As far as premium GPS bike computers go, consumers are spoilt for choice. With a recommended retail price of R6,499, Mio places the Cyclo 505 HC firmly in this premium category. The question is; does the device live up to the expectations that this price range demands?
Dimensions:103mm long/ 61mm wide/ 18.9mm deep
Screen: 3” colour touch
Memory: 4GB internal
Connectivity: WiFi, Buetooth, ANT+, USB
Battery life: 12 hours (claimed)
What’s in the box:
Heart rate strap
Crank and wheel magnet
Setting up the device on the bike is quick and easy. Once you have decided on placing the mount on either your handlebar or stem (it works on both), it attaches via two cable ties resulting in a secure fit. The speed and cadence sensors attach on the non-drive side chain stay, also with the use of cable ties.
Due to the length and depth of the unit, there may be an issue for those using a stem that is 90mm or shorter, with an extended steerer tube above the stem (carbon steerer tubes require one or two spacers above the stem). This can be remedied with the new “out front” style mount which places the unit level with and in front of the stem.
Once switched on, the device prompts you through a basic, quick start guide. This is enough to get you rolling if you’re in a hurry. When taking more time to setup the unit, navigation through the menus is easy and intuitive. Apple users, like myself, will feel at home with the single home/return button and touch screen display.
There is the option to have multiple bike profile setups too (road, MTB, TT) which is handy when you’re switching between bikes. The only downside to switching the unit between bikes is the use of the cable ties for the mount. It takes a little bit longer, than some of the competitors who use rubber o-rings to secure their devices. This is easily sorted by having a mount on each bike.
Pairing the heart rate strap and speed and cadence sensors is once again a quick and easy affair.
For those using power meters (Powertap, SRM, Quarq, Garmin, etc), the device supports ANT+ signals so, you should have no problem doing your best to imitate Chris Froome by staring at your stem. The current software does not display left/right leg power balance, and will hopefully be available as a software upgrade soon.
Shimano Di2 users can take further advantage of the unit’s capabilities and sync this with their drivetrain to display information such as battery status and current gear selection. Gear selection can either be selected from options in a pre-set menu, or by entering your own personalised gear ratios based on your current setup.
On the trail:
With a well-lit 3” screen, it’s difficult to ignore the unit’s presence on your handlebars or stem. However, should you forget to begin recording when you start your ride, the unit will prompt you to start recording once it has detected movement- a handy feature when you’re still half asleep and rolling out on those 5am rides.
Thanks to the large colour screen and clear display, reading data and information while riding is easy. This is especially handy when you’re coming to the end of your last 4 minute interval! The secure fit offered by the cable ties ensures that the computer remains in place and that the screen is easily readable on even the roughest Roubaix roads or Tokai trails.
A feature that the jury is still out on is the unit’s ability to sync with your phone via Bluetooth. This allows you to see incoming calls, text messages and emails as well as control music volume or skip through playlists without having to reach in to your back pocket. While most of us ride to get away from work, it could be a life saver when your boss calls and you’re out smashing trails on company time.
With December offering the opportunity to do long base rides, I was keen to test the claimed 12 hour battery life. Fortunately I didn’t need to do a 12 hour ride to find out if the battery really does last that long! After a couple of 6 and 7 hour rides, I was left with very little power. The 505 HC, even less so. I would guess that it would be capable of around 8-9 hours of riding time, depending on how many functions you have running (Bluetooth, etc.).
The touch screen has often caused issues for those riding in long-finger gloves, but it seems that Mio have this sorted. While the screen is sensitive enough to pick up commands with gloves on in all conditions, I never felt as though I needed to lose weight on my fingers just to be able to hit the right spot on the screen.
With the catch phrase “explore more”, Mio have put some pressure on themselves to make sure that their “surprise me” function works well. This function on the unit offers users a chance to allow the unit to determine a route for them. To begin with, users need to decide on a loop, a point of interest, an address, a point on the map or a preselected favourite destination. When choosing a loop, it works out a route based on either the distance you want to ride or the amount of time you want to ride for and your predicted average speed. With this information, three routes are calculated and displayed on a map with information such as total climbing and a route profile. It’s an interesting concept that can help the user find established routes in new areas or new routes in established areas.
With an impressive 4GB on-board memory, it’s not too often that you will find yourself needing to download your ride data from the 505. Downloading the data can be done either via WiFi, or by making use of the USB cable supplied. This is done through their CycloAgent app which then sends the information to MioShare, their online data storage and analysis facility. From here rides can be shared on popular social networks such as Strava, because as we all know, if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen.
The only problem I have encountered over the past few months with the Mio was when it came to downloading the data via the CycloAgent app. This was however quickly resolved by Mio South Africa with help from their technical department in Belgium. Receiving quick and friendly service was reassuring especially when buying a product at this price point from a relatively unknown manufacturer.
“The best experience in bicycle navigation”, is a bold claim, especially in a market that is flooded with many well-established products from reliable brands.
As far as premium level bicycle GPS computers go, Mio have done an impressive job to offer a good performing and good value product.