A viable alternative to the ubiquitous Garmin computers, with a good touch screen, colour display and easy to use out of the box.
Easy to use out of the box
Good colour touch screen
Couples easily to the included peripherals
ANT+, Bluetooth and WiFi enabled
Quite chunky compared to the latest Garmins
Surprise Me feature is clever but needs to be used with care if you want to avoid busy roads
By Paul Norman
Mio’s top-spec bike computer comes with a host of features and is packaged up with a chainstay-mounted speed and cadence sensor and a heart rate monitor. Both use ANT+ communication to the head unit: there’s also WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.
It’s also got an effective colour touchscreen, which works well in the wet and with gloves on, although this is quite a bit smaller than the rather chunky casing. The single physical button just switches the unit off and on and works as a return to previous menu key.
You can configure the fields displayed on the screen extensively, although the unit is very usable out of the box.
The Mio pairs up easily with its peripherals, finding them quickly, prompting for confirmation and staying coupled. The heart rate and cadence are accurate too. It will also couple with Shimano’s new Di2 wireless unit to display gear selection and Di2 battery status.
The bike mount uses a different system to Garmin’s. It feels more secure and you can buy compatible outfront mounts from Barfly and others. The standard stem mount uses zip ties rather than O-rings. Again, this is more secure, although it’s a hindrance if you need to swap the Mio between bikes.
Navigation on the Mio is good, with countdown beeps and directions to show you where to go at turns and junctions. This includes some tracks and private drives which you wouldn’t be cycling up anyway. The beeps can be slightly annoying, but it’s better than getting to a junction and not knowing what to do.
It’s pretty easy to plot a new route on the MioShare app too. The OpenStreetMap base maps are detailed enough to pick out bridleways and the trace will usually follow the most intuitive path to the next clicked point. It does sometimes need coaxing to stop it panicking and taking a massive on-road loop rather than continuing up a smaller path, though.
Sync with WiFi means that you don’t need to use the included mini USB cable (not micro USB, so not compatible with phone USB cables). Once set up, rides are automatically uploaded to Strava and other fitness apps too. If you’re a Strava Premium member, you can get Live Segments on the Mio.
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One nice feature is the Surprise Me button on the master screen. Touch this then key in how long a ride you want to take and the unit will come up with three route options heading off in different directions. In general they’re OK, but may take you up roads which local knowledge tells you are likely to be a lot busier than alternatives. Some of them were very surprising though: anyone for a 50-mile ride through the West London slurbs or down the A4 through Slough?
The Mio 505 HC is closest in size, weight and functionality to the £550 (when bundled) Garmin Edge 1000 and has the same size screen. But at £400, it’s £40 cheaper than its closest Garmin rival on price, the Edge 820 bundled with heart rate and cadence sensors, and has a larger, better touch screen, even if it doesn’t look as sleek.
So the Mio 505 is a good alternative to the ubiquitous Garmin units, has some nice functions, is cheaper and beats Garmin in usability.
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