Heart rate is an important part of training for many athletes. It is an invaluable governor using biofeedback to keep them from trying to do too much at a time. Until recently, this training was accomplished using a strap worn around the chest. For many however, this strap was both inconvenient and aggravating. Worse, it causes chafing for some. As an alternative, optical heart rate monitors that can be worn around the wrist were created. Sadly, these are notoriously inaccurate. That is until Mio Global came onto the market first with the LINK, and now the VELO.
I received a Mio VELO and have really tried to put it though its paces. Surprisingly, it has met the challenge with aplomb.
The Mio VELO has a very comfortable silicone band. It is very easy to forget you are wearing it. It wraps around the wrist, through a buckle and has some posts to hold it in the band. This system works very well keeping it in place, but with winter clothing, you can sometimes accidentally unsnap the posts as you pull sleeves up and down. That can be a slight nuisance when it happens, but with the two part fastening system, you will still be getting a solid heart rate reading.
Paired with a GPS Watch
I first wanted to pair it with a watch and compare the results to my Garmin setup of a 920XT with the HRM Run heart rate monitor. I used a Polar M400 and had no trouble pairing the VELO at all. I then ran several times and the results lined up. Here is an example 10 mile run with surges with the Polar results on the top and the Garmin on the bottom.
The figures are very much in line with one another. If you look at the actual graphs below in the same order, you will see that the tracking was very close. There was a slight drop early with the Polar/VELO combo (about 1 minute in), but that often happens even with chest straps. Overall, I am happy with the results.
Paired with Android
The next test I wanted to conduct was pairing the Mio VELO with a smartphone. I started with Android for this purpose. Over the course of a couple weeks, I ran with both RunKeeper and MapMyRun. I had no trouble connecting the VELO and it work well in both apps as seen below:
Paired with Windows Phone
I wanted to keep testing the VELO with different devices and next paired it with Windows Phone and the app Track Runner. The results were interesting. The mapping and pace were both disasters in the app, but the heart rate looked good.
Pairing with bike speed and cadence
One of the really interesting additions to the VELO is the ability to bridge Ant+ speed and cadence sensors over Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE). This is a very welcome feature. It allows you to turn your smart phone into a bike computer. All you need is the Mio VELO and a handlebar mount like the one below from Amazon.
It is really easy to set up the VELO for Ant+ sensors. Open the Mio Go app on your iPhone or Android device. Select one of the bike profiles and add your speed and cadence sensor. You may want to hold the bike up and crank the pedal with one hand to get the devices to register. Interestingly, when I added my separate Garmin speed and cadence sensors, they were picked you as Bike 2, but they registered fine.
Once you have added the speed and cadence sensors to the app, it updates the Mio VELO and as far as your smartphone knows, you have bluetooth speed and cadence sensors. It’s really quite clever. They also worked very well when I tried them working out. Both Strava and MapMyRide had no trouble picking them up in the apps.
It also worked really well on my trainer with MapMyRide. It even showed that you will have a zero speed and cadence for a while when you forget to stop recording a ride when finished (operator error).
I was able to track speed, cadence, and heart rate in one shot. Just like it was a bike computer. I even was using the VELO to feed my heart rate into my Garmin Edge 500 bike computer at the same time. The VELO does an outstanding job of broadcasting signals.
For an athlete who is tracking runs with a smartphone and wants to add in heart rate training and/or speed and cadence information from a bike; or for an athlete who can’t stand wearing chest straps, I think the VELO is an outstanding product at a reasonable price. It is very comfortable and does a great job of pairing with devices. I even was surprised to suddenly see a heart rate reading appear on a Polar Loop that I was also testing during a run. It picked up the signal from the Mio VELO with no interaction from me at all. You can find the VELO on Amazon or Mio Global with my affiliate links below. You can also find out technical information and a compatibility list for the VELO on its product page.
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