Wahoo has released a Trackr chest strap with a rechargeable battery and my heart is leaping

Wahoo's new design promises a new dawn of reliable and accurate heart rate monitoring

The launch of a new heart rate chest strap might not normally be considered huge news, but this time it’s different – for me, at least. Why? Because the new Wahoo Trackr Heart Rate has a rechargeable battery in a completely sealed pod. After years of heartbreak – flatlining, dropouts, battery drains, no signal at all etc – it could be time to say good riddance to all the “pain points” associated with the coin cell type. I’ve bought two Wahoo Tickr chest straps and more from other brands before that and eventually binned every single one of them. Some have lasted longer than others – a Garmin strap gave long and reliable service until the battery died, I fiddled with microscopic screws to change it and it was never the same again after that.

Wahoo claims to have solved coin cell battery heartbreak with the new Trackr Heart Rate. And it’s not just the battery that’s been swapped – the internals are all different with the aim of increasing accuracy. The chest strap is also softer, lighter and more flexible than before and now doesn’t snap together at the front – a new side closure helps maximise electrode-to-skin surface area and ensures a connection without the user needing to crank up the tightness, as I used to do when Zwift couldn’t detect any sign of life.

Wahoo Trackr HRM

Since I threw my last Tickr chest strap away a couple of years ago I’ve been relying on wrist-based optical HRM from a GPS watch, which is also not the most reliable or accurate, particularly for cycling (for running it generally works OK for me). So with the new Trackr I’m getting excited at the prospect of not having to think about HR accuracy or reliability any more, and for it to ‘just work’ – in the way that most modern power meters now do – and with the test unit I have, the signs are good so far.

“This is not a Tickr version three,” clarified Wahoo product manager Katie DuPree at the press briefing. “The Trackr Heart Rate was completely rebuilt from the ground up, starting with internal components. We selected different components and processing chips that allow us to have greater insight into the data coming in. Our sports science and data science teams have focused on developing a new algorithm that increases accuracy and supports our claims. It is optimised for accuracy.”

Rebuilding it from the ground up allowed Wahoo to add the rechargeable battery and eliminate the problematic coin cell. DuPree says: “Having a fully enclosed structure protects the integrity of the product and that results in accuracy and long term durability. Every time you open a coin cell door you introduce the risk of water ingress. You may not place the door back exactly as it was done the first time in the factory. You may not set the O ring properly, you may lose the O ring without knowing it was there. We’ve eliminated that risk. It gives athletes confidence that the battery is ready to go when they are.”

There’s also of course the reduced risk of a child or pet ingesting a coin cell battery. New legislation in the USA – Reese’s Law – has placed stricter safety requirements on products that use coin cell batteries. Wahoo neatly sidesteps that with the new Trackr.

A man on an indoor bike wearing a Wahoo Trackr

The Trackr Heart Rate’s rechargeable battery has over 100 hours of claimed battery life. The old Tickr’s coin cell battery was claimed to last 500 hours but that was obviously never my experience. A magnetic charging port – very similar to those used by Shokz headphones – pulls the USB-C charging cable to the pod very easily so that it’s not possible to plug it in backwards or halfway – another convenience factor according to Wahoo.

There are signature Wahoo design and functionality elements that remain: the system of LEDs has carried forward – blue to indicate when the device is paired, green for over 50% of battery life, orange for below 50% and red for critically low. With the new rechargeable battery it is now possible to also view battery status in the Wahoo app or on a Wahoo device. “It’s a small piece of design that gives a big confidence boost,” says DuPree. Competitors don’t have anything visual to let you know when you’re connected. Battery life is not something you can estimate with a coin cell.”

So far I’ve used the new Trackr Heart Rate for one four-hour ride and the battery is still on 100% according to the app and the Elemnt Roam – I had expected to see 96%, I must admit, but I won’t grumble.

As for connectivity itself, it is both ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible, with three Bluetooth connections possible. On the back of the pod is a four-digit Bluetooth ID, making it obvious which one is yours if you’re trying to pair it to a device in a Bluetooth-crowded environment.

It sounds as though Wahoo has thought of everything right down to the packaging, which is smaller than before for more efficiencies in shipping (“we don’t want to be shipping air”) and minus the high-gloss finish of the previous carton in order to ensure a single waste stream. Of course there’s no risk to health or the environment from discarded batteries either.  

Although I’ve done just the one four-hour ride so far with the Trackr Heart Rate, I’ve been 100% impressed with it (like the battery life). Setting it up was simplicity itself – scan QR code on packaging, pair with app, ready to go. And the strap is, as Wahoo says, infinitely more comfortable than the old one, which was thick, stiff and got easily sweatlogged. With this one it is genuinely possible to forget you’re wearing it. I didn’t experience a single dropout or suspect value and looking at the trace afterwards it’s clearly completely accurate.

The new Trackr Heart Rate will retail at £79.99, which is twice the price of the old Tickr (£39.99) but although it’s early days it promises to be much more than twice as good.

DuPree says the Trackr Heart Rate, which replaces the Tickr and Tickr X (thankfully, some might say) is the first in a new Trackr “family” that will likely include onboard memory and motion analytics like the current Tickr X. The Tickr Fit optical armband – which already has a rechargeabe battery – is staying. Wahoo says that although the Trackr Heart Rate and Tickr Fit use very different technologies the accuracy is the same. The Trackr Heart Rate chest strap has a better battery life: since the Tickr Fit has to power LEDs it drains faster and has a claimed 30 hours compared with the Trackr's 100 hours. Additionally, the Tickr Fit only allows Bluetooth connection while the Trackr does multiple. 

Here are the new Wahoo Trackr Heart Rate's tech specs

  • Pod weight 11g
  • Pod dimensions W: 6.15cm x H: 3.05cm x D: .95cm
  • Strap weight 40g
  • Strap dimensions 66.7cm to 87.6cm (fits up to 127m chest)
  • Battery Rechargeable lithium-ion
  • Battery life Over 100 hours in optimal conditions
  • Waterproof rating IPX7 - submerged in water up to 1 metew for 30 minutes without any damage
  • Features Reliable Connectivity Multi-BLE & ANT+; side-closure strap; LED status indicator

Go to Wahoo’s website for all the details and keep an eye out for my full review.

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