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Mio Cyclo 210 computer review

1 Nov 2018
Verdict:

Great for navigation, less good for data freaks

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£190
For 
• Clear and colourful touchscreen • Excellent Europe-wide mapping • Great battery
Against 
• Lack of any sensor compatibility • Occasionally odd routing choices

There was a time when Garmin threatened to end up what Hoover is to vacuum cleaners. So universal as to have almost become a synonym, Garmin looked to have the market sewn up. But then a few cracks started appearing.

I’ve never had an entirely frustration-free time with any brand of cycle computer, models from the big G included. This has led to riders exploring options from other brands, along with the introduction of a few completely new ones.

Anyway… Back to the point. Mio might not be massively well-known, but it’s been around a while, particularly in automotive navigation and wearable trackers.

Buy the Mio Cyclo 210 bike computer from Amazon

The Mio Cyclo 210 is aimed squarely at riders who prioritise navigating, and are happy to make do with just the stats that a location sensing GPS system can generate.

Finding your way

I may be in a minority, but I reckon the biggest benefit of having a big computer strapped to your handlebar is navigation.

In this respect, most brands have lagged behind expectation, at least for anyone familiar with Google Maps. I was excited to see how a computer solely focused on navigation might work.

First impresions were good. The mapping on the Mio is provided by OpenStreetMap and it’s excellent. Included as standard, it covers everywhere from Andorra to Vatican City in as much detail as you’re likely to need while providing places of interest and other useful details.

There’s also an SD slot, so you can add other bits of the world later. Pop in the postcode and it’ll work out a route within seconds, faster than on other devices I’ve used.

Once it’s decided on a route it’ll also create an elevation profile, ensuring you’re not blindsided by any unexpected hills. The routing algorithm sometimes throws up odd choices, however.

Even allowing it to include main roads, it will often generate routes twice the length you'd expect. On the plus side, it often sniffs out traffic free cut-throughs only the most in-depth of local knowledge would otherwise provide.

Elsewhere the ‘surprise me function’ lets you set a distance or time and then creates three separate routes for you to follow.

Depending on how you’ve set up the route planning preferences these tend to be fairly good, although if you’re on the edge of town, you’d be wise to take the more rural seeming options.

Of course, you can also add your own favourite GPX tracks to the device too.

Display and operation

Compared to Garmin or Wahoo the display graphics look a little home-brew, yet despite this, the maps are very easy to follow.

Turn alerts and road names pop up within good time, the layout is clear and simple to read. The beeps make sense, and the screen automatically switches between data and mapping when a turn is upcoming.

The re-routing capacity is great too. Hair off down a questionable A-road shortcut and it’ll beep at you to turn back, however, push on and it’ll resolve itself to the situation, speedily creating a new route, without the need to press any buttons.

Navigating the different modes or inputting data is simple. With a single push button to unlock the device, the screen itself requires a bit of a jab to activate, however it works with gloved fingers and fares well in the wet.

In fact, the whole device is rated to IPX5 for waterproofing. At 75x50mm the screen isn’t the largest Mio makes, but it’s plenty big enough for the information not to look cramped.

Strengths and weaknesses

Moving from the mapping to the data display, this customisable screen shows up to eight bits of information, all of which remain easily readable.

These are drawn from the computer itself and dependent on the GPS signal. They include things like current and average speed, distance, distance to destination, or calories burned.

In theory, current speed might not be as accurate as on a computer paired with a sensor, for instance, if you start a sprint the computer will lag slightly.

However, in reality, I rarely noticed. There’s also an inbuilt gradient sensor that seems to work well, giving what appears to be an accurate % reading in most situations.

Mio does produce additional sensors, including for measuring heart rate and cadence. They just won’t work with this specific model as it’s neither Ant+ nor Bluetooth compatible. This might not matter to some, but it’ll be unconscionable to others.

You’ll have to decide which camp you sit in and not change your mind because they’ll be no adding heart rate or power meters later.

This limits the Mio’s usefulness as a fitness tracking tool. It also means you’ll need to plug into a computer to upload data or download tracks rather than using your phone as some fancy units allow.

On the plus side, this lack of connectivity boosts the Mio's longevity. Designed to suit tourists, the battery life is well above average.

With a claimed run-time of 10 hours, I found I got an extra twenty minutes. A nice surprise compared to the short-changing I’ve received from every other brand I’ve tried.

Looking to the hardware, the included mount is not the slickest. Using cable ties it’ll sit on the stem or handlebars. A neater out front mount is available separately. Visually similar to Garmin’s system, annoyingly the two are not compatible.

Finally, there’s the software to consider. The Mioshare website and desktop apps are functional rather than particularly lovely, however once up and running adding tracks and uploading your rides is easy.

In theory, it’s possible to plot your own routes on the website, or download other people’s, although most users will already have a favourite method of doing this elsewhere. Strava fans will be happy to know you can upload directly.

Conclusion

In terms of price, the Mio undercuts most of its main rivals when put up against devices with such large displays and mapping capability.

Perhaps its most direct competitor is Polar’s V650, a little-known device using a limited version of the same mapping and boasting Bluetooth connectivity.

Buy the Mio Cyclo 210 bike computer from Amazon

Both it and the Mio can also be found for a good chunk below their respective RRPs.

Overall, if you’re not bothered about the sensors then the Mio is cheap. If you are it’s probably irrelevant and you’ll look elsewhere.

Certainly many will find the lack of sensors limiting. Still, taken by itself the Mio is a great device for navigation. If finding your way is the sole concern it’s very easy to get along with and neither its maps nor battery likely to leave you stranded.

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