Magellan Cyclo 505–Second Report


I’ve had the Magellan Cyclo 505 since some time in March (2015) and as of this writing have used it to keep track of 887.97 miles; most of my rides since acquiring the feature-rich GPS unit.  My first Cyclo 505 report is here, on this blog, and two others are here, at Bike Tires Direct.

The Good

What the Cyclo 505 does well, it does really well.  The maps have been reliable and their information makes sense and coincides with what I know of the geography, having lived in and explored it for some years.  (However, if you’ll keep reading through the end of this post, you’ll find out how the Cyclo 505 sometimes fails to make sense of the reliable information it contains)  The Cyclo 505 records and categorizes basic ride data (average MPH; fastest speed; calories burned; ascent; descent; distance covered) of the sort that interests me.  The unit’s WiFi feature connects with the home network without problem, and I use that feature almost every day.  Map and software updates are easy when the unit is connected to the computer by USB cable.  The unit’s battery life has always been more than adequate for two or three of my typical rides before needing recharge, and it recharges pretty quickly plugged into the wall socket adapter that came in the package.  The unit’s screen almost always responds as expected when touched and, even when slightly dimmed to save battery power, is readable in direct sunlight; it brightens up when touched for better visibility as needed.  Handlebar mounts have proved secure on bumpy, rutted tracks, a couple of minor crashes, and normal road use.  The Cyclo 505 unit is a little thicker but otherwise smaller and lighter than my old Iphone 4.

Basically, all the things I said I liked about the Cyclo 505 here and at Bike Tires Direct, I still like.  On the other hand, my list of things I don’t much like has increased by one.

The Bad and the Not So Good

In the category of Not So Good falls the fact that the Magellan Cyclo series wasn’t developed in partnership with the people at Abvio and therefore does not categorize, store, report information as usefully as the smartphone Cyclemeter app.

In the category of Not So Good is the not-visually-interesting black and white case that houses the unit’s touchscreen and functional bits.  The Cyclo 505 doesn’t look like something from either the Marvel Comics or DC Comics universe.  On the other hand, its looks don’t beg passersby to steal it if left on the bike while I’m off the track for a moment watering the foliage.

In the category of Not So Good is also where I locate the many arcane map symbols found in the Cyclo 505’s included Open Street Maps.  Honestly, I think some bat-guano smoking, native Klingon speaker came up with most of them.  The same kind of people who like to say, “Goblet,” and who also talk about their “craft.”

Now for the Bad – the Magellan Cyclo series ships with a Surprise Me feature that, according to the Magellan Cyclo series website allows the user to:

“Input distance or time and Cyclo will provide up to 3 routes for the rider to select. Each route will show elevation gain and difficulty. In a new city or just want to try something new Cyclo’s Surprise Me is perfect for the competitive cyclist training for a sportive or recreational rider looking for a graded loop.”

Here are a couple of company screenshots showing the Surprise Me feature in action:


Here’s a video explaining the feature’s functionality:

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  I thought so, too.  Only on my Cyclo 505, it doesn’t work very well.  The first four or five times I tried it, entering in parameters by the amount of time I wanted to spend riding or the number of miles I wished to ride, the Surprise Me feature failed from two-and-a-half to seven miles into each ride, beeping and flashing a message on the screen with a checkered flag telling me I’d arrived at my destination when only a minute before, the unit displayed 27 miles remaining in my ride.  It would sometimes also fail with the message that I’d “arrived at the track,” whatever that means.  Huh?  Total crap except for the other features I use seem to function normally.

I finally thought I’d send the unit back as broken, but the problem, in my estimation is a software problem.  My guess is that the unit I bought on sale from Bike Tires Direct back in March of this year was an early iteration of the model – first generation hardware.  When I got the unit, I immediately updated its software/firmware and maps.  This was well before I attempted to use the Surprise Me feature.  I think that subsequent versions of the units operating system – its software – call for hardware that isn’t present or is present in earlier form in the unit I’ve got, which likely breaks the Surprise Me feature’s intended functionality.  I wrote a gripe about the broken feature at Bike Tires Direct before partially solving the problem after calling Magellan’s customer support number.

In a last ditch effort to avoid sending back the Cyclo 505 as defective, I looked at the Magellan product support website and read through a bunch of FAQs, finding one that only tangentially spoke to an issue with the Surprise Me feature.  Because my Cyclo 505 is still under warranty, I telephoned to the customer support call center.

My call was answered by a polite and helpful youngish sounding man whose accented but good English possibly indicated Indian subcontinent origin.  After obtaining the Cyclo 505’s particulars – serial number, software version, and so forth, then (I could tell he had one of the Cyclo units because I could hear its distinctive, honk-like beeping) we attempted to reproduce the problem.  But, because neither of us was out on a ride, we could not.  The customer service rep suggested that, before trying the Surprise Me feature again, I delete the desired bike profile and create a new profile for the bike in use.

A couple of days later, I did so, and the Surprise Me feature worked much better.  Not flawlessly, but better; the feature continued to beep and flash messages declaring I had reached my destination, but the map, itself, at the same time showed the projected route along which I was riding.  As I continued to ride the suggested route, ignoring the Cyclo’s beeping and messages for a hundred or so yards, the device quit beeping and quit printing to screen its arrival message.

The routes chosen by the device were scenic and along roads I’d heretofore not ridden.  I enjoyed them.  I used the feature two or three times in this way, but it’s again getting worse.

I hope I’m not going to have to delete my bike profiles and replace them with new ones every so often to keep the Surprise Me feature borderline working.

Over the weekend, on Saturday, I requested a two-and-a-half hour ride at about 14 mph and the Surprise Me feature presented three routes from about 20 to 25 miles.  I chose a 23 mile route that took me through familiar country and was not super hilly, because I was tired from the several rides I’d taken during the week.  Oddly, the Cyclo 505 took me through long abandoned lanes on a disused military reservation and there became confused.  I wasn’t too freaked out because I know the area and welcomed a chance to ride grassy, dirt and gravel lanes, deep ruts and low spots ponded from the the previous night’s storm.


Geographical oddity – at every turn the unit said I was about 1.7 miles from my next turn – right before informing me I was going the wrong way


Other messages included: “You have arrived at the track” and “Replanning back to route”

Cyclo 505 Confused 3

Cyclo 505 was totally confused in this area – I didn’t lose time, so I’m sure I wasn’t abducted by aliens during my ride

First, the Cyclo wanted me to turn off the main highway to my left, then, when it imagined I’d ridden past the turn-off it’d just informed me was six tenths of a mile ahead, it wanted me to turn off onto a lane to my right.  So, I did.  I tried, for the sake of experimentation, to faithfully follow the device’s on-screen instruction, turning where it said it turn, turning around when it said I was going in the wrong direction, etc.  The unit’s software was completely ferhoodled – possibly the United States Government is using something that confuses personal GPS units.  Maybe the signal-confuser is intended to perform another function, entirely, and only by accidents exacerbates the Cyclo 505’s Surprise Me feature weakness?  Actually, that’s the most likely explanation I can think of for the bizarre and conflicting directions the unit gave me during this portion of my ride.

Here are a few snapshots of from this portion of my ride – usually taken when I’d stopped to check the map and directions against what I observed around me and already knew about the area:



That last image above right I knew from environmental sounds was one I’d ridden before on the Bridgestone, and I had a pretty good idea where it would come out, so I proceeded down it, ignoring all subsequent Cyclo 505 beeps, warnings, and directions.  I’d grown tired of the experiment by this time and wanted to get on with my ride.  The photos below show where I came out on a paved road.



I finished my ride after this point without further problems from the Magellan Cyclo 505, which halfway confirmed my theory about the exacerbation of the unit’s Surprise Me feature problems on (not off-limits) government land through which it initially tried to route me.  Here’re some pictures from the rest of the ride – except that last one – that’s my Jamis Supernova, the Wonder Horse, leaned up against the berm pictured above.



2007 Jamis Supernova wonder horse – frame was made by Kinesis Bikes of Taiwan –

Inverted Tread? Huh?

What was it, last week or the week before, that I got a new set of tires for the Jamis?  A set of 60 TPI Clement X’plor USH “adventure tires.”  Because every ride’s a potential adventure, because the X’plor USH are 35 as opposed to the Tour Ride at 37 mm in width, because the X’plor USH is rated to 90 psi as opposed to the Tour Ride at 70 psi, I thought I could go farther faster on the Clements than the Continentals.

Both the Tour Ride tires and the X’Plor USH tires sport directional tread.  That means there’s a right (or manufacturer intended) way and a wrong way to mount them on the rim, directionally speaking.  The Tour Ride tires have little yellow arrows to indicate which way the tire’s supposed to roll, whereas the X’Plor USH tires do not.  Normally, that wouldn’t be a big deal because anyone looking at the X’Plor USH’s center tread would naturally mount the tire with the pointy end of the chevrons forward.  But Clement confused me with the second information bullet point on the tire’s packaging card: Inverted tread on the center section for traction on dirt roads.


See – “Inverted” – even the tire is loaded onto its display-card with pointed end of the center section facing up and therefore backwards if one imagines the tire rolling forward, toward the reader.  So that’s how I mounted the tires on my Supernova’s rims.  The General tires on my Volvo have the same kind of counter-intuitive directional tread pattern, but the sidewalls indicate the tires’ proper mounting direction with small raised arrows pointing in the right direction.


During a 27-mile hilly Pot County afternoon ride that included a 30 mph descent with a potentially scary curve to the right at the bottom, the tires thus mounted performed admirably.  Still, the ride “felt” a bit funny and acceleration was more difficult than I’d expected.  A doubt niggled that possibly I’d installed the tires incorrectly, but the thought of removing re-installing them proved sufficient to repress my doubt during the ride.  I also remembered, and this helped with doubt suppression, that the intentionally and serious about counter-cycling-“establishment” cyclists at Rivendell Bikes had opined that tread direction was not very important on bike tires.

Next day, though, I searched the Internet for X’Plor USH reviews in order to look at pictures of the tires installed on bikes by people expert enough in things bicyclish to warrant gear from companies in exchange for their reviews.  I wanted to see whether I’d goofed.  All the pictures I saw of the tires on the reviewers’ bikes showed the pointed end of the center section’s chevron tread facing forward.  For the record, I do tend to read those kinds of reviews for information about products I’m thinking about buying.

I uninstalled and remounted the tires accordingly, and on a couple of subsequent hilly, hot-weather rides, I noticed acceleration had improved markedly.  Handling on curves, rutted and gravel alleys, as well as cornering was no different with the change in tread orientation.

In terms of average speed, the X’Plor USH has increased mine by about half-a-mile per hour with the open end of the chevron facing forward, over against the Continental Tour Ride tires, and by about six-to-seven-tenths of a mile per hour with pointed end of chevron facing forward.  Not the full mile-per-hour I’d been expecting, but okay.  Probably Gatorskins would have effected the desired increase of speed,  but they’d be crap offroad.

What does Clement mean by “Inverted tread”?  My guess is that, by “inverted,” Clement means the chevron patterning sticks up, or protrudes, as opposed to being cut in to an otherwise flat rubber surface.  I’ll send a link to this post to Clement and invite them to comment.

P.S. I guess the reason I make fun of the Rivendell Bike people’s studied non-seriousness vis-à-vis bicycling as a “culture” is that, over time, I’ve come to resent the way one of their reps talked to me like I was an idiot when I called them for information about bottom brackets and cranksets when I was so new to cycling that I lacked basic vocabulary to phrase my questions in a way that identified me as one of the sport’s cognoscenti.  And I expect my intelligent, if badly phrased, questions to be taken seriously by anyone who is in business of selling items to meet the perceived needs of potential customers.  What this means for me is that I can’t take the Rivendell people seriously and occasionally make fun of them even when I find some of their online information helpful.  But I’ll probably never call them again.

Continental Tour Ride Tires–Final Word


Yesterday I rode on Continental Tour Rides for the last time.  I think I’ve put maybe 1000 to 1200 miles on them, although during the early part of the year I kept no accurate record of mileage.  On the ride, I again tried out the Magellan Cyclo 505’s “Surprise Me!” feature, which again failed, telling me I’d arrived at my destination only 1.88 miles into a 37 mile ride.  I reset navigation and then just went for a ride using the Magellan to record data.  I’ll post another entry later on about the Magellan.

My ride took me through some of Stepford’s hillier neighborhoods.  I explored a long, dead-end lane I’d never previously traveled; I rode down into a hollow where whiskey is made; I didn’t drink from the stream where a couple of years back, I got giardia; I rode back up a graded but largely unpaved road I descended last Friday, er, Sunday.  I kept my stops short and few, but did take some pictures.



Regarding the Continental Tour Ride tires – they only failed me once, in the silty bottom of a rain-swollen stream.  Never a flat, never a failure to hold the road in slick conditions, never a problem powering through ruts, gravel, dirt, grass, stone, or mud.  My only reason for replacing them is that I’d like something that rolls a little faster.  That’s why, when I got a good deal (using bonus points, two for the price of one) at Bike Tires Direct, I bought a set of Clement X’Plor USH “adventure tires.”

The Clements were more of a hassle to mount than were the Continentals, although tire levers were not necessary for either set of tires.  When mounting tires, I try to position the tires’ logo at the valve stem; makes it easier to find the stem when airing the tires.  On Continental tires (at least Gatorskins and Tour Rides) the tire logo/name is emblazoned in the same place on either side of the tire.  On the Clements, however, they are not so positioned and therefore when the stem is correctly positioned when the tire is seen from one side, it is off-kilter seen from the other side.  I thought I’d messed up the back tire, cussed, remounted it, then cussed again before understanding dawned.  Then, I felt foolish for having given voice to profanity.  Here are some pictures – as with most of the photos on this blog, if you click on the image your browser will load an enlarged version of the image:




Road, Rain, Gravel, Dirt, Grass, & Countryside


On Monday last, I took a long ride out to a state park where there is a Native American ceremonial site at the convergence of two small rivers and an iron bridge across the larger of the two rivers.  On the main highway that runs past the park’s entrance there’d been a much larger iron bridge, but several years ago it was replaced by a modern concrete bridge and the old structure was torn down.  I liked driving over the old bridge on the highway; the smaller bridge inside the park connects the camping area to the rest of the property.  I rode over to the main site, then back down to the turn off to the camping area, rode across the green-painted iron bridge on planks, then through the campground where there is located a clean bathroom.  After using the bathroom, I discovered the great utility of full-zip jerseys, as opposed to the quarter-zip or half-zip variety, paired with a set of bib-shorts.  When I put the jersey back on, my cellular telephone fell from a jersey pocket and broke open on the floor.  Now I get it.  As I was riding back out of the camping area in order to leave the park, I got caught in a rainstorm.  I waited at the camper check-in booth during the worst of the downpour.  The pedaling across the bridge’s slick, wet roadbed posed a hazard even with my bicycle’s oversized Continental Tour Ride tires.  I was pleased that I did not crash.


Later in the week I took a ride through an overgrown area adjacent a small airport.  The last time I rode through there was early last November, when the Spring foliage had been dried out by Summer heat, and the property owner had bush-hogged some of the dirt and grass lanes.  Thursday, though, I found everything overgrown and rode in places through grass handle-bar high.  Grass got tangled in my bikes rear derailleur and sprockets, making shifts difficult at first when I got back out to a surface where riding necessitated shifting into a higher gear.  I must say that the Jamis Supernova, in its inaugural 2007 version, is a superb cross-country adventure bike, and my bike’s high-end but older Shimano components functioned superbly.  And those Continental Tour Ride tires?  Hard to imagine a tire better suited to conditions I encountered offroad.  As I pedaled hard enough in some places to produce grunt-like vocalizations to maximize effort, I at one point shouted, “I love this bike!”






Yesterday afternoon, I took a ride with a group from the local bike club.  I took the Jamis because riding it, I average about 14 miles per hour, and expected a casual group ride at about that speed.  Most of the folks who showed up, though, had higher end, racing type bikes.  I broke off and rode with a fellow who’d been expecting the same sort of group as I had and brought his Bike Friday, which is older and looks a lot cooler than the company’s current crop of bikes.  We took a less hilly route and rode about 25.6 miles averaging 11.8 miles per hour.  I enjoyed one fairly steep, winding, descent in need of resurfacing.  The route took us through country previously unknown to me and connected with a highway I know well.  Here’s the vista that greeted us near the intersection: