When the temperature dips below freezing, it takes a lot for me to want to take my road bike out for a ride. Motivation can come in the form of variety, like a new route I’ve never ridden or the need to improve my fitness, because I ate everything over the holidays. The Magellan Cyclo 505hc provides me with both!
Admittedly, I came into this review with a predilection to like Magellan and their products. I’ve used their GPS units since way before they were standard installations in most new cars. In fact, I still lovingly refer to my car’s navigation device as “Maggie.”
But when it comes to bicycle navigation, I usually depend on dead reckoning since it’s difficult and dangerous to try to read a map on my phone while cycling. Which once led to a longer ride than anticipated when I finally discovered that Riverside Drive in East Nashville actually runs perpendicular to the river as opposed to alongside it. Go figure!
The map features of the Magellan Cyclo 505hc are as clear as you would expect from one of the industry leaders in navigation products. A sturdy plastic mount keeps the 3” screen easily visible right in front of our nose on the handlebars. Part of the preloaded software includes 35,000 predetermined cycle lanes and 5000 tracks for off-road cycling plus cycling points of interest (POI) including restaurants and bicycle shops along the route.
Even more useful and motivating than just showing you how you are getting from point A to point B is the option to “Surprise Me” which allows users to enter a distance and duration that they want to ride. The Magellan Cyclo 505hc churns that data and offers three routes that will cover that time and distance and return you home, all using streets that have been designated as safe for cycling. (At least as safe as motorists will allow them to be. Please give cyclists at least three feet when passing, people!) The difficulty level of each route is clearly displayed to help you make the decision how much you want to exert on a particular day.
A social network allows Magellan users to share their favorite routes, which is especially useful if you’re in a strange town and want to find a good place to ride. With the easily detachable unit, you can just throw the unit in your suitcase, rent a bike while you’re on vacation and hit the road!
In addition to telling you where you’re going, the Magellan Cyclo 505hc excels at telling you how your body is behaving while you’re getting there. Installing the proper sensors to determine your speed and pedal cadence isn’t the easiest thing to do, though. I’ve probably installed at least three of these sensor packs on different bikes over the years, and a scraped knuckle or two is usually part of the cost of doing it yourself.
Plastic twist ties attach sensors to your spokes, pedal cranks and bike frame to pick up the rotation of the wheel and your pedaling cadence. It’s critical to mount them tightly so they don’t shift around while riding, but they must also be positioned close enough to share the data between sensors without interfering in your pedaling.
Truth be told, if I wasn’t evaluating the whole unit including ease of installation, I would have let my local bike shop do it for me. The money is worth it, and those folks are pros. But don’t be afraid to try it yourself if you want to be hands on with the process.
A heart monitor strap is also included with the Magellan Cyclo 505hc, and it stretches comfortably across your chest while riding. If you already have a heart monitor, the Bluetooth capabilities of the Cyclo support more than 130 ANT+ Speed/Cadence, HRM and Power sensors. Serious riders pay particular attention to their heart rates while riding. Like a car that doesn’t run as efficiently when it overheats, your body cannot produce as much power if you exceed your preferred heart beat range.
During the winter months, many of us cyclists do our training indoors using rollers or stands to keep the bicycle in place while we pedal away. Without the visual keys of the trees going by or the increase in grade as we pedal up a hill, speed, cadence and heartbeat are the primary input we have to judge the progress of a workout. This is another instance where the Magellan Cyclo 505hc excels.
When you set the unit for indoor cycling, the GPS functions are disabled so that you don’t feel depressed that you’re spinning your wheels while staying in place. Your achievements are measured by speed and distance as well as heartbeat, and if you pair the Cyclo 505hc with an ANT+ capable trainer you can even control grade by raising and lowering your wheel, change the pedaling resistance or simulate the effect of wind to make your workout even more realistic…and punishing.
I found the display of the Magellan Cyclo 505hc to be easy to read and the menus quite simple and logical to navigate. PC and Mac compatible, the unit syncs and charges over USB, and you can even control your music while riding using the Cyclo. The battery life is purported to be over 12 hours, which is much longer than I’ll ever ride. I never had any problem running out of juice. I’m talking about the Magellan, not my legs.
The one feature I didn’t get the chance to check out is a revolutionary ability to actually track and share your gear shifting information. The Cyclo 505hc is compatible with the Shimano Di2 electronic road bicycle shifting systems with Di2 Wireless Unit featuring D-Fly, but that gearset costs more than I paid for my road bike. So if you’ve got electronic gears, the $499.99 for this unit shouldn’t hurt your wallet too badly.
Regardless, I think the Magellan Cyclo 505hc is worth a look for any serious cyclist, or anyone who wants to add some variety to their regular workout. Heck, I wish I’d bought one before I took that leisurely ride down Riverside Drive that made me so late for work.
The Magellan Cyclo 505hc is available from the company’s website for $499.99 and at many online and traditional sellers of bicycle accessories.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Liked: Easy to use with a bright, visible screen. Data from the multiple sensors is displayed concisely and integrated into workout information. Social network allows users to share data and discover new rides.
What Needs Improvement: Magellan Cyclo 505hc sensor installation might best be done by professionals.