JUMP TO:

BUY NOW:

  • Clever Training
  • Clever Training Europre

Wahoo ELEMNT MINI In-Depth Review

Wahoo-ELEMNT-MINI-Dual-Front-Back

Today Wahoo announced their newest product in the ELEMNT bike computer lineup, the MINI.  This $99 (including a speed sensor) unit is aimed more at the bike commuter and/or recreational cyclist than the hardcore one.  It’s also a tip of the hat back to the days of the Wahoo RFLKT and RFLKT+, but without most of the baggage of those devices.

As I’ll explain in this post though, it’s important to understand this isn’t just a smaller form factor BOLT or ELEMNT.  Rather, it’s really a different product with a different target audience.  It does indeed have some very specific restrictions which may not sit well with a number of readers here (and on the flipside, may not mean anything to others).

This is actually a product that’s been in the hopper for quite some time (a really long time).  Wahoo sent over a few MINI’s to test out, but as usual, I’ll send them back to them once I’m done with this review here. Just the way I roll. If you find this review useful – feel free to use the links at the end of the post to increase your awesomeness level.

Wanna video look at things instead? Here’s everything you need to know in one tidy little package (un-boxing in first portion, then understanding features/limitations, then close-up hands-on is around the 11:50 marker):

With that, let’s get this party started.

Unboxing:

Wahoo-ELEMNT-MINI-Box-Front

First up, we’ve gotta crack this thing open and get the unit out.

Wahoo-ELEMNT-MINI-Box-Front-Open

If you dump everything on the table, here’s what you’ve got:

Wahoo-ELEMNT-MINI-Box-Unboxed

So first in line we’ve got the Wahoo dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart speed sensor (actually just branded Wahoo SPEED):

Wahoo-ELEMNT-MINI-Box-Speed-Sensor

Then we’ve got the mount for the MINI, which uses zipties, allowing you to place it on your handlebars or wherever else you want to ziptie things.  I keep hoping Wahoo will go the way of Garmin and Polar with heavy duty rubber bands instead…a guy can dream, right?

Wahoo-ELEMNT-MINI-Box-Mount

Then we’ve got some paper stuff:

Wahoo-ELEMNT-MINI-QuickStartGuide

And finally, the MINI itself (yes, I had two units):

Wahoo-ELEMNT-MINI-Box-And-Back

What do you not notice in here? A charging cable. That’s because the MINI uses a coin cell battery, so no charging necessary (or possible) here.

To briefly compare sizes, here’s how it compares against Wahoo’s other units – the BOLT and full-sized ELEMNT:

Wahoo-ELEMNT-MINI-vs-BOLT-Regular-ELEMNT

And then here’s how it compares against the Garmin Edge 25, which is kinda in the same market (albeit more expensive and with GPS too):

Wahoo-ELEMNT-MINI-BOLT-Edge25

Finally, a quick gallery of weight comparisons:

As you can see, it’s pretty darn light – in large part because it lacks things like a heavy battery.

The Basics:

Wahoo-ELEMNT-MINI-On-Stem

The first thing to understand about the MINI is that it’s not the BOLT or ELEMNT.  Sure, it’s part of the ELEMNT line, but there’s a considerable number of differences here that really make it like an iPod compared to a full blown MacBook.  For example, the MINI doesn’t have GPS within it.  Rather, it leverages your phone’s GPS.  Same goes for the altimeter, which also leverages your phone’s altimeter (most phones have altimeters these days) for elevation data, and falls back on GPS elevation if your phone lacks that.

Form-factor wise, first up is that the MINI only has two buttons on front, down along the bottom:

Wahoo-ELEMNT-MINI-Buttons

These two buttons wake it up from its normal sleeping state, as well as allow you to press start/stop, trigger a lap, and change the page….and that’s about it.  The unit will automatically go to sleep per the settings in the companion app, which by default is 15 minutes after the ride ends.  That settings app is where you can configure both basic options like the auto-shutdown, as well as aspects like smartphone notifications and auto-pause:

Wahoo-MINI-Auto-Shutdown Wahoo-MINI-Auto-Pause

The same goes for live tracking too.  And this is the area where the MINI overlaps with the BOLT and ELEMNT.  For example, you can see phone calls and text messages, as well as enable DND (Do Not Disturb) mid-ride.  And the Live Tracking? It’s the same as the just-announced variant for the BOLT/ELEMNT.

Wahoo-MINI-Live-Tracking Wahoo-MINI-Live-Tracking-Options

As noted above, you can customize data pages, and a crapton of them at that.  Most units this small only have 2-4 data pages, with usually 1-2 data fields each.  The MINI though seems to allow near endless data-pages (or at least, I got tired of adding more and more pages).  Each page allows up to three metrics on it.  You can also change the order of these pages (or temporarily disable certain ones).

Wahoo-Mini-DataPages-1 Wahoo-Mini-DataPages-2 Wahoo-Mini-DataPages-3

Here’s all the data fields you can use/add to your pages:

Wahoo-MINI-DataPages-Fields-1 Wahoo-MINI-DataPages-Fields-2 Wahoo-MINI-DataPages-Fields-3

The only downside is that while the screen would perfectly fit four metrics per page, it’s sorta randomly limited to three metrics.  The bottom metric becomes the ‘bigger’ metric, but in reality the text is no bigger, except if you’re talking something like time (such as 1:40:51 – 1hr 40min 51sec), because then it stretches across the entire bottom:

Wahoo-ELEMNT-MINI-Large-Bottom

Note that it’ll always show the time in tiny numbers up top on the upper left edge, which I like.  You’ll also see the Bluetooth Status up there too.

Now it’s important to note that the MINI has two basic modes:

Phone-free mode: When you’ve broken your phone, it’ll use the speed sensor for speed/distance
Phone-mode: When you have your phone, it’ll use that for GPS (and thus speed/distance)

Both modes though allow the pairing of sensors (for which I need an entire section below to attempt to explain), including heart rate, speed, and cadence.  Within the phone-free mode though, you’re not going to get as much detail after the fact.  Mostly just a simple summary of what you did, which shows up on the device itself, as well as on the companion app.

Whereas within phone-mode, you’re going to get GPS data, and as such also mapping data.  Further, you’re going to get full sensor data recorded as well (including heart rate, speed, and cadence).  That also gives you a brief summary on the device, but then afterwards far more detail in the app.

The idea being here that if you’re doing bike commuting for example, you’d have your phone with you and that the MINI could just leverage your phone for the heavy-lifting (which is the GPS side of things).  That in turn saves battery.  The two biggest killers of battery life on most devices are GPS and backlight.  Given the MINI has neither, it’s able to last a heck of a long time on a single coin cell battery (CR2450).  Wahoo claims 250hrs on a single battery:

P1000260

Speaking of sensors, now’s a good time to remind you that the MINI does come with the Wahoo SPEED sensor included.  This is a magnet-less speed sensor that you attach to your front or back wheel.  If you attach to your front wheel though, it likely won’t track speed on a trainer, since that’s not moving anywhere.  It just simply wraps around using the rubber band.  I’ve been using one for a year or two since they first came out and they work great.

DSC_8801

So what about riding with it?  Well, it’s quick and reactive.  Since it’s using the included Wahoo Speed sensor for distance and speed, the responsiveness is nice and swift.  And pressing pages is also responsive and there’s virtually no lag in doing so. You can long-hold the ‘Page’ button to trigger a lap, which then updates lap-related metrics like average lap speed or lap heart rate.  And, of course, you can pause at any time too, useful for those mid-ride ice cream stops.

Upon completion, you’ll pause and then press end to complete the ride.  The MINI gives you a bit of a lame summary screen, with only two pages of metrics, not a ton of detail (the second page upon pressing more merely shows you average HR, average cadence, and calories):

Wahoo-MINI-Summary-Screen

Still, the companion app then fills in those gaps and shows more detail (for a fully connected ride).  Here’s what that looks like for a phone-connected ride with all the sensors you can imagine (Wahoo SPEED, Wahoo TICKR heart rate strap, Wahoo RPM cadence sensor):

Wahoo-MINI-Ride-Complete-WithPhone-1 Wahoo-MINI-Ride-Complete-WithPhone-3 Wahoo-MINI-Ride-Complete-WithPhone-2

At which point it’ll sync to any of the 3rd party apps/platforms that you’ve configured (more on that down below though). With your ride on Strava, you’re good to go off and eat more dessert.

And for completeness, here’s what a phone-free ride looks like.  Note on this ride I had the exact same sensors, the only difference is that I left my phone behind.  As you can see, you get basically nothing other than max/avg/total values.  You can share it to other sites though:

2017-07-31 13.38.36 2017-07-31 13.41.48

Now before we dive into the Strava and other platforms piece, we need to take a brief detour about those sensors.

(For lack of anywhere else to note it, the MINI does NOT do any navigation at all.)

A Story About Sensors:

Wahoo-MINI-Sensor-System

So then. Things are about to get a bit awkward here.  Let me just lay it straight on the table:

The MINI only works with Wahoo Fitness sensors.

And actually, to be more precise: The MINI only works with Wahoo Fitness dual-band sensors (meaning, dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart).

That means in the unlikely event you’re still rockin’ an original BlueSC or BlueHR from about 5 years ago, that you’re out of luck, as those are Bluetooth Smart only.  However, if you’ve bought any of their sensors in the last 2-4 years, there’s about a 99% chance it’s dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.  You can always double-check by looking for the two logos on the back of the sensor:

Wahoo-MINI-Check-ANT-BLE-Sensors

Now, as Wahoo themselves can attest to, I’m more than displeased about this requirement.  I explained to them that this was effectively taking us back to the mid-2000’s in the days of having a cheap bike shop bike computer that only worked with their branded sensors.  It’s undoing all the work that having standards like ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart for fitness have been working for.  Even more so since Wahoo’s really been at the forefront of pushing those standards.  After all, their very first product was a device to get open-standard ANT+ data into the closed iPhone platform (Pro Tip: That post is a blast from the past).

Wahoo-MINI-Sensors-Phone-Pairing

But let’s dig a bit deeper into why they’re doing this.  In lengthy back and forth’s about this with them, they explained the reasoning this requirement is there.  Note, this might get a bit geeky.

Remember above when I said the MINI has two basic modes? Phone free and phone-connected.  What Wahoo is doing here is to actually split the data channels from sensors.  One channel (ANT+) goes to the MINI, while the second channel (Bluetooth Smart) goes to the phone.

The thinking there is that it reduces issues with sensor data when the MINI can’t connect to your phone.  This can happen due to you eating too many tacos for lunch, or just general electronic interference from nearby stuff.  Since most people put their phone in their back pocket, it’s a trickier spot to keep constant 1-second update-rate data connectivity for hours on end without a blip.  Wahoo themselves know this better than almost anyone else in the industry, since their previous product – the Wahoo RFLKT – depended on this exact same architecture.

With the RFLKT, it required a constant and always-up channel. When that didn’t happen, things got ugly quick and data was lost.  Thus by making the MINI less dependent on the phone, they solved that issue.  But it didn’t solve the issue of how to get sensor data to both the phone and the MINI.  That’s because the MINI doesn’t actually talk to Bluetooth Smart sensors.  Rather, it only talks to ANT+ sensors, and the phone only talks to Bluetooth Smart sensors.

Meaning that the files that you get uploaded to Strava, are actually from the sensor/etc data taken from the phone via Bluetooth Smart, not from the MINI.  The data collected during a phone-paired ride on the MINI actually goes nowhere.  Like a fart in the wind.  It’s redundantly useless, except for showing you that data during the ride on the MINI itself.

And even more to the point, remember in a phone-free ride, you only get summary data upon completion of the ride, no second by second (or similar data).

DSC_8856

So why not simply do as they do on the BOLT and ELEMNT and have the MINI connect to both sensor types and then update the phone accordingly via Bluetooth Smart (or even after the fact)?  Well, their answer roughly consolidates to they ‘thought it would be too complex for the target market for this computer’.

Their thinking was that the main target audience for this unit wasn’t necessarily people who may already have a BOLT or Garmin, but rather people interested in getting a bike computer for the first time.  Said differently (in my words): People walking into an Apple Store and deciding to get a $99 bike computer with no research.

That market they noted wouldn’t likely have existing sensors, and would need something to solve the no-phone use case.

And perhaps not having existing sensors is true (though, I even challenge that, specifically around heart rate straps).  My challenge is more basic: I don’t think the no-phone use case actually matters.

Seriously, I don’t.

I don’t think there’s a segment of the population left that both:

A) Rides a bike
B) Rides said bike without their phone with them

And more to the point, if that portion of the population exists that rides a bike without their phone, they exist in the higher end market – people doing endurance races, triathlons, etc… Of which this product won’t fit the bill because it doesn’t give any graphed data without a phone, just a total distance number. That’s it.  And if that’s all you want, there are far cheaper options on the market.

Here, this is what that Venn diagram looks like:

image

(I couldn’t actually make that orange bubble any smaller without the text not fitting. In reality it should be the size of a period.)

My point?

There’s no reason why Wahoo should be trying to fit a wonky sensor solution for this end of the market.  The market no longer exists. It died about 5-8 years ago.  Everyone rides their bike with their phone, except in races, in which case this product doesn’t fit anyway.

The bigger market?

Someone that may have existing/older Garmin ANT+ cadence sensors or a Polar Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensor that’s willing to drop $99 for a bike computer.

I’m not sure the answer of it being ‘too complicated’ is good enough.

On the bright side though, Wahoo is adamant that this ‘Wahoo sensors only’ solution is really only for the MINI, and not for their existing products or any future planned products outside this specific target market.  They stated that anything beyond this product segment down the road will definitely be full ANT+/Bluetooth Smart compatible.

And of course, if you fall into the camp of having zero other sensors already, then you’re good to go.  And on the bright side, Wahoo makes some of the best sensors out there that I generally recommend over other brands anyway.  So if you have to be vendor locked, at least it’s not a bad vendor to be locked into.

(In case you ask, no, it doesn’t connect to the Wahoo KICKR/KICKR SNAP trainers in any way. It does, however, have an indoor mode if you use the included speed sensor.)

3rd Party Platforms and Accuracy:

Like the MINI’s siblings, the unit can upload data to all the same 3rd party platforms as the BOLT and ELEMNT.  This includes Strava, Dropbox, TrainingPeaks, and MapMyFitness.  You can configure these within the companion app:

Wahoo-MINI-Linked-Accounts-Strava Wahoo-Mini-Linked-Accounts-Workout

When you configure these accounts the unit will instantly upload the completed workout file to any connected platforms, using Bluetooth Smart (there is no WiFi in the MINI).  It usually takes only a second or two after hitting end for me to get notification from Strava that my workout is there.

Note that unlike the BOLT and ELEMNT though, there I no Strava Live Segments displayed while riding outside.  You’ll, of course, get Strava Segment rankings afterwards on Strava’s site, but nothing during the ride.

Also note that if you use the unit in a phone-less configuration, then you’ll get only the barest of summary information on 3rd party platforms.  For example, this is what a phone-less ride looks like on Strava after you sync the workout to the phone – even sensor information isn’t shown:

image

As I alluded to above, I think almost everyone is using the phone though for these rides anyway, so it’s not really a big deal per se.

For lack of anywhere else to put it, I’m not going to dive much into ‘accuracy’ of the MINI in this review. Why’s that? Because there’s nothing to actually gauge about its accuracy.  See, with the MINI using your phone’s GPS, every phone will have different results.  Not only that, but with Wahoo including the speed sensor in there, your distance/speed numbers are also overridden there.  So basically, it’s just your phone’s GPS.

Still, for fun I tossed in one recent ride using my phone in my back pocket (like most cyclists) and the MINI up front.  Plus, a pile of other Garmin head units, to see how accuracy of the GPS track itself looked.  Here’s that result at a high level:

image

Obviously, they look almost identical.

If we zoom in a bit we can see though there are some slight GPS oddities here and there from the MINI file.  For example, in the middle of your screen near that Toy Store, the two Edge units stay the course perfectly as I go down the street between some tall buildings.  Whereas my phone GPS struggles a bit here (and thus, the MINI struggles too).

image

But for the most part, throughout the rest of the file things are generally pretty good as I leave the higher buildings.

image

Also note that if you put your phone in your pants pocket (like jeans on a quick ride across town), then you’re likely to see worse accuracy.  Obviously your body becomes a bigger blocker for the unit to get satellite access.

You can look at the above ride in the DCR Analyzer in more detail here, zooming around as you see fit. And if you want to use the DCR Analyzer for your own comparisons, you can do so here.

Product Comparison:

I’ve added the MINI into the product comparison database.  Note that with a non-GPS product, and especially a budget product,  it’s a bit tricky.  Again, it’s kinda like trying to compare an iPod to a MacBook, it’ll just overwhelmingly make the less-capable product look…well…really less capable.

So instead it’s best to focus on the specific features you care about, and then decide whether this product fits the bill.  For the sake of adding some other non-Wahoo product into the chart below I’ve added in the Garmin Edge 25.  Though in many ways the Cateye Strada Smart would kinda be a better match, as would the flotilla of Lezyne units which actually include GPS (such as the $99 Mini GPS), it’s just that I don’t have that in the product comparison database at this time – and the Strada Smart is a few years old now.  In any case, comparison below:

Function/FeatureWahoo ELEMNT MINIWahoo ELEMNT BOLTWahoo ELEMNTGarmin Edge 25
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated August 1st, 2017 @ 11:03 amNew Window
Price$99$249$329$169
Product Announcement DateAugust 1st, 2017Mar 14th, 2017Sept 15th, 2015June 24th, 2015
Actual Availability/Shipping DateAugust 1st, 2017Mar 14th, 2017March 1st, 2016August 2015
GPS Recording FunctionalityOnly with phoneYesYesYes
Data TransferBluetooth SmartBluetooth Smart, WiFi, USBBluetooth Smart, WiFi, USBUSB/Bluetooth Smart
WaterproofingIPX7IPX7IPX7IPX7
Battery Life (GPS)250 hours (coin cell)15 hours17 Hours8 hours
Recording Interval1-second (with phone)1-second1-SecondSmart Recording (variable)
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerN/AYesYesYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionUses phone GPSYesYesYes
AlertsNo audio/vibrateAUDIO/VISUAL + LED'sSound/Visual/LED'sAudio/Visual
Backlight GreatnessNo backlightGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoNoNoNo
Can control phone musicNoNoNoNo
Has music storage and playbackNoNoNoNo
ConnectivityWahoo ELEMNT MINIWahoo ELEMNT BOLTWahoo ELEMNTGarmin Edge 25
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingYesYesYesYEs
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)Calls/Texts onlyYesYesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYesYesYes
Group trackingSorta (others see you)YesYesSorta (others see you)
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNo
CyclingWahoo ELEMNT MINIWahoo ELEMNT BOLTWahoo ELEMNTGarmin Edge 25
Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableNoYesYesNo
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsN/AYesYesN/A
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFN/AYesYesN/A
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYes (Wahoo dual-mode sensors only)YesYesYes
Strava segments live on deviceNoYesYesNo
Crash detectionNoNoNoNo
WorkoutsWahoo ELEMNT MINIWahoo ELEMNT BOLTWahoo ELEMNTGarmin Edge 25
Create/Follow custom workoutsNoPlanned Fall 2017Planned Fall 2017No
On-unit interval FeatureNoNoNoNo
Training Calendar FunctionalityNoNoNoNo
FunctionsWahoo ELEMNT MINIWahoo ELEMNT BOLTWahoo ELEMNTGarmin Edge 25
Auto Start/StopYesYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureNoNoNoYes
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoNoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)NoNoNoYes
Day to day watch abilityShows timeShows time/dateShows date/timeShows time/date
Weather Display (live data)NoNoNonO
NavigateWahoo ELEMNT MINIWahoo ELEMNT BOLTWahoo ELEMNTGarmin Edge 25
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)NoYesYesYes
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoNoNoNo
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoYesYesNo
Back to startNoYesYesNo
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNo (But can create one-way routes from phone app)NO (BUT CAN CREATE ONE-WAY ROUTES FROM PHONE APP)No
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoYesYesYes
SensorsWahoo ELEMNT MINIWahoo ELEMNT BOLTWahoo ELEMNTGarmin Edge 25
Altimeter TypeUses phone (Baro first, then GPS)BarometricBarometricGPS
Compass TypeN/AMagneticMagneticN/A
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyN/AN/AN/ANo
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleWahoo dual-mode sensors onlyYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableWahoo dual-mode sensors onlyYesYesYes
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableWahoo dual-mode sensors onlyYesYesYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableN/ANoNoNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoYesYesNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNoNo
ANT+ Lighting ControlNoNoNoYes
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationNoNoNoYes
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoKICKR/KICKR Snap Only (FE-C Fall 2017)KICKR/KICKR Snap Only (FE-C Fall 2017)No
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoNoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)NoYesYesNo
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)NoYesYesNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoYesYesNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableWahoo dual-mode sensors onlyYesYesNo
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableWahoo dual-mode sensors onlyYesYesNo
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoYEsNoNO
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoYesYesNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoYesYesNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoNoNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsNo--No
SoftwareWahoo ELEMNT MINIWahoo ELEMNT BOLTWahoo ELEMNTGarmin Edge 25
PC ApplicationN/AN/AN/AGarmin Express
Web ApplicationN/AN/AN/AGarmin Connect
Phone AppiOS/AndroidiOS/AndroidiOS/AndroidiOS/Android
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNo
PurchaseWahoo ELEMNT MINIWahoo ELEMNT BOLTWahoo ELEMNTGarmin Edge 25
Amazon LinkN/AN/ALinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerWahoo ELEMNT MINIWahoo ELEMNT BOLTWahoo ELEMNTGarmin Edge 25
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Remember that you can make your own product comparison charts here, using the product comparison tool and any of the products I’ve reviewed.

Wrap-up:

Wahoo-ELEMNT-MINI-Phone

This is definitely a product I’m conflicted about.  On one hand, Wahoo’s made a great little unit that’s priced incredibly well that plays well into the larger 3rd party platforms ecosystem (Strava/Dropbox/etc…).  It’s super-readable (albeit without a backlight at night) and works well when connected to your phone.  If you don’t have a power meter or other 3rd party sensors, I suspect a lot of people will love this unit.

On the other hand, it goes against some of the principals I heavily advocate for here – most notably not forcing consumers to buy specific brands of accessories.  In addition, it’s odd that it doesn’t really save any of the data from a phone-free ride, except a simple summary line.  To be clear, I don’t actually think that Wahoo made the sensor decision they did because they wanted the incremental sensor revenue, or because they’re against standards.  I think they made it because they boxed themselves into an engineering corner while trying to solve a market use-case scenario.  A scenario that I think doesn’t actually exist.  And it sounds like the engineering work to undo their pickle is too great at this point.

Which again – brings me back to my overall feeling here: This is a superb unit if you already have Wahoo sensors (or don’t have any sensors).  It’s also a superb little bike computer if you plan to have your phone with you.  They’ve done good work here, and they’ve added in features that nobody else has for $99, and they do it with the ease of use and companion app that consumers enjoy from the ELEMNT line-up.

But, as I noted above, it’s not for everyone.  And that’s OK.

Found this review useful? Or just wanna save a bundle? Here’s how:

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take the time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased.  By joining the Clever Training VIP Program, you will earn 10% points on this item and 10% off (instantly) on thousands of other fitness products and accessories.  Points can be used on your very next purchase at Clever Training for anything site-wide.  You can read more about the details here.  By joining, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers.  And, since this item is more than $75, you get free 3-day (or less) US shipping as well.

Wahoo ELEMNT MINI (US folks)
Wahoo ELEMNT MINI (Europe folks)

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the unit (though, no discount/points). Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells). If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.

Thanks for reading!

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

*

 Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.

You can click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture

138 Comments

  1. Martin Mortensen

    Thank you for the review!
    I’m not really sure that I understand the market for this product.
    Would it not be better to get a phone mount instead?

    This product has no GPS, so no better accurary than my phone, no extended battery using GPS (dependent on phone). I would assume that many phone apps will be able to provide similar or better functions.

    Am I missing something completely or is this nothing more than a waterproof extra display?

    Best, Martin

    • I think there’s absolutely a market for the extra waterproof display-like product, aka the MINI. I just don’t get the phone-free mode, I’m not sure where that market exists.

      I think there’s also a market for an upsell for Strava Live Segments on such a device for say $30 (via software update), but I suspect that might also kill their BOLT sales, so unlikely they’d do it.

    • Peter

      When I first heard about the Elemnt Mini I was super excited. As a racer who isn’t allowed to use a GPS or cell phone in competition, but still wants a good cycle computer this is perfect. The fact the Elemnt Mini doesn’t have a GPS but still used the high quality speed sensors that don’t rely on magnets on spokes or contraptions attached to ones fork means that I can toss out all the horrible old “dumb” computers I’ve bought over the years and use something that is much more reliable and durable.

      I realize that adventure racers are a very small target demographic, but this is the best computer I’ve ever used that is legal to race with.

    • Pips

      Wouldn’t phone free mode be for when you’re doing longer rides? My phone lasts about 6 hours when I’m on a ride and it’s just doing nothing but being tethered to my Elemnt and playing music… I dunno.

    • “Wouldn’t phone free mode be for when you’re doing longer rides?”

      In theory yes, but in practice no. Unless you just want total distance and time at the end. Else it doesn’t record the sensor data for uploads. So it’s not like it’d look like a trainer ride or anything after the fact. It’s simply total time and total distance (see Strava screenshot up above).

    • Tim

      I think there is a market for this for sure. I had a RFLKT+ when I first started biking. It was so good and I still use it on my second bike. Having a display at this price point that connects to sensors is so much better than using your phone.

      With a phone you have to have to the backlight on all the time and mount it on handlebars which kills battery and risks breaking the phone in a crash. Or keep it in your back pocket and you can’t see your stats during the ride.

      I guess the other point to make is I didn’t really consider a Garmin after using the Wahoo apps and RFLKT and went out a got an Elemnt when I could justify a big boy bike GPS. So in that regard an entry level computer like this is a good gateway product.

    • Gavin

      I’m also in the tiny “adventure racing” demographic. Searched hard 12 months ago for a non-GPS ANT+ computer, the O-Synce Marco range fits the spec nicely. I initially thought the wired remote was bit of a gimmick, but it’s really useful for resetting distances on the fly.

    • PY Gauthier

      Are there “any” good mini head unit that display power? Through bluetooth or ant+. Looking at something like the edge 25 or this one. I dont really want/need the data when riding most of the time but I enjoy having it for analysis…

    • gavin

      O_synce Macro X or MacroHighX will display and record ANT+ power.
      I’ve never used the recording/software features, I either record with Suunto Ambit 2 or a phone running IPbike

    • The Lezyne Mini is worth a look too. It accepts BT Smart power meters, though not ANT+ ones.

      I’ve been using it lately, and it’s good. A bit small to read – but not bad. Only downside is I find initial GPS reception is incredibly slow. I haven’t done comparative data analysis of the files yet either.

    • Stephen Thomas

      The Lezyne Super GPS supports both ANT+ and BTLE. It’s also bigger than the Mini (and bigger than the Edge 25), but not much bigger than the ELEMNT Mini.

    • Rob Powell

      I picked up the Lezyne Super Year 10 GPS for $125 this past spring in large part due to DC Rainmaker’s positive review. My first cycling GPS unit, but it works as advertised with lots of functionality at a fraction of the cost for a Garmin and for just a few dollars more than the new Wahoo unit. Pretty easy to move it from my bike hooked up to the trainer and then to my mountain bike.

  2. Gary N

    I totally agree with your interpretation shown in the Venn diagram. Wahoo don’t appear to understand this section of the market. I would counter that many riders are getting to the point where they have invested in HR hardware and have an ageing bike computer such as a Garmin Edge 500 and the Wahoo device could have been a great next product replacement for it.

    What recreational or commuting cyclist doesn’t ride with their phone these days?

  3. Rob

    Do we think Garmin will be updating the edge 25 line this fall.

  4. DerLordBS

    Ray, I totaly disagree. GPS recording is a must have.:
    Point 1:
    Update your diagram: People who ride in the evening with mobile.

    When I am doing a long evening ride, my phone is already drained of energy. The GPS functionality even consumes more power. This will not last for every ride.

    Point 2:
    You can grab a dumb 15 EUR device without internet recording from the supermarket to display the speed and use your phone to record your track for internet. When you have got the same functionality and you don’t need a smart bike computer.

    Point 3:
    Recording will not last on very long sessions.

    • alex

      Surely a £15 lipstick sized phone charger would solve that exact issue re: evenings and phone being out of battery?

    • I don’t think we disagree to be honest.

      I think Wahoo’s point is if you want GPS in the device, spend more. And honesty, that’s valid. The same goes for your point about battery life. You can grab a simple USB battery pack for 15EUR as well (actually, even less – $11 – link to amzn.to) – that will easily fill your phone up.

      As for recording not lasting long – are you referring to battery life, or? Again, I don’t think this product is aimed at people doing 7 hours rides. Most phone’s these days can hold enough GPS juice for a 3-5hr ride, depending on the situation/app/etc…

  5. Sloe Anolder

    Why did they give up on the RFLKT? Yes, some folks sometimes had BTLE drops but that seems OK in a budget solution with all the RFLKT display flexibility.

    • Duane

      I’m puzzled about this as well. I use a Rflkt and find it to be a brilliant and workable solution. It has some downsides but it rarely disappoints and it succeeds on being an affordable head unit.

    • Promar93

      I agree as I am still using a RFLKT for MTB rides. Yes, I still use my RFLKT. I’m considering the MINI, and would be using it the same way, as the wahoo app is the only one that stills works with the RFLKT. It’s a cheaper option to stepping up to the BOLT. I still don’t know, I’ve held onto it for this long…

  6. Jason Worswick

    I’m confused, I can just put the wahoo fitness app on my phone, stick it in my back pocket and record my ride.

    • Of course. Same goes from Strava app in your back pocket. But that’s not on your handlebars to view.

    • DerLordBS

      As a handlebar display: What does it do better than a 15 EUR speed display from the supermarket? Those devices also show speed, cadence and time.

    • Off the top of my head:

      – Smartphone notifications (txt/calls)
      – Heart rate
      – Elevation
      – Customization of data metrics (and lots to choose from)
      – Ability to upload to Strava, and plenty of other sites.

      Again, if all you want is speed/time/distance, there’s far cheaper options. Nobody disagrees there.

    • Philip Carson

      “Same goes for the altimeter, which also leverages your phone’s altimeter (most phones have altimeters these days) for elevation data, and falls back on GPS elevation if your phone lacks that.”

      Made me think the mini would display ‘elevation’ like the rflkt does. So I bought one and elevation is not an available parameter in the customisable display. I’m guessing the only parameters that can be displayed are those derived from the ant+ data captured directly from the sensors, except maybe the text msg alerts.

      Appreciate the review anyway, its not a simple to understand device.

  7. Dan

    So, I can buy this for $99 and have to use my phone, or I can buy something like the Bryton 10 or Bryton 100 (Both around $60) and not use my phone. It seems like I’m only losing Strava live segments, a speed sensor, and maybe some reliability, although I haven’t had any issues with my Bryton 100.

    I don’t get this product at all. I could see a market for a RFLKT type device that duplicates what my garmin watch is recording, but this is a like the bastard child of an old school bike computer and the RFLKT.

  8. Mark I

    Why not just buy a quad lock case/bike mount for less? Only issue here would be if you use a trainer. Otherwise launch the Strava app and off you go, with no less functionality than the MINI. As you say, virtually no one rides without their phone, so why purchase and bring along an extra/duplicative device like this?

    • For any number of reasons people don’t like putting phones on handlebars.

      While the argument always comes up (it has for almost a decade now) to just buy a case/etc and strap it on your bars, ultimately, very few people actually do (or want to do) that.

  9. Kristian

    Thanks for an excellent review. I wonder how the phone battery life compares when using this product versus strava as a stand alone unit on a waterproof handlebar mount? I was planning on buying a Garmin edge25 to preserve my phone battery life but would not want to rule this out.

    • Lucas

      If you’re looking to buy the Edge 25, check your local Aldi. Some stores had the unit for sale at £40. I checked mine a while back and the store had 5 units for £60. Was an absolute steal.
      If you are in the UK.

    • Kristian

      Good shout Lucas. Sadly they are sold out online and in all my local stores…

  10. corresponsal

    I´d like to see a slim waterproof dumb display similar to the MINI for ANT+ data (including power) which I actually record with my watch. No need for GPS there, speed sensor data will do. Would be a really great option for races as well, slim, lightweight, maybe even aero… Garmin´s quick release options are too bulky, especially on the wrist. Am I the only one ready to purchase such a device?

    • Daniel W

      No, I’m in the same boat. I use my triathlon watch (Suunto Ambit3 so BTLE only) for main recording but want something simple that gives Ant+ speed, cadence & power. I’ve seen the Bontrager Node 2.1 and 3T Eye…any other suggestions out there?

    • The Real Bob

      Plus infinity. Ever since I got my 935 my 520 is collecting dust. My only issue is that I would like a display on the bars to see the data. Its a pain on the wrist to grab a quick glance.

      I would love a remote display on my bars that has an ant+ connection to my watch and will display a bunch of fields, more than the 4 on the 935.

      I would by this in a second.

  11. The set of ‘People who ride bikes without their phones’ is a strict subset of “People who ride bikes”. There is no person who can ride a bike without their phone and simultaneously not ride a bike.

    The Venn diagram would still be funny if it were correctly drawn :).

  12. Roland Loko

    Hi DC Rainmaker
    Once again great review like always. Man you have a lot of sensors. I was just wondering if you would know other way to attach the wahoo RPM Cadence sensor to the crank arm other than the adhesive pad and the zip ties. I was thinking about something like the plastic housing they provide to attach the speed sensor to the hub for example. Thanks

  13. Mick

    I think the biggest competitor for this product, is simply not having a computer. If your phone is doing all the data collection and logging, why not just use your phone and ditch the $99 computer?
    The RFLKT was a janky product with a lot of issues, so the value add here is that head unit itself collects ANT+ data to display to you, preventing bluetooth connection issues… Which it then promptly throws away. Meaning that if your phone has bluetooth issues, you’re still getting crappy sensor data.
    I really like the idea of having one less device to sync and charge, but also could envision a scenario where you wouldn’t necessarily want to drain your phone battery, but still grab speed, HR, and power (which I know isn’t supported) data. It turns out the actual GPS data is the least actionable metric.

  14. robert behnke

    I think this has been discussed a little but I am unsure the conclusion.

    My lady just got into riding. HR is the next step and a computer. We are also interested in live tracking for her. We tried using Endomondo with live tracking but it kills the phone battery… quickly. A 2 hour ride is not possible (I know Endo has a low power mode on the paid version but… unsure the real difference).

    Is this combo more efficient? I think in the comments, someone said a phone should be able to do 5/6 hours. I assume that is with the screen locked… but is it with live tracking? Insight? Thanks!!

    • It should work. I did a 1hr 20min ride this morning, and my battery upon starting the ride was 90%. After I got back, I think I saw it around 60-70%. But I took photos along the way and have all sorts of other apps (including Garmin’s Live Streaming app) also running.

      I don’t have very good ‘clean’ stats on exact battery life drain per hour, since so many other things on my packed phone (iPhone 7 regular) going on.

    • robert behnke

      Thanks for the info!

  15. Tim

    I think that the target market they need to be attracting are people who have all the existing sensors, etc, but would like something cheaper to record commutes with so that they don’t unnecessarily burn out the lifespan of their more expensive devices.

    I have a 920xt that I both commute and train with. If I could get a $99 thing that just recorded my commutes, even if it needed tethering to a phone, we’d be in business. All I really want is the GPS track, ANT+ HR, and maybe the option for cadence/speed/etc.

  16. BobbyM

    Hey DC.
    Is there a way to mirror the information of a GPS watch (Fenix 5 in my case) on a device that you put on the handlebar? I want to be able to see my speed/HR/power, but I don’t feel like putting my watch on the handlebar, and don’t want to spend extra on a dedicated bike computer either.

    • No. Though technically, anyone could actually build exactly that.

      See, the Fenix 5 supports Varia Vision. But in reality Varia Vision is really what’s called an ANT+ Extended Display device. Which basically means it shows data from the primary device.

      Here’s the device profile: link to thisisant.com

      So anyone (even Wahoo or Garmin) could add that profile to a small head unit and make exactly what you’re talking about. All working with any Garmin watches that support Varia Vision today (quite a few actually).

    • Dan

      I don’t understand why someone hasn’t already made this. Price it right and it would fly off the shelves.

  17. Ted Timmons

    Well, I guess I’m glad I didn’t preorder. I guess I understand the coin battery and speed sensor since it doesn’t do GPS. It’s basically a RFLKT++. I’m in the “not with a phone” camp because I like being able to ride without fussing with getting the BT connection established for short/city rides- which is where I thought is use this. Less to steal. And on longer rides my phone battery is always challenged, so that dependency would be bad too.

  18. Eli

    How about support for other dual sensors?

    • They said it’s a technical possibility, if the BLE ID lists the ANT+ ID in it. Meaning if somewhere in the BLE broadcast ID for the sensor it lists the ANT+ ID number too, that’s how they match them up. They then also need to add it to a bit of a backend database.

  19. Question: What happens if you haven’t opened the Wahoo ELEMNT app in weeks, you hop on your bike, fire up the ELEMNT MINI and go?

    I ask because I feel like this behavior will be common for the target market of this device. If you’re not a nerdy power user, you likely won’t bother pulling out your phone and launching the app first, even if you remember it’s something you’re supposed to do. I feel like this user mostly just wants to hop on and ride, without any fiddling at all.

    • You end up with just summary information (phone-free mode), no track or per-second recording.

    • I think you need to consider this behavior. The vast majority of people will ride with their phone, but only a small chunk of them will launch the ELEMNT app before each ride and do that whole song and dance.

      I see serious road cyclists and triathletes all the time, but I also see a great number of casual cyclists and commuters who fall into the category of “users who ride with a phone but definitely will not bother launching app before each ride.” This group is not represented on your Venn diagram.

      PS – Great review as always, BTW

    • As long as the app is in the background though, it’ll work. Even if from a month ago. Also, you’d have the little Bluetooth Smart indicator there as well on the screen.

      I’m pretty sure in iOS10 and above paired hardware devices can actually request an app be launched. I tried it on the most current app, and it doesn’t seem to launch. But maybe I’m missing something on how that technically works.

    • Mr Tommy Haywood

      If you are on android….(I guess you likely aren’t)…install tasker, install auto location and create a task to boot the ELEMNT app when cycling. Auto location uses androids native activity detection API and it’s scarily accurate. Usually recognises I’m on a bike within a hundred meters and I get the phone connected notification flash up on my Bolt.

      That’s the power of android :)

    • John Stowe

      This is the part I’m concerned about, but for a different reason. I currently use my phone on a QuadLock mount to record my rides, though I tend to turn off the screen to save battery unless I need to monitor something, like distance for a cue sheet. Mostly I like having records to look at after the fact (comparing times on Strava, logging mileage, etc.), so the time when I care about being a “nerdy power user” doesn’t really align with the time when I have to push buttons.

      The ELMNT and BOLT are attractive to me because they would get me the same logging and uploading, but I wouldn’t have to pull out my phone, unlock it, and load up an app at the start and end of my ride. They seem a bit pricey, though, considering how rarely I would use the turn-by-turn directions (and I would still have my phone anyway), and how unlikely it is I will ever put a power meter on my commuter/kid hauler/touring bike. I saw an ad for the MINI and thought maybe it would hit the sweet spot – but if I still have to make sure an app is running on the phone, then there’s not really any added value for me.

      It does seem like Wahoo have failed to identify a real lower-end market to aim at. I guess I’ll wait for something else to come along, or maybe a sale on the BOLT.

  20. Eli

    Wouldn’t the better competitor to this by the Bryton Rider line or the the GPS units from Lezyne? Sure, they aren’t that popular, but that seems because they don’t get much coverage to make them popular.

    The Lezyne Macro GPS Cycling Computer is the same price on Clever Training with all the notification goodness:
    link to clevertraining.com
    But has turn by turn directions and doesn’t need the phone during a ride as it has GPS built in

    • Eli

      Also supports power meters so good for people who care about power data along with support for third party Ant+ and BLE sensors. Does live tracking too.

      So really no sure what you mean by:
      [quote]added in features that nobody else has for $99[/quote]
      Wahoo charges the same and has less. (the number of people who are trying to spend this little and want the higher speed/distance accuracy of a wheel sensor is tiny I’m guessing)

    • Jonathan

      I was just about to comment about the Lezyne as well. Im surprised Ray didnt compare the Wahoo to the Lezyne at all. Here is his article about the Lezyne link to dcrainmaker.com
      I have had the enhanced super GPS for almost a year now and it is pretty good. I really like all of the data fields that it has (an insane amount). Granted I am using an older android os so I dont get the phone connectivity, but I dont care. The only odd thing I have noticed is the elevation. It sometimes has me at below sea level.

    • I specifically noted Lezyne in the comparison section.

      (I don’t have them in the database, though have had it on my to-do list for a while)

    • Eli

      I only see that name (Lezyne) in the comment section when I do ctrl-f. You mentioned Cateye which is way more limited

    • Grrr…

      Well, I did note it in the post…and then managed to zap it 34 minutes later in a subsequent update according to WordPress. Looks like I had two tabs open and didn’t realize it, so my edits in the second tab killed the first.

      Fixed that. And I’ll try and get the Mini GPS into the product comparison tool.

    • Eli

      Whats the “and it’s nearly three years old now” refer to? Lezyne units got refreshed for this year and are still getting updates:
      link to lezyne.com

      And Cateye last updated their stuff the end of 2015
      link to cateye.com

      BTW still no mention of Bryton. :-p I know not a popular unit and no one talks about it but if no one knows about it hard to talk about it

    • The three hours was in reference to the Cateye Strada Smart. I linked to my Lezyne post from last year.

  21. Folkert

    And here I am sitting… thinking about how I nearly never take my Phone out while riding my bike….. I’m in the period…. :-X

    • Edward Ng

      Perhaps not pointed out anywhere, but the extreme vast majority of people bring their phone with them on rides, even if they do not once take it out, because it would be critical to have in the event of an emergency for calling for help.

      Personally, I find it extremely difficult to imagine anyone would be willing to forego that level of safety/security/insurance just to avoid the hassle/weight of carrying the phone. Even the most well-prepared person in the world could, somehow, find themselves in a situation where they cannot resolve an issue that comes up, and would then need a pickup (for example, I know someone who carries spare tube, tube patches, tire patches, spare TIRE, spare sealant and rides tubeless–one time, I got a call from him to pick him up because he got two punctures, where the first puncture required the tube and on trying to inflate the tire after the second puncture, he broke the presta valve because he got impatient and didn’t remove the wheel from the bike while using his hand pump and snapped the core–had he not carried his phone, he may well be SOL getting help).

      -Ed

    • Folkert

      Okay, let me rephrase, I regularly (generally) go cycling without my own phone on me.

      I ride in groups of 6-12 guys, there are generally 6-9 phones with us at least. Also I’m Dutch, there is very rarely actually no one around in our little tiny ass country.

      I do ride with my phone when I’m riding solo or in places I don’t know like France and shit….

      But generally when I ride, my own phone stays home!

    • How did people ride before phones?!

    • Fokert- what city? I’ve been poking around NL all summer.

      link to strava.com

    • Edward Ng

      Walk home or die.

      Or hitchhike–probably in that day and age, you weren’t likely to become a…victim…of something unsavory, but asking for a ride from a stranger. Nowadays, who knows wtf can happen! STRANGER DANGER IS REAL!

      -Ed

    • Arjo

      I’m also from Holland ( nijkerk, near Amersfoort) and I’m highly interested in this mini.

      I have considered the lezyne but already dropped that one because of altitude/elevation issues I read about on a cycling forum.

      I still do consider just mounting my Iphone on my bike. Only thing I want then is that strava while riding displays my heart rate and cadence data (and of course also records).

      That would only require a proper phone case for my bike and the required sensors.

      I wonder though: are there any other computers that do not have gps (I don’t need that) but offer the possibility to connect cadence, speed and hr sensors?

    • Folkert

      I live in Maassluis personally. Eitherway having a phone among your group of riders is a most, I agree there but there are plenty of times it’s fine to leave your own phone @ home :-)

    • Brady

      Just pick up an old RFLKT In eBay. Pairs to all BTLE or ANT sensors and you can enable/disable gps in the app and fall to sensors for info if you want.

    • tannenba

      Bontrager Trip 300 can pair with ANT+ sensors for speed/cadence/hr , uses a CR2032 coin battery, and can be found online for about $40 (without sensors).

  22. Mark E

    I like the idea of a display that uses universal ANT+ and doesn’t need regular charging (aka Bontrager Node), but I’m unsure if this will catch on as upgraded entry level device for new users. The one item that it highlights is that there might be a place for phone apps that link to a configurable display module, eliminating the need to buy a separate unit in many use cases.

  23. Andrew Burke

    I feel like I’m right in the target market for this. I’m a runner who recently has started riding, mostly for commuting but the occasional longer ride. I already own a Wahoo Tickr strap. I have zero interest in riding with my phone out on the handle bars. I don’t care that it doesn’t support power meters. Frankly if you can afford to have a PM on your bike you’re not the target market. I was planning on ordering the Wahoo speed/cadence sensors anyway.

    I was thinking about the rflkt but I feel like its a bit expensive. I also, for a time, used the Magellen Echo for running (essentially the rflkt in watch form). While I loved it when it worked it often didn’t work right and rarely worked easily. Like Ray I ideologically object to being tied in to Wahoo sensors but practically they’re what I would be buying anyway.

    This basically ticks all the necessary boxes for me.

  24. Another question… Based on this quote, you’re saying the MINI does not share data from the Speed sensor when uploading to third-party sites:

    “Not only that, but with Wahoo including the speed sensor in there, your distance/speed numbers are also overridden there. So basically, it’s just your phone’s GPS.”

    If I’m reading this correctly, the MINI does share cadence data if you have the separately available Wahoo Cadence sensor, but it does not share data from the included Speed sensor. Do I have this right?

    • It shares data from both. It’s just that if you ride phone-less, then the only data uploaded is just the summary (i.e. total distance/time).

      It’s confusing to explain.

  25. Weiwen Ng

    I can actually see this working for me, but I’m very much a niche market.

    I’m an experienced road cyclist, but I’m not interested in training with power. I no longer race. I can ride pretty hard, but I’m content doing it by feel right now. My bike, a steel, pretty skinny-tubed Vanilla, has very clean lines, and I’m not that eager to disrupt them with a wired computer. And non-ANT wireless computers also have rather big sensors that zip tie to forks, and aren’t that attractive to me. It’s the 21st century, and you’d think they’d make a wireless rear speed sensor on traditional wireless tech, but I guess not.

    I bring my iPhone always, in case I need the maps or I need to call someone. I have used Strava to track my really long and hard rides, but I’m an occasional user at best. I’m actually content riding with no bike computer right now.

    That said, I do find myself having to check my phone’s clock (it’s in my back pocket). I do wonder how far I’ve been going. I’ve had some knee issues, and it would be nice if I could keep my cadence up. I full fledged GPS is way too much power for me, and they’re rather big, and I also have to worry about maintaining the lithium ion batteries. I would very much rather have a small head unit powered by a CR2032 coin cell. And Wahoo’s speed and cadence sensors are very unobtrusive, and if I were getting a computer, I’d get those …

    Except that there are almost no computers that meet the above criteria, and that don’t already come with sensors. The Bontrager Node 2.1 and Specialized Speedzone Double Wireless have their own sensors bundled already; the Node has an HRM, started pricing at $140 and is on sale for $50, and is apparently compatible with Wahoo’s sensors (but speed + cadence adds $70). The Spesh retails for $90, and has their proprietary combined speed/cadence sensor that attaches to the chainstay via ziptie. Compatibility with Wahoo not confirmed, and who would want the Spesh ANT sensor on ebay? And neither of those will pair with a smartphone.

    So, the Element Mini might just be ideal for my use case, except that it will drain my phone’s battery. In 2012, my iPhone 4 lasted the entire Civil War Century (hosted by Bike Maryland / Team Baltimore Bicycle Works, my old team) with Strava on, but nothing paired via Bluetooth. I’ve moved to an iPhone 5, which has a bigger battery, but I also tend to run more crap in the background. Nevertheless, I could disable everything else on long rides, and I could get a battery case.

  26. Slowtwitcher

    Not sure I get it. Isn’t it simpler (and cheaper) to:

    1) start strava on the phone, for reviewing data later
    +
    2) get a cheapo magnet/wired computer (a cateye or so) to see real-time data?

    Way cheaper.

    • Edward Ng

      Because…

    • Wolfgang

      +1 Totally agree.

      I don’t see the use case.
      Just buy a cheap bike computer and track your ride with a phone app (strava, …)

      Somehow I am missing this in your review Ray.
      You criticise Wahoo a bit, but hey, okay, Wahoo is just great…

    • Strange, about a 20-30% of the total text in the post is in the sensor section where I tear it apart.

      Then in the conclusion, another 1/3rd is dedicated to why I dislike a significant piece of the product. Of course, the summary also explains why aside from that it’s a great product if you fit into the specific market it’s targeted to.

      The use case is really simple, and I’m not sure why this is confusing:

      A) You want a unit on your handlebars that’s not your phone (most people don’t want their phone on their handlebars)
      B) You want sensor stats – most notably heart rate, but also cadence
      C) You want it customizable (most cheap bike computers aren’t)
      D) You want smartphone notifications to your handlebars

      That’s the key things this is getting you that a $20 bike computer isn’t.

  27. Jon R

    I had a Reflkt and hated it. Could never ever get it to work. Their customer support on the product was just awful It was a great idea that didn’t work. I’ve outgrown my Edge 25 in less than 6 months but this? Makes no sense.

  28. Bob Pankratz

    I had to noodle on this all day; and I’d say the sweet spot for this device is my 13-17 year old kids that are just getting into biking and fitness tracking; they use Strava or Wahoo but I don’t want their clumsy selves lashing the phone to the handle bars they’d text and pedal grrrrr… so a head unit like this make sense. They already have phones and this is better than a Bontrager Node 1 type for them; and they have the cell phone; and the cell phone link will make them dig into the data and get hooked and their you have it future Wahoo customers. If they don’t get the bike itch I’m only out $100 and a I repurpose the device for use on our leisure bike were I might want the data but would never mess with my gps computer.

  29. Brad

    So this won’t work with the Bontrager Duotrap speed and cadence sensor? My RFLKT works fine with it it.
    Doesn’t look like there is any real reason to upgrade to this from the RFLKT.

    I do love this solution though. Not having to worry about the battery dying all the time is awesome.

  30. Michael Swann

    Cateye have products that make more sense than this.

    Their Strada Smart, Padrone Smart and Padrone Smart+ offer more functionality than this and they’re products that would target the same market.

  31. Tommies

    For 100€ ?

    I prefer a Lezyne mini gps

    Pour 100€ ?
    Je choisis un mini gps de Lezyne
    .

  32. Brady

    I have two RFLKT that work just fine. Most of my rides are two hours or less so my phone battery is more than sufficient. I got excited for this new device thinking I would get better notifications and what not but the whole “wahoo only” sensors is garbage. I have a wahoo hr but speed/cadence are not wahoo.

    Agree with the above that I think they took a step backwards here. It tried to be two computers (std computer + RFLKT-like) but ends up doing neither well.

  33. Tom Ward

    Just got a mate, who’s started riding, who is using strava on his phone, to order one. And I think you hit the nail on the head when you describe its market as those who use strava, but don’t want there phone up front!

    Now I wish Wahoo would finally get the structured workouts out, they are falling behind Garmin with this, I had to buy a Garmin 520, not because it’s better than the Bolt, but because I want to use Today’s Plan, TPeaks and Xert, but Wahoo doesn’t play…

    • Dan

      Is there a reason why he didn’t buy a Lezyne or Bryton? What features made this more attractive than a GPS bike computer?

  34. Nathan Budd

    I think Wahoo have made a really odd decision making it only compatible with their own brand sensors.

    I had a Wahoo Tickr, and I found that I don’t get on with chest straps for HR, so I switched to a Scosche Rhythm+ (which is obviously dual band). I also have a 4iiii Precision dual band power meter (again dual band).

    As someone who recently broke their Garmin, I’ve been using my phone as an interim fix, and I’ve been impressed with how long the battery lasts. I started looking at the RFLKT+, but found that Strava dropped support for this device, so was a no go.

    This would have been ideal, if it had let me use my existing sensors!

    I understand that Wahoo think people with power meters are going to spend more money on a head unit, but that’s not the case for everyone!

    Also this would have been decent for people who just want to record a simple spin on rollers or a turbo when warming up for races, but the power meter not showing is a fail in this scenario again.

  35. Qek

    Thanks for the review! It remains a bit unclear what is the normal daily commute procedure. Do you need to fiddle with phone and check everything before you start to ride, or can the phone just be in your pocket and everything “just works”?

    I have the Coros helmet, which even though it has a remote keypad on the handlebars, it requires a rider to first get the phone, start the app, and press start ride. After arriving at a destination, you need to get the phone and press stop ride in the app. For daily commuting, it would be nice if it could just detect the sensors and motion and start and stop when the sensors go in and out of range (i.e. walking to and away from the bike).

  36. Bernie W

    I’ve been using the Cateye Strada for a couple years. It’s fine once you figure out it’s little nuances. I am a believer that you might as well use the phone to do the heavy lifting so the bar unit can be small and simple. I’ve never liked all the big clunky GPS units out there, even the latest from Garmin, Wahoo, etc. They have these huge old-school bezels too (wasted space) .. and we all know bezel-less is cool Just look at the latest flat screen tvs and phones. Strada works fine. I rarely use the phone-less mode, but it comes in handy when my battery dies. The only thing that bugs me is the upload to Strava never uses the sensor data (only the GPS data), so of course the numbers that actually show up in Strava differ from what the Strada software says about the ride.

    • Eli

      bezel-less also means less shock resistant, Just look at the latest flat screen tvs and phones :-p (You ever try dropping a TV?)

      I don’t want my bike falling over to mean my gps is broken

  37. Laurence Sax

    Thanks, I was ready to buy this but definitely don’t want to purchase another non-wrist based heart rate strap! Later this month the Topeak Panocomp X will be released… maybe that’s the one.

  38. Arjo

    Great review, forgot to post that with my first comment.

    I would love to see something like a “post your requirements/specific needs and we help you find the best product for you!”.

    I am sure now the mini is not the best solution for me. But what is then?

  39. maxfrance

    Is it me that doesn’t get it ? Or maybe few others think that this (beautiful and cheap as well) little gadget is only a (hardware) remote display for a phone app ?

    The fact it doesn’t support sensors of other brands/ecosystems makes it’s overall value without any doubt less interesting.
    Of course, IMHO.

    • maxfrance

      And, I forgot to tell:

      already own an excellent TickrX HRM and a speed/cadence BT sensor from Wahoo; anyway this doesn’t sound that much appealing as keeping my Garmin Edge 25 and the 735XT on my wrist, and spare 99 bucks.

      Wahoo Bolt on the contrary could be my next gadget to crave for.

  40. Arjo

    In fact, I am grateful for Wahoo introducing the mini. That made me read this review and by reading this review and its comments I got in touch with the cateye padrone smart+. I just ordered the sc100b. Hearrate, cadence and speed sensors will be ordered soon :-)

    Thank you Wahoo!

  41. beaky

    I can see a good use for this; I always forget to charge my Garmin so a plus there and I always cycle with my phone.
    My only concern is whether the companion app will drain my phone too much, it didnt with the RFLKT and I have a battery pack on said phone so hoping it there will no issues there.
    If on a long ride and phone does die then at least my ride is being recorded with just the basics, so not all is lost and it auto uploads to Strava so no need to mess around with the PC!
    On the whole I think its a decent upgrade from the rather buggy RFLKT and my always dying Garmin (because I forget to charge)….. so I just ordered one!
    Great review btw.

  42. Mike Richie

    Ok, so I am a bit confused why Wahoo did things the way they have. I understand the explanation about using their dual mode devices and even having a no phone mode (I do believe there is a use case here, even if it’s just hoping on the bike and forgetting your phone). What I don’t understand is Wahoo not recording all the data on the mini and downloading it to the phone later. I used an FR60 as my main device for years (still use it when I need to connect to fitness equipment). It ran on a cell battery, connected to Ant+ devices, even had a backlight and easily stored the detailed data for later wireless upload to GC. And the battery generally lasted the better part of a year! This would seem to be much more useful then summary only, and I can’t believe there isn’t enough storage on the device (I don’t think chips are made without a reasonable amount of storage anymore) or that the programming would be that difficult. By the way, if this had Strava live segments, I would get it immediately, even with the other limitations. Are you listening Wahoo?

  43. Laurence Sax

    Ray, would this work with the Rythym+ wrist heart rate strap, which is dual band…

    • Not unless Wahoo decided to add it to their backend database so the companion app will see it. And that also would depend on the Scosche showing the ANT+ ID within the Bluetooth Smart BLE (I don’t know off-hand if they do or not today).

  44. Aruna Basnayake

    I use a Wahoo Elemnt and really like the user interface via my phone. I intent to get the Elemnt Mini for my wife. Perfect for her needs and at the right price point.

  45. Stephen Thomas

    Unless Wahoo has plans to tackle the power meter market with their own product, it sure would be nice if the Mini could support third-party BT/ANT+ power meters such as Stages.

    • I suspect that would cannibalize their BOLT sales…

    • Arjo

      Quote:
      Ian Evans (Wahoo Fitness Support)
      Aug 2, 3:24 PM EDT

      Arjo,

      At this time we do not have plans for that.

      Thanks,

      Ian

      Aug 2, 7:59 AM EDT

      Hello Ian,

      Thank you for replying to my email.
      I read that you merged both my questions into one and that you answered my mini bundle question.

      Do you also have an answer on my other question regarding when other non-wahoo sensors will be supported by the mini?

      I look forward to hear from you.

      Kind regards,

      Arjo

  46. Jim Flesch

    Will it give u turn notifications like the reflkt will while using a ride with gps route?

  47. The justification for the Wahoo sensors has a strong whiff of bullshit to it.

    There’s absolutely 0 reason why the MINI _and_ the phone couldn’t /both/ listen to the ANT+ signal from a sensor (assuming an ANT+ capable phone) – it’s just a broadcast signal, you can passively receive the sensor data.

    Bluetooth LE unfortunately is more complex and does require pairing and a session established between two devices (the Bluetooth protocol really sheer over-kill for things like HR and wheel sensors to be honest; only reason to use it is cause it’s ubiquitous – just based on the protocol spec I’m fairly sure it needs more CPU and radio energy than ANT+). However, it does still allow the sensor to send data to /multiple/ collectors.

    A single ANT+ radio service on the sensor would have worked fine, with phones that support ANT+.

    A single Bluetooth radio serice on the sensor should also have worked fine, if they’d put Bluetooth on the MINI (and there’s no good reason not to have been able to do that – unless they built this from old chips they had spare from an old product… RFLKT?).

    It sounds like Wahoo have not given you the real reasons for this choice. Besides re-using a supply of old parts for the MINI, an other obvious possibility is to lock the MINI into their sensors (as it’ll be harder to be sure other sensors will work).

    • They aren’t saying they couldn’t do it. They were very clear by the end of my big-long discussion with them that they could go back and re-engineer things to do what you (and I) said was quite possible. I think I noted that above.

      But in listening/reading their explanations, they actually hold water. At least as to why they did it that way in terms of making it simple for both paired and phoneless connectivity. But doesn’t hold water is the use-case they were trying to achieve. That’s what stuck them in this rabbit hole to begin with. Had they not fixated on a scenario that I think most people here agree doesn’t matter, then they likely wouldn’t have ended up trying to solve for it. And one they went that far down the engineering road, it was going to be too ‘costly’ (in terms of dev hours) to undo that.

    • I don’t see how their explanation holds water. There’s nothing about the user-experience that requires this, from the ANT+/BLE protocol side, because both ANT+ and BLE allow multiple devices to gather stats from the same sensor during the same ride (ANT+ in a passive, straight-forward way, BLE in a madly convoluted way but still quite possible).

      If they’d put a bluetooth radio stack on the MINI, then most good BLE sensors would have worked just fine.

      With ANT+ on the MINI, they could still allow ANT+ on the phones (that support ANT+ at least). There is *no way* for the phone to affect the MINI getting the data, or vice versa.

      Something smells.

      Once concern could be that some BLE sensors are shitty and don’t support pairing with more than 1 data collector. But Wahoo could say “Well, some sensors are shitty and limited – you need to use ours to be sure, but if your old one works, great” – which would be no worse than the current story. So why don’t they do that? Have they got older BLE sensors of their own that don’t support >1 data-collectors, and they’re afraid to have their own sensors shown up as shitty?

      Otherwise they’re either trying to use-up some old stock (or committed supply) of electronic parts that only support ANT+ in the MINI, but they don’t want to be limited to ANT+ phones, and they came up with this story as cover.

      Otherwise, they’re trying to make people buy their sensors.

    • I’m not aware of *any* sport sensors on the market today (aside from *maybe* the Polar H10, and that’s a big maybe) that actually have enabled/allowed multi-master BLE pairing. Thus, their point*.

      Sure, BT5 claims that to be possible – but so did BT4.1 – and nobody implemented it. And that was like 3-4 years ago.

      *Again, don’t confuse me as agreeing with their flawed technical design. I’m just saying I think their heart was initially in the right place once given marching orders from the marketing side, but that the foundational concept to which they engineered upon was flawed.

    • Ok… *That* is the reason then. They didn’t want to say their BT sensors are crap and can only handle 1 session (to be fair: the BT session setup is ridiculously over-complex for sensors; I can understand why programmers’d cut corners on implementing that). That other sensors are similarly crap doesn’t change the fact theirs are too.

      So, rather than admit to that crappiness, they instead they came up with this cock-a-manie story about improving the connection between the MINI and the sensor.

      However, this does NOT explain why they’ve chosen to not allow ANT+ only, for phones that do ANT+. ANT+ does _not_ require pairing. Receivers can receive passively. They could easily enable ANT+ recording on phones that support ANT+. I *regularly* use Wahoo’s (excellent) “Fitness” app on my phone to record my ride data, as a back-up for my sometimes unreliable bike computer.

      Why don’t Wahoo at least just allow ANT+ only sensors, for those with ANT+ phones? They *definitely* can do this. That they havn’t, but come up with strange stories instead, doesn’t sit right.

      Note, I really like Wahoo. I have a RFLKT+ (which was a great idea, unfortunately, the lag cause of the sensor→phone→RFLKT+ data path is noticeable; also, they never supported the barometric altimeter on Android). I still use their app. They have good ideas, and brought some much needed competition to a certain other vendor of notoriously buggy cycle computers. My next bike computer will likely be a Wahoo – once I’ve squeezed all the use out of my old one.

      However, this tendency they have every now and then to try squeeze customers, by leveraging accessories, is a little unfriendly. I bought a RFLKT off eBay, which turned out to have a firmware defect – and they refused to help me, because I’d bought it off eBay rather than from them. There was the non-standard mount for the newer computers, requiring you buy mounts from them (even though RFLKT uses a standard mount). And now this thing to try force people to buy their own sensors for MINI.

      Wahoo: You’re a great company. Be good to your customers, and your customers will be good to you. If you keep trying to do these petty squeezes on them, you’ll steadily gain a reputation that you’ll find hard to lose.

      (Note: DC, your comment about the MINI or the phone “talking to” an ANT+ sensor is generally not appropriate. Data collection is usually passive with ANT+. The ANT+ sensor broadcasts, and cares not who is listening. I regularly make use of this feature to record ANT+ data on multiple devices, and we all know you do to! ☺ ).

  48. Bob Pankratz

    A lot of time I hold on to the belief that it only takes 1 well meaning leader on a team to champion a bad concept just long enough that it gets to the point of no return. We’ve all worked with or for someone so afflicted with self assurance that they can’t see the wall coming. We always joke about wow that feature; yep someone on the team had a great idea; everyone else clearly disliked that person so of course they all said “great idea, run with it.” I don’t think that’s the case here.

    Seriously though, so much teeth mashing (and exploding email updates) over this product,

    Simply put this product isn’t for 98% of the readers of this site. It’s a simple turn key product for people that don’t know any better. Shocking, I know, but companies do build products for people that don’t know any better; That’s how you pull in new customers. If you sell 100 mini an loose $10; and 5 of those people become Element devotes and move up the food chain; that’s a win and cheap customer acquisition, The other 95 they don’t mater because they are 1 or 2 time buyers at best. And they probably like the product because their world view is limited.

    It might be the computer you recommend to someone you know; especially if you don’t want to wind up having to support them in the use of features they have no desire to invest the time to understand; you know the people I’m talking about.

    In my world, this is the bike computer I buy the teenager that wants to do Strava and is start to get serious enough about sport to invest $99. This is the same kids that I don’t trust not to smash their phone if I lash it to the handlebars. For those that don’t have kids 13-19 it’s hard to explain that concept, trust me if you have them in your future; clarity is on it’s way.

    Wahoo doesn’t seem confused either; anyone here that’s confused by the product go to wahoofitness dot com and read the spin on the product; they no exactly what they built and what it’s limitations are and they are marketing it as what it is; the messaging is very carefully chosen.

    Yeah It is not the product this crowd wants to see; but “Element” is now a line of products. There’s nothing that stops them from sliding a Mini-Plus into the line up between the Bolt and Mini. Rather than crushing the Mini for what it’s not; if you want / need a Mini-Plus then run with that and layout what next product needs to do; rather than assuming Wahoo was up to no-good with this clearly low end product.

    A smart company recovers their R&D on this product then drops the price to $85 and introduces the mini-plus in the same shell for $125, just in time for next spring. Garmin’s been doing that for years weather it be via hardware or software that’s not fully baked.

    • You don’t lash the phone to your handlebars. You keep it in your pocket.

      That said, I like the idea of phone-less operation. Just, that has no bearing on requiring BTLE + ANT+ sensors. They could trivially allow ANT+ sensors to be used with ANT+ capable phones, along with MINI.

  49. Cameron

    Great review, thanks.

    The lack of a backlight (given the unit is essentially a remote, weather proof display of your phone) is a problem for me, as many of my commutes are at night (especially during Winter). I guess battery life was the reason why.

  50. raqball

    Holy cow there are a lot of negative comments here. I have a Bolt but also ordered the Mini from CT and it is scheduled for delivery today.

    I mainly cycle in the City and do about 30-40 miles, 4 or 5 days a week. The Mini, in my opinion, is a fine computer for $99. Think about it! You get a speed sensor in the box so the price is pretty fair all things considered.

    Sure to get the full feature set you need to have a phone with you but I always ride with my phone. I personally don’t know anyone who does not. Phone battery drain? Unless the screen is constant on it should be minimal as long as you close down other apps and items running in the background.

    The Mini, in my opinion, is aimed at beginners, weekend warriors, commuters and those of us who do not need all the data the higher priced units offer. I am 52 and have zero interest in racing. I cycle for fitness and because I enjoy it.

    I dig the coin cell battery! You can get a 4-pack off Amazon for like $6. 4 batteries should = about 2 years for me, at least.. I do not like the large computers and the Bolt is about as big as I like so the smaller Mini is perfect for me.

    If you compare the Mini to the budget Garmins, I think the Mini wins as long as you cycle with a phone. The Edge 20 cost more, has no BT, no auto upload of rides and does not come with a speed sensor. The Edge 25 is considerably higher priced and while it does have GPS, BT and auto upload it also does not come with a speed sensor.

    I really don’t get the hate the Mini is getting. It appears to me that a lot of the negative comments here are from users who the computer is even targeted at.

    Anyways, there is a lot to like about it and the price is fair and reasonable in my opinion, all things considered.

    • Brady

      You are 90% correct. The issue is the 10% is making folks angry because Wahoo requires Wahoo-brand sensors to get functionality that up until this point, Wahoo has been very flexible and open (non-Wahoo cadence, HR) in their stance to allow all BTLE devices to work with them. For some reason now they insist on using the BTLE and ANT+ channels independently of one another and limiting to only the newest generation of their own sensors. Odd, given their history.

      I am a happy RFLKT user and was hoping this would be an ‘upgrade’, but it really is a downgrade. If they would have allowed the standard BTLE/ANT+ connectivity as in the past, this would be a hit. But by locking into only Wahoo sensors (even their older products are BTLE only) it is rubbing folks the wrong way.

    • raqball

      Sure but they are including a speed sensor which in my opinion is all the targeted market of the computer will need. If they want more than that then I agree the sensor limitation is a bummer but Wahoo does have very good cadence and HR sensors that will work.

      Now I realize that does not help some who already have a cadence and/or HR sensor that they’d like to use but buyers should be aware before purchasing. I don’t use cadence and my Scosche Rhythm won’t work but I am okay with that as I understood it’s limitations when I purchased it. At some point, I’ll purchase a Wahoo HR and call it a day.

    • The ‘hate’ centers on two key aspects:

      A) The Wahoo sensor lock-in requirement
      B) The idea that there’s a need for a phone-less mode in really any target audience of this device.

      Wahoo has long been a proponent on openness, they based their entire business on it from Day 1. This flies in the face of that.

      As an aside, it’d be a critical mistake for any company to assume this site is just targeted at a certain audience. I’d like to think I’m actually pretty good at writing to who the target audience is. As noted in the post, I think there’s a bigger group of people who have ‘old’ fitness sensors, especially since with the phone tethering requirement for any meaningful data – the speed sensor doesn’t really get you anywhere. If they’d included a cadence or HR sensor – then that’d be more logical (as you noted actually, that you always ride with your phone).

      Fun fact: Most popular reviews I have in terms of view volume? Low-end running units, alongside low-end Fitbit units. When new Fitbit products come out, they usually have more views than all Garmin units combined for the following months.

    • raqball

      I don;t disagree with you but the computer is only $99 and it comes with a speed sensor. Maybe I am missing the mark on who this computer is target towards?

      In my mind, as i previously stated, it’s targeted at beginners, weekend warriors, commuters and people like me who can’t give a hoot about the extra data.

      My rides are mainly for fitness and because I enjoy it. All I really care about is speed and distance and even then, speed is less of a concern. Some rides I might come in at 15mph and the next maybe 16. Makes no difference to me.

      I do agree the sensor thing is odd and while I couldn’t care less if I need a proprietary sensor, I can see where some would be upset. Maybe they need to offer a bundled version that includes cadence and HR? Obviously, that would increase the price and the price would then become a point of contention.

    • Bob Pankratz

      Ah yes, that was a critical mistake. I meant to imply that the device isn’t targeted at the group engaging in the discussion here in the comments and total understands the ins and outs of the BTLE/ANT+ etc. Aka if it upsets you there is a good chance you aren’t the target audience. The site at large is of mass appeal and I refer everyone here. Sorry if that seemed like a slight it was unintentional.

      I too am disappointed by the openness issue. But I’ve got faith in the company. On the long game, they haven’t dissappointed; I’ve long ago forgiven them for the RFKLT and RFKLT+ that didn’t work as “I” needed them to.

  51. Stephen Thomas

    Some tips and observations from my first day with the ELEMNT Mini:

    1. If you have a TICKR HRM that’s paired to an Apple Watch, you might want to delete the pairing (“forget the device”) on your watch. I didn’t, and the heart rate for my first ride was definitely wonky. The Mini captured it fine for about 10 minutes and then gave up. My suspicion is that that’s when the watch wrested control of the bluetooth connection to the HRM.

    2. Make sure you’ve given the ELEMNT app permission to access location always. I had it set to only when active. (Not sure if I did that explicitly or if it was left over from an early install of the app.) If the permission is only when active, then you only get GPS tracks if you open the app before starting your ride. With it set to always, the app runs in the background, and you can start a ride completely from the Mini without taking your phone out of your pocket.

    3. If you’re going to use the speed sensor, you do have to pair it. I wasn’t sure, because when I tried to pair, the phone could never find the sensor. (The phone handles pairing and then relays info to the Mini.) I thought maybe Wahoo had done some sort of pre-configuration magic so that users wouldn’t have to hassle with pairing. Nope. It was just that the speed sensor included had a dead battery.

    4. When you start a ride, there’s a brief alert message that will tell you if the Mini is connected to the phone.

  52. Chris R

    I’m looking at buying this and have a couple of points which I’m not quite clear on:

    1. Since the Mini only supports one speed sensor at a time I plan on leaving the sensor on one bike (which I use probably 90% of the time) and using it without the sensor on other bikes. Just to confirm, will I get a speed/distance readout while riding without the sensor (but with my phone)?

    2. I sometimes use bluetooth headphones with my phone while I ride. Will everything work together considering that my headphones, the Mini, and possibly the speed and other sensors are all connected to my phone simultaneously? Bluetooth noob here…

    I’m also considering one of the Lezyne units, but I don’t fancy having another thing to keep charged.

  53. Adam Finn

    Thanks for the review.
    When compared to the RFLKT+ it strikes me as important that this one does not permit you to see how much climbing you have done/are doing (because it somehow can’t get this info from the phone? the RFLKT+ had it’s own pressure gauge I think) and does not display the temperature either (so no thermometer either) – is that right?
    These are both very useful and important if you are riding in the mountains (especially off season for temp)
    Also that unit allowed you a standard display of 6 parameters (e.g. clock time, ride time, heart rate, climbing done, speed and distance) whereas to get these 6 on this unit you would have to keep toggling between screens.
    Overall it seems to me I’d get less from this than the RFLKT+ offers – I don’t understand why it was discontinued.

    • Philip Carson

      I bought the mini as a replacement for the RFLKT, myself and wife have completed hundreds of rides using our RFLKTs and most of the time it works perfectly but as many others can also attest it sometimes fails, in different ways for different reasons.
      I asked wahoo support if they will provide the option of displaying elevation on the mini, they replied saying “ELEMNT MINI does not give you the option to have elevation on the screen”.
      We also ride a lot in the mountains and real time elevation display is so nice to have, both RFLKT and RFLKT+ support it, the former using both gps and/or built in barometric altimeter in iphone 6, I find it very accurate.
      Except for elevation display, so far I like the mini. Hopefully, these are teething problems but I have had the following issues:
      Pressing pause when device in process of auto-pausing caused ride to end, as this was at café stop with no cell coverage the data capture (.fit) file got corrupted, I was able to fix using utilities (links from DC Rainmaker website, thanks again man! ). I think if you try and end a ride when your phone has no data connection the file can get corrupted, wahoo are looking into this.
      On another ride, a different café stop, this time with good data coverage, the HR data capture stopped working. The mini display continued unaffected, so I only discovered the issue at end of ride, too late to fix the issue. Depending how you look at it you could argue it is an advantage of the mini over the RFLKT. I mean even though the BT HR capture to the iphone failed, at least the ANT+ connection and display to the mini continued to work.

  54. Adnan

    Hi Ray, are those all data fields you posted that you can add? Looks like there is no elevation data at all there. Can that be added to the Mini?

    • Beaky

      I have had the mini for a week now and it seems quite buggy: the custom fields I set up keep resetting themselves back to the default screens.
      The ‘distance’ and ‘average speed’ fields don’t always work and they remain at zero throughout the ride.
      I have a work around for this namely, before every ride keep resetting the display fields (sometimes you get several duplicates, like two cadence screens, if this happens reset again) and spin the wheel, if it registers then you are good to go… if not reset screens again and repeat… (I shit you not!).
      This is what I have to do until wahoo gave a software update…

    • Adnan

      Thanks for the updates. I just ordered mine. Didn’t know it was that buggy. Hopefully they fix it soon.

  55. eric

    You should fix your svenn diagram. The sets you labelled aren’t disjoint. Maybe the little orange ball could be “people that will pay 100 bucks for this product”, then it’d be funny that they are disjoint.

    I might be a candidate for this product. I keep my phone safe in my pack when riding, I record with strava and I don’t want to know gps data, etc while riding. But I would like to know my heart rate and I hate the idea of needing to worry about keeping a device charged. I own a wahoo tickr already, so am I set to go if I buy one of these and use it in phone free mode?

    If I don’t need to use it – what then is the point of the companion app? Why would someone use it instead of their own preferred app?

    Problem still is I aint paying 100 bucks just to see my heart rate.