Polar V650 Review
- Editor Rating
- Rated 4.5 stars
- Polar V650
- Reviewed by:
- Published on:
- Last modified:
- Heart Rate Monitor functionsEditor: 95%
- Heart Rate AccuracyEditor: 99%
- Cycling functionsEditor: 90%
- Fitness monitoring featuresEditor: 90%
- Ease of UseEditor: 90%
- Battery LifeEditor: 90%
- Navigation functionsEditor: 80%
The Polar V650 is an advanced GPS bike computer with OpenSource maps, back to home, cadence (optional), power (optional), heart rate (optional) and barometric altimeter for accurate climb and descent data. The Polar V650 GPS Bike Computer has been tested and reviewed by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic.
Release Date (UK) > September 2014
Product it replaced > None – this was Polar’s first GPS bike computer with MAPPING
Suggested Retail Price (when new) > £209
Replaced by > None, this is a current product
In summary, the V650 is Polar’s answer to the Garmin Edge 510 with a little bit of 810/1000 thrown in. It’s NOT an autorouting GPS mapping device like the Edge 810/Touring Plus or Edge 1000, but it does show high resolution Open Source map detail, down to street names for an area 450km x 450km (it’s free, you simply highlight the area you want….. it’s a fantastic feature). The V650 is a competent GPS bike computer packed with performance monitoring functions and built in maps
V650 gets “Route Follow”
UPDATE > Polar are continually updating all their products. The V650 can now follow a pre-ridden ROUTE (one of yours or something you’ve downloaded from another website) in either GPX or TCX format. Just save the file to your FAVOURITES in Polar Flow. Next time you ride you can select one of these files and the V650 will provide basic navigation prompts to keep you on track. At present you cannot BUILD a route on the website (like you can on Garmin Connect) but I am quite confident this level of functionality will follow. And remember.. if you go to Spain, France or Italy, just download the FREE 450km/450km map block and a few pre-ridden GPX routes and you are ready to go…. there’s a great video from Polar here
Who’s it For?
The V650 is for the cyclist with a desire to improve fitness and expand their training horizons. With the recent addition of OpenStreet mapping you can now dare to go beyond your normal local loops without the fear of getting lost. The V650 has the ability to support all the metrics a professional cyclist may have an interest in e.g. Heart Rate, Pedal Cadence (RPM) and Power (with compatible Bluetooth power meters). It utilises Polar’s 5 x Sport Zones giving accurate feedback of training time spent in specific HR zones. Polar’s unique Training Benefit provides the user with immediate feedback regarding the benefits of the latest session.
If you don’t know who Polar are, they 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
With options for 4 bikes and 4 different riding profiles (road, MTB, indoor and other) you are assured of the training views relevant to you and your style of riding. Just like the Garmin Edge 520/1000 etc, the Training Views are based on the style of riding so you may have a different set of windows for MTB riding to Road Riding. The V650 has features FREE OpenStreet mapping, perfect for those who want to know where they are going and how to get back. More about the Mapping later.
- FREE OpenStreetMap support
- Bright Clear Colour Display
- Training Benefit feedback post ride
- Easy to operate via single RED button on front of unit
- Configurable Displays for different cycling styles and training views (MTB, Road, Indoor, Other)
- Optional Heart Rate, Cadence and Power support
- Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate, Cadence and Speed sensor support
- Emergency Front Light
- Navigate BACK HOME function with as the crow flies directional arrow
- Barometric Altimeter with ascent/descent and VAM (vertical meters per hour ascent speed)
- Polar Flow web-service support (Mac and Windows PC)
- Please also take a minute to watch my Polar V650 video review here
Disappointments / Improvements
Bluetooth Syncing to the Polar Flow APP would be nice as per A300/M400/V800> added May 2016
- A set of smaller stem mount ties (as per Garmin Edge)
- An extra bike mount (as per Garmin Edge)
- % Incline feedback WITHOUT having to purchase the Speed Sensor… (why is this anyway?)
I’d like see Training LOAD feedback as per V800> added May 2016
I have put all the above points to my Polar UK representative and I will add their replies/feedback above.
Next Model Down
The next model down in the Polar range of GPS bike computers is the Polar M450. The M450 is less than half the size of the V650. It does NOT support the OpenStreet mapping like the V650 does, and it has a monochrome display (no colour, no touch screen). The M450 has a couple of things the V650 does not have (at time of writing review) like the Polar Fitness tests and Bluetooth synchronisation of data to Polar Flow App
- Polar M450 reviewed here – replaced in 2017/2018 with the Polar M460 with Strava support (no mapping)
- Polar M460 reviewed here – LIVE Strava Segements – excellent performance bike computer (no mapping)
>> Back to Top of Review
Pros & Cons
Emergency Front Light
How many times, especially in September and October, have you been caught out without any lights? I have especially on our MTB loop rides that end at the local pub. The V650 has a handy emergency front light. OK, it’s not going to scare the locals in to thinking a UFO has landed on Ringstead Downs but it’s enough to let YOU BE SEEN and just enough to let you see where you are going. It’s not something I would have added to my WISHLIST of GPS bike computer features, however, now that I’ve used it a couple of times, it’s a handy feature to have
Training Benefit Feedback
This is very useful feature found in several Polar HRM products like the M400 and V800. Polar’s Training Benefit will provide motivating feedback immediately after your training session. When you need to know the overall effect of a training session, Training Benefit tells you exactly what you need to know. e.g. How hard the session was and what you achieved performing it.
We’ve got FREE Maps !
Since September the V650 has been able to support OpenSteetMaps. Open Steet maps are high resolution – FREE – street and topographic maps. The V650 is NOT an auto-routing GPS like the Edge 810/1000, however, it has the ability to give live route tracking map data as you ride. You can see precisely where you’ve ridden and, if need be, how to navigate back home. In other words, it’s like carrying your own OS maps and having a magic pencil draw a line showing exactly where you have been… and where you are now. If you can understand an OS map, the world is your Oyster.
The images below show the steps involved in selecting a mapping area. Once you have pinpointed your map zone (the second image), simply plug the V650 in to your PC or Mac and download the data via Polar FlowSync. Next time you reboot the unit you will have access to street by street mapping. The final image in this sequence shows my short 12 mile MTB loop around Hunstanton and Ringstead with the route overlaid for reference.
Training Views – see what you want…
The V650 has 4 x Sports Profiles. MTB, Road Cycling, Indoor and Other. For each profile the user has the option of setting precisely what they want to see. With dozens of options including averages and maximums, altitude and HR graphs you are assured of seeing exactly what you want. Setting the Training Views up is easy and can be changed without the need to connect to a PC/Mac.
Sport Profiles x 4 – up to 8 items per View
After Training – Summary of a Training Session
The images below illustrate the post ride training data you can expect to see on the V650. All this data can be uploaded to Polar Flow via the USB link. Hopefully, in the near future, the V650 will have the ability to wirelessly upload directly to an Android or iPhone
Get me Back Home Please !
You’re doing your favourite weekend 60 miler and you get a puncture… it’s raining, you’ve lost the rest of your training buddies and you just want to get home… ride another day. The Polar V650’s GET HOME mode shows you where your starting point is with a compass rose showing you HOW FAR and in WHICH DIRECTION. The image below shows my V650 display at the end of a road ride. This is my 2nd Training View of 4 showing HR graphs (time in the 5 x Polar Sports Zones) and distance and direction back home.
CardioCritic’s Own Video Review
We are pleased to have had hands on experience of the Polar V650 GPS unit for an extended period of time. During this time we took most of the photographs featured in this review and also took some extra time to film a short video review. If you’ve got 11 minutes and really want to know what the V650 does / does not do, please watch the video.
Polar’s own promotional video
Polar’s video presentation.. okay, we agree, it’s a little bit flashier than ours…
We have more pictures of the V650 here
Please click any image below to visit our Google+ Polar V650 photo album