Navigation company Mio describe their Cyclo 505 GPS as "the best experience in bicycle navigation". This unit is at the top of their cycle range of GPS computers, putting it directly into the firing line of Garmin's top dog GPS, the Edge 810.
At 369.99 the Mio is just slightly cheaper than a bog standard 810. At this price, the Mio comes with maps, a heart rate monitor, and a cadence/speed sensor. Meanwhile the Garmin comes with none of the above.
A Garmin Edge 810 with performance and navigation bundle costs £420, so while the 505 HC is by no means cheap, it does look like slightly better value than an 810, considering what you get in the box.
However, nowadays there is so much more to GPS units than simply having as many fancy dongles as possible. In my experience, Garmin has always been at the top of the pile when it comes to user interfaces. In fact thats often the reason I've been prepared to fork out a bit extra for one.
I can't really say a bad word about the Mio's user interface though. It works flawlessly. I haven't had a single crash, glitch or frozen screen (meanwhile I had my 810 freeze twice in the same month - albeit due to not updating software). Data fields are displayed in a very similar manner to any Garmin and navigation between them is facilitated by to arrows at the bottom of the screen.
The only thing to be wary of is that stopping a ride - amongst some other functions - takes a couple of seconds for the unit to process and compile. If you are used to the instant response of most smartphones and electric gizmos today, this is a bit unnerving to start with but I got used to it very quickly and it's just how the interface works.
When interacting with the Mio, the single push button on the unit works in a similar way to the 'home' button on an iPhone and then everything else is taken care of by the touch screen.
When sizing up the Mio against the competition, there is no getting around the fact that this is a big unit. It dwarfed my 810, which I already consider fairly big. The screen itself is massive at 3 inches. I never ran out of space, though, and all the touch features had a big enough surface area for my gloved fingers to hit with no real issue.
On the flip side, this big size means some stem set-ups might present problems. If you have a short stem and a steerer that extends much above it, then you might not be able to mount the Mio on the stem. Mine fit fine with a 100mm stem, but I wouldn't want to go much shorter.
On the main data display screen, the set up is very similar to many other GPS units. You can customise how many data fields you see, and what data is displayed in each of them. One slight niggle is that the distance fields only display three significant figures. That means if you're riding a route over 100km, you don't see the tenths of a kilometre. It's only a small thing but I actually found it quite irritating. I knew the unit was still measuring the kilometers down to the tenth and possibly even the hundredth, but it just wasn't displaying them. Plus, you know, it's ruined my speed readings when I'm flying down my downhill commute at 100+kph. Yeah that definitely happens.
While I'm on the subject of the screen - the visibility is good, but its not quite perfect. In bright sunlight I found that it was not quite as easy to read as some I have used in the past.
As with any part that's going to sit on my bike - and costs over 350 quid - I'm going to want it to be as good as welded to my stem/bars. And for me, this was the Mio's main problem. The single mount provided uses the tried and tested attachment method of zipties. As any home mechanic knows, pretty much everything can be fixed with zipties so I had no real issues with attaching the mount to my bikes. However in an ideal world I'd have preferred to have a more easily interchanged attachment.
I ride four bikes with varying levels of frequency - all with a GPS - and having to fiddle about with zipties is a bit of a pain. At this price, I would expect Mio to provide more than one mount in the box. Extra mounts are available, both in standard stem and popular 'out-front' configurations, but for pretty steep prices.
Attaching the Mio to the mount also takes a bit of care. It uses a 'twist to lock' method similar to all Garmins nowadays but it is certainly possible to miss engaging one side of the mount to when in a hurry. It's obvious you've done it wrong when you do and easy to fix, but it didn't fill me with confidence.
The main reason for buying my first ever GPS was maps. I loved the idea of being able to get completely lost and then pinpoint yourself on a map when you've had enough of being lost. Mio have done fantastically with their maps. The unit comes preloaded with the whole of Europe - to put this into perspective, Garmin City Navigator software for all of Europe will set you back £74.99. Mio claim that their maps will cover all roads and, even more impressively, bicycle routes. I found the road maps excellent. Easily as good as Garmin's maps, and in my opinion actually clearer to read. It's a lot harder to comment on the bicycle routes as that kind of depends what you consider a bicycle route, and whether Mio agree with that. All I can say is that the Mio picked up all the bicycle routes I rode on, which were mainly around the Bath/Bristol area.
My absolute favourite thing about the Mio was how it handled following a planned route that I'd uploaded to the unit. The sheer volume and variation of data available to you as you follow a route is incredible. It's like having a live-view road book. You get an elevation profile showing your progress - like ones that accompany a pro bike race on the telly. You also get the distance to the next major hill on the route, and information about that hill, like its average grade and length. You also get the average grade for the next 5km of road. This list goes on and on; I was hugely impressed with the Mio's navigation capabilities.
But what if you haven't uploaded a route? What if you know you want to ride - but don't know where to go? Mio have got you covered here too, with their 'Surprise Me' function. It's a brilliant idea. The 505 HC is capable of making up three route options on its own, based on the time or distance you tell it you want to ride for. It provides elevation profiles for you to preview and stats such as the total climbing you'll have to do, and the maximum slope you'll encounter. For me this is a massive one-up for Mio over many of the devices out there at the moment.
Now it's definitely worth saying that not every route the Mio produces for you is perfect. Generally if you ask it to make up a short loop in a dense city, you're going to end up following a route reminiscent of a labyrinth, winding its way up and down all the streets it can find. I'd also be wary of following it 100% blind as you never know how busy or fast a road is until you're on it. Nonetheless, this is a very cool feature, and one that I really enjoyed using.
The Mio has wifi capability which means you essentially don't need to plug it in, and can download direct to the software provided. Sadly I didn't try this feature so can't particularly comment. I stuck to the trusty Strava to analyse data, which worked fine. Oddly, despite the Mio having a built in thermometer, it didn't seem to export temperature data in the .gpx file it produced for Strava to read. Strava also doesn't currently have a plugin for Mio units, so you'll have to download the file manually - which hardly takes any longer, so no problems there.
The last GPS I tested was woeful in the rain and consequently, I made sure that waterproofing was one of the first things I tested on the 505 HC. Mio state that it is rated to waterproofing standard IPX7, which means that it is 'protected against water immersion - Immersion for 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter'. So it sounds like you're safe, unless you're going to try and equal Dave's bog snorkelling world championship record. Certainly I had no water based frustrations with the unit, despite many downpours during the test period.
Battery life is stated at 12 hours. I didn't run the unit down from 100% to zero at any point to properly get a value for this but I started more than one ride with a less than ideal amount of charge and got round fine.
An absolute joy to use, with a host of unique but useful features.
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Make and model: Mio Cyclo 505 HC
Size tested: White, to be returned 3/02/14
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Meet the Mio Cyclo™ 505 HC: the lightweight, easy-to-use bicycle navigation device, designed with a stylish flat screen and built-in WIFI. With bicycle and road maps pre-installed, you are able to get started right out of the box. And thanks to the integrated WIFI sensor, you don't even have to connect manually to your PC anymore. You just press the button 'WIFI sync' and all your tracks from MioShare™ are right there on your device waiting for you.
The Mio Cyclo™ 505 HC allows you to navigate easily from point A to B or to follow your own preferred routes. However, if you choose to use the unique Surprise Me™ feature, the Mio Cyclo™ 505 HC will offer you three surprising bicycle routes based upon your entered time, distance or destination. This is the ideal feature for anyone who doesn't feel like going through all the hassle of downloading tracks. And if you are riding with more people, you just use the Shake and Share feature, which allows you to share your selected route with your friends by simply shaking your Mio Cyclo™ 505 HC
The flat, anti-glare 3' touch screen and lightweight design make the Mio Cyclo™ 505 HC perfect for anyone who enjoys style and wants a slim device to fit on their lightweight bicycle. The turn-by-turn navigation effortlessly guides you, indicating every instruction with a clear sound alert. With the simple menu structure and clear on-screen buttons, the Mio Cyclo™ 505 HC offers you true ease of use.
With the MioShare™ desktop application you are able to store your data and manage your route history. The easy-to-use application allows you to download routes and enjoy new roads and areas that others find interesting.
Thanks to the integrated WIFI in the Mio Cyclo™ 505 HC, you can connect with MioShare™ without even turning on your PC. So if you found a track online, and saved it on your MioShare™, you simply press the 'WIFI sync' button and the track will be uploaded to your device. It works the other way around as well: when you are done cycling, you just press the same button and your track will be uploaded to your MioShare™ account in just a couple of minutes.
The Mio Cyclo™ 505 HC is fully equipped for the competitive cycler and mountain biker. Apart from measuring everything you need to know about your performance, it also offers you workout programs, that can be done outdoor, but also indoor when the weather is not allowing you to cycle outside. And it comes with a built-in ANT+™ sensor, to easily connect with the included wireless heart-rate monitor and wheel- and cadence sensors. The Mio Cyclo™ 505 HC is also compatible with most power meters.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Type: Samsung 6443
Clock speed: 533 MHz
GPS Chipset: SiRFstar III built-in
GPS Channels: 20
External antenna connection: no
Battery type: Rechargeable integrated Li-ION
Battery capacity: 1500mAh
Replaceable battery: no, built-in
Width: 61 mm
Height: 103 mm
Depth: 19.6 mm
Weight: 129 g
Real keyboard: no
Internal RAM memory: 128 MB
Internal ROM memory: 4 GB
Hard disc size: n/a
Memory card possible: no
Color display: yes
Display resolution: 240 x 400
Display size: 7.62cm (3")
Audio (input & output)
Earphone jack: no
The single button and screen are nicely integrated into what certainly feels like a quality product, but the overall package loses out a bit due to the mounts being slightly under par.
Navigation is easily a ten out of ten here, but the little niggles with significant figures and the screen being a bit tricky to read meant I couldn't rate it as perfect.
No issues during the test period.
At a claimed weight of 129g, it is just under 50g heavier than the claimed weight of an 810. If you are a proper weight weenie this might bother you, but I can't say I even batted an eyelid at 50g.
Certainly not cheap - but in my eyes, significantly better value than Garmin's top offering when you consider what you get straight out of the box.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Fantastically. Navigation was excellent, along with a hugely impressive array of data available to the user.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The "Surprise Me" features and the information you got while out following a route you've preloaded onto the unit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The mounting system. Only one mount in the box, and it required a bit of concentration to make sure that the mount and unit were properly mated together.
Did you enjoy using the product? Definitely.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely.
Age: 21 Height: 182cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: On-One Carbon Whippet Single Speed MTB/Kinesis Pro6 My best bike is: Scott CR1 Pro
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,