Polar M460 | Review |

Polar M460 Cycling Detailed Review

 

The M460 is a refreshed and extended 2017 version of the older M450. The M460 also has slightly more extensive functionality and a similar price to the older and larger V650. The V650 also has navigation though, but the V650 could well be replaced soon with a new update as Polar have refreshed two of their products already this year.

Review

Polar’s M460 is a budget, highly competent, cycling training device. It’s got pretty much all the capability and stats that you need on a clear and compact display. Smartphone notifications, STRAVA segment integration and more power metrics have been added over and above what was on the  previous M450. If you want a larger screened navigation format then you would go for the V450 but that lacks the notifications, Strava and new power metrics as well as lacking a few other features that the M460 has.

Unboxing, box contents, weights, dimension and installation

Here’s what you get in the HR bundle version of the M460. Yep, that’s a brand new Polar H10 super HRM you can see there (review of H10 here) as well as a generic handlebar/stem mount that should fit most road bikes and MTBs.

Polar M460 Cycling Detailed Review

Firmware, software, configuration/pairing and sharing

Polar M460 Cycling Detailed Review

Polar have a good app and good online platform – both called FLOW. Information is synchronised between your device and FLOW either through the app or using desktop-based FLOW SYNC software.

Configuration of the M460 is undertaken online in FLOW. In FLOW you choose and customise from many existing sports profiles and then, on your M460 device, you pair any BLUETOOTH SMART sensors you might have. It’s as simple as that.

One of my favourites Bluetooth sensors is the Viiiiva V100 HRM which converts ANT+ sensor signals into Bluetooth so that the M460 can access them…cool!

Here is one of the official Polar marketing videos.

 

My First Use and First Ride

Polar’s menus are differently organised to menus from other device manufacturers however they are perfectly sensible. Even if you are not familiar with Polar devices, getting used to them will be easy.

Previously, the only annoyance was that the screen had to be configured online so, once you are riding, that was it! Recent versions of the smartphone app now DO allow sport profiles to be customised.

Polar M450, Garmin Edge 820, Garmin Edge 810, MIO Cyclo 505HC

Polar M450, Edge 820, Edge 810, MIO Cyclo 505HC

The M460 has more tactile buttons than the previous M450. The M460 is slightly easier to use with gloves. The buttons LOOK the same BUT they ARE different.

 

The screen size is the same as the previous M450 (right) and slightly smaller than a more expensive Garmin Edge 520/820.

The resolution is sufficient to present the numbers very clearly and legibly.

It’s a “tool, not a toy”.

You can see below the sport profile editing screen where up to 8 screens can be configured, each with up to 4 different metrics. That should be enough! Very intuitive to use and much better than doing it on the device’s screen IMO.

It would be nice to get more than 4 on the screen sometimes as that is often one of the attractions of a dedicated cycling computer. However more than 4 would probably not be right on the M450’s screen size. You can click the image below and see there are a vast array of data fields for almost every need. Ascent, descent, temperature, cadence, power, Intensity Factor, heart rate, speed and many, many variations on each of those such as for the total ride and for the lap. At some point in the last year or so the TRAINING PEAKS metrics seem to have snuck on there. Oh well! It’s all good.

m460-training-views

The new STRAVA segment functionality expands on the existing link-to-STRAVA functionality where your completed workouts were simply sent to STRAVA. Now FLOW synchronises your starred segments in your PREMIUM STRAVA account which you connect to FLOW online.

Here are some of my started segments from STRAVA on FLOW

 

 

Polar M460 Cycling Detailed Review

And then, voila, as if by magic or tech they appear on  your device. Well, definitely not magic. Unless that magic is also shared by MIO, Lezyne and others 😉 This is a good but still a CATCH-UP feature compared to the competition.

I’m not especially into SEGMENT-HUNTING myself but I know VERY many of yo are, so this is a welcome feature that will likely prove popular.

When in use the STRAVA functionality gives you an indication of how far ahead of, or behind, the QOM/KOM you are on a separate screen.

 

 

IN-RIDE SUMMARY

Providing you have your bikes, profiles, pages and metrics set up properly there is not a lot you need to know about using it on your ride. You can lock training zones, recalibrate the altimeter, change between pages or profiles, press a lap/start/stop button. Simple! It’s a great user experience.

It has a nice button-interface with none of the nonsense you get with a touchscreen failing to either work with your gloves or when it gets wet.

Accuracy

I’ve not yet had a look at the M460 for ELEVATION accuracy but I have tested it around my infamous GPS-test-track-of-doom. It’s a demanding 10 mile route I put running watches though but it also sort-of works for cycling computers. information on that formal test and the files and analysis are available (here and here) if you want to look. I re-test in fairly controlled conditions over time and take the best result.

To cut a long story short the M460 scored a good 75% when mounted on handlebars, which is a bit better than most. It comes in at slightly higher than the M450 even though the chip and it’s implementation may well be identical.

That formal result ties in nicely with my general experience of the M460’s GPS accuracy…pretty good!

 

More About the M460 Features

The screen has a fairly basic resolution with good glass cover and nice contrast. It’s easy to read and does the job. The screen does NOT look great but it DOES do the job of presenting data well.

Sport Profiles and Bike Status

Polar M450 Profile-Bike-Status-Pre-RideYou chose the sport profile you want to follow. The pre-ride status is shown for the bike number (in this case bike #1) the HR, battery and GPS.

Intervals, Laps and Autolaps

You can follow a pre-defined interval session and any session can benefit from manual laps or automatic laps

Zone Lock

The RED button starts your session and also inserts a lap when pressed. If pressed and held then Polar’s Zone Lock functionality comes into play. I’ve not really seen this on other products.

In Polar Flow you can choose which of HR, speed or POWER you want to lock a zone on. So if you’ve chosen power then when you press and hold the RED button yoru current power zones becomes the active ZONE LOCKed power zone. You are alerted whenever you leave that Zone.

This is a nice feature and easier to use than a pre-configured alert. It’s much easier to turn off when the beeps get annoying!!

It would have been nice to be able to do a ZONE LOCK based on cadence.

Structured Workouts

Structured workouts are available as ‘PHASED TRAINING’ in Polar Flow. They seem to be based only ON HR and SPEED ZONES at present and this should be extended to include POWER ZONES. Whilst this functionality could be improved it will suffice for most people most of the time. Effort periods can be set to have an automatic or manual end and can be stored on the M450 as ‘favourites’.

Polar M450 - Phased Training Interval Workout

Polar Flow – Phased Interval Structured Workout

Session Summaries

There is information available at the end of your session. Simple, to the point and lots of it.

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Assisted GPS (A-GPS)

A-GPS is used by many sports watches. Either when you synchronise or as you exercise, the future position of satellites for the next couple of weeks is downloaded. this means that when you next start your device a GPS fix should be quick. We’re talking 5-10 seconds, or even faster, with most devices. The M460 seems at the slower end of that range but perfectly acceptable to me.

Barometer (atmospherics air pressure sensor)

The barometer provides normal data such as altitude, descent, ascent and temperature. Additionally calories can be altitude compensated and the vertical/ascent velocity can also be shown. With the addition of a speed sensor, the incline/grade can also be shown.

I didn’t test the accuracy of the barometer.

More Techie Tidbits

  • 10 screen with 4 metrics per screen are possible – that’s a lot
  • Customisable on the app and web
  • Bluetooth SMART compatible
  • HRM support includes H6, H7, H10
  • Compatible with BTLE speed, cadence and power. Although check specific power meter compatibility as different power meter vendors follow differing standard for the extended power data. These are stated as compatible: ROTOR, Quark, Power2Max, 4iiii, Stages, PowerTap and POLAR !
  • Training Peaks Power Metrics include: NP, TSS, IF and FTP
  • Battery life: 16 hours (rechargeable)
  • 70 hours of ride storage
  • IPX7 water resistance
  • Updateable firmware

Smart Coaching

Polar have a great resource wrapped around your training to monitor the effectiveness of what you are doing. How hard you are training and how well you are recovering. This is Smart Coaching. Perhaps when we finish a session we look for miles or minutes or as “Did we hit the pace in those intervals?” These are all valid questions but I would encourage everyone to use features like those provided by Polar’s Smart Coaching.

Your training load is assessed not on miles or minutes but rather on time spent at certain intensities. Your body responds to those loads and recovery times are also given as you need time to adapt to the training you have done. The kind of training you’ve done (eg TEMPO) is also analysed along with how your training is split over all different intensities of training. And should you not know what TEMPO means it explains it thus “You improved your aerobic fitness, speed, and ability to sustain high intensity effort for longer.”

Also included are the ORTHOSTATIC and FITNESS tests. Great to do regularly to track your progress.

for those of you concerned about calories, Polar claim to have the most accurate calorie estimator on the market.

SMART Notifications

With Firmware v1.0.54, SMART notifications were not enabled (5 Jun 2017). So I couldn’t test them.

Probably with the June/July update of the Polar flow app they will be enabled.

Key Technical Details

Not very exciting and many already mentioned but here you go for completeness: UBlox UBX-G7020ct GPS chip; >12 hours battery; Bluetooth SMART V4 sensor compatibility; ANT+ sensors only indirectly through 3rd party products; 1second data recording will give a whopping 35 hours of exercise recording time; barometric altimeter; and Waterproof to IPX7. Oh and it’s got a nice white, configurable LED which comes on automatically at the front when light conditions deteriorate.

Polar M460 Cycling Detailed Review

Alternatives

This space is fairly competitive now with many offering from MIO, Lezyne, Garmin and others. The M450 is now selling at rock-bottom prices below Eur/$/£100 if you want to grab a bargain before widespread stocks of the M460 arrive (June 2017). 

WAHOO are likely to release a lower priced device BOLTT mini in mid 2017.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

You can already buy from Amazon (links below) .the RRP for the M460 is GBP155 and GBP200 with the H10 HRM. Actual ‘live’ prices are shown below.

Summary

It’s great value for money for what it is. It’s great at presenting fairly comprehensively all the cycling numbers you need when on the road, the trail or on your turbo. It’s not got any real navigational functionality. It only takes Bluetooth SMART sensors unless you use 3rd party sensor/signal converting tools.

It’s a functional sporting tool rather than a toy. many of such TOYS on the market are full of bugs. Most of us don’t have much time for that. The Polar M460 is a cycling tool that will be accurate, easy-to-use and hassle free from the start.

 

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