It might seem like an unlikely rival to the likes of Garmin and Wahoo, but the national mapping agency Ordnance Survey have launched a line of GPS devices promising advanced navigation and high-resolution touchscreen, with the Velo and Horizon models aimed specifically at off-road cycling.
The computers mark a new era in Ordnance Survey's storied 227-year history, being the first handheld units they've ever produced. There are four in total: Velo (£369.99), Horizon (£424.99), Trail (£434.99) and Aventura (£499.99). We'll focus on the first two which have the most cycle-friendly credentials...
The Velo is the most compact and least expensive device in the range, weighing just 110g. It comes with both the OS 'QuickLock' out-front and stem mounts for a streamlined appearance, and has a rugged body for weather protection with an IP67 water resistance rating. You can connect to all your usual apps and pair with heart rate monitors and cadence sensors with Bluetooth, ANT+ and WiFi, and you also get a six-month subscription to the SeeMee service. This lets you broadcast your location to others, and also send email and/or SMS alerts to chosen contacts if you get lost in the woods.
Being from the Ordance Survey mapping is going to be the big sell, and you get OS 1:250k base mapping for the whole of the UK included in the Velo plus a three-year subscription to OS Maps. You can use the inbuilt WiFi to sync routes to OS Maps, and the screen is 3" with a 240 x 400px screen. You can operate it via touchscreen or by using the buttons. Here is the full spec list:
3" transflective touchscreen (240 x 400px) with backlight
Touchscreen and button control
10-hour battery life - 1650 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery
16GB internal memory
Water & dust resistant (IP67)
Extreme temperature resistant: -10° to 60°C
FullConnect™: ANT+™, Bluetooth® Smart, GPRS, Wi-Fi
Physical dimensions: 60mm W x 105mm H x 20mm D
Operating memory: 2GB (RAM)
USB 2.0 port
The Horizon model is £424.99, slightly larger and weighing in at 125g. This one has unlimited routes and tracks, and you can also swap out the battery easily and add a micro SD card to increase the memory. You can switch between the QuickLock mount for cycling and also a flat back cover if you're using it for hiking.
For some, the battery life on both the Velo and Horizon models could be a deal-breaker: it's quoted at 10 hours, and while we're assuming that's with all the powerful mapping functions turned on we're unsure as of yet if you can get more juice out of it just running the GPS (check back for updates soon).
All of the computers are available to buy now directly from Ordnance Survey's online leisure shop with delivery UK-only, and you can also get 10% off your order by signing up to their newsletter. If you want to wait for a recommendation first, we're looking to get a test unit or two in very soon between ourselves and our sister title off.road.cc...
After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He was Staff Writer at 220 Triathlon magazine for two years before joining road.cc in 2017, and reports on all things tech as well as editing the road.cc live blog. He is also the news editor of our electric-powered sister site eBikeTips. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.