Best Armband Heart Rate Monitors for Cycling
Track and adjust your HR Zone with the best heart rate monitor armbands designed for cycling and other exercises
Why do you exercise? Is it to build muscle, improve performance, or lose some weight? Or is it just to be a healthier person? Whatever your reasons for working out, there will always be certain things that will help you reach your goals faster and more efficiently. Everyone knows the basics, like staying hydrated and relying on a trainer or training program, but one thing that many don’t think of when first starting a new routine is a heart rate monitor (HRM). Why is a heart rate monitor so important? It’s been found that maintaining a certain heart rate will impact the results of your workout. After all, your heart is probably the most important muscle in your body. Without a healthy heart, you’ll get tired and may even injure yourself by exercising too intensely. Decreasing your heart rate or increasing it can help you reach the optimum range for your specific goals.
When looking for a heart rate monitor, you should know there will be three types to choose from. Depending on your preference, you can choose to wear a cycling wristwatch HRM, armband HRM, or a chest strap HRM. Each has its own benefits and disadvantages. Cycling chest strap heart rate monitors are usually the most accurate. They’re closest to your heart and fit snuggly against your body no matter your movements, reading the electrical impulses from your heart. However, they are usually the least comfortable and inconvenient to use. They also lack the ability to be worn for longer periods of time.
The arm bands and wrist watches are less accurate as they measure blood flow, but are usually more comfortable to wear. The wrist watches in particular have an issue of misreading your heart rate because of movements that shift the watch’s position. However, the wrist watches are unique in that you can wear them for longer time frames outside of your work out and will sometimes have multiple uses other than as a heart rate monitor. They are often designed to be stylish as well and are the ones most likely to have a display to easily see how you’re doing. On the other hand, arm bands cycling pulse readers usually fit snuggly and are a bit more reliable than wrist watches. They’re a perfect middle ground for those who want comfort and accuracy. So, let’s go over eight different options that we think are the best armband heart rate monitors for cycling.
Best Armband Heart Rate Monitors for Cycling
Wahoo TICKR FIT Arm Band
The first on our list is an arm band Wahoo TICKR FIT. It seems this one is on a lot of heart rate monitor lists for its great performance and sleek design. It also has some great features beyond the basic HRM. It offers real-time tracking to give you the information you need immediately. It will also track how many calories you burned and you can utilize ‘training zones’ to know where your heart rate should be for the most effective workout. The Wahoo TICKR FIT is backed by some well-known names such as Pro Mountain Biker Sonya Looney and Katusha Alpecin.
These arm bands work with both Bluetooth and ANT+ to connect with smartphones, GPS devices, tablets, and bike computers. It works with over 50 apps like Zwift, Map My Run, Runtastic, and Peloton. The rechargeable battery will last up to 30 hours on a full charge. It only weighs 0.1 pound, so you’ll hardly notice it.
This is probably the most recommended cycling heart rate monitor arm band on the market and for good reason. It works well and has a good track record for accuracy. It’s a sleek design and is used by professionals and those simply working in their own home gym. It will be a great armband indoor cycling heart rate monitor, is one of the best armband spinning heart rate monitors, and the top overall cycling armband heart rate monitor. It also costs about the same as most of the other options out there.
Polar OH1+ Arm Band For Cycling
This one is great for those who do multiple kinds of exercise. It can be connected to a variety of gym equipment, apps, and bike computers and is not limited to working with Polar apps only. It’s waterproof and can easily be used without a phone since it has room for up to 200 hours of training memory. You can wear this armband heart rate monitor for indoor cycling (or any other exercise) on your upper or lower arm and it comes in three colors. There’s black and gray for the more subtle look, but also orange for those who like bright colors. For those who enjoy swimming, this heart rate monitor is waterproof up to 30 meters. The sensor is fairly accurate, though after time it seemed to become less reliable. There were also some charging issues where it didn’t hold a charge as it should. It also appears that you can’t purchase another charging adapter on its own, so you’re limited to only one.
The Polar OH1+ uses both Bluetooth and ANT+ for connection, and works with a variety of apps, equipment, and devices like smartphones and wrist watches. The app from the company is Polar Beat and is free, making it convenient and affordable, but you don’t need it as it also works with apps like Nike and Strava. The Polar OH1+ is about a 0.18 pound, making it a bit heavier than the Wahoo TICKR FIT.
This is a great exercise arm band heart rate monitor for those who want to focus less on their monitor and more on an uninterrupted performance. While there were some issues, the accuracy and convenience made this move up on our list.
Scosche Rhythm+ Arm Band
This is another cycling heart rate monitor armband for this list, and will also work with multiple apps and devices. There are three colors to choose for the band, black, blue, and pink. The band is also designed with holes for breathability for a more comfortable fit. This one is waterproof up to 1 meter for those who like to swim as part of their workout routine. Unlike the Polar OH1+, this one will not store any of your performance information on its own. This one is a bit bulkier than the Polar OH1+ as well, and the accuracy was a little off with a few random jumps up or down.
Whether you prefer Strava, MapMyFitness, or DigiFit you’ll be able to use whatever app you like the most. The Scosche Rhythm+ arm band will not help those who regularly use the Orange Theory Fitness Centers though, as it’s not compatible. It’s the heaviest so far, weighing a 0.25 pound. This arm band uses Bluetooth up to 100 feet and also uses ANT+. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 8 hours, and it will work with a wide variety of devices like Smartphones, exercise equipment, and wrist watches.
This one wasn’t quite as good as the Polar OH1+, but it was close. The accuracy issues are unavoidable when you rely on an arm band or wrist watch style of heart rate monitor and the spikes up and down can be annoying at times, however, the overall accuracy was fairly good. The Scosche Rhythm+ Arm Band does have a breathable strap and fits comfortably on your arm.
Powr Labs Heat Rate Arm Band
Powr Labs is a company that started in the USA by athletes based in Utah who are used to the rugged mountains in that area. These are made especially for endurance exercise, such as cycling. They also have a 12 month, no questions asked warranty. The band is perforated like the Scosche Rhythm+, but is softer. It comes with two straps, one small and one large, and fits comfortably on your lower arm. Another interesting aspect of the Powr Labs Arm Band is that when searching for it on Amazon, there were not a lot of negative reviews, but it is a smaller company with less of a customer base.
The Powr Labs Arm Band uses wireless charging, so you never need to worry about the plugin bending. It’ll last up to 60 hours on a full charge. It’s also waterproof and sweatproof. It uses both Bluetooth and ANT+, and will work with most smartphones and GPS devices. It weighs only a 0.15 pound for a lightweight feel. It doesn’t seem to have its own app and will work with a wide variety of apps. They particularly recommend Polar Beat, Peloton, iCardio, Garmin, Zwift, and Runtastic, giving them a wide range of options for your personal preference.
We were impressed with the Powr Labs Arm Bands and it does seem that the company tried to make a great product. While they don’t have their own app and they don’t sell many other products, it’s clear they had real athletes and endurance training in mind. Their attention to customer satisfaction and the range of connection and usage options made this arm band a great choice for our list.
CooSpo Pulse Arm Band
The CooSpo is similar in design to the Scosche Arm Band down to the band with holes for breathability and comfort. One of the biggest differences is that while the CooSpo is waterproof, it’s not recommended for submerging into water. The connection is a little weak on this device, but it’s far more affordable than the Scosche Arm Band.
The rechargeable battery will last more than 25 hours on a full charge. It works with both ANT+ and Bluetooth so you can pair it with exercise equipment, GPS devices, various apps, and bike computers. The apps the CooSpo will work with include Zwift, Polar Beat, MapMyFitness, and iCardio giving you a wide range to choose from. The CooSpo Arm Band weighs in at about 0.2 pounds.
Overall, while the CooSpo Arm Band isn’t quite as good as the previous arm bands mentioned on this list, for someone who is getting their first arm band and isn’t sure they will like it yet or who has a smaller budget but wants the perks of an arm band heart rate monitor, this is a great option.
Scosche Rhythm24 Arm Band
The Rhythm24 is another Scosche heart rate monitor on our list. This one, however, has an interesting feature. You can set heart rate ‘zones’ and the heart rate monitor has 5 different light settings that will tell you where you’re at. This is great for those who like being able to easily see their heart rate without needing to look at their phone. It might not have an actual display like a wrist watch heart rate monitor option, but it will change from blue, green, yellow, red, and flashing red to show you what range you’re in and it has the better accuracy that an arm band offers over a wrist watch heart rate monitor. It also has memory so you can focus on your workout and you don’t have to worry about bringing your phone. The strap comes in black and gray, but my favorite was the vibrant blue.
The rechargeable battery will last for up to 24 hours, so you really can just put it on and go with minimal setup. It works with both Bluetooth and ANT+ on smartphones, most exercise equipment, smart wrist watches, and even tablets. It can be placed on the lower or upper arm and can be placed in different modes in order to be exercise specific, like Cycling, Swimming, or Heart Rate Only. The Scosche Rhythm 24 is also compatible with over 200 fitness apps, so you can use the one that works best for you.
Overall, this is a great arm band heart rate monitor. One of the biggest downfalls is the price. It’s the most expensive option on our list making this the least affordable and not the choice for someone who is trying out arm bands or doesn’t have a bigger budget.
XOSS Optical HRM Arm Band
The XOSS Optical is similar in design and price to the CooSpo Arm Band. It has a soft and breathable band and it waterproof for exercising outside in all weather. However, it doesn’t have a depth limit, so it seems more for rain and sweat rather than for submerging. At the lowest cost on our list, this is the top value heart rate monitor for cycling. It only comes in black, which is great for those who don’t care, but if you like wearing those bright colors or matching it to your outfit you’ll need to change the strap out. Like most arm bands, depending on where you wear it and what type of motions you’re making, it may lose accuracy or have spikes that don’t make sense. That paperwork that comes with it is in another language and customer service wasn’t that great.
The XOSS Optical Arm Band uses a rechargeable lithium battery for up to 20 hours of use. It can connect with Bluetooth or ANT+ so you can use it with a variety of devices and equipment, like smart wrist watches, exercise equipment, and smartphones. It works with a variety of apps as well, such as Strava, MapMyRide, and Wahoo Fitness.
This arm band is fine for those on a tight budget and who don’t want all the extra features some arm bands come with. While simple and cheap, it also did have some problems and poor customer service, so it wasn’t the best, but it still made our list.
Bowflex Arm Band HR Monitor
Sleek and slim, the Bowflex Arm Band is great for an unobtrusive design while being affordable. It’s waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. There’s not a lot of features or additional perks to this one. It also wasn’t as reliable as the other entries on this list and didn’t work with as wide a range of apps, devices, or equipment. Bowflex is a well-known company that makes a variety of exercise equipment and accessories. If you just want a basic and inexpensive cycling arm band heart rate monitor, this one may be perfect.
The Bowflex Arm Band uses Bluetooth to connect to devices. It seems to only work with Bowflex machines, but it will work with different fitness apps, such as Strava, Wahoo Fitness, and Runtastic. The rechargeable battery will work for up to 20 hours on a full charge.
This spinning heart rate monitor has its limitations, but the overall sleek design and basic functions will be great for some. It also has the benefit of being made by a well-known and established company. The lack of extra features keeps the cost low, so it’s great for those on a budget. However, the equipment limitations and lack of ANT+ capability dropped it to the last place on our list.
Buyer’s Guide to Best Armband Cycling Heart Rate Monitors
We’ve covered what we consider to be the best armband heart rate monitors for cycling. There are a lot of things to consider and it can depend on what you’re looking for. Price is always important. Exercise equipment and apps, as well as all the other accessories that go along with it, can add up quickly. If you’re not looking for a bunch of extra features and abilities, then you can get a simpler option at a better price. If you do want those features to make your workout easier or more convenient, then you’ll probably need to spend a little more.
Another thing to consider is how many different devices you’ll be using. If you have a range or you have a varied workout routine, you will want to choose an HRM that will work with the most options. The apps and the ability for the HRM to store performance data is also something to consider.
Lastly, you’ll want to think about how important accuracy is to you. Are you the type to closely monitor and follow what your heart rate indicates in real time or are you the type who reviews your performance after the workout? Some HRMs are more accurate than others and price is closely related to this accuracy.
This depends on the specific HRM you get. Some are designed for certain placement while others can be shifted. With any HRM, you want it to stay snug on your arm to decrease the chance of it losing its measurement of your heart rate.
All of the HRMs on our list can be re-strapped. A few may not be as easy to remove, however, the strap comfort is important and should be adjusted. It needs to fit snug with no slipping while not being too tight to interfere with circulation.
Chest straps are worn under clothing, meaning you can’t take it off or put it on without removing your shirt. For women, this often means needing to remove a bra as well and makes it impossible to do in public. Some also have difficulty with the chest straps sliding because of their torso shape. For many, they’re also uncomfortable.
The Wahoo TICKR FIT Arm Band is definitely the top pick for us. The simplicity, the reliability, and the list of professionals who use this armband HR monitor for indoor cycling shows how great it works. We found it to be at the top of the best armband heart rate monitors for fitness and we’re not the only ones. This is a constant favorite for many. However, depending on your specific needs and style, as well as what exercises you plan on doing, there may be a better option on our list for you. We encourage you to consider all the features and options carefully before making a decision. The best armband heart rate monitor for spinning may be different than the best heart rate armband monitor for indoor cycling. Using an HRM is important to reaching your potential. You can reach your fitness goals when you use the right device for your needs.