AT A GLANCE: QUICK RATINGS
Heart Rate Functions
Fitness / Sport Features
Ease of Use
Where To Get It
A Deep Dive Into The Garmin Forerunner 225
The Garmin Forerunner 225 tested and reviewed by Tristan Haskins of HeartRateMonitor.co.uk. This is the FIRST GPS sports watch in the Garmin range to include an OPTICAL heart rate sensor.
What that means is accurate heart rate monitoring WITHOUT the need of a chest strap. The HR data is picked up from the blood pump under the skin using powerful green LED’s. It’s a proven technology and we expect to see it in more and more sports watches.
Please Note >>> The Garmin Forerunner 230 & 235 were added to this popular range of GPS runners watches in October 2015.
The main differences between the 230/235 and the 220/225 is the newer models have Bluetooth connectivity with smartphone notification alerts and wireless data upload to Garmin Connect APP.
They also feature Activity Trackers keeping you active throughout the day with movement alerts and daily activity targets. If you think you’d like activity tracking and Bluetooth connectivity with Garmin Elevate “off the wrist” heart rate monitoring then please consider the Forerunner 235
Who Is It For?
It would probably be easier to say who the Forerunner 225 is NOT for. It’s such a good all-rounder perfectly suited to everyone and anyone who wants to keep fit and predominantly runs to achieve that goal.
What’s more… all of this can be done with heart rate zone training WITHOUT a chest strap. Yes. that’s right. Garmin have gone and done it. Garmin have incorporated Mio‘s fantastic strapless optical heart rate sensor in to the this GPS sports watch.
If the range of watches is confusing pop over to my review of all the Garmin Forerunner watches for more information on all the different models with the newest models first.
Get the best PRICE
The Foreunner 225 is going to be THE MOST popular GPS sports watch in Garmin’s fitness product lineup. And rightly so, it’s a brilliant product that has combined ALL the features of the FR220 and added 1) Optical HR, 2) Activity Tracker and 3) A “heart rate gauge” page… It’s a competent GPS runners watch with off the wrist accurate heart rate.
Which Forerunner is for YOU?
Are you confused by the many models in the Garmin Forerunner range? Don’t worry, you are not alone. If you are thinking of getting a Garmin GPS running then you will be joining a club of thousands.
There have been over 15 models in the Forerunner range so we published this summary review of Forerunners which compares the main differences between all the models from the original Garmin Forerunner 101 in 2003 to the latest products.
Not only have they added strapless heart rate monitoring they have also added a very useful ACTIVITY TRACKER giving access to
Auto goal (learns your activity level and assigns a daily step goal)
Move bar (displays on device after a period of inactivity; walk for a couple of minutes to reset it)
Sleep monitoring (monitors total sleep and periods of movement or restful sleep)
The same comment that we aimed at the Forerunner 220 also is valid with the new Forerunner 225, it’s NOT the most technical sports watch, but it’s not supposed to be. If you want the best all singing all dancing, interval training, hear rate recovery analysis GPS watch, then that would be the Forerunner 620.
The Forerunner 225 has been designed to provide everything it needs to, without over complicating or cluttering with unused features. That said, it’s certainly NOT a watch just for newbies, it’s a great tool even for serious runners it has “technical” features like AUTOLAP, AUTOPAUSE, Pace and Heart Zone Alerts.
One of the Best GPS/HRM for Recreational Runners
It has everything it needs to for a large percentage of recreational runners. If you’re looking for pace, distance and time PLUS Strapless Heart Rate Monitoring then this is for you. It’s got a lovely clear multi-colour display that is easily read while running / training
The FR225 can be worn as a regular time of day watch lasting up to 4 weeks in watch mode and up to 10 hours in training mode. This is less than the 220 probably due the the extra power demand put on the battery of the OPTICAL HR sensor and the addition of the ACTIVITY TRACKER
Can I use this HRM for HiiT Training?
Absolutely, the Forerunner 225 is highly recommended to anyone undertaking a HiiT (High Intensity Interval Training) programme due to it’s 5 x colour coded HRM zones. The fact it takes heart rate directly off the wrist makes it even more attractive to the HiiT enthusiast
Garmin are pretty good at getting things “just so” and producing a product that meets the full requirements of their objective customer base.
The Forerunner 220 is a prime example of this. It can be used straight of the box by anyone with a familiarity with setting up a smartphone or similar electronic device. It’s easy to use, lightweight and does pretty much everything 90% of runners would want it to do. It’s main features are:
Could be Better
When we tested the 220 we said the only thing it was missing was an ACTIVITY TRACKER… well.. they’ve given us that and they’ve also added the optical HR sensor.
We were quite happy using a traditional chest strap sensor, but no, Garmin had to outdo themselves and go one step further. So.. what could be better… ? At this time, nothing. For the customer it has been aimed at, it’s pretty much PERFECT…
Actually… I’ve just thought of something Garmin have missed here. One of my favourite sub £100 HRM/Activity trackers is the Mio Fuse.
The Fuse takes the heart rate from the wrist, just like the FR225, HOWEVER, unlike the Forerunner, the Fuse has the decency to broadcast the Heart Rate data in BOTH Bluetooth 4 (live link to my smartphone or Polar VR800) and also in ANT+ (live HR data to my Garmin Edge 810). The Forerunner 225 does NOT do this… hopefully something it might do in it’s NEXT GENERATION?
Some Other Subscetion
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Next Model UP
That’s a difficult one as this is Garmin’s ONLY GPS HRM that has the built-in optical heart rate sensor.. no other Garmin device offers that feature.
So, if that’s something you REALLY WANT, then there is no MODEL UP from the FR225. If however, you want MORE running features then the next model up is the Forerunner 620.
The 620 adds training load analysis to help prevent over-training and monitor a sensible recovery between sessions.
With the 620 you get feedback on V0₂ max estimate, Recovery advisor, Race predictor and Running dynamics.
Running dynamics tell you how long you are making contact with the ground (less is best) your leg cadence (strides per second) and even virtual oscillation… (yep, we had to Google it too)
The Forerunner 620 also adds the Virtual Partner feature, a great way to race against a virtual competitor… just set the desired distance.. 10K.. and a time 40 minutes.. and go race the ghost. But remember, you need a CHEST STRAP to get heart rate.
Next Model DOWN
The model below is probably the Forerunner 15. It’s a different style of GPS running tool and features an activity tracker.
If you want 24/7 activity monitoring and optional heart rate (from a traditional chest strap), then we’d strongly suggest the Forerunner 15.
Are there any Alternative Products?
As alternatives to the FR225 there are the Epson SF810 and the TomTom Runner Cardio. Both are good quality GPS sports watches with built-in HRM sensor. The SF810 is Epson’s top of the range GPS sports watch aimed specifically at Runners.
It doesn’t have the activity tracking feature of the FR225 but it does have OPTICAL heart rate sensor, utilising Epson’s OWN patented HR technology which our tests have proven to be just as accurate as the Mio sensor (and therefore FR225’s). The other GPS sports watch with optical HR sensor is the TomTom Runner Cardio, again no activity tracker and a display that isn’t quite as sharp as the Garmin or the Epson.
We are lucky enough to have used all three …. if I personally had to pick just one it would be the FR 225 for overall functionality, ease of use and quality of connected APPS and web-services.
Epson and TomTom are quality alternative options, but do not have the decade of customer feedback that Garmin have had in their forerunner range. The FR225 is the result of years of development and real world experience and feedback from 100,000’s of happy Forerunner 110 and 210 customers.
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