I was always a strong advocate for using a smartphone for activity tracking. But the battery was always a problem. The battery capacities got better over the years, but on my long tours it was never enough. My first solution was a powerbank. Now there was more than enough energy, but it was very messy with the cables. So early last year I finally gave up and was in the search for a bike computer.
I was never a big fan of the Garmin devices. I have to admit, I did never try one, but didn’t understand why they had to have touchscreens and displays like smartphones. The display has to be readable in all light scenarios. That’s the only thing it has to be good at. That was why the Wahoo ELEMNT got my attention in the first place. They seemed trying to build a well thought out device not a fancy one.
The Wahoo ELEMNT has a monochrome display. It is a fairly big device. It has pages on which fit up to ten customisable data fields. You can zoom in an out on a page to show more or less data fields. So it is practical to put important fields like for example heart rate and cadence at the top. There are tow special pages one shows climbing metrics and the other a map of the area. If you use Strava with the ELEMNT theres also a page for segments. When you are using the lap feature there appears another page with metrics for the current lap.
The ELEMNT also has two rows of LEDs. The top row is for navigation and segment announcements. The one on the left is customisable to be used to indicate heartrate, speed or heart rate.
Since I bought the ELEMENT in April 2016 the team at Wahoo added several big features such as Strava live segments and turn by turn navigation. But one of the best features of the Wahoo ELEMNT is Wahoos third party approach. Wahoo provides a platform and the software is able to connect to several third party services which provide data for the device. For example segments from Strava or navigation from komoot and RideWithGPS. So if there is a new important service in cycling Wahoo will surely be open to integrate it, too. The same goes for hardware. Certainly the ELEMENT works perfect with Wahoos kickr trainers, but also with electronic shifting systems from Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo.
I use navigation in almost every ride. At first I thought it might be a problem to read the map because of the monochrome display. But I learned fast that this is no problem. The ELEMNT is able to show even the smallest trails. If your are not sure simply zoom in. The ELEMNT uses OpenStreetMaps. the same service Strava and komoot uses.
If you leave the planned route the ELEMENT is not able to recalculate the route. But you can either look on the map to find back to your route or you can plan a new route with the companion app und your smartphone. Both approaches are practical and it doesn’t bother me that the ELEMNT is unable to recalculate routes (yet?).
The ELEMNT supports a wide range of sensors. Every sensor with ANT+ or Bluetooth is supported. One of the best things is that once paired with a sensor it always connects automatically. That was a problem when I still was recording with my iPhone. Sometimes the heart rate monitor didn’t get connected so I had to pair it again. Maybe it helps that all my sensors are made by Wahoo. But all I can say is that it works seamless!
The Wahoo ELEMNT was a very good investment. It is an all-round carefree device. I’m so glad that all I have to do to record a ride is to press the start button on the ELEMNT. It records reliable every time. The battery is no issue at all. Even on rides that take the whole day I have still energy to spare. It is always great to have one device that does not much but what it does very well.
In the meantime Wahoo released another version of the ELEMNT – the ELEMNT BOLT. In a nutshell it is the same device but in a smaller more aerodynamic package. Wahoo even claims it is the most aerodynamic bike computer in the world. That statement appears to hold true.
I’m excited to see the development on the Wahoo ELEMNT continuing. Maybe thanks to the BOLT we will see even some professionals use it in major races. That would surely stir the development even more.