by Todd Hofert
Magellan, a long time producer of consumer and professional grade GPS receivers, introduced their first generation Cyclo Series of cycling computers in Europe in 2012 and in Australia/New Zealand in 2013. Later in 2013 the Cyclo 505/505HC were introduced, along with support for ANT+ trainers and Shimano’s Di2 electronic groupset. Magellan launched the Cyclo 315/505 computers to the North American market in July of 2014.
The Cyclo 505 Series is at the top end of their offerings and are made up of two models, the 505 and the 505hc. As a data junkie and a gadget enthusiast, I was delighted to have an opportunity to run the flagship Cyclo 505hc through its paces.
Magellan Cyclo 505: Initial Impressions
A long time user of Garmin’s 500 and 510 series computers, my initial impression was that the 505hc was BIG. It only took a few minutes however to understand that I was dealing with a product that is in a different class with much more functionality than the Garmin 500’s. The 3” color transflective touchscreen is only slightly larger than Garmin’s 810 counterpart and both the universal cable tie mount and the out front mount offer mounting options that fit comfortably on your stem or bar.
Setting up the unit is straight forward and intuitive and did not require use of a manual although a quick start guide is included in the box and detailed manuals are available online. Turning the device on for the first time you are prompted to select your preferred language, set your preferred date and time format, set your desired units of measure and establish a profile. Once these four simple prompts are complete you are ready to hit the road.
I opted to use my existing speed and cadence sensors rather than have to dissemble my current set-up. The head unit paired with them immediately without issue, with only a confirmation prompt requiring a response. I did find the Magellan provided speed and cadence sensors to be a bit clunky with two sensors connected by a wire one for cadence and one for speed and a full five zip ties required to attach them. I do not have a Power Meter nor do I have Shimano Di2 so my testing did not include those features although they are supported and also appear to be easily configured.
To get a comparison of standard functions, I used my existing computer side by side with the Magellan 505hc for the first few rides. I utilized the out front mount that came with the 505 and left my computer mounted to the stem. I have since abandoned the Garmin in favor of the Magellan and the out front display.
The 505 has fully configurable screens as one would expect. You can opt to display up to 8 data points on a single screen as I have opted for on my main screen as shown in the photo. Over a few rides I have finally dialed in the data I prefer to view on my main screen and have tailored the secondary screen, the map screen and the navigation screens as well. Even with 8 data points the information is large and easy to read. Navigation between screens is done via the directional arrows or with a swipe of the screen. You can choose the optional setting to auto lock the screen after x minutes to avoid accidentally changing screens or worse stopping or pausing your ride inadvertently.
Magellan Cyclo 505: Navigation
Navigation is the heart and soul of what Magellan does. It is no surprise that the full set of navigation features of the 505hc are spot on and offer everything one would expect in a navigation device.
The 505 Series comes preloaded with detailed road base map and OpenStreetMap crowd sourced trail maps. The maps include bike lanes as well as points of interest such as bike shops and restaurants. You can of course add your own POI’s as well.
I added a route by downloading a .gpx file from Map My Ride then copied the file onto the device. By selecting the Navigate button on the main menu and selecting the route from the Tracks menu I was able to load the desired route. I pressed GO to begin the navigation. The unit then provided turn by turn directions with visual and audible prompts as you approach your next turn. If you save a previously ridden route as a track and use it for navigation the unit also provides an elevation view that shows you the profile of the course ahead.
I frequently ride in the mountains which means I ride on roads that are rarely straight. In these cases I found that the navigation would almost continually prompt me for my next turn for every bend in the road. I referred to the manual to see if there were sensitivity settings I could adjust but there does not appear to be. You can optionally turn off the audible alert to make this less distracting but personally I liked the audible alert when it was relevant to an actual turn.
Magellan Cyclo 505: WiFi Sync
My biggest frustration with my previous two cycle computers has hands down been the sync process. The act of having to plug the device into a computer and download data is not only cumbersome but also frequently problematic. The device doesn’t mount on first attempt, a firmware upgrade breaks something that previously worked, or the Connect plug-in that is required isn’t found and attempts to re-install it prove futile. The list goes on and on.
The Magellan 505 series has Wifi Sync which avoids all of that hassle. Settings on the unit allow you to establish a connection with a wireless network. Settings in the Magellan Cycle online app allow you to share sync’d data with Strava or your preferred data analysis site. When returning from a ride simply select Wifi Sync from the setting menu and your data is uploaded via Wifi and shared across your selected sites. Nearly instantaneous and thus far it has proved to be fool proof.
Magellan Cyclo 505: Summary
The Magellan 505 Series of cycle computers are welcome contenders in a market that has been dominated by a single vendor. The Magellan is more than a worthy alternative and should place competitive pressure upon its counterparts. I have concerns over its marketing and distribution at least within the US as I have been unable to locate a local dealer and have seen no advertising of any type. The quality and functionality of this unit will sell itself if put in front of the correct prospects.
Not only is the functionality comparable to that of the Garmin 810’s it is a full $100 cheaper at $499 vs. $599. I highly recommend this unit to anyone in the market for a new cycle computer.
All photos courtesy of/and © Magellan GPS