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Wahoo TICKR FIT Optical HR Sensor In-Depth Review

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Today Wahoo announced their latest device – the Wahoo TICKR FIT.  The TICKR FIT is simply an optical heart rate sensor that transmits ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.  Basically, it’s like a Scosche Rhythm+ or to a slightly lesser extent like a Polar OH1 sensor.  All three of which are generally designed to be worn on the upper arm, which has the benefit of generally giving quite a bit more accurate readings than optical HR sensors worn at the wrist.

In any event, this $79 sensor is priced identical to that of the Scosche Rhythm+ as well as the Polar OH1.  I’ll get into the nuanced competitive differences down below though, as there are some things worth noting.

Before we go too far, note that Wahoo sent me a TICKR FIT to try out. As usual, I’ll send it back to them once I’ve wrapped up this review – likely even next week in person at CES.  The TICKR FIT is available for purchase today (and should be shipping out today too).  If you find this review useful, hit up the links at the bottom for all your sports gadgetry purchases (or, just to buy toilet paper on Amazon…your choice).

Actually, wait, one more thing! If you just wanna watch a video that summarizes this entire review from start to finish (with a few extras actually!), then here ya go:

With that, let’s begin!

Unboxing:

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The box the TICKR FIT comes in isn’t all that much different than that of the existing TICKR lineup of chest HR straps.  You’ll find the side pops open, allowing you to slide a small tray out:

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Inside you’ll find a handful of items, packaged up as seen below:

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These items are:

1) TICKR FIT sensor pod
2) Long strap
3) Short strap
4) Charging dock
5) Quick start guide
6) Legal paper junk

Starting with the charging dock, you’ll see it has two tiny pins for charging, which connect to the underside of the TICKR FIT pod. There are magnets in the charger to assist in keeping it put.

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Meanwhile, looking at the pod itself, it’s got a singular blue button on the side of it, which is used for powering it on/off.

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On the bottom is the optical HR sensor itself, along with some logos including ANT+, Bluetooth Smart, and various other bits of goodness.

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The two straps I’ll get into in a moment, but basically if you’re a smaller individual, then you’ll likely use the small one, or bigger folks can use the longer one.

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Then finally, there’s the quick start guide, which as you’ll see down below, is pretty simple:

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Oh, and the legal junk:

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As usual, it basically says if you kill yourself, it’s likely because you did something stupid and it’s probably your fault.  And in fairness, that’s probably true.

The Basics:

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Like my other HR sensor posts, I’m going to attempt to keep this fairly simple, because at the end of the day…it’s a fairly simple sensor.  At present it just transmits your HR, and that’s it.  Unlike some of the other sensors on the market, they aren’t doing any offline recording of workouts currently, nor transmission of things like running cadence, or anything else.  Just HR for now.  Perhaps that’ll change. Perhaps not.  Perhaps it’ll stop raining here today, but probably not.

In any case, to begin, you’ll slide the strap through it.  The first time I did it wrong, it shouldn’t cover the device.  Instead, it’s designed to unstrap each time you use the device.  The end result should be like this:

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As noted above, there’s both a long and a short strap.  For me, either strap would actually work.  The best placement is on your upper arm, around your bicep.  This is basically an identical spot to that of the Scosche Rhythm+ or Polar OH-1.  The appeal to this specific location is that it’s got a lot of ‘meat’, compared to say your wrist bone.  As such, you tend to get really good readings from it.

Once all that’s done, you’ll turn on the unit by holding down the blue button for a couple seconds.  Unlike the Scosche, it doesn’t accidentally turn on easily, so you don’t have to worry about transit issues.

When you turn it on, you’ll see a status LED illuminated atop it.  And then below it, you’ll see the green LEDs of the optical HR sensor light up.

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Wahoo has developed their own optical HR sensor package here (using off the shelf components of course), but hasn’t gone with another vendor like Valencell or others.  While Wahoo didn’t specify on why they rolled their own, I suspect it’s the same reason as most others are shying away from Valencell these days: Battery life.  While Valencell has great accuracy, the battery life aspects are harder and harder to swallow for companies, especially those that may have plans to let the sensor run for extended periods of time (i.e. days).

Of course, if the sensor isn’t accurate, then all the battery life in the world won’t matter.  But fear not, I’ll dive into accuracy in just a moment.

With the unit turned on and transmitting, it’s time to pair it up to your device of choice.  The unit transmits on the standard heart rate device profiles for both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.  For example, if you’ve got a Garmin device, you’ll generally connect to the TICKR FIT on ANT+ (though, Garmin’s 2017 devices now support Bluetooth Smart sensors, so you can use that too).  Here it is pairing to a Garmin FR935 via ANT+:

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Concurrently, the device also transmits HR on Bluetooth Smart, so if you’ve got something like a Suunto or Polar device, you’ll connect via Bluetooth Smart.  This is also true of most apps, like Zwift on iOS.  Here I’m paired via Bluetooth Smart on Zwift with an iPad:

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And of course, if you’ve got a Wahoo device (ELEMNT/ELEMNT BOLT), you can connect on either ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart.

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In my testing thus far, I’ve successfully connected with the following devices:

Garmin FR935 (via ANT+)
Garmin Edge 1030 (via ANT+)
Onelap PC app (via ANT+)
Suunto Spartan Trainer (via Bluetooth Smart)
Wahoo ELEMNT
Wahoo Fitness App (via Bluetooth Smart)
Zwift iOS (via Bluetooth Smart)

Note that while the unit does transmit RR/HRV interval data as required by the ANT+ spec, it shouldn’t be considered too accurate during workouts.  No optical HR sensor on the market today is able to do so well during workouts, though most can just fine at rest.

Given that the ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart heart rate profiles are the most well defined of either spec, I don’t expect any unforeseen compatibility issues with this sensor.  I can’t remember the last time I heard of any current device/app/sensor screwing up compatibility on either of the ANT+ or BLE heart rate profiles.

The unit claims 30 hours of battery, and while I haven’t done 30 hours of use with it straight (I’ve charged it a few times here and there before it got to the end of battery life), so far I’ve never run out of battery.  This battery life is about triple that of the Scosche Rhythm+, which is quite a jump, especially for those doing longer activities like ultras.  As noted above, charging is done via the small charging dock/connector:

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With that, let’s dive into the accuracy pieces.

Heart Rate Accuracy:

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The single most important aspect of a heart rate sensor is whether or not it’s accurate.  After all, there’s little point in buying one if it’s not accurate.  As noted above, Wahoo selected to roll their own sensor package here, which means they’re pulling off the shelf components together (optical sensor, LED’s, etc…) to form a ‘sensor package’.  Most manufacturers do this, be it Garmin, Polar, Fitbit, or others.  Some, such as Suunto, have leveraged 3rd parties with well-established histories, such as Valencell, for constructing their optical HR sensor packages.

If I looked back 2-3 years ago, I’d have said that going with an established entity like Valencell or (at the time) Mio or LifeQ would have made sense. Those companies understood the complexities well.  But in the last couple years, that knowledge has become more mainstream, and there’s less and less reason to outsource it (both from a cost standpoint, as well as speed to market).  Further, using Valencell sensor packages isn’t actually a guarantee of a perfect device.  As they themselves will tell you – it’s all about the watch/device the sensor is going into.  Suunto is a great example where using the exact same sensor in two different watches has resulted in two different accuracy levels (primarily due to watch weight/balance).

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Before we move on to the test results, note that optical HR sensor accuracy is rather varied from individual to individual.  Aspects such as skin color, hair density, and position can impact accuracy.  Position, and how the band is worn, are *the most important* pieces.  A unit with an optical HR sensor should be snug.  It doesn’t need to leave marks, but you shouldn’t be able to slide a finger under the band (at least during workouts).  You can wear it a tiny bit looser the rest of the day.

Ok, so in my testing, I simply use the watch throughout my normal workouts.  Those workouts include a wide variety of intensities and conditions, making them great for accuracy testing.  I’ve got steady runs, interval workouts on both bike and running, as well as tempo runs and rides.

For each test, I’m wearing additional devices, usually 3-4 in total, which capture data from other sensors.  Typically I’d wear a chest strap (for these tests a Polar H7, a PowerCal HR strap, and a Garmin HRM-RUN, among others), as well as another optical HR sensor watch on the other wrist (many models during this testing period).  Note that the numbers you see in the upper right corner are *not* the averages, but rather just the exact point my mouse is sitting over.  Note all this data is analyzed using the DCR Analyzer, details here.

First, we’ve got a run from just two days ago, an interval run.  These are often the most difficult runs to track, as the rapidly shifting HR requires a device to separate increased cadence from increased HR (the most common error that optical HR sensors make is to ‘lock-on’ to your running cadence).  This file set includes the TICKR FIT paired to a FR935, a Suunto Spartan Trainer paired to a Polar H7, and a Samsung Gear Sport.  You can look/download the files here in the DCR Analyzer. Here’s the overview.

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This set is fascinating because it demonstrates right away the benefits of optical HR sensors – which is on cool/dry/windy days where chest straps can often produce inaccurate results in those first few minutes due to lack of moisture (despite me wetting it).  In this case the TICKR FIT properly captures my build, whereas the Polar H7 chest strap doesn’t lock until about 2-3 minutes in.

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After that point, we see awesome correlation between the Polar H7 and the TICKR FIT.  The Samsung Gear Sport is…well…horrendous.  In fact, I excluded it because it’s so bad. It plotted exactly two points of HR data.  And lost the plot the remainder of the time.

The only differences we see are in that 5th interval.  My suspicion there though may be due to me taking a handful of pictures there, which may have impacted cadence (holding up my arm) and in turn any error correction the unit is trying to do.  So I’m less inclined to give it too much grief on that one.

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Looking at the sprints at the end, these are 30-seconds long and produce some quick shifts in heart rate.  We see the units are very close together there, though the TICKR FIT does seem to slightly undercut the peak heart rate values on the 3rd one especially, but also slightly on the 1st and 4th ones.  I suspect had these lasted 40-50 seconds, it would have caught up, as this type of slight undercutting in sprint scenarios is somewhat common for optical HR sensors.

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Overall though, camera work aside, this is mostly a good run for the TICKR FIT.

Next, let’s go to another run, this one a bit more steady, though with slight changes in pace here and there.  Here’s the data sets for that.

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In this comparison against the Polar H7, you’ll see things look pretty good across the board.  I see some slight differences on some of the sprints towards the end, as well as a few other acceleration points, whereby the TICKR FIT doesn’t quite reach the same max HR values.  In cross-referencing against a third data source I can publish next week, I’d say the Polar H7 is the correct value here for those peaks.

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Switching gears, here’s an indoor trainer workout (cycling) while doing Zwift.  In this case, I had a PowerTap PowerCal chest heart rate strap and a Garmin FR935 optical HR sensor.  Here’s the data set.

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You can see that by and large things are nearly identical.  I see some very slight (like 1-3 second) differences in terms of delays, but nothing major there.  It’s somewhat common for straps to differ slightly from a smoothing/transmission standpoint.

The only time anyone differs here is the FR935 optical HR sensor in 2-3 spots.  I don’t know why.  But otherwise, everything else in the set looks good, even the sprints you see match up (again, albeit very slightly delayed).

And then finally, an outdoor ride.  This started with typical stop and go as I headed across town, followed by a few sustained intensity loops around a large park, and then I headed back across town with a few photo stops.  Here’s the DCR Analyzer files for that.

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I had a few sensors along for the ride.  This included the Gear Sport again, but that data was horribly useless, so I’ll skip it.  And then some other stuff I’ll talk about next week.  Leaving me with the chest strap (ANT+ PowerTap PowerCal) and the TICKR FIT.

Looking at things, it’s kind of a mixed bag.  At the very beginning, the chest strap gets it wrong, as my initial start was more subdued than it makes it seem.  Below is the zoomed in section.  But after about 3 minutes the two match fairly well, minus a few quirks here and there.

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Still, the TICKR FIT definitely made some mistakes.  For example, this sprint section below, which is an 800w sustained sprint, the TICKR FIT totally missed the ball.

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Yet inversely, later on it nailed a near identical sprint at the same intensity, correctly identifying it, whereas the chest HR strap did some weird dance or something right before the sprint.

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The remainder of the ride it was mostly pretty good, except this oddity where I got back on my bike after taking some photos.  It totally lost the plot here for a while, seemingly tracking…well…I’m not sure what.  The chest strap is easily correct here.

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So overall I’d say it does fairly well in running and indoor cycling, but seems to have some quirks in outdoor cycling still. Of course, so do most wrist based optical HR sensors (outdoor cycling).  But then again, this isn’t a wrist based one – rather more of an arm based one, and my testing (and many other people’s) has shown that both the Polar OH-1 and Scosche Rhythm+ tend to do fairly well in outdoor cycling with arm placement.  So at present, that’s something to consider if you’re looking to do cycling outdoors.

Competitive Differences:

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I’ve added the Wahoo TICKR FIT into the product comparison database for heart rate sensors.  This includes other standalone optical HR sensors like the Polar OH-1 and Scosche Rhythm+, as well as non-optical HR sensors such as the Wahoo TICKR/TICKR X and Garmin/Polar/4iiii/etc chest straps.

For the purposes of comparison below, I’ve put the three standalone optical HR sensors side by side, but you can mix and match your own comparison here within the product comparison tool.

Function/FeatureWahoo TICKR FITScosche RHYTHM+Polar OH1
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated January 9th, 2018 @ 9:48 amNew Window
Price$79$79$79
Product Announce DateJan 3rd, 2018Jan 6th, 2014Aug 30th, 2017
Product Availability DateJan 3rd, 2018Early May 2014Late Sept 2017
Measurement TypeOpticalOpticalOptical HR
Typical PlacementMid/Upper ArmMid/Upper ArmUpper Arm
Battery Life30 hours7-8 hours10 hours
Battery TypeUSB rechargeableUSB rechargeableUSB Rechargeable
NFC CapableNoNo
HR TransmissionWahoo TICKR FITScosche RHYTHM+Polar OH1
ANT+YesYesNo
Bluetooth SmartYesYesYes
Dual concurrent ANT+/BLEYesYesNo
Analog for gym equipmentNoNoNo
Usable HR data underwaterDepends: If on same wrist, YMMV.Depends: If on same wrist, YMMV.No
Bridging ANT+ to Bluetooth SmartNoNoNo
Can record activity w/o 2nd deviceNoNoYes
Additional DataWahoo TICKR FITScosche RHYTHM+Polar OH1
Run PaceNoYes (firmware 3.01 and above)No
Run CadenceNoYes (firmware 3.01 and above)No
Run Economy/MetricsNoNoNo
Cycling Power Meter EstimationNoNoNo
Valid HRV/RR dataNoNoNo
Configurable Sport ModesNoNo
Requires Bluetooth Smart Phone for ConfigurationNoNoNo
Firmware UpdateableYesYes for newish unitsYes
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)LinkLinkLink
Clever Training Europe (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)N/ALinkLink
More InfoLinkLinkLink

And again, remember, you can mix and match any of the sensors you want here within the product comparison tool, in case you want to see how things measure up to other chest sensors.

Summary:

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It was probably only inevitable that Wahoo would get into the optical HR sensor game.  After all, they were the first company to produce and ship a Bluetooth Smart HR chest strap many years ago (6 years ago tomorrow in fact), and they’ve also been on the forefront of producing ANT+ and other dual sensors as well.  So the lack of an optical HR sensor in their lineup was a bit of an odd omission.

In many ways, I suspect the TICKR FIT may be testing grounds for other products or features down the road.  Even the device itself is actually a bit sparse compared to the Scosche or Polar offerings, which have more features like speed/cadence functionality as well as storage.  Heck, it’s even more sparse than Wahoo’s own chest offerings.  Wahoo declined to say what additional hardware may be inside the TICKR FIT, but it’d be odd to me if it didn’t at least match the hardware of the TICKR series (which has accelerometers and storage in it).

As for whether it’s worth buying?  Hmm, I’d kinda give it a ‘sure/meh’.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with it (aside from some minor quirks I’m sure they’ll soon sort out), but there’s also nothing inherently amazing about it either…unless you truly need 30-hour battery life.  It lacks the really strong accuracy of the Scosche Rhythm+ across multiple sports, while also lacking some of the added features of the OH-1 and Rhythm+.  If Wahoo were to implement such features, it’d be a very different ball game.

Still, if one landed on your doorstep, it’s nothing to be disappointed about.

With that – thanks for reading!

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Wahoo TICKR FIT

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103 Comments

  1. Marco

    Does the status LED give you any information about current charge levels when you turn it on or while using it (say 2 blinks means 50%, 4 blinks means 100%)? Not having any way to figure out what the charge level is has been my main issue with the Rhythm+ and it would be interesting to know if Wahoo improved on this.

  2. mack

    In comparison to the polar h7 chart, are we sure that you were not having a slightly non perfusing rhythm (Pvc’s or PAC;’s) since the measurement of the devices is different (electrical activity vs perfusion)

    • Historically speaking, I haven’t ever seen any appreciable difference between using optical vs chest measurement when it comes to workouts. The best sensors on the market when compared act virtually identical.

    • Treadmore

      Mack – my guess is that Ray would notice that skipped-a-beat feeling if his heart was doing the premature contraction lambada.

  3. rickNP

    I do like the battery life and would be on board with this if it was a bridge. RIght now i’m using my Viiiiva to hook my garmin footpod into Zwift on my ipad, but would much prefer a wrist/forearm based HRM.

  4. Mike P

    I’m sick of charging stuff, I would rather have a CR2032 that lasts a year rather than having to charge this once a week

    • Yeah, the battery draw of optical HR sensors is far too great for coin cell batteries unfortunately. The good news is chest straps still have plenty of options with CR2032 batteries.

  5. Nathan B

    This is rather timely!

    Having inadvertently upgraded the firmware on my Scosche Rhythm+ to 3.01, it’s now completely useless. Although not as useless as the Scosche website when it comes to any kind of support whatsoever about the device or firmware.

    I can’t see any way to downgrade it back to the old firmware, and there is no upgrade in sight for a working FW.

    I’ve purchased a Vivoactive 3 (through the site) but the OHR is appalling on it! So this could well be the new favourite.

  6. Tino

    Hi Ray,
    sorry for off-topic: I have a question for you which is not about WAHOO TICKR FIT. It’s about SCOSCHE RHYTHM+.
    Do you know if it’s possible update firmware via Android phones or another method which don’t implies iOS?
    Because I have a Rhythm+ and I own an Android phone and on their site, it’s not mentioned. Also, they don’t respond to messages send from their contact page therefore it’s difficult to find out a method to update firmware in those conditions.
    And starting from here I think that is useful to insert in your articles those kind of information – about future updates of firmware’s or about how easy or documented are updates :)
    With Garmin, Fitbit or Suunto for example it’s very easy, but with other devices it’s tricky or almost impossible or very hard to accomplish a firmware update.
    Thanks!

    • Nathan B

      I wouldn’t.

      I upgraded my Rhythm+ to 3.01, and have had nothing but issues with it. It appears to be a problem. Searching online, a few people are looking to downgrade back to 2.5, but can’t see how.

    • When I last spoke to Scosche about updating the firmware on your Rhythm+ they told me that the older Rhythms, I think it was firmware version 1.0 are not upgradeable and had to be returned to the factory to have the firmware upgrade. They told me I had to pay shipping back to Scosche and they would pay shipping back to me. I got a hold of them through live chat. Not sure if that helps at all …

    • I checked again and this is the correct answer ” Prior to firmware V2.5, the Rhythm+ had to be sent back to Scosche for firmware updates.” Mine is 2.2 so not upgradeable. You can see your version of firmware using the Scosche app.

    • Ray can only write about firmware upgradability if it was possible at time of release, otherwise it will be up to the readers (or I guess Ray himself) to post about future changes in the comments section. I bought my Scosche Rhythm+ years ago when it was first released and since I never had any issues with it except the power button being way too sensitive, so I didn’t even know there were firmware upgrades for later revisions until recently.

  7. Patoche

    Very interesting. I clearly hesitate between him and the Scosche one.
    Is there a new Scosche unit planned soon ?

  8. Giles E

    Table for “firmware upgradable” is wrong for the rhythm+ as it can be upgraded.

    Would I be right in thinking the new tickr fit is compatible with the element mini, unlike third party? This does make that seem a lot more interesting than before actually.

  9. Spiro

    Thanks for the overview. That’s a clear no for me as I mostly ride outdoors. I’ll stick to the Tickr strap

  10. Josh

    To clarify, which of the Suunto devices you mention are you saying are accurate OHR vs inaccurate OHR using the same device?

    • I see the Spartan Trainer as more accurate than the Sport edition, which I believe is primarily due to weight of the heavier watches introducing bounce.

    • Marc

      To my opinion the accuracy is tightly associated with the user and the kind of sport. The Fr935 still gives me erratic reading, cutting crest in interval running or playing squash. It is great for biking or indoor rowing.. The spartan Sport whr is the only one I have been successfuly used for squash. No success with any other OHR for squash.

  11. Armando Serafini

    I’ve owned a Scosche Rhythm+ for a number of years thanks to your review and recommendation. I use it with my original Garmin Vivoactive. I was not aware of the 3.01 firmware update. I thought the device was not capable of having the firmware updated. What is the process to update the firmware and do you recommend the update? Thank you.

    • Yeah, the 3.0.1 update snuck out fairly recently (like, last week or so I think). I’m not sure if the super early units can be updated or not. I’ve gotta try it on mine later today.

    • No, those first units are not upgradable (the ones that came with version 1 or so). You have to send them back to Scosche so they can update it for you. If the sensor is on FW 2 point something then it’s possible.

    • peter

      hello,

      3.0.1 came out last summer already.
      i upgraded in september after looking out for some weeks/months to see if the new firmware broke the device, since V3.0.0 bricked a lot of devices. (a lot of reports on the page I mention below).
      It turns out that V3.0.1 also causes high spike readings, especially making HR readings in apps like iSmoothRun crash (you get like 12.000 as heart rate until your run stops).
      I have posted all the info + the workaround for iSmoothRun on the Scosche page: link to dcrainmaker.com

      All credits for the workaround to the quick response of the creators of the app, because from Scosche there was complete silence unfortunately.
      However, not sure if the bug has been fixed in newer versions of iSmoothRun.
      The bug didn’t appear in the Wahoo app.

  12. I’d love to see a side by side comparison of the scosche/TICKR FIT and see how they stack up against each other. I’ve had a Rhytm+ for a while but in mountain biking don’t find it accurate enough for zone based training and went to a TICKR chest strap. Any idea if this can do HRV measurements for something like EliteHRV? I’d love to see you do an article on HRV Ray …

  13. Eli

    Saying battery life of Valencell is bad doesn’t make sense. The Scorche is how old now? Sure its a great device that works but you would think the hardware used in it could be improved and use less battery power.

    Guessing the scorche uses:
    link to valencell.com

    But the new version is:
    link to valencell.com

    So 2.548 mA vs 5.24 mA so a modern version of the scorche could have around twice the battery life using the same high precision mode. If standard precision was good enough 2.318 mA vs 0.522 mA, a much bigger gap

    • Even twice the battery life is unsustainable for most wearable makers. Keep in mind Garmin/Fitbit/Polar/Apple/etc are doing 5-7 days (min) with optical on ranging from 1s to every few minutes.

      Every manuf I’ve talked to has stated the exact same thing as a leading reason they can’t use the Valencell stuff these days: Battery life.

    • Hey, your Scosche Rhythm 24 Optical HR Band hands on kind of confirms what I said :-p

  14. Matthew

    Ray,

    I got my wife’s hand me down Scosche’s Rhythm, and for me, the HR reading is pretty bad – reads low, seems to lock on indoor cycling cadence frequently, etc. I’ve tried using it on both my forearm and upper arm, and neither seems to make a difference. I don’t have dark / tanned skin (not much sun in the Bay Area). Any ideas? Or any idea if either the Wahoo Fit or Polar OH-1 would work?

    • Clint

      I’m in the Bay Area and have somewhat light skin. I used the Rhythm+ with great success for a couple of years until the 3.x firmware update made it, well, unreliable. I now have the OH1 and it works fantastic.

  15. Gunnar

    Hum. I love everything about my Scosche accept for the battery life. (oh, and then band is now worn out and the velcro doesn’t always stay attached).

    I get about 6 hours out of it (granted it’s now 2 years old)….which sounds like plenty for most activities, but I start the Scosche so it connects to my fenix 3 and edge 1000….then I muck around with getting my bike ready…..or finding where the dog hid my socks etc. Then I do a mid ride 45 minute coffee stop and then that all add up to no heart rate data for the last hour of my long ride days.

    This is tempting looking at the battery life.

    • Jon Niehof

      New bands are like $13. My band lasted for something like 4 years before needing replaced (and I’m still getting 6-8 hours of life on the battery.)

  16. gingerneil

    This looks excellent. I recently swapped my Rythmn+ for an OH1, but that has started to lock onto cadence or freeze on a particular HR – even when fully warmed up. In a recent marathon, for example, I had to walk to negotiate a flood due to a burst river. Immediately after this, the OH1 sat on the same HR for the next mile – I didnt notice. It was then a PITA to move/reset it under a few layers of clothes and wearing gloves! Not what you want 18 miles in! The strap on the OH1 is just too thin also – and it flips when I’m trying to get a base layer over my arm.
    Looks like I’ll be sending that back to amazon and giving the TICKR FIT a go instead – zero cost to me.
    Also intrigued to see what else is under the hood.. time will tell, although I dont need on-device recording etc.

    • gingerneil

      Oh, and the strap looks very similar to the Rythmn+. I put together a custom elastic band for that so it just slipped over my arm and was a consistent fit. Seems the obvious things to try with the TICKR, and but isnt possible with the OH1 without physically cutting the original strap off.

    • Yeah, the strap on the OH-1 is sorta the minor annoyance there. In some ways, they made too small a device, which sounds silly on the face of it, but as folks have used it know, it makes it a bit more prone to flipping over (as well as loss).

      The TICKR FIT strap is pretty similar comparing the two side by side to the Scosche strap, though I can’t speak to the exact materials or longevity of how the TICKR FIT strap will hold up. One minor thing to keep in mind is that Scosche actually did change their strap materials, I think about 1-2 years ago, to resolve some early issues with them falling apart.

  17. Adam

    Hi Ray,

    In my experience the Polar OH1 works very well underwater, i used it several times in the pool and recorded the HR data very well.
    Great review as always :)

  18. David Michaud

    Ray,

    Chest straps are hated by so many but their accuracy and battery life keeps them alive. Is anyone working on a peel and stick variant to the strap. There are reusable medical adhesives that would keep the monitor in place for days and they’re waterproof. Why doesn’t garmin create this?

  19. Tim B

    > on cool/dry/windy days where chest straps can often produce inaccurate results in those first few minutes due to lack of moisture (despite me wetting it)

    On dry days, you might try wetting the much more absorbent skin and not only the strap. Rub the skin under the strap sensor areas with wet fingers to loosen and remove some of the dead skin cells and oils. That will help the connectivity between skin and strap sensor. It is like the protocol used to attach the leads for EKG/ECG readings. I have found this technique to much improve my initial HR strap readings.

  20. jeff

    Seems like accuracy is poor compared to what I see on my Rhythm+. But at least it has twice the battery life so I guess that means you can get twice as much bad data.
    I’ll stick with my Scosche

  21. Neil Hutchins

    I’ve got to say, this ticks a lot of boxes for me as I hate heart straps but really wanted something for Zwift but that can also broadcast to my Garmin for occasional outdoor use. I’m not worried about mega-accuracy for outdoors, just something to keep an eye on for long duration climbs or riding in training zones but a quick (vanity) question: is there any reason it wouldn’t work higher up on the bicep – I’m thinking about avoiding a tan-line on the forearm in the summer?

    • Greg

      Neil

      I use my Scosche Rhythm+ high up on my bicep as I find it reduces chaffing and does not get in the way of sleeves/armour pads as much as when lower down. I’ve never had any issues with accuracy. I run, mountain bike (rough technical stuff) and work out.

      Pretty sure this device would work just as well in that location.

      Greg

  22. Thounee

    Ray,

    Have you ever experimented differences between keeping the sensor above your elbow rather than just below it how the instructions are? I’ve found this position to be most comfortable for myself and still haven’t seen real difference in the HR (haven’t really tested with multiple sensors at the same time)

  23. gingerneil

    Just ordered one and am returning the OH1. However… I then come back and reread the article proper and see lots of teasers – “In cross referencing against a third data source I can publish next week,”. Lets see what we’re in for. Easy returns through amazon are great – wonder if the FIT will go back next week and be replaced my more mystery hardware?! :) Garmin doing a stand alone optical? It would be very very easy for them to lift the hardware from the current watches and add a strap to it.

    • Frank G

      So you are returning your OHR monitor after several runs and a marathon, because it got stuck after wading through water and the band flips when you put clothing on?

      IMHO, you should have returned it when you found that it flips, and read the manual about underwater readings. That way the seller/producer could have re-sold the device. I would hate having you as a customer. You give us others a bad reputation and finally make products for everyone more expensive.

    • gingerneil

      Obviously, you’re entitled to your opinion, but I think you misunderstood.
      I was walking through ankle high water – not swimming. The OH1 froze and took several reboots and shuffles about to get back to something I could partly trust. I ended up moving my 935 onto my wrist and using the internal HR sensor. This also happened on a training run when I walked up some steep stairs during an activity – the OH1 froze and the HR flatlined on something like 157 for the rest of the run. It’s not asking a lot to expect the device to be able to cope with short breaks in a run. Should I be expected to reset it everyone I stop to take a photo?? Either mine is defective, or the product is flawed. I don’t think that sending it back is unreasonable. Also, everyone’s experience and anatomy are different – having it flip over on me isn’t something you would expect to have a accept, even if the odd review raises it as a risk.
      Amazon can happily resell it if they like – others may have better results, but I’ve lost confidence due to the freezing. I’ll try the FIT – is that works for me then great. If not, I’ll send that back too. I had a rhythm for about 3 years before my latest hardware developed a fault – so that went back to Amazon and at that point there were other options so I opted for a refund and not a replacement. That flexibility is one of the reasons I use Amazon for almost evening!

    • Mark

      Just to get the wording right, ›flatlining‹ is when the heart rate drops to zero.

      If it sticks to an old reading and won’t update, that’s usually called a ›freeze‹, ›lock-in‹, or a ›device hanging.‹

      I’ve experienced said flatling with the OH1, too, but no freezing.

    • gingerneil

      OK – freezing on a value is what I’ve seen.
      link to sporttracks.mobi
      link to sporttracks.mobi
      link to sporttracks.mobi

      I have updated to the latest firmware (1.0.9?), but it still happens. I’ve lost confidence in the device and cant spend the run wondering if I am hitting a steady HR or if the device has frozen.

    • Mark

      Oy, indeed. That’s nasty. Definitely looks defective and not what happens with mine.

      I’d try to get a replacement first because it’s currently the smallest, and the only device with built-in memory. YMMV.

  24. Tommy

    Dear wahoo,

    Please add ant+ light control to the elemnt and the elemnt bolt.

    Thanks

  25. Andrew

    I’d like a side by side comparison of the Scosche/TICKR FIT/Polar OH1. A lot of people comment on the comfort and longevity of the band but DC doesn’t cover this aspect?

    • Tom Goossens

      +1

      I like my Scoche for virtual rides but opt for the Garmin HRM strap because of the velcro issues with my base layer clothes every IRL run/ride.

    • gingerneil

      The band on the FIT looks identical to the scosche. Although I don’t like, and replaced it with elastic.

  26. Gryphon

    Typo alert:

    “…I got back on my back after taking…” Back on my bike perhaps?

  27. Jimbo

    I’ve been using a (few, I keep killing them) Mio Link for a few years. Seems they have left the market.
    Nice to see Wahoo enter this realm. I have liked the bike sensors I have for them.
    That battery life is really impressive, my Mios have not been able to finish a century, and wouldn’t last an Ironman if someone was so inclined.
    This Wahoo should last for all of that and even ultras and 24 hour races.

    Any idea of transmission range? Mostly for indoor bike riding like where the computer is 6-8 feet away.
    Will ANT+ or BTLE go farther?

  28. Matt King

    Cheers for the review Ray. Two questions, I’m a Rythm+ user, and I commonly find a couple of issues with it:
    a) it takes ages (1-2 minutes) to lock on to HR if your HR is already high. eg at T1 of a triathlon, because I can’t figure out how you would strap it on under a wetsuit.
    b) It doesn’t track accurately during hill sprints on a bike. I suspect due to muscle flex, and I don’t have big arms…
    Have you seen these issues, and now does the Wahoo compare?

    • 1) Hmm, I haven’t tried doing that, mostly being January and all. ;) That said, with the Scosche, what I’d do for triathlons is have it on under my tri-suit under my wetsuit, so it was already there. (The one downside to that as I found out in one race was that the velcro somehow caught on my wetsuit and got pulled off in T1…and I didn’t notice lack of said sensor till the bike).

      2) Per the data above, I have seen some issues with the TICKR FIT on some (but not all) sprints. I don’t see issues with the Scosche.

  29. Paris Prasinos

    hi Ray,

    is this working with the Tacx iOS app?

    thanks
    Paris

  30. Giles Roadnight

    Just FYI I’ve never had issued with the Scosche accidentally turning on. I think that there might have been a firmware update since your review.
    Do you still get those issues?

    • Mine is an older unit still.

    • Supposedly 2.4 is the version where they fixed the accidentally turning on problem, but I have 2.4 and mine can be turned on by looking at it really hard.

    • Steven Knapp

      I was having trouble with mine locking up as well as being too easy to turn on. I suspect I got an old stock unit.

      Ray, Scosche has an iOS app that allows you to upgrade the firmware.

      link to itunes.apple.com

      The app is a bit bizarre and hints at other features like step counting. But It did the job of updating the firmware.

    • Steven Knapp

      Doh, see above that older units can’t accept the firmware update(s). Sorry..

    • peter

      hello,

      this brings up an interesting topic, is there anyone who knows more about the possiblities of this app or where to find documentation?

      some persons mentioned that the latest firmware allows you to pair the Scosche via ANT+ as a footpod too (besides HR) so that could explain that setting.

      I think you can define the HR zones for blue/pink/red led lights.
      I once heard you could ‘record’ workouts with the Scosche. In iTunes i see some random files in the app which seem meaningless but maybe they are related to accidentally saved runs?

    • There’s a website (blog post) dedicated to discussion of firmware here:
      link to blog.lincomatic.com

    • Greg

      Mine is v2.5 and I have to press and hold the power button for about 2 secs to get it to turn on or off. Additionally it’s takes purposeful pressure to depress the power button. I’ve never had a problem with accidental power on or power off.

  31. Giles Roadnight

    Another great in depth review thanks Ray.

    I am a little surprised that you didn’t compare against the Scosche as that seems to be your go-to HR monitor (or perhaps I am wrong).
    Do I understand correctly that you would still recommend the Scosche over this?

    As an aside are there any pros / cons for ant+ or BLE connections between devices when you both available – i.e. your head unit and hr strap support both. Which do you usually use?

    • Yeah, sometimes doing comparison testing is a bit of death by a thousand cuts. While you only see 2-3 device in some of the sets above, I was wearing more (as noted, more next week). Thus, I was kinda at the limit of the number of head units (data recording) I can manage running/riding with at once.

      In general for HR, you’re fine to use either ANT+ or BLE and not see much to worry about. Whereas for power meters, the general industry guidance is use ANT+ first, and then BLE if there’s something amiss on ANT+. I typically will default to ANT+ if available, merely so I can use multiple recording device (i.e. Garmin head unit + Zwift).

  32. david n

    The Polar OH1 can be worn on the upper and forearm (‘mid arm’) as per manual page 15:

    link to support.polar.com

    • Mark

      Indeed I’ve yet to find a position where the OH1 doesn’t pick up any HR. Unofficially, you can even use it strapped to a leg.

      More corrections:
      • The Polar OH1 can be used underwater, for swimming!
      • Battery lasts 12hrs.

      You can start and stop recording to memory on the road, without it stopping broadcasting, and in doing so split any activities.

  33. Kevin Collings

    Short battery life is was the deal breaker for Scosche for me. I need 18 hour for my longest activities to date, so this sounds perfect. If I can tuck it under my jersey sleeve I’m sold.

  34. GUY NADO

    I would like to know how the Ticker Fit would fare at the gym. I do a circuit style workout that usually consists of 4 exercises in succession with short rest periods in between circuits. The weights range from moderate to heavy. On my lower body exercises, I can get my heart rate up to the high 150’s. I think that this product is marketed toward people who work out in the gym.

  35. Fra

    How does it feel wearing on outdoor cycling? Do you feel it? Is it bulge? Does it stick under the bike shirt?
    I hated chest strap mostly because it moved around and it was quite annoying wearing it while cycling.

    • If worn per the instructions manual, it feels/looks a bit awkward because of the placement (if in the summer, outside of a shortsleeve jersey). I’ve tried it that way, as well as my preferred way on the bicep, which feels more normal.

  36. MirkoSurf&Run

    Hi Ray, is the new product that you are going to review next week after CES the new Garmin FR645 or is a new model of the Scosche?
    I hope that it is the new Garmin 645, because I just bought in CleverTraing Europe a Scosche Rhythm+ for a gift (it arrived yesterday, it took a long time from England to Italy because after the Brexit the mail arrives first in the international depot. I remember that for my first Scosche it didn’t take so muche time).
    When you review the new Garmin 645, con you comment if the optical heart rate monitor improves over the FR935?
    Can you comment about when the GPS watches will connect to the Galileo satellites?
    By

    • gingerneil

      “..because after the Brexit…”
      Sorry, but as a Brit, I have to LOL at this. Nothing has changed yet, we dont leave the EU until March next year, and even then, nothing is likely to actually change until a couple of years after that. I suggest someone just through it on the wrong pile!

    • MirkoSurf&Run

      It could be, the item was sent 14th dicember 2017 and arrived 4 january 2018. A little too long time. The item arrived in Torino the 23 december, then stayed there in Torino in the international depot (international exchange center) till 2 january.

    • gingerneil

      Just sounds like new year delays…

  37. Ed Lee

    Have you tried using the Zwift Apple Watch HRM feature? Already own the Watch —

  38. JimC

    Great review as ever Ray, just a couple of points you missed that I’d like to hear about:

    1) Is it comfortable? Do you notice it when running/biking/whatever? (I realise this is subjective, but any opinion would be nice!)

    2) Do they work when swimming?

    Cheers,
    Jim.

    • 1) No problems with comfort. I find it more comfortable on the bicep than the lower arm like they recommend, but I’ve done both and it’s no biggie either way.

      2) I haven’t tried it swimming, but in general ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart have an effective underwater range of about 3-6cm, so realistically, unless you’ve got a device next to it, it won’t capture it.

  39. Spencer

    Ray, in the comparison table you note that the Rhythm+ can provide additional data including pace and cadence. This was news to me, so I updated using the ipad app to the latest firmware. Sure enough, in the app, I could see the cadence and pace data. However, when I attempted to use this as a speed sensor in zwift for running, it was unable to pair. I got on the chat with Scosche and they said that it doesn’t broadcast power or cadence. Can you provide some clarification about this?

    • It shouldn’t need to broadcast power for Zwift to use it.

      I’ve gotta poke at it a bit with Zwift to see what’s up. Which is also me saying I’ve gotta see if my unit is new enough to even support it. It’s in my suitcase in the bin above me on the plane right now, once I land I plan to charge it up and see a bit.

    • Spencer

      Cool, thanks for looking into it. I misspoke when I said “broadcast power”, I meant scosche said it doesn’t broadcast PACE or cadence. Surprising considering on the scosche website description it says “It is an all new workout tool for managing heart rate, calories burned, distance, pace and more”

    • Spencer

      Ray, any luck with updating the firmware on your Scosche?

  40. Kristian I.

    You’re saying that Garmin devices works with Bluetooth sensors from 2017 onwards?? Every Garmin?? For example a FR235 or Edge 520?

    Because I really want an optical HR Sensor, I recently bought a Polar OH1 to use with my TomTom Runner2. Unfortunately the TomTom didn’t work with that sensor so I want to buy a new device (would buy Polar due to bang-for-buck but I find the data field-layout poorly designed and hard to read compared to Suunto, Garmin, TomTom etc.). Just wondering whether Garmins work with Bluetooth Smart or not. The TomTom is nice but really limited (doesn’t even show AVG HR when in training!!).

    Or would the TICKR FIT work with TomTom Runner/Spark? Anyone tried?

    • No, only Garmin watches *released* in 2017. That’d be:

      FR935
      Fenix 5/5S/5X
      Vivoactive 3
      Edge 1030

      The Vivosmart 3 and Vivosport and Vivomove HR were all 2017, but I don’t think/know offhand if they support BLE sensors (I don’t think so).

  41. Matt

    Glad to see another ANT+/BT optical HR sensor on the market and can’t wait to see what else you have coming next week.

    I’m thoroughly disappointed with Scosche as a company. Had issues with my Rhythm+ and contacted them numerous times to either 1) Get no response or only to get one after weeks and then get 2) No real help that ended with a generic “we’ve got a new firmware coming”.

    Finally had it with my the device. Had it on for 12 minutes on my Z2 run today and it had me at over 180bpm for more than half that time. Got tired of my F3 beeping at me that I was way above goal HR so shut it off.

    Will likely go with this depending on what else is up next.

    • Giles E

      Where are you Matt?

      I ask as my experience of optical HR is under 6C, forget about it, your body pumps less blood to the skin so as to keep warm and in doing so makes optical HR useless. Same experience with a Mio Link, and Garmin inbuilt optical HR

    • Matt

      I’m in Germany and you’re right about issues in cold weather. Usually that can be mitigated though if you wear it under your sleeves and on the upper arm to generate more body heat. But issues experienced are since Sept and Oct, so the temperatures were significantly above 6C.

  42. Stefan

    Ray, do you know anything about Wahoo working on their own triathlon watch? My V800 is really old now and I don’t like Garmin due to some issues in the past

  43. Matt

    Ray, Any idea when CT Europe will get this?

  44. Mike T

    I just can’t understand why Wahoo would release this without run pace functionality. It sounds like it is coming eventually, but that’s a big miss in my book, especially with the Scosche 24 just announced.

  45. Bill Jones

    Just a quick comment to confirm the device works perfectly with my Suunto Ambit3 Peak. I’d had the Rhythm+ but as an ultra runner had wanted longer battery life for years.