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Review: Polar S725X Heart Rate Monitor PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dr Azmi Mohd Tamil   
Jul 13, 2009 at 08:02 PM

Review - Polar S725X Heart Rate Monitor

I have been using the Cat Eye CC-HR200DW for the last 4 months. Although it was a good cyclometer, it was not a good heart rate monitor (HRM). To obtain the maximum benefit during cycling, my target heart rate for my age should be between 107 until 152 bpm. However the Cat Eye HRM was not performing as it should be. The HRM didn't work during any of the group rides, which was rather embarrassing especially when others were asking about my heart rate during the rides to ensure that we were at the optimum pace.

I was so frustrated with the Cateye HRM that I decided to replace it. The senior riders in my cycling group suggested the Polar CS200cad which has a big display screen, big and easy to press buttons, able to monitor the heart rate, speed, distance and cadence. But you can use Polar CS200cad while cycling only. Instead I decided to get the best Polar HRM model available locally, which is the Polar S725X, which I can use during any other forms of exercise such as cycling, running and hiking. It was really an impulse buy. I stopped by Total Field at Dwitasik, Bandar Sri Permaisuri and asked whether they have the model in-stock. They said yes. We haggled over the price a bit and once I think I had a good deal, I bought it. The clincher was when they said that the cadence meter was included with that price.



How does it looks like?

Compared to my ProTrek 110, the Polar S725X looks like a big toy watch, with green straps with a metallic faceplate.



The model that I bought was not the Carbon Tour Edition which has a carbon effect upper case, which looks very cool with the "Tour Edition" motif on the side.



Setting It Up



Setting up the speed sensor and the cadence sensor on the Merida 903 was quite easy, with the very clear guidance given. It was easy since Polar S725X is a "TRIPLE!" wireless model. The heart rate sensor, the speed sensor and the cadence sensor are all wireless (even the optional foot pod and power sensor are all wireless).The speed sensor and cadence sensor were secured to the bike by using cable ties.

The bike mount for the watch was also secured by using cable ties.



Setting up the watch however was a complicated task indeed due to the various options and settings available. I had to read the guide a couple of times just to figure out which is the best settings for me.

The best way to configure the watch is to do the following;

  1. Set up the watch settings
  2. Set up the user settings.
  3. Set up the exercise settings.
  4. Set up the speed settings
  5. Set up the function settings.
1. Set up the watch settings
  • Press the up button 2x, until you see "Options". Press the OK button.
  • You'll see the "Exercise Set". Don't choose this one yet, instead press the down button one to get "Watch Set" and press the OK button.
  • By pressing the up and down button, set the alarm time, time 1 (local time), date, and time reminder (up to 7 remind times, you can set reminders for suboh, syuruk, zohor, asar, maghrib and isyak). Use the OK button to select and the stop button to move on.
  • if you want to set the time 2 (for those who always travel elsewhere), after pressing ok at time 1, press up to set time. 2. Then change the time. Once done, keep clicking on the stop button until the time is displayed.


2. Set up the user settings
  • Press the up button 2x, until you see "Options". Press the OK button.
  • You'll see the "Exercise Set". Don't choose this one yet, instead press the down button 3x to get "User Set" and press the OK button.
  • By pressing the up and down button to change the values, set your weight in kg, your height in cm, your birth date, gender, type of activity (mine is set to high) and your maximum heart rate will be calculated by the watch based on your fitness and age. Since I don't know my VO2Max, I used the default value. Use the OK button to select and move on.
  • Once done, keep clicking on the stop button until the time is displayed.


3. Set up the exercise settings
  • Press the up button 2x, until you see "Options". Press the OK button.
  • You'll see the "Exercise Set". Select E1, disable interval training, disable Timer1, disable Recovery, for Limits1, set to % of HR at 65% and 85%. If you have a degree in sports physiology, maybe you want to make use of the interval training. I find it too cumbersome, so I used the settings as stated earlier.
  • Once done, keep clicking on the stop button until the time is displayed.


4. Set up the speed settings
  • Press the up button 2x, until you see "Options". Press the OK button.
  • You'll see the "Exercise Set". Don't choose this one yet, instead press the up button 3x to get "Speed Set" and press the OK button.
  • Under Bike1, set the wheel size. Polar's guidebook suggested that for tyre 700 x 23C, it is to be set at 2070mm, instead of 2096mm as suggested by CatsEye's guidebook. I tested both settings. At 2070mm, the S725X registered 4.8km although I have cycled 5.00km. At 2096mm, the S725X registered 4.9km after cycling 5km. The most accurate setting for my Merida 903's tyres was 2100mm. Therefore for those unable to check the accuracy, please use 2096mm instead of the suggested 2070mm.
  • Also under Bike1, set Power to off and Cadence to On.
  • Once done, keep clicking on the stop button until the time is displayed.


5.Set up the functions settings
  • Press the up button 2x, until you see "Options". Press the OK button.
  • You'll see the "Exercise Set". Don't choose this one yet, instead press the up button 2x to get "Function Set" and press the OK button. You can set the OwnCal and Altitude to on. OwnCal will tell you how much calories that you've used up after every session.
  • Once done, keep clicking on the stop button until the time is displayed.

What Technology Does It Have?

It has wireless heart rate sensor, 5 exercise sets, OwnCal, OwnIndex, OwnCode, heart rate max based on fitness test and age, Interval timers, maximum heart rate of total exercise, average and maximum heart rate of each lap, recovery measurement.

As for the cycling features, it monitors the trip distance, average and max speed, distance based interval and recovery, wheel settings for two bikes (can buy another speed sensor for the other bike for RM189 from Hivelocity, the local distributor), temperature and altitude, the speed sensor and cadence sensor are both wireless.

I can upload the data from the watch to my PC/notebook via infrared, by lining the two IR ports facing each other. Displayed here is the output from my Polar watch for the ride from Sg Tekala Recreational Park until the peak of Genting Peres (the border between Langat and Jelebu) and back. The output displays your heart rate, the altitude, the speed, cadence and time. You can clearly see that my heart rate was around 180 bpm when I was about to reach the peak which was 465 metres high. Upon the way down I had a flat tyre. You can see that I spent about 45 minutes trying to repair the flat tyre. Although I was no longer cycling then (speed equals to 0 km/hr), my heart rate was still around 160 bpm since I was tense as it was my first time repairing a flat tyre on a roadbike.


To view the full image, right-click on the image and select "View Image".

The recording feature has 99 exercise files, calorie expenditure, last OwnIndex, average heart rate, target zone limits, target zone times and total time, the basic features on both are heart rate (% of max/bpm), adjustable/automatic heart rate limits, large digits and a back light.

The watch features are what you would expect with time and dual time zones, date, stopwatch, exercise reminder and low battery indicator, all the things you usually need for a normal life.

The HRM sensor is called a WearLink Transmitter. It has electrodes built into the strap for comfort and you can change the battery of the transmitter. The strap is very comfortable and you don't feel that you are wearing it, it's that comfortable.

The transmitter can be taken off the strap when you're not monitoring your heart rate. You can click the transmitter onto the chest strap when you want to start cycling. This will help to prolong the battery life.



Both the watch and the HRM are water resistant until 50m and 30m. It also works under water. I tried it out at the Cheras public swimming pool. In 40 minutes I swam a paltry 750 metres (based on number of laps). Average heart rate was 141 bpm and maximum heart rate of 164bpm, the temperature of the pool water was 30 degrees Celcius. Time in zone was 30 minutes. I burned off 549 calories.

If you also jog or run regularly, you may want to buy the optional foot pod (RM499 from Hivelocity, the local distributor), which allows your Polar S725X to act as a pedometer.

How does it feels using it on the road?

The heart rate monitor does it's job flawlessly. The chest strap is easy to put on and the transmission of the heart rate is always detected by the S725X.

While cycling, you want to view all of the following at the same time;
  • current heart rate
  • current speed
  • current distance
  • current cadence


This is where the S725X sucks big time. While riding, you cannot view all of the above at the same time.

The default view will display the stopwatch in the middle of the screen and the HRM at the bottom. Then you can choose either the speed, distance or cadence to display at the top by pressing the top right button.



After various experimentation, I found out that by presing the bottom right button, I can change the default view for the middle display. So instead of the stopwatch, I can display either the current speed or the current distance at the middle display. Then I can change the top display to either the current distance or the current speed.

So now I get to view the following at the same time;
  • current speed - top display
  • current distance - middle display
  • current heart rate - bottom display


I still don't get to view the current cadence along with the above. If I want to view the current cadence, I have to omit either the current speed or the current distance. Due to its design as a watch, it is difficult to change the display while riding. Of course you do get to view everything at the end of the ride, either direct from the watch or via the computer.

Conclusion

So guys, better go for Polar CS200cad instead of the Polar S725X. The Polar CS200cad has all the options that we need and displays the heart rate, speed, distance and cadence on it's big screen. It is also easier to cycle through the displays due to it's big buttons at the bottom of the screen. The price of CS-200cad is only half of the Polar S725X at RM550.



The Polar S725X is targeted at the triathlon athletes who mostly run and sometimes ride. Not meant for someone who mostly ride like me. If I could only combine Polar's HRM with my Cat Eye CC-HR200DW display plus cadence, then that would be the best cyclometer plus HRM for me.
Last Updated ( Sep 17, 2009 at 05:48 AM )