HR monitor / strap questions

My Polar HR chest strap (H11?) has been giving me inconsistent readings for the past few weeks, and I’m just wondering what others experiences have been with chest straps. My chest strap is on it’s 3rd season now and the readings drop out from time to time (HR numbers go blank on head unit display). At other times, I’m seeing the HR numbers too low (high intensity ride and the display says 65). Battery was changed about a month ago on the chest strap sensor.

Is there a typical life span for these chest straps?
What component is more likely to have failed - the strap or the sensor module?
Is there a preferred brand (one that lasts longer)?
Any other maintenance I should be doing? I rinse the strap off after each ride


Jon I had this happen to a two year old Wahoo chest monitor and recently purchased a new POLAR replacement that has been wonderful. I don’t believe that solid state eletronics in these units degrade, however I did replace mine with just that reason in mind. Personally I think this comes down to

  • Battery quaility at the time of replacement…not all new batteries are equal.

  • Maybe the chest strap is not as tight as once it was and therefore not picking up your pulse as strongly?


I wash my strap after every ride, in the shower… mine have been through a lot of rainy rides and other general abuse. I think those that are “salty sweaters” end up getting corrosion issues on the little snaps that connect to the strap. I give my HRM a squirt of water after the ride to rinse off the contacts. I had a garmin hrm that I thought was a dud but the strap had failed, maybe a wire broke or something, but a cheap no-name strap from amazon and it worked fine again.

The suggestion to use good batteries is a solid one, I’ve been lucky with the sunbeam ones from dollarama but a better brand might be worth the small price difference if you’re having trouble.

Just to add another variable, probably not applicable in this case…

For years I had trouble with chest straps and cycled through many brands. Then, for no particular reason, I got an ECG and discovered an electrical anomaly due to an underlying (and previously unknown) heart condition. Now, I use an optical HRM on my forearm and it works 100%. It would seem that the chest monitors which all use the electrical signals of the heart were confused by my atypical pattern.

I’ve been through suunto, garmin, 4iiii, & now using wahoo.
No great difference between them. All lasted multiple seasons.
Main point of failure has been the strap. I wash or rinse and hang dry after every workout.

  • Suunto - switched because ~10 years ago it only worked with a Suunto device and I got a package deal with a garmin head unit & strap.
  • Garmin - the strap came apart after 3-4 years of heavy use…could have replaced the strap but 4iiii had a deal when I got my power meter.
  • 4iiii- I had issues after at least 3 years, I think it was the strap and could have replaced it, but went with a wahoo because…reasons I can’t remember.

The only issues I had with bad recording was either the battery almost dead or the final days of the straps life.