The Polar M460 is a nifty little device with plenty of advanced features, a very good companion app in Polar Flow, and great Strava integration. With the continued sticking point of no ANT+ connectivity, though, and a small but cluttered screen, not everyone will get on with it.
Two years after the M450, Polar has swapped out the smallest GPS unit in its line-up with the refined M460. It's smaller and lighter, all-black instead of black and white, and there's now the integration of Strava Live Segments into the device.
Our test unit came with a heart rate strap that you connect up via Bluetooth Smart, a USB charging cable and an adjustable mount that fits to the stem or handlebar (no out-front mount here, à la Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, Garmin Edge 520 or the new Giant Neos, you'll have to pay another £20 for Polar's).
During initial device setup you can alter most of the settings on the unit such as miles or km, your own physical profile, and time and date, but to set up the data screens you need to connect to Polar Flow. Polar Flow can be downloaded to your phone or desktop, and it's nice and easy to use, with a personal diary, progress chart and community (Polar Groups) to keep you motivated, as well as the basic syncing, uploading and device setting functions. You can also get smart notifications from your phone if you simply can't miss a text or an email.
You can only have up to four data fields at once on screen, and six screens in total for each sport profile, which gives you a total of 24 metrics. For me this isn't quite enough if I'm using a GPS with a power meter (I'd want at least current speed and power, plus averages, and my total distance and time on screen), but for basics it's okay.
When I set off for my first ride, the GPS locked on reasonably quickly, but I found if you need any firmware updates it really interferes so you need to check this regularly to keep it performing at full capacity. It uses GPS only and not the GLONASS system simultaneously like Garmins do, which does mean you'll experience more small dropouts compared with GPS/GLONASS combo computers, but the overall accuracy was good.
You can set up the device to bleep when you start and stop, which is pretty loud so you can also silence it, and to start a recording it's the big red button on the front. Press it again and it records a lap, which I did in error at traffic lights numerous times before getting used to it. I would prefer if this button was also used for pausing, but instead you press the stop button on the bottom left once to pause and hold it down for three seconds to stop a recording – not the most intuitive in my opinion, but it works.
Interestingly, there's a small front light that comes on automatically (you can set it to turn on at dusk or when it's dark), a handy and unique feature to make you a little safer if you're late getting home from your ride.
I did find the screen a bit cluttered and difficult to make sense of at times, with metrics such as the barometer and altimeter. Unless you can remember exactly where you've configured each one, when you switch screens it takes a second to realise what you're actually looking at; there is a visual key, but obviously it's small on the 35 x 35mm screen, and you don't want to be peering down for too long on the go.
If you haven't used Strava Live Segments before, I'd recommend you try it out. You'll need a premium account to take advantage, and you can get a free trial with the purchase of a Polar M460. It's great fun, and on a Polar device it's probably the best experience you can have with it. The M460 tells you when a segment is approaching, counts down, and then in real time tells you your results and whether you got a PB, KOM or QOM. You can see your results in the Polar Flow app rather than having to head over to Strava, which is unique to Polar as far as I know.
Other training features included are a five-minute fitness test and orthostatic test, completed in conjunction with Polar's HRM strap. They're useful, but to get the most out of them they require regular analysis on Polar Flow and a semi-regimented training routine, so won't apply to those who use their data more sporadically.
Connecting a power meter is simple as long as it's Bluetooth Smart-compatible, which brings us to a hurdle: the M460 isn't compatible with ANT+, something that was a sticking point with the previous M450, so it's a surprise it still hasn't been sorted. That means you can't use SRM or Garmin Vector 1 or 2 pedals with it, for example, although most power meters nowadays are Bluetooth and ANT+.
In Polar Flow you can edit all the usual power settings (3/5/10-second average, percentage of FTP and so on) and add them to your sport profiles.
Claimed battery life is 16 hours using all the functionality, and based on my experience I'd say that's pretty much spot on using both heart rate and GPS. It's better than the majority of the competition (Garmin Edge 520 is a claimed 15 hours, as is Wahoo's Elemnt Bolt) but less than the huge 24 hours of Lezyne's Super GPS.
In terms of value for money, I'm not convinced the M460 at £199.50 is the most attractive proposition when you can get the Garmin Edge 520 or Wahoo Elemnt Bolt for around the same price, both of which come with turn-by-turn navigation, which the M460 doesn't. If you shop around you can get the M460 for around £150, which makes it more attractive.
In summary, the M460 does everything you want it to, just not – for me – the way I'd want it to: I didn't find the buttons the most intuitive and I'd appreciate more viewable data, which wouldn't fit on the small screen on this computer. The battery life is good, though, Polar Flow is a decent companion app, and you can analyse all the usual metrics applicable to the majority of riders. I just didn't fully get on with the head unit configuration and there are some things that needed ironing out on the previous M450 that haven't been, such as ANT+ connectivity.
A compact and functional GPS with plenty of advanced features, but not a show-stopper at this price point
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Polar M460 GPS Bike Computer with heart rate monitor
Size tested: Display size 34.65 x 34.65 mm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Polar says: "The Polar M460 is a compact but advanced computer, with power meter compatibility, built-in Strava Live Segments and Polar Smart Coaching. You can also take advantage of workout tracking, device set-up and analysis via Polar's own Flow app."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Polar lists these features:
Polar 'smart coaching'
Compatible with most Bluetooth Smart power meters (not ANT+).
Strava Live segments included on device, including alerts when you're approaching one and segment results
GPS and barometer
Links with Polar H10 HRM for heart rate monitoring
It looks good, and has button functions with no touchscreen. The charge port is well protected.
The extra features are good, such as the fitness tests. It does the basics okay, but it's not the most intuitive to use.
Diminutive but very hard-wearing little device.
It's weeny, there's no denying that.
In my opinion there are better options out there for £200 at the moment. If you don't want the HRM then you can get it for much less online, and if you can pick it up for less than £150 it's unrivalled at that price point.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It does everything you want it to, but for me not in the way I'd want it, if that makes sense... I don't find the buttons intuitive (who wants to hold down for three seconds for stop?). The battery life is good, Polar Flow is a decent companion app and you can analyse all the usual metrics applicable to the majority of riders, but I just didn't get on with the head unit configuration.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The compact size, stealthy appearance and simplicity.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
For me the operation isn't as intuitive as Garmin or Wahoo, and with only four metrics viewable at once there's a lack of viewable data on the screen – and what's there looks cluttered. I also think it's overpriced, and there's no ANT+ connectivity.
Did you enjoy using the product? Sometimes, but a little frustrating at times.
Would you consider buying the product? With the Garmin 520 and Wahoo Elemnt Bolt out there for a similar price, not at the moment.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe, if they wanted something very compact and loved Strava.
Use this box to explain your score
It's functional with a very good companion app and most of the metrics you could want, and good battery life; for me, though, the buttons aren't the most intuitive, the screen's a bit cluttered and it's disappointing there's no ANT+ connectivity.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road bike (currently Specialized Tarmac) My best bike is: Ridley Chronus TT bike
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, triathlon races
After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He was Staff Writer at 220 Triathlon magazine for two years before joining road.cc in 2017, and reports on all things tech as well as editing the road.cc live blog. He is also the news editor of our electric-powered sister site eBikeTips. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.