Polar's new RS800CX gives you an incredible amount of performance information to hone your training. It comes in various different packages based around the same wrist unit – or ‘watch’ if you prefer – and heart rate transmitter.
We used the Bike version, which comes with a spoke magnet-operated speed sensor. We also used the G3 GPS sensor, which isn’t part of the package, because it adds route-tracking information.
The RS800CX has too many functions to list. There’s everything you’d expect from a high-end heartrate monitor (HRM) including automatic and programmable training zones with an alarm to let you know when your intensity wanders, interval timers and a lap timer.
There’s also a calorie counter, an altimeter that logs your cumulative ascent/ descent, and a load more bike-speciﬁc info like speed/pace, distance and incline. You can base your target zones on speed if you like (or cadence if you buy the £38.66 cadence sensor), and the length of your intervals on distance rather than time. It’ll probably brew your post-ride cuppa if you press the right buttons.
It sounds complicated but it’s simple to use thanks to clear labelling of the various functions, and the amount of info isn’t overwhelming. You just use the stuff you want and disregard the rest.
Where the Polar really earns its corn is in recording all of this information for downloading onto your PC via its irDA adaptor (included). You can then scrutinise your performance charts on the ProTrainer 5 software that comes as part of the package. And you can plan your future sessions in detail (you can customise the suggested training plans), upload them to the watch and use it to guide you through your training. The possibilities are vast.
The G3 GPS sensor isn’t essential but it does let you check out the route you’ve just ridden using the ProTrainer 5 software via Google Earth, with different coloured lines to show your exercise intensity at any point. Interesting rather than essential. It also means you can get speed/pace and distance information if you go running, which could be a lot more useful.
The GPS unit weighs 95g (complete with AA battery) and straps around your arm, which is a bit of a bind, but it does mean the watch doesn’t need to be oversized. Or you can buy the Multisport package that comes with the GPS sensor but without the bike speed sensor for £454.62.