Polar’s Vantage V2 smartwatch is packed with features to improve your cycling performance. Yet this is really a multisport watch, so a fair few features might not be applicable (the swim metrics, for example).
There is, however, much to impress for the data-crunching cyclist. Let’s start with what you don’t tap into with the ‘basic’ package and that’s Recovery Pro.
It’s a self-assessment of state-to-train based on HR variability data, but requires a Polar chest strap (extra £40). The more you use it the more accurate it is, and it’s a pretty reliable indication of whether you should hit the hills or stick to a flat commute.
There’s plenty that comes as standard including a range of fitness tests.: leg recovery (a jump test) measures fatigue; the orthostatic test does similar.; but the most useful is the cycling test, which measures your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) output, from which you can calculate customised training zones on the Polar Flow app (you’ll need a Bluetooth power meter for this because the V2 doesn’t connect via ANT+).
The results also feed back your max HR – useful to set zones – and an estimation of your VO2 max. Throw in your power-to-weight ratio and this test is a comprehensive feature.
As is Fuel Wise, which tells you when and how much to drink and eat. This can be automatically done by the V2 assessing previous sessions or set manually, reminding you to consume your carb of choice via a buzzing sound.
Reminder frequency depends on ride intensity – its optical HR sensor is as good as any I had on test – and it’ll even tell you not to fuel with carbs if the session length doesn’t demand it.
The Polar Vantage V2 also possesses navigational capabilities via a link-up with Komoot. The problem is, despite the vivid Gorilla Glass lens, visual guidance is rudimentary.
Strava fans will be pleased to see this watch integrates Live Segments, plus you can control your phone’s playlist from the V2.
Touchscreen tactility with gloves isn’t bad, though generally, you can negotiate your rides using the robust buttons only.
Battery life came in at 38 hours in full GPS mode (40 hours claimed), while GPS pick-up, retention and accuracy are impressive. There’s a ‘Serene breathing’ feature and a sleep feature to gauge the quality of your shut-eye, too.
Smartwatches for cyclists
Are smartwatches truly essential for cyclists when an all-singing bike computer, such as a Garmin Edge 1030, will give you all the two-wheeled features you’ll ever need… and probably some that you don’t?
A smartwatch can do a lot though: provide 24/7 data; comprehensive cycling stats; sleep pattern, recovery status and physical fitness analysis; and some can even tell you how well you’re acclimatising to altitude and give real-time advice on when to fuel your rides.
Combined with data from any other sports you’ll have a holistic view of your training and can create training plans and analyse your routes/rides in detail.
There is a lot to choose from though, and some of these features you simply won’t need so, beyond our test of six popular options, make sure you do your own research too. We’ve also got a guide to choosing the best cycling watch, with our top-rated options.
Also on test