Challenge Accepted: Magellan Cyclo 505 GPS Computer
- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 9 April 2014
Though Magellan is a household name in GPS navigation, Garmin have totally dominated the GPS cycle computer market; they’re the default choice for those on two wheels. This makes it hard for any competitor, and the release of Magellan’s Cyclo 500 series was delayed in Australia as the product’s features were fine-tuned to give them the edge over the Garmin Edge.
Let’s lay it all out on the table at the start: the $399 Magellan Cyclo 505 is in direct competition with the $499 Garmin Edge 810. That’s enough of a price difference to make anyone pay attention, but it’s not the whole story. For $200 extra, you can upgrade your Garmin to include maps in the “navigation bundle”. For $0 extra dollars you’ll get your Magellan with local cycling maps courtesy of the Bicycling Australia “Where to Ride” series. That’s right, cycle specific maps at no extra charge. I almost feel that I can finish the review with that.
The “out front” mount position is out of the way while providing good screen readbility
The Cyclo mount is similar though not identical to the Garmin mount
In the box, the Cyclo 505, power cable, USB cable, out front mount and alternative stem/bar mount
Comparing the two units side by side reveal that there is a lot in favor of the Cyclo 505. Both units are attractive with rounded edges, and they mount nicely in front of the handlebars. The Magellan unit is slightly thinner but taller and wider with a larger touch screen. The penalty is an extra 30 grams; it weighs in at 129 grams. The Cyclo 505 takes another penalty in battery life with 12 hours run-time compared with 17 hours for the Garmin Edge 810, but it makes up for this with modern features such as Low Energy Bluetooth and simplified data sharing.
|Magellan Cyclo 505||Garmin Edge 810|
|Size||6.1 x 10.3 x 1.9 cm||5.1 x 9.3 x 2.5|
|Display size||4 x 6.6 cm||3.6 x 5.5 cm|
|Display Resolution||240 x 400 pixels||160 x 240 pixels|
|Weight||129 grams||98 grams|
|Battery life||12 hours||17 hours|
|Low Energy Bluetooth (BLE)||yes||no|
A noticeable difference between the units is that the Magellan device eliminates the microSD card slot, and rather comes with 4GB onboard memory. This makes sense as the unit allows automatic data synchronisation with your online account. It means the process of uploading the data is easy, including automated uploading to Strava.
Just a USB port, though you can rely on Wifi alone for data transfer
With the Cyclo you can manage ride data either on the device itself or online in the MagellanCyclo dashboard. Using a mac, it took me a little time to understand the setup process and connect the WiFi sharing and required the installation of a plugin that was only Safari compatible on the Apple mac, but once that was complete, it was straight forward to use. The online dashboard is quite simple, you can view your rides (maps with time, altitude, and speed), averages, and also search for and load tracks into your unit.
Magellan Cyclo Portal Dashboard
Viewing a ride with map data with time, speed and elevation
Magellan have really tried to differentiate themselves from Garmin and set a benchmark in the mapping capabilities for cyclists. The Cyclo 505 includes a number of options around this: the ‘standard’ navigation option will guide you to a destination or “point of interest; the workout option lets you set one parameter such as distance, time, calories, HR Zone, or Power Zone, and a cycle route is then calculated to suit; the Surprise Me function is touted as a highlight that will create a few routes to chose from and perhaps take you somewhere completely new.
The full colour touchscreen navigation is fairly intuitive
The display can be customised as you wish to display your preferred cycling data.
The options in “Workout” make it easy to create a training route to suit your requirements
My training routes are fairly conservative, some of Sydney’s best road riding is virtually on my doorstep which meant that it was a leap of faith to then let this little device tell me where to go. There is nothing more off-putting than a beep noise on the lead-up to and through each and every intersection or each and every turn to tell me to look at the screen. It is just as annoying when the screen dims and you have to then concentrate on the device, rather than the road, to press the button to ‘wake it up’. Both of these distractions are thankfully easily resolved inside the settings, and a passive device was more to my liking.
I used the device just for road cycling, although the profile can be set for mountain biking, city riding, and even for driving a car, which affects the routes. Even with “Road Cycling” selected and options allowing “major roads” and “cycle routes”, I found the route selection unusual at times. For example the device tried to guide me through back streets even when there was a good bike lane on the main road. After a few rides where I followed the recommended route I started to ignore the suggested route while cycling in familiar territory as it seemed to lack the human touch. This is where the “Where to Ride” or OSM mapping then have advantages as they are tried and tested cycling routes rather than a computerised calculation.
My list of “niggles” with the Cyclo is small. There were a few occasions where it took some time to find satellites after I turned the unit on and just wanted to ride. Plus if you want to cycle without selecting a predefined route and click the record button to start recording, it is curious that a double-confirmation is necessary; “You clicked start record, so should I start recording? Yes or No?” Of course!
As a navigation device, the Cyclo 505 will confidently guide you
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact type of rider that the Cyclo 505 suits. Even after speaking in depth with Magellan and other cyclists, I feel that the answer is that it suits different riders in different capacities. It has the power to serve a performance cyclist who needs data display from a power meter and sensors, plus logging, though to the recreational cyclist exploring new areas both on and off road – it covers a broad spectrum.
On price alone, the Cyclo 505 is seriously competitive against the Garmin Edge 810 and for the majority of cyclists it has all of the required functionality. The Garmin still retains its ‘performance equipment’ appeal and will be hard to topple after dominating so long. The Magellan builds upon a good reputation with a solid and competitively priced unit, a fully functional GPS cycle computing that is accessible to an even broader cycling audience.
Further details of the Cyclo 500 series and dealers are on: magellangps.com.au
Postscript: The key differences between the Cyclo 500 (RRP $379) and Cyclo 505 ($399) are that the 500 unit doesn’t have ANT+ compatibility, the ‘Shake and Share’ function to share routes between units, and the handlebar mount. The Cyclo 505 is also getting a firmware update will will add more features into the device.
The free firmware update is due out at the end of April and Magellan have listed the new features:
• iPhone and Android (Bluetooth 4.0) compatibility to see incoming phone calls and also text messages.
• Music control through the Cyclo 500 series for the smart phone
• Shimano Di2 compatible – view current gear, battery status and post ride analysis
• Indoor Trainer Control for Elite Digital Qubo, Tacx Bushido and Genius to control resistence
• Compatibility with more power meters: Quarq, SRM, Cyclop’s and Stages
• Via Android smartphone, spoken (voice) navigation
• Emergency “Where am I” sends a text message over Androis with exact Latitude and Longitude location