Garmin are the dominant force in the on-bike GPS market but a new brand – Mio – has just arrived in the UK looking to steal a share of the pie and we’ve been handed one their Cyclo 305 HC GPS units to test.
Mio might be a new name to many but the company’s heritage is in car sat-navs so they’re not going to send you down a cul-de-sac, and Paligap, whose brands include Cipollini, Ritchey and Torq, will be looking after distribution in the UK for the bike market.
Mio are launching with two high-end units, the 305 and the 300. The difference between the two? The 305 comes with a heart rate strap and cadence sensor, and can be bought with UK maps for £309.99 or Western Europe maps for £349.99. The 300 doesn’t come with a strap or sensor and has UK maps only, and that’ll set you back £259.99.
Pull the 305 out of the box and you have a rugged and well made unit, designed in Belgium and assembled in China, which is bigger than Garmin’s top-of-the-range Edge 800, but with a three-inch high-res and anti-glare touch screen which clearly displays the pre-installed Open Street Map and TeleAtlas maps, plus it’s very responsive and is easy to navigate around based on the quick play we’ve had. Mio use a similar stem/handlebar mount to Garmin to fix the unit to the bike – twist it and it’ll lock into place.
Mio’s most interesting feature is the Surprise Me function, where you select the length of your ride (in time or distance) and it’ll map three possible routes in three directions. The success of this depends on the device’s ability to select a route suitable for cycling – and not send you round a busy A road, for example – so we’ll see how we get on, but it’s an interesting feature nonetheless. What would be good is if Mio could recognise what roads cyclists are riding most frequently based on rides uploaded to the Mio Share desktop application, with the Surprise Me learning from that.
Other than that, the 305 includes all the features you’d expect from a GPS unit; you can navigate to an address, a point of interest (including bike shops, emergency locations and cafes/pubs/restaurants) or a point on the map, while you can also follow a route you’ve plotted online and uploaded to the device.
Battery life is 12 hours, while in the box you also get an instruction manual, mains charger, USB cable, mount, heart rate strap and ANT+ sensor.
So there you have a quick overview of Mio’s debut cycling-specific GPS unit. We’ll head out on the road and let you know how we get on.