GEAR REVIEW - The Mio LINK finally allows you to say sayonara to that chafing heart rate chest strap.
It was a Wednesday like any other Wednesday. At 1700, I met up with a local cycling group. A few of the antsy cyclists arrived a bit early and chatted away. Cyclists are inherently gear whores. It’s an expensive sport to buy in to and there is always some new and exciting revelation in technology that we must get our fingers on or our shoes clipped in to. This week, one of the guys showed off his fancy lil heart rate bracelet. What?! As much as I like to pretend that I wear my chafe mark/scar on the midpoint of my chest with pride, I actually despise wearing a heart rate chest band while running and mildly dislike it while cycling. So, you can imagine my intrigue upon being introduced to the Mio LINK on my fellow cyclist’s wrist. A week later, I had my own.
Priced at the higher end of the range for heart rate chest straps, usually $60-$100, the Mio Link will set you back $99. After countless hours of ramping up my Strava suffer score with the Mio LINK in tow, I can publicly admit to my love for the Mio LINK. And here is why….
What is the Mio LINK?
The Mio LINK is a continuous heart rate wrist band that utilizes optical light sensors to detect your heart rate as opposed to the elecromagnetic sensors of chest bands. The idea here is that the Mio LINK can provide your continuous heart rate, with readings accurate at any speed. Out of the box, the Mio LINK is a rubber wrist band with a removable sensor, a funny looking chip the size of your big thumb, and a USB ‘docking station’ for the sensor.
The Mio Link is not a heart rate recording device. It is; however, customizable up to 5 different heart rate zones with LED lights that can tell you which zone you’re in at any given moment. To view and record your actual heart rate, you will need to pair the Mio LINK with either a smartphone app (such as RunKeeper, MapMyRun, and Wahoo Fitness) or a fancy GPS watch. The Mio LINK is shipped fully charged and can be immediately linked via ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart pairing (more on this below) out of the box.
The Mio LINK comes in two sizes, S/M and L. It is important to note that the Mio LINK is worn slightly above the natural wrist, as wrist movement prevents the optical sensor from staying in a consistent location. Take this in to account when sizing your Mio Link. For reference, my forearm is 6.25 in. and the Mio LINK is on its 6th to last notch on the tightening band.
- S/M: 4.8 – 6.9 in.
- L/XL: 5.9 – 8.2 in.
Compatibility – ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart
The Mio LINK is both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart Compatible. Garmin and Suunto users, have no fear. The Mio LINK is compatible with your ANT+ devices. The addition of Bluetooth Smart connectivity means it can also be paired with your smartphone (iPhone 4S and newer, Android 4.3 and newer) and countless fitness apps. Additionally, Suunto just announced last week that it will be releasing its Ambit3 in September which will toss out its ANT+ chipset and replace it with Bluetooth Smart. So, the Mio LINK will be compatible with the new Suunto Ambit3. For a full list of compatible devices, visit the following links – ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart.
If fitted appropriately (see ‘The Fit’ above), the Mio LINK doesn’t miss a beat. Below is some data from my recent 42 mile cycling exploit with the Mio LINK as the HR sensor. As you can see, no signal was ever lost and the only breaks in data are when I paused my watch for a trip to the gas station for fluid refuels or to chat in the shade to escape the 100F heat for a moment. Upon restarting the watch recording, the heart rate data was retrieved immediately.
The Mio Link is waterproof, up to 30m (< 100′), meaning it can come with you on your swims and unlike the flip tricks the chest band heart rate sensors like to perform, the Mio Link stays put so long as you cinch it down enough.
The Mio LINK is reported to get 8 hours of active life; however, I milked a solid 10 on one instance and 8-9 on multiple instances.
Bottom Line – Heart rate sensors are a valuable metric to analyze the efficiency of your workouts. Chest bands suck, no way around that; however, the Mio LINK sits pretty on your wrist and accurately reads your heart rate without leaving the chafe mark of shame on your chest.
Mio LINK Continuous Heart Rate Wrist Band
- Barely there comfort
- Accurate heart rate readings
- Both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart compatibility
- Nitpicking here, but the start button is a bit difficult to locate on the sensor beneath the silicone band
- A non-LED version, requiring no charging (akin to traditional HR chest bands), would have me chomping at the bit. It is
a bitseriously annoying having one more thing to charge or discovering that you forgot to charge it as you’re heading out the door. I believe the optical sensory may require charging as it inherently utilizes light to read the HR, but would love to not charge the fancy bugger.