Bicycles and technology are becoming ever more intertwined, and Magellan is the latest brand to take on the Garmin juggernaut with a line of GPS units designed specifically for cycling. The 505 is a small, USB-rechargeable unit that offers pretty much every form of telemetry that you could want from a cycling computer, and maybe even more.
It starts with a 3-inch color touchscreen and simple menus that are easy to navigate. Unfortunately, like many touchscreen devices, it works ok with some gloves and not at all with others, and can be difficult to operate in the rain. The screen is always easy to read, with a backlight that can be adjusted to stay on all the time or automatically dim after a set time to save the battery. With it dimmed you can still read it in sunlight. There is one traditional button that functions as the on/off button and the “back” button in the menus.
Keeping the screen lit is a good way to drain the battery, so I have been using it with a dimmer set to 15 seconds. It is still legible, just a lot less bright, sort of like an iPhone. With this setup I’ve been able to get 4-5 hours out of a single USB charge, even with the navigation running.
With an included USA base map and crowd-sourced data from OpenStreetMap there is plenty of data for route finding. There are countless points of interest included, so you can always find your way to the nearest gas station, restaurant or hospital. It’s no Google though, so there’s no guarantee your favorite pub will be included.
One interesting feature is the Surprise Me! function, whereby you set a distance or time to ride and it will calculate three loop route options to pick from. It can do the same for one-way trips to a set destination. Looking for a new route home from work? This is the feature you’ll want to experiment with.
What I really enjoyed the most was the turn-by-turn navigation feature. It will plot a course from your current location to an address, point of interest or just a point on the map in only a few seconds. You can also upload a GPX track and it will prompt you with turns as you go on a clear, easy-to-read map.
This is the “killer app” feature that I love about GPS devices and the Cyclo 505 does it very well. You can set it to prompt you with a distance to the next turn, time to the next turn, a map of the next turn and even an audible notice. Sometimes the unit can get confused though, for example when you start a ride to follow a track but you aren’t actually on it yet, it can get a little backed up as it tries to route you while you’re moving. It’s not nearly as fast at re-routing as something like the Google Maps on your smartphone.
While you’re riding the Cyclo 505 can track and display a dizzying amount of data, including info from a Shimano Di2 drivetrain via Shimano’s D-Fly transmitter, cadence info from Trek’s DuoTap sensor, and data from hundreds of other devices via ANT+, including power data. The standard Magellan Cyclo 505 is compatible with all of them, but the Cyclo 505hc we tested ships with a heart rate monitor and cadence sensor.
All of this data can be displayed in a series of “home” screens that are customizable. For example, I set one screen with a map and navigation info, one with the basics like time and distance, and a third with more detailed data like total feet of climbing, sunset time, even temperature. You can choose one to eight data points per screen, so prepare yourself to invest a few hours setting up your personalized dashboard.
Naturally it also records your ride, including all that data, and can upload it to your computer or Magellan’s own Cyclo website (magellancyclo.com) that can sync with Strava. It even works with Macs. The website works well enough, but I found it easiest to just plug the unit into my computer via USB to upload gpx tracks to the unit and download rides I had completed.
The Cyclo 505 ships with a few handlebar or stem mounts affixed by cable ties for different diameters, as well as the Out-Front mount that goes on 31.8 handlebars and can be positioned in front of the stem or back over the stem. It retails for $429, and the Cyclo 505hc is $499. As such it slots in between the Garmin Edge 810 and Edge 1000, with nearly all of the same features, including the same screen size as the larger Garmin. There is also a Cyclo 315 and 315hc series that forgoes the power meter data compatibility.
We haven’t tested the Garmin products extensively so I can’t make a recommendation on one versus the other, but the Magellan Cyclo 505 is an excellent piece of technology that can really expand your riding and potentially save your bacon if you get lost.
Editor’s note: This review originally appeared in Issue #34 of Bicycle Times. To make sure you never miss a bike review, order a subscription and you’ll be ready for the everyday cycling adventure.Tweet Print