Wahoo Fitness TICKR X: Is a Chest Strap Heart Rate Tracker for You?

Fitness, like technology, has always been a very important part of my life. Whether I was running, swimming, bicycling, hiking, disc golfing, or playing other sports, I was always curious about how well I was maintaining my cardiovascular fitness. With the explosion in personal wearable health monitoring devices, this guesswork is a thing of the past. One of the companies that have been part of the iOS ecosystem for some time is Wahoo Fitness. The company has recently released a heart rate monitoring strap called TICKR X ($99.99) that can communicate with Wahoo's own fitness app as well as several third-party apps. Read on to find out if this heart rate sensor is worth the hundred dollar asking price.

TICKR X UnboxedNow that Apple has gotten into the health monitoring business with the Apple Watch, some might consider Wahoo's TICKR X to be unnecessary. For the casual exerciser, that may be the case. However, it's also been the case that wrist-based heart rate monitors are no match for the accuracy of a chest band. TICKR X was designed for highly active fitness enthusiasts seeking to gain the best fitness metrics possible in whatever event they participate in.  

In addition to the usual biking and running activities, TICKR X can also be used for swimming since it is rated for a five-foot underwater depth. I suspect we won't see many fitness enthusiasts wearing their Apple Watches in the pool. 

By itself, the TICKR X is just a data collector with Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity and some onboard storage.  Once it's paired with a fitness app like Wahoo's free Wahoo Fitness app, you can either watch your heart rate in real time or sync the data for reviewing or exporting for additional spreadsheet or third-party-app analysis.

Wahoo Fitness App

So what's it like using the TICKR X? I have to admit I was worried that the buckle-shaped sensor would get in the way or that strap would be too constricting. But once I positioned the sensor mid-chest and adjusted the strap to my frame, it didn't bother me at all. And the results were remarkable. In the hours that I've used the TICKR X, not once did it record an obviously false reading. It also performed like clockwork, capturing data points at regularly timed intervals and literally not missing a beat. 

With all that exercise activity comes the inevitable sweat soaked up by the band. Fortunately the sensor easily snaps on and off, making the band itself hand washable. I suppose the metal contacts would survive a washing machine, but I wouldn't recommend it. 

So is the TICKR X worth the asking price? If you are a hardcore fitness buff who isn't satisfied with an average heart rate monitor, then TICKR X is a solid buy. If you're a casual fitness enthusiast who wants to make sure your exercising heart rate is within the beneficially aerobic training zone, then less expensive alternatives such as the free, old-fashioned method of index and middle fingertips against your wrist (more accurately known as the radial artery pulse) exist. When combined with other data like GPS location, distance traveled, and estimated calories burned, the TICKR X can be part of a fitness improvement and maintenance regiment that can make workouts far more easily measurable and rewarding.

 

Top image credit: Jacek Chabraszewski / Shutterstock.com

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Mike Riley's picture

Author Details

Mike Riley

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.

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