One of the things that surprises many people about electric bikes is that rather than being a way to “cheat” and not get any exercise while riding, an electric bike is a great way to get back into fitness riding. Knowing that you won't be stuck 15 miles from home, exhausted, or end up too tired to climb those hills around your home is a great confidence builder. Thus, the electric bicycle is a way into fitness.

So, how do you keep track of your ever-increasing fitness? How do you know how hard you are exercising? One great way is with a heart rate monitor. In recent years, the technology has improved greatly. No longer are monitors heavy, battery hungry, expensive and uncomfortable. Instead of having to buy a complete system, and figure out how to integrate that with your computer, you can now buy one of the new Bluetooth Low Energy systems available that will work with your smartphone or tablet.

My personal favorite, and the one I use now, having tried others, is the Jarv Run BT Premium Bluetooth® 4.0. It's available for Android, iPhones and Windows phones, and it works very well. It's small, lightweight, unobtrusive and not very expensive. It also is quite durable – I've dropped mine more times that I'd care to admit! It contains 1 easily replaceable battery, and will run many months on a single set, even if you use it daily. If you only use is a few times a week, the battery should last a year or more, and since they're a common size: CR2032, replacements are readily available for a few dollars.

Now, the Jarv is just the hardware. To actually monitor your heart rate using it, you will need to install software on your phone. Jarv makes a number of recommendations in their User Manual and you can try out a free version of most apps, which will let you know if you like a particular app before you buy the paid version, which typically gives access to additional features and removes advertising. The recommendations I give below are for Android, as that is what I use, but comparable apps are available for iPhones and Windows Phones.

The app I use is not a particularly polished program, and is rather geek-oriented, but it gives me everything I want, and the ability to download data to my computer so that I can analyze it as I choose: BLE Heart Rate & HRV Recorder

However, there are numerous other apps, and some are designed specifically for riding. Two that are particularly well regarded are Runtastic Mountain Bike GPS and Runtastic Road Bike Tracker

All 3 versions of the Jarv hardware are available at Amazon.

You can also get more information at the Jarv Website

You can also go to the App store for your device and search for “Bluetooth Heart Rate” apps. There's lots of options, and you'll surely find one that you like.

Now, get out there and ride!