Actually, navigation on a bike is no problem at all: thanks to numerous mounting systems (such as the one from SP Connect), your smartphone can be easily attached to the handlebars of your bike; and apps like Google Maps guide you directly to your desired destination. But in everyday life, you quickly realize that it’s usually not that easy — and some questions come to mind: Do you really want to attach your expensive smartphone to the handlebars of your bike without any protection? How quickly does the smartphone battery drain if the display is on all the time? And isn’t there also a risk that the smartphone’s camera lenses could be damaged when riding over bumpy roads?
This is exactly where Beeline comes in with the Velo 2: the compact bike navigator is intended as a supplement to the smartphone and ensures that it can stay in the pocket. There the smartphone is well protected from the outside and also uses the battery more sparingly — because it’s screen is not needed. The task of displaying and operating is taken over by Beeline’s hardware, the Velo 2 Display.
Modern, compact and robust: the Velo 2 display
With a diameter of 45 mm and a height of 15 mm, the display is pleasantly compact, but large enough to provide easy-to-read navigation information. The display is pressure-sensitive at the edge and has four buttons (up, down, left and right), which allows changing screens and settings quickly and intuitively even while driving. The power supply is provided by an integrated battery that is supposed to run for up to 11 hours and is charged via a USB-C port. Even a rain shower should not affect the Velo 2, since it is water- and dust-proof.
The display is attached to the handlebar or stem with the included mount, in which the display locks into place with a twisting motion. Despite being attached with simple rubber rings, this system holds very stably on the stem and always worked reliably and smoothly in the test. However, a mount that is firmly screwed to the bike, e.g. in the form of a headset cap, would certainly be an attractive option for permanent users. Because the fact that the Velo 2 is a pleasure to have on the bike is not only due to its practical function — the modern and clean design of the display also plays its part!
Fast, balanced or quiet — which route would you like?
In addition to the Velo 2 display, an essential component is the Beeline smartphone app, which is available free of charge for iOS and Android. It calculates routes according to three criteria: On the one hand, the “fastest route” for those who are in a hurry. In contrast, there is the “quiet route”, which avoids busy roads and rather guides you through parks and quiet side streets in a relaxed manner. Finally, as a middle ground, there is the “balanced route”, which is a mixture of the other two route calculations. The calculated routing and the respective travel time for each route is directly visible, which gives you a good comparison between the three routes. Also, additional route points can be added to the route and removed if necessary. It would be nice to have a display of the gradients or the altitude profile of the respective routes, but the software does not currently offer this.
Frequently used routes and locations can be saved as favorites on the app’s home page, and various adjustments can also be made there. The type of map display can be changed (map, terrain, hybrid and satellite), and routes can be shared and downloaded or imported (in GPX format). A relatively new feature is the compatibility with Strava, which allows the user to transfer ridden routes to the social network.
A special feature of the system is the possibility that roads can be rated by users. According to Beeline, this info is included in the calculation of the routes and should thus lead to better results when calculating the routes.
The connection between the display and smartphone always worked reliably and without further intervention in the test: When the Velo 2 is turned on and the app is opened, both devices pair immediately and automatically.
Straight ahead: this is how the Velo 2 navigates you
Once on the road, the function of the Velo 2 is almost self-explanatory. The display clearly shows the direction with a large arrow in black and white, and the route to be taken is marked as a bold line. Intersections or junctions are shown with finer lines, which makes for better orientation, especially at complex traffic junctions in the city.
Also helpful is the acoustic signal that sounds before a junction. This always lets you know when you should look at the display again. However, users who do not like this can deactivate the beep. If you take a different route than the one calculated by the app, the route is quickly recalculated and the Velo 2 tries to get you back on track.
If you want to start spontaneously without a specific route, you can also use the compass mode. Instead of a map, there is only a large arrow that shows the direction to the destination.
The mentioned evaluation of the route takes place with a longer pressure on the lateral display edge. A negative rating is given at the red line on the left, and a positive rating is given at the green line on the opposite side.
In addition to navigation, the Velo 2 can also display additional trip information by clicking through the different layouts with the buttons at the top and bottom of the display. This way, the arrival and remaining ride time can be viewed, as well as the kilometers ridden. The current and average speed can also be displayed, and the route can be paused or ended.
During the test drives, the Velo 2 proved to be extremely practical and reliable with the calculated routes. The differences between the fastest and quietest route are comprehensible, and the user always reached the destination reliably. Only once in the test were stairs incorrectly displayed as a route — so you should continue to use common sense and not blindly trust the technology 😉 By the way, a direct comparison with Google Maps showed some minor differences in the suggested routes. When calculating the travel time, Beeline seems to orient itself on the speed of non-motorized cyclists, because with the e-bike, one always arrived earlier at the destination — here, an option to differentiate between both types of bikes would be quite handy.
Conclusion: What is the Beeline Velo2 bike navigation system good for?
The Velo 2 was convincing in the test: The compact gadget is intuitive to use, guides you reliably to your destination and also looks pretty good. The route selection in the smartphone app is easy and the suggested routes offer a good choice between the fastest and more relaxed routes. If you want to keep your valuable smartphone safe and prefer a more robust and compact display for navigation, the Beelinee Velo 2 is the right choice — especially since the retail price of around 75 Euros is quite affordable!