Polar M450 Review
- Editor Rating
- Rated 5 stars
- Polar M450
- Reviewed by:
- Published on:
- Last modified:
- Heart Rate Monitor functionsEditor: 95%
- Heart Rate AccuracyEditor: 99%
- Running functionsEditor: 85%
- Cycling functionsEditor: 95%
- Fitness monitoring featuresEditor: 95%
- Ease of UseEditor: 95%
- Battery LifeEditor: 99%
I have had the pleasure of using and testing the Polar M450 for over 1 month and can confirm without any hesitation that it’s the best bike computer Polar have ever produced. It’s a serious competitor for the Garmin Edge 25. The Polar M450 GPS bike computer has been reviewed by Tristan Haskins aka Cardio Critic (was HeartRateMonitor UK)
Released > June 2015
Replaced > None – this was Polar’s first bike computer with built-in GPS
Suggested Retail price (at time of release) > £149.50
Replaced by > In May 2017 Polar released the Polar M460 with LIVE Strava Segments
Who’s it For?
If you are looking for a bike computer with built-in GPS and optional heart rate, cadence and even power support then look no further than the Polar M450. It’s not a navigators GPS device but a top spec performance monitoring bike computer. The M450 is suitable for all levels of cyclists from daily commuters, recreational and family riders to performance monitoring athletes and competition riders. There’s very little this mid-sized GPS bike computer can’t do it even has built-in fitness tests and customisable display views so you can see what’s relevant to you. If you didn’t already know, Polar started selling heart rate monitors in 1976. CardioCritic have tested the majority of Polar heart rate monitors & bike computers – using them for the first time in 1996
- Long battery life – up to 12 hours with GPS and HRM
- Sport Profiles – set up your own profiles for Mountain Biking, Indoor Bike, Road Riding etc.
- 5 x Heart Rate, Speed and Power zones (all user configurable from Polar Flow)
- Easy to Read display with bright backlight
- Quarter Turn locking to easy to fit bike mount (either handlebar/stem fit or “out front” available)
- Bluetooth support of cadence, power meters and heart rate sensors.
- User customisable training views – see what you want to see during your ride. 1,2,3 or 4 metrics per view.
- Fitness Tests
- Emergency Light. It’s not going to light up the streets, but great for keeping you visible if your main light has failed
- Training benefit review at end of each ride
- Training load and recovery review (via Polar Flow)
- Zone Lock – press and hold red button to LOCK your HR (speed or power zone)
- Favourites – set your own phased training targets, time or distance based with HR or Speed based limits.
- Barometric pressure sensor for accurate altitude feedback
Next model UP
The next model up would be the FULL SIZE Polar V650 with it’s touch-screen COLOUR display. The biggest difference between the two is the V650 supports MAPPING. It’s not got auto-routing capabilities like the Garmin Edge 810/1000, however, it does support FREE OpenStreetMap mapping support. You simply select a 450km square area and it downloads the WHOLE MAP…. FREE … with super high resolution down to street names
Update > In May 2017 Polar released the Polar M460 with LIVE Strava Segments.
Next model DOWN
This is the entry level to Polar bike computer with GPS. You will still find some of the older WHEEL sensor bike computers like the Polar CS200 and CS500 around, but personally I’d go for one of these newer versions with GPS.
Similar products from the Competitors
There is no doubt that Garmin rule this segment of the market with the Garmin Edge range. It would be foolish of me to suggest that there isn’t a model from the Edge range that is equal to or even better than the M450. If you like to keep things simple, then I’d recommend the Edge 25. If you’d like to add a little more navigational functionality and the inclusion of Strava segments then take a look at the Edge 520
- Garmin Edge 25 reviewed here – micro-size GPS bike computer
- Edge 520 reviewed here – supports Strava segments
Pros & Cons
Take the Garmin Edge 400 & Polar M400…
For those familiar with Garmin and Polar products we’d say it’s the combination of all the good features from the older Garmin Edge 400 and current Polar M400 wrist worn GPS HRM. The M450 has been purposefully designed to support all riding styles and goals. It’s small, customisable and packed with sensible, usable features. M450 logs your routes and trails using an integrated GPS and built-in precision barometer.
>> jump to
220 Triathlon Magazine “Best on Test”
220 Triathlon Magazine gave the Polar M450 the prestigious “Best on Test” following a review of 10 mid-sized GPS bike computers. Awarding the M450 an excellent 90% score overall. Included in the test was the Edge 1000, Wahoo Elemnt, Lezyne Super GPS, Sigma Sport Rox 5.0, all bettered by the M450. If Rob Banino had known how to configure / customise the display it would have surely got an even higher score …..
What 220 Triathlon said…
The M450 is the little brother of the V650 computer we tested in August. “Little” in the sense that it has fewer features (no colour screen or route mapping) and smaller dimensions – 49 74mm compared to the V650’s 63 x 105mm. It’s also lighter (63g rather than 132g) so it stays put whereas the V650 slides around when you hit a bump [NOT if you use the OUT FRONT mount, Tristan]. The M450 is a GPS unit but you can pair it to a heart rate strap (optional) as well as cadence, speed and power sensors (sold separately). It took 18 seconds to fit the mount to the stem and 3.27 mins to configure the computer. The only gripe is that all the readings it displays in use are the same size. So until you’re fully accustomed to the M450, it’s not immediately clear what data you’re looking at unless you check the symbols next to the numbers … [this last bit is INCORRECT. The M450 features fully configurable training views with 1,2,3 or 4 lines per page, similar to Edge units]
Verdict => 90% Quick and simple to set up but no clear hierarchy to display info [oh yes there is… Tristan]
Configuring the M450 for 1,2,3 or 4 lines per display
This is what the 220 tester didn’t know how to do. It’s very easy with Polar Flow to set the Training Views for your different sports. You can have 8 x pages per sport and each page may be 1,2,3 or 4 lines. You can mix any metric with any other, speed, distance, altitude, power, cadence etc. It’s your choice. Currently Polar Sports profiles include a generic Cycling, MTB, Indoor Cycling and Road Riding. This means you can have different display options for the various styles of riding.
Bluetooth Heart Rate, Speed, Cadence & Power
Pair M450 with a Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensor and it guides you in how to train effectively. You’ll also get instant feedback after each session.The M450 supports Polar’s other Bluetooth sensors including; pedal cadence, bike speed (great for indoor training, turbo trainers/rollers) and Power pedals. As well as Polar’s own Bluetooth sensors, the M450 will also support third party HR sensors like the Wahoo Tickr/BlueHR and the list of supported Power meters is forever growing
Fitness Tests to monitor progress
Follow your progress with Fitness and Orthostatic Tests and get all your statistics in the Flow web service. The M450 features two of Polar’s Fitness tests, they’re quite similar and I normally do BOTH once a month to update the predicted VO2 Max and MaxHR data in the unit.
The orthostatic test is a reliable method of determining your current fitness level / condition. If you can repeat the test regularly you will get to learn what to expect from varying your heart rate and what can affect it. Subsequently adjusting your training plans to give yourself time to recover properly. This test takes the form of a 10 minute test. 5 minutes lying down and 5 minutes standing up. Want to know more? Pop over to Polar’s website here
As well as the orthostatic test, the M450 also features a Fitness Test. A short test lasting less than 5 minutes. It measures your current level of aerobic fitness from your resting heart rate, heart rate variability and also takes in to consideration your background information. If you can complete this short test regularly you will see how your fitness levels are improving – HOPEFULLY !
Emergency Backlight – genius
It even has a very convenient, get you home safely, emergency front LED light (as well as Back Home GPS navigation functions)
We recently reviewed the way we were presenting our product tests and we decided to get the video in a bit earlier. Please remember, this is OUR OWN video created by Tristan at home with his trusty Sony Alpha 6000 camera. It’s NOT a marketing department smoke, mirrors and special effects video it’s just me, the Polar M450, a camera and a cuppa tea/glass of wine. As you can see it’s totally unscripted so advance apologies for the ‘erms & ums”. Anyway, I hope you like it. I’ve tried to cover everything from initial set up, to going for a ride and downloading data.
>> back to top of review
>>> back to top of review
|(with mount||19,4 mm)|
|Display size||3.5cm x 3.5cm|
|Splash proof (IPX7)|
- High precision barometer
- Sensitive and accurate GPS
- 64Mb flash memory
- 35 hours of recording time with HR, GPS and power sensors on
- Rechargeable 385mAh battery
- Battery duration up to 16 hours of training with heart rate and GPS on
- Easy wireless sync via Polar Flow app with Bluetooth Smart
- Micro-USB connectivity for charging and data sync with PC or Mac via Polar FlowSync
- Splash proof (IPX7)
- Polar Flow web service compatibility with Mac OS X 10.6 or later and PC Windows XP, 7, 8.
- GPS satellite pre-loading
- Updatable software
- UI languages English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, German, Italian, Finnish, Polish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese
An easy and reliable way to determine your current condition. Repeat the test regularly to learn what to expect from your heart rate and what can affect it, then adjust your training to allow your body to recover when needed
A five-minute test that measures aerobic fitness from your resting heart rate, heart rate variability and your background information. Complete the test regularly to see the progress you’re making.
Delivers motivating feedback immediately after the ride describing the effect of the training session.
Lets you know exactly how many calories you’ve burned based on your weight, height, age, gender, your individual maximum heart rate (HRmax) and how hard you’re training.
Shows you how your training affects your body and helps you compare the load of different rides. Monitor your load continuously to recognise your personal limits and adjust training intensity and duration accordingly.
Shows you the time necessary for recovery before the next ride.
>>> back to top of review