A little over two weeks ago, we received a sample of the PC9 Man Heart Rate Monitor from Sigma Sport. We’ve been using this HRM since them on our training rides and our training runs. We will publish three reviews total; this initial review, a midterm review in about a month, and a final review much later. You can easily find this HRM online for around $65. Thanks to the folks at Sigma for providing the test sample.
About Sigma Sport:
Sigma is an old hand in the cycling and fitness world. Founded 25 years ago, they started manufacturing cycle speedometers, the precursor of today’s cycle computers. Sigma continues to manufacture cycle computers and have added cycling lighting and heart rate monitors to their product line.
About the Sigma PC9 Man Heart Rate Monitor:
The PC9 Man is a new version of Sigma’s popular PC9 HRM. The PC9 Man is one of two new versions, the PC9 Woman being the other. From a functional standpoint, these HRM’s have the same features, the difference being the design. The PC9 Man includes the watch, the chest strap, the chest sensor, and a mount for bicycles.
The PC9 Man features most of the standard settings you would expect from a heart-rate monitor. The PC9 Man monitors your heart rate through the included chest strap. In addition to monitoring the rate, the PC9 Man features heart rate limits, zone alarms, a calorie counter, training timer, and training manager. The zone alarms allow you to monitor your performance based on your heart rate. The PC9 Man automatically sets the ideal zones based on your personal details or you can override the standard settings.
The calorie counter feature is also automatic: it calculates your calorie burn based on the weight you enter when setting up the HRM.
Since most athletes are only interested in the heart-rate monitoring features, we’re not going to spend too much time focusing on the tertiary features of this HRM.
Testing the Sigma PC9 Man Heart Rate Monitor:
The PC9 Man is about the same size as your average sports watch. The display is large and the display is clear and the main information on the display is presented in large text.
When we first unpacked the PC9 HRM, we were a bit put off that the default language was German. It took us a few minutes to figure out the German menu options and process to change the language to English. Not a big deal, but it would be nice for the Sigma product sold in the US to default to English. The up side is that the menus are available in five languages, English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the PC9 Man is the construction of the band. The entire band and plastic around the bezel is one piece. The result of this design is that the watch might not mold perfectly to your wrist, depending on the diameter of your wrist. We didn’t have any issues with this design and we allowed a few other people to try the watch on without any problems, but for some users, especially those with very small wrists, this could be a minus.
Once we set up the HRM by entering our name and our weight, the HRM calculated our heart rate zones automatically. We chose not to modify the default zones to start with, but we may make a change or two in the future. Our normal heart rate under moderate exercise is right on one of the zones, so a one beat per minute change causes the alarm to sound, telling us that we’ve moved up or down in the zone, a mild annoyance.
Once you put on the chest strap and turn the watch on, you are given the option to start a training session. The process is very simple, just one button, and you’re off. There is an option to pause your workout once you start. After you finish your workout, you simply click one button to stop the data recording. From there, you can navigate to the analysis of your workout, complete with calories burned, average heart rate, and total calories burned since setting up the HRM.
We have used the PC9 Man in all our training and other exercise since we received the sample, including running, spinning, and cycling. We’ve yet to use it in the pool. We normally don’t wear a watch when running for comfort issues, but we’ve found the PC9 Man to be very comfortable and breathable. Although there aren’t too many vents in the band, we didn’t experience any discomfort or excessive sweating around the watch band. The chest strap is comfortable and almost unnoticeable after the first few minutes. We’ve worn the chest strap for rides up to 3 hours and runs in excess of one hour and haven’t experienced any chafing or discomfort.
Initial Thoughts on the PC9 Man Heart Rate Monitor:
To date, the PC9 Man meets or exceeds our expectations for a HRM at this price. Retailing for about $65, and available for a bit less if you look around, you shouldn’t expect all the features of higher priced products. We admit it would be nice if there was some sort of software included to track your workouts on your computer or online, but, again, we don’t expect these features at this price.
We used the heart rate data from the PC9 Man to calculate our calorie burn using independent websites and other methods and found the calculations provided by the PC9 Man to be accurate within about 7%, plus or minus. We feel that this is acceptable.
We are pleased with the large and clear display and are happy with the different options and features of this HRM. We have noticed that the watch doesn’t respond as quickly as we’d like to our input via buttons. That is, there is an occasional lag between pressing a button and seeing a response on the display. This lag can lead to you overshooting your desired menu, but isn’t the end of the world. We found the included bike mount to be useful and simple to use.
We have experienced the occasional problem with the watch losing the signal from the chest strap. Once during a cycling workout and once just before a run. On the ride the signal was found quickly and didn’t cause any problems while on the run, we took off the chest strap, moistened the electrodes a bit, and put the strap back on. This cured the problem.
We’re looking forward to continuing to test the PC9 Man Heart Rate Monitor. We will continue to use this product on our runs, and cycling workouts and are going to start using it in the pool. We’re also looking forward to reporting on the battery life and the overall construction and durability of the chest strap and the watch component.