Posted by Jim Martin 29 May 2013
Mio Cyclo 505 review: a Wi-Fi enabled bike satnav
Garmin has ruled the roost for a long time where cycling satnavs are concerned, but last year Mio launched a rival in the form of the Cyclo 300. Now, there's the new Cyclo 500 series which is aimed squarely at enthusiasts, whether they ride mountain or road bikes.
The Cyclo 505 GPS is a decent size, packing a 3in colour screen, yet weighs less than 130g so those worried about adding mass to their carbon fibre steed should be happy enough.
The range includes the base Cyclo 505 (£330) which is grey, includes UK & Ireland maps and relies on its GPS receiver for speed and altitude information.
Sitting in the middle is the 505 HC (£370), which bundles speed and cadence sensors plus a heart rate monitor. The top of the range 505 HC WEU (£400) has all this plus maps of Western Europe preloaded.
In a bid to one-up Garmin's latest Edge 810 bike GPS, the Cyclo 500 series includes Wi-Fi (rather than the Garmin's Bluetooth) which allows you to upload your activities and download planned routes to and from MioShare without the need to connect it to a computer.
The Cyclo 505 is ANT+ compatible so any existing sensors you may have, such as a speed or power sensor, can be used with the device.
Mio Cyclo 505 review: installation
If you're reasonably handy at DIY, you should be able to fit the Cyclo 505 to your bike in 10-15 minutes. The instructions are rather terse, but as long as you can get the magnets within a few mm of the sensors, you'll have no trouble.
Cable ties are used throughout and, unlike most speed/cadence sensors, Mio's is a two-part affair with a wire joining them together.
A cable tie hold the pedal magnet to your crank, and a screw-in magnet attaches to a spoke on your rear wheel.
The satnav mount is similar to Garmin's, but again uses cable ties. Two rubber backing plates are provided for different handlebar sizes, and the plastic mount sits snugly onto it. The quarter-turn bracket is stiffer than Garmin's but is reassuring.
When you turn the Cyclo 505 on for the first time, you need to enter the activation code on the box, and then create a profile, giving your vital stats, as well as the type of bike and wheel circumference (usefully you can leave this on Auto if you don't know the number).
You then head to the settings menu and pair the sensors - these should be detected automatically, although you may have to be wearing the heart rate monitor for it to be picked up.
Then you can clip the Cyclo 505 onto your handlebars and head out for a ride.
Mio Cyclo 505 review: display and navigation
When movement is detected, the Cyclo 505 will offer to record your route - a handy reminder as it's easy to forget.
You can use it like a traditional bicycle computer, showing speed, distance and time, along with the information from the sensors, such as cadence (rotation speed of the pedals for the uninitiated), heart rate and power. Plus, you'll get GPS information such as altitude, speed (if you don't have a separate sensor) and
grade, which is the steepness of the road you're currently on.
Of course, you can also use the Cyclo 505 as a satnav. Like Mio's in-car models, the 505 can take you to an address (it supports full seven-digit postcodes) or a point of interest (bike-related POIs are preloaded, such as bike shops, as are 'emergency' locations including hospitals, doctors and chemists).
You can simply choose a point on the map, enter co-ordinates or use the 'Favorite' list. Further useful options are 'navigate home' and 'back to start'.
You can also browse the list of recorded tracks (or unridden but planned tracks - see route planning below), but a brilliant feature is Surprise Me.
Surprise Me is a great way to use the Cyclo 505's planning capabilities to give you a bike-friendly route either based on time or distance. You can choose a circular route, or a destination such as a POI, an address, a Favorite or a point on the map.
Whatever you choose, you can then decide how many miles you want to ride, or how long you want to ride for. The 505 will then calculate three alternative routes for you to choose between. Each has a difficulty rating out of three and you can examine each route in detail (including its elevation and map) before you hit the GO button.
When riding, the display is big and easy to see from a variety of angles. It's best when the sun is shining on it as it's transflective. There's also a backlight for dimmer conditions, but for the most part, the backlight is off - leading to a battery life of around 12 hours.
By default you see your speed and the distance to the next turn on the map screen. A big arrow shows the turn direction, and a green highlight shows the route on the map. When you're recording a trail of red dots shows where you've been.
Loud beeps indicate when you're coming up to a turn, so it's hard to go off course even if your eyes are on the road.
On the suburban routes we rode, the Cyclo 505 was pretty adept at choosing quiet roads, and cycle routes where possible. It did tell us to make two banned turns on a ten-mile run - one the wrong way down a one-way street and the other to turn right where traffic can turn only left - but you'll be hard pushed to find a bike satnav with perfect routes.
Mio Cyclo 505 review: Syncing
Before you can sync your rides via Wi-Fi, you need to install a browser plug-in and 'virtual COM port' driver from MioShare.com. Unfortunately the plug-in doesn't work with Google Chrome, and there's currently no support for Mac OS X, although that's coming imminently, we're told.
It's all a bit unwieldy and a shame that you can't simply create an account on MioShare.com and then log in via your Cyclo 505. Instead you have to create that account, install the MioShare software (it's preloaded on the Cyclo 505 so you can install it in Windows), connect the USB cable and then register the device to
Once all that's done, you can head to the settings menu and tap WLAN Sync on the 505. You have to choose the right network and enter your Wi-Fi password. Only then can you sync your ride data when you're within range of your wireless router.
Mio Cyclo 505 review: route planning
MioShare is the equivalent of Garmin Connect and is the place where you can view your rides. It's possible to view all the stats and a map on the Cyclo, but it's not as nice as on a big screen.
MioShare is also where you can plan new routes, discover routes other users have uploaded and see the total distance you’ve ridden, top speed, height climbed and calories burned.
The dashboard looks pretty, but the route planner seems like a work in progress. It's relatively easy to plan a route along bike-friendly roads. However, there's no indication of the elevation until you finish and save a route, and no way to edit the route once it's saved. Garmin's offering is altogether more polished
and better to work with.
Once you've planned a route, you can download it as a GPX file, but there's usually no need as it will be automatically synced with your device when it's connected. Oddly, there's no way to email a link to a planned or ridden route to a friend, either.
Where the Cyclo 505 betters the Garmin is in planning a route on the device itself.
Mio Cyclo 505 review: bottom line
The Cyclo 505 is a competent bike satnav with a good screen. In some ways, the interface is better than Garmin's but in other areas (you can't zoom into a graph as far as you can with the Garmin) it falls behind.
The home screens are customisable so you can see the information you want, and you can use the 505 for training as well.
Mio needs to work quickly to improve the online dashboard and route planner (otherwise the built-in Wi-Fi is of little use), but the device itself (with the Surprise Me feature) is great for jumping on the bike and heading out.
The three version of the Cyclo 505 are well priced, too, with the flagship 505 HC WEU being some £80 cheaper than the equivalent Edge 810 bundle. The Edge 810's screen seems a lot smaller, even though the difference is less than half an inch, but its battery lasts a whopping 17 hours.
If you're happy to do without the sensors and maps of Europe, the base model is good value at £330, but you can now buy the older flagship version of the Garmin (the Edge 800) with sensors and European maps for only £360 - a very tempting deal.