AT A GLANCE: QUICK RATINGS
Heart Rate Functions
Fitness / Sport Features
Ease of Use
Where To Get It
A Deep Dive Into Polar V650
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.
Who Is 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.
Polar’s own promotional video
- FREE OpenStreet mapping - choose any 450km square map
- Follow your own or third party GPX routes
- Supports Bluetooth heart rate, cadence, speed and power meters
- Excellent PERFORMANCE monitoring functionality
- Fully customisable trianing views for Road, MTB, Indoor and Other cycling profiles
- Training Benefit feedback
- Compass and Distance to get you Back Home
- Very clear bright display (full colour)
- Emergency front light
- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those wanting route follow and INTERNATIONAL maps
- The Polar V650 deserves higher respect
- Considering the mapping & performance monitoring functionality it's hard to criticise - excellent value for money
Main Features and Functions
- 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
- 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?)
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.
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 above 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.
Sport Profiles x 4 – up to 8 items per View
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.
Summary of a Training Session
The images above 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 HOME mode
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.
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.
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
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