Gadget review: Magellan Cyclo 505 cycle computer
Magellan Cyclo 505 Cycle Computer ($479)
[This review is a work in progress. Magellan’s PR company has been kind enough to let me test the company’s Cyclo 505 cycle computer for a few weeks so now that I’ve two days off from work, I’m going to test it out some more]
Chances are you haven’t heard of Magellan cycle computers (the brand is known as Mio in Europe) but I’ve long been a fan of the company’s range of cycle computers.
In fact, I’ve used a Magellan Cyclo 100 on my road bike for the past few years and have been thoroughly impressed with its accuracy and reliability, despite its monochrome screen.
Magellan isn’t as well-known as the Garmin brand (Garmin also sponsors a professional cycling team), but they should be: Magellan offers a range of cycle computers that offer incredible value for money and from my experience are amazingly reliable and resilient.
So I was more than a little excited when I got the chance to test out one of Magellan’s newest cycle computers, the Cyclo 505, which is aimed squarely at those cyclists looking for a top-of-the-range device.
This is not a complete review, yet, though: I want to use it a few more times just so I really get to know it but I thought I’d give my impressions so far.
Sporting a colour 3-inch, 240×400 resolution screen, the 505 is a sizable unit (as the photos show) and it offers, among other things, turn-by-turn GPS navigation, New Zealand and Australia maps, ANT+ and bluetooth connectivity and the ability to upload workout stats and ride data to Mac and PC, as well as cloud-based applications such as Strava. It also lets you connect to your smart phone using Bluetooth 4.0 so it will display incoming text messages, let you answer phone calls and let you control your music playlist.
Installation was a breeze, thanks to the easy-to-fit out-front bar mount (I actually used the bar mount I had already fitted to my bike) and within minutes I was ready to test out the Cyclo 505.
I tested the 505 around a variety of local routes that I like to ride around (ranging in distance from 30km to 60km) and it did what it says on the box, providing all the information I needed as a cyclist: Speed, average speed, maximum speed, distance, calories burned, active time and gradient. It’s also compatible with Shimano’s electronic shifting system the Di2, but as I don’t have that groupset on my Colnago road bike, I couldn’t test it out.
I also had a field that displayed my active heart rate as I was also using a heart rate sensor.
The 505’s touch screen was responsive, even when I was wearing thin gloves, and easy to read, and I found that the few data fields on-screen meant that things were even easier to read. Less fields also made the screen less cluttered.
There’s a Surprise Me feature which will calculate a route based on a specific distance or a specific time limit. Surprise Me is a nice enough feature to have – although a couple of times it threw a little hissy fit when I turned when I wasn’t supposed to (probably due to the rabbit warren of streets around us)- but it’s not a necessity.
Update number 1: Surprise Me – and it did!
I was pressed for time for a ride today so I used the Cyclo 505’s Surprise Me feature, which let me enter a specific distance or time into the unit then it calculates three routes that fit the criteria. With a route selected for a easy 30km, I cycled off, following the navigation prompts on the 505.
The Cyclo 505 had determined that the start point for the ride would be about 3km away – it was denoted with a green and black checked flag icon – and throughout the ride the unit gave me advanced warning of upcoming turns, just like a GPS unit does for a car.
All was going well until the unit told me to continue down a straight road that connected with a main road. The trouble was that 1.7km of the connecting road was coarse chip – and I had thin road tyres, susceptible to punctures on the rough stone surface. I contemplated turning around and following another road but then decided to risk it and go where the Cyclo 505 was telling me. It was a slow trip – I didn’t want to go full speed across the stones – and I stayed in the smooth areas created by cars that had traveled down the road.
To be fair, this wasn’t the Cyclo 505’s fault: It wasn’t to know that the section of road was under repair – as many of the roads in Christchurch are at the moment!
Apart from a short period when the unit seemed to have trouble determining which road to take me down as I neared home, the Surprise Me feature is a nice one to have when perhaps you’re in an unfamiliar area and want to do a short ride around the local roads.
Magellan’s Cyclo 505 is a feature-packed unit but it’s annoying that I have to use Internet Explorer if I want to upload data to Magellan’s Cyclo Portal. Support for Chrome and Firefox is coming late this year.
I love the Magellan Cyclo 505 and if I have any gripe it’s the annoying beeping that sounds by default every time you touch the unit’s screen. Turning off the beeping was one of the first things I did.
I’m impressed with the Cyclo 505 so far but hope to test it out for another few rides this week. Look out for an update in a few days.