Magene C606 Review 💲 Great Value GPS Bike Computer 💲 but…

Magene C606 Review GPS Bike ComputerMagene C606 Review 💲 Great Value 💲 but…

Magene’s latest GPS bike computer is their top-end, colour-touchscreen navigation model yet it only costs $160. Why?

I’ll start with a summary review of the Magene C606 and follow that further below with more detailed thoughts and insights into some of its headline features like Smart Radar compatibility, navigation and indoor workouts.

Buy $160: Magene C606 – choice of retailers

Magene C606 Review 💲 Great Value 💲 High Features
  • Price - 95%
    95%
  • Apparent Accuracy - 95%
    95%
  • Build Quality & Design - 80%
    80%
  • Features, Including App - 60%
    60%
  • Openness & Compatability - 85%
    85%
83%

Magene C606 Summary Review

Wow! An 83% ranking, that’s pretty good, right?

A: Kinda

The price is undoubtedly excellent at $160 and I’ve seen it even cheaper elsewhere. The hardware is good with a novel 3-button layout and touchscreen that mostly works. If you want to connect to any normal cycling sensor, all will be good. Even the headline features are great – structured workouts, navigation, smart alerts and more. Heck, the screen aesthetics are superior to Garmin too.

However, the whole experience is a little rough around the edges. The smartphone app is not as intuitive as it might be, it still includes Chinese characters, it doesn’t use all the correct terms for sports metrics, not all manually loaded GPX route files correctly import and so on with several other small annoyances.

Magene c606 navigation courses routes

 

Magene is a serious player with some excellent products and one who will soon be a significant cycling tech player in SE Asia, so I’m reasonably confident that these bugs will be rectified in short order.

I consider myself to be a performance cyclist/triathlete. The Magene C606 *DOES* have the core features I need to get by, it can nicely control my KICKR smart trainer, it shows performance metrics like Normalized Power and cycling dynamics, it supports smart radar taillights like Garmin Varia RTL515 and Magene’s own L508 plus its decent map nicely guides me on my once-monthly navigated ride. Yet it doesn’t have any kind of Hill Climb feature, can’t seamlessly import Strava/RwGPS/Komoot routes, nor is its structured workout feature straightforward to change once you’ve started training.

If instead, you are contemplating a Wahoo Element then I would say that the Magene C606 looks prettier than my Wahoo Roam 2. It feels like Magene is targeting Wahoo’s level of sports metrics, capabilities, and post-ride app functionalities rather than the significantly richer set of Garmin features. But it’s not yet on par with Wahoo’s capabilities even though the app’s abilities appear similar to Wahoo

But the Magene C606 isn’t designed for me. It’s targeted at semi-serious-to-casual cyclists. A much larger market than for people like me. Yet even those people may be niggled by the incomplete features.

If you are on a budget and can’t afford either a Wahoo or Garmin GPS navigation computer then Magene is worth a trial purchase from Amazon but you’ll be hoping the company beefs up the smartphone app and the on-device features throughout 2024. It hasn’t got a massive way to go…but it’s not quite there yet and, as a result, lacks the WOW factor on closer inspection. As I say though, it’s fine for basic, core usage.

Pros

  • Relatively cheap
  • Has the right set of core features
  • Quality look & feel hardware
  • The touchscreen is fairly good but could be better
  • Good-looking screen layouts

Cons

  • Audio noises (can be disabled)
  • App needs work
  • Numerous early bugs need fixing and features need expanding
  • Too many techy messages spoil the experience like “Sync Failed/Successful”

Who Is Magene?

Founded in late 2015, Magene is a Chinese bike tech company that appears to have grown significantly in the early 2020s and now boasts a good range of bike tech.  Perhaps that growth came about as a result of the A-series funding in 2018 and initial cooperation with Giant.

Its first products in each category were the Gravat bike trainer (2016), the T3300 (power meter, 2019) and the C406 (bike computer, 2020). The ecosystem now also includes heart rate monitors, a smart rear light/radar L508, the Onelap app and Exar performance wheelsets, critically appreciated by Hambini.

It appears to me that Magene targets a similar cycling product range to Wahoo Fitness but at considerably lower price points. The company is probably one to watch for the next few years and the breadth of its ecosystem has easily overtaken Taiwan-based Bryton though it probably lags behind the bike computer features offered by fellow Chinese competitor iGSport (founded 2012).

Magene C606 GPS Bike Computer comparison Wahoo elemnt garmin edge

Traffic Alerts (Radar safety feature)

Regular cyclists should invest in a rear smart radar/light and PassPixi. The latter is cheap, the former less so! Garmin Varia radar smart lights are the best in this category but can cost 50% more than Magene’s similarly performing L508. Whichever smart radar you get, it will work with the C606 bike computer and automatically flash its bright light like crazy as cars approach you from the rear.

However smart radars also give car position information to the bike computer and Wahoo, Hammerhead Karoo, Garmin, Stages and now Magene use that information to give useful on-screen graphics showing the closeness of multiple cars to your rear. You don’t need to turn your head, except before deciding to move out.

Magene’s competitors all have sidebars on their screens with high-visibility icons to indicate the position of cars. Whilst perhaps a bit childish, even the car icons work well. Magene has a more professional-looking series of chevrons to the side of the screen. I appreciate Magene’s efforts to be different but the competitors’ car icons are easier to see.

Garmin Varia RTL510 wAHOO ELEMNT HAMMERHEAD KAROO
Examples from Wahoo, Garmin and Hammerhead

Magene’s accompanying audio alerts are also a little grating, maybe that’s just me? You can turn them off and probably need to when commuting, but that partially defeats the point of rearview radars. At the moment, Magene only allows a system-wide disabling of alerts, so if you turn them off for the radar you turn them off for everything.

Smart Commands

Magene is on to something here in how it has added Smart Commands. These are features that some might consider essential but many won’t. Typically the competition might clutter up specific sports profiles with the choices for lots of these whereas the reality might be that YOU only ever want to use one of them occasionally. Having this disparate bunch of features together and independent from sports profiles is a nice idea.

You can add speed or heart rate alerts as you can with its competitors.

Also, like Garmin and Wahoo, you can set a time-based alert to remind you to fuel or hydrate. There is none of the cleverness that exists behind Polar’s smart hydration/nutrition alerts but then this product is not targeted at the level of athletes that would need that. A simple timer is sufficient.

The light settings can be tweaked to change behaviour or start at certain times of the day – you might want to automate the change from day flash to night flash in your rear light, for example.

The only smart alert I found to be novel and interesting was the ‘time to go home’ reminder to get you back home before a family event or sunset, for example.

Performance & Ride Management

The app gives a decent post-ride summary with several charts but no map view. Charts include basic time- or distance-based tracks of, say, your heart rate but also cycling dynamics like pedal smoothness if you have the appropriate power meter.

Advanced stats on the app include mean/max curves (CP Curve) and a track of your training load and balance over time (CTL/ATL/TSB).

 

Strava & Training Peaks

Magene supports links to the Strava, TrainingPeaks and Decathlon ecosystems.

The outbound connection to share completed workouts on Strava worked. However, I could not import routes from Strava.

Planned workouts from TrainingPeaks appear on the app and need to be manually synced to the C606 with a few button presses when I expect that process to be seamless and ‘just work’.

Trainer Control & Indoor Training

The indoor training features are quite nice but basic.

Magene c606 indoor structured workouts kickr climb support

There are the usual ways to follow digital workouts from plans that you have paid for (TP) or that you have created yourself. Or you can simply just control the trainer

Workouts can be scaled up or down as needed and there is also a nice feature where you can follow the hill profile from a route file – either one you’ve already done or one you plan to do. That said,  I had some difficulties getting it to work when trying to follow outdoor workouts I’d already completed.

 

I couldn’t see how to scale the workout once I’d already started it and I would have expected the lap button to take me to the next workout step.

The grade simulation worked nicely on my Kickr CLIMB, automatically raising and lowering the front of the bike to simulate hill training.

Routing, Re-Routing and Navigation

You can import a route or manually create one by tapping points on the smartphone app’s map. You can also type in a destination and the smartphone app will create a route for you, complete with an elevation profile and turn-by-turn instructions.

Magene c606 navigation courses routes

The C606’s map is good and easy to follow on the vividly coloured screen.

  • Route creation appears to be by the shortest route. There appears to be no option to follow commonly used cycle routes unless you created that route somewhere else and import it to your Magene bike computer
  • Re-routing when you make a mistake requires an active phone connection, this didn’t work for me. There is no map intelligence on the C606, effectively it’s a series of images with a breadcrumb track overlain, the routing engine is on the smartphone app.
  • Turn-by-turn instructions pop up in advance of the turning you need to make, in some cases over 100m in advance of the turn.
  • You can switch to a different route mid-ride.

Magene C606 Specifications

It’s a well-specified piece of hardware and decent value in that sense.

The charging time is slow and the 17-hour battery life can be explained away by a battery-hungry screen. 17 hours is still decent though.

  • Screen Size: 2.8 Inch (larger than Edge 540)
  • Screen Type: Full-laminated colour touchscreen
  • Weight: 105g (20g heavier than Garmin 540)
  • Battery Life: 17 hours (less than Garmin Edge 540)
  • Charging Time: 3 hours 10 minutes with USB-C charger
  • Data Types Displayed: 103 data items in 13 categories
  • Cycling Profiles: 12
  • Customized Pages: 10 pages per profile
  • Smart Notification: √
  • Smart Riding Assistant: √
  • Ambient Light Sensor: √
  • Cycling Training/Calendarised Structured Workouts: √
  • Navigation: Turn-by-turn map navigation
  • Radar Notifications: √
  • Garmin Mount compatible: √, stem mount and tether supplied
  • Number of Sensors: 8
  • Wireless Protocol: WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, ANT+, ANT+ FE-C

You probably won’t be changing to a Magene from a Garmin, however, the Garmin mount compatibility is useful as the C606 is only supplied with a stem mount. Should you want an out-front mount it’s super easy to get a Garmin-compatible one.

Magene C606 Accuracy

The Magene C606 is an accurate bike computer and is as good as all the other latest-generation bike computers, with one caveat: uncalibrated Elevation.

Magene C606 GPS Accuracy

I have no issues whatsoever with the accuracy of the Magene C606 which was consistently as good or, very occasionally, better than other Garmin, Wahoo, Polar and Apple sports devices. My testing was all on roads and you might find poorer performance on trails in mountainous areas or under deep tree cover.

These are selected images from technical sections over 3 rides covering the Surrey Hills, built-up areas in SW London and open parkland. All is good.

 

 

Magene C606 Elevation Accuracy

Manually calibrate the C606’s elevation before starting as it doesn’t calibrate properly by itself. However, it does subsequently produce accurate elevation changes to match competitor devices.

 

Magene C606 Review – Takeout

The Magene C606 superficially looks the part and is a well-constructed piece of hardware with a nice screen and decent battery. If you plan to use it simply as a means of connecting to Sensros and accurately recording your ride before uploading the finished workout to Strava then you will think it is amazing value for a great product.

However, if you plan to navigate regularly or use complex navigation you will soon become frustrated with features that appear to be not quite finished. Similarly, with indoor training, Magene needs to finish off a promising start and perhaps think about how cyclists will use the device and what they need to see.

The smartphone app broadly does the job but just needs a few tweaks to work how it is intended.

Magene C606 – Price, Availability and Discounts

The Magene C606 is widely available and I’ve seen it on Aliexpress as well as Amazon and the manufacturer’s site.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Magene C606 Review 💲 Great Value GPS Bike Computer 💲 but…

  1. In defense of “sync failed/successful”: this is SO MUCH LESS BAD than Strava’s recent change from “activity analyzed” to “awesome, you did it, your devices synced data to the cloud, you should be so proud of yourself, instant nomination for lifetime achievement award!”. Only slightly exaggerated, unfortunately.

      1. Wait – do they present that message in a way that requires actively dismissing some pop-up? That would truly be terrible.

        That’s bad enough already with some Garmin stuff (“today’s workout suggestion”, I do like it to pop up, for entertainment, but blocking the screen until tapping the x quickly gets old, and I know how I could get rid of it), but actively dismissing success notifications for stuff that should quietly happen in the background? Ouch

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