MIO Velo – Review of a Bridging Optical HR Monitor for the wrist.

MIO Velo Review

MIO Velo Review

The MIO Velo is chameleonic in its charms. On the one hand there is the accuracy of the wrist based optical HR technology now shared with the Garmin 225. On the other hand is the promise of the ability to convert your pesky ANT+ bike sensors into Bluetooth sensors for smartphone apps.

MIO Velo

MIO Velo

What is it?

It’s a wrist-based, ANT+ optical heart rate monitor (HRM) that takes the place of your chest strap. Exactly like the MIO Link.

It’s also a ‘bridging device’ that can convert the ANT+ signal from your bike speed and/or cadence sensor into a Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE) signal.

Clever.

How does it do it?

The HRM needs to be paired to your Bluetooth smartphone via the MIO GO APP.  You can also simultaneously/directly pair to an ANT+ device such as a Garmin sports watch.

You then use the MIO GO app to pair to your ANT+ speed/cadence sensor(s) to the MIO GO APP. Your smartphone now knows how to talk to the ANT+ devices and then you’re good to go with STRAVA or the app of your choice – in-doors or out- (NB: check android compatibility).

Let’s focus more on the bridging functionality as you’re probably familiar with HRMs (You can see the Velo’s HR functionality described in the identical functionality offered by the MIO Link here).

Interested? Let’s get cracking.

The MIO Go App

At its most simple, the MIO GO app is functional and certainly not noteworthy.  You will almost certainly end up using a 3rd party app.

Smartphone compatibility is listed (here) and is generally good.

IMG_0788

So we have 4 possible bike profiles which is sufficient for most of us. It’s then fairly straightforward to pair your devices to specific profiles.

IMG_0791

As well as setting your tyre size so that the circumference can be used to turn revolution into speed.

IMG_0789

That’s pretty much all there is to the bridging. Cool huh!

Well no.

At £85 for the Velo HRM you could almost afford a Polar H7 HRM and Bluetooth speed/cadence sensor. OK it’s less stuff to buy and potentially avoids having 2 speed/cadence sensors; it also avoids the dreaded chest strap; so we can justify the purchase on that basis.

However the biggest disappointment for me was that an ANT+ power signal was not supported. Surely that would be the whole point? ie saving spending HUNDREDS of pounds/dollars on another power device?

At the product launch in Jan 2015 the dcrainmaker mio velo ‘quick look’ noted that power data would be introduced ‘later’.

It’s July 2015 and I’m still waiting. Here is an image from MIOGLOBAL

MIO Velo SensorsHowever most of the images now show a similar diagram but with the Vector (power meter) pedals removed. Maybe plans for power meter support have been dropped?

After that disappointment I had the nagging doubt that the Bluetooth signal would only be valid on the paired device and indeed that is the case. I had hoped that it would be able to somehow be re-broadcast FROM THE VELO to any other Bluetooth SMART device. However having also seen that the similar 4iiii device cannot do that either then I assume that either the market demand is not there or that it is only possible to transmit the bridged signals to the paired smartphone.

To be clear: ANT+ cadence and ANT+ speed will only be visible on the smartphone. If compatible, any app on that smartphone will be able to receive that signal. Power data is not transmitted. The Velo WILL broadcast ANT+ HR AND BTLE/BLE heart rate to any device (eg a watch) but only HR.

Disappointment struck again as I found that my trainer tyre had a size that was not supported by the app and no custom size could be entered (Schwalbe: 26.1.35=1990mm). To be fair most normal road size tyres are supported.

ACCURACY

This device is identical to the MIO Link for HR accuracy. For me it is accurate up to about 165bpm and more information on that accuracy can be found (here) in the MIO Link review.

The bridging device is accurate for speed and cadence. Give or take 0.2km/h or 2rpm I judged them to be near identical by eye.

Here is a diagram from MIO showing their take on the differences between the Link and Velo

Alternatives:

The only bridging alternatives that I know of are made by 4iiii.com. They only have chest strap-based bridges but that bridge DOES bridge power and footpod data.

Compatible APPS

“You’ll need a cycling-specific app to pair speed and cadence sensors. For iOS devices, VELO works with Mio GO, Wahoo Fitness, Strava, and Cyclemeter. It does NOT work with MapMyRide, iBiker, or Runtastic Road Bike, or any Android devices (as of Nov. 21, 2014)” Source: MioGlobal

HRV Accuracy

An HRV-readable signal IS produced but it is inaccurate.

Optical based HRV is likely to start hitting the stores in late 2015.

Summary

This is a great product if you want an ‘accurate optical’ HRM on your wrist – either BTLE and/or ANT+. The MIO is one of the more accurate optical devices and it’s great that this device simultaneously broadcasts both ANT+ and BTLE signals for HR.

It’s also a great product if you have an ANT+ speed and/or cadence sensor that you want to be able to make ‘compatible’ with your smartphone.

Be sure to check  the compatibility of your smartphone and app of choice, I have indicated what some of them are in the review (above) but new ones are added all the time, so if in doubt contact MIO directly.

If you want to convert your ANT+ footpod for running or your bike’s ANT+ power meter then the MIO VELO won’t do it. Instead you should consider 4iiii’s Viiiiva V100 chest strap.

The MIO GO app MUST be used for the initial configuration and pairing. The MIO app is OK as a fairly ‘minimalist’ sports tracking app but lacking on many levels for more serious users.

Black Friday 2015 Amazon UK Amazon USA
4iiii Viiiiva V100 HRM £79.99 Link $77.64 Link
4iiii Viva Mini TBC
SMS Bio Sport Ear Bud £40.97 Link $69.99 Link
Garmin Heart Rate Monitor (Hard) £31.00 Link $39.09 Link
Garmin HRM-RUN (Soft) £51.36 Link $99.99 Link
Garmin Premium (Soft) £31.89 Link $39.99 Link
Garmin HRM-Swim £76.00 Link $98.99 Link
Garmin HRM-Tri £96.52 Link $129.99 Link
Jabra Sport Pulse £99.00 Link $123.10 Link
LifeBeam Smart Helmet n/a Link $185.49 Link
MIO Fuse £94.95 Link $129.95 Link
MIO Link £58.95 Link $61.51 Link
MIO Velo £84.35 Link $111.19 Link
Polar H6 £54.50 Link $42.99 Link
Polar H7 £37.49 Link $51.45 Link
PowerTap PowerCal ANT+ £104.49 Link $95.99 Link
PowerTap PowerCal Bluetooth £87.53 Link $95.99 Link
Scosche Rhythm+ £70.00 Link $79.95 Link
Suunto Smart Belt £43.68 Link $54.91 Link
Under Armour Armour39 $62.99 Link
Wahoo RFLKT £71.99 Link $89.99 Link
Wahoo RFLKT+ £79.99 Link $128.57 Link
Wahoo TICKR £44.14 Link $59.85 Link
Wahoo TICKR-RUN £64.99 Link $71.92 Link
Wahoo TICKR-X £79.90 Link $99.90 Link

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