor
The optical heart rate monitor is not new. It is something that hospitals and the medical industry have been using since the early 2000s. However, in recent years, smartwatches and other consumer devices have had the technology integrated.
They work by shining light from an LED through the skin and measuring how it scatters off blood vessels. The sensor measures pulse waves, which are changes in the volume of a blood vessel as the heart pumps blood. The waves are detected by measuring the change in volume. This means you can measure heart rate from almost any bit of exposed skin. In addition to measuring the heart rate, some devices using this technology are able to measure blood […]