Accessories

REVIEW: Mio Cyclo 505 HC

by Nick Gregory

Price £399.00
Size 10x6x2cm
Colour White
Whilst it has many fantastic features, and performs most of its tasks admirably, you can't helping feeling that a few corners have been cut.

Mio Cyclo 505 HC

Key Stats:  

Weight - 129grams

Height - 10.3cm 

Width - 6.1cm 

Depth - 1.9cm 

In certain industries one brand is synonymous with the name of the product itself. Think 'Hoover' when you hear people discussing vacuum cleaners. (Not that anyone probably wants to make a habit of listening to people discussing vacuum cleaners...) The bicycle GPS market has become the next in a long line of these, thanks to the dominance of Garmin. In fact, a newcomer to the sport could be forgiven for being entirely unaware that if you want a 'garmin', you don't actually have to get a Garmin. 

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Mio is an electronics company from Taiwan - the same island that Lampre bike supplier, Merida originate from - and along Bryton, they represent the Davids of the bicycle GPS market, battling the Garmin Goliath. Whilst Garmin sponsor their eponymous World Tour team, Mio are the official GPS and bike computer sponsor of the Alberto Contador Foundation team. The 505 HC is Mio's top of the range offering, putting it in league with the Bryton Rider 50 and the Garmin Edge 810. 

Costing £399 if you buy it direct from the company website, financially, the Mio is the mid-range option when compared to its Bryton (£270) and Garmin (£379 basic, £479 fully specced) counterparts. 

Assembly instructions consisted solely of a series of images that were pretty unclear. The rest of the instruction manual - explaining how to actually use the device - was concise but informative enough to get you on the right track, so to speak. 

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Having got to grips with the initially confusing assembly diagrams, set up was actually pretty quick and easy. However, the cable tie method of securing the various components was far from ideal. Given that bars, stems and frames come in a variety of shapes and sizes, it makes it difficult to get a really tight and secure fit, certainly when compared with the band and tape alternatives. It's not a deal-breaker, but when you're shelling out the best part of £400 the little details make all the difference. 

The mains charger comes with an overseas adaptor, which is a nice touch, given that many will want to use their Mio abroad. Reflective of this, the device also has maps for most of Europe preloaded into it, and the fact that it comes 'ready to go' (once you've charged it) means you can more or less get straight onto the road to test it out. 

Anyone that's au fait with smart phones and tablets will find navigating their way around the Mio a simple and intuitive experience. The claims of being particularly 'user-friendly' are certainly accurate, and the large, on-screen buttons are ideal for even the most fastidious technophobe. The anti-glare, sunlight readable screen also performed faultlessly in a wide array of weather conditions, and was just as responsive to thick winter gloves as it was bare hands. 

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The stated battery life is 12 hours, but as is often the case with electronic devices, you need to be especially judicious to extract this level of performance. The device contains a built-in ANT+ sensor which facilitates a quick and simple connection with a heart rate monitor, cadence sensors and most power meters. The innovative 'Shake and Share' feature allows you to share your current route with anyone that you're riding with, and Mio have incorporate WiFi connectivity to allow users to link up with their MioShare account without even turning on a PC. 

The Mio essentially performs two roles: bike computer and GPS navigation device. This in itself is impressive, and puts the device in a very select group. 

Computer

In the first regard it performs excellently, providing accurate and detailed on-the-go performance feedback. Almost everything you could possibly hope to be calculated and recorded is, from the standard distance covered, calories burned, current speed, average speed & max speed, to far more impressive stats such as total ascent, current altitude and current gradient (both positive & negative). 

The real icing on the cake was the option to view the distance to the NEXT hill and its gradient, although this occasionally makes for painful reading. The Mio also provides you with a TV coverage-style route profile for your current ride which is fantastic. The heart rate monitor worked well, and 'Workout' mode proved a handy feature; define your ride by a set distance, time or number of calories and the 505 will do the rest. 

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Navigation 

With regards its secondary function, that of GPS navigation device, it also performs well. To a point. 

The basic 'Navigate' mode is good, and provided you stick exactly to the route suggested you should be fine. Much like your standard option on a car GPS, you enter a town or post code and the 505 will give you both bike and car route options, complete with distances and profiles, and the option to view maps and add the destination as a favourite or 'home'. Knowing the area, it did an impressive job of suggesting the best route by bike, which required using some very minor roads. 

The only major issue faced was when using the 'Surprise Me' function. In theory, this is great concept whereby your Mio "will offer you three surprising routes based upon your entered time, distance or destination." I was only offered two routes, and neither were the 25 miles requested; but fair enough, I was in a fairly remote part of Sussex. The issue arose when I decided to test out what happens when you fail to follow the instructions and accidentally (or not, in this case) miss a turning. 

To give Mio credit, they do make every effort to ensure this doesn't happen by returning you to the map screen when a junction is upcoming, and by alerting you to its presence by a series of loud beeps. However, should the worst happen, the 505 HC seems poorly equipped to deal with it. 

Having overshot you'll get a persistent double beep for about 500m to try and make you turn around, before the Mio will attempt its own version of a 'reroute'. In this case, after lots of beeping and changes of direction, that eventually involved a fairly unnecessary 3 mile loop to try and get me back to the point at which I overshot. In fact, I ended up about a mile away from there and it said I had reached my destination. With a mind of its own, it then decided that it was time to go home and 'rerouted' again. I duly obliged and ended up back at my start point having completed just 13.6 miles - most of which wasn't on the original route it suggested. This was even more disappointing given that 'Surprise Me' is one of Mio's key selling points. 

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Conclusion

The Mio Cyclo 505 HC is something of a conundrum. Whilst it has many fantastic features and performs most of its tasks admirably, you can't helping feeling that a few corners have been cut with the cable tie assembly method and the erratic map re-routing. Given the steep price tag, these shortcomings are less easy to overlook, especially when they could result in either your training data, or even you yourself getting lost. Mio's tagline is 'Explore More' - maybe, as long as you have deep pockets and don't mind following their route.

For more information, visit www.mio.com.





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