The brand “Polar”
Over the past few years, Polar has rightfully earned its reputation as being one of the most technically advanced and commonly used heart rate monitor among serious athletes who desire to optimize their training. My personal experience with Polar dates back to the year 2000 when I purchased my first heart rate monitor from Polar (the XT trainer), which I still use to date. So I was pretty excited when I was informed that I would be doing a review of the CS200, Polar’s latest invention of a cyclocomputer with built-in heart rate monitor features.
Packed with features!
Upon receiving the test unit, I was overwhelmed with the long list of features that Polar managed to pack into the tiny computer. In addition to the usual cyclocomputer features (including cadence), the CS200 also has other useful features such as training zone heart rates, calories burnt and average and maximum heart rates. Basically, the unit is able to capture almost any information that an average rider would ever need for training, perhaps except other slightly more uncommon features like altitude and temperature. In addition to all these features, all training data would be automatically stored in the unit’s summary file, which can be retrieved later for analysis.
Set up. What set up?
The CS200 came equipped with wireless speed and cadence sensors. The initial set up of the unit was extremely easy and did not take me more than 10 minutes to get it up and running. This was attributed to its wireless system which also made it very tidy. However, one may need to spend more time with the setting of the computer unit itself. Being a cyclocomputer with countless features, the CS200 requires its user put in his personal data such as age, weight, training zone limit etc. This step may take a bit more time, but looking on the bright side, you only have to do it once.
On the road
Before I begin, I must first confess that traditionally I am not a big fan of wireless speedometers due to their reliability issue. I usually ride with a wired speedometer and a separate unit of heart rate monitor (my ancient Polar XT trainer which has served me well for the past 5 years). Anyhow, for the first few rides that I took the CS200 out, I had some reliability problems with its auto start-stop function. After several attempts of trying to fix the problem, I gave up and decided to switch to the manual start-stop mode instead. Since then, it works fine. Another issue that struck me immediately was the slow pick-up time of the unit’s speed sensor. It seemed to me that the unit would only start registering speed after a few pedal strokes. The pick-up lag is considerably slow when compared to my cheaper wired speedometer. However, it’s not really an issue unless you frequently stop during a ride.
Apart from some of the technical glitches that I had encountered, I must admit that the interface of the CS200 is very user-friendly. It is so easy to use that one does not even have to read the manual to figure out how to function it. At any given time, the unit is able to show the rider four sets of information. My most preferred mode was one that showed my heart rate, cadence, speed and distance. This came in especially useful when I tested the unit during my climb up Genting Highland where I was able to monitor my cadence and heart rate at the same time. The CS200 also offers an alarm feature that would beep if the rider’s heart rate goes beyond its pre-set limit, telling him that he is working outside his training zone.
In addition to its commendable technical features, the CS200 also has one of the sleekest designs in my opinion. It can be mounted on any size handlebar and stem. And before I forget, the cyclocomputer also has a backlight that comes in handy during night rides.
To summarize, I must say that the CS200 has more features than a rider like me would actually need, but the thing that I appreciate most about the unit is the fact that it is able to show me a lot of useful data on a single screen. I no longer need a separate heart rate monitor and a cadence-cyclometer on my handlebar. As a form of comparison, I was also given an opportunity to test the CS100 (a more affordable version). The only difference between the two models is the ability to measure cadence. Other than that, the CS100 performs just as well as its big brother. However, there is a room for improvement in the area of speed sensor, which is relatively slow in picking up data.
Although, the CS200 might be priced slightly higher than its counterparts, it is in my opinion, well worth every penny as it is really a do-it-all speedometer.