I have a Vetta Alpha HRM. Considering that I paid 20% off the retail price
of $75 I'd say I'm pretty happy with it (20% off of $75 comes to $60 + 7.75%
tax, I guess).
It has the one function I really want in a HRM, the HR function. I thought
about buying the Polar Accurex II at Performance (on sale) for around
$160, but it didn't seem worth the extra $100 for a bunch of functions
that I would
probably never use or already had on my bicycle computer (Avocet 40).
The Alpha has time of day and stop watch functions too, which have come
in handy when I go for a jog. The time of day is also nice since I don't
have to cycle through the functions on my Avocet to see what time it is.
As far as the performance of the HRM goes, I think the Polar is probably
better (I've used one briefly while trying to decide which to buy).
I've heard that the Vetta's Chest strap transmitter emits a weaker signal
than other HRMs to avoid interference (I understand this is a problem with
the Polar when you are within 10 feet or so of other Polar HRMs). This
turns out to be a double edged sword though, since the Vetta will stop
functioning when you get further than about 3 feet away or the line of
sight between the transmitter and display unit is obscured.
Also, I wonder about the Vetta's reliability. Sometimes I will be riding along
and the HRM displays something insanely high like 235 BPM. When I do a
double take, it usually will settle down to about 165 in a few seconds
(I'm assuming here, that my brain isn't so O2 deprived that I'm seeing
I wish I could get my HR that high and recover to 165 in a few seconds (geez,
I'd try out for the US Olympic squad!), but being the mere mortal that I am,
I think we can rule this out too. I think the problem is with the electrode
strips on the transmitter. When I first bought the HRM, it wouldn't even
work unless I put some saline on the electrode contacts (they're ***, not
metal). I think there are enough salt deposits on the contacts now that I
don't have to put anything on them. But the reason the HR display goes so
high (I'm guessing) is that while riding, the transmitter will move against
my skin. In addition to the electric pulses from my heart, the instantaneous
making and breaking of electrical connections from the transmitter sliding
on my chest causes erroneous (high) readings. And of course, the HRM shows
a 0 HR for no particular reason (I guess the contact is broken for a while
in this case).
The sporadic readings don't bother me a great deal (I just ignore readings
above 195, and obviously those around 0). I just won't be doing any max
HR tests with this HRM I guess.
Oh yeah, this unit has a replaceable battery in the transmitter too.
I heard the other two new Vetta HRM/Cyclocomputer/Wris***ch units work pretty
well (I've never tried them, but I have two friends who have them). I think
they both have the nightvision feature too. These units seem to be a good
value since you get both training tools in a single package for less than
what you'd probably pay for separate ones.
I've never tried them, but Vetta still sells some older HRM/Cyclocomputers.
I heard they are VERY unreliable (if you can even get one to work). I bought
a Vetta C-20 cyclocomputer a few years back and ended up returning it because
it wouldn't work. The new HRM/computers should be over the $100 range. The
unreliable ones I've seen for as little as $45 (don't be tempted).
In retrospect, I probably should've shelled out a few more buck$ and gotten
a Polar. Like the Edge or one of those for around $150. Oh well, live and
Boy, this was kinda long, huh?