This will not be one of those exhaustive reviews that shows every picture possible of the Tickr and every lift of detail from their website. This review comes as a result of rigorous testing and from a reviewer who would rather put the training hours in with a device and who is very much of a ‘get it out of the box and use it’ type.
I assuming that those of you reading this come from two broad camps:
1). You are an experienced athlete and you are looking at upgrading your current hear rate monitor
2). You are new to fitness tech and you are looking to buy a heart rate monitor
I’m sure that I don’t need to rabbit on about the sheer brilliance of training to heart rate – but, just in case – as long as the heart rate monitor is accurate, other than time spent, heart rate is the most accurate method of measuring your effort during training. It can also indicate over-training, under-training and illness. All in all, for a relatively small sum, heart rate monitors offer a sound way of keeping your training on track.
Wahoo Fitness, you may have noticed that Wahoo look like they are building a line-up a gadgets that virtually integrate – that is:
- Smart trainers
- Indoor cycling bike
- Indoor cycling fan
- Indoor ascending and descending device
- Cycle computers
- Running watches
- Hear rate monitors
- Wahoo Fitness app and the SYSTM training app
All connecting and working together and with little need to use another brand, or, if training for fitness, having one app (SYSTM) for multiple ways of keeping fit.
However, Wahoo don’t lock in the athlete with their ‘our system and nothing else.’ The Tickr X connects, via BLE and Ant +, to just about anything that will connect with them. Meaning, you can either just be a ‘Wahooligan’ and use only everything Wahoo – or you can use the Wahoo Fitness products that you fancy and mix and match your set-up.
We will cover the SYSTM app in another review. For now, let’s focus on the Tickr X.
The big question – why the Tickr range of HRMs and not another companies HRM? Wahoo products are solid, they have strong aftersales service and their price point is good. Wahoo are also used by professional athletes and no matter what the sponsorship deal, no pro level coach is going to tolerate dodgy readings from a HRM (heart rate monitor). Let’s not read into this that I’m going to let them off the hook and accept the heart rate data as is.
Reading the Google reviews of the product, I can only think that they people who wrote them were totally and utterly clueless and should have opened and quickly read the quick-start guide. For regular athlete users, the reviews are very good. The original Tickr was and is the best HRM strapped product that I have used. You might think of it as the cyclist’s default HRM. For runners, the Tickr X offers some interesting running insights too.
Why the Tickr X over the standard Tickr?
If all you want is a HRM to link with your training app, or watch, the standard Tickr is all that you need.
The Tickr X offers additional features, namely:
- Utilising Bluetooth and ANT+ technology, TICKR X syncs critical running dynamics like cadence, ground contact and vertical oscillation with your sport watch or other compatible device. TICKR X also supports ANT+ Running Dynamics and can send data directly to your GPS watch
- The Tickr X pairs to multiple devices at once, with up to three simultaneous Bluetooth connections, and to the most popular training apps to create a dynamic workout experience.
- The 50-hours of onboard memory lets the Tickr X capture heart rate data across running, cardio and strength training device-free, which can be uploaded and analysed at a later time.
- This is Wahoo’s lightest and slimmest HRM to-date and the dimensions are as follows:
- Physical Dimensions 6.3cm L x 1cm W X 3cm H
- Weight: 1.7 oz (48 g) with strap
- Battery: Coin Cell (CR2032)
- Battery Life: Over 500 active hours
- Sweatproof: Yes (Handwashable Strap)
- Water Rating: IPX7 (Waterproof up to 5 ft.)
- Strap Length: Adjustable from 23″ to 48″
Out of the Box and Using
First off, the new strap is a cracker – I love it. The usual pull a strap around and hoop a hook through a loop in the strap can be a pain in the butt. The new double stud attachment, makes connecting the HRM very easy indeed. Next off is the essential lick the connection pads on the side of the strap and we are up and blinking (the Tickr X has flashing LEDs on top of the unit to show it’s status).
Reading the very concise instructions and I realise that I can double-tap the unit and segment my HRM data. This means that if I wanted to say know exactly when you commenced training and ending a session and remaining to wear the strap (very handy for measuring your recovery rate), you can. Or, for example during an interval session.
I tested the connectivity with four devices:
- Apple TV for both RGT and Zwift
- Gaming PC and the Zwift and RGT platforms (using Ant + and BLE)
- Old Garmin 520
- Wahoo ELEMENT Bolt
All connected quickly and solidly. There were no drop-outs of errors. At exactly the same time, I had my Apple Watch running in workout mode and I continually checked my heart rate – from the Apple Watch series 6 and the Tickr X – over the many times that I checked, both devices were within 1 beat of each other.
We had two drop out of heart rate data whilst on a run. I put this down to, as we know, running is more jiggly on devices and the strap needed to be slightly tighter. This was my error and it was towards the end of the run. The loss of the data had no effect on my heart rate monitoring of the run.
Before we look at the data, first a word on comparing data across devices. I do also record my running metrics using the Incus Nova. For me, it would be pointless to use the Incus Nova one day and then the TICKR X another. There will no no doubt be differences in the data and how will I know which one is relevant? Using one device, indoors, outdoors, or wherever, for recording and comparing your performance has to be the best way. This means that you know that the device’s data is a consistent as possible and you are measuring trends from the same methodology and from the same device.
Here is a snapshot of the data that I recorded on one run and analysed using the Wahoo Fitness app
Other than ‘how slow am I these days?!’ There isn’t a lot to add to this overview. Pretty standard stuff.
On the app – you can scroll through the run and see the specific data for that moment.
What I particularly like in here is the addition of VAM. VAM measures your vertical ascent in meters per hour, meaning that it measures how quickly you are traveling upward. VAM is useful for comparing your effort on different hills and segments and is used by both cyclists and runners.
We are often told that 180 steps per minute is optimal and it may be for a young elite athlete. For me, this is a metric to measure and assess where my form is deteriorating and also comparing one run, or another, over the same course and seeing the impact of changes in form, technique and even running shoes.
For a full explanation of running smoothness, please see Wahoo’s explanation here:
This image shows the balance between the left and right side of the body.
As a masters athlete, time and age take their toll and balance is everything to stave off injury. For me, being able to see my left and right leg balance is is imperative.
This data is super-useful for getting your balance right between not being, when running, a shuffler and also not being a kangaroo. I also use it for comparing how my different running shoes impact on my overall metrics and performance.
Check out an elite road cyclist crossing the finish line on a hot mountain stage and you are bound to get a flash of a TICKR X. For cyclists, the device provides not just heart rate data, but also cadence. I did play about using the TICKR X connected to the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT Bolt, to estimate the power out out by my legs. Heart rate and cadence were fine, power not so. However, add in my power meter, driven through by Speedplay pedals, and the data was fab.
As the TICKR X connects to up to three device simultaneously, I was able to ride with Coco Cadence on Zwift and ride on Sufferfest on the Wahoo SYSTM app. Why? you may ask – because I could.
Is the Wahoo Fitness Tickr X for you?
For me, buying the TICKR X is like buying the top iPhone. It’s a ‘because I can’ move. It may provide extra features that you may never need, or use. However, they are there.
For cycling, it’s a solid, reliable and stylish HRM and for runners, the running dynamics are really useful. Especially, if you, like me, have a fair running age and need to ensure that the balance and running form is there and injury is kept at bay.
For those who just want reliable heart rate monitoring and nothing else, the standard TICKR is just fine. If you want or desire those added features, then it’s the TICK X. Just noodling through the data, post exercise is a good use of time anyway.