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Test Lab: Magellan Cyclo 105

The Magellan Cyclo 105 is capable of displaying almost every measurement of a bike ride that is commonly available: speed, distance, time, cadence, power, altitude, slope, temperature, heart rate, calories burned and many more (including average and maximum values for most of these). It also offers up an electronic compass, “bread crumb” maps where it is possible to see where you are in relation to where you have been but not in relation to external reference points and a Global Positioning System receiver (GPS) with a 1 Hz sample rate (one sample each second). As a cycle computer, there is not much – in fact I cannot think of one thing – that the Magellan is not capable of doing.

The unit itself can function as a cycle computer all alone, using only the GPS signal to track time, speed and distance during a ride. Or, using the ANT+ protocol, it can be paired with any compatible speed, cadence, heart rate or power measuring device (which is most of them these days). To me, it seems ironic that a GPS unit requires a distance measuring device to produce accurate speed and distance records for a bike ride, but this is due to the low sampling frequency rather than inherent defects in the GPS system. A bicycle, particularly one on tight singletrack or an outdoor velodrome, can change direction several times in the one second gap between samples. If you require proof simply plot a bike ride recorded with any GPS device onto a good resolution map (such as Google Earth) and look at how the trace of the ride cuts inside most of the tight corners (amounting to 10% in some MTB races). It really is worth having a speed sender on your bike if you are concerned about accurate distance. It is also essential if you use your bike in a trainer and want to see speed and distance during a workout.

The stand-alone review unit was one of two options offered – the Cyclo 105 by is also available with a heart rate strap and speed/cadence measuring device. As my own bike already has an ANT+ display unit on the bars, all I had to do was pair the Magellan with my own gear and I had access to all these extra data instantly. In fact, for the review period I had three cycle computers mounted on my bike (the Magellan, the Bryton reviewed elsewhere in this issue and my own) – never have I had so much info available.

In the box I found the manual (not really required, the Magellan’s functions are almost entirely predictable and self-explanatory), the mount (adaptable for stem or bars, thin or fat in diameter), a cable to connect to a PC with (and recharge the internal battery with the included transformer) and the device itself. On first use of the power switch, the device goes into set-up mode reminding the user of the importance of setting it up for their purposes – these settings can easily be changed at any time.

The monochrome LCD screen has decent resolution and good contrast. The backlight makes it easy to read at night too. The four buttons felt just right for pushing (not too hard as to make it difficult, not so easy that they get pushed accidentally). Once the unit is on and the satellites found, there are up to four customisable data screens to cycle through. Anything between two and six data fields can be put on each screen. As you add fields, each one gets smaller so it may take a while to work out the correct balance for how you use the device and which fields go together on each screen to fit your needs.

My only real complaint about the Magellan is the mounting system falls short of the standards offered by several other companies. First the mount places the unit too far above the bars; it looks awkward and gives the unit too much leverage over the attachment. Then the mount is held in place by zip-ties. Secure, yes, but in my experience they leave permanent marks on the bars after a few months (and make it difficult to swap to another bike). The back of the computer has two small wings that lock into the mount. I found it more difficult than it should be to get in and out of the mechanism and I felt like something might crack if I forced it (installation made a noise sometimes, but nothing broke during the review).

Overall I really liked the Magellan. From physical appearance and display quality to user interface and custom options it seamlessly merged into my daily riding habits. If you are looking for a bike-mounted GPS computer, the Magellan is worth serious consideration.

 

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