The Nike HRM Triax Inspire is a simple and solid watch that pretty much does one thing, and does it well. Although it is equipped with basic versions of your standard sports watch features, it’s primary purpose — with the help of the included chest transmitter — is to optimize your workout by helping you keep your heart rate squarely in a predefined zone.
Features of the Nike Triax Inspire include:
- Heart rate monitoring. Decide what kind of workout you want, configure the minimum and maximum heart rate that corresponds to your goal, and adjust your pace accordingly in order to keep your heart rate “in the zone.” The Triax Inspire calculates and reports your heart rate in beats per minute from data received over a short-range radio signal broadcast by the chest transmitter.
- Stopwatch. Nothing fancy. Your standard chronograph that supports a single split time and maxes out at 23:59’59”.
- Alarm. Again, very standard. Sounds a little on the quiet side for 20 seconds.
- Time and date. Day of week, too.
- Nice big numbers. When you’re running, biking, jumping rope, aerobisizing — whatever it is you do — you really don’t want to have to squint at your watch. The Nike Triax Inspire is very easy to read.
- Ergonomic watch face orientation. I don’t know if the word “ergonomic” is supposed to be used outside the office, but what I’m trying to say is that the face of the watch is rotated probably a good 35 or 40 degrees clockwise which means you can glance at it while keeping your arm in a very natural bent position, and the numbers will appear straight.
- Backlight. Adequate, considering you probably don’t do a lot of running in the dark.
- Water resistant. 50 meters, 5 ATM, 5 BAR, or 165ft. That should keep the sweat out.
- Mineral glass crystal.
- Rugged construction . Resin case, polyurethane strap, stainless steel back and buckle.
- Compatible with most treadmills. The watch and chest transmitter use the same frequency as most treadmills in gyms, so you can monitor your heart rate either on your watch, or using the treadmill’s console.
So How Does it Work?
The chest monitor fits snuggly around your chest, on your rib cage and just below the breast. The sensors should be slightly moistened with saliva or water before being applied against the skin. (If you’re in public, I recommend water.) Then all you have to do is switch to the pulse mode on the watch, and as long as your wrist is within three feet of the transmitter, and assuming you actually do have a pulse (not recommended for zombies), you’re in business.
I found the transmitter to feel awkward for just a few minutes, primarily because although it was tight around my chest, I kept feeling like it was going to slip down. The feeling passed very quickly after I realized that it actually wasn’t going anywhere, and I soon forget I was even wearing it.
To help you keep your heart rate in your target zone, you can easily configure an upper and lower heart rate limit. If your heart rate falls below the lower limit, the word “LO” will flash on the watch face, and if your heart rate exceeds the upper limit, you are alerted by the word “HI” flashing on the face. The instruction booklet contains a chart to help you pick the right zone for your age, and for the type of workout you want to get.
Out in the field (or rather, on the treadmill), I found the Nike Triax Inspire worked exactly as I expected it to. At a 3 MPH walk, my heart rate hovered in the low intensity range, at a 5.5 MPH jog, it rose into the medium intensity range, and at a 7 MPH run, it began to ease up into the low end of the high intensity workout. I then set an upper and lower heart rate limit consistent with my age and a medium intensity workout, reduced the speed on the treadmill, and I found I had no problem staying within my targeted zone. Sorry, but I did not test the minimum and maximum beats per minute that the Triax Inspire is capable of measuring, and I recommend you don’t, either.
What I like about the Nike Triax Inspire:
- Nice big numbers and ergonomic face orientation make the watch easy and comfortable to glance at while moving.
- The watch and the transmitter use the same size battery. Smart.
- Good button feedback. The buttons (along with the entire watch) feel sturdy, and are accessible and responsive.
- Very simple to use, and very good at what it does.
What I don’t like:
- No audible alarm. About the only thing I found I didn’t like about the Triax Inspire is that it doesn’t have an option for an audible alarm for when your heart rate slips above or below your zone. It’s hard to fault the watch too much, however, since there are other Nike models that do offer that feature. If an audible alarm is something you really want, you’ll just have to upgrade. (Upgrading can also get you 100-lap memory, detailed workout logs that can be downloaded to your PC and analyzed, and additional features for the more dedicated athletes among us.)
The instruction booklet for the Triax Inspire starts out “We’ve tried to make this watch as easy to use as possible,” and Nike certainly achieved their objective. The watch is about as simple and straightforward to use as I think it’s possible for it to be, and it seems to perform precisely as promised. And considering the fact that you should be able to pick one up for between $40 and $70 from most sporting goods stores, running stores, or online, I’d say Nike has also done an excellent job keeping the price tag “in the zone,” as well.
By Christian Cantrell