It’s a first-world problem, but we know quite a few cyclists who’re keen to monitor their training more accurately but don’t get on using a chest strap to measure their heart rate.
If this sounds like you then TomTom’s Multisport Cardio is a serious option. The TomTom does away with the pesky strap and instead uses a built-in optical heart rate monitor (HRM) to take your pulse from your wrist. We compared the readings from this with our strap-based Garmin HRM and noted little variation.
Of course, you will have spotted the flaw with wrist-based monitoring: you need to wear it on your wrist – fine for running, but not ideal on the bike. The Multisport comes with a rubber bike mount – the unit pops out of the wrist strap – but as your bar doesn’t have a pulse you’ll need to shell out on a compatible chest-strap, kind of defeating the object.
If you’re happy with having your ride info on your wrist, though, it works well. Navigation around the TomTom is with the big button under the display – clicking left, right, up and down guides you around. Data screens include speed, heart rate, distance and the like. Only one parameter is writ large at a time with duration and distance also shown at the top.
You can set yourself distance, time or calorie goals, programme in an interval session and virtually race yourself against either pre-set targets or previously recorded sessions. We did find that the GPS could occasionally take an annoying amount of time to activate if we’d moved location or not used the watch for a while.
Five heart rate zones are calculated by age, and numerical and graphical guides to zones can be accessed from any data screen. You can also add a cadence sensor, but there’s no power option and the TomTom uses Bluetooth Smart, not ANT+.
Data is uploaded to TomTom’s MySports website or wirelessly to the MySports app on Apple and some Android devices. The battery, which lasts around eight hours, is recharged via USB. There’s plenty of data to crunch for the amateur athlete – more on the website than the app. We especially appreciate that data can be set to upload automatically to Strava.