In this post
The M450 is the latest device for cycling from the Finns. The recipe they have followed to create it is the same one they used in the past with the successful Polar M400: to create a device that is economical and provides as much performance as possible. The M450 focuses on the market segment that concentrates more sales, the mid-range. But an aggressive price allows it to stand out from the other competitors' models.
The test unit has been loaned by Polar and is a beta hardware version (although with a production software version). And it will be returned as soon as I publish this test and you can be reading it. You know that this is how this type of analysis works, and that there is no fee from the manufacturer. What I see is what I tell you, athlete to athlete.
Remind you that if you like the site and want to help and show your gratitude for the tests I perform, you can buy the device through the links I provide You can buy this Polar M450 as well as any other product you can find on the web (from socks to a pressure cooker) through Amazon. It is up to you to continue reading tests like this.
Are you ready to know everything about the Polar M450 that no one has ever told you before? Here we go.
Normally I receive the new devices in their original packaging, clean, immaculate, just as you will receive it when you finish reading the test and order yours through Amazon. This time it has not been exactly as I received it, because it is a somewhat special unit.
Yes, a standard padded envelope. But I already knew what was inside. The contents are pretty much the same as what you will receive when you buy it, although in my case some things are missing, but everything important was included. Everything fits inside this Polar zip bag. I can freeze it inside, or mount it on the bike, as you like.
Better not to freeze it and take it out of the bag. Listing from left to right: sync and charging cable (micro USB standard), two rubber bands to attach the stand to the handlebar or stem (or frame, or wherever you want), the M450 unit itself and the stand with the rubber adapter.
And what's missing? One more rubber band, since there are three included, of different length and elasticity. You only need one of them to fix the support, you have to choose among the three options for the one that best suits your particular use. That would be the content in case you buy the standard version. If you buy the pack version, a Polar H7 pulse sensor will be included along with the corresponding chest strap.
The bracket is quite similar to the one used by Garmin, but not exactly the same. The brackets of both are not interchangeable with each other. On the back you will also find the sync and charging port, hidden behind a rubber cover.
It is recommended that after finishing charging the device you make sure that the cover is correctly placed in its place, because the unit is only IPX7 certified (supports splashing or rain) so the more you protect it from the weather, the better.
Before we continue, let's see what we can do with each of the buttons you have.
Buttons and other details
The M450 has a total of five buttons. The main one is the one on top of the device, in red. It's the menu access button, which will also be used to confirm inside the device. And when you're training you can mark a lap by pressing it.
On the left side is the illumination button, if you press it once the screen will light up briefly, but there is also the possibility to keep it on (through the quick menu you will see later).
If you hold it down while you are at rest, you may lock the device to prevent accidental button pressure.
When you are doing an activity, if you hold down the button you will enter the quick menu where you can make some adjustments without pausing the training, such as leaving the screen lighting on, calibrating the altimeter or activating the front light. Because yes, it has a safety front light, which can also be activated automatically thanks to the lighting sensor. It is not an excessively powerful light, but it provides some security if one day you finish the route 30 minutes later than you thought and it starts to get dark.
There are three buttons left, two on the bottom and one on the right side. They are the main buttons with which you will move through the menu and the different data screens during the activity, as well as to start and stop the activity. To stop the training you will have to hold down the lower left button for three seconds.
And the two that are in the right corner, are the scrolling ones both in the menu and through the different data pages that you configure.
Now that you know how to use it, let's get him on the bike.
The Polar M450 comes with a rubber mounting bracket on the handlebar or stem that is attached with a single rubber band. In the box you will find three different lengths that will allow you to adapt it to the place you choose. The placement is different from a Garmin computer, because in this case only one of the rubber bands is used, and you have to make two turns with it on the handlebar or stem. You simply have to place the rubber bracket under the plastic one, to prevent it from moving from its location. Nothing that moves away from the normal.
In the first turn of the rubber you secure the two side hooks, and before completing the second one is when you fix the support completely (up or down, depending on where you started).
If you look at the pictures, you will see that in addition to having the quarter-turn system (like the Garmin system), there are some notches on the bracket, both on the bracket you have placed on the bike and on the back of the device.
The function is to be able to install the Polar M450 at a different angle than the traditional one. Why? Simply because you might want to do it that way.
It can also be used to correct the curve of a specific handlebar, which may not seem to be very useful in principle, but it never hurts to offer other installation options to correct the curves of handlebars that are not straight (mountain, urban, downhill, etc.).
And again, although the bracket looks very similar to the one Garmin uses, it is not compatible, mainly because all these designs are registered, and if a brand wanted to use the same type of bracket (and benefit from a bigger catalogue of accessories) they would have to pay the corresponding fee. Although you could probably get it to fit if you did a fine job with a sharp cutter. But don't worry, besides Polar there are other manufacturers who also have brackets with this system, like BarFly.
Training with the Polar M450
The Polar M450 is essentially a larger-scale Polar M400. The settings are virtually the same as those on the watch, including the sport types. In fact, with the Polar M450, you can set up not only cycling activities but also other activities.
It may seem like a clumsiness on Polar's part, as if they've left M400 configurations that are out of place. On the contrary, it's genius, because you'll be able to use the M450 in many other scenarios. And you'll say... running? It has to be uncomfortable... Or not, because imagine you're running a half marathon with a baby carriageYou can attach the M450 to the handlebars and have all the references at a glance. Or use it for your strength exercises at the gym. Or go out on a mountain route and carry it in your backpack. Why limit yourself to using it only on the bike?
If you have multiple Polar devices on the same account, 1TP10You can select which device you want to apply the settings to. You will be able to change the basic settings; such as selecting pace or speed, see the heart rate as a value or as a percentage or vary the tone of the sounds. And be careful which one you select, because if you choose "too loud" you may get more than one scare. Seriously, configured like this it sounds high, very highFinally, a warning sound that you can hear even if there is traffic around.
The selection of screens you will see during your training is similar to that of the Polar M400 and V800. You can set up up to 10 different data screens, with up to four data points on each screen. You can also add specific screens such as heart rate zone, power or speed. Depending on the number of data points you set up on each screen, they will be shown at a larger or smaller size. To help you see the details, I have prepared the graph below with some examples of data displays.
It is important that you set your zones correctly, because training with the Polar M450 is based on zone usage. While you are on your way out, you can block a training zone by pressing and holding the start button while in the zone you want to train. If you exit it (over or under), you will receive audible warnings. And when you finish your zone training, you can turn the feature off by pressing and holding the button again. You also have an interval timer, which you can access (and set) directly from the device menu.
The data selection for the displays is quite simple, with the basic data typical for any device. The configuration is not done in the device itself, but through the Polar Flow web site and then synchronized. This way the menu of the M450 is clean and easy to use.
Smoothed power values are missing, for example power averages in 3s, 10s or 30s, which are much more useful than return power or instantaneous power, which is too variable to be very useful.
This is my main complaint with the Polar M450, that it has hardly any options for displaying power data. It can be solved by training directly in zones, but here it also suffers from being somewhat incomplete, since you can only configure 5 different zones, when the "Andrew Coggan standard" talks about 7 power zones. And if you are used to this type of training you will miss those two missing zones.
Another feature is that the M450 must be paired with a speed sensor to display tilt data. If you do not have a sensor of this typeYou will not be able to see if the slope you are climbing is 15.5% or 16.1% (as you were thinking at the time...) The calculation is made thanks to the barometric altimeter and the distance covered, but it does not allow to take the distance data through the GPS data, this data must be given by an external sensor.
Finally, when you've finished your activity, you'll synchronise your workout by connecting the M450 to your computer via the micro-USB port or via Bluetooth with your smartphone. Once you're done, you'll have access to all the details of your workout, starting with a summary of all the settings which by default is displayed in small size but can be expanded to see the details at a glance.
Below this summary you can see the map of your route. It is interactive and you can activate or deactivate different values, such as marked lap points or colouring the route according to speed or heart rate zones.
The graphs also allow you many options: Select different values, narrow down specific training points, view power, speed or heart rate zones and, of course, zoom in on the graphs and view them in full screen.
Finally the data is also displayed separated by automatic or manual laps, so you can train by disabling the automatic laps and manually marking laps (e.g. to mark a certain climb), and then dividing it into laps via Polar Flow. For each lap you will see different data, such as average and maximum power, average and maximum speed, cadence, etc. You can scroll the table with the buttons displayed on the screen.
And, of course, export the training session for analysis in another program. Although Polar Flow is quite complete for the average user, the most demanding users will use more advanced software (TrainingPeaks, Golden Cheetah, WKO4, etc.)
These values can also be viewed on the device screen at the end of your workout or from the menu option Agenda.
Here you will see the most important details, as well as if you have broken any records the Polar M450 is storing (longest distance or maximum climb, for example).
The summary you can see also shows you the different zones you have been working on. Speed, heart rate or power (if you use a power meter).
The Polar M450 supports different types of external sensors focused on cycling, from the more traditional heart rate or cadence sensors, to the expensive potentiometers. But there is a requirement, the connection with these devices must be through Bluetooth Smart, which limits the choice. These are the sensors with which it is compatible:
- Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensor (Polar H6, Polar H7 or any Bluetooth sensor)
- Bluetooth Smart cadence sensor.
- Bluetooth Smart speed sensor.
- Bluetooth Smart speed/cadence sensor.
- Bluetooth Smart Power Meter.
Again, I repeat, compatibility is exclusively with Bluetooth sensors, which rules out any compatibility with ANT+ sensors you may have on your bike.
This is undoubtedly what we can miss the most, as unlike GPS watches where the sensor is usually limited exclusively to pulse data; in cycling the use of ANT+ is practically a de facto standard, so most manufacturers use this type of connectivity. It is true that we are seeing more and more manufacturers launching options with dual connectivity (Bluetooth and ANT+ simultaneously), but older models will not support it.
In fact, where it's most limited is in power meter compatibility. While it's becoming increasingly common to start seeing meters that dual-stream via ANT+ and Bluetooth, they generally only have ANT+ connectivity.
And I remind you that, in case you want to see data on the screen of ascending or descending slope, you will need a speed sensor (like the Wahoo Blue SCWithout that sensor you won't be able to get any tilt data.
As for the heart rate sensor, there is something else you should know. The Polar M450 includes the possibility to perform fitness (VO2max estimation) and orthostatic (recovery test) tests.
Well, you can only do this if the paired sensor is the original Polar one (H6 or H7). If you use a sensor from another manufacturer you will be asked to pair an original Polar sensor.
As well as being able to use the Bluetooth connection to pair the M450 with external sensors, the device also has a number of internal sensors. One thing that's not at all common for a cycling computer of this price is having a barometric altimeter and a thermometer. And despite having the latter, you won't be able to see the temperature it's making on the screen, although at least you will be able to see the current altitude.
You can define settings up to two to three bikes in your training computer.
As I say, this is not a common thing for devices of this price, which is an interesting move by Polar. As for the accuracy, it is totally in line with any other device with a barometric altimeter. You have to look at the trend, not at the absolute value (which depends on the initial calibration you do manually or the M450 automatically from the GPS data).
As far as GPS performance is concerned, I can tell you the same thing as for the altimeter, in these weeks of testing I have found nothing worth mentioning. Perfectly correct behaviour at all times.
I have not done mountain bike routes in lush forests and with signal reception problems, but in open areas I have not found any signal problems, that is, the same as with any other device.
The Polar M450 also has an illumination sensor, which will serve to turn on the small light that it has in the front. This front LED will serve to make us see the vehicles that circulate in the opposite direction, not to illuminate the road.
The light sensor is located on top of the M450 in the corner of the display.
The M450 is also perfect for night time use as it allows you to keep the backlighting on through the advanced activity menu, although it's a shame that Polar didn't take advantage of the same sensor to automatically activate when light conditions require it.
Polar announces a range of up to 16 hours of training with use of GPS and heart rate sensor. The test is performed as usual: charge to 100%, start an activity and wait for the battery to run out. But Polar devices have a special feature, and that is that when the battery is reaching its maximum limit it deactivates the GPS to try to store the activity completely.
So in this case I didn't wait to finish the activity. Once I saw the low battery message and that the GPS was being disabled I knew that I could stop the activity. How do I know in the file when it has stopped recording data? There are several ways to do it (the most accurate way is by checking the numerical data in the file), but in Polar Flow it is easy to guess by the correlative movement of the graph with the GPS position in the plane. So when there are no more jumps in the position (because even if the device is not moving, the signal will always have a constant variation of some meters by the change of position of the satellites) is when the GPS has been disconnected.
The data was verified, although there were no sensors connected at the time, but the battery life was in fact around the 16 hours announced by Polar.
The Polar M450 only has a Bluetooth connection, and to make it clear again, there is no possibility to connect to sensors with ANT+ technology (which are the most used). Without a doubt, this is its main negative aspect, since in the cycling world sensors using Bluetooth connectivity are quite scarce at the moment. This is a sector where ANT+ is much more established. Therefore, if you already have sensors of this type installed in your bike they will not be compatible with the Polar M450, forcing you to buy new ones.
Although models with dual connectivity (Stages, for example) are beginning to appear and Polar also has its own pedals (at a prohibitive price, of course), it is common that these types of devices have exclusive ANT + connectivity, both those that have been on the market for a few years and more recent releases.
But Bluetooth will not only connect to the different sensors, it also allows synchronization of activities with your mobile phone. Once you finish your training or race, you can send the activity file from the same finish line.
Polar has also recently added the possibility of automatic connection to StravaAfter synchronizing the activity with the Polar Flow online platform, it will be automatically sent to the Strava website.
So as soon as you finish you can check if you have broken the record of any of the sectors you have covered, and if you haven't got the KOM, at least know that you have broken your personal record.
Of course, if you don't want to synchronize with your mobile phone or you want to alternate with the connection from your computer, you can upload your workouts through the micro USB cable. Either option is equally valid and has the same effects for both transferring workout data and updating GPS settings or cache.
The Polar M450 may not be the most complete cycling computer. It doesn't pretend to be either. In fact, it's not the best at almost anything, except for one detail. And perhaps the most important: it offers far more features than any other computer in this price range. In terms of price/performance ratio, it's the clear leader in its segment. No one gives so much for so little.
Polar has repeated the same recipe it applied when it launched the M400, creating a device capable of satisfying the vast majority of users for almost half the price.
It's true that it doesn't have ANT+ sensor support, that the options it offers for power-based training are very limited, or that it doesn't have route navigation. But it's also true that for just over $100 the M450 has a barometric altimeter, thermometer, multiple profile settings (even for sports other than cycling), wireless synchronization with your mobile phone...
It's a far simpler device than, say, the Garmin Edge 520 or the Polar V650. But you don't want to compete with either of these models. It's a device designed for those who want something simple and reliable, easy to use, with good GPS accuracy and a display that can be read easily and quickly when you're cycling. Is that what you're looking for? Then you'll be completely satisfied with the M450.
Buy Polar M450
Polar sells the M450 with or without a pulse sensor. Below I provide you with links to some great deals. Buying through them will help you maintain the website and part of my work.
I hope that this review is to your liking. There are many hours needed to do each of them. If you like the work I do remember that your support is essential. If you are encouraged to buy the device, do it through the links above. By buying through them you will help the page to continue, at no cost to you. This way you save and I get back a small commission that will help the purchase of new devices to perform the following tests.
Don't forget to share the test in your social networks and with your friends, so that they can also be informed. And don't hesitate to comment and subscribe to the comments, many times you will find answers to questions that have not been dealt with in the text of the test. You can use the test comments as a forum and share not only your doubts, but also your opinions of the computer with the rest of the readers.