PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling : Polar CS300: Multi Use – Multi Bike HRM

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Polar CS300: Multi Use – Multi Bike HRM
This is just a damn weird winter so far. I know there are opposing views on global warming, but when I travel in December from my home in Phoenix to New York and New Jersey, and the people there tell me to take my cold weather (the f***) home with me, you know something’s strange.

It’s also a bit strange for me to do anything else but ride a bike, so after my therapist (physical…) told me I should cross train a little to get some balance back, I found myself looking around for gear that could be suited to other things… After realizing that pulling cleats off mountain bike shoes doesn’t convert them to hiking boots, and that the plush elastic chamois in my Bergamo shorts works great on a saddle, but chafes a bit when I run in them… And finally, that wearing skin tight pink is just not cool for most men in “most” places other than a peloton (and literally no place on earth where French words are not at least 10% of the common dialect), I realized that the only multi sport training gear I did have at the ready was the new CS300 from Polar.

The box kit contains the basics you might need for use on or off the bike. There’s a bar mount if you choose to use one, but I would rather keep it on the wrist as I find it easier to read. Weight weenies will love the full bike computer without the head and mount too…

Another weight weenie plus is that this unit functions on the bike in a wireless format, taking all of 5 minutes to install the magnet on the wheel and the sensor for speed on the fork.

Something to note is that the sensor needs to sit pretty close to the wheel magnet compared to some hardwired units. And for this or any set up, I wouldn’t suggest putting the sensor on the back side if the fork, as something bumping your mount is likely to cause far less damage to the spokes if it’s set in a position to get bumped back outward by the spokes during riding, rather than sucked in from the back…

With the head unit on your wrist, the install is about as minimalist as you can get. It’s tough to tell that the custom Crumpton SL is connected…

But while it adds very little weight and doesn’t clutter the bars, it’s still a fully functioning heart monitor and cycling computer (and watch etc)…

It’s also about as simple as it gets to add another bike to your stable. Polar sell a wireless sensor pack that can have bike number two rolling in minutes as well.

The head unit of the CS300 is really straight forward to use, with two navigation buttons (the arrows on the right side) and what amounts to an “enter” button (the big one on the right) and a back / stop button (the lower left). Upper right is light…

This is Polar’s middle range cycling / multi sport unit, and is priced that way, retailing most places currently for $199.00. It’s far less expensive than the top line cycling computer, the S810i ($399) or the top of the range running computer, the RS800sd ($469). But then those two units represent state of the art for cycling and running heart monitors with a list of features and functions that are simply off the charts (I mean that just as it sounds, as I literally don’t have room to chart their functions in this review). But then you can also have a simple heart monitor (FS1) for as little as 59 bucks and the basic cycling / heart monitor (CS100) for $109.

While some of us roadies simply have to have the most expensive thing we can get, regardless of our ability to use it fully or our need for it, this unit will appeal to those honest many that want something they can simply get the most use from.

On the looks side, the head unit is large enough that folks will recognize that it’s not just a watch, but not as over the top as some other units in Polar or other companies line up that make you look like you’re trying out for the next Bat Man movie but forgot to take one of the props off…

The screen I use most (while on the bike) features the speed at the top, the time of day in the middle and my heart rate, represented as a % of maximum, on the bottom.

I prefer the screen to show my % of max heart rate rather than the actual heart rate in beats per minute, as it’s just a more useful number when winter training means sitting in that 65-75% range most of the time. It’s a simple glance to know you’re sitting in your range. It’s also a simple glance when you’re slugging your brains out doing intervals, where simple means you can focus more on killing yourself…

There are other screen options, for both cycling and “other” types of workouts available. You choose your workout type when you start. And scrolling between the couple of readouts available is as simple as pressing the up and down arrows.

Like I said, the basics are all here for the bike; speed, max and avg, total Odo, trip distance and time, two bike wheel sizes, auto start stop. There is also an option for cadence if you want to add another quick sensor for that. And there are others…

The heart functions are also very complete…

In fact, CLICK HERE for a full list of functions

One of the better ideas from Polar is to get rid of the old strap type on several models in favor of a new version that solves two gripes I had with the old units. It’s detachable and more flexible now, with a wire mesh receiver that conforms to your shape better than the old harder plastic strap (a big improvement for the ladies too as I’m told).

The second improvement is visible when you flip the strap over and see that where the old strap was a throw away when the battery died, the new unit now lets you replace the battery. That’s a really nice money saver, along with being far more eco-smart…

So there it is…
Obviously, none of this is earth shattering tech when Polar has dominated the heart monitor scene with gear loaded with more features (yes they also do a power measuring unit).

What’s great here is that this unit does everything that most fitness enthusiasts need and does so without overwhelming you with button combos that make the Reimann Hypothesis look simple… Simply put, this unit is flexible enough to go from track to trail to road to the pool while being very user friendly.

$199 isn’t a bad price at all when you consider that you’re getting a full function, dual time zone, alarm, day date, stop watch… Add a stand alone heart rate training tool with a huge list of functions including Polar’s Owncode, Owncal, Ownindex that make this unit more easily used by more people and the price gets attractive. There’s also Polar’s Sonic Link feature that allows you to upload and see your data and chart your workouts which is a nice feature… (thanks Chris Wilkerson for reminding me…).

Adding a wireless cycling computer with another good list of features and that this unit can be used on multiple bikes for very little extra money and $199 becomes an afterthought for those of us that simply don’t need all of the other functions of the units at twice the price…

Toss in the massive scale Polar has in distribution and customer service and the CS300 becomes an easily recommended purchase for enthusiast level cyclists looking for a multi sport monitor that can be used all year, regardless of fitness sport.

• See the Polar Website

Have fun!

Charles Manantan

Note: if you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products we test here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper use and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limitations.

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