Lezyne Mega XL and Mega C GPS computers review: budget goodness

by Dave Rome


Bicycle component and accessory company Lezyne started dipping its toe into the GPS market in 2016, and the line has been expanding steadily since. The new Mega XL and Mega C look to compete with the likes of Garmin’s Edge 520 Plus and Wahoo’s ELEMNT Bolt in terms of features, but they do so at a more affordable price similar to the Garmin Edge 130.

Lezyne computers previously skirted around a direct comparison with the big players by staying minimalist in size and price, but these new computers clearly seek the limelight. Has Lezyne done enough to become the true value contender? Or do Garmin and Wahoo computers remain worth the extra expense? Tech writer Dave Rome shares his thoughts.


Mega XL versus Mega C

Story Highlights

  • Mega C: Colour screen, smaller
  • Mega XL: Black-and-white screen, larger, bigger battery, can be used in landscape or portrait orientation
  • Purpose: Full-featured GPS computers for ride stats, advanced training data, or simple navigation.
  • Compare to: Garmin Edge 520 Plus and Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt
  • Highs: Battery life, price, feature list
  • Lows: Tall stack height, smart phone needed to start navigation, less control
  • Price: US$200/AU$300

Just a hair bigger than the Garmin Edge 520 Plus (US$280/AU$450) and Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt (US$250/AU$400), the Lezyne Mega XL and Mega C (US$200/AU$300) computers offer the usual list of modern performance metrics, smartphone connectivity, wireless sensor compatibility, and turn-by-turn mapping functions. Internally, there are the somewhat common inclusions of GPS/GLONASS satellite receivers (no Galileo), a barometric altimeter, and an accelerometer, too. And for those that follow specific training programs, Lezyne has built automated connectivity with popular third-party applications such as Strava, Today’s Plan, and TrainingPeaks.

Both devices do without touchscreen compatibility (hooray!) and instead feature a four-button layout that should be familiar to anyone with past experience using older cycling GPS units. Connecting the devices through the smartphone app opens up a number of modern features, but the computers will capture and display all the usual riding data by themselves.

Despite sharing so many features and the same price, however, there are two major differences between the Mega C and the Mega XL. The Mega C offers a 34x45mm (2.2in) full-colour screen, while the Mega XL goes for a simpler black-and-white display in a larger 59x35mm (2.7in) size. The Mega C is also smaller overall at 77x50x27mm (including mount backing), compared to the Mega XL at 79x57x27mm. Weight wise, the Mega C is 77g and the Mega XL is 81g, excluding the mount.

Lezyne Mega C and Mega XL gps computers versus Wahoo Elemnt Bolt
Size comparison (front left to right): Garmin Edge 500, Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt, Lezyne Mega C, Lezyne Mega XL, and Giant Neostrack.

Claimed run time on the Mega C is an impressive 32 hours, but the black-and-white display on the Mega XL stretches that out to a whopping 48 hours. Both of those trounce the 15-hour claimed battery life on the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT Bolt and Garmin Edge 520 Plus.

Lezyne claims these figures were measured with a phone and sensor paired. While I wasn’t able to confirm such figures myself, I have no reason to question them given that I didn’t charge them during my testing, playing, or fiddling.

Lezyne Mega C and Mega XL gps computers
The Mega XL (in front of the stem) can be used in either a landscape or portrait orientation.

That larger Mega XL has one final trick. The Mega C can only be used in a portrait orientation, much like the comparable computers from Wahoo and Garmin, but the Mega XL can be used in either a portrait or landscape orientation, similar to what’s on offer from SRM, Pioneer, and Stages Cycling.

Setup, firmware, and mounting

Whenever I test a new computer, I intentionally don’t look at the instructions so I can gauge how intuitive the unit is to operate. The Lezyne Mega computers fare well here, and I was able to connect an Apple iPhone 7 with Lezyne’s GPS Ally V2.0 app (free), a Stages power meter, and other ANT+ wireless sensors with relative ease. Much like Wahoo Fitness, Lezyne offers its associated app to ease the set up of data fields and key settings, and I only needed to consult an online manual for using the mapping functions and updating the firmware.

Lezyne GPS Root desktop app
While a desktop computer is required for firmware updates, it’s easy to use.

The mobile app warns when a firmware update is required, but unfortunately isn’t capable of handling the task itself; you’ll need a desktop computer for that. Thankfully, plugging the device into my Mac and updating the firmware was a simple process, and Lezyne’s web-based GPS Root platform provides clear instructions on how to do that task and much more. Updating the device takes less than two minutes.

Both units are bundled with a bare minimum of accessories, including a USB cable for charging and data transfers, and a single o-ring style mount. That mount uses Lezyne’s proprietary “X-Lock” eighth-turn design, which uses a similar principle to Garmin and Wahoo, but adds a hidden spring mechanism for added security. In practice, it’s like a child lock on a bottle of pills – push and turn to release.

Lezyne X-Mount computer mount
The Lezyne X-Mount is a modular mount for direct fitment to most stems.

Sold separately, Lezyne also offers a couple of out-front mounts, and K-Edge just announced one, too. Or as tested, there’s the Lezyne Direct X-Lock mount system which looks somewhat like a Meccano play set with its many individual pieces.

The X-Mount is a fiddle to install, taking me 20 minutes the first time. The positives are a mount that offers wide stem compatibility, adaptability, and a clean, somewhat integrated, aesthetic. Made of reinforced plastic and aluminium, the X-Lock is designed to be a modular mount and includes an optional GoPro mount which allows you to use the computer and a camera or compatible light off the shared bracket.

I managed to fit the Direct X-Lock mount to both Ritchey WCS and Zipp Service Course SL stems without issue, and it’ll fit many other stems that use four-bolt faceplates and M5 hardware.

Lezyne Mega C and Mega XL gps computers versus Wahoo Elemnt Bolt
The Lezyne computers are already taller than the competition, and the X-Lock mount design only adds to the height.

The X-Lock eighth-turn design works well, but it suffers from an increased stack height over competitor designs. The computer sits unfashionably high from the included mount, and I needed to use the X-Lock mount in its lowest position to achieve a flush screen with my stem. In practice, the screen of the Mega C only sits some 4mm higher than a Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt, and while the added height can actually solve clearance issues in some cases, some riders will still take objection to it regardless.

Unfortunately one of the three mounts I tested failed, it would still hold a computer without issue, but did so without the security of the sprung locking mechanism. It’s an item that would be covered by warranty, but it shows that the simpler designs of Wahoo and Garmin, while not as secure, still offer their own benefits.

Mapping included, sort of

The Mega computers offer more than basic breadcrumb mapping (though they do have this), and that function gets even better if you do a little prior planning with a desktop computer. But even so, much of it relies on an initial connection to a smartphone. And while there’s a lot on offer in regards to navigation, more than a few Mega users – such as CyclingTips VeloClub member Jem Richards – have commented that it’s not all that intuitive to use.

The Mega units offer turn-by-turn directions, but in order to kick off a route, you must use the Ally 2.0 app. The app allows you to navigate to a specified point, or even manually create your own route with relative ease. Lezyne offers both TCX and GPX route compatibility, but only the former allows for two-way communication and turn-by-turn directions.

Map My Ride is one app that I used to build a route in a fully-functional TCX format, and you can do similar on Lezyne’s own GPS Root website if you’re not keen on using the phone app.

Once the app uploads and starts the route, your phone connection can end. And assuming you have offline maps loaded, all will be fine.

Lezyne GPS Root desktop app
It’s much quicker to download the maps with a desktop computer.

Limited to a 100Mb size per file, and therefore a certain distance radius, the offline maps can be simply dropped onto the device with a desktop computer. They can be created through the GPS Ally 2.0 app, too, however, it’s extremely slow going and not something I’d suggest doing in the wild; you’ll be left waiting! While painful, multiple and overlapping map tiles can also be uploaded to the device if larger distances are required and the device certainly has the memory to handle multiple 100mb files.

Without uploading these “offline maps”, the device will offer turn-by-turn directions, but only with a bread-crumb display. If you want to see relative streets, whether your phone is connected or not, you’ll need to upload the maps.

Lezyne Mega C GPS function
Street names are provided with turn-by-turn directions. However, the maps themselves don’t offer much detail.

The turn-by-turn directions are decent, providing street names and advanced warning of upcoming turns. However, the base maps don’t offer street names (like Wahoo and some Garmin computers do), and so you’ll need to resort to your phone if you get properly lost. Similarly, the upcoming turn prompts with street names appear on most pages, but not the map page.

Like the Edge 520 Plus, the devices offer rerouting capability, but this proved to be hit and miss. Given my experiences, it’s likely you’ll be riding a far longer distance than actually required if you’re consistently missing turns and relying on this function. This is something Lezyne is actively looking to improve on with future firmware updates.

Lezyne Mega C GPS function
You only get a limited view of the area around you. Want more? You’ll want to use a phone for that.

You can zoom in and out of the maps on the device, but there are only four view options and there were times where I wanted to zoom out to a wider region. Like the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt, you’re not able to pan left or right on the map, either; it simply shows the area that surrounds you.

And while there’s no issue in following a pre-designed TCX route, the navigational routes provided from within the app are, in my experience, rarely cyclist friendly. I found it always took me on the most direct and fastest path through Sydney’s suburbia, but this often meant riding on busy roads without the option to stay on quieter streets.

This mapping function can go the other way, too — live tracking sent through your phone to designated email addresses is a welcome feature. The data in this link is pretty comprehensive and could provide the basics for a coach as well as a worried loved one.

In motion

Outside of mapping, the Mega units do almost everything you’d expect, and so far, have been accurate and stable in handling ride data. With the option of Strava Live Segments, structured workouts, multiple power data points, and stress scores, there is a lot to like as a training device. And if it’s these metrics you’re after, the device works just fine without a phone connection.

Lezyne Mega XL GPS
The Mega XL’s black-and-white display offers better contrast for basic details than the full-colour screen on the Mega C, but the latter still wins when it comes to navigation. Neither do as good a job as the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt in harsh lighting conditions, though.

The low-glare screens offer crisp detail and reasonable visibility in strong daylight, which can be improved by turning on the backlight. When indoors or with the backlight on, the Mega C offers better clarity than the Mega XL, especially when it comes to mapping details. However, the Mega XL’s simpler display is easier to read under the sun without the backlight, plus it also helps that it’s just larger overall.

Like the mapping and live tracking, all communication with your phone goes through the Ally 2.0 app. You’ll need to keep the app open if you want to receive ride alerts such as incoming calls, emails, and text messages. One nuisance is that the device resets its time zone (when set to an automated time zone) with each use and relies on the app to make it right.

Lezyne GPS Ally App 2.0
Syncing up third-party applications is painless.

Ride uploads are best done through the Ally 2.0 app (but can be done through a desktop, too), which allows easy, albeit slow, wireless transfer of saved rides to the cloud. If you’ve got your Strava, TrainingPeaks, or Today’s Plan accounts linked, the data will be synced with one extra tap of the screen. Either way, the Ally 2.0 app only provides basic training data assessment, so you’ll want to use either Lezyne’s GPS Root application, or better yet, a third-party application if you want more detail.

Keeping the app open isn’t a drama for short rides, but like using any other connected app, it can be a little power hungry on your phone when live tracking and similar features are enabled. No doubt the Mega devices will go the distance, but do be warned that your connected phone likely won’t.

Lezyne Mega XL GPS
Battery checks for everything.

On-screen indicators include battery life and satellite signal strength, plus icons for paired electronic shifting systems, too.

Flicking through the customisable menus is easy, and you’re able to scroll in either direction. However, the buttons are positioned close together, so it’s a little too easy to hit the wrong one if you’re not paying close attention.

Lezyne Mega XL GPS
If you’ve set up multiple bike profiles, turning on the device greets you with a welcomed bike selection screen – too many other computers make it a fiddle to swap between bike profiles. Likewise, setting up your data fields, the number of pages, or specific items displayed (best done through the Lezyne app) allows you to tailor the computers to your specific demands of each bike.

However, Lezyne has taken a path of easier user experience over one of complete control, resulting in a few minor quibbles. For example, the minimum speed for the auto-pause function is pre-set, and grinding slowly on my mountain bike would see the computer frequently flicker between paused and resumed. And as VeloClub member Jem Richards also shared, enabling actual ride time automatically replaces the elapsed ride time figure, which isn’t ideal if you’re in an event and want to see both actual and elapsed ride times.

Furthermore, setting the specific wheel diameter to work with a speed sensor gives the sole option of selecting the actual external wheel diameter, leaving you to look in the manual for the respective wheel size.

Lezyne Mega XL GPS
The portrait menu in landscape mode feels as weird to use as it looks.

Finally, using the Mega XL in its landscape mode oddly doesn’t revert all device functions to that orientation. The pages and maps are all good, but the settings menu remains in a portrait configuration, which is a little awkward with the computer mounted. Again, Lezyne state they’re working on a fix for this.

Conclusion

Yes, the Mega C and Mega XL computers are much the same device, but they each offer unique differences.

The colour screen of the Mega C serves better mapping detail, however my poor eyesight really got on with the bigger screen, better contrast, and optional landscape orientation of the Mega XL. Plus, more battery life is never a bad thing.

With battery life that the Duracell bunny (Energizer bunny if you’re in the US) would admire, Lezyne has done an impressive job with offering these fully-featured computers at the price it does. However, small elements like the stack height, strong reliance on a mobile phone, the slow upload speed, and fewer customisation options put the Mega computers behind the more expensive Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt or Garmin Edge 520 Plus.

I still believe the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is the best computer of its kind if budget isn’t a concern. The Garmin Edge 520 beats the Bolt in its mapping capability, but that’s about it. However, where dollars and battery life are concerned, the Lezyne Mega computers are seriously good units, and dare I say, the best.

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