review

Lezyne Macro Plus GPS cycling computer

4
£100.00

VERDICT:

4
10
It's OK as a basic GPS, but the more advanced functionality is too flaky to be of real value
Weight: 
66g

The Lezyne Macro Plus GPS delivers on the basics you need a bike computer to do, but doesn't really deliver on the promise of more-advanced functionality. The unintuitive interface left me confused and bewildered.

  • Pros: Compact, robust, clear display, remote live tracking via app
  • Cons: Confusing menus, flaky software, no ANT+ support, mapping only via app, messaging didn't work, couldn't pair generic Bluetooth HRM

A few months back Steve reviewed the Super Pro version of this GPS and came away unimpressed, citing confusing menus, flaky software and other concerns. I can pretty much copy and paste everything he wrote regarding these issues.

> Find your nearest dealer here

Physically, the Macro Plus is fine – it's a solid unit with four buttons easily pressed with gloves on. As Steve found, the menus are written on the sides, and even after two months of near-daily use I found myself pressing the wrong buttons at the wrong times to do something as simple as start or end a ride – not a good sign.

Lezyne Macro Plus GPS cycling computer - side buttons 1.jpg

The chunky design sits rather proud of the handlebar. Secured with a 90-degree push-and-turn mechanism, it never felt at risk of flying off. You can set the display up portrait or landscape, which is handy if bar space is limited.

Lezyne Macro Plus GPS cycling computer - on bars 2.jpg

Manual labour

The initial setup is fairly intuitive, with no need to reference a manual. There's a 'quick start' guide included, which I read, but thereafter the menu and button structure consistently escaped me. As I said above, despite near-daily use on road, gravel or mountain bike, I'd constantly forget which button to press to do even basic tasks such as starting or ending a ride. You're supposed to press the button marked 'Lap/Down Arrow' – obviously. What was wrong with 'start/stop', I don't know. I don't claim to be the smartest bear, but having made a moderately-successful career out of playing with electronic devices, I was left wondering if I was losing what's left of my marbles.

Lezyne Macro Plus GPS cycling computer - side buttons 2.jpg

Somewhat more intuitively, the Lezyne GPS Ally smartphone app lets you set up the device and individual bikes, create a Lezyne GPS Root account, add your Strava, TrainingPeaks or Today's Plan accounts, and add Lezyne Track email accounts so family and friends can see your riding location live.

To access a lot of this functionality you need to have the app open – the GPS will put an alert on the screen if it can't see your phone or the app open.

Navigation

The app promised 'Navigation', and not having read any manual saying otherwise (the Quick Start guide includes 'Navigation' and 'Rerouting'), I was led down a rather lengthy process of selecting, downloading, then trying to send to the GPS – only to get an 'error sending to GPS' message. Another User Experience design fail: even though the app knew it was connected to a non-map-download GPA model, it still let me get this far into the process. Yes, you can use the Lezyne GPS Ally app to plan your navigation, and the turn-by-turn arrows were easy enough to follow – but at quickish cycling speeds it rapidly became a frustrating experience guessing which turn it meant in a built-up area.

On long rural roads it fared better, but, as Steve found, was not bulletproof with wrong or phantom turnings, meaning after a while I just couldn't trust it. Forget it for off-road navigation.

> GPS cycle route planning made easy

Regarding physical setup, I first tried to pair a generic Bluetooth heart rate monitor strap, which has worked with many different phones and GPS units over the last five years. I was able to pair it OK, but there was no throughput of actual HRM data. Lezyne sent me one of its own straps to use, but that stopped working after a few rides, so it sent another. This worked well – but you need to be aware that if you have previously paired the strap with, say, your phone, you can't then use it on the GPS unless you disconnect first. Rookie mistake.

Phone alert

The 'phone alert' integration is a feature I was looking forward to trying – but was let down. Some messages and notifications came through, a mixture of SMS, IM or email, but appeared mangled, with text overwritten in different font sizes, so beyond knowing someone had sent you something, it was of little use.

Lezyne Macro Plus text.jpg

When you start up you can choose which bike you are riding at the time, and the preferences will be set to that. Again, though, something as simple as the bike name and odometer reading across the top of the screen overlap, rendering the distance illegible. How stuff this basic got out of the testing phase is beyond me.

IMG_0878.jpg

One feature that did work well was the live tracking. The moment you press record, if the phone/app is nearby and connected to mobile data, an email gets sent to nominated contacts inviting them to click on a link to view your location and a number of key stats in real time. Elevation, speed, temperature – even heart rate – were visible to others.

> Buyer's Guide: 15 of the best cycling GPS units

Once back from a ride the GPS would auto-upload to Strava, but you need to keep the GPA and phone within Bluetooth distance for a few minutes at least to allow time for the ride data file to transmit. Given the information in even a long ride file is likely to be less than 1-2MB, why it takes around two minutes to upload is, again, beyond me.

Compare and contrast...

Throughout the testing period I was running my trusty Garmin Edge 500 alongside the Macro Plus, to check distance accuracy and whatnot. Really, the only useful, regularly-usable feature I can say the Lezyne has over the Edge 500 would be the live tracking – and even then, I have live tracking running 24/7 with my family via Apple's Find My service and Google Map's Location Sharing. Given you need a data-enabled smartphone to make the Lezyne service work, it's kinda redundant unless you want to share ad-hoc with a friend who you don't want to add to another ecosystem.

Alternatives to the Macro Plus would be the likes of the Garmin Edge 25, available for around £75 from various stores on clearance. The Edge 25 can do live tracking via the app, and being Garmin it will have a much clearer menu structure.

Conclusion

If at the end of a design and engineering development cycle you release a product with poor user experience validation, you might as well have not released it at all. It rather feels like the Macro Plus has been rushed to market. Lezyne's strapline is 'Engineered Design', but it seems the company has a major effort ahead of it to get software and user interface design up to the high bar set by Garmin.

Overall, I was left unimpressed by the Lezyne Macro Plus GPS. There were just too many basic areas of functionality – text display, menus, turn navigation, ride upload – that were not at an acceptable standard, and the Bluetooth pairing issues were unforgivable. Five years ago I might have been impressed with the likes of live tracking via an app, but not now, and not for £100.

Verdict

It's OK as a basic GPS, but the more advanced functionality is too flaky to be of real value

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Lezyne Macro Plus GPS cycling computer

Size tested: 70.6 x 48.16 x 26mm * Screen: 32.6 x 39.8mm

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?

It's for people wanting basic GPS ride recording functionality, with perhaps some other features enabled via a phone app.

Lezyne says: "The Macro Plus GPS is the perfect device for casual to serious cyclists that just need the main essentials of a cycling GPS computer. New features include an optional horizontal orientation, an improved water resistant plug and enhanced styling. Its hardware and firmware have also been improved with a higher resolution screen and the ability to connect with our 'Smart Connect' LED system. In addition to its full GPS recording capabilities, it fully ties in with our GPS platform when paired with our GPS Ally phone app. When paired, the device offers full turn-by-turn navigation, phone notifications, Lezyne Track (live tracking), Strava Live Segments, training integration and device customization. Additionally, the Macro Plus GPS can pair with external Bluetooth sensors. And it offers up to 28-hours of battery runtime."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

From Lezyne:

FEATURES

Durable, composite construction

Optimized GPS satellite recording

Bluetooth Smart connectivity

Multiple real-time features when paired to the Lezyne Ally app

Simple setup through Lezyne Ally phone app

Import .tcx and gpx. Files

Trainer Mode

Multiple bike profiles

Full navigation

Custom route building

Intuitive four button operation

Lithium polymer battery provides up to 28 hours of runtime

Micro USB rechargeable

Stores up to 200 hours of ride data

Customizable fields and page count (up to 8 fields)

Custom alerts and auto presets

Extremely weather resistant

Includes X-Lock Standard Mount

SPECS

WEIGHT: 60g

RUNTIME: 28 hours

MEMORY: 200 hours max

DIMENSIONS: Computer 70.6mm (W) x 48.16mm (L) x 26.0mm (H)

Screen: 32.6mm (W) x 39.8mm (L)

CONNECTIVITY:

NEW: Smart Connect compatible

Receive text, email, phone call and message app notifications when paired to smartphone

Sync rides via Bluetooth Smart to the Lezyne Ally phone app

Instant download of ride files (.fit) via plug-and-play flash drive technology (Windows/Mac) and upload directly to GPS Root website for ride analysis

Auto-sync to Strava, TrainingPeaks and Today's Plan

Pairs with Bluetooth Smart enabled heart rate monitors, cadence/speed sensors and power meters

Turn-by-turn navigation

Off-line rerouting

Follow starred Strava segments and routes

Follow structured workouts from Today's Plan and TrainingPeaks

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

It feels solid, and the build quality is good.

Rate the product for performance:
 
6/10

On basic GPS functionality of record-display-upload, it's OK.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

Still looks good despite muddy, wet thrashing.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10

Pretty light.

Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

For £100 I'd be expecting a much, much better-executed set of features and basic interface functionality.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Not great, if 'designed purpose' was everything it claims to do.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The live tracking worked well.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Almost everything else, but particularly the basic unintuitive user interface. It made me feel stupid on every ride. Multiple guessing-game button presses.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

For the functionalilty that actually worked reliably and easily, pretty much any GPS unit will do – down to basic £25 ones on Amazon. You can get the excellent Garmin Edge 25 for £75 at Halfords, with live tracking via the Garmin Connect app and it does ANT+ too.

Did you enjoy using the product? Not really.

Would you consider buying the product? No

Would you recommend the product to a friend? No

Use this box to explain your overall score

Really, for £100 the user interface should be much, much better – as should the software and pairing hardware. There are many other lower-priced devices out there doing a much better job.

Overall rating: 4/10

About the tester

Age: 46  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72kg

I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc  My best bike is: Velocite Selene

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling.

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