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Polar M450 review: Our favorite GPS bike computer for new riders

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MSRP: $169.95

The Good The Polar M450 has GPS and can accurately measure speed, distance, route and altitude of your rides. It's water-resistant, has long battery life and supports Bluetooth accessories. It also includes a built-in LED safety light.

The Bad Can't display smartphone notifications. No automatic syncing. Won't work with ANT+ accessories. Doesn't include GLONASS tracking.

The Bottom Line For anyone new to cycling and looking for a GPS device, the Polar M450 is hard to beat.

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One of the first purchases a new fitness cyclist will want to make is a GPS bike computer (I would also recommend a pair of padded shorts). This lets you easily track your route, and see metrics like distance, speed and altitude in real-time.

Garmin is usually the go-to option for tracking bike rides, but I actually found the Polar M450 to be the more compelling choice. Priced at $170 (£120, AU$319), the bike computer has many features found in devices double the price.

For anyone new to cycling and looking for a GPS device, the Polar M450 is hard to beat.

It can do the basics

If you've never used one before, think of a GPS bike computer as a compact and easy-to-read fitness tracker for your bike. GPS tracks outdoor workouts, and it's specifically tuned to your rides.

The M450 is primarily aimed at newcomers who are interested in a GPS device for measuring basic metrics, such as elapsed time, route, distance and speed. The computer can also be paired with external sensors to measure even more. This includes Bluetooth heart-rate straps, power meters and speed/cadence sensors.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The 128x128-pixel-resolution display is easy to see and has a strong backlight. There are five data screens that can be customized to show up to four metrics per screen. The M450 also includes a built-in LED safety light that will turn on automatically when it gets dark. The light can be programmed to blink at varying speeds or remain static. It isn't bright enough to be used as a flashlight, but it will alert cars and others on the road of your presence.

Other features include a barometric altimeter for measuring altitude, auto-pause for when you stop, and an IPX7 water-resistant rating for riding in the rain. The 385mAh battery will last up to 16 hours with an active GPS signal, which is very good. You can also record up to 35 hours worth of data before having to sync with your phone.


That's not a headphone jack. It's the M450's built-in LED safety light.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Polar Flow app (Android, iOS) provides an easy way to view all of your workout information, but it doesn't include automatic syncing. You are required to open the app on your phone and then press and hold the back button on the bike computer. It's a little sloppy.

There's also the option to sync data from Flow to Strava, a popular training log and social network used by runners and bikers.

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