By Jim Weaver, Service Manager, Fit Werx, VT
I recently acquired a new cycling computer that I thought might be of interest: the Magellan Cyclo 505hc, a GPS-enabled bike computer. This computer looks to go head-to-head with the Garmin Edge 1000, widely regarded to be the industry standard and a truly exceptional cycling computer that is the technology leader. Why did I decide to get a Magellan instead of the Garmin? Well, we have not had a chance to work with the Magellan and I could not find a great deal on-line about the Cyclo 505, so I felt someone needed to take a good look at it and get information out there…. Also, the Cyclo 505hc costs $200 less than the Garmin Edge 1000, so I thought I would find out if I missed any of the features on the Garmin or not.
Cycling computers have advanced WAY beyond the old days of speed, distance and time measurement. Now, computers like the Magellan, and much of Garmin’s line, allow you to map a ride and be guided along that route, communicate with your phone or your PC or laptop, show power output (if you have a power meter), show heart rate if you have a chest strap, download rides to your computer, communicate with Strava and on-line training programs such as Training Peaks or TrainerRoad, cook breakfast (not really), and far, far more.
Given everything the newest generation of computers can do, you will have to pardon the length of this write-up. After all, the on-line manual is 37 pages long. I will sometimes draw comparisons with the Garmin Edge 1000, but this is not intended to be a head-to-head “test”, trying to determine which is best. Frankly, I have not had a chance to ride either computer outside for any length of time that would allow me to make those judgments. For now, this is going to be a general overview of the features of this competitor in the GPS-enabled cycling computer world.
First, some physical details. According to the Magellan and Garmin websites, the Magellan Cyclo 505 measures 2.4″ X 4.06″ X .74″, while the Garmin Edge 1000 measures 2.3″ X 4.4″ X .8″. So, The Cyclo 505 is marginally smaller than the Garmin Edge 1000, particularly in its length, but on the bike, it seems to me to be noticeably smaller, because of that length difference. Both the Magellan Cyclo 505 and Garmin Edge 1000 have 3″ diagonal touch screens, with a resolution of 240 X 400 pixels.
The Magellan Cyclo 505 comes with two mounts, one being similar to Garmin’s mount that extends in front of the stem and the other being zip-ties that can be used to hold the unit to the bars or stem. The Magellan also comes with a speed and cadence sensor standard while the “hc” model adds a heart rate strap. The computer comes with a charger and a USB cable to downloading information to your computer. The “bundled” Garmin comes with essentially all the same stuff, albeit the second bar mount uses rubber bands, not zip ties. Battery life for the Magellan Cyclo 505 is 12 hours between charges, while the Garmin’s is 15 hours. The Magellan’s speed, cadence, and heart rate sensors take the ubiquitous CR2032 battery, which is not rechargeable, but also tend to last a season or longer. Both the Magellan and the Garmin are certified to withstand submersion in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes, so riding in the rain (or your swimming pool) with either should not be a problem. The Magellan will store up to 240 hours of riding history and the price of the Cyclo 505 is $429, and the Cyclo 505hc (with heart rate strap) is $499. If you already have an ANT+ heart rate strap, you can save the $70. By comparison, the “bundled” Garmin Edge 1000 (with speed, cadence, and heart rate sensors) is $700.
The Cyclo 505hc has all the connectivity you could want. The computer can communicate wirelessly with any ANT+ speed, cadence, and heart rate sensors, and ANT+ power meters. The majority of newer wireless bike computers and sensors communicate using ANT+, and there are literally hundreds of ANT+ components on the market. The Magellan Cyclo 505 paired very easily with the supplied speed, cadence, and heart rate sensors. The Magellan will also talk to your phone via Bluetooth and my i-Phone paired immediately, without having to download an app to my phone. I understand that if you have an Android you will have to download an app and it will communicate with your PC or laptop via WiFi. The Magellan paired with the shop and my home WiFi network, again with minimal hassle. If you have a Di2-equipped bike with a D-Fly transmitter, both the Garmin and Magellan will pair with that too so you can see your gearing and battery status. Like the Garmin Edge 1000, the Magellan Cyclo 505 can also link to a phone and can display texts and alert you to phone calls, etc. as you ride.
The GPS mapping features seem to be very flexible and are arguably the Magellan’s forte’. You have a choice of maps from either Tele Atlas or Open Street Maps (OSM). The latter is a free open-sourced site for maps of the entire world, showing not only maps and trails, but also helpful points of interest such as bike shops, cafes, etc. The Magellan Cyclo 505 comes preloaded with maps of the United States for both Tele Atlas and OSM. The OSM maps will show other countries, but not in as much detail as the U.S. maps. Other Tele Atlas maps are available for purchase and download as well. In addition to the obvious of showing your current location, you can program rides and the computer will lead you turn-by-turn. You can program a destination and the computer will lead you there and it will give you two route options, one for the bike and one for the car, and you have the option to compare the two before choosing your route. Once you reach your destination, you can have the unit give routes back to where you started as well.
One potentially fun and adventurous option with the Magellan Cyclo 505 is “Surprise Me”. When you select “Surpise Me”, you tell the computer you want to ride a loop and how far (or how much time) you want to go and it will suggest up to three routes, based on your present location. Pick one, and it will show you details, such as elevation and difficulty. This is a clever way to get out of the “same-old-route” rut. Lost? By clicking “Backtrack”, the computer will lead you back the way you came. Finally, you can put together a ride of your choice on www.mapmyride.com, download that to your desktop as a GPX file and then into the Tracks folder on the Magellan (using the included USB cable) and it will guide you around that route. I plan to try out this feature on the Sunday GMBC rides this summer as the schedule is published ahead of time and the cue sheets are available on the GMBC website. This will allow me to map the ride on mapmyride.com and install it in the Magellan Cyclo 505 in advance. Having the computer guide me around the route is much safer than having to try to pull a sweaty cue sheet out of my pocket, unfold it, and read it, all while on the move in a pack of riders. How well the mapping works on the Magellan Cyclo 505 will have to wait until I can actually ride outside, but our experience with mapping features on Garmin products is that while they are not perfect, they are quite good and very helpful for those that use it. The Magellan will hopefully prove to be on par.
The Magellan Cyclo 505 allows you to choose from several different bicycle profiles: city, mountain, and race bikes. For each of these bike profiles, the mapping allows you to select whether you want to allow or avoid major roads, cycle routes, and cobblestone and the city and mountain bike profiles allow you to program to either include, or avoid, unpaved roads. For the race (road) bike profile, unpaved roads are automatically avoided, which could be a real boon here in Vermont, as the computer will hopefully not suggest a ride that leads to an unknown class 4 dirt road. Again, I will need to report back on how well this feature actually works, but the concept is quite good. There is also an indoor trainer profile that will disable the GPS functions, plus a running profile that I am now using for cross country skiing. In each profile, you can tailor the data screens to display the information that you want for that given activity.
Before I had a chance to install and use the computer, the distributor for Magellan (Shimano), called to advise that some units had a problem the first time they were plugged into your home computer. So, following Shimano’s advice, the first thing I did was set up an account with Magellan, plug in the Magellan Cyclo 505 with the included USB cable, and update the firmware. This must have been a sizeable update, for it took more than an hour to download and install. The update presumably addressed the problem, for I have had none. The update also included map updates and, frankly, updating most any firmware before using the product is a good idea for anything that has updateable firmware. As with Garmin, Magellan will be periodically issuing firmware updates, so this is something to check periodically.
Installing the computer on the bike was easy. The speed and cadence sensor attaches to left side chain stay using zip ties, along with magnets on the rear wheel and crank arm. The Garmin Edge 1000 has a better, more elegant solution that is even easier to install. The Garmin speed sensor simply wraps around the rear wheel hub, and the cadence sensor is attached to the left side crank with glorified rubber bands. Each of the Garmin’s sensors operates via accelerometers, so no magnets need be attached to the spokes or crank. This makes the Garmin design simpler and easier to use with carbon rims, at least to me. The Magellan will pair with and accept signal from any ANT+ sensor, so if you wish you can replace the stock sensors with any others on the market, including Garmin’s.
The Magellan Cyclo 505 has a programmable, touch-sensitive display. There are a number of different screens that can be displayed, and you can move between screens by swiping your finger across the display. On two of the screens, the Magellan will display between 2 and 8 different fields and each of these fields can be customized to show the information you want. For example, I programmed my first screen to show current speed, cadence, average speed, heart rate, time of the ride, time of day, grade, and the distance to the next turn on any ride I have programmed into the computer. There is a second general information screen, with up to 8 data fields, that can show whatever else you might want from the voluminous data field choices. There are three separate “mapping” screens. The first, labeled Elevation, shows a profile of your ride and where you are on that profile, as well as up to 4 fields related to Elevation, such as percent grade, elevation, how many feet are left in your current climb, the distance to your next climb, and a great deal more. The Navigation helps you navigate a preprogrammed ride, with two data fields that you can plug in whatever you want. The Map screen should be self-explanatory, showing where you are, again with two data fields. There are also other screens related to Workout, History, and Trainer.
The computer can be programmed to accept data from a power meter, and there are a wide variety of choices of power metrics that you can program to appear on data fields on the first two information screens. One drawback, however, is that unlike many cycling computers in the Garmin line, I could not find any way to get the Magellan to show left leg/right leg power distribution. If your power meter transmits left/right power information, such the most recent versions of the Quarq or Garmin’s Vector pedals, this could be a notable shortcoming for some. If, however, you have an older power meter that only transmits a total power figure or a single sided power meter like a Stages or a CycleOps Power Tap wheel, this will not be a feature you miss. Another notable difference from the Garmin Edge 1000 is that the Edge has five information screens, and up to 10 data fields per screen and thus can display a fair amount more information than the Magellan. For those who use power meters extensively as part of their training regime, the Garmin Edge 1000 is a more robust platform in terms of display.
I have not previously used any of the on-line training services that are available, such as TrainerRoad or Training Peaks, but the Magellan Cyclo 505’s WiFi compatibility will allow me to explore these training alternatives and the ANT+ sensors allow me to use the virtual power feature on TrainerRoad. The Magellan Cyclo 505 is able to automatically download ride history information directly to an account with Strava or Training Peaks and I understand that they are working on being able to download to other services, such as TrainerRoad, in the future.
There is one matter that I should mention, regarding customer service. I sent Magellan four questions about the Cyclo 505, both by way of on-line chats, and by email. After a second request, I received answers to two of the questions, but was told the other two had to be referred to others, and I would get an email answer. Despite a third on-line chat request, and two more emails, and telling repeatedly that I was writing an article to be posted on our website, I never received answers to my questions. For me this is disturbing, and potential purchasers of any Magellan product should be aware that they may have customer service problems.
This being said, the downloadable manual has a great deal of information, and the Magellan has more capabilities than I can summarize here. I have tried to hit the points that I felt were most significant. So far, it seems like the places the Garmin Edge 1000 does better have to do with power meter displays for left/right pedaling dynamics, depth of display options, the longer battery life and potentially customer service. You need to decide if those features are worth the additional $200.
Both Garmin and Magellan have very good hardware, so it seems to me the competition will be on the software front. Garmin already has an advantage in power meters, with left/right distribution, and if you use Garmin Vector pedals, the Edge 1000 can act like a Computrainer connected to the SpinScan computer program, showing power output in 15 degree increments throughout both your left and right pedal stroke. Those of you who have had a fitting here at Fit Werx will be familiar with this, as it is part of our fitting protocol. This can be a helpful training tool to help perfect your pedaling technique and while I am no computer programmer, it seems to me that these features missing from the Magellan are just a software issue, and thus these features could be added in a future update.
Sometime later this year, after I have had a chance to ride with the Magellan and explore its mapping functions, I will write an update. For now, I am looking forward to using this new Magellan Cyclo 505 more and enjoying the benefits of the modern age of bike computers.