Why the Expense?
For all of the reasons I outlined in a previous post, I’ve tried to find a GPS cycling computer with maps that will serve to keep track of my rides and help me keep from getting lost when riding country roads as well as when riding a geographically convenient maze of offroad trails, gravel roads, and overgrown tracks. To recap, as opposed to the Iphone, such a unit requires no purchase of a data-plan subscription; It’s a one-time purchase. I first tried a Magellan Explorist 710 with built-in camera, topo maps, city maps, etc. The used unit I purchased was unhandy for use as a cycling computer and also had a weird power-off fault when connected to a Mac or PC. I wound up sending it back for refund.
Features, Features – Some I Like, Some I Don’t Care About
After a while, during which time I haphazardly read up on Garmin and Magellan cycling specific GPS units, I decided the Garmin units were stupid-expensive. I decided I would get a Magellan Cyclo 315 unit when I could get a good deal on one and was waiting until I felt I could reasonably justify the expense before buying. Bike Tires Direct, however, offered a deal on the more expensive Cyclo 505 that beat even the cheapest price I could at the time find on the Cyclo 315. As to features, those I liked that the Explorist 730 and both Cyclo models have in common were pre-loaded maps, the ability to add other maps, and IPX7 water-resistance. A feature the 505 has that I wasn’t sure about is WiFi connectivity.
Some of the features the Cyclo 505 has that I could not possibly care less about are Bluetooth smartphone connectivity and the means therewith to control the telephones musical play list; Shimano Di2 shift information or compatibility, power meter connectivity, heart-rate sensor connectivity, or speed/cadence connectivity. The unit’s basic GPS speedometer capability is fine with me. So, the unit I got was the basic 505 without all the extra sensors and whatnots I didn’t want to be bothered with. Remember, the only reason I bought the 505 is because it was cheaper than the 315.
A Day Late!
BTD shipped the unit UPS-ground, and it arrived a day later than originally forecast. The UPS website reported arrival time had to be recalculated. I think some doofus misplaced my order in a Kentucky or Ohio redistribution point. Here’s what was in the box:
The manual says to charge the unit before starting it up, but I monkeyed around with it, anyway. It fired right up after a few seconds – Magellan splash screen, then black screen for two seconds, then another status screen that shows what appears to be a wheel with holes in it spinning to indicate the device is loading the OS, then the main screen with options. The options are all pretty self-explanatory. I entered the home address, also set up a couple of profiles. If you haven’t got all those sensors that are compatible with the unit, turn off the functions in profile-edit or you’ll get a blinking rebus at the top of the screen in line with display of time and other indicators. I connected the unit wirelessly to my home network without trouble.
Profiles are categorized by type of riding or type of bicycle – City Bike, Mountain Bike, Racing Bike. Because I don’t race, I’ve set up both my Miyata 610 and my Jamis Supernova under the City Bike Category and, obviously, my Bridgestone MB-4 is a Mountain Bike. The profiles allow for manual input of wheel diameter, or the GPS profile setup subroutine uses (probably) mathematics and code to “automatically” obtain wheel diameter information. Either that, or the “Automatic” option simply discards the wheel diameter variable. Who knows, eh? Profile setup also requires entry of sex, DOB, weight, and weight of bicycle.
Should be Both/And, not Either/Or
This is pretty unlike the Abvio Cyclemeter program I ran on my Iphone (which, for the most part, I liked better than the program running on the Magellan GPS unit). Cyclemeter allows you to set up routes and to enter bicycle data. Whether type of riding, however, like road bike, city bike, or mountain bike, is part of the route calculations and seems to have more to do with reckoning calories burned and whether sensed movement counts (because sometimes, on a mountain bike, you might have to ride very slowly, for example) than to do with the bicycle, itself. Magellan would probably score bonus points if they worked with Abvio to produce a Cyclo operating system using the Magellan maps and GPS unit rather than online maps, as with the Iphone application.
This should be an obvious development strategy – like Reeses marketing a peanut butter and chocolate candy – “You got your peanut butter on my chocolate! No, you got your chocolate on my peanut butter!” I’d be willing to let them experiment on my GPS unit. What you’d have, then, would be a GPS unit functional for paddling, running, cycling, automobile, and routing that would allow one to better track performance per route or daily commute time, etc.
When I rode with my Iphone using Cyclemeter, I always kept the phone in a pocket or seat bag to keep it out of the weather, and because the battery saving screen mode I used was such that I couldn’t see the display the couple of times I mounted the phone on handlebars. I figured out the primary bar-mount (not the version held on with zip-ties) on the Jamis (my el-cheapo, Craigslist cyclocross bike). For my first few rides, I mounted the Cyclo 505 over the stem, but for longer rides have mounted it out front, on the left side of the bar, for better visibility when riding. The close-up of the unit with dimmed screen is a rotated crop from the picture of the Supernova laid over on its non-drive-side in the driveway. Dimmed and from a distance, the dashboard’s touchscreen buttons are visible.
Magellan includes one zip-tie handlebar mount that offers two against-the-bar soft foam shim options. When I first tried mounting it on the Bridgestone, I put the one of the zipties through the wrong hole on the upper, hard-plastic, mounting googin. So, I wound up having to use white, instead of the Magellan provided black, zip ties to secure the mount. Magellan only provides one of these zip-tie mounts in the box with the Cyclo unit. If you’re like me and have so many bikes your wife complains about them, you’ll need to get another. They’re blessedly expensive – about $17, and can be ordered from Amazon. I bought one for mounting the unit on the Miyata 610. The only bike I’ve got with bars thick enough for the “outfront” mount is the Jamis. Miyata and Bridgestone, 34 and 26 years old, respectively, have bars the tubing of which is of narrower diameter.
When I get around to snapping a few pictures of the Cyclo on the Miyata 610, I’ll replace this sentence with them.
Using the Cyclo 505
The strange circular mount takes some getting used to, but typically twists into place without problem. I do recommend you not power on the unit until it’s on the bike because the sensitive touch screen will beep or honk (really, a buzz or a “heenk”) at you if your palm presses against it during attachment.
Since getting the Cyclo 505 unit, I’ve taken it on maybe nine rides, incorporating into usual unplanned riding happenstance regimin – quick after work neighborhood rides, riding to another county to pick up my car from the mechanic’s garage, riding on a rainy day with my son using a trailer bike attached to the Bridgestone, a 17-mile trek through rough terrain, broken roads, muddy rutted tracks, gravel, and so forth. Annoying to me is the multiplicity of confirmation screens – Do you want to record? Are you sure you want to power off?
Ten rides, as of today. Last Saturday, I took the unit offroad while riding my Jamis Supernova Dura Ace Craigslist wonder-cyclocross bike through a maze of disused military camp roads that’ve pretty well degraded to vestigially paved tracks, mud and gravel roads, etc. Regarding the Supernova, I was able to ride that bike anywhere I’ve been able to ride my Bridgestone MB-4. It’s one stout bike and likely worth what I paid for it, even though I had severe buyer’s remorse early on.
The Cyclo 505 performed well; it was only when I trusted my own somewhat flawed directional sense, knowingly traveling due south but mistaken about where on the reservation that would take me, that I got lost. I came out of the woods after crashing the bike in a deeper-than-it-looked silty bottomed stream, to a highway I was familiar with but wasn’t expecting to find there. Using the Cyclo 505, I was able to find my way back to the trail after a couple of highway miles making use of a previously unknown dirt and gravel road. The out-front mount held the device securely through it all, and the GPS unit withstood bumps, brief immersion, crash, etc.
Does a bike man poop in the woods? Sometimes, but not that day. Outdoor urination? Well, yes, and that afforded me the opportunity to snap a couple of pictures of the Magellan Cyclo 505 on the Jamis.
The following day, last Sunday, however, while on a ride with my son on a rainy afternoon with temperatures in the low fifties, the Cyclo 505’s screen froze when moving between map screen and the navigation function’s main data screen. According to the manual, the fix for this is to turn the machine off and then back on again. It took me about four tenths of a mile to try this because it was only later that I read the manual’s “Troubleshooting” section. I found that the device returned me to the recorded ride having saved all the data it had acquired before the freeze. Because I missed part of the ride, though, the saved ride drew a straight line between the point where it froze and the point where I restarted the unit. Dunno why this happened, but it made me want to send the Cyclo back until I read the manual and figured it must be a known flaw with fix.
So far, I don’t think the Magellan Cyclo 505 is worth anything near full-retail and recommend the reader wait until a factory refurb can be purchased at a fraction of a new unit’s price, or that the reader wait until a new unit can be had for >$100 off retail. I don’t feel ripped off, but the screen-freeze bothers me.