For 2017 the Polar M460 receives a small spec bump from the original Polar M450. But Polar clearly shows that tight dimensions and even tighter pricing doesn’t mean you have to skimp on features. Plus if you ice the cake with Strava Live Segments, you might have a winning device!
Polar M460 GPS Review – With Strava Live Segments
The Polar M460 as a product is the definition of polishing an existing device to for the current model year, but as the new features are mainly internal there is little visual flare with the M460. However, this is a cycling GPS positioned as an every man bike computer, a device to consider when you first move to a GPS, but with enough features to keep most keen cyclist happy too.
You are not going to find high-end features which are considered “luxury” in the cycling world, such as an aero package, navigation, touch screen, or a colour display. Instead, you get the core of what is NEEDED in a cycle GPS, good battery, easy of use, compact packing and compelling features, oh and now Strava Live Segment integration.
Let’s be blunt. Strava integration is what the Polar M460 is all about. The THREE major differences between last years M450 are:
- Strava integration
- Smart notification capable
- Advanced Power metrics of TrainingPeaks
That. Is. It!
Polar M460 Design
The Polar M460 is presented in a very clear box, so you know exactly what you are getting, assuming you are shopping in a brick and mortar store. Now let’s look at what else is contained within
Polar have included everything you need to get started. A new Polar H10 HRM, soft strap, micro USB cable, Polar mount and rubber bands to attach the mount to your steed. Oh and not forgetting the Polar M460 unit!
On the back of the unit is the Polar mount system. Which is not compatible with Garmin mounts, but I don’t really think that is any surprise, as Garmin and Polar are are compatibile in a similar way the water and electricity!
The included mount is a stem/bar mount version, which personally I’m not a fan of, making the lack of Garmin compatibility all the more of a shame.
Some companies such as BarFly and K-Edge acknowledge that there is more than just Garmin making cycling GPS computers, and as such manufacturer different head unit attachments, but it is a shame that you have to go to a third party to get the better bike fixing than the included one.
That said, Polar will sell you an out front mount for £20, but I’d still prefer to have had one included in the box, and paid £10 more for the complete package
We’ve a nicely sized screen, with excellent contrast, especially in bright sunlight. There is a lot to be said for the beautiful colour screens on the latest devices such as the Garmin Edge 820, however as the Wahoo Elemnt proved when it launched with a black and white screen, when it comes to sports, is not about how many millions of colours your unit can display, but how easy it is to read.
Compare the washed out Sunnto Spartan to the Polar V800 – without a doubt the V800 is in dire need of an update (new straps dont count Polar!) but for triathlon, racing, and sport purposes the screen is excellent. By comparison, colour screens dont have that same level of constrast yet in direct sun light
Going below the screen, on the bottom RIGHT of the face is the white optical sensor which is used to trigger both the screen light, and the front mounted LED
The one hardware change that Polar has made to the M460 is to address the bottons on the device. On the Polar M450 the buttons were it’s biggest weakness, and as such whilst the appearance and shape has not changed, Polar has altered the travel to make the buttons firmer and give a better tactile response.
With that in mind you’ve five buttons on the M460:
The Red central button to start the unit, and start your activity – which looks like it should be back lit!
On the bottom of the unit are two buttons, on the LEFT we’ve the stop button, and on the right the DOWN button
On the bottom RIGHT and lower side RIGHT on the up and down menu buttons
Finally on the LEFT side of the unit is the light toggle button
A long press of this button locks the buttons, and when you’ve selected an activity you want to do, a long press here takes you to the quick menu screen for that particular activity.
Around the inside of the mount, you can also see the speaker grills. Surprisingly, in spite of their position, there doesn’t appear to be any impact of the notifications coming through.
Charging is dealt with via micro USB covered by a small rubber flap,
There is the industry standard IPX7 water rating covering the unit and this extends to the micro USB port, so the Polar M460 should be able to shrug off the average UK rain without issue… although the unit does always stress that you should check the port is dry before trying to charge it
Polar M460 Specifications
- Device weight – 50grams
- Screen: 3.5cmx3.5cm, 128×128 – Black and White
- Memory: 70hrs of data
- Battery: 385 mAH – 16hrs (increase of ~ 3hrs)
- Water resistance: IPX7 (splash)
- Waterproof Micro-USB charging port
- Sensor compatibility: Bluetooth; HRM, Speed, Cadence, and Power – although not all manufacturers “extended” power data can be displayed. Air pressure Barometer built in
- Connectivity: Bluetooth Smart
- Other bits:
- Smart notifications are due via firmware update
- Polar Smart Coaching
NOTE that the Polar M460 is only Bluetooth compatible. When the M450 launched that was a surprise, and is pretty much stupid this year for a “refreshed” device
Polar M460 Manual
The Polar M460 manual is available as a PDF and can be found HERE
Using the Polar M460
The included Polar Bluetooth strap can record heart-rate variability which is required for certain parameters within the device. This is quite important, as not all Bluetooth HR straps give pulse rate in the way that the Polar M460 can read, in order for that data to be used to calculate Orthostatic and Fitness Tests.
However regular HR straps should also be found for Training Benefit, Training Load and Recovery Time.
Polar always produce very consumer-focused devices, and I personally really do like the Polar Coach function, giving you a training summary at the end of an activity.
This provides you with easy to digest information about exactly how that activity/training has benefited you, without swamping you in data analysis. However if you do want to hit the red button for more details, you can get that additional analysis on the device
Some days I find that I don’t have time to log onto a computer to look at an online analysis of an activity, so getting the below level of detail, directly on the Polar M460 screen after a ride is brilliant if you are in a hurry
As mentioned the main changes have been to the software, one area of note is the changes to how the unit views power meters. Previously with the M450 you could connect to a power meter, but only the Polar Pedals would be able to give left/right data, this has been broadened to give access to more Bluetooth power meters. Specifically ROTOR, Quark, Power2Max, 4iiii, Stages, PowerTap.
The power meter handling inside the unit has also been tweaked, so that the Polar M460 is able to provide data on Training Peaks Normalized Power (NP), Intensity Factor (IF), and Training Stress Score (TSS) at the end of your ride to aid training
The Polar M460 is not just a cycling device, which does increase the value of the unit. You can add any of the sports profiles from Polar Flow onto the Polar M460, giving a much broader range of uses
From getting the unit out of the box you can use the “other outdoor” profile to track your activity on the GPS, and with the HRM, or via Polar Flow load up the specific activities to the unit, so that you can keep and effective eye on your activities in Polar Flow
If you want to add additional sports profiles added, that is easily done on the Polar Flow website, and there are many, MANY options for you to choose from
In turn, this allowed me to load up the indoor cycling profile to use the Polar as a HUD for on Zwift, giving me an extra backup, and access to all of the Polar Coaching analysis after a ride.
Rounding off using the hardware – the Polar M460 has a great design, in many respects. I still love the little LED torch on the front. It’s not a great torch, but it’s just the fact they thought to include it, I really like!
The LED can be trigger either manually, or automatically via front mounted light sensors.
The Polar M460 is more than *just* a cycling GPS,
I have actually taken the unit out for a run, admittedly it was when the Fenix 5 was flat, but never the less you can do it. Plus I have used it while on the rowing machine. Now that might seem a bit daft to some, but if you really are on a budget and don’t like taking your phone with you on a run, the Polar M460 might be a device to think about if your number one activity is going to be cycling, and occasionally doing a few other sports.
Polar M460 Strava Integration
Be under no doubt, the Polar M460 is a paint job, and a software tweak. BUT, and it is a big but, one of the things I have stressed during this review, like the Polar M450, is that a large amount of the attraction for the Polar M460 relates to it’s value for money. The Polar M460 is a very well featured entry device made better by Strava integration.
The inclusion of Strava, and by extension Strava Premium is actually a clever move from Polar. With 2 months free subscription included, it allows the user to get access to a cycling safety feature – Strava Beacon – upon opening the box. But here is the clever bit, all the benefits of Strava Premium, (which is basically Segments and Beacon) come without significant internal development costs for Polar
In one simple move, Polar has replaced the need for a dedicated crash device such as the ICEdot crash sensor, which costs nearly as much on it’s own. Whilst at the same time nullifying otherwise headline-grabbing safety features from devices such as the Garmin Edge 820. Again improving the value of the Polar M460…. well until those first two free months run out!
But safety is one thing, getting the KOM is something entirely different.
You can see, which segments will go over to your device from the star in the top right-hand corner of the Polar Flow page
Whilst clicking on a segment here, will give you the details, and your PB times
Strava is brilliant but can be a mildly irritating web site. As long as you know the segments you are interested, everything that you need to do with regard to the Polar M460 and Strava can be done through the Polar Flow site, so saving you changing between pages.
TakinSegmentsts out into the world, it works exactly as it should, you see your normal data on the screen, until your approach a segment, upon which the Polar M460 flags up an alert, showing the distance before the segment
Then when you turn on the segment, it gives you to GO! signal, telling you your previous PB, and your position in front or behind of that time
One caveat I would make, is if you are planning to make changes to your segments, or the activites on the Polar M460, do it will in advance of the ride. If there is an additional update things can take quite some time… much longer than the advertised two minutes I found
Polar M460 Conclusion
For the price, the Polar M460 is one of the best cycling GPS PACKAGES out there. That does not mean it is the best GPS overall though – it’s 2017, and I’m still waiting 60sec for a GPS lock with this unit at times.
Ultimately some of the competitor hardware is better the Garmin 25 for example – but that said, with the inclusion of other activities, and the new Strava functionality the Polar M460 is a better device than the micro Garmin in terms of functionality, usability and value for money. In addition, Polar’s approach to training very much fits in with the everyman approach of the M460.
If you want a single training device with a focus to cycling rather than running, the hardware might not be as pretty as some of the current offerings on the market, but the price is great, and ends up delivering some serious utility for your money.
In spite of the M460 being essentially a software update that should really have been rolled out to everyone, the unit is still a great but of kit, and assuming that the lack of ANT+ is not going to cause an issue for the user, I’ve no hesitation in getting out the TG Recommend sticker on pricing a lone, and still awarding 4/5 – dropping a star for a lazy update, and lack of ANT+