The game changer: Magellan Cyclo 505 bicycle computer
The new Magellan Cyclo 505 has raised the bar when it comes to bicycle computers. In a market heavily dominated by Garmin, Magellan needed to come out with a game changer in order to attract market attention away from the forerunners, and the Cyclo 505 does just that, incorporating Wi-Fi connectivity and adding useful features tailored to cyclists – such as bike path navigation, cycling route suggestions and a bike shop and service finder.
I've been fortunate to have a new Cycle 505 test unit to play with for the past two months and it has made quite an impression on me.
Already Garmin has scrambled to catch up, announcing its new Garmin 1000 earlier this month. This new product is yet to hit the market and I am still to see one, so I will keep it out of this review. However, I will say that it looks very appealing and will have many of the capabilities that Magellan has introduced in the Cyclo 505, however, with improvements to screen resolution and the introduction of connectivity to new electronic gearing systems – although you can expect to pay a significantly higher price.
So the race is on, with Magellan forcing Garmin to lift its game – this is great news for consumers. Here's what I think about the Cyclo 505.
Magellan Cyclo 505
Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion
Battery life: Up to 12 hours
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (BLE), and ANT+
Internal memory: 4GB
Screen resolution: 240x400 pixels
Sensors: Works with heart-rate monitor, cadence and power meter
Water resistant: Yes
For the purposes of this review, the Cyclo 505 is best compared with the Garmin Edge 810, which has maps and navigation. For the past year I have owned a Garmin 510, a GPS device that has heart rate and cadence capabilities but not maps and navigation.
Why I chose a Garmin Edge 510 over an Edge 810 is relevant to this review. The simple answer is that the usefulness of the Garmin topographical maps was not worth the extra $200 to me. The maps were generally hard to read on the small screen and there was no way of telling if the roads were suitable for cycling. Further, if there was a rail trail nearby, you wouldn't know about it. I found that pulling out my smartphone and using Google Maps, which highlights bike paths and cycling routes, was much more helpful, and the larger phone screen combined with much better resolution was easier to read. (As an aside, the screen resolution of both the Edge 810 and the Cyclo 505 is nothing to call home about. The upcoming Edge 1000 looks to be a lot better. But keep in mind that the better screen resolution does drain the battery faster.)
So the question is, are the Magellan Cyclo 505 maps better than Garmin Edge 810's?
The short answer is, yes. Not only is the interface a little larger and easier to read (although some might be turned off by the slightly larger size of the Magellan), but the Magellan Cyclo 505 (and the Cyclo 500 for that matter, which costs $30 less and does not have ANT+ connectivity) has incorporated bike lanes and cycling routes into the maps. Further, they have also joined forces with the Where To Ride guide books to include all of their cycling routes as well, including their mountain bike routes.
Another advantage is that you can search the maps for services based on your location, such as bike shops and mechanics, pubs, restaurants and cafes, lookouts, ATMs, emergency services and the like. This feature is very handy when travelling, however it stops short of listing accommodation.
A third feature of the maps is that you can ask the device to suggest a cycling route, of which it will take your criteria and come back with up to three options.
So the Magellan Cyclo 505 maps in my view are more useful to a cyclist than those offered by the Garmin Edge 810.
Value for money is a big consideration when buying a product. The Cyclo 505 Bundle (AUS$479), while not compromising on quality, comes in at a significantly lower recommended retail price than Garmin's Edge 810 Bundle ($699), which until now had a monopoly on the market. A high-quality device with more capabilities and at a more affordable price? Magellan, you have our attention.
The Cyclo 505 also allows for better connectivity than its Garmin counterparts, allowing users to directly connect via Wi-Fi to third-party programs, like the hugely popular Strava. Garmin has kept this capability out of the hands of their users, only allowing them them bluetooth access through the Garmin Connect portal or to resort to plugging the device into a computer with a USB cable and uploading it manually. It is understandable that Garmin wants to encourage consumers to use its own platform, but there's no point taking on the social media megalith that Strava has become. Magellan has been clever to create a product that seamlessly syncs with third-party platforms rather than compete with them.
The Cyclo 505 has another nifty little feature – instant route sharing. Basically, if you've got a great bike route saved in your Cyclo 505, you can 'bump' it up next to another Cyclo 505 and the route will copy itself into the other unit. This feature is very handy for group rides where people may not be riding at the same pace. However, this feature is only useful if others around you are also using the same device, which at present, isn't the case.
The Cyclo 505 comes with two types of handlebar mounts – a nice looking out-the-front mount for drop bar handlebars and, for flat bars, rubber brackets connected with zip ties. The out the front mount is very nice (and it's worth noting that Garmin doesn't include this in the box, but sell it separately). However, the zip-tie flat bar mounts, while they work, aren't that swish and can't be easily removed from a bike. For flat bars, I prefer Garmin's rubber-band approach to attaching the mounts. But even rubber bands aren't perfect and I think Magellan and Garmin have a little work to do on developing a better mount for flat bars.
The Cyclo 505 says it has 12 hours of charge. I tested the device on full day rides and, while I didn't keep track of the battery down to the minute, I got two full days use out of it. I did turn the device off on breaks, so the 12 hour life appears to be about accurate.
The Cyclo 505 includes all the features that made Garmin so popular in the first place, inlcuiding GPS tracking of location, speed, distance travelled, average distance and altitude. It can also be linked to any ANT+ compatible heart rate monitor and cadence sensor to record performance data as well.
Ease of use
The interface on the Cyclo 505 is easy to use with a home 'dashboard' from where you can navigate to where you need to go. Off the bat, it is a little more user-friendly than the Garmin Edge 510 and Edge 810 interfaces. However, as I had become quite accustomed to the Garmin products, the Magellan took a little getting used to. I'd liken it to switching between an iPhone and a Samsung – you get used to it eventually.
Magellan has been a dominant name in the navigation market for years but it was late to developing a product for the cycling market, leaving Garmin as the only real option for cyclists looking for GPS tracking of their routes while recording distance, speed, heart rate and cadence data. Magellan's first foray into the bicycle computer market with the Cyclo 100 was like a whisper. The device was very similar to a Garmin in looks and ability and, while coming in a more affordable price, it wasn't enough to raise the eyelids of cyclists who had already become comfortable with Garmin. Nevertheless, the Cyclo 100 range was an important first step into the market and provides options in the growing Magellan cyclo computer range.
The Cyclo 505 takes the market where it has never been before. It is the game changer. This product beats Garmin's Edge 810 in terms of price and features and has Garmin scrambling to catch up and trump its new competition with the Edge 1000. However, when it comes to price, Magellan can't be beat. A quality product with great connectivity and capabilities tailored to cyclists, the Magellan Cyclo 505 is a winner.