Best heart rate monitors 2024: best models and what to look for

Looking for the best heart rate monitors? We round up some of the best options out there on the market and explain what to look for

Geraint Thomas wearing one of the best heart rate monitors for cycling
(Image credit: Getty Images - MARCO BERTORELLO)

The best heart rate monitors are a near-essential piece of kit for any rider who wants to track their cycling fitness or follow a cycling training plan.

A heart rate monitor can be used to ensure that structured intervals are ridden at the correct intensity, to chart training volume and intensity over time, and the data can also indicate when it's time to take a break.

When choosing the best heart rate monitor for cycling, the key things to consider are where you want to wear it and how it talks to the device recording your rides (cycling computer, smartwatch or phone). We've detailed all you need to know when deciding what's best for you below, but first, we’ve listed a few of the best heart rate monitors at different prices based on our testing.

The Quick List

The best heart rate monitors for cycling

You can trust Cycling Weekly. Our team of experts put in hard miles testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

Best Reliability

Garmin HRM-Dual which is one of the best heart rate monitors for cycling

(Image credit: Future)
Best value for reliability

Specifications

Connectivity: Bluetooth and ANT+
Battery: Coin Cell (CR2032) / 3.5 years
Water rating: 1 ATM
Internal memory: No

Reasons to buy

+
ANT+ and Bluetooth so works with all head units
+
Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Need to unscrew back to replace battery
-
Not the cheapest option

The Garmin HRM-Dual gets its name from its compatibility with Bluetooth as well as ANT+, and transmits over a 3m range - although that's a trick that pretty much every HRM has these days - we had no problems with connectivity or reliability. Like Garmin's premium HRM-Pro heart rate monitor the unit takes a CR2032 battery that can be replaced by the user - although this needs a screwdriver rather than using the side of a coin, it only needs to be done roughly every 3.5 years.

The monitor comes fitted to an adjustable strap, with a length range of 63.5cm to 132cm, so this should provide a secure, close fit for the majority of riders. It hooks up on the side of your chest. 

As you are likely to get hot and sweaty while wearing a heart rate monitor, it'll come as a relief that the strap on the HRM-Dual is also easily detachable from the electronics and is washable.

Read more: Garmin HRM Dual review

Best Multisport

Wahoo Tickr X which is one of the best heart rate monitors for cycling

Wahoo's Tickr X is aimed at multi-sport use

(Image credit: Future)
Best value heart rate monitor for multisport use

Specifications

Connectivity: Bluetooth and ANT+
Battery: Coin Cell (CR2032) / 500hrs
Water rating: IPX7 (waterproof up to 5ft)
Internal memory: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Superb fit, smooth fit
+
On device storage
+
Seamless app connectivity
+
Free Wahoo app for those without other devices

Reasons to avoid

-
Using the 'poppers' every time can wear them out

There are two chest strap heart rate monitors in Wahoo's lineup: the Tickr and Tickr X.

It was the Tickr X that we had on test here. In addition to tracking your heart rate, this unit is also able to measure additional extra metrics, such as indoor cycling cadence and running analytics. 

The TickrX hear rate monitor is also able to record all this data itself, so I was able to just chuck it on and complete my workouts without thinking about – or connecting to – anything else. All my data was then simply just one quick sync away.

Admittedly, this function was only really useful when cross-training with running, bouldering and yoga – and shorter rides at HR zone 2 or below. For longer rides and high-intensity sessions, I'd be connecting it up to a head unit anyway – either for the routing functionality or to track my power data.

Rather than having a separate hook in the strap to fix it around your body, the Tickr uses the poppers that connect to the electronic pod, which makes getting it on and off slightly easier and eliminates the possibility of irritation that a hook might cause (although I personally don't tend to have an issue with that).

It's a neat design feature – and the strap certainly is comfortable – however, with previous generation devices, I have had those poppers wear to the point of breaking before. That's not to say that this model will suffer the same fate (I haven't used it for the years+ required to find out) – and I've had other HRMs die in a similar period for other reasons – but it's still something that's worth bearing in mind.

Read more: Wahoo Tickr X full review 

Best connectivity

4iiii Viiiiva which is one of the best heart rate monitors for cycling

The Viiiiva can record up to 65 hours of data directly on to th device

(Image credit: Future)

3. 4iiii Viiiiva heart rate monitor

4. Best heart rate monitor for connectivity

Specifications

Connectivity: Bluetooth and ANT+
Battery: Coin Cell (CR2032) / 160hrs
Water rating: IPX7 (waterproof up to 5ft)
Internal memory: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Can act as an ANT+ to Bluetooth bridge
+
On-device data storage
+
Comfy strap

Reasons to avoid

-
Poppers are a longevity concern
-
Quoted battery life lower than competitors''

4iiii might be best known for making some of the best power meters, but it also offers a line of heart rate monitors for this other mainstay of performance tracking.

Similar to other top-end heart rate monitors, such as those from Wahoo and Garmin, the Viiiiva is able to record up to 65 hours of data directly onto the device - so you don't need to pair up a device when cross-training in different sports. 

Again similar to Wahoo, the Viiiiva forgoes a 'hook and loop' system of attachment in favour of using poppers. This means eliminates a potential source of irritation – and, sure enough, the Viiiiva does feel very comfortable – but it does introduce a potential point of failure, as poppers do wear faster than a simple hook. Still, I've had no troubles so far.

Where the Viiiiva does stand out from the crowd is that it can act as a 'data bridge', connecting with your ANT+ only devices and then transmitting that data to your phone, computer or other Bluetooth-only device. It's not a feature I found especially useful, as pretty much all my devices also transmit over Bluetooth – but if that's not your situation, then this does stand to be an incredibly helpful feature. 

The battery life isn't as long as the Wahoo Tickr X, though, and it doesn't have the same range of extra tracking features. So, although the Viiiiva has proved a robust, reliable and reasonably priced unit itself, unless you really need the bridge function or have found it on a very good discount, you might be better off going for the Wahoo Tickr X instead.

Best premium

Garmin HRM Pro which is one of the best heart rate monitors for cycling

Garmin's HRM Pro is waterproof, making it suitable not just for cycling but also swimming

(Image credit: Future)
Best perfomance for multi-sport use

Specifications

Connectivity: Bluetooth and ANT+
Battery: Coin Cell (CR2032) / 1 year
Water rating: 5 ATM
Internal memory: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Reliable and accurate
+
No dropouts
+
Waterproof for swimming

Reasons to avoid

-
You're paying a premium for functionality offered at a lower price by other brands

Garmin Edge cycling computers are some of the most widely used, with even the most basic models providing heart rate data. The HRM-Pro is Garmin's pinnacle heart rate monitor, rolling all of its sport-specific models into one, as well as linking to Garmin Connect IQ, making it compatible with a large range of, currently free, data-specific tracking apps on the Garmin Connect website, Garmin's equivalent of Strava.

It delivers all your heart rate data needs and adds other functionality like counting steps and analysing gait as you run. It can store data when it's not possible to use a wearable and then automatically download, which is useful for swimming and running, but less so for all except track cycling, as you'll usually have a bike computer with you when riding. Either way, we found data recording reliable and seemingly accurate.

Like the HRM-Dual, see below, the Pro also uses ANT+ and Bluetooth transmission, meaning it's perfect for indoor and outdoor use, as well as at the gym.

The Garmin HRM-Pro takes a standard CR2032 battery, which going on our experience should last about a year. You can check the battery status over Garmin Connect. But it's twice the price of the HRM-Dual, so if you're just interested in cycling stats you're paying a premium for features you don't need.

Read more: Garmin HRM Pro review

Best Budget

Lifeline HRM which is one of the best heart rate monitors for cycling

(Image credit: Future)

5. LifeLine HRM

Best heart rate monitor for those on a budget

Specifications

Connectivity: Bluetooth and ANT+
Battery: Coin Cell (CR2032) / "up to" 900hrs
Water rating: Water resistant up to 30m
Internal memory: No

Reasons to buy

+
Budget option
+
ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity
+
Water resistant to 30m

Reasons to avoid

-
No internal memory 

The LifeLine HRM strap doesn't offer the internal memory or the fancy connectivity features that the likes of Wahoo, Garmin and 4iiii can boast.

But if you're after an inexpensive heart rate monitor that simply monitors your heart rate, the LifeLine HRM ticks the bill. Although it uses a hook-and-loop fasting system, I've found it perfectly comfortable and haven't had a problem with connectivity – however, a quick glance on Wiggle's website shows that the connectivity is an area that some other people have had issues with.

The 'up to 900 hours' of battery life does sound more aspirational than indicative of its real-world performance – although I'm still yet to put in a tenth of that duration into this monitor, so I can't say that it definitely won't last that long.

It's worth bearing in mind that although the water rating is that the strap is 'resistant up to 30m', it's not rated for swimming. But as a basic heart rate monitor for riding, and maybe a little running, LifeLine HRM has displayed a solid performance at a reasonable price.

Information

What is a heart rate monitor?

Your heart is your body's blood delivery agent: it pumps oxygenated blood full of nutrients to your limbs, and when you exercise it has to work harder and faster to meet the needs of the body.

A heart rate monitor measures how fast your heart is beating in BPM: beats per minute, and provides an insight into how hard your body is working. That's usually partitioned into heart rate training zones, letting you analyse the different ways in which your exercise is improving your cardiovascular fitness.

How can cyclists use heart rate monitors?

The most common use for a heart rate monitor is to record intervals. Interval training means riding short efforts at high intensity, interspersed with rest intervals of easy pedalling. In time, this forces the body to adapt so that the intensity can be held for longer or can be increased.

Intervals can be ridden based on RPE (rate of perceived exertion), power (which measures the actual output of the body in watts) or heart rate (which measures the effect that the effort has on the body).

In an ideal world, power and heart rate are combined to show how much stress is required for the body to produce a given output - but the best power meters are expensive and heart rate monitors allow a rider to know that they're riding the efforts hard enough and the recoveries easy enough.

The intensity required during each interval will vary depending upon its length, but will usually be expressed in a 'zone' which is based on a calculation of the rider's max or threshold heart rate. So when training with a heart rate monitor, the rider just needs to know what BPM they need to hold for each interval to have the best chance at completing the training correctly.

Rider looking at the heart rate data on a cycling computer and laptop

Using heart rate data can help you better understand how your body is performing

(Image credit: chris catchpole)

Heart rate 'zones' are very individual. The baseline starting point for one rider might be a threshold heart rate of 180bpm whilst it could be 160bpm for another.

However, training forces the heart muscle to become stronger. A well-trained athlete will see their resting heart rate (which is usually measured in the morning on waking up) drop, so tracking this can show your fitness improvements during the year.

Not only that, your resting heart rate often increases during periods of overtraining, or when you're sick. An increased resting heart rate is therefore a red flag which can indicate it's time to take a few days off training.

How we test

When testing these heart rate monitors, the Cycling Weekly testers considered functionality, comfort and connectivity, but most important of all was reliable accuracy - you can't effectively base a training program or ride effort on inaccurate data. 

Stefan Abram
Tech features editor

After winning the 2019 National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Biking Championships and claiming the plushie unicorn (true story), Stefan swapped the flat-bars for drop-bars and has never looked back. 


Since then, he’s earnt his 2ⁿᵈ cat racing licence in his first season racing as a third, completed the South Downs Double in under 20 hours and Everested in under 12.


But his favourite rides are multiday bikepacking trips, with all the huge amount of cycling tech and long days spent exploring new roads and trails - as well as histories and cultures. Most recently, he’s spent two weeks riding from Budapest into the mountains of Slovakia


Height: 177cm

Weight: 67–69kg