Mio Cyclo 300 review
The Mio Cyclo 300 is one of the first cycle GPS units from the company best known for its NavMan range of car GPS devices. It's a really well made bit of hardware, with a reinforced IPX7 weatherproof body that survived with just a little surface damage even after an impact and stood up well to the soggiest weather the British summer had to throw at it. Its battery life’s good too – Mio quotes up to 12 hours’ continuous use – we used it for well over nine hours in the course of a week before the battery indicator got low enough to make us feel that a recharge was advisable.
We liked the handlebar mount, too. Rather than relying on plastic clips of the sort commonly used on lights and the like, the Cyclo has a grippy rubber disc that fits into a socket at the back of the GPS unit and is held on to your handlebars by a cable tie. The main body of the GPS unit clicks securely into place. With the cable tie properly tightened, the mount feels much more secure than traditional clips and is somewhat more forgiving when it comes to tapered handlebars too. However, we opted to attach it to our stem, where it fitted securely, slipping only in a torrential downpour - even then, the unit as a whole remained safely attached to our bike.
The touchscreen display is a little more reflective than we'd like, but its anti-glare shield means that it was still possible to view in all but the brightest direct sunlight. Keeping your eyes fixed on a satnav while you're cycling isn't the brightest idea, though, so the Cyclo provides you with voice cues when you reach junctions.
The main screen is occupied by six cheerfully colourful touch buttons. One activates the Dashboard, our favourite feature, which allows you to track and record your route, speed, total active time, elevation and more. The Navigate screen is where you ask the Cyclo to plan your route, either for car or bicycle. It lets you enter your home address as a shortcut and also has an address book for any other address you choose to enter. Entering address data is made easy by alphanumeric touchscreen keypads that won't let you enter any address that isn't in your installed map set - in this case, a 22-region Western European map set.
We found that the database doesn't recognise some valid postcodes and as a result won't let you enter them. However, once you start typing in a street name, it'll ask to you choose from a list as soon as you've entered enough for it to create a shortlist of options. It’s worth noting that you can only calculate routes of under 200km in distance – that’s long enough for most cyclists, but more adventurous cycle tourists may have to divide their journeys into sections because of this.
You can also choose to visit local places of interest including restaurants, bicycle shops, cashpoints and medical services. We found the list for our local areas of London to be fairly comprehensive and rather handy. There's also a Tracks option, which lets you navigate on- or off-road routes you've previously created using the Mio Share web interface.
Other buttons take you to a log of rides you've previously recorded, ask the GPS to surprise you with a random route of a specified distance or time. An in-depth settings menu lets you choose between Ordinance Survey and TeleAtlas map displays, configure the screen's brightness and set details such as your preferred units of measurement.
The navigation screen shows you where you are on the map and the direction in which you need to travel, but because the map is closely zoomed in order to be visible, it can be hard to get a sense of your surroundings. We're not too keen on its approach to roundabouts though - instead of telling us to "take the third exit", we were instead repeatedly told to make a "slight right" until we reached the exit we needed. Another problem here is that sometimes the GPS wasn't able to track our movement fast enough, leading us to miss turns when moving at speed. Central London, with its quirky one-way systems and unpredictable road-works, is always a challenge for any navigation tool, but the Cyclo became inordinately lost when trying to navigate our way through Soho.
The GPS then whines at you for going the wrong way until you turn around, but does eventually give in and attempt to plot you a new route as you're moving. It also took its time when it came to initially locking on to a GPS signal, although this is a fairly common problem if you're in a city with a lot of overhanging buildings. Beyond these issues, the Cyclo 300 simply isn’t very good at plotting effective cycle routes, routinely ignoring streets with cycle lanes in favour of those which lack such infrastructure, being entirely unaware of most off-road cycle paths and sending us up routes which are both steeper and longer than necessary to get to our destination without giving us any opportunity to choose between alternative options, in the way Google Maps does.