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Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM Cycling GPS In-Depth Review


Sometimes, I don’t quite know how to start a product review. And unfortunately, today is one of those days.

See, the thing is, when I review products – price is an important piece of the equation. Just as it is for any number of decisions you make daily any time you open your wallet. You’re constantly balancing the value prop for a given thing you’re contemplating purchasing. Be it deciding whether that stale bagel at Starbucks is worth the apparent premium for being convenient to where you picked up your coffee, or as complex as deciding on a new bike computer.  And if there’s any overarching theme of today, it’s going to be a complete misunderstanding of that value prop. Unfortunately, it’s also far deeper than that.

It’s been a shade over two years since Wahoo released the black and white screen BOLT (officially known as the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT), and in that time the product has received numerous firmware updates adding a pile of new features. While both the BOLT and the earlier ELEMNT did contain maps, they weren’t fully routable maps. Meaning that you had to pre-load courses for any sorts of navigation tasks. Additionally, it couldn’t re-route on streets if you got off-track. It just gave you an arrow in the general direction of your track and said ‘good luck’.

And to be fair, that works fine for lots of people – even including myself from time to time.

But the competition has stepped up. In those two years there’s new entrants from the highly vibrant display and deep navigational features of the Hammerhead Karoo at $399. Garmin released their Edge 520 Plus with full routing at $279, and Sigma topped out the higher end with their ROX 12. And that’s before we even consider last week’s Edge 530 ($299), and Edge 830 ($399) units from Garmin. Today, people expect at the $299 price point to have routing and on-device navigation. And at $379 for the ROAM, it better be fantastic. Like, rainbow farting pony fantastic.

Though you know what, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. First off, as usual, I was sent a media/PR loaner of the new Wahoo ROAM back in mid-March, and have been using it (and providing feedback) since. Once I’m done with it here in the next few days it goes back to Wahoo like everything else. Simple as that. If you find this review useful, and want to support this site, hit up the links at the end of the post.

What’s new:


Looking for the complete run-down of what’s new in the Wahoo ROAM, alongside a full hands-on walk through? Then scroll no further than the below video. I start off with the core 8 new things, and then transition to about 8 or so minutes of showing all the features in one big user interface extravaganza:

It’s best to start out with what’s new in the unit.  For this I’m using the existing BOLT/ELEMNT as the reference point. Both units share the same firmware, with the only differences being the extra LED strip and screen size.  So feature-wise, everything from those past units is there, and it retains the LED’s of the larger format ELEMNT (side and top).  Thus everything below assumes that as the baseline.

– New color 2.7” (68.6mm) screen, flush with top of unit, not reflective
– Added ambient light sensor (adjusts display settings automatically)
– Added ‘Get me started’, which gets you to the starting point of your ride (used pre-ride)
– Added saved locations
– Added ability to get back to route (aka ‘Back on Track’)
– Added ability to retrace a route back to the starting point
– Added ‘Route to Start’ using shortest possible route back to start of ride (used when you want to be done)
– Added new additional map zoom levels
– Added elevation graph on the map page
– Added new app integration with MTB Project and Singletracks for pulling routes (requires phone)
– Redesigned out-front mount to support larger size of units

In addition, there are two features that will not be present at launch, but will arrive down the road.

– Strava Turn by Turn Navigation – This will automatically give turn by turn guidance for Strava downloaded routes (Late May 2019)
– On-Device Elevation – This will give elevation information for routes created on the app/unit (Mid-Late June 2019)

These last two bullets are frankly the most important points out of everything here. As they are fundamental to what should be on any bike computer over $250, since that’s the baseline set today with the older Edge 520 Plus at $279.  Right now, Wahoo BOLT/ELEMNT users don’t get road-specific turn by turn directions. They just get details that a turn is upcoming. That’s because Wahoo actually depends on the routing provider to give the exact turn information. Kinda like getting the answers for a test.

In the days prior to ROAM, that made sense – as BOLT/ELEMNT didn’t have a routable base map. It has what was akin to a napkin drawing of roads without names. Just like Stages has on their units, and others as well.  But in the ROAM era, that wouldn’t do. The whole point of navigation is to get directions, and there’s no bigger fish in the pond than Strava when it comes to route holders. Thankfully, the feature is coming – just not at launch.

The second one is also critical, as Wahoo doesn’t have any elevation data on the unit itself. It depended on 3rd party providers including that data in the routes. So without the elevation data, Wahoo couldn’t provide you with an upcoming elevation profile. The good thing is that this feature is coming in June.

With that, let’s dive into the box.



I’ll give Wahoo credit – their box designs are always beautiful and well thought out [*Ironic update: See end of this section]. As a connoisseur of product boxes, very few in the industry can match what Wahoo does for their bike computer boxes. And the ROAM box is no exception. It screams ‘Buy Me’ on a store shelf, whereas a Garmin box screams ‘Hi, I’m gray’.


The tray holding the ROAM slides out all silky smooth – complete with the fabric tab to pull it gently. Or something like that.

DSC_0006 DSC_0007

After de-plasticing everything, here’s what you’ve got:


There’s the specially designed out-front mount, as well as the smaller ziptied rubber mount. I will say that it’s a bit annoying Wahoo couldn’t have gone with a rubber-banded mount. Zipties? What is this – the 1970’s?


And similarly, the charging cable remains, like Garmin, firmly in the early 2000’s, micro-USB. C’mon guys, if GoPro can go USB-C, then surely you can. GoPro folks, GoPro!


Oh, and here’s the paper stuff you won’t read.


With that, it’s unboxed and ready to start using. Well, after you download the Wahoo ELEMNT companion app that is.

[*Update May 2nd, 2019: Note, it’s been pointed out that Wahoo has significantly mislead on the box and marketing imagery of the ROAM, specific to the bezel. And sure enough, if you look at the upper bezel area, as well as side bezels, you’ll see that they are much larger in the real product than the imagery on the box. It’s funny, I hadn’t noticed that, but did notice the screen colors. Like most companies, Wahoo was a bit optimistic in screen brightness on their imagery. However, a false image of the unit with respect to bezel dimensions is an entirely different ballgame. It’s disappointing to see them use fake and non-representative images which make the ROAM look sexier than in real life. It’s like Tinder, for product boxes. See the comments section for far more discussion about bezelgate.

Update May 6th, 2019: Wahoo CEO Chip Hawkins has noted this was an unintentional mistake, and made a comment as such in the comments section down below. Wahoo has since updated all product imagery with the correct renderings.]

Size & Weight Comparisons:

Before we dive into all the details (or even the basics), let’s just do a quick size check. Here’s a disastrously big lineup of mostly current bike computers, all aligned on their base to a chunk of wood:


From left to right: Garmin Edge 130, Garmin Edge 520/520Plus/820 (identical case size), Polar M460, Wahoo BOLT, Garmin 530/830 (identical case size), Wahoo ELEMNT, Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM, Hammerhead Karoo, Garmin Edge 1030, Sigma ROX 12

The same order is below as well:


And then, just to zoom in on some of the more applicable units close up. Left to right: ELEMNT BOLT, Edge 530/830, ELEMNT, ELEMNT ROAM, and Hammerhead Karoo.


What’s that? You want weights too?!? Ok, out with the trusty scale:

DSC_0138 DSC_0141 DSC_0139DSC_0140 DSC_0147 DSC_0148DSC_0149 DSC_0150 DSC_0142DSC_0144 DSC_0145 DSC_0146

Ok, your Brady Bunch moment is over. Now for realz, let’s get onto using it.

The Basics:


Like the Wahoo BOLT before it, the ROAM includes an aero-ish out-front mount. While they’ve seemingly backed away from some of the aero claims with the ROAM (likely because it’s just a bigger boat), the mount is designed to fully embrace the ROAM’s curves, making it appear as one cohesive situation from more than a few feet away.

DSC_0046 DSC_0043

On one hand, it really is a beautiful mount. The other hand, there’s no place to mount a GoPro or lights or what-not from the bottom.

The ROAM does maintain the neat locking feature of the BOLT out-front mount, which means you can use a small included screw to lock it to the mount. While that’s a handy anti-theft option, the actual basis is much more simple: pro teams.

You see, by having the unit attached via screw, it becomes part of the permanent weight used for bike weigh-ins (applicable at UCI sanctioned events such as the Tour de France), as opposed to having to remove the unit for the weigh-in.  Since the goal of most weigh-ins is actually to meet the minimum weight threshold, this enables them to do so without ‘adding’ weight afterwards (installing a bike computer after the weigh-in). Thus, this actually saves them weight.

DSC_0020 DSC_0019

Finally note that you can use 3rd party mounts, as long as they are Wahoo compatible. Wahoo’s quarter-turn mount is slightly different than Garmin’s – most notably it’s oriented 90° (which means that if you tried to use Garmin out-front mounts, your unit would be sideways). However, if you have the small rubber-banded Garmin mounts, you can use those but it may increase risk of tab breakage. I used those on some of my bikes during this test period, simply because I was travelling and often had rental bikes and didn’t want to deal with zip ties or screws.

With everything all set, let’s talk basic operation.  First up is the unit itself, which has a single button on the left side, two on the right side (up/down), and three along the base of it.  The left button is used for power and accessing the settings.  The right buttons are used for going up/down menus, and increasing/decreasing data fields.  And the lower buttons allow changing of data pages and confirmations within various prompts. All of this matches previous Wahoo units exactly. No changes here.


To access the settings menu, you’ll simply tap the left button once. It’s here that you can pair sensors (though, you can also use the smartphone app for that), as well as configure the backlight (default is ‘Auto’), and specify if you’re indoors or outdoors.


Of course, the most famed part of the Wahoo bike computers is that virtually everything can be set up from your smartphone, using the Wahoo ELEMNT companion phone app. In fact, it’s essentially required to set up and otherwise maintain the ROAM. Fear not, it makes it super easy to get things all set up.

When it comes to ROAM data pages, you’ve got a starter pack of default pages, plus custom ones you can add. By default, you’ll get a lap page, a workout data page, a climbing page, and the map page. Additionally, if in a Strava Segment you’ll get that page, when doing a planned workout that page, and then finally a trainer control page if controlling a trainer (any ANT+ FE-C trainer or any KICKR trainer). Here’s a quick gallery of them.

You can also add custom data pages as well. However, data pages (custom or default) are a bit different on Wahoo bike computers. While you customize data pages with the metrics you want like any other bike computer, the number of fields and specific fields that you’ve displayed will vary.  Specifically, they’re ordered based on your prioritization, which allows you to increase/decrease the number of fields shown by just pressing the up/down buttons. So when creating custom data pages, you’ll need/want to order which fields are most important to you, so those have higher priority.  By default it does this for you, and then you can adjust the ordering.

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As an example of the scaling, here you can see how below I’m showing a single configured custom data field, but at different levels:

There are boatloads of data metrics to choose from – far more than when Wahoo first started off. Here’s a screenshot of some of them. Like any competitive battle, there’s some fields that Garmin has that Wahoo doesn’t, and some fields that Wahoo has that Garmin doesn’t. For example, Wahoo has more power averaging fields (i.e., more options for stuff like 1-minute power), whereas Garmin has more sensor-driven fields to choose from (like radar, or Di2 battery status).

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Back on the unit itself, when you’re ready to ride you simply hit the start button and it’ll start recording as you’d expect.  It’ll show your data in real-time, and then allow you to increase/decrease data fields as you see fit in real-time. Same goes for changing data pages.  Basically, everything you’d expect from a bike computer.


For me, all the basics of the ROAM have worked fine – just as they did on the BOLT and ELEMNT. Note that the ROAM includes both the side and top LED strips on the unit. The top LED’s are used to notify you of things like turns or notifications, while the side LED’s can be configured to show speed/power/HR levels, via the app.

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Speaking of notifications, during the ride you’ll see notifications from texts display on the screen (if you’ve configured as such).  They’ll even properly show at least some emoji. You know, the most important ones:

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You can also configure a temporary ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode, should you be in the middle of something important (like an interval).

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The backlight of the unit is by default triggered via an ambient light sensor – an update from the BOLT which lacked one. This means if you go through a tunnel or it just simply gets dark out, the backlight will come on  You can see this setting above. In that same region is the ability to configure auto shutdown.

Once completed with a ride, it’ll sync to the app where you can dive into it in more detail. Lots of detail, looks really nice and clean.

Now unlike Garmin, Polar, Pioneer, or others – there’s no Wahoo specific website to look at your rides on. Instead, you’ll need to use a 3rd party site. The good news is that Wahoo makes this easy, with plenty of connection options (including even Dropbox, my favorite). You’ll use the app to configure these accounts, signing in with credentials as required. Then anytime your unit syncs via Bluetooth or WiFi, it’ll automatically upload to all these servers.

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You can also just plug-in the ROAM using micro-USB and grab the .FIT file directly.  That’s a pretty common file type standard that most devices use these days for recording fitness data.

Speaking of WiFi and such, the unit uses WiFi to download updates (including maps for other regions), as well as make any 3rd party site connections. Note that like most wearables, the ROAM doesn’t work with Starbucks/hotel or similar hotspots, and needs more of a home/office setup with a specific set password. Not a big deal, just something to be aware of while travelling.

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Finally, for lack of anywhere else to plop it, let’s talk battery life stats. The unit is spec’d at 17 hours, which is a 2-hour increase from the ELEMNT BOLT, but matches the ELEMNT.

Sensors & Data:


Back a number of years ago when Wahoo first introduced the ELEMNT series, one of the biggest strengths was the dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart sensor support. It was one of the first (if not the first) to support sensors of both kinds. These days of course, that’s considered standard practice. All of Garmin’s most recent units have dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart support, as do those from Hammerhead, Lezyne, Bryton, and more. In other words, you don’t get brownie points for it anymore – it’s considered the baseline.

At present, the ROAM supports the following types of sensors:

ANT+ FE-C Smart Trainers
ANT+ Heart Rate sensor
ANT+ Speed-only sensor
ANT+ Cadence-only Sensor
ANT+ Gear Shifting Profile (SRAM eTAP & Campagnolo EPS)
ANT+ Speed/Cadence Combo Sensor
ANT+ Power Meter
ANT+ Tire Pressure (Quarq TyreWiz)
Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate sensor
Bluetooth Smart Speed-only sensor
Bluetooth Smart Cadence-only Sensor
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence Combo Sensor
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter
Pioneer Power Advanced Cycling Metrics
Shimano Di2 System (via private-ANT)
BSX & Moxy Muscle Oxygenation sensors (via ANT+ Muscle Oxygen Profile)
Wahoo KICKR/CORE/SNAP Trainers

Note that last fall introduced advanced cycling metrics for Pioneer power meter owners, which might be considered a precursor to supporting the ANT+ Cycling Dynamics standard that was ratified last year, for which Favero is said to be soon releasing Assioma firmware support for (and Garmin already supports).

However, the reality is that aside from Pioneer, there hasn’t been a lot of additional sensor types supported – and one that’s been constantly asked for is the ANT+ Bike Radar (aka Garmin Varia sensors). This sensor type is a public/standard sensor type that any company can implement. And the impact on it being a blocker for folks seems to be growing, one can look at the comments section of the Bolt review to see that.

And this point was cemented further while I was at the Sea Otter cycling event a few weeks ago in the Wahoo booth getting some photos. A husband/wife came in and had almost been sold on the BOLT, when the husband asked the wife ‘Oh wait, what about your Garmin radar?’, and then turning to the Wahoo rep said ‘Does it work with that?’. The answer? No. And sale lost.

What has repeatedly talked about looking into support for it (it’s been out many years now), but nothing ever materializes.  While the argument can be said that Wahoo doesn’t want to support their competitor.  For people with Varia Radar – it’s a hard-stop. So either Wahoo can choose to win the device sale but not get radar money. Or they can choose to lose both device and radar unit sale. Seems like an obvious choice to me – since these are people that are actively looking to leave the Garmin ecosystem.

With all of that out of the way, let’s talk about pairing.  With the ROAM you’ll go into the settings menu and immediately see the sensors listed below.  You can see the signal strength (and thus status) of the sensor right on the display.


You can select a given sensor to get more information about it. For example, on a power meter, you can select to calibrate it, or even see the left/right sensor status for a unit like the Stages LR Power Meter:


Towards the bottom is the ability to add new sensors.  This will search for the nearest sensor first and offer the ability to confirm/pair it:


Alternatively, you can go into the list of sensors nearby and add/select them manually.  They are sorted first by sensor type, and then if multiple sensors exist nearby, it’ll show you the individual sensors. This is useful for myself personally, as I have approximately 438 sensors on my bike.


Like most units on the market, you can assign names to the sensors.  However, unlike most units, you can do so via your phone with the Wahoo ELEMNT companion app.  Again – having the phone companion app has always been Wahoo’s strong point. Also – you can pair from this same menu too, if you have unpaired sensors nearby:

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Finally, a brief mention on trainer control. Like Garmin, Wahoo supports the ability to control your trainer via the bike computer. The main use cases for this is to re-ride outside rides indoors on the trainer, and then to execute structured training workouts. Though, you can also just control your trainer manually.  I’ve talked extensively about the structured training workouts (and trainer control) in the past, and everything remains the same here. You’ll pair your trainer just like before, this can be a Wahoo trainer or a 3rd party trainer using ANT+ FE-C.


At which point you’ve got several options for how you control your trainer:

Erg Mode (Target Watts): Allows you to specify a given wattage level – i.e., 150w, 237w, 350w, etc….
% Resistance Mode: In this you specify in % a given resistance level – i.e., 10%, 25%, etc… Note that this isn’t grade though, just total resistance available.
Route Mode: Here you specify a saved route (from one of the ones you’ve downloaded to your unit).
Passive Mode: In this case you’ve got another app controlling the KICKR (i.e., Zwift), where the BOLT  just chills out and records the data.
Level Mode: Simply set a resistance level, i.e., ‘Level 3’.
Workout Mode: Open a structured workout from the structured training menu

And of course, the last two are ones that allow riding files or structured workouts found on your ROAM. In fact, Wahoo even bundles a few planned workouts on the ROAM from Team INEOS:


While I’ve spent all of my time outdoors with the ROAM, Wahoo says nothing has changed here from the BOLT/ELEMNT – so everything’s same-same in this area (and that’s perfectly fine).


There’s approximately a 100.00% chance that if you’re looking at the Wahoo ROAM, it’s because of the new navigation/mapping features. So I’m going to spend this entire section diving into all those.  First though, it’s probably key to understand the difference between what the ROAM has and the BOLT/ELEMNT has. Here, let me sum it up for you:

ROAM: Fully routable mapset, complete with street/trail names (and elevation coming later in June). It can map/route on its own without any other service/platform
BOLT/ELEMNT: Effectively just a penciled picture of map, no street names in the data, nor any routable data – it fully depends on the course turn/street name info from the file/course that you give it

Think of the difference being with ROAM it legit knows all the streets you’re on. It actually knows that you’re on Maple street. Whereas with the BOLT/ELEMNT, it knows your GPS coordinates, and there happens to be a black line representing a street there. But it doesn’t know anything about that street – not even the name or which way the street really is. Instead, it ‘cheats’ by getting that information from your course file. Where that whole system breaks down (previously on BOLT/ELEMNT) is with Strava Routes, as you don’t get detailed turn by turn information with street names. It’s basically just a breadcrumb trail. Whereas when it was used with RideWithGPS, you got turn by turn street details because RideWithGPS included them in the message. In other words – Strava sent Wahoo an empty FedEx box, whereas the RideWithGPS’s box was full of toys. Ironically, just like real life.

In any case, now with ROAM it can – in certain scenarios – self route. And it’s the ‘in certain scenarios’ part where things get a bit…disappointing. Though, some of it is slated to change. First, let’s talk about what it can do. Here are the main ways you can navigate:

Free ride: No route, just ride wherever the heck you want using your brain, you can still see the maps page
Courses: Follow courses breadcrumb style from any number of providers, such as Strava or Komoot
Courses with Turn by Turn directions: Right now this is for one-way routes from the companion app, RideWithGPS, and then later with Strava Routes
Routing to saved locations: You can save a location and get directions to that (such as saving your home)
Routes from a file: Using the app you can route from .FIT, .GPX, .TCX, by opening the file and selecting the Wahoo ELEMNT app
Routing to start of course: This is called ‘Get me started’ and gets you to the start of your route/course
Route to a point on the map: You can use the curser on the device’s map, and then get full turn by turn routing to that point
Route to an address: Using the smartphone app (required), you can specify any address and route to it
Route from history: Using the smartphone app, you can re-ride a past activity

As noted, some of these are done on the unit itself (Route to course, Route to point on map, Route to saved location), whereas others are done/started from the smartphone companion app:


Then there are a few routing options that are used mid-ride:

Route back to start: This gets you back to the start of a ride, using the most direct method possible
Retrace route: This follows the exact route you went out, back to start (note: it won’t account for one-way roads, so you might have to freestyle a bit
Back on track: This gets you back to your route, in the event your free-styling went askew

While these options all sound like a lot, they can roughly be boiled down to: Get me somewhere, get me home, and get me back on track. Which isn’t to sound negative, but just a bit of a reality check. Where the gaps exist between this and other competitive solutions is things like on-device address routing or points of interest routing – which the ROAM lacks. Meaning, you can’t route to a specific address or find nearby cafe’s using the device itself.  Now, whether or not you find value in that is a different question. I don’t tend to do either from my head unit often, but generally speaking, if a head unit lacks those functions it’s around the $299 price point, not the ~$399 price point. It’s a core distinction in today’s cycling head unit market.

Still, there are cool things that Wahoo does. For example, let’s take routing providers. In the case of Wahoo, all your routes end up in one bucket on the unit itself, automatically syncing from the cloud service providers. So when I do that, it goes off and grabs my routes from Strava, RideWithGPS, Komoot, etc… So I don’t really have to worry about where those routes came from (it shows the provider name next to it):


Contrast this with Garmin, where I have to open up an often finicky Connect IQ app for each 3rd party routing provider and update/download them manually and individually. Of course, there are more nuanced pros and cons to that approach. With Garmin’s approach we don’t have to wait for Wahoo to integrate with new providers/companies, since that company can just create their own app and you’re good to go.

In any case, once you select a route from the list you’ll get a cue sheet of directions, depending on the provider. As of today, you won’t get those instructions for Strava. Wahoo says they’ll have that integration completed by the end of May, but I have my reservations on that timeline (I have beta access today to it). For me, I almost exclusively use/store my routes in Strava, as it allows me to have them act like the Switzerland of routing – every device supports it.

While routing, you can stay on the map/cue sheet, or you can stay on your regular pages. For routes that support turn by turn navigation, you’ll get a pop-up message that the turn is coming up (though, not yet today with Strava). I’ve found it rather variable whether I’ll get actual street names, or just turn left/right. It seems like the ROAM isn’t terribly sure where it is (exactly, in terms of streets) a lot of the time.


And if the route provider has elevation data included, then you’ll see the upcoming elevation shown on the unit as well. Note, there’s a lot of if/then statements on which route options/providers include them and which don’t.

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If you go off route, it’ll try and recalculate the route for you. I’ve had varying results with what it attempts to do next – specifically around how strict it is to getting you back on course.  There’s roughly two ways it can do this. First is to get you back to the exact point you left the course, or the second is to get you on course somewhere down the road as it makes sense.  In general it appears that (for at least my roads/routes) Wahoo is more strict in trying to get you back closer to where you left the route. Whereas Garmin appears to take the approach of ‘we’ll catch-up somewhere down the road’. Obviously a bit of personal preference is applied to which you prefer. If the shortest distance is your goal, then Garmin usually does that better. Whereas if sticking to your exact route is more important, Wahoo appears to do that better.

No matter how you found yourself off-route, when in the midst of re-routing, you’ll note how the route chevron color is blue:


The recalculation speed seems fast enough for me, on par with competitors. As for the route selection, the options it selected varied between being good and less than ideal. Part of the challenge Wahoo has is that while they’re using the same OSM base mapping data as Garmin, they don’t have the gigantic vault of heatmap data that Garmin has (which Garmin calls ‘trendline popularity routing’). That means that Garmin is able to leverage the millions or so activities probably uploaded every day to figure out where people are actually riding/working out – which improves picking better roads.  Again, it’s hardly a deal breaker, but I’d love to see Wahoo find some way to partner with Strava to get access to that kind of data to overlay and improve routing.

If you want to retrace a route back to the start, or route home – then select either option from the routes menu:


Speaking of blue chevrons, this is as good a time to talk about that ‘color’ display. Yes, I know Wahoo advertises it as a color display, but so is my toddler’s box of 8 crayons sitting next to me.  See, the ROAM display only appears to have 7 core colors, including black and white – one color less than my daughter’s box of crayons. I’m not saying you need to constantly use additional colors, but it also doesn’t hurt either. The colors are mainly used as follows:

#1: Red: On power-off, edges on bridges
#2: Green: Text message notifications
#3: Yellow: Main roads on the map
#4: Blue: Water on the map, re-routing chevrons, live tracking labels
#5: Orange: Strava integration
#6: Black: Text/roads/lines/etc
#7: White: Everything else

Now, it’s now quite as simple as that. As Wahoo does blend some colors a bit here and there. For example, in the photo slightly below you see teal. And in the picture of the text message you see purple. My guess is that it’s actually a 32 or 64 color screen, even though they don’t use most of them.

In addition, during structured workouts, you get all the colors of the rainbow.

And while the display is clear, the colors are hardly bright. Again, I’m not sure I need super bright colors – but let’s be honest, these ones are pretty dim. I was kinda hoping for a more vibrant display. There’s undoubtedly a trade-off between display and battery life, but the Edge 530/830 and Hammerhead Karoo displays are far more brilliant than the ROAM. And the battery life on the Edge 530/830 is equal or double, depending on the configuration. And the speed of the basic user interface bits (how fast it reacts) is far slower than competitors. Way slower.


Speaking of that map, let’s talk about how to route from the device itself. First, to note is that there’s only a single routing related option, which is to define your surface type. That’s located under Routes > Routing Options on the device (Road/Cross/Hybrid/Mountain):


It’s here in the routes area that you can select the ‘Take me to’ option. That then allows you to route to saved locations or a location on the map. Saved locations appear in the list just by the street name. You can’t define a list of saved locations ahead of time, or adjust the names for them. You can only save your current location on the map.

DSC_0088 DSC_0087

If you selected ‘Location on Map’, this then pulls up the map with a crosshair that you can select where to route to:


You can zoom in/out, as well as pan and scroll using the bottom three buttons. The ‘…’ changes between pan/scroll/zoom, as well as gets you to the option to navigate to that point. You can see an example here of it not exactly knowing what the roads are a lot of the time.


Once you select a point it’ll automatically create the route to that point, including turn by turn directions:

DSC_0093 DSC_0092

Note that at this point the ROAM doesn’t have any baked in elevation data, so you won’t get any upcoming elevation profile for any routes created on the companion app or on the device itself. Wahoo says this is planned by the end of June (a timeline I think is reasonable).

For any other point to point routing you want to do, you’ll need to use Wahoo’s companion app, which allows you to create a route to a single point. You can’t create looped routes this way, though you can use the free 3rd party Easy Route app to do so. And funny enough, the developer of that app now works for Wahoo. It’s the routing app I use for creating quick one-off routes on both my Wahoo and Garmin devices. In any case, here’s the default routing app. Note that it presumes you’re starting from your current GPS location.


It’ll then create a route and you simply choose ‘select route’ from the list, after which it loads the route on the ROAM:


At that point you’re routing/navigating just like any of the other routing options. It’ll give you turn by turn routes, but no elevation at this point. Only 3rd party providers include elevation data (ironically enough, Strava includes elevation data).

I’ll point out that this is probably the cleanest/best part of the Wahoo experience- creating the route on the phone is super quick and efficient, and transfers near-instantly to the head unit.

Finally, the ROAM will automatically pull in any starred Strava segments that you have in your account. You’ll then see these listed on the device itself:


And then when navigating you’ll see that nearby segments show up as well. As you enter a segment you’ll get Wahoo’s Strava Segment overlay, which is one of my favorites because you can compete on multiple overlapping segments at the same time. You can toggle who you’re competing against at the bottom (KOM or PR), as well as change the segment by pressing that button:

DSC_0111 DSC_0109

You can always get back to other data pages by pressing the ‘Page’ button.  Also, you can always use/race Strava Segments, even while on a course. Garmin has a weird limitation that if you’re actively navigating a Garmin Connect/other course, you can’t concurrently see/race Strava Segments. You can only concurrently navigate and get Strava Segments on a Garmin device if you’re navigating a Strava Route, because then the Segments are baked into that route. So this is an advantage over that if you’re into Strava Segments and other routing providers than Strava.

Oh, and you’ll get elevation on Strava segments too, assuming your geography supports that. Here’s a shot when I was riding down in Spain:

2019-03-29 12.18.04

In any case, as for Wahoo’s overall navigational capabilities – it’s not bad, at least once they get Strava turn by turn added, and elevation data added for routes. Once that happens it’ll be good, but not $379 good.

And that’s sorta at the core (no, not KICKR CORE, just regular core), of my issue with the ROAM: It’s just not priced right. The features/functionality on this unit are equal to a $279-$299 price point. That’s what the market shows, and Wahoo isn’t doing enough other special things to justify an additional $100-$120.  Atop that, if we look at the navigational options of their competitors, they’ve got way more rich features. Points of interest are shown on the maps automatically, as are more details about streets. For example, street names aren’t shown on the Wahoo ROAM – and while I don’t always need to know the street name, there are countless scenarios where that’s useful.

I will note however that one super solid point of Wahoo is that they include the maps for all regions. By default the maps will come loaded for your region, and then you can tap to download maps for other regions if you travel. This matches Sigma and Hammerhead, whereas Garmin requires you pay for additional maps – or download them for free from 3rd party sites (which is cumbersome and annoying at best). So props to Wahoo for continuing to make it easy.

GPS & Elevation Accuracy:


There’s likely no topic that stirs as much discussion and passion as GPS accuracy.  A watch could fall apart and give you dire electrical shocks while doing so, but if it shows you on the wrong side of the road?  Oh hell no, bring on the fury of the internet!

GPS accuracy can be looked at in a number of different ways, but I prefer to look at it using a number of devices in real-world scenarios across a vast number of activities.  I use 2-6 other devices at once, trying to get a clear picture of how a given set of devices handles conditions on a certain day.  Conditions include everything from tree/building cover to weather.

Over the years I’ve continued to tweak my GPS testing methodology.  For example, for watches I try to not place two units next to each other on my wrists, as that can impact signal. For cycling units, I arrange them on my handlebars using standard mounts – usually one on either side of the stem, often a bit separated from each other.

Next, as noted, I use just my daily training routes.  Using a single route over and over again isn’t really indicative of real-world conditions, it’s just indicative of one trail.  The workouts you see here are just my normal daily workouts.  I’ve had a fair bit of variety of terrain within the time period of testing ROAM.  This has included workouts in: Amsterdam (city, countryside) and Mallorca (mountains, ocean, countryside), California (off-road, hills, forests, seaside).

We’re gonna look at a few different rides in different parts of the world. First, we’ll start with the famed Sa Calobra in Mallorca. I rode this nearly a month ago, so while this firmware was slightly older, it still shows pretty solid GPS performance.  In this case it’s compared against a Garmin Edge 530 and Edge 830 unit (like the ROAM, technically beta firmware at the time), as well as a Garmin MARQ.  I had a Samsung Galaxy Active GPS watch on there too as well, but frankly nobody wants to see that GPS track hosing up this otherwise beautiful route. Here’s that data set:


Now, basically everyone in this picture was on some form of beta at the time, but that’s OK, they all did pretty well. Don’t worry, we’ll get to final firmware in a moment. In particular, let’s zoom in to one of the toughest sections on this ride – this bit here as I’m up against cliffs and mountains. Heck, even a bridge overpass:


Everything here from the ROAM is spot-on. Like I said in yesterday’s reviews – its boringly perfect. No NASCAR crashes here.


Even when some of the other beta units struggled on a turn, the ROAM nailed it:


Now altitude was a bit of a funny one. It seems everyone made mistakes here. The one thing ROAM got most correct was me getting close to the sea. My turnaround point was basically a fishing village, elevated perhaps 5-8 meters above sea level.  But we see drift from both. See, that low-point there I stopped and ate lunch. Yet we see the ROAM’s elevation slowly climbing up.


Of course, at the same time, we also see the Garmin units having trouble too. The MARQ is drifting (again, beta as well), while the two Edge units were simply off-set from the start (bad elevation fix where I started apparently). I haven’t seen any of those elevation issues again as I’ll show. So in some ways the chart is more of a curiosity than anything.

Next, let’s switch to another route that’s also pretty difficult GPS-wise, this one at the tip of the island.  In this case the route is compared against a Garmin Edge 520 Plus and Edge 1030, along with a beat Garmin MARQ. I had a Samsung Galaxy Active GPS watch on there too again, but we’ll skip it as well like last time. Here’s the data set:


Let’s zoom into one of the more challenging sections – this part right here. It’s in this area that the road has cliffs on both sides, along with some decent tree cover. Here’s the route:


As you can see, the ROAM is perfectly spot-on the road the entire time, even if I zoom way the heck in:


Next, let’s look at the famed tunnel. When it comes to tunnels (or large bridges), I’m looking for the unit to not freak out. In other words, it should correctly pass in through the tunnel without any GPS wonkiness, and then come out clean the other side. Basically, it shouldn’t do what the Edge 520 Plus did below. Of course, I made life difficult here on all the units because I actually stopped just after I went through the tunnel (coming back), still below a cliff edge. So while it’s pretty rare for me to see what the Edge 520 Plus did (I’ve never seen that before on it), I’m glad to see the ROAM nailed it.


And no issues at the end of the turnaround either. Funny tidbit: You can see where I left the units on my bike and then walked closer to the edge with the MARQ still on my wrist.


So what about elevation on this ride? Ask and you shall receive. Now, remember that in this ride the MARQ was on beta (just like the ROAM), and there was a bug they’ve already dug into since then (35 days ago) hopefully addressing that issue. You can see how it got a bad fix to begin with, and it just stayed bad.


The remainder of the units nailed it though. In fact, since I started across the street from the beach, and it’s nice to see the remainder of the units perfectly got my starting elevation at about 1 meter. Nice!


Next, let’s fast forward a few weeks and a few thousand miles away to California, where I’ve got a sea-side route that then gains some elevation while going through some gigantic forests. Here’s the data set:


Starting off with an easy section – along the coastline, things look quite nice:


Now for some portions of this ride I had the units in/out of my pockets, as I was shooting/filming other things. So in those cases we saw slightly degraded GPS performance in those scenarios (totally logical). So let’s look at a clean section, where they were on the handlebars:


Here we were next to a highway, but actually we were also under some pretty significant trees on the trail and a substantial hill next to that. Super clean track through here. Same is true in town, even getting the correct side of the road properly:


And lastly, a ride last Friday through the tulip fields. In this case, it’s compared against an Edge 830 (on production firmware), and a Forerunner 945 (also production firmware), and a FR245 (also production). Production all around! Here’s the data set:


Frankly, it’s pretty boring:


Nobody ever messes up:


Like I said…boring:


The elevation might appear crazy at first, but then carefully look at the scale. Welcome to the Netherlands. Sure, the FR245 is all wonky, but that doesn’t have a barometric altimeter, so that is what it is. The ROAM and Edge 830 are only 5 meters apart. It just looks jaggy because it’s simply oscillating ~1 meter, which is all it takes here. And that’s probably logical given the natural ups and downs. Though it’s clear Wahoo smooths things a little bit better than Garmin.


Ultimately – it should be pretty clear here I’m seeing absolutely zero GPS issues. It’s perfectly nailed from everything I’ve seen, even in the trees or next to mountains. And from an altimeter standpoint, I’m not seeing anything to worry about. Though I lack the geography to continue to test altitude related goodness going forward. So I kinda have to do that when I travel.

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy portions were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)

Product Comparison:

I’ve added the Wahoo ROAM into the product comparison calculator so you can see how it compares to other units on the market. To keep things simple for below, I’ve compared it against the Wahoo BOLT, Edge 530, Edge 830, and Hammerhead Karoo. Of course, there are plenty more units in the product comparison calculator, so you can make your own charts here as well. In the meantime, here’s how things line-up below:

Function/FeatureWahoo ELEMNT ROAMWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830Hammerhead Karoo
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated July 11th, 2023 @ 4:10 am New Window
Product Announcement DateMay 1st, 2019Mar 14th, 2017Apr 24th, 2019Apr 24th, 2019May 2nd, 2017
Actual Availability/Shipping DateMay 8th, 2019Mar 14th, 2017Early May 2019Early May 2019Feb 9th, 2018 [No longer available]
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYesYes
Data TransferBluetooth Smart, WiFi, USBBluetooth Smart, WiFi, USBUSB, Bluetooth Smart, WiFiUSB, Bluetooth Smart, WiFiWiFi
Battery Life (GPS)17 hours15 hours20 Hours (40 in battery Saver Mode)20 Hours (40 in battery Saver Mode)10-15hrs
Solar ChargingNoNo
Recording Interval1-second1-second1-Second or Smart1-Second or Smart1-second
Dual-Frequency GNSSNoNo
AlertsAUDIO/VISUAL + LED'sAUDIO/VISUAL + LED'sAudio/VisualAudio/VisualVisual
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoNoYesYesIn future
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)N/AN/ANoNoN/A
MusicWahoo ELEMNT ROAMWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830Hammerhead Karoo
Can control phone musicNoNoNoNoNo
Has music storage and playbackNoNoNoNoNo
Streaming ServicesNoNoNoNo
PaymentsWahoo ELEMNT ROAMWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830Hammerhead Karoo
Contactless-NFC PaymentsNoNo
ConnectivityWahoo ELEMNT ROAMWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830Hammerhead Karoo
Bluetooth Smart to Phone UploadingYesYesYesYesNo
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)YesYesYesYesNo
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYesYesYesYes
Group trackingYesYesYesYesNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoYesYesNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNoYes (with SIM card added)
CyclingWahoo ELEMNT ROAMWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830Hammerhead Karoo
Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableYesYesYEsYEsYes
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYesYesYesYesYes
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFYesYesYesYesYes
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYesYesYesYes
Strava segments live on deviceYesYesYesYesYes
Crash detectionNoNoYesYesNo
RunningWahoo ELEMNT ROAMWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830Hammerhead Karoo
Designed for runningN/AN/AN/AN/ANo
VO2Max EstimationN/AN/A(CYCLING YES THOUGH)(CYCLING YES THOUGH)(No for cycling too)
Recovery AdvisorN/AN/A(CYCLING YES THOUGH)(CYCLING YES THOUGH)(No for cycling too)
TriathlonWahoo ELEMNT ROAMWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830Hammerhead Karoo
Designed for triathlonN/AN/ASortaSortaNo
WorkoutsWahoo ELEMNT ROAMWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830Hammerhead Karoo
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesYesYesYes via TrainingPeaks
On-unit interval FeatureNoNoYesYesNo
Training Calendar FunctionalityNoNoYesYesNo
FunctionsWahoo ELEMNT ROAMWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830Hammerhead Karoo
Auto Start/StopYesYesYesYesAuto-pause/restart (but not Auto-Start)
Virtual Partner FeatureNoNoYesYesNo
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoYesYesNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)NoNoYesYesNo
Weather Display (live data)NoNoYesYesNo
NavigateWahoo ELEMNT ROAMWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830Hammerhead Karoo
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesYesYesYesYes
Markers/Waypoint DirectionYesNoYesYesYes
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)YesSorta (Maps yes, but technically not routable)YesYesYes
Back to startYesYesYesYesNo
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNo (But can create one-way routes from phone app)No (But can create one-way routes from phone app)NoYesNo (But can create one-way routes on device)
Download courses/routes from phone to unitYesYesYesYesNo (only via WiFi from site)
SensorsWahoo ELEMNT ROAMWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830Hammerhead Karoo
Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometricBarometricBarometricBarometric
Compass TypeMagneticMagneticGPSGPSMagnetic
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyN/AN/ANoNoN/A
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesYEsYEsYes
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesYEsYEsYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableYesYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Lighting ControlNoNoYesYesNo
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationYesYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)YesYesYesYesNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoYesYesNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityYesYesYesYesNo
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)YesYesYesYesYes
Shimano Di2 ShiftingYesYesYesYesYes
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableYesYesYesYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesYesYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableYEsYEsNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableYesYesYesYesYes
Temp Recording (internal sensor)YesYesYesYesYes
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoNoNoNo
SoftwareWahoo ELEMNT ROAMWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830Hammerhead Karoo
PC ApplicationN/AN/AGarmin ExpressGarmin ExpressNo
Web ApplicationN/AN/AGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectYes
Phone AppiOS/AndroidiOS/AndroidiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows PhoneNo
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNoNo
PurchaseWahoo ELEMNT ROAMWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830Hammerhead Karoo
Competitive CyclistLinkLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerWahoo ELEMNT ROAMWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830Hammerhead Karoo
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink

And again, remember you can mix and match and make your own product comparison charts over in the product comparison calculator.



There’s no doubt a lot of people have been waiting for a color display Wahoo bike computer, and even more for one that has full navigation features. And within those parameters, it technically unlocks both achievements. And it does so with a very cohesive smartphone companion app to boot – something that’s rightfully often praised about Wahoo’s computers. And in fact, that app in the last few weeks got a solid user interface refresh.

The challenge is, I think too much attention was paid to that app – and not enough to the unit itself. But more deeply, I don’t think Wahoo really understands how quick their competitors are moving. When Wahoo entered the market years ago, and in particular with the BOLT 2 years ago, it provided a breath of fresh air. Something different, cleaner, and more cohesive. But now – it just feels out of date. The display and slowness of the unit simply doesn’t match 2019, nor do the feature sets.

When I talk with (numerous) Wahoo employees – I get the impression they haven’t actually tried their competitors units for any length of time. At least not in the last few years. Every discussion I have they talk of slow/laggy cumbersome units of 3-4 years ago (the same time they originally developed the BOLT). But the reality is, their competitors of today are fast and clean (and now the ROAM is slow). Be it Hammerhead, Sigma, or Garmin – the 2018/2019 units just aren’t like your Dad’s units, they’re fast, clean and efficient. And for Wahoo to essentially roll out what amounts to a handful of routing options for a new unit begs the question: What have they been doing for two years?

Of course, the reality is that true mapping navigation is hard. Really, really, really hard. It’s like developing a power meter. It sounds easy in theory, but is super difficult in practice. There’s so much nuance to maps and navigation – be it conflicting data sets, differences in regions, etc… It’s incredibly difficult. So I get that – totally. Which is why I’m astounded Wahoo didn’t add *any* non-navigation new features to ROAM. Something that would have distracted from the fact that the navigation on the ROAM is mostly half-baked still.

While Wahoo has committed to two navigation features for ROAM by June (Strava turn by turn, and on-device elevation data), I really want to see a longer range calendar of features – just like they had back in BOLT/ELEMNT day. They aren’t giving up anything competitive at this point, as Garmin just released their competitors last week. Further, Wahoo is now firmly in the ‘playing catchup’ camp, so they need to figure out a way to convince prospective buyers that there’s goodness coming with future updates.

Hopefully they can do that, and while they’re at it – reduce the price to a feature appropriate $299.

With that, thanks for reading!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

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 time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

If you're shopping for the Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you shop with TPC (The Pro's Closet), you'll save $40 on purchases over $200 with coupon code DCRAIN40! The Pro's Closet has been a long-time partner of the site here - including sponsoring videos like my cargo bike race, as well as just being an awesome Colorado-based company full of good humans. Check them out with the links below and the DCRAIN40 coupon!

Here's a few other variants or sibling products that are worth considering:

And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that work well with this unit (and some that I showed in the review). Given the unit pairs with ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors, you can use just about anything though.

Barfly 4 Prime Out-Front Aluminum Mount

I love out-front mounts. Both Barfly and K-Edge make good ones. I primarily use the aluminum ones though, because this mount comes with a GoPro (and light/Di2) adapter on the bottom. So I can mount a GoPro up front and have the footage be rock solid.

The Garmin Varia radar alerts you to cars coming up behind you, well before you see them. It's awesome for quieter roads (country roads/mountains), especially on longer rides. It's less useful for city riding. The RVR315 skips the light.

The Varia radar has become incredibly popular in the last year, with most bike GPS companies supporting it (Wahoo, Stages, Hammerhead, Garmin, and more soon). It notifies you of overtaking traffic. While useless for cities, it's amazing for quieter country roads.

Wahoo RPM Sensor

This dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart sensor will transmit cadence not only to your bike computer/watch, but also 3rd party apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, and more.

Wahoo SPEED Sensor

Speed sensors are primarily useful for offroad usage. I don't find much of a need for one while road-cycling, but for mountain bike trails they can help alleviate speed/distance issues with poor GPS reception in dense trees.

The Wahoo TICKR is their baseline dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart chest strap that includes basic broadcasting of heart rate data to apps. If you don't care about all the fancy features of the TICKR X, this is one of the best straps out there. The 'just works' factor is high.

The TICKR FIT is Wahoo's optical HR sensor band, and overall it's a pretty solid no-frills offering. It broadcasts dual ANT+/BLE with a claimed 30 hours of battery life. It doesn't have any other features beyond that. Simple and straightforward.

Wahoo TICKR X (2020 Edition)

The TICKR X is Wahoo's top-end chest strap that not only does dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart (with two Bluetooth Smart channels), but also Running Dynamics, running pace, storage of workouts when you don't have a watch/phone, and even music control and laps.

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

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  1. chris s

    Put me down in the camp desperate to leave the garmin eco system. Unfortunately at this price and feature set, it just doesn’t look attractive. ANT+ light integration would also be nice to see. Le sigh.

    • Brian Harris

      Yep, add ANT+ lights, and I’ll buy one. Until then…

    • CJOttawa

      Paraphrasing Sir Winston Churchill:

      “Garmin is the worst system, except for all the oth­ers.”

    • scott g.

      That’s is why I kept my Cateye next to the Garmin,
      so when the Garmin got confused, I still had the Cateye
      and a cue sheet.

      Garmin, the adult computer, because a child would have chucked it long ago.

    • chris s

      I’m enjoying this similarity in comments on the Roam and the Edge 530/830 release:

      Garmin review comments: “Wow! Should I buy an Edge 530 or 830?”
      Wahoo review comments: “Wow! Should I buy an Edge 530 or 830?”

    • Changren Y.

      In the same camp. As an owner of many Garmin Edge bike computers, after my horrible experience with the Edge 820, if not for the Varia radar, I would have jumped ship to Wahoo. I was just about to question my pre-order of the Edge 530 when I read this and found out the latest Wahoo bike computer still lacks ANT+ radar support. That’s a deal breaker for me. I guess I will remain in the Garmin ecosystem for the foreseeable future.

  2. Phil P

    For me looking at a new head unit, the choice seems clear with the edge 830. Like you said, the price/feature combo makes it clear and Wahoo seems to have missed the boat, in my opinion.

    • A No

      In exactly the same boat, preferring to leave Garmin after a poor experience with the 810.

      A friend has the BOLT and IMHO, it’s not quite there yet, and after reading this (thanks Ray!), ROAM doesn’t seem to get there either.

      I travel a lot, so like the fact that Wahoo provides free regional maps. 830 seems to be the way to go, but I’ve read it may not allow external SD card, and I’ve not confirmed the on-device memory capacity. I’d like to have at least 16GB free to store all North American, all European and a few other regional maps.

    • Paul S.

      Yeah, the 830 is 16 Gb, or about 15.5 free to use from what I’ve read, with the included maps taking up part of that. No microSD slot. I’m putting OpenMTB for my area on mine once I get it, although I use the Garmin Cycle maps on occasion on my 1000 and they’re fine (no topo lines, though).

  3. Alex Masidlover

    Great review Ray!

    However, for me at least, pricing isn’t just about a long feature list…

    Back at the end of 2017 I was looking at devices and plumped for the Edge 520 over the Elemnt (things like workouts were key features for me and weren’t present on the Elemnt at the time).

    The 520 was ok and certainly less unstable than my Forerunner 310XT which required hard resetting monthly… I only had to do a manual semi-reset procedure 2 or 3 times on the 520 before the charging connector broke (a common problem based on the forums) – sadly this was at 13 months old and Garmin made it clear that this is all they expect their devices to last and thus I could not claim under EU consumer law for a replacement from the retailer.

    Which makes sense since they’ve released the 520 plus and the 530 since then – so clearly Garmin think their customers can afford to replace their devices yearly…

    I’ve now replaced the 520 with an Elemnt (they’ve added the missing workout feature) and it (crosses figures) has been completely reliable in the 7 months I’ve been using it. Not only that but the BOLT and ROAM are clearly based on the same software stack and the Elemnt is still being updated (obviously I won’t get the routing features) – but things like workouts came out on both Elemnt and Bolt at the same time – so it really feels like Wahoo expect their customers to own their devices for years.

    My tri-watch is a 4 year old Suunto and (despite the Movescount debacle) I still have some confidence that Suunto will actually support it for a few more years, i.e., not expecting me to change yearly.

    I realise this is anecdata (although apart from my 310XT, all my Garmin devices – FR60, Edge 520, FR305 have died either inside or just outside a year of ownership) – and that its not something you can include in a review (not unless you release the review 3 years after the device is released)! But I thought I’d put this in the comments since it is the kind of thing I like to know when I’m buying a new device and makes me pay an extra £100 here and there if I know I’ll only have to pay it once every 3-4 years and not have to replace my watch/computer every year.

    • Totally agree – I love that Wahoo keeps updating firmware longer term. I think that objectively if I compare Garmin vs Wahoo firmware update lists (like, pull them side by side), we’ll find that Garmin adds more new features in total in the first 12-18 months, and then things get quiet. Whereas Wahoo spreads that out over a much longer trail.

      Either way, what’s important is perception – and you nailed it. The perception is that Wahoo keeps adding to products. Of course, eventually Wahoo will get to the day where the products are too old and that will stop. But for now, the perception that you outlined around Garmin sorta forgetting about customers is mostly true. We saw that just yesterday with the FR945, whereby Fenix 5 Plus folks (less than a year old) are basically told ‘No new features for you’.

    • James C Jordan

      Except that most of the updates that you get from Garmin are not so much new features but bug fixes.

    • Carl

      Fair points, but at this point, every update Wahoo rollsout for the ROAM for the next year or two will be to catch up to where the 530/830 is today. I’ve liked my BOLT, but I do think there’s some rose-colored glasses-wearing here. And for Wahoo to rollout what is effectively a x.5 version when Garmin jumped ahead 2-3 iterations should be embarrassing to Wahooligans (I know it was for me).

      Wahoo are good people, and I hope they do well going forward, but at $379, it really feels like they totally lost their mojo on this one.

    • Kris

      You got bug fixes? For me any new update seemed to just add bugs.

    • usr

      We know nothing about Wahoo’s long term update policy since they never had a standalone GPS head unit obsoleted by a newer iteration before the ROAM (or am I wrong in assuming that the ROAM replaces the original ELMNT in the lineup, not sitting there side by side?).

      Garmin has been rolling out generous feature updates whenever a new smaller unit would introduce features that a still-current bigger unit lacked. Therefore, not much update love for the 5×0, plenty for the 10×0. With the recent release synchronisation between 5×0 and 8×0, I do wonder if Garmin continues down that road, doing the 40 as an all-size release (5/8/10).

      Will the BOLT get all the new navigation features except for the colors? Time will tell, it’s all software, given sufficient memory.

    • Bill Windmill

      Just out of interest (I am looking to buy a new GPS device soon) what do you need from a bike computer that the ROAM cannot do?


  4. Brad

    Bang on about the Varia Radar, I want to leave Garmin (4th 520 battery that’s turned to sub 5 hour life) and I’m stuck with them as the radar is, for me, an essential tool.

    • Andrew

      I’m surprised no one else is making a radar yet. I thought it was a gimmick until I tried it and now I try to never ride on a road without it. I know a lot of other people who are the same. Even if wahoo doesn’t want to make a radar, supporting the function seems like an easy call

    • “I thought it was a gimmick until I tried it and now I try to never ride on a road without it”

      Yup, it’s the thing I hear most often. I’ve yet to find a single person who bought one and was like ‘this is stupid’, and returned it.

    • Sam

      Based on those comments I just bought myself a radar the rtl511 version, I made sure to use the &tag=dcr07-20 on the URL Ray! let’s see if i can switch from the “it’s a gimmick” camp to “Oh my god, I NEED MY VARIA” 🙂

    • Shawn@Garmin

      Brad, glad you like your radar and sorry to hear you are having issues with the Edge 520 battery. Reach out to us, mention Shawn@Garmin suggested you get in touch about your concerns, and we will get this sorted.

    • Kyle Morgan

      Add me to the list of Varia requesters. Wahoo has been coy about it and I don’t understand why they just won’t implement it. They don’t get the safety component of it or they just don’t care? I commute every day and it’s a game changer. Either way, with the Edge 530 I’m actively considering switching back to Garmin. That and the unit seems to be buggy with its connection to the iPhone over these last several updates.

      I’ve been within the Wahoo ecosystem for some time. I remember when they used to listen to and execute feature requests. If they don’t get that Varia support is more important to users than Pioneer metrics then I don’t really know that they still have their focus on their user base that they did when they first rolled out the ELEMNT.

      I’ve just never heard a good reason why they won’t do Varia support.

    • JF

      Garmin radar is no joke. Unfortunately, in typical Garmin fashion, they drop the ball on the user experience.

      Did you know that you can’t turn off the flash on the US 510 units? Meaning as a car approaches, it switches from steady to flash. This gives the driver a potential startle just as they pass you. So f-ing dumb. For some reason, they have a hardware level setting around this.

      Its benefit Garmin and Wahoo to support this as it’d sell a lot of Radar light for Garmin without cannibalizing Edge sales. For Wahoo, they wouldn’t lose users who see their riding buddies radar work. Garmin would also have less units returned after Wahoo users try the Radar/Computers and realize how poorly Garmin does button sequences, screen contrast, and settings.

    • Chris19891

      Any chance you will implement > 2 data fields on Edge series? This would pull me over line again (currently using Wahoo).

    • GLT

      Balancing my loyalty across Garmin, Apple, and Wahoo can be difficult at times. Garmin does not lock Varia Radar users into their ecosystem too rigidly though, since they do provide a dedicated radar display unit (part number 010-12384-10).

    • Ken

      I also have fallen into the camp of must have my radar. I just bought 2 additional varias as presents for my 2 riding partners. In my mind, it is the biggest safety innovation over the past decade.

    • John

      Garmin has also published the ANT+ Radar standard. Any ANT+ bike computer manufacturer could implement radar support, it’s just that for whatever reason, they all choose not to. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • Andrew M

      I don’t use the radar on urban roads, as there are just too many alerts, and is distracting.

      But when riding on rural roads, the Varia is fantastic.

    • Forrest

      I find the radar useful on city streets. It goes off constantly, be but you can see where the gaps in traffic are without having to turn your head.

    • Frank

      Hey Sam, what do you mean by “, I made sure to use the &tag=dcr07-20 on the URL”

      just a bit confused.

    • Hi Frank-

      It means he used the Amazon link that supports the site here. Basically, that’s the techie way of knowing for certain. The easy way is just to use any Amazon link from this site, either direct or indirectly. There’s a big Amazon logo on the sidebar that you can use anyone you want to go to Amazon, and then just enter what you want in the sidebar after that. Works as well for just general things like toilet paper. 🙂

      Thanks Sam, appreciate it!

    • GP

      Agree. Go the Varia Radar (using Edge 820) and my battery also turned into sub 5 hours !!
      Got the separate Varia Radar display unit and back to better but nowhere good battery time (this weekend the 820 died after 8 hours – nowhere close to the 15 hours). I guess with the display unit – no issue getting the Wahoo and hoping for a better battery time.

    • AB

      I tried the radar, but the biggest issue I had was no audio alerts and very hard to see. I returned it after two rides. When your looking up you need some audio cue telling you whats coming. A clip on mirror gave me more piece of mind than the radar did.

    • Daniel

      Hi Shawn Im a Garmin users, I had FR910tx, Edge 520, Fenix 3HR, Vector 3; and I told you, none of these products works properly. its a shame that a Garmin that is the bigger company have a lot of malfunction in all their products. And do nothing to correct them, only want that the people buy new gadgets and throw away the garbage you made i n less than a year.

  5. Ray

    I was really hoping for something that gave me reasons to upgrade my garmin 520. This isn’t it.

  6. Kris

    How does it feel, does it feel like you have a premium device (Garmin) in your hand or does it still feels like something plastic?

    Garmin always felt well build and sturdy, my Wahoo feels cheap. After 1.5 years of use the Wahoo doesn’t fit perfectly anymore in the mount (I can hear rattling sounds when I ride), the buttons feel loose.

  7. Ken

    I’m looking over this review, and I am not sure what the price of the ROAM is. If I had to guess, I would say $399. However, it is not obvious to me reading your review. In the fifth paragraph, you say “And at $399, it better be fantastic.” which is why I assume it is $399. You also do not have your typical product comparison which gives the price. I think it would help if you put the price clearly right up front.

  8. Martin

    Prices on bikeradar and some other sites are saying :

    The new Wahoo Elemnt Roam will cost £299.99 ($379.99/€349.99)

  9. FDuarte

    Funny. After years of Wahoo and die hard fans trying to convince us and them that monochromatic screen was the thing and color was rubish, and not that a big deal on navigation, Wahoo changes to color! So, does this unit have custom alarms/reminders? Does it have a simple battery percentage while charging? Simple things, simples things…

    • Wahoo Murray

      The visibility of the display in full sunlight is very important to us, previously we had only black/white due to the particular display technology. This new screen uses the same technology and adds 8 color support, while giving even better visibility in sunlight. We took special care to only use color when we thought it added something for the user.

    • Larz

      Color display is fine if you can read it on a sunlight day.

      I guess there are personal differences, but for me especially the route on Garmin Edge 1020 is nearly impossible to read in direct sunlight. Of course it would help, if you could change the colors yourself.

      My Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is much easier to follow in sunlight.

  10. David Horn

    Ex-Garmin user here with the original ELEMNT. I miss my Varia radar ***every*** time I ride. Can’t understand why Wahoo are so intransigent about this.

    The ELEMNT was fantastic when it was introduced. It’s like Wahoo looked at all the stuff that drove people nuts about Garmin and fixed it. Beautifully clear, crisp screens; stellar battery life; good mounts; proper phone integration; idiot proof navigation that has never failed etc. etc. I recommended it to everyone I ride with, and at least five of them ditched their Garmins after borrowing my ELEMNT for a demo.

    It must be obvious to any hardware manufacturer that if Ray recommends something, you’re not going to go wrong following it. The latest ELEMNT firmware update still has debug menus, the new Android app sucks and doesn’t load maps and your support team don’t answer emails.

    I know the CEO reads these comments? Where did you guys go wrong?

  11. Thomas P

    There’s really nothing here that would get me to upgrade from my bolt. I really like the bolt, works every time with no hassles. As Ray says there isn’t enough of an upgrade here to warrant changing or the big price jump.

    The colour screen seems sort of pointless, no? 99% of the time it’s going to be on the data pages which are all b/w and the level of colour on the maps doesn’t really add much IMO.

    • Zach

      Agreed – The color screen on my Garmin is necessary for off-road navigation but for what this unit does (no integrated trail data with color coding) I’d be fine with monochrome.

  12. GH

    Great review ray. Really appreciate your willingness to deliver an honest assessment of the strengths & weaknesses here.

    I have had several Wahoo units (BOLT, ELEMNT, 2 x KICKR) and I am a huge fan of the company. But this seems like a product that should have a better processor and be priced at $299. Hopefully next year.

  13. FrankJ

    Nice review of a disappointing product.

    Di2 gearing info still not possible in 53×11 format, I assume?

  14. portemat

    This seems such a disappointing product. I love my ELEMNT. It does everything well, clean, clear and always works (unlike the Garmin it replaced, which crashed frequently, struggled to upload rides, had a pointless & irritating touchscreen, etc.). I have never missed having a colour screen. No idea why Wahoo thought adding colour was useful??

    Given how old the ELEMNT now is, I was getting pretty exciting about what was coming. I am even considering trying a Garmin again, because I really want a radar (being less surprised by what’s behind me seems like a grest idea!)

  15. Liuyang W

    Sweet, so when does it support Varia?

  16. Paul S.

    “And similarly, the charging cable remains like Garmin firmly in the early 2000’s, micros-USB. C’mon guys, if GoPro can go USB-C, than surely you can.” I have never understood this. Who cares what port they use so long as it’s a standard one? micro USB works for this just as well as USB-C. I’ve got cables for both lying around (and two of the Chafon multi tip things that you recommended in a post a while back). What does it matter? At least it’s not the “lets try something new and unique” that continually shows up with Garmin watches.

    • Lemoose

      I actually prefer old micro USB cables, because wherever you are in the world, you will find someone with such a cable to charge something.
      Try finding anUSB-C cable when you’ve forgotten yours and you are at a café or shop in the middle of nowhere…

    • Jim S

      I feel the same way. Can someone explain to a non-tech geek the advantage of USB-C? Thanks.

    • Samuel

      It’s a pain when travelling, it’s a ecological waste, it’s annoying, and usb-b is so prone to break units

    • Samuel

      On the other side there is a hefty license fee to use USB C compared to micro USB

    • Dave Lusty

      USB C is a better connector all around, doesn’t need to be inserted a specific way, and doesn’t rip itself apart at the slightest sign of misuse.
      But the most important thing, is that the USB C specification allows more current to flow which allows for faster charging of peripherals.
      It’s also clearly the standard going forwards, so there really isn’t a good reason to use the older socket since, as you say, the connector doesn’t matter. People with older USB chargers and ports can use a cable with USB C at the device end and the device ships with a cable so why not move forwards when the new version is better in every way imaginable?

    • Because micro-USB ports break often. Primarily because they’re flimsy. USB-C is stronger.

      I’ve broken I think 5-6 Garmin units now, along with numerous other devices.

    • Paul S

      OK, that makes sense. I haven’t broken one, and have them in all sorts of devices (headphones, Garmins, batteries, etc.) but I can see why that would be true since C is larger. I’ll bet C is more expensive for the manufacturer, though.

    • Jim S

      Got it! Thanks for the replies.

    • Tom

      Interesting that you called Wahoo out on the micro-usb port being so dated, yet nothing on Garmin doing the same?

      And I’m sure it’s not deliberate, but you didn’t seem to show much love for Wahoo, and a whole lot for Garmin. Your site depends on complete neutrality.

    • Umm, I called out both of them above in the text? Read what I wrote – it’s specifically calling out both at once:

      “And similarly, the charging cable remains, like Garmin, firmly in the early 2000’s, micro-USB. C’mon guys, if GoPro can go USB-C, then surely you can. GoPro folks, GoPro!”

      Inversely, I called out things on Garmin’s review that I didn’t on Wahoo where they both did/do things I don’t like.

  17. David

    I’m on a Bolt, but do randonneuring and the claimed life of 40 on the 530/830 is actually a really big draw for me.

    I hope Wahoo responds with a corresponding low-power mode, otherwise I may jump ship this summer.

    • PeterF

      I believe the 40 hours for the 530/830 is in battery save mode which is basically recording only. The optional external battery would be real nice for randonneuring though, although I find that keeping your GPS connected to a USB battery pack while riding works well enough (provided you have some sort of handlebar bag to keep the battery in).

      The big plus of Wahoo GPS’s for randonneuring is that it is much easier to follow the track because of the big arrow like visuals instead of a coloured line in Garmin. My observation is that people riding with a Wahoo have less navigation oopses because of this.

    • The battery saver mode is actually interesting – and not terribly well understood. Basically on the Edge 530/830 what it does is turn off the display after a few seconds, though you can tap a button or screen (830) to turn it back on. There’s no impact to GPS or sensor recording rates.

      The main appeal for most is really the automatic shift from regular mode to battery saver mode when the battery gets super low during a ride, to get you to the end of it. So because there’s no impact to GPS or sensor recording rates, it’s basically seen as a hail mary to ensure you get to the end of the ride with the full ride recorded.

  18. Omar E

    So still no auto-lap by position feature? Lmao.

    • Sam

      This!! I ordered a wahoo bolt sometime ago to replace an aging edge 800, and when I realised this didn’t have it (super useful when you do crits or laps like at longchamps near Paris ) I just sent it back to wahoo and bought a 1030 instead

  19. Jens Frede Rasmussen

    No product comparision content? 😀

    • Ask and you shall receive!

      The product comparison portion is now in there, as is the accuracy section. Enjoy!

    • Matt

      The comparison table needs to be updated – you list the Elemnt Bolt twice, but the price point seems to be the Elemnt Roam. Otherwise, great review. Thanks!

    • Pat B

      Same in the picture of all the devices. You enumerate the bolt where the roam should be I think.

  20. Samuel

    Thanks Ray for the review !! I’ll just keep my Garmin then (1030), there is numerous bugs with them but at least there is features I enjoy ! (Ride to a POI like a train station is a must in Europe, I usually ride far in a direction and come back hurts train to avoid the traffic back, something they probably don’t care in US.

    Colour display with 7 colours is a bit of a joke too,

  21. Eric

    turn by turn for strava routes coming to the elemnt and bolt? Rival watch on the horizon?

    • Since Wahoo is having to do the work on the device side (using the routes known on the map data), I wouldn’t expect it to come to BOLT/ELEMENT, as they lack that data.

      Ideally, Strava would just get with the times and send that data in the routes export like RideWithGPS does.

    • Eric


    • Jon

      Will turn by turn directions display on the roam for a gpx/garmin course that you upload? Thanks!

  22. Giles E Endicott

    How’s the LED strips brightness on a sunny day compared with the bolt? I love the concept but often found them too dull on a sunny day with darker sunglasses on….

  23. Christian Fredrickson

    I am also annoyed with the $379 price point. For $299 I am getting ready to jump to Garmin edge 530 based on it feature set (support of lights being high on the list). I could live with no light support if the new bolt price point was $299 or better $279. I am worried about switching from wahoo to Garmin echo system of supported devices. But the 530 long list of features and competitive price vs the new bolt make me willing to jump.

  24. Zach

    When I saw this article pop up I thought “time to cancel my pre-order for the Edge 830”. Wow, I’m glad I didn’t. I’ll stick with Garmin for now.
    No Radar support – dealbreaker for me (best device I ever added, also thinking at first it’d be gimmicky) – It really adds a new level of confidence and has never failed to warn me of a vehicle.
    Custom base maps – Garmin is the only device I know that does this.
    Mountain biking – Garmin finally seems to have got this right in the 530/830 with integrated trail data. Looks like an afterthought here.
    Do they at least have OpenStreetMaps’s trails in the basemap? I never liked the idea of pulling in a ‘Route’ before a trail ride. I want to see a map of all the available trails, independent of someone else’s ride they did one day. Maybe it’s possible to display multiple GPX files? Still tho I’ve been there done that on an ancient eTrex, didn’t like it. I almost wonder if some day they’d consider integrating with MTBProject. I somehow get the impression that Wahoo could be working with them, and Garmin with Trailforks?

    I’m glad they finally added street names – that’s the reason I never switched to Wahoo (believe me I wanted to a few times, and most everyone I know already has). I really wish Garmin would take some notes on how nice Wahoo does their mobile phone integrations.
    That being said, if I didn’t ride off road and realize how nice Radar is, I’d give this some good consideration.
    Honestly tho I don’t see any reason I’d take this over the 530/830 at this price-point.

    • Ben Voytko

      FWIW, Wahoo uses openstreetmap data for basemaps, I’ve found that generally if trails exist on OSM, then they are on the base maps.

      They actually did just implement integration with MTB Project (for your wishlist trails and routes, which sync just like a route from any other source). Not sure if they ever plan to implement that trail data on their basemaps.

    • Zach

      Thanks – that’s good to know. I’d be interested to see how they look on this device.

  25. Giles E Endicott

    On the notifications, is it just 1980s SMS or will actually used protocol notifications arrive like WhatsApp or fb messenger etc?

  26. Scott

    Would love to switch from the Garmin family, but until Wahoo releases the watch, it’s a nonstarter for me. Maybe by the time that happens they’ll have sorted this all out.

  27. There is a significant difference in bezel size between the actual unit and the picture (rendering) on the box and in the Wahoo announcement email… Needless to say, the actual display size on the rendering is bigger! Any remarks on this? (I am a loving owner of a Bolt, so no Wahoo hater here, but still, the real life Roam does not look so nice at all as the one on the rendering…)

    • Kwisatz

      Also noticed this obviously discrepancy.

      Pretty lame misleaf from Wahoo here,…

    • Frank-enstein

      What a garbage strategy. Thanks for pointing this out. Marketing is marketing, but this is straight up dishonesty.

      So much for those favorable comments on packaging.

      Step 1 of packaging – – show what’s in the goldarn box.

    • Tim

      Yes, look at the top of the ‘h’ of wahoo on the rh side – the gap is considerably smaller on the rendering. That’s disappointing. I’ve enjoyed my Bolt, after returning the original Elemnt, which had loads of issues, and would have been happy to jump to the Roam, but I’m underwhelmed. The 830 just offers so much more at this point and having read/watched DCR’s reviews on both, I can only agree with his conclusion on the Roam.

    • Tim

      Meant to say 530, for £40 less in the UK, seems to offers a lot more.

    • GE

      This is downright illegal in plenty of countries.

    • GLT

      I’m not certain the bezel is substantially wider or if the brightness of the supporting LED indicators depicted in the glossy makes the width less easy to eye-ball.

      I would imagine the evaluation unit is fairly close to the production unit, but perhaps not.

      Everyone has to make their own decision, but I wouldn’t send a product back based only on one cosmetic deviation from the box.

      Agreed that we should all want a useful and exact imagine of the product on the outside of the product box. Not sure that it happens in the majority of cases though.

    • Tommy

      I don’t know what is more of a crime. The size of the bezels or the fact they have lied about it

      Garmin are pretty terrible by today’s bezel standards, but at least they don’t Photoshop them out.

    • Tim Parker

      The bezels are the same size.

    • “evaluation unit is fairly close to the production unit”

      My test unit is the exact same hardware units as shipping units.

    • maxfrance

      That’s the same as snacks makers do with cakes and bars. Bigger, fluffier and stuffed with all the goods …

      Borderline fairness

  28. Frank-enstein

    So the features weren’t ready, but they saw Garmin jump them last week, and decided to toss this in the market and see what sticks…. after 2 + years!

    I’m just a little guy, but my recent interaction with support has been awful. Ahem Brad.

    Tack this onto KICKR quality , presumably bailing on the tri watch AFTER IT WAS ALREADY DESIGNED , and I don’t get whats happening in Atlanta. Esp b/c this is all after the private equity infusion. Maybe the new overlords too focused on profits or are meddling in design.

    At least half the TICKR models work well.

    Hope these guys figure it out. Competition good for everyone.

  29. charlie

    Does seem a bit underwhelming. Looks like they had this product ready to go when they launched the Bolt, and just waited 2 years to release it with the colour screen.

    I have a Bolt and love it, miles better than my old 520 but no way is this worth spending £300 on, even if I could get £150 for my current bolt on eBay.

  30. Nicholas

    I own a lot of products both Wahoo and Garmin. I don’t understand any of the comments about Garmin’s and them quitting after a year. I own an Edge 810 and a Fenix 3HR and both work just like they did day one. I sold my Edge 510 which also worked just fine before it. All companies have their quirks. Many complain about Wahoo HR straps dying around the same timeframe (1 year) as Garmin straps. Again maybe I’ve lucked out by my Wahoo strap is working just fine (pads starting to peel up though). My Kickr Snap works fantastic.

    So I’m not going to claim an inflated price by one or other is justified.

    That said the whole Ray review can be condensed down into the following and it will make sense as will the pricing….

    Wahoo just introduced their version of the Edge 520+. They added some navigation features and didn’t add any real speed. They want 820/830 pricing for this addition and it isn’t worth it.

    The End.

    • GLT

      +1 all around

      I’m not enthusiastic about the ROAM pricing, but some portion of that is that due to Garmin successfully launching the E530 before the ROAM. I found the E530 features & pricing a pleasant surprise, so a week later anything more expensive is going to seem less appealing.

  31. woooooooooooooooo

    I still prefer using Locus Map on Android. I did quite a lot of research on different GPS computers, but they’re each missing some function that the other has. Locus Map can do almost everything that the GPS computers do and some additional things that they can’t (except third party route syncing), with the benefit of not having to purchase a separate device. Although the battery on my phone will only last 8 hours with GPS active and bluetooth sensors connected, but I prefer to dedicate my power bank to the phone instead of splitting the energy between 2 devices. It does take many hours to become intimately familiar with all the different options and settings in Locus Map, but that’s because of the variety of functions and how much you can customize them.

    Functions that I use:
    Offline and online maps, voice navigation, route creation, re-routing, notification when off-track.
    (Offline route creation and re-routing requires Brouter plugin and cache.)
    Multiple online map sources, overlaying 2 maps with transparency, and night mode.
    Cache the tiles you’ve panned over for free, or pay to save an entire zone to offline memory.
    Load maps from your own free offline sources.
    Elevation data, and elevation shading (once you cache the elevation data). Use of internal barometer.
    Statistics and graphs, live or post review.
    Connect bluetooth and ANT+ sensors.
    Set how frequent to notify you of turns, at which distance, type of sound, etc.
    Automatic display on and off at notification, set how long to keep the display on. Or use gesture control.
    Display map over screen lock, do you don’t need to unlock the phone.
    Geocaching, save waypoints. Load and export various track formats.
    Customize display with live tracking data and shortcut buttons.

    The re-routing is actually pretty good, once you learn which settings to use (default settings will ignore your waypoints and recalculate a direct route to the end point). Route creation is also good, although there are 3 different options of plugins for it. The offline Brouter has more options for specifying which types of roads you prefer to use. Most of the time, Komoot gave (a little bit) better routes (plus the ability to make round trips, which Locus Map cannot do automatically), but sometimes I found that Brouter was better on minor countryside and forestry paths.

  32. Jon

    I assume the new map updates will not be backwards compatible to the Element Bolt via updates?

  33. Ben Voytko

    My biggest challenge with the navigation on the element was when mountain biking on routes that cross over each other, making it damn near impossible to tell which direction to go at trail intersections. The arrows are just mashed up together at the intersections in such a way that you can’t really tell which direction to follow (sometimes I can figure this out logically, but other times I have to stop and pull out the original route on the phone to see). I ride a few trail systems that are rather compact and this sort of thing is a regular occurrence.

    Does the Roam make this easier?

    • Wahoo Murray

      Ben, It can get a little busy, I’ve added 2 extra zoom levels and increases the resolution of the maps for this reason, I find it much better on MTB trails now.

  34. Magnus

    Have they done something about the GPS accuracy in the woods or is it as bad as previous units? Only real downside with Bolt for me, like it otherwise but a real deal killer.

  35. Jeffrey Brown

    AWESOME Review. thanks. I think that you table of comparisons in the article does not include ROAM, but instead has the bolt listed 2x.


  36. Forrest

    So pulling routes from MTB Project/Singletracks is just like pulling routes from RideWithGPS/Strava? Are the mtb trails integrated into the basemap, even when you’re not riding a planned route?

    • Ben Voytko

      Yep, that’s exactly how it works. For MTB Project, just add a trail or ride to your wishlist and it will sync.

      Trails are not integrated in to the basemaps, but they do use OpenStreetMap data for basemaps, so if your trails are on OSM, then you should at least have some lines shown for the trails (not sure if the roam will include trail names if they exist on OSM?).

    • Dan G

      And the brilliant thing with OSM is if your local trails are missing, you can add them in :).

  37. FYI – Comparison chart looks to have titles off/duplicated columns.

    On the Varia point, I traded my BOLT for a 520+ to get Varia support. Radar is magic. No amount of better setup UX makes up for the value it provides when I ride by myself.

  38. GJD

    Thank you for the review.

    How does the updated climbing page look like? What has changed and how does it compare to Garmin newest climbing feature?

    I am in the market for a new device and I am thinking about the Roam, the 830 and Sigma’s 12. I find screen size, climbing info and features such as Bluetooth connectivity important.

  39. Joe Blough

    Could Wahoo not enable Varia support with a firmware update?

    • They definitely could, just as they added sensor support for Pioneer units too.

    • Yes, yes they can. I talked to them at CABDA a few months ago about it, and the person I spoke with was aware that it was a feature gap, and even mentioned that it would be a good use of the status LEDs. Given his familiarity with it, and a previous exchange with a CSR, it seemed like it wouldn’t be that far off. I was expected to see it in the FW drop a few weeks ago, hopefully now that the ROAM is out they can focus on adding it.

  40. klauss

    Had an Elemnt 2 years ago and send it back after 3 days:

    – Is it now possible to set the height manually if GPS is wrong?
    – How is to map detail compared to Garmin (Edge 1000) now? Especially when zoom out much details are lost compared to Garmin, even some details were never displayed (woods, lakes, rivers) or wrong (train lines).
    – Is it now possible to use Files app (or better: a Storage provider) on iOS to export my Workouts FIT files it any Cloud provider, especially to my self-hosted WebDAV server. I don’t use Clouds like Strava, Garmin, … but don’t want to be limited to transfer via USB cable and my Mac because developers are to lazy to use a standard feature of iOS.

    Thanks! Don’t want to buy it just to test if the features are now there or not.

  41. Marklemcd

    This definitely feels disappointing. I’ve got an ELEMNT and I want to leave Garmin completely with a watch, but I don’t know, it doesn’t seem Wahoo wants my money. They haven’t produced a watch and they’ve seem distracted with lower volume half baked ideas like the Climb and the stupid Fan.

    Ray, I use the Assiomas and my ELEMNT has never played nicely with them. At first the power stuff was way off as everyone probably remembers, but even when Wahoo announced they fixed it I have noticed the KJ calculation was still way wrong. I’d record a ride on both my Garmin 935 and the ELEMNT and they’d both have the same basic avg power but the ELEMNT has a far lower KJ calculation. And if I manually calc it the Garmin is correct. Have they fixed that on the ROAM?

    I’m pretty tempted to ditch the ELEMNT and get the new 530. But man do I want a watch and head unit from the same company that isn’t Garmin.

  42. Ivan Dobski

    I sold my Edge 1030 & Varia a few weeks ago after hearing about this coming out. I don’t regret it as it was a ridiculously flakey bit of kit – constantly dropping connections and refusing to sync etc etc but I will miss the radar which was genuinely useful.

    I’m hoping that although this isn’t as good in paper as it could be it’s a much more reliable and less frustrating unit than the 1030 was.

    • Ken

      Wow, sounds like you have a bad unit or something. I have two 1030s and two varias and all of them work without an issue.

  43. Rob

    Great review as always.

    I was expecting to see a comparison pic of the unit with the Bolt though. Speaking of comparison, in the table you appear to have the ROAM listed in both columns.

  44. Michael Robinson

    A couple of questions from an ELEMNT user… when you say the ROAM is “slow”, is this poor responsiveness to button pushes for moving between screens or increasing/decreasing fields on screen? Or the on-device routing functions using the map, or both?

    Also one of the things I like about the ELEMNT is the high contrast display. My eyesight isn’t great and I struggled with a Garmin colour display, particularly in bright sunlight.

    I know legibility is difficult to assess, but would you say the ROAM map screen is less legible than an ELEMNT?

    • It’s button pushing to change pages, or even just UI selection. I’ll shoot a video soonish, but it’s just feels so slow and like it’s underpowered. That said, Shane didn’t notice in any problems on his unit. I don’t know if it’s related perhaps to the density of the cycling map around here (which also impacted past Garmin devices).

    • Qba

      @DC Rainmaker

      Comparing to Bolt it’s even slower? How is Bolt’s speed vs new Garmin 530/830?

  45. Dale F

    I love my Bolt, but now that I’ve seen what the new Wahoo device offers at the higher price, I’m going to get a Garmin 530. I really love the ClimbPro feature they added.

  46. Jerry Inscoe

    “Now unlike Garmin, Polar, Pioneer, or others – there’s no Wahoo specific website to look at your rides on.”

    Stages has their StagesLink website that allows users to analyze ride data for that days ride or others save to the calendar, performance overview, synced power meters, and settings for their Dash head unit.

  47. Mister Ray

    One thing I wish Garmin and Wahoo was the ability to use the Apple watch for HR data. I understand the Apple Watch is paired via Bluetooth to the phone. So the Garmin or Wahoo app could act very similar to the Zwift companion app and relay the HR data to the paired Edge or Element head unit. The Apple watch series 4 has a very good HR sensor.

    • It’s up to Apple (or other OEMs like Fitbit) to enable BTLE HR support.

    • Correct, this one is on Apple to broadcast properly over the BTLE/BLE HR standard.

    • JF64K

      You can use Apple Watch HR data with the RidewithGPS app, I wonder why Wahoo doesn’t enable that with their app??

    • Mister Ray

      “Correct, this one is on Apple to broadcast properly over the BTLE/BLE HR standard.”

      Does this standard allow the Apple watch the ability to remain paired with the iPhone, but then broadcast over BT to the Garmin Edge or Wahoo Element? There are any number of apps on the Apple watch that will record a ride with HR data, but none also interface with my other bike sensors.

    • That would they could do, if they decided to do it.

  48. Joe Pickering

    Do you think Strava turn-by-turn could be supported on the Bolt, when that firmware update for the Roam comes out?

  49. GE

    This Bezelgate is pretty scandalous

    • GLT

      That certainly makes it easier to evaluate the two depictions.

      They are probably closer than some Kickstarted products are to their initial glossies though.

    • Giles E

      For sure, products deviate from initial concepts through engineering to final product. Clearly though, this isn’t what’s happening here. It’s not like Wahoo forgot they changed it, or didn’t have the money for new renderings….

      Wahoo have the CAD of the final product, but have chosen to modify it, or use an older spec design in lieu of the real one for marketing purposes in order to make it look better than it is. In the marketing images the bezels are 28% of the width whereas on the real product that is 36% which is quite a change. Some might call this deception. If one likes the box and buys it, they are not getting what they expect. That just isn’t fair.

  50. Mattv

    “When I talk with (numerous) Wahoo employees – I get the impression they haven’t actually tried their competitors units for any length of time.”

    This is something all companies seem to suffer from. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen this with all kinds of product companies. Companies get tunnel vision on their products and pretend as if they are smartest, cleverest people on the planet, so they can’t be bothered to look at the competition.


    • Absolutely. I see it a lot. I suspect Garmin was more guilty of this in the past than now, just based on some hunches here and there. I remember having discussions 2 years ago with them about the Apple Watch, and it was clear they’d never used one*. [I realize ‘they’ is a weird term for a massive company, but in this context I’m referring to specific people that should have used one]. Now, based on my conversations, it’s clear they understand that. Just like it was clear they understand very well the things Wahoo does and doesn’t do well.

      I think people (even Wahoo) underestimate how focused Garmin is on Wahoo right now. I don’t know who’s Wheaties at Garmin someone left a present in from Wahoo, but man. It started a bit after the BOLT timeframe, but has grown since then significantly. Now, that doesn’t mean they manage to execute on their focus. The whole phone configuration thing is a prime example of that. So is the non-region maps bit. But every impression I got in the last month says they’re incredibly aware of exactly what and why people love Wahoo products. They’re also incredibly aware of how many past screw-ups they themselves (as Garmin) have made, and/or why people are frustrated with them. I think that’s why you see the Edge 1030 getting the firmware updates. Or why you see Garmin employees in this very thread trying to help out customers that have run into a snag. But to repeat again – whether they can execute that on all divisions/product groups (or even regions) is a much tougher nut to crack.

      *Like all companies, it’s a tricky balance. As you get within ~6mo of a product release, you want those employees out riding/running/using their own product (dogfooding as it’s called) and finding issues.

    • ChuckPDX

      Disruptive innovation threats from Wahoo is exactly the kick-in-the-pants that Garmin needs to justify R&D investments that improve user experience. I was in their shoes during decades of product architecture/development – “big ships” with a massive legacy and investments often turn slowly, even in the face of such threats. It’s not much fun trying to move those mountains.

      Competitive teardown analysis and dogfooding is useful, but committing resources to re-architect a product in a way that significantly changes first-time setup, usage experience and partner relationships is a big deal. Wahoo had the advantage of less architectural “baggage” when developing a new solution that addresses Garmin UX shortcomings/gaps. It will be interesting to see how long it takes Garmin to respond.

      In the meantime, after 24 years of Garmin loyalty, I’ve jumped ship to Wahoo Roam in pursuit of a better user experience (robustness, simplicity, convenience). Maybe Garmin will win me back someday…

    • Reginald Brown

      And yet…they are leaving Fenix 5 Plus owners in the wind, so to speak. I actually didn’t care at all that the 945 was getting features that the 5 Plus I bought a couple months ago doesn’t have, that’s understandable. New products will have new features, that’s just how it is, and that’s a high end device.

      But COME ON, the freaking 245 is getting things like Body Battery, and Garmin is mum on the Fenix 5 Plus getting it. That’s messed up.

  51. Jeff Biscuits

    Wondering if you can answer a couple of questions:

    1. The Element/Bolt force “heading up” (ie won’t allow “north up”) when navigating a route; does the same apply to the Roam? (Also, it seems like they’ve stuck with the position arrow right at the bottom of the screen, which is really unhelpful on twisty routes.)

    2. When zooming out on the map screen on the Element/Bolt, detail vanished really quickly, meaning it was impossible to look at viable detours if you had to go off-route or if you had some other reason to view a large area. Is this still the case? (I realise the back-on-track routing in theory reduces the need for this, but in reality I like to check I’m not being sent somewhere daft, and that tends to be a necessary check.)

    3. When approaching a turn (cue point) on the Element/Bolt, it wouldn’t auto-zoom into the junction and it wouldn’t switch to the map page if you weren’t already on it (Garmins pop up a useful close-up view through a junction as you approach, of course). Is this still the same?

    4. The Element/Bolt screens were amazingly clear in bright sunlight. I assume this is more on a par with the Edge Explore etc. Is that right?

    Looks interesting, anyway. The lack of true navigation on the Element/Bolt was one of (several) reasons I didn’t get on with them, despite them being an improvement over Garmin in a great many areas (ease of use, syncing with RWGPS, display/map clarity, etc). The Roam might tempt me to try again. Maybe.

    • Wahoo Murray


      1. Yes this behaviour is the same.
      2. Yes Roam has a lot more detail when zooming out, especially good for regional areas
      3. Still the same
      4. Yes, this is a big thing for us. The display is even better than our previous computers in sunlight.

    • Jeff Biscuits

      Well, two out of four ain’t so bad I guess… 🙂 Retaining a useful view of roads when zoomed out was maybe the biggest one (are there screenshots anywhere?) so that’s helpful—though that means the auto-zoom while passing through a junction would be even more useful.

      As it happens, I ordered an Edge 530 just hours before the Roam embargo dropped… kinda tempted to try both though.

      Thanks for the response.

    • Wahoo Murray

      Sorry for the average quality photo, i don’t have the best lighting at the moment. Maybe Ray can take some better photos if you need.

    • It’s dark out now, but that’s a good one to add in for fun (a gallery of zoom levels), I’ll do it tomorrow when out shooting a video.

      But yeah, I agree with Murray – I have no issues with the displayed road density at various zoom levels. It seems on-point for me.

    • Jeff Biscuits

      Murray, thanks, that’s really helpful. I can’t make out the zoom levels there but it was the 2km scale where the Bolt lost all detail. 1km was sparse but 2km was just blank.

      I have to say, though, chapeau for the clean and uncluttered approach to mapping. The considered use of colour is the right approach. It’s one thing that’s always really bugged me about Garmin.

    • Jeff Biscuits

      Wait, I just realised I can tap to get the original image, doh! 🙂

      That looks great. Vast improvement over the previous models.

    • Bill Windmill

      The fact that the Elemnt/Bolt can’t scroll/pan maps made it very frustrating when stuck in the middle of nowhere, with no phone signal to re-route. Truly NOT an all-in-one navigational device.

      This new ROAM, however, looks awesome. One added extra, and this would only be a bonus (but a great one): Screenshots. I love the fact that on some Garmin devices you can take screen grabs during your ride. You can upload keep them as mementos and upload them to your ride on Strava. Is there any chance that this functionality can be added via a software update somewhere down the line?


    • ChuckPDX

      Sunlight readability is a HUGE thing for me, and should be part of any review comparing improvements vs. prior models (Elemnt / Bolt). This is at least as important to me as the addition of color. I would love to see side-by-side photos and/or video in various outdoor lighting conditions that confirm this claim of “better than our previous computers in sunlight”!

    • Jaques

      With these photos… it appears that the actual screens are the same size. The only thing that has changed is the bezel type. So… the useful screen size is the same as the Elemnt?

    • Art

      However, wahoo further poorly displays the map. Garmin shows the maps very nicely.

  52. funkright

    I was hoping for a Wahoo’d Garmin 830… I guess not this time. Back to Garmin I go, grudgingly…

  53. Paul in Kirkland

    Looks like it doesn’t support multiple bike profiles, right?

    • dr_lha

      ELEMNT has never had the concept of a bike profile, and I’ll be honest, as a user I’m not sure why it would need it. I swap mine between 3 bikes and it works just fine.

    • A No

      I like Garmin’s Bike Profiles b/c I have 3 road bikes, each with a different power meter, plus for some, perhaps inane reason, I like to keep track of mileage on individual bikes via the Profile/Odometer.

    • Paul S.

      Garmin doesn’t have bike profiles any more.

    • True, but they have activity profiles – which i suspect was the intention here (custom settings for different types of riding).

    • Neil

      If Wahoo doesn’t have bike profiles, how do you switch bikes and sensors without having to manually fiddle around with sensor pairing and wheel circumference settings? I ride road and XC to enduro, so those differences aren’t trivial.

    • Paul S.

      Probably the same way Garmin does, since current Edge’s doesn’t have bike profiles either. Pair with whatever sensors are advertising. Wheel circumference is associated with sensor id, so you always get the right circumference for the bike so long as you don’t swap sensors around. If you detect two sensors of the same type, ask which one should be used.

  54. David Walker

    I have an Elemnt and 2 Bolts. They all reside in the drawer. I had the screens on two bolts die. The last straw was the Wahoo refusal to support Varia radar or even give any kind of promise to support it or timeframe. For me No Radar= No Purchase. I bought the radar on my wife’s suggestion because I needed a new tail light. Now I won’t ride on the road without it. Sorry, Wahoo. You make no sense.

    • Paul S.

      If nothing else, this review has sold a Varia RTL510. I just ordered one. Looking forward to using it with my 1000 and then when it arrives my 830.

  55. Carlos B.

    Comparing the resolution of the screen with the old ELEMNT, is it the same in terms of resolution, brightness, etc. etc. ??

  56. AJ

    When I decided to get a GPS bike computer for navigation in a new city a year ago, I went with the Elemnt Bolt over a Garmin offering (520/820) was because of better pricing (vs 820) and reportedly more robust and reliable performance. I haven’t had any issues with my Bolt, whereas my Garmin Forerunner 630 always felt finicky (required multiple hard resets over a year and a half of use).

    If I had to pick a GPS computer today, I would be hard pressed to go with the Wahoo. The Bolt is clearly outdated. I would only get it at ~$150. The Roam feels overpriced for what it is, which is essentially a Bolt with a color display and on-device routing.

  57. Jon

    I’m new to the WAHOO system since I got my Core this past October. Disappointed in the Hit/Miss of Wahoo

    Core/Kickr problems – big disappointment and frustration. Took too long for them to get it right, and it should NEVER have hit the market with so many problems. I’m on my third

    Element Bolt – I like it more than my old Garmin 820. Wahoo is a solid unit and a more user-friendly interface. Garmin was just a mess from touchscreen issues and constant updates that broke other functions (my unit wouldn’t stop beeping b/c it was constantly “finding” new sensors), to an incredibly obtuse app and fair-at-best customer service.

    Maps/navi – the Wahoo navi is just OK, and this isn’t any advancement.

    But I paid $200 for my new Bolt. $400 is outrageous for such limited functionality.

  58. Carl

    Edge 530 it is.

  59. Just FYI...Slight typo

    Slight type in one of the paragraphs-

    Element Bolt?

    From left to right: Garmin Edge 130, Garmin Edge 520/520Plus/820 (identical case size), Polar M460, Wahoo BOLT, Garmin 530/830 (identical case size), Wahoo ELEMNT, Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT, Hammerhead Karoo, Garmin Edge 1030, Sigma ROX 12

  60. Tommy

    Don’t underestimate the value of stability

    My Garmin 820 went in eBay after too many mid ride freezes, losing all my data. My 1030 did the same the other day. I never had an issue with a wahoo. The routes are so much easier to load from the app. Garmin connect is so clunky and so slow. Yes I can send a route to my Garmin, but then I have to find it on the Garmin. With wahoo, point click, beep GO. No calculing route for 10 minutes

    Oh and when you get home. Save ride, beep…on Strava. No fumbling around with corrupted fit files

    However as you can tell, I’m no longer a wahoo user, because no ant+ lights and no ant+ radar

  61. John

    “For people with Varia Radar – it’s a hard-stop.”

    Fact. There is no way I’d give up the radar unit for the road bike.

    Also, my 1030 lets me change data fields literally on the fly. As nice as it would be to be able to setup data fields on a phone/web/computer, that doesn’t outweigh being able to switch them with just a long press on the touchscreen.

    And it would suck to lose functionality like directions if my phone was lost/stolen/broken or the battery died.

    But at the end of the day, radar trumps everything else.

  62. Deepak


    To my mind, the only feature that is better now with Wahoo, is the app based setup. Strange that Garmin has not gone down that route.

    Thinking of switching back to a 530, but have a doubt. With my previous Edge units, one could not change the scale of the elevation profile. Wahoo does that very well, so you can see what’s coming. Do the new units do better?

    • Ruediger

      On Garmin (at least on 1030) you can change elevation profile but the User Interface is not too intuitive:
      You select the left upper corner (for height) or right lower corner (for distance) where the legend is displayed and then you see + and – buttons

    • FJ

      Same with my Edge 810

  63. Hagak

    One thing I do not see people mention about the Garmin vs Wahoo difference much. And that is Di2 support (I suppose it is less common, but I think more common than radar).

    Garmin’s Di2 support is SO much better than Wahoo’s. I just recently switched from Wahoo to Garmin and the Di2 full-syncho shifting is now useful to me. Wahoo does not warn you that your next shift will be a chainring shift, Garmin does a very nice job of that. Garmin also warns you and allows you to easier see your Di2 battery life. Garmin lets you customize the “extra” Di2 buttons better than Wahoo, Wahoo has no customization.

    And Radar and Light support also just makes the Garmin better IMHO.

    • “Garmin’s Di2 support is SO much better than Wahoo’s… ”

      Very true. In addition to the things you mentioned, but (at least on the BOLT) it only shows you the position on the drivetrain (1-5) instead of the gearing of the current position (50-15). Which isn’t very useful if you change cassettes for different riding conditions.

  64. dr_lha

    Honestly, for this price I was expected something special. Obvious features a premium product like this could have had to mark it different:

    A “retina” high-DPI display to make maps super clear (like the look in Wahoo’s email on the ROAM, but judging by your photos, not in real life).
    A faster processor to stop the lagginess.
    Maps with street names on them.
    A touch screen interface.
    Extra long battery life.
    As ELEMNT is based on Android, some sort of App capability to go somewhere towards matching ConnectIQ

    As it turns out it looks like Wahoo upscaled the Bolt design, stuck in a low quality color screen, and put in some half baked routing support. Although the promised adding of TBT to Strava routes sounds nice, why isn’t this universal for all routes?

    I’ve been a happy ELEMNT user for almost 3 years, but this doesn’t really look like much of an improvement, honestly. Also if the routing is the same used by the in-app Wahoo ELEMNT phone app, I’d never use it because that regularly directs me to ride singletrack/gravel roads when I’m on my road bike.


    So my budget conscious question (aka I am cheap).

    Garmin 530 for $299, Garmin 820 for $259? Or Wahoo Element Bolt for $250? The element and 820 are 2-3 yo tech. But I don’t need the newest if the older model does the job. I would like maps, routing, and connection to PM.

    I have a Garmin 920XT and a Wahoo Kickr so am in both ecosystems.

    • Frank-enstein

      If those are the only features you truly require, and are agnostic to button vs. touch UI, the 820 will obviously save you $40.

      Though if there’s a chance you’d appreciate the quicker response, longer battery life, and other craption of additional features in the 530, why not treat yo’ self?

      Go tell your local bike shop you want 10% off a 530 or else you’ll buy on e-commerce and I bet they’ll accommodate you.

    • If you need on-the-fly routing options, then clearly the Edge 530. If you don’t, then the Bolt is still a very good option, I have been using it since it was released without any issue (except that my first unit was an early production unit with a faulty barometer, but it was replaced very fast by Wahoo). I have to say that the flawlessness (no corrupt files, or frozen unit) and ease of use (setup with phone, route and ride syncing, etc.) of the Bolt is way beyond any of the Garmins I had before (500, 800, 520). I like what they did with the 530 (based on Ray’s review), but I would not switch from the Bolt. Also, I would not upgrade to the Roam. So for me it comes down to this: if you need “proper routing”, then take the 530, if not, take the Bolt. BTW, I have done a 300km ride (3000m+) with the Bolt, with being on the map screen 75% of the time, with a few sensors active, and I still had 20% battery life left too…

  66. drnoodle

    Thanks for this Ray. Listen, here’s my need and I don’t know who does it best- I have a terrible sense of direction but I like exploring on my bike. I will ride a known route but when I see something that looks cool (hill, path, etc) I will go do it. I need a device that allows me to get lost but eventually either get where I was going and/or back home/car.

    I also will realize I need food or bathroom at the last minute and need to find the nearest so-and-so. I can do that on my phone but I’d love to just hit menu on my device and route to the nearest.

    What does all that?

  67. David

    I have the old ELEMNT computer and I like it. I like the new mapping features of the new ROAM but I don’t like the design (the front face of the computer). The old ELEMNT is so much better (in my personal opinion). I am not upgrading to the ROAM for sure. I guess I will need to look elsewhere. 🙁

  68. Robin

    So, now I’m feeling pretty good about preparing to replace my Bolt with a Garmin 530. Ray, can you blink twice if that’s a solid idea and once if it’s a bad idea?

  69. Bill

    What is the “ELEVATION DATA” that is coming? One nice new feature on the Garmin Edges is the ability to see how much distance and elevation remains on your climb. Is this the elevation data that will be coming for Wahoo?

    Super reviews, Ray, don’t know what we’d do without you. Thanks!!

  70. Janez Tomažič

    Thank you for review; now I am really on the edge what to buy.
    What would you recommend, this one, Sigma or something like Mio 605 ?

    Thank you

  71. Jeff

    In the Size & Weight photos the caption is below – where is the Element ROAM? Not included in the photo?

    Garmin Edge 130, Garmin Edge 520/520Plus/820 (identical case size), Polar M460, Wahoo BOLT, Garmin 530/830 (identical case size), Wahoo ELEMNT, Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT, Hammerhead Karoo, Garmin Edge 1030, Sigma ROX 12

    • Fred2

      Yep, Ray repeated “BOLT” in the caption, so the ELEMNT ROAM is the 2nd “BOLT” next to the Hammerhead Karoo. (Keywords for Ray: correction, proofreading) 🙂

    • Sorry, fixed. I thought I fixed it last night immediately, but apparently I didn’t press the save button.

  72. Camillo

    It would be fair to list things that Wahoo does better than Garmin. I can spot a few in the review and they are fairly important in my opinion:
    Current track is displayed with chevrons that show the direction. Tracks on Garmin device don’t show any direction, it’s a nightmare when a track crosses itself, especially on trails.
    Map and elevetion profile on the same screen, something I wish my Garmin had.
    Different zoom levels, quickly accessed with the press of a button. On a Garmin with a touch screen interface, changing the zoom to have a better understanding of were you are and were the track is going is incredibily slow, cumbersome and unnecessariliy complex

    • I discuss a number (a lot actually) of things in the review that Wahoo does better than Garmin.

    • Camillo

      I wasn’t saying you have been unfair. What I wanted to highlight is that there are practical features requests from lots of users that Garmin tends to ignore completely. Instead, it looks like Wahoo is nailing it.

      I question the “relevancy” of some features as well. For example, configuring fields on a phone is a nice to have, managing zoom while riding is a vital feature, yet Garmin ignores it.

  73. jdv

    As I mentioned on Shane’s video review of the unit. The Roam has an aero mount, but it’s different from the Bolt. So if you’re invested with a few the upgrade path is more expensive again. That alone is stopping me upgrading from the Bolt and would seem like an obvious integration Wahoo should have implemented.

    A couple of years from front to back foot and that’s a hard position to come back from with the main competitor already moving forward in big steps.

    • Alex

      Yes that looks like a pain. Ray, can you confirm if the ROAM will fit on the BOLT’s mount? Obviously you’d sacrifice the aero streamlining, but will the BOLT mount hold the ROAM securely and without fouling on anything? And less important, but out of curiosity – will BOLT fit on the ROAM mount?

      If pricing settles and firmware continues to be improved in the next few months then it might be worthwhile continuing on BOLT for everyday but having the ROAM for big randonnee, touring, or bikepacking adventures when the extra battery and map capabilities actually come in handy – especially if you can get topo lines for MTB use.

  74. David Walker

    I noticed in Shane’s video that he was using the Varia radar with the standalone Garmin radar head unit. He wouldn’t need that separate box if only Wahoo would support radar…..

    • Dan

      I am a long time ELEMNT user, and bought the Varia with the remote display RDU. The RDU sits right next to the ELEMNT on the bars – it’s loud, it’s bright, and it just works. I was going to buy the Varia anyway, and could not see getting rid of the ELEMNT and buying a Garmin head unit for another 300 bucks just for that, so for an extra $100 over the price of just the Varia, I got the Varia + RDU. It’s great. And well worth it. Just because the ELEMNT doesn’t support the Varia does not mean you can’t use it.

    • GLT

      I don’t really like having too much mounted on the handlebars, but prefer to use the RDU even though I have Garmin head units.

      Saves a tiny amount of battery drain on the head unit, but mostly I want to only see my selected data fields when I glance down at the GPS. When I care about the radar a second glance at the RDU works okay for me.

      Would still like to see more vendors support the standard though.

    • Well spotted! That thing has my back.

  75. Frank-enstein

    BezelGate updates:

    Every Wahoo photo include the artificially shrunken bezel:

    All photos on Wahoo.com blog post anouncing the ROAM link to blog.wahoofitness.com
    All angles of ROAM product page shots link to wahoofitness.com.

    This was a big effort.

    I am way too into this.

    • Giles E

      This can be easily registered with the Advertising Standards agencies in countries. e.g. the UK allows easy registration of these from an online portal and may have already been done.

      They already are well aware of Wahoo Fitness:
      link to cyclingindustry.news

    • Martin

      To add to this, many so-called “reviewers” have used the Wahoo provided photos with the small bezels. I won’t post link to those but I’m sure you can find them but this is even more misleading.

    • Jaques

      I find it interesting that someone from Wahoo is active in the comments section, but no one has offered any comment about the bezel size differences.

  76. Andrew Cushen

    Interesting review, thanks.

    A couple typos:

    ” as to those from Hammerhead, Lezyne, Bryton and more” – should be “as DO […]” I believe

    “usually one on either side of the step” – should be “stem” I believe


  77. Eli

    “and there’s no bigger fish in the pond than Strava when it comes to route holders”

    Umm, ride with gps? Every single major tour and major ride (all the centuries and the like in the Maryland area) has a link to ride with gps for downloading the course. I have yet to see a bike event with a link to Strava to get the course

    • Links to public rides, perhaps, but not user bases – which is frankly what matters here.

      I haven’t seen RideWithGPS user numbers, but just looking at app downloads as a silly proxy, Strava averages ~1 million new users every 40 days. RideWithGPS averages ~25,000 app downloads every month. If we apply a level of fuzzy to those numbers, it’s nowhere near the same ballpark.

      The point I was making there was that for people who have authenticated an account with that platform (which is what’s required for this aspect), then there’s a massive difference.

    • Eli

      If you’re making a claim about no bigger fish in the pond than Strava when it comes to _route holders_ then user base is of very little importance. I mean in most clubs there are only a few dedicated people who spend the time generating lots of different courses to follow on the rides. Where people look to get routes to use is the important part.

      The user base for Strava is large because that is where people save the rides they do. Gwgps does not require an account to download a course, I mean that is kind of the point of their club accounts so users can more easily download the courses from a club.

      As to comparing downloads if apps, not many people use their app so you’re comparison of numbers is a very silly comparison. Yet you try to use app downloads as a proxy for how many accounts they have? (Only important for wahoo users) and as a proxy for how many non authenticated users download courses?

      Are you going to claim Wikipedia is small because the number of people who have accounts in their site is small and the number of downloads if their app is small? And with their app download count the same as quora they must be close the use same number of users, right? No, you wouldn’t make those claims as that would be very silly.

    • Using one thing as a proxy – absolutely that’s valid in this context. One company has an install apps rate (at a minimum) of 30-40x the other. You can’t use Wahoo’s products directly with RideWithGPS without an account. It’s logical that at least some of those users will download the app – certainly at least 1 out of 40 would.

    • Eli

      Why would they download the app? Clubs and events have links to the rides. No need for the app.

      You speak of it being proper to use a proxy. So how come none, I mean ability no club ride in the DC area or other clubs I’ve found online use Strava for the courses? Same goes with all the big tour rides. All use ride with gps. Not a small percent use Strava, but zero use Strava as the holder of their courses. It’s logical that at least some of those groups will use Strava – certainly at least a small percent.

      I just think you’re overestimating Strava’s size

    • Perhaps it’s geography driven, perhaps not. Both Paris groups I rode with, were Strava Routes based. Two Amsterdam groups I just checked, both Strava. All media events I’ve ever attended have been Strava Routes.

      There’s really not much to overestimate in terms of Strava’s numbers, we know them – it’s 36 million at the end of 2018. A quick glance of all comments on this site (on any review) shows ~1 comment per month on average that mention RideWithGPS (in any capacity). I don’t deny people use it – obviously they do. I just don’t think it’s as important as Strava for the vast majority of people.

    • Dan G

      No doubt Strava has more users than RideWithGPS, but they’re totally different services.

      For route planning, I would say RideWithGPS has as many or more users. It’s a much better tool.

      Obviously app downloads are not a proxy at all in this use case scenario. The two apps do different things. One is a social network. One is a navigation app.

    • Fred Stig

      The real pisser is Strava’s brain-damaged refusal to open the ability to share (and search for) created Routes; five or six years after the request was initially made. The groundwork is there with the Public/Private flag but there’s no way for me to even see my friends’ Routes unless they directly share the link to the Route. Hell, there’s not even a way to filter my OWN Routes based upon ride type, location, length, climbing amount, etc. Strava may say that they have the largest number of Routes around, but what good is that if NOBODY else can see them? They might just as well have no Routes.

      I just had this conversation with a friend yesterday and he believes it’s because apparently Strava thinks it’s the premier training site on the Internet and so doesn’t focus on Routes. Ha! Yeah, right. It’s a social network and they need to get over themselves. So I’ve started using RWGPS more and it’s actually quite good. And finally manged to get routes to load into my Bolt properly so I’m very likely to just start using RWGPS for created routes as you’ve indicated and ditch my Summit membership since I also have a TrainerRoad account. The metrics and workouts at TR are just plain better. I mean, Strava doesn’t even want to pay to license TSS, so we get “Relative Effort” which nobody else uses.

      Anyway, sorry for the slightly tangential rant. I hope some brogrammers at Strava see this and maybe realize the true calling of their service and adjust accordingly.

    • Fred Stig

      And I’ll clarify my beef with Strava.

      If I’m looking (browsing) for routes in the area to load to my bike computer, Strava offers nothing. Event routes, fine, the organizer can share a link, but that’s it. But for browsing for routes in a given area: Strava is of no use. And here in New England, most people create routes on RWGPS to share with users (D2R2/Franklin Valley Land Trust) and most of the events listed at bikereg.com. Very few use Strava anymore because of the brain-damaged way they handle said routes.

  78. Lee C Harding

    A good review as always. I have a bolt and the thing people like about them is they just work and the phone app is really cool. I’ve never meet anyone using a bolt who didn’t have a Garmin before and got sick of it crashing or disliking the poor battery performance. So in short Wahoo was doing well because the alternative was not very good even though Garmin has been doing it for years. Garmin have clearly been complacent in most areas as there was nothing else out there really. Thing is Garmin know this and they’ve been busy and the 530 and 830 could be the way forward now. It’s not all good in Wahoo land as the units feel cheap and not a patch on Garmin ones but they do the job. This new Roam looks a disaster to me and looks like a unit from a few years ago. The bezels are massive and make it look really dated from launch and they have not brought anything new to the table. It’s easy we want a full screen front all the usual mapping and data plus connectivity to everything. All cyclist would like wireless charging so you can drop it on a wireless charging pad or charge it from your phone in emergencies which is a technology starting to roll out on phones now. Also even more connectivity to phones is a obvious benefit. lastly make it work flawlessly and charge a fair price and you will have a winner. Unfortunately this is probably the beginning of the end for Wahoo units.

  79. So I made a composite image illustrating the advertised screen/bezel size (green outline) versus the actual (red outline). If Apple had done this, #bezelgate would be trending on social media and stock would be going down…

  80. Marko

    I use Komoot maps (29 EUR for the whole world) on my Elemnt. Komoot is fully integrated with Elemnt and also make all Strava routes routable.

    • Cypher

      I use Komoot too because of the easiness of creating routes especially when you are in an unknown region.
      For me a head unit without a Komoot integration like Wahoo is a no go.

  81. Dan

    What does the radar enable you to do differently. It is an honest question. What do you DO when the radar notifies you there is a car behind you? I can hear the car….I know it’s there…I’m already on the part of the road I feel I need to be on…I do not DO anything differently because the car is there I’m just aware it is. So what is different with a head unit telling me a car is there rather than my ears?

    • For me on the rides I do: It tells me to keep a straight line, don’t grab a drink, maybe give a glance behind and a friendly wave to the car/truck/bus who gives me good space on the road. If I’m on the back of a group, I can yell out ‘car back’ sooner to make everyone else safer too.

      To answer – It’s another way to be more informed about what’s around me. Long before I can hear it, or use a mirror to concentrate on. The beeping radar has my back when I’m not paying attention.

    • Paul S.

      Yeah, I often find that if the wind is in my face I can’t hear cars until they’re very near. Factor in electric/hybrid cars as well, which will essentially be making no noise when on the electric motor. Right now I use helmet mirrors, but I’m looking forward to playing with the Varia radar that’s arriving tomorrow.

    • Jim S

      As Shane states, it increases situational awareness. Before getting the Varia, I had been surprised more than once by cars I didn’t hear coming up behind me. And when it alerts me I often check in my mirror to make sure the car is giving me sufficient clearance – I have bailed a couple of times due to close passers. I honestly feel naked without it, even with a mirror.

    • David Walker

      I agree with the others- the radar increases situational awareness. It tracks multiple (I think 8) cars and has a range of about 500ft. So, long before I can hear it, I can see that cars are approaching, know how many cars there are, and how fast they are going. This information helps me know what to do or not do. Like don’t veer out of the paceline to blow my nose, or take a drink, or start removing clothing, etc.. I have been surprised by cars multiple times. The varia helps eliminate that.

    • Andrew

      Was about to ask the same question regarding the radar. Do you feel safer as opposed to realistically having any control over how close the vehicle passes? I get that sometimes a vehicle is behind me and I don’t realise straight away that I’m inconveniencing them.


      When there are no cars behind I ride to the left away from the shoulder. I ride a lot on chip sealed roads and the shoulder is very rough because cars don’t drive on the shoulder. And there’s often more debris in the shoulder. When the radar warns me a car is behind I move over to the right. Sometimes on roads with less traffic I even ride in the middle of the road. The radar gives me plenty of time to move over when a car approaches from behind. I won’t be riding without it for sure. I also have a mirror on my helmet. But with the radar I can just enjoy my rides without having to constantly look behind for traffic.

    • Fred2

      I feel safer. Sometimes the ears pick up the car before the radar, but it’s more often the other way around.

    • Andrew M

      Dan – that’s a fair question, as in many cases you can hear cars behind anyway.

      I find the following benefits from the radar:

      * It makes me more confident to ride out in the lane, and away from the debris/potholes in the shoulder, and move to the edge when a car approaches. Yes I can hear them, but the radar makes me more confident to do this.
      * I can see when there multiple vehicles approaching – sure I can hear the first car, but I can’t tell from sound alone whether there are others approaching as well
      * On fast descents when there is a lot of wind noise, I am aware of cars approaching. This is a time when I really don’t want to take my eyes off the road to do a head check if I don’t have to. It also gives me more time to pick a suitable place on a narrow mountain road to pull over and allow them to overtake safely.

    • Michael Robinson

      Is the Varia any use in urban environments? When I’m cycling where I live, it is more usual NOT to have a car behind me!

    • No, I don’t find it useful in urban environments. For me, it’s ideal for country roads or places where cars are less frequent.

    • Kyle

      Ray – I actually disagree – I Use it in an urban environment on my commutes in St Johns, NL. Our roads downtown can be quite narrow so it’s useful to know if you can swing a bit wide to avoid a pothole or being doored without risk of a car. They also aren’t laid out in a logical grid so you can have cars coming at you from multiple angles. Having the Varia helps with situational awareness behind you so that you can focus on the hazards ahead and beside you. When I switch to my beater that doesn’t have a Varia I really notice it. To each their own!

      But it definitely shines in rural areas.

    • Glenn

      I found it useful in urban areas if I have to pull out around parked cars. It’s much quicker to glance around and verify there’s no cars there, or just 1 etc that the radar has already told you about. Much quicker than what I must do now in Wahoo land, which is turn around and search. It’s also invaluable on fast descents, although I’ve moved to a city with insufficient hills for that to be much of an advantage anymore ?

      Reading these comments has rekindled my pining for the radar info, so I’ve ordered a RDU, which it seems you can buy separately from the US Garmin store ($99). It’s on the way to my freight forwarder as I write.

    • EV

      Rada makes a huge difference. Mostly avoiding surprise passes when you can’t hear them coming (electric cars, or just too much wind noise when you’re going fast) or when a car comes up very fast. I definitely do things differently when I’m aware a car is coming up on radar. If there is safe passing available, I’ll get over to the side more and wave them around. If there is no safe pass, I’ll take the lane and hold them off with a hand signal. Without radar I used to get surprised all the time and wouldn’t have time to even make a decision about how to handle the car before they would blow by.

    • Safsam

      I use it to detect if there is ref coming in triathlon race so I can hop in wheels “Safely” :troll:

  82. Tod

    “And for Wahoo to essentially roll out what amounts to a handful of routing options for a new unit begs the question: What have they been doing for two years?”

    I can provide my speculation on this question. The minute that dcrainmaker published the bolt review essentially giving it his stamp of approval then immediately stopped all work on their bike computers. Their only goal was to make it “good enough” for most people, the dcr review achieved that goal. So they moved on to other things (forthcoming tri watch, new kickr, etc). If you look at their firmware update notes over the past 18 or so months you can see this. The only “major” changes were fixing the zeros being included in cadence (because a lot of people complained) and the pioneer power meter integration (a contractual obligation after someone higher up in the company signed a deal with pioneer). Essentially the units have been the same in this time. The fact that strava turn by turn and on device elevation are only planned features and not included at the time of release makes it pretty clear they never intended to include these but were forced to once they found out what the edge 530 could do. They expected garmin to stay about the same (possibly reasonable looking at the history of their edge lineup), but garmin knew they needed to bring it when the bolt started getting non-negligible market share. So garmin showed they can up their game, will wahoo respond and do the same? Hopefully, for the sake of the consumer the competition will bring out the best in both.

    • To be fair, the first 6 months or so they did roll out a number of substantial firmware updates. It was a battle between them and Garmin for a while.

      They added live tracking, structured workouts support, trainer control support, and a pile of other things.

      Hopefully we’ll see them return to that level of hunger.

    • randy

      Live tracking is way better than Garmin’s. They haven’t touch it for years 🙁 I really don’t understand why we still don’t have permanent links, or why it is not possible respond to a message with a link to live track page.

  83. Björn

    I think this will be my next bike computer. Really like Wahoo’s approach with navigation and their menu structure. My Edge 510 was (most time) reliable, but times are changing.

    Will the the ROAM fit into a standard K-Edge Mount or do I have to update to the XL version?

    • Dan G

      Actually quite a relief to read a positive comment, even if it is reply #219…

    • Daniel

      I agree, its been like wow. I took away from the review that its a ok unit, a little upgrade from my current element, perhaps not a garmin killer anymore, however its overpriced for what it gives. Ok fair enough..before long the thing will be on sale somewhere anyway and my current element still rocks PERFECTLY! Then I stumbled onto bezel gate and some chaff about renditions and art and just omg…….who buys something this expensive by just looking at the packaging anyway? I see commercials on TV of food products that look huge and fresh and three meals worth in one serving and what you actually get is nothing like is. Add some tiny print to the box with an *…may not represent actual size and call it a day…..geez……..I’m going for a ride….

    • Cypher

      @Daniel: you are absolutely right. Let’s ride!

    • Chad

      Ok, you make a fair point. But in the meantime I’m off to Wendy’s to protest #burgerpattygate.

  84. Pietro Senoner

    Dear Ray, super review as usual but the comments are even more interesting; in my opinion the amount of features is only part of the equation, if a device can do a ton of things but does most of them bad, I prefer something that has only 80% of those features but in a brilliant way!
    I’ve bought last summer a garmin 1030 because I was upset with the lack of precision of the altitude of my elmnt, I sold it immediately, I found personally that everything was not as accurate in the Garmin, it was a nice hardware but a terribly inaccurate software, every feature was there but not as easily usable as on my Elmnt.
    Now a few considerations on the Roam:

    1) The hardware should be a lot faster and better that the elemnt, this was a weak point of the past,
    2) Screen resolution is disappointing, it remained the same 🙁
    3) It seems that the elevation is perfect now, that’s good!
    4) Design is a personal thing, I preferred the Elmnt compared to the bold for MTB but ok
    5) Marketing seems to have made a real shameful operation
    6) If the unit is not as slow as Ray says (special density of roads in Netherlands?) I’ll give it a chance!

    • Yeah, I’ll try and post a quickie video today somewhere here so people can see the slowness I’m referring to.

      (Just trying to clear out the backlog of questions first.)

  85. William De'Ath

    Ray, great review and as always we value your impartiality.

    I ended up pre-ordering a Garmin x30 on release day but I was waiting for the ROAM launch to replace an dead Garmin 800. The reviews on the Garmin x30’s were great and with a Garmin battery pack option… I was sold. The screw up from Wahoo on the launch with coloured Bolts when I think it was meant to be a ROAM announcement, the observations made about Wahoo not keeping an eye on the competition, the bullshit bezel size on the ROAM packaging compared to the actual device…. this all smells of a company lost and in dire need of new management. The Wahoo investors should be kicking hard if not firing some people, I know I would if I had invested in something that looked like it was going to give others a run for it’s money but then dropped the “EDGE” once my money was invested.

    • Crazy bezel situation aside…

      I have a funny feeling we’re going to see some goodness come out of this. I think this might have been the kick certain folks at Wahoo needed to focus on the head units again. Some re-ordering of people has already happened internally that I think will get the ship headed in the right direction.

    • FJ

      That’s great to hear, although in the short term I suspect we won’t see much. The only realistic thing that can be done now is to lower the price (which given the features, just has to happen or else everyone and their dog will pick up the Edge 530 instead).

      Wahoo, if you are reading, here’s my list:

      * Bigger screen on the next device… easy way to differentiate yourself away from the 530. Bump up to 3″ and remove the bezzel. But the bigger the better as far as I’m concerned (well, within reason, I don’t want an laptop screen in front of my bike, but 4″ would be awesome)
      * As can be read in the comments above, users want radar support. It’s an open standard, so get it done! and do lights as well while you are at it
      * USB-C: get on with the times
      * Faster processing… really…
      * Some kind of third party app support, like for Xert fields for example
      * Make sure the unit still functions while being charged. On super long rides, I normally attach an external battery on my edge 810. Would still like to do that
      * Make custom workout integration a killer feature. This absolutely sucks in Garmin. On my Edge 810 I cannot define FTP based workouts, so if I want to create a workout, I have to do it on absolute power levels. When my FTP changes, I need to re-edit the workouts. That’s a non-starter

      Personally I’m ok with limited colour range in the screen. It’s only needed in the map display, so if having a 16 colour screen means you can have it super bright and crisp and flush with the device (as in this ROAM) then I’ll have that thank you

  86. Kae

    Great review Ray.

    Like so many other comments I’m of the Varia Radar (and Vision) camp and looked to Wahoo for an escape route when the Edge 820 and 520 Plus didn’t offer enough justification to change up.

    However with Garmin releasing the 530/830 they have removed Wahoo from my choices completely. I had hoped when I began to read your Roam review that this would give me the burden of choice but Wahoo seems to have simply dusted the old device, gave it a splash of colour and hiked the price. As you say it’s telling that Wahoo employees do not seem to have used their recent competitor devices and simply believed they are still the big innovators and market changers.

    • Tim Parker

      @ Kae
      “I had hoped when I began to read your Roam review that this would give me the burden of choice but Wahoo seems to have simply dusted the old device, gave it a splash of colour and hiked the price.”

      If that’s what you think, then it might be worth reading the rest of the review.

    • Kae

      I still can’t justify the Roam over the 530/830. Just not enough value. A real missed opportunity- shame

    • Tim Parker

      Yep – I completely agree that the value proposition really isn’t what it could, or arguably should, be. It certainly has some nice new features, not just a dust-off, but it does seem hard to justify the additional cost for them.

  87. Mayhem

    Since people from Wahoo are monitoring this comment thread, I figure this is as good a place to ask as any…

    Wahoo, are there any plans to implement Xert metrics on the ELEMNT series of computers? This actually has me considering going back to Garmin.

    Also pretty please hurry up and fix your boken uploading of files to Xert! It worked briefly for about a week once the feature was finally released, but has since only returned error 400.

    • Frank-enstein

      They’re certainly monitoring.

      Wahoo has added the disclaimer *Product images are renderings for illustration only.

      Read that word salad slowly and tell me what it means.

      Should instead say *All ROAM product images have been digitally altered by marketing and do not accurately illustrate the device for sale.

      This product should be $249/$279, even with good responsiveness.

    • Giles E

      and yet still not a single real world image of the product on their page.

      They’re clearly embarrassed by their own product.

    • To be fair, Garmin doesn’t appear to have any real-world images of the Edge 530/830 on their main product pages either. It’s actually interesting, their video they have of the product launch does show legit units, but the screen is superimposed over it*.

      It’s on my to-do list today to hit up Wahoo and get some clarity on the whole bezel thing. It’s funny, I had actually shot, added to review, but ended up deleting publishing – a picture of the unit side by side with the same workout page as the front of box. Not to show the bezels (because it didn’t click in my brain), but to show the screen brightness differences. Then, I realized that while the picture was accurate indoors (I took it during unboxing), it wasn’t a super fair picture relative to indoors, where the screen is very clear. Thus, didn’t end up using it. Ironic because it would have painfully clearly shown the difference side by side with no photoshop required since it was literally the unit leaned up against the front edge of the box.

      (*Though, I’ll give their video editors props for managing to get the crazy tilting reflections from the VIRB360 correct re-replicated over the top of the superimposed imagery.)

    • Jeff Biscuits

      Wahoo’s product images have always been a bit dubious, in that they’ve never attempted to reproduce anything like the real screen resolution. That wouldn’t be a massive deal except that they don’t seem to have any idea about font hinting and optimisation: the typography suffers quite a bit on the actual device (besides which, I dislike the poor readability of their highly-condensed typeface on the device and the app).

    • It is never too late to add such a comparison image, and point this bezel size discrepancy out in the review, just for historical accuracy (and so people don’t need to come to the comments to find out about this, and maybe Wahoo would also feel the pressure a bit better).

    • GE

      What kind of clarity could possibly exist though?

      They made a product, and weren’t happy with the way it looked, they knew it looked sub-par, perhaps after alpha/beta tests and product groups.

      So they made “better” images to help it sell (via deception), knowing once people have ordered it from the website with those beautiful images, not all the disappointed customers will actually demand a refund and would just keep it anyway.

      They thought they could get away with it. Their heads thought there’s nothing morally wrong with it. It’s not like they accidentally made it look much better, or lost the real CAD…..

    • “It is never too late to add such a comparison image, and point this bezel size discrepancy out in the review, just for historical accuracy (and so people don’t need to come to the comments to find out about this, and maybe Wahoo would also feel the pressure a bit better).”

      Done. Well, at least the text piece. I don’t think the image I took is that representative of the two from a colors standpoint, since one is inside and the ROAM box-shot color representation would presumably be outside – and in that respect I agree the colors look far better.

    • Thanks. Side note: actually, I don’t think that the unit looks bad. True, the bezel is on the fat side, but on real life photos – especially on ones taken outside – it looks all right (colors indeed look totally OK), I definitely prefer the flush top surface with the new glass top layer compared to the plastic screen feel of the Bolt (my only real complaint with that unit). The BIG problem is that the dimensions on the rendering look so much better balanced! And then compared to that the real deal is disappointing. Had I never seen that render, I would feel very different about the unit. But, as they say, you can not unsee it…

    • lemoose

      Also, the bezel on the left has to be rather large to accommodate the LEDs, so making it slimmer on the right side would look weird. I think the real device (been testing it for a few weeks now) looks actually better than the product renders on the box etc. which is probably a stupid idea by the marketing department or the ad/creative agency hired to do the product promo.

    • Jamie Bishop

      For me XERT fields were the reason I went back to Garmin (520plus) from my bolt. Having gone back, yes setting it up is a pain compared to doing it on the phone. But there are so many positives.
      – Real mapping and TBT
      – Colour Screen
      – CIQ (I’d forgotten how good this was)
      – Elevation pages that make sense. Bolts has been broken for 18 month with no scale or idea of what you are really looking at, I gave up with Wahoo support keep saying they would fix
      – The screen doesn’t delaminate in heat

      I’m happy with my 520 plus, although as noted route calculation is slow.
      I’m and 100% buying a 530, it looks SO much better than the ROAM with more useful features and better still costs LESS.

      In summary, when the BOLT came out it was breath of fresh and WAHOO we’re truly disruptive in the market with their products
      The ROAM seems to be 2 years too late. Everyone else has moved on.

    • Jaques

      Whenever I meet someone that works in marketing and introduces themselves as such… I always reply, “Oh… you work in propaganda.” End of any further boring discussion.

    • Roman

      The elevation page is bothering me too and I wished any review took a look at it. Especially after the new climbing features on the edge got discussed in depth. Even just a ‚still bad, try again‘ would have been nice.

  88. Dan G

    It would seem only Garmin and Suunto are launching products which are actually finished (and maybe Sigma? Can’t remember.)

    The way Polar, Hammerhead and now Wahoo are launching unfinished, unready products is lame. I hope their sales reflect that.

    • Jaques

      Hammerhead was a whole different level of not ready for the consumer. I don’t care how good their unit might end up being… I would never trust them.

  89. FJ

    A question for the wider audience

    What features does the Wahoo Elemnt ROAM has that the Edge 530 is missing to justify the higher price tag? So far I can think of:

    * Those LEDs, which I don’t think add that much value
    * Up to 11 data fields, vs Edge 530 10 fields

    Anything else?

    • Jeff Biscuits

      For me the key advantages (not that there aren’t disadvantages) aren’t “features” that you’d find on a product checklist, just things done better: the clarity of the map styling and the visibility of the screen in sunlight are both major plus-points in my book, plus the relative ease of syncing with RWGPS (though in reality I’ve not found that to be without flaws, and at least Connect IQ makes it possible on the Garmin). Garmin seem to love useless map clutter and their screens need the backlight at full power to cope with sunny days. Also the Roam’s map panning looks easier to use than the 530, with both up/down and left/right accessible simultaneously.

    • Larz

      The integration with RWGPS is very nice but not without its faults. I had problem with slow sync times with many routes and that it was not possible to sync updated routes.

      Agree that the amount of functions in Wahoo Elemnt never was the main selling point. It was about usability (such as screen readability, battery time, mobile app) and reliability. I simply cannot see the route on a Garmin screen (800 or 1000) in bright sunlight

      I no longer have to manually create “Garmin ate my ride” activities on Strava when a ride somehow was lost on my Garmin devices. Never happened on my Wahoo.

      Reading reviews, it seems that Garmin has worked on just about all of the pain points. And the Wahoo Roam is kind a disappoint at that price point.

      But gonna take a while before I buy another Garmin thing again…

  90. Dave

    I converted to a Wahoo Elemnt Bolt from a Garmin Edge 810 I had used for 6 years. My Elemnt Bolt worked fine for 13 months then both left & right side buttons peeled off. Wahoo would not replace it because as it was out of warranty, I will not wast any more money on a Wahoo computers that looks to have the same type of rubber buttons glued to a hard plastic body again, I will now look at one of the new Garmin Edge’s, 530 or 830.

    • Gert

      Same happened to my Bolt. I fixed it with some electrical tape wrapped around the buttons which holds up quite good. Not sure if it limits the accuracy of the barometer.

    • Niels

      Same happened to me after some 15 months! Luckily I bought it from Coolblue (nl) which has a 2 year warranty on all it’s products so it got replaced without issue. Now I have a new Bolt with another 2 years of warranty.

      Wahoo hardware quality seems subpar: my Tickr heart rate straps consistently fail (way too low or static hr) every 10-12 mo as well (3 of them in a row so far).


      On my BOLT this problem happened the first time after not even 12 months, but it was solved by the Wahoo customer support unit change.
      Now another 10 months have passed, and the new BOLT has problems with the buttons again – link to youtu.be

      Unfortunately, the wahoo customer support can not help me anymore. I also temporarily solved it with the electric tape but will try to ask for a refund from my retail shop, where I have bought it.

  91. FJ

    The mountain biking focus of the recent round of units is piking my curiosity. So I checked the Roam vs what Garmin is doing, that is, Trail Forks (Garmin) vs MTB Project and Singletracks (Wahoo).

    I checked all three sites for trails around where I live (Switzerland).

    * Singletracks lists a grand total of 30 tracks in Switzerland
    * MTB Project has a few. Can’t count them, but looking at the map I’m estimating less than 30
    * Trail Forks has a crap ton of tracks

    So if you are interested in this feature, I urge you to check the above sites to make sure there are enough tracks around where you plan to ride. I suspect for North America you’ll be well covered in all three, but not everywhere for sure

  92. Petr

    Just wanted to subsscribe to the Varia theme. I was happy with the BOLT but am less happy since I have to carry the Fenix 5+ on the handlebars to use Varia now.
    Last time I asked Wahoo support about the radar some months back, the answer was it was not on their roadmap.
    With the avalanche of Varia support requests, it may perhaps get back on their radar screen and I could get back to a single device (still BOLT) on the handlebars. Otherwise, Edge 530 looks like a logical choice.
    I am sorry this thread got so much hijacked from a nice new product review to an old pain of some Wahoo users and thanks to Ray for his continuous great work!

  93. Sometimes I don’t quite know how to start a reply to Ray’s reviews. And unfortunately, today is one of those days. 🙂

    When we launched our bike computer line three years ago, we received overwhelmingly positive feedback for providing a simple and impactful user experience. The ELEMNT ROAM is the natural evolution of our product line, taking the great features of the ELEMNT system and enhancing them with awesome new mapping and routing capabilities and delivering it in an impressive piece of hardware.

    I truly appreciate everyone’s feedback on the new ROAM bike computer as it is this type of feedback that inspired Wahoo to enter the bike computer category and is also a key driver for our new ROAM product. Given recent feedback, I wanted to take a few moments to address some of the comments I’ve seen and provide some additional perspective.

    Color Screen – ROAM has an awesome color screen made with Gorilla Glass. Our use of color is very intentional and designed to enhance usability (i.e. we did not overuse color just because it was available). By selectively using color it is easier to digest key data/map information while riding. A hallmark of our ELEMNT computers has been simplicity and we have stayed true to that.

    ANT+ Radar Support – Wahoo has always been committed to adding new features and integrations into ELEMNT computers. This has not changed and we plan to adopt radar support on all ELEMNT GPS bike computers later this year.

    Price Point – Wahoo has always worked to offer the best value possible by offering consumers a complete package including innovative product designs, the most intuitive interface possible, meaningful features, high quality components like the new ROAM color screen with Gorilla Glass, and even worldwide free maps included. So when you consider “value” all we ask is that you compare apples to apples. We do our honest best to deliver value and we believe we did that once again with ROAM.

    Product Renderings – We would never intentionally do anything to mislead our consumers. These renderings were made as part of a huge effort to create all the assets needed for launching the product May 1st. The team is working to update all the imagery to better reflect the final product. The screen size and product dimensions that we have advertised are correct.

    I appreciate so many users chiming in with feedback and thoughts regarding this and all Wahoo products. I would encourage all of you to try out any of our ELEMNT computers for yourself. We stand behind customer satisfaction and offer a 30-day no questions asked return policy.


    Chip from Wahoo

    • Magnus

      Maybe you should point out that the 30-day return policy only is valid if bought directly from Wahoo, not if bought from a reseller. Found that out the hard way with Bolt.

    • FJ

      Good attempt at damage mitigation. My very brief 2c

      Colour Screen: I’m OK here, I don’t want to watch movies on the thing, just want readable maps

      Radar Support: A lot of users will be looking forward to that, and it’s something that you can fix in software, so better get cracking. The end users have spoken

      Price Point: Load of waffle, which is understandable. But if you haven’t already realized, the market will soon tell you that the price is totally out of whack with what is out there today given the features. There’s only so many “never again a Garmin” users out there…

      Product Renderings: Please, who are you kidding? are you telling us that you “accidentally” enhanced the product drawings? a slip of the left index finger over the mouse? This is marketing being allowed too much of a free leash. Just saying “screen size and product dimensions that we have advertised are correct” may work in court, but with the public it doesn’t wash. Then again, expecting an apology may be asking too much…

    • Bob

      On point. And “We would never intentionally do anything to mislead our consumers ” after doing just that. Keep digging.

    • GE

      TEXTUAL “Screen size and product dimensions advertised”, hidden below after scrolling down may be correct, BUT the main image shows a screen 2.92″ assuming the overall dimensions of the body are correct as printed.

      That’s an 8% increase in diagonal measurement, or 17% increase in screen area.

      The image IS the main form of advertising the screen on your product page, and it is from this that prospective customers will assess the screen to body size.

      No one is going to get CAD software out to assess how a 2.7″ screen looks on an 89mm high body, are they?

      No. They look at the advertised and prominent picture, and that is not correct.

    • William De'Ath

      I was actually considering some other Wahoo products such as a trainer and I have your HR strap and need another. However, after reading your self-centric silo mentality cover-up reply, I am staying away from Wahoo. Well done on adding fuel to a fire.

    • Regarding the renders: These images were ready at least a half month before the release date (so it was definitely not a last minute rushed screw-up), since already on the 15th of April you could find a leaked image at link to gpsrumors.com … So either for (minimum) half a month nobody at Wahoo noticed that the already done images are actually not representative of the final product, or – what is more likely – they A) realised there was a mistake but it was beneficial to marketing so they did not care, or B) they were deliberately made to show a relatively larger screen area. (By the way, on the renders the bezel is even asymmetric, it is thicker on the right side than on the left, and no designer in their right mind would do such a thing…)

      I am a happy Bolt owner, so this has nothing to do with Garmin vs Wahoo vs other brands, it is simply wanting no misleading advertisement.

    • Kyle

      Chip – thank you for the commitment to radar support. I’m excited to see it’s implementation.

    • Cypher

      I wonder if Chip can write anything that would calm down the audience.
      I love my Bolt.
      I would like that Wahoo gets the “SW feature train” running like when the ELEMNT was introduced. As someone mentions above: I think sometime the small things (like custom alarm) are also worth buying a product. Or like many here seem to favor a radar integration.

    • Frank-enstein

      Chip : “The screen size that we have advertised [is] correct.”

      Quite the whopper.

      We all appreciate it’s not easy to deal with the online consumer mob today; and few would blame Chip personally for this; but wouldn’t it be easier to just apologize than dig deeper ?

    • Dan G

      That’s a pretty lame reply. It’s quality CEO-speak but that doesn’t wash here.

      An apology and a price cut are the only moves which could save this product.

      Overall the Roam just smacks of laziness.

    • ChuckPDX

      I can understand how finalized display screenshots would get copied over an ID engineer’s CAD drawings for box/brochure artwork with scaling, positioning, and perspective errors. I also recognize that having the smallest looking bezel has modern aesthetic appeal, akin to the latest smartphones.

      It’s funny what people fixate on! In looking at Wahoo’s website, what REALLY bothers me is the sloppy positioning of the overlaid screenshot image where the top LEDs are way too close to the screen image (see attached markup). In that regard, I much prefer the look of the real photos that Ray took over Wahoo’s artwork mistakes ;-).

      At the end of the day, I personally am going to care most about the size of the display pixels – it had better be 2.7″ (68.6mm) or larger! Murray’s posting on May 1 said “while giving even better visibility in sunlight” — this is also something that should be scrutinized. I would love to see side-by-side photos & videos from Ray that confirm it.

    • ChuckPDX

      PS: Many folks here have made comments that imply Wahoo was deliberately misleading in their artwork to make the Roam look better than it actually is. I really doubt that…

      As I mentioned, to me personally the sloppy vertical positioning of the screenshot makes it look worse. In a comment above, Peter made the comment that no designer would have an asymmetric bezel where the Right side is thicker. If their goal was to make the rendered artwork look better than the real product, IMHO they failed miserably there.

      Ray: Regarding your May 2 update:
      “use fake and non-representative images to make the ROAM look sexier than in real life”
      I think you should consider toning that down a bit…

    • They were fake, and they weren’t representative. They went out via e-mail blasts and countless other mediums. And, it made the ROAM look sexier than it was. It’s a clunkier looking device than the more sleek imagery they used for countless marketing efforts (and, which every single retailer around the globe is also using for pre-orders, and which every media outlet that didn’t get units in person is also using).

      Given I only added a single tiny paragraph about it post-bezelgate, I felt like I was actually being pretty kind, given the circumstances. Knowing the core people at Wahoo, I do believe that it was a mostly honest mistake, but I don’t believe that nobody at Wahoo didn’t notice it. I just think the someone’s that did notice, didn’t speak up and were likely further down the org chart.

    • ChuckPDX

      Most box/brochure artwork is rendering (level playing field). You could omit “fake” because that’s not the real problem, right? The word “to” signals intent as opposed to honest mistake (consider “that” instead).

    • Most box imagery makes things look better from a display standpoint. I’ve never seen any in this field that have shrunk the bezels by 11%, which makes the screen to bezel ratio substantially different (making the screen look bigger).

      That said, I’ll change the word ‘to’ – but I’m keepin’ fake. 😉

    • Christian F

      Hello. In your 6th May it says “Wahoo has since updated all product imagery with the correct renderings”.

      However, looking at the website I still see the old fake renderings:

      link to eu.wahoofitness.com

      To me pretty it’s pretty sad that customers are mislead even one week after the announcement. And I own a Bolt and am pretty happy with it, but this is unacceptable.

    • Jeff Williams

      Chip, you are so out of touch with reality. You are using features that you say will be added in the near future to justify the absurdly asinine price point today. And the very misleading photoshopped pics of the physical appearance used for every review and marketing material in person and online, is suspect at best. I own a Bolt but I will not “upgrade” to the Roam unless or until the features and pricepoint represent a value to me and I can assure you, this sentiment is not mine alone.
      And for Gods sake when is Wahoo going to address the auto pause lag issue. It should never take 8 seconds for the unit to realize I’m not moving, an issue I’ve had with both Bolt units.

    • usr

      It’s quite absurd actually to see that devices still don’t log to a short ring buffer during auto-pauses so that they can absolutely *nail* the very second the filtered position stopped randomly jittering around the rest location and can fill in all the data between then and now. Hindsight is a powerful tool and little baby computers have excellent short-term memory. Nobody seems to get this right.

    • ChuckPDX

      Perhaps it’s a battery life tradeoff, where duty cycle on GPS RX goes way down during auto-pause. Has anybody really measured how much better competition is at doing this?


      After using one BOLT unit for 10 months and the other for another 10 months I am disappointed with the hardware quality – especially the rubber buttons. They failed on both devices. I am not the only one, please see link to dcrainmaker.com.

      The technical support was unable to help me. Please consider buying wahoo product, if you plan to use it more than a year.

    • Derek

      A CEO with the fortitude (read “balls) to directly address a very critical DCR review and customers is a company I’d like to put my faith in. To all you armchair critics…where is Garmin? Remember there has been an equally critical post (albeit following a somewhat glowing 530/830 review) combined with a tweet by “the angry asian” which Ray replies to. What was Garmin’s response weeks later? Answer: ? On price point…Ray’s point is merited and well laid out…so is Chip’s. But everybody’s price point perception is different. For example, I’m willing to pay a similar price for less features, a slower screen, but a stable platform and features that work out of the box. I have faith in a company who’s leadership is open and honest will get it right.

    • Scott Falconberry

      Well…… I asked Support at Wahoo about some time reference on implementing Radar support. The response was “Thanks for writing. As of right now we do not have any concrete plans to implement radar support,” Compare this to Mr Hawkins statement:”Wahoo has always been committed to adding new features and integrations into ELEMNT computers. This has not changed and we plan to adopt radar support on all ELEMNT GPS bike computers later this year”
      Why aren’t they on the same page? I was expecting something like “we have committed to doing it but don’t have a time table…” or some such. I copied My Hawkins statement to the Support person. No reply, and I don’t expect to get one.
      Result……I went to the store and looked at the Edge 530. I have the Radar unit and Wahoo is going to lose a customer. So sad to see them fall off a cliff. Maybe I’m wrong and Climbing units and fans are giant revenue producers……

    • Tod

      Their support people are always confused. I had one report closed because they were tracking the issue on an internal bug system. Then later a different support person replied that they have never heard of that procedure and the report shouldn’t have been closed.

    • Scott Falconberry

      Confused and ill informed support. Bad combo. That and they can’t replace the rubber usb cover really is getting me to think about jumping ship. I can probably sell the Bolt with the still working cover and get something with Radar support. Very hard to see myself a Roam. First world problems……

  94. Mark NL

    Great review Ray, as always! I’m leaning towards a 530 now based up on your work. One thing I’m trying to figure out is if it’s possible to send heart rate data from a watch to a cycling unit such as a Bolt/Roam/Edge? E.g. using a Polar M430 watch to transmit the heart rate signal. Or is this limited to same brand devices e.g. Garmin watch with Garmin Edge?

    • Yes, definitely possible – but it just depends on the watch. Both Wahoo and Garmin will happily pickup ANT+ or BLE signals. Unfortunately, Polar doesn’t transmit them. Both Garmin and COROS have it in their watches (broadcast ANT+), but Suunto/Polar/Fitbit/Apple don’t. :/

    • Mark NL

      Super, really good to know.

    • Steve Nims

      For those of you wearing a Whoop, the Elemnt Bolt (and I’m assuming all other Elemnt devices that support BTLE) can be paired with and display the Whoop’s HR measurements. Note that you have to turn on HR broadcast from the strap settings in the Whoop app, then obviously add as a sensor in the Wahoo companion app.

  95. Jeffrey F.

    Strava is convenient for making routes, but be warned that their map data has not been updated in 18+ months. Updates at OpenStreetMap.com propagate to Mapbox (Strava’s intermediate provider) in short order, but for whatever reason Strava itself remains stagnant. As someone who updates the maps in many non-urban areas where I ride, it’s disappointing not to be able to use that data with Strava….

  96. Frederic Buerki

    Great Review, i already own the Bolt and there is very little i miss. One thing i miss an not sure this can be set on this model is to display power on the live segment overlay. Is this something that can be changed on this new model due to the larger screen?


    • Tod

      I think that feature may finally be coming to the old elemnt and bolt models soon. There was an app update that had a page to customize the segment screen, except that page was nonfunctional. The app was updated shortly after to remove the text that indicated you could customize it. So hopefully they are putting the finishing touches on that and everyone gets that feature sooner rather than later, but I really have no insight other than what I just said.

  97. Ed Felkerino

    Looks like you and Shane have plenty to talk about on the Fit File podcast, Ray.

    If you could it would be nice if you guys can address whether the customer really is getting a mini-1030 in the 830 with touchscreen or 530 with buttons. Given the 520 and 820 both ended up kinda meh, is it too good to be true that the 1030 is just now a screen size upgrade?

    And, of course, whether the ROAM also justifies its higher price on screen size, alone. They are competing more against their own product.. 1030 vs. 830, ROAM vs. Bolt. The 1030 is being discounted now and will the ROAM go on sale quickly this fall?

  98. Cypher

    I am feeling somehow sad reading this review.
    I am a fan of my Bolt and also the software on the unit and app.
    But I have the impression that Wahoo does to little compared to Garmin.
    I have asked for a timer alarm over a year ago like on the Garmin units to remind me to drink something. Nothing. Now Garmin has a fuel & hydration notification. Come on Wahoo!

  99. Greg Wilkinson

    Has Wahoo done anything about the high calorie count numbers on Element? I am generally delighted with my Bolt and app but the calorie numbers it reports are about double what Strava and My Fitness Pal report. If Wahoo’s numbers are accurate I’m going to pig out on stroopwafel.

    • John

      Have you set up the heart rate zones in the companion app?.

      I had the same problem but once filled these two fields (resting HR and Max. HR) the calculations is perfect.

  100. Strand

    Hello, Ray:

    Although this is offtopic, I would like to ask you for. Have you received yet any IQ2 powermeter unit? Will appear your review soon?


  101. Chad

    I was ready to gladly throw my $380 at Wahoo before reading this review and these comments. Now I’m almost certain I’ll be holding onto my Bolt indefinitely. #Bezelgate should be a horrendous embarrassment, and it seems clear that they’re trying to sell this more on the success of 2-3 year old products and the promise that the ROAM will improve with updates. I fully expect the $380 price tag to drop significantly, at which point I may perhaps spring for it.

    • Pietro

      I want to be nice and think positive and hope that the bezel gate was a bad idea of the marketing, I believe the roam will be a great unit and I will give it a chance, whoever was the mind of the bezel gate however should be ashamed…

    • Chad

      Yes, lying to your customers is usually a bad idea in the end. Those responsible for bezelgate need to be fired.

    • Pietro


  102. Daniel Vela

    Thanks Ray for your awesome work!

    I´m a runner (Polar Vantage owner) and newbie on cycling shopping for a bike computer. I´m also a design-driven person and was eagerly expecting for ROAM. The ELEMNT computers software meet by far my software requirements but fail to astonish my eyes when I see them…. ROAM stuck to their 3 year old design (which originally was also dull). IMO, and accepting that it is not an apples to apples comparison, I think Polar had a nice case on its V650 considering it was launched on 2014. Price point is also a bummer…. sorry Wahooligans, you guys did not nailed it.

  103. Ray, amazing review – So much detail.

    One of the reasons I jumped from using the Garmin (820 at the time) to the Wahoo ELEMNT and Bolt was because I sweat a ton. I always found the Garmin touch screens to be unreliable once I got a good sweat going. I would try to swipe and sometimes it would work and sometimes not. I played around with the sensitivity with no luck.

    With Wahoo units, the buttons just work.

    I think some of the cool changes are the new screen (less glare) and the button layout. It’s like Wahoo took the better button layout of the Bolt and slapped them on the ELEMNT.

    What is important is the unit react to button pushes, is easy to read in bright sunlight and is easy to adjust the screen size.

    Once I get the ROAM, I guess I will be able to determine if it’s worth the money. Probably will not be for a few weeks.

  104. Fan Zhiyuan

    I’ve been using Wahoo Bolt for the last year. I have not updated the firmware or synced a route for about half a year. But a week ago, before a bike event, I decided to update the firmware and sync the route so I would not get lost. But my Bolt broke down and it seems that it will not recover automatically. In the end I had to use my Vivoactive 3 as a GPS tracker. The warranty of Wahoo lasts for only a year, so I will probably invest in a new Edge 530.

    • Tod

      You should contact wahoo support. Even out of warranty a firmware update shouldn’t brick the device. And there was a firmware update in the past year that was known to be buggy and brick devices.

    • Fan Zhiyuan

      Thank you very much, Tod. I did contact Wahoo support, and they gave me some suggestions like reseting my Bolt or deleting the last ride. But none of these advice could solve the problem completely. I live in China, but I do not think that Wahoo has a dealer here in China. Plus, I bought my Bolt as a second-hand object, and I do not have the original receipt. This is why I am considering buying a new cycling computer, this time as a first-hand buyer.

    • Tod

      I would still push wahoo support for a replacement. The bolt has only existed as a product for two years. A bike gps that doesn’t last 2 years is not acceptable. The worst that could happen is they say no and you are in the same boat as you are now.

    • Fan Zhiyuan

      I’ll try it this summer, when some of my friends will go to the US, although I cannot expect too much from wahoo. Thank you very much 🙂

  105. kostas

    I never had a serious issue with my BOLT. So far so good, for road and mtb use. I would love to get a bigger display and the backlight feature as well that the ROAM has but 380$? I don’t see any reason to switch to Garmin (no matter how much better they might seem) but that ROAM price is just too much…

  106. Cypher

    I have my Bolt since it launched and I am using it since then without any issues.
    Only with the updates now (for the Roam) there were some glitches in the firmware and App (where the App has already been fixed).
    My experience over the last two years with Wahoo is that they do much more about their software than Garmin and quality was (at least 2 years ago) much better.
    So I want to believe that Wahoo gets it software feature improvements and introductions running like they did in the past.
    If I had one wish: please add something like Garmin nutrition&hydration.

  107. Sandy

    Yet still no lap by location…

  108. Jürgen Knupe

    Very good test!
    But what I didn’t find in your test: can you now use the map during navigation always pointing north? It is unfortunately not possible on the Elemnt, and this is one of the main reasons, why I don’t use the Wahoo but the Edge1030!

    • Jeff Biscuits

      See Wahoo Murray’s response to my earlier post: sadly no, navigation is still “heading up” with the arrow positioned right at the bottom of the screen. I find this really frustrating, because it must be a near-trivial option to add in firmware: it’s already there, fully working, it’s just switched off when you start navigating.

      (I recall one of my least enjoyable moments with the Bolt was standing in a layby, trying to figure out a detour, and having to pick the bike up and turn it around so I could see the area which was otherwise hidden off-screen by the extreme location of the arrow.)

      “North up” is far more natural to me when considering the route as a whole, because it lets you mentally retain your bearings; and it also doesn’t mean everything spins round whenever you follow a bend in the road. However, “heading up” works better when you have an imminent decision to make based on your current direction of travel.

      To my mind, this is probably Garmin’s greatest success: you can view the map screen with whichever orientation you choose, but when you need to navigate through a junction, you get a close-up view oriented “heading up”—in fact not quite heading up, but slightly better: “approach up”, if you like, where the view stays steady even if you’re currently on a bend, but it matches your line of sight as you enter the junction. This absolutely nails junction navigation.

      IME it’s frequently not enough to simply give a turn direction: a “turn right” at a junction with five intersecting ways is not helpful; it’s the clear overview that makes the correct turn apparent. Roundabouts are often a good test of this: the history of navigation devices is littered with hopeless implementations of directions through roundabouts. I’d be very interested to see how the Roam copes.

      It’s this kind of finesse which is still holding me back from the Roam despite my enthusiasm for that near-perfect mapping visualisation. Give me the Roam’s maps with Garmin’s through-junction interactions and I’d be a seriously happy bunny.

  109. axel

    Is their any update expected on the Wahoo speed and cadance sensors, like Garmin announced some weeks ago?


  110. usr

    I don’t quite get all the negativity. Yes, it’s not the second coming of the iPhone. It’s simply a refresh of the ELEMNT form factor to the much less hideous Bolt design language (thank god!) and some careful toe-dipping in colors and on-board routing. I doubt that anyone at Wahoo was expecting that you all instantly trash your recently bought Elemnts and Bolts for the Roam, but for people in the market *now* the Roam is a lot more attractive than the Elemmt would be.

    Regarding “bezelgate”, yes, obviously it’s a rendering (like the product images of *every single GPS maker*) and the display size is clearly off. Initially I thought that it was just a botched overlay of updated screen contents, but the last “o” of the logo is flush with the upper edge of the screen in both renderings and reality, but it’s much closer to the corner bend of the housing in the renderings. Sucks, but Hanlon’s razor suggests that it’s just an outdated model from Bernie final screen supplier selection.

    • Mike

      Would you buy a car satnav that wouldn’t give you turn by turn instructions if you had to make a detour, or decided to pop into village to a cafe that was off route, nope you wouldn’t, so why would you settle for this with an even more expensive bike computer, as a navigation device it simply isn’t as good or as feature rich as a Garmin, it is missing fundamentals of a navigation device, that is why I, like lots of people here are disappointed, it is a 1/2 developed product, and we are used to Wahoo being innovators, this is the worse product they have launched and I for one are worried the innovators are dead.

    • FJ

      Well, it’s quite simple

      1. Deceptive marketing

      2. Feature wise it’s just not in the same league as a Garmin Edge 530, not even close, and it’s more expensive, hence people are rightly disappointed

      Granted, Garmin Edge units have a nasty habit of being packed with features, half of which are buggy or not useable, but this is mostly down to personal experience.

      Personally, I’d love an Edge 530 with the Edge 530 price but made by Wahoo so it has half a chance of working properly. As it is, I love the features in the 530, but I don’t trust that they’ll actually work, and this Roam is a major disappointment (and the Wahoo brand has now been tarnished with this bezel fiasco). So I’m staying put with my Edge 810 (at least I know where the skeletons are hidden in that one), while I keep my fingers crossed for good things to come out of the new Stages devices

    • usr

      People happily bought the Elemnt when Garmin had already been almost as far in terms of on-device navigation as they are today. The navigation gap between the Roam and similarly sized Garmins is closer today than it ever was between the Elemnt and it’s contemporary Garmin peers.

      The only thing that has changed is that the 530 is aggressively sacrificing per-unit revenue (it will cannibalize heavily in the 8×0 range) for market share. But this would hit Wahoo even harder without the Roam.

  111. Mike

    Nailed it as always Ray, this is the most disappointing product I’ve seen from Wahoo, I would only buy this over the Element for the routing, and myself like you just want stuff to work, I don’t want to worry where the route comes from, that turn by turn works if you download it this way, Garmin just works, always, but hey with the Wahoo ensure you don’t get lost as you won’t get turn by turn again, this product to be frank is garbage as a navigation tool, I can buy a car satnav for $200 that works way better than this, and nobody would purchase a car satnav with these features, so why would I pay even more for a bike computer that doesn’t have them, Garmin must be laughing right now, it appears that Garmin have become the innovators and Wahoo are just playing catch up, so many people hate Garmin and for good reason, personally I’ve not had too many issues with them, I use an 820 day to day and the 2 biggest bugbears (speed and screen) have been resolved, and their Turn by Turn stuff is 2nd to none, I plan a route to somewhere new, I have 100% confidence that I will not get lost, and if something like a road closure (which happens a lot in the UK during summer with read surface dressing) makes for a detour I know the Garmin will just route around it, sorry Wahoo but I for one will be getting an 830.

  112. Magnus

    When someone release Strava Heat Map integration I will buy a new GPS. Would be great for MTB.

  113. Rais Garifoulline

    My Garmin 820 lives less than 3 hours at 100% brightness that I need in sunlight.

    • Chillfmm

      The Garmin Edge 820 has a transflective screen. The more light it receives the brighter the screen is. Backlight on those screens should only be needed in dim or dark conditions.

  114. John B

    After reading the comments here I am now considering buying the Varia Radar. I really thought it was a gimmick.

    • David Chrisman

      John B–definitely a specific use case thing but if you ride outside of metro areas (farmland where I live)–it is fantastic and was one of key reasons I went with Garmin over Wahoo when I was changing bike computers last summer (there is a radar unit you can use but I didn’t want to deal with it–opted for Garmin unit where it’s integrated into bike computer). I rode for years without one but now that I have it–I love knowing when vehicles are approaching from behind and hate riding without it. I was skeptical as well but like you starting reading the comments on some of DCR posts and was sold.

    • Paul S.

      I can report on the first use of mine, on my gravel bike mounted to a seat stay (I use seat bags and am not going to give them up to free the seat post). I’ve been using helmet mirrors since about the time they first appeared, so I usually know what’s going on behind me. I deliberately chose a route going out one of the major two lane highways in the area and back on the other (less travelled) one. I was using my Varia RTL510 with an Edge 1000. One thing I didn’t like: I had set up my Edge to use the left side, but both sides greyed out when there was a contact. The radar worked well. It didn’t always separate groups of vehicles farther back, but it did well closer (could say the same with my mirror). When there were no contacts, the Edge looks almost the same as before (I think the radar icon in the upper right is larger than necessary, but it doesn’t take up any useful real estate). The dots were easy to follow and gave me a good idea of the positions of vehicles. What it didn’t do was tell me what was behind me. You can’t tell from the dots whether it’s a car, a tractor/trailer, a pickup dragging a trailer, etc. For that I still need a mirror. Probably where it’ll be most useful to me is in the mountains on the MTB, where I don’t expect to see any cars on weekdays and behave accordingly. I’ll no longer be surprised to find a car or truck right behind me. Didn’t get passed by any motorcycles or other cyclists so I haven’t seen how well it handles them yet. I’ll keep using it on every ride.

    • Changren Y.

      The newer RTL510(511) is more sensitive than the first gen Varia radar. So much so that sometimes when you are stationary, a group of people walking toward you will register an alert on the radar. But it’s probably better to have slightly more false positives than missed positives.

    • John B

      Thanks for your honest input folks. Have a great weekend.

  115. Big Lampar

    Pointing north? wow – i would find that very disorienting. Why is north-always so important? I mean in real life situation do I really care where north is – i just want to know should i turn right/left towards my destination.

    • Paul S

      Makes orienting yourself much easier. You see the sun, you’re in the northern hemisphere, so now you know where south is (and vice versa for those of you hanging by your feet). If you know time of day, then you might know where east or west is (noon is a problem). (Or you look a the heading field on your GPS; either works.) Now you’ve aligned yourself to the map. Printed maps are almost always north up. North up is a must, like street names and POI’s.

    • Jeff Biscuits

      After I’ve planned a big route I have a picture in my head of what it looks like, where various bits are, and so on. When I see the map north-up, it fits that picture in my head: I get a sense of where I am in the wider context, what’s coming up, where the nearest town is if I need to stop for provisions. Quite often I’ve checked out certain bits that are notable for some reason and I can recognise them far more easily by the signature of my route through them by any other means.

      Heading-up works great for when your focus is the immediate vicinity: approaching turns, for example. But for full days or multi-days out it totally breaks my cognitive connection to the route as a whole.

      Either way, the reasons needn’t be a massive deal: Wahoo’s firmware already supports both modes, it’s just that they dictate that you’re not allowed to use north-up if you’re navigating. Which is hugely frustrating everyone who has that preference, because it’s almost certainly a very simple change to make and it would have precisely zero detriment to anybody who prefers heading-up. They’ve been asked for this option for a couple of years and they’ve chosen not to implement it.

  116. Martin Wastie

    The fundamental point here for me is that IT IS NOT A GARMIN. I was such a huge Garmin fanboy, starting with my original Geko probably 20 years ago, but overtime their poor reliability (lost track of how many replacement units I have been through), hopeless bugs, labyrinthine menu structure and rubbish companion apps turned me and I will never go back. Have been on an a Elemnt for the last year(after my final Garmin 1030 failed mid race) and it is night and day compared to the Garmin. Is like in 2007 going from a Nokia to an iPhone.

    The mapping is the weak link I admit, and the Roam does seem to get there mostly, so I will be upgrading. I get the value point, but frankly the extra £ will be worth it to just have a unit THAT WORKS.

    • ChuckPDX

      My story is a lot like Martin’s.
      I’ve been an avid Garmin customer since 1994 (95XL), owning various aviation, outdoor, and cycling units. I am finally jumping ship to try this Elemnt ROAM – here’s why:

      Although Garmin has been a GPS leader/innovator, they have been putting too much emphasis on cramming in new features at the expense of simplicity, ease of use and reliability. Garmin’s setup, map activation/update process for devices and supporting PC and web apps used to drive me crazy, and my current cycling unit crashes about every other ride.

      Wahoo is wisely pursuing an Apple-like “it just works” experience. Although I’m an early adopter gadget freak and ex product/SW development engineer, my tolerance for unreliable and complex difficult things is lowering. My 2 best riding buddies (non-techy) have an 810 & 820, and they are constantly having trouble understanding how to manage and operate them, and swearing at them in cold/wet weather. They are eagerly waiting to see what my experience is with the Roam before pulling the trigger.

      I’m sure there will be some missing functions/features (Varia?) that I miss and will grumble about how long it takes Wahoo to release support for, but I will gladly accept that as a tradeoff if it means getting something that is easy and just works.

  117. Martin Wastie

    Just to add something else. To add to another comment above, I too requested from Wahoo a product request of a reminder timer (to remind me to eat every 20 mins) over a year ago. And nothing. This I have always found odd, as surely this can’t be that difficult. Maybe Garmin have a patent on a feature like that, that was the only thing I could think of as to why they have not done it. Odd.

    • Tod

      Wahoo is not interested in adding every feature. They want to keep it simple and trimmed down. So it’s not about the difficulty of implementing the feature, but their goal for the product.

  118. AndrewC

    Love your reviews as ever DC, but for me you are missing one of the most important features. It’s a cycle computer right? We ride outside in weather right? So Garmin fail in every test of actual use in wet weather! I’ve had 5 Garmin’s and this is how they work in wet weather. Fail, Fail, Fail, Fail and Fail catastrophically and lose all data. So far my Wahoo ELEMNT has not failed in wet weather. It has sturdy actual buttons not a flaky touchscreen. The price point you quote doesn’t take into account the $80 I had to pay to Garmin every time I needed a replacement unit and so I will happily pay an extra $100 for something that takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

    • Jeff Biscuits

      When you say “wet weather”, do you mean “scuba diving”?

      I’ve had more than five Garmins myself and I’ve never had any issue with wet weather (other than that the original eTrexes would sometimes leak a bit into the battery compartment—but that never caused a functional problem). I don’t know anyone who’s had one fail that way, either. And it’s not like the UK is dry 🙂

    • ChuckPDX

      Spot on! Whether it’s a touchscreen, or a joystick (like my prior Edge 705), these things can be difficult to operate while moving/bouncing on the road, and particularly while riding in cold/wet weather with gloves on.

      Another reviewer (YouTube I think) rather liked the original Elemnt button placement/angle for easy operation while riding. I’m hoping that the Roam size/shape (Bolt-like) hasn’t compromised the thumb action ergonomics.

    • Heeney

      Andrew – see the D.C.R. product comparison tool above. Every current Wahoo and Garmin unit is rated IPX7, meaning it was tested submerged in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes I think.

      That’s far more rigorous than a little ride with some raindrops.

      Both brands will work just fine in wet weather, and sorry to state the obvious, but there’s a roughly 0.000000000% chance that 5 consecutive computers all catastrophically failed on account of weather.

    • Kenneth X

      I think most people have a misunderstanding of what the spec says and what the actual mass production delivers. When you submit a product for IP testing, the testing report will only apply to the sample you submitted, meaning as long as the sample you submitted meets the spec, they say it is IP rated (passed). While for the vast majority of the consumers, what we get is far more complicated than just the spec, the material they use from batch to batch, the process controls they have at manufacturing level, the machines…etc. all plays some part for you to receive a compliant product. Historically Garmin has a very poor record on delivering consistent quality products, while Wahoo apparently has a much more reliable record than Garmin.

      I personally have been staying away from Garmin. When I spend money to get something, I want the stuff works for me, not the other way around (often spend time to figure out all the glitches.) . I just want to ride my bike, it’s that simple. Feature wise, thats secondary.