Review: Wahoo TICKR Bluetooth and ANT Heart Rate Monitor
Wahoo Fitness is probably best known in the cycling community given their development of Bluetooth powered high quality, but cost-effective bike computers and trainers. The TICKR really rounds out the offering and lets them become a stronger contender in the Running and Fitness categories as well.
WHAT IS THE TICKR?
The TICKR is a dual band heart rate monitor that connects to most smartphones via Bluetooth and can additionally connect to Wahoo’s Fitness app or third-party apps like Runkeeper, Strava, or really any fitness app that supports Bluetooth HR. It comes in three flavors; the TICKR, the TICKR Run, and the TICKR X and the difference between the three is fairly subtle. All of them are dual band, water/sweat-proof, and are third-party app compatible. For runners, your best bet is probably the base TICKR or the TICKR Run. The Run has a treadmill mode as well as cadence measurement which are both nice to haves. The reason to make the jump to the X is the vibration mode feedback and double tap on/off. You can easily get vibration through most running watches though, so take that into account.
HOOKING TO THE SOFTWARE
The bluetooth setup for the TICKR was super simple. If Wahoo knocks anything out of the park, its device connectivity. The phone quickly finds the unit and you are ready to go, seriously maybe 30 seconds for the first setup and nothing after that. It really just works.
The Wahoo Fitness app seems like just another workout app and it’s not visually compelling, but its got a lot more going on and this actually makes it really compelling to use while in run. First off, the apps are available for iOS and Android, but on iOS you will get a bit more out of it via a connection to Apple’s HealthKit. You will go through a simple setup process to attach your sensor and set some profile data, then you are ready to go BUT DON’T.
You should really tap Settings before you do anything else because this is where it pays off. There are a ton of Running specific settings where you can fine tune how you want it to react. For example, auto pausing, audio announcements, countdown to start, etc. There are also two training modes you can check out as well and you can then set your HR zones so the app can determine if you are running at peak efficiency. The biggest area to not overlook is Sharing because it all comes together here. You can share with all your favorite services including Runkeeper, Strava, Nike+, Garmin Connect, MapMyRun, and MyFitnessPal just to name a few.
The run interface itself is very clear and features big large visuals, so the screen is highly usable. I’m not staring at my phone a lot while on the road, but on a treadmill it pays much bigger dividends and honestly you can really stop and take a glance mid-run to see how its going.
There are also some additional zone based training program pieces if you want to dive in further, but honestly we found them a little unintuitive for more advanced users. However, if you aren’t already tracking your heart-rate, VO2, etc then they might be a really good starting point for you.
SETTING UP THIRD PARTY APPS AND DEVICES
If you don’t like the Wahoo Fitness app, then just remember the TICKR is still dual band unit. This means you can pop open another app like Strava and link to the sensor directly. You can also link with any ANT+ enabled GPS watch, so the options are pretty endless. Linking for us took no time and it was detected almost immediately and any issues we had I would attribute more to the third-party app you are working with or the watch, the TICKR does its thing really well.
HOW DID IT RUN?
One thing I really like about the TICKR is the enclosure. They use a snap design to close the loop at the rear of the unit. By snapping it, you basically wakes it up and the unit starts measuring. There are also feedback lights so you know its working properly, which most models don’t have. I didn’t experience any slippage with the unit during runs, but I did note the unit is just slightly larger than other HR monitors.
My one nitpick after extended use has been the quality of the strap itself. It started to roll on itself which has resulted in some odd wrinkling of the strap. The strap has no internal structure other than the elastic and many other HR monitors use additional materials in the strap so it holds it form over time. It doesn’t really bother you or anything, but it definitely feels a little odd.
Overall, the TICKR is a solid heart rate monitor and if you are in the market for a dual band, definitely one to check out.