Three Generations of Garmin HRM Soft Straps

This afternoon I received my third heart rate monitor Soft Strap from Garmin, seen at top. I hope this lasts for longer than the previous two. The one on the bottom is the first generation, and I’ve now gone through two of these. The first one worked pretty well, up until the day it started to read weird false-high values which — if real — would indicate that I was about to die. This happened about a year after purchasing it… I bought another, and it too failed in the same way in less than a year.

A phone call to Garmin last June resulted in my receiving the middle strap, a nicely redesigned model that has a conductive fabric layered over the sensors, connected to the side of one’s torso. This worked well up until a month or so ago when I began getting falsely low results. I could be pushing fairly hard, somewhere around 150-160 BPM, when I’d suddenly get a 70-90 BPM reading. Since this threw off my data I stopped wearing it when riding and called Garmin asking for help.

Today I received the one on the top, an evolution of the shielded second generation. It has a conductive vinyl patch — similar to the center electrodes — for the shield. It also has some silk screening over the front. I hope that this one lasts longer than the other two, although I can’t complain terribly as I’ve received a few years worth of straps gratis just by calling and asking for help. The replacement straps were provided at no charge, shipped to me within a few days of calling. With this, and previous support for my broken Garmin eTrex, I’ve been quite happy with Garmin’s support.

If all goes as hoped I’ll be able to give the HR strap a fair test tomorrow, as I’m aiming for a 5:30 moving time ride. Hopefully that happens…

(To note, I’ve taken particular care to follow Garmin’s washing instructions for the straps. For the newer models one is to rinse it after each use, and launder it every seven uses. Batteries were also replaced, just in case, before calling for support.)

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