Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Battle Royal: Mio VS Polar RC3

Technology has never been so prevalent in this sport we love. At one point everyone would ride bikes to get away from numbers and expectations. Then everyone needed to know how fast they are going, then how far they have gone. Now it didn't count unless the GPS map of your ride with heart rate, climb and slope was shared on STRAVA.

With all these additional bells and whistles available, heart rate is something we at the shop take very seriously. If your speed is off, your map doesn't quite nail down the mileage or your watts are slightly inaccurate, it's easy to calibrate or compensate to correct. One's heart rate is a constant. There is no inaccurate heart rate, only inaccurate readings.  Not to mention it is often a matter of staying healthy or pushing one's body too hard. Needless to say, it needs to be dead on.

The Contenders 
Polar RC3 and sensor

Polar has been a long time standard of the store due to its medical grade heart rate. Instead of relying on algorithms from every third recorded thump, Polar records every up, down and valley in between of one's heart rate.

Mio Alpha Sport Watch
Mio is the new kid on the block. It is one of the first to implement an infrared sensor to read heart rate through the wrist. This is a big deal because before this, if an athlete wanted to check their respective lubs and dubs they required a chest strap.

The only controversy of the strapless method that Mio promotes is that it has only been proven accurate at a resting heart rate. Due to the faster pace and sporadic nature of cardio, the more exertion the body is put under, the more inaccurate it becomes.  

The Show Down

We wanted to check for ourselves. So we sent Neal to do his normal work out with a Polar RC3 featuring medical-grade heart rate and a Mio Alpha to see how close they were. The idea being that the Polar is completely correct, and how well does the Mio hold up? The results were impressive.

Clearly the Mio didn't quite match up to Neal's needs. Over 50 bpm off of medical grade readings. If you need to monitor your heart rate while watching a movie or reading I'm sure the Mio will be more than adequate. However, most people interested in heart rate need to know it during physical exertion which just happens to be the weakest point for Mio. If you want to listen to your body, get a product that can really listen.