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Polar V650: Designing Intuition

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Intuitive, seamless: two words that describe the Polar V650. It is Polar’s leap into GPS cycling and a shot across the bow of the Garmin juggernaut. With power and GPS now go-to technology, Polar needed to move beyond its traditional heart-rate focus and offer a solution that works with sensors beyond its W.I.N.D. standard.

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Polar’s V650 is the easiest GPS unit we have ever set up. It locked on to satellites within seconds and, without reading the manual, we were able to link a Polar heart-rate monitor and a Stages power meter in moments. Icons at the bottom give you positive affirmation — a solid green circle — that various meters are connected. Setting up multiple bikes and your own metrics is just as easy.

“Whether it be ease of use, ergonomic design or meaningful features that help athletes meet their fitness goals, all are part of the philosophy that shows itself in polar training computers.”
— Michael Herlihy, Polar

It offers several customizable screens, all available with a quick swipe. There are training pages with heart rate, speed, et cetera…but our favorite is the screen that displays, with big, bright columns, which heart-rate zone you are riding in or where your power is. For anyone who has dug deep on intervals and had to squint cross-eyed at a screen with tiny black numbers, this is reason enough to get a V650. After you ride, the V650 gives a quick summary of how your workout went. Polar calls it Training Benefit; we call it awesome. It feels like your V650 is proud of you.

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The unit is not ANT+ compatible, nor will it talk to Polar’s own W.I.N.D. frequency. If you have old Polar sensors, you’ll need to upgrade. We love the fact that Polar has gone open-source. Most new power meters speak Bluetooth these days and a host of brands are making Bluetooth sensors.

The unit’s navigation can retrace rides you have already done, follow a route another user has uploaded to PolarFlow (Polar’s online training system), follow a route you create in third-party software or connect to Strava. The V650 is big, but Polar takes advantage of that with a big screen and 10 hours of battery life, plus a built-in safety light. Our only ask? We’d like to see Polar add call and text notification. It’s the feature that takes a GPS unit over the top for us.
$250 (or $300 w/ heart-rate strap); 120g; polar.com
This review first appeared in issue 58 of PELOTON Magazine. To buy back issues of PELOTON Magazine go to shopmovepress.com