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  1. #1
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    Garmin Edge 500 - heart rate giving whacked out numbers

    I am now about a month into ownership of an Edge 500 unit. First couple of weeks were fabulous - no problems, easier to use than the smart phone app I had been using up till now.

    Then about two weeks ago, I look down during a ride and the thing says my heart rate is 240 bpm I figured it was maybe something unusual like random interference, dunno . .

    But it seems to now be a regular thing, spikes way, way above my max HR that last a few minutes. But only when I'm riding outside -- on trainer, no issues. I searched the webs and Garmin site and here, and don't find a whole lot of others having this specific problem, but did find one guy recommending using special gel under the sensor, and another suggesting it was caused by flapping jerseys. On my last ride, I rode entire way with fairly stiff jacket on -- no flapping wings for me.

    Before I return this unit (Performance has told me I can return it) for another, I want to make sure it is in the unit itself. Anyone have any similar experiences or knowledge of this?

  2. #2
    Realist
    Reputation: Longhair-NL's Avatar
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    Here are the usual money wasting tips:

    New battery.
    Polar WearLink strap.
    Special gel.
    Return postage.
    Repeat.

  3. #3
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    The only problems I have had with my Garmin 500 were all related to battery issues. My heart rate monitor started jumping up or down unexpectedly a few weeks back, changed the battery and it hasnt been a problem since. Not to say thats your problem but that would be the first thing I would check. If you change the battery and still have issues than its likely that it is a problem with the unit.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Longhair-NL View Post
    Here are the usual money wasting tips:

    New battery.
    Polar WearLink strap.
    Special gel.
    Return postage.
    Repeat.
    so it appears that you have had similar issue? if so, what is end result? returned unit? ignore HR numbers? find other use for your special gel?

  5. #5
    Realist
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    My solution was to get a full refund and use the money for a Polar RS800CX Multisport Pack Limited Edition.

  6. #6
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    The problem is often the strap. If you have the "premium" soft strap, have you washed it? I have to wash this strap after every use to get it to work correctly. I got one of the older style Garmin straps ( the one that is all rubbery plastic across the front) and haven't had a problem with it. I have also talked to a few people who said that the gel solved the problems they were having, but I haven't tried it.
    Perception is 9/10 of the law.

  7. #7
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    I have to agree with M. Kane - the few problems I have seem to also be with the (premium) strap. In cooler weather I find that I will get some really wierd readings unless I make sure to take a damp paper towel and wipe off the back of the strap before I put it on. If I forget to do this I'll get some really high/strange numbers till I ride a little ways and start to sweat a little bit and then the readings seem to be normal from then on. On the other hand, if you've had it a while the battery could be the problem as some others have suggested.

  8. #8
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    The premium strap does not refer to premium quality or value. It refers to premium maint and price. What seems to happen is the snap contacts get a bit of corrosion and weird out.

    So, there have been grand ideas here, but the best one is to just get the economy strap and ride. All you need is an ANT+ strap. The maker is irrelevant. Cycleops makes a good one, but expensive.

    You can clean the snap contact regularly with a very fine wire brush, like on a Dremel. It's a pain, but has worked for me so far.
    It's a fire road.............
    I'm on a road bike..........

    They have enough in common to blast down it.

  9. #9
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    If you look through the history of posts on RBR, you will see this is a common problem with all Garmin cycling computer (including my edge 800). From what I read, most people believe the problem occurs from static crated from your jersey rubbing and creating interference, which gives you a monetary false HR reading. The jersey rubbing usual only happens when your descending into a headwind and there is enough air beating your chest up enough to move your jersey around. Better fitting jerseys will help.

  10. #10
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    I find rubbing water into the contact pads works the best for me. Also, flapping jerseys and jackets can generate static electricity which can cause eroneous readings. Some have use Static Guard spray on the front part of the jackets/jerseys to help with this.

  11. #11
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    I have this problem but I only get it when I wear my pearl Izumi pro jersey. Heart rate spikes for the first 5-10 minutes of the ride. I believe it's From static that the jersey creates....

  12. #12
    EWT
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    I have more problems with my PI jersey than any other too. Must be the fabric.

  13. #13
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    I thought this was a well known, well documented problem. I believe if you do a search you will even find a response from Garmin that someone on here posted. Maybe it was on Garmin forums. It talks about high tech clothing. I believe the work around was found by some guys in Australia.

    I think DCRainmaker has it covered pretty well on his site.

  14. #14
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    Are you hairy like animal? That might cause some interference.


  15. #15
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    more complicated than I thought . . .

    Wow - stepped into a bit of a quagmire on this topic. There seems to be a number of people who have investigated this problem and found partial solutions, but I am somewhat surprised at how little attention Garmin itself seems to be paying to this. If I were involved directly with the company in any way I would not want to endanger my company's reputation on something as seemingly fixable as this. (I have used a Polar Wearlink strap for last two years - no spiking heart rates ever!)

    In any case, I have reviewed the various posts (aussie dude, dc rainman, etc) and think I have a pulse on what solutions are proposed. As it turns out, I have access to all the various devices that people point to: Garmin regular HR strap, Garmin "premium" HR strap, Polar Wearlink HR strap, water and lots of gels of assorted varieties. So -- I am thinking I might conduct a little science-ey type of experiment, and see if I can come to some hard conclusions about what works and what doesn't.

    I'll report back when I have more info.
    Last edited by spoke2spoon; 05-05-2012 at 05:18 PM. Reason: spelling

  16. #16
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    ok - spent a bunch of time trying to prove or dis-prove various theories and remedies for the problem with erratic heart rate readings. These tests were done with a few pieces of gear:

    - Garmin Edge 500
    - Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor (soft strap)
    - regular Garmin Heart-Rate Monitor (hard strap?)
    - Garmin Forerunner 50 (watch style HR monitor)
    - Polar WearLink strap

    As for the theories/remedies, I tried to include all of the good ideas earlier in this thread and from other sites addressing this problem. It might be best to just list the various proposals and what I found for each.

    Garmin logo is right-side up: ensured both my premium and normal Garmin straps were properly oriented, but still got erratic readings with both

    Synthetic shirts: I rode shirtless (briefly) with the Premium strap, but still got erratic readings

    Wind on the bike: I once got erratic readings with Premium strap before getting on the bike, but never with the regular strap.

    Polar WearLink strap: I alternated back and forth for a while between the original Garmin premium strap and a Polar WearLink strap, so no difference between them - both experienced erratic readings

    related to battery issues: I opened-up battery compartment of Premium Garmin unit, checked battery condition (fine) and did the trick with reversing battery. With regular Monitor I replaced the battery also. Still had erratic readings with both.

    have you washed it: yes, and it did smell better after washing, but still . . .

    gel solved the problems they were having: I don't have "heart rate gel" but I tried a few gels/creams of various consistency around the house, nothing stopped the erratic readings.

    flapping jerseys and jackets: see "Synthetic shirts" above.

    In cooler weather I find that I will get some really wierd readings: this is the only one I cannot rule out at this time - but only for the regular Garmin monitor. Temps here in Massachusetts have been 50+ deg for last few weeks, and the regular strap has been well behaved (Premium strap acting out as the obstreperous child).

    So my conclusion for now: the Premium strap is being returned to store. The regular strap has been producing readings in normal HR range for the past two weeks. Maybe the wacky readings will reappear in the fall with the arrival of sub-50 degree temps?

    This whole thing started because I assumed that the problem was with the Edge unit itself, since I had been using the Forerunner 50 with the regular Monitor for years without issues - but not on a bike. So I was able to actually use both the Edge500 and Forerunner at same time to confirm HR readings: they were always identical (both identically normal and identically bizarre). The fact that I never before got erratic readings while standing still (ie, on trainer) indoors is quite interesting.

  17. #17
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    "Heart rate gel" is an aqueous gel with salt specifically formulated to enhance electrical conductivity with the skin. Other gels or creams will probably exacerbate the problem by reducing electrical contact.

    Try rubbing water into the contact areas on the strap. That has worked reliably for me.
    ... 'cuz that's how I roll.

  18. #18
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    I have a 500 and the premium strap. I've used them for ~ 3K miles. The HRM works pretty much perfectly for me. A couple of times at the beginning of a ride the HR will show high like 240 but then it settles down after a few miles. Its done this like maybe 2 - 3 times. I always moisten the two pads with some saliva before the ride. I always remove the sensor from the strap when done to save battery,

  19. #19
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    I find my garmin heart strap (the original, plastic one) gives elevated readings for the first few miles of the ride until i get a little sweat going. after that, the readings have been flawless for 3 years.

  20. #20
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    I've been using my 500 bundle with the standard HR monitor for about 4 weeks now and the HR seems right on. My max HR has never been more than 3-5 above my theoretical max. I don't use any water, gels etc. Just strap it on and make sure it is underneath the chest muscles right over the sternum. If it is too high it does not work for me.

  21. #21
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    Sounds gross but I lick mine before every wear and it's behaved itself impeccably

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allshownogo View Post
    Sounds gross but I lick mine before every wear and it's behaved itself impeccably
    Yes. That does sound gross. I run mine under a faucet before putting it on and have never had any problems (non-premium strap).

  23. #23
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    I lick my fingers then smear it on the strap. Seems less gross LOL

  24. #24
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    Yeah......probably less gross......
    But I am a man so I guess I'm genetically inclined towards the ridiculous

  25. #25
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    have you tried the update of the software on the unit? that has helped with the same issues for me (an edge 800)

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