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Wahoo Elemnt Roam long-term review

29 Jul 2019

Page 1 of 2Wahoo Elemnt Roam long-term review

Verdict:

A bike computer that has made me rethink my approach to cycling tech

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Incredibly clear screen • Easy to use • Great mapping
Against 
None that I can think of, yet

The Wahoo Elemnt Roam has made me rethink how I use my GPS computer when riding. Before now, I was a Garmin man through and through. I was not willing to consider alternatives because the Garmin did what I needed.

Previously, I would pop my Garmin in its mount and let it run. It acted simply as a data recorder, something for me to plug into the computer at the end of the day and transfer my numbers from the road to Strava.

I wouldn’t attempt to use its mapping or push the boundaries of what it could offer in terms of data, largely due to being put off by what seemed a complicated computer that was best left as is.

Then I attended the launch of the Elemnt Roam back in April and with my subsequent long-term testing, I feel like I have had my eyes opened to a new world.

A world where a GPS computer is not simply an idle part of your bike that’s a simple carrier pigeon for Strava but something that can enhance your ride.

With its detailed mapping, functionality and ease of use, I found the Wahoo Elemnt Roam to be a truly excellent product in all areas.

The Wahoo Elemnt Roam can be bought here from Wiggle at £299.99.

Mapping

I attended the launch of the Elemnt Roam back in the spring, riding around the Yorkshire Dales. When I was there, I chatted to director of project management Jose Mendez about the new product and my biggest takeaway was how excited he was over Wahoo’s improved mapping.

‘We listened to the consumer who told us they wanted more robust mapping capabilities,’ Mendez said. ‘Our teams took on the challenge, developed the software and came up with Roam.’

These new developments led to a lot of new features such as Back On Track (on-demand re-routing) and Get Me Started (routing to a start point), to accompany the existing Take Me To (on-demand, on-board route generation).

After a good chunk of time testing these new features, I’ve been left impressed by how well they all work. I tried to trick the Elemnt Roam’s Back On Track system on a few occasions, purposely going off my downloaded course, opting for a short cut that would only be known to locals.

On every occasion, the Roam took the deviation in its stride. After a few seconds of configuring it would then re-plan my route in front of me on the screen. It wasn’t just a simply ‘turn around’ demand, either, rather an actual re-routing to keep me on course.

The Get Me Started feature always chose the quickest and most efficient route to my start point and the Take Me To feature never faltered in redirecting me to a new location, either.

The mapping was also flawless when I took the Roam abroad for two Cyclist Big Rides, one in the Italian Cottian Alps and another in the French Maritime Alps.

The pre-downloaded routes of both rides guided me flawlessly throughout both rides to the extent that navigation worries were firmly pushed to the back of my mind and I was allowed to fully focus on my uphill suffering.

Simplicity and functionality

Having never used Wahoo products to any real extent and being a self-confessed technophobe, I was worried that I would stumble over the abundance of features that the Elemnt Roam contains.

Extensive mapping, customisable interface, text alerts, it had me nervous. Thankfully, Wahoo is a company that believes in simplicity and it shines through with the Elemnt Roam.

On GPS set-up, you are prompted to download the Elemnt app which acts as the central hub for all the necessary information and data. Then, after simply scanning the QR code that pops up on the Roam, you are fully synced and ready to go.

Take mapping, for example. After creating my route on third-party app Strava, the route automatically synced to my pre-downloaded Elemnt Roam App and then onto the computer through Bluetooth in a matter of seconds.

Syncing external devices such as heart rate monitors was as easy as pressing the ‘search’ button and standing next to the device, too.

Even syncing the integrated power meter from the Specialized S-Works Tarmac I have been riding took all of five seconds and is simple for even the most incompetent to use.

Strava also works flawlessly with the Roam, too, and now there’s even the option to relay Stava Live information through the device, giving your real-time progress as you target a segment.

Simplicity shines through so much with how Wahoo has created the Elemnt Roam.

Even changing the data fields on the computer is as simple as using the app to drag and drop what you see. Genuinely, the Roam seemed impervious to even the most technically lacking.

Colour screen

Wahoo has done an impressive job on visibility with the Elemnt Roam. Previously, the screen of a Wahoo computer would actually be slightly separated from the external plastic display as a way of protecting from damage, common practice for most cycling GPS computers.

Now, because Wahoo has opted to use a Gorilla Glass 2.7inch display, a bigger screen than the previous Elemnt, the shadowing effect has dissipated leaving an interface that’s crystal clear in all weather conditions. This is also helped by the screen self-adjusting its brightness based upon the lighting conditions you find yourself in.

It has also incorporated colour for the first time, albeit subtly. Mendez told me that Wahoo was sceptical about introducing colour to their popular monochrome setup but believes the tech available means it enhances usability rather than hinders it, and I agree.

The use of colour helps clearly distinguish between whether you are on or off-course and helps highlight specific points on the map, such as bodies of water, which also helps with your bearings when riding.

And because Wahoo has been sparing in its use of colour, stuff like your data fields, which you really need to be clear as day, have remained monochrome to keep things uncomplicated.

Battery life

‘We wouldn’t have called it Roam if you couldn’t go roam.’ Mendez was pretty clear about the Roam’s battery life claims of 17 hours. With full functionality, Wahoo claimed that the Elemnt Roam could last the full 17 hours, even more if you used it in an eco-mode.

The long-lasting battery was in response to the increased popularity of gravel riding and multi-day off-roading that demands a more robust and long-lasting product.

I’ll admit, I didn’t take the Elemnt Roam on an epic 17 hour ride - life’s too short for that - but I did take it on a 182km, seven hour day out to Rye, East Sussex - in which I was constantly referring to the map and data pages - and on the aforementioned Cyclist Big Rides.

On the ride to Rye, I left with a full battery and despite constant scuttling of the data pages and panning of my pre-downloaded route to see just how long I still had to ride, I arrived back home with 60% battery still remaining.

A few weeks later in the Alps, two consecutive ride days of over seven hours a day saw the Roam still have a staggering 50% of its battery after those combined 14 hours in the saddle.

It seems that a tech brand’s battery promise was actually accurate, a surprise for someone like me who is a life-long Apple product user.

The Wahoo Elemnt Roam can be bought here from Wiggle at £299.99.

Price and the extras

The Wahoo Elemnt Roam retails for £299.99 which includes the computer, charging cable, a stem mount and a Roam-specific integrated mount.

That makes it the same price as the new Garmin Edge 820, which occupies a similar place in the market.

It also makes the Elemnt Roam £70 more expensive than the existing Elemnt computer, which will be discontinued by the end of the year. With battery improvements, a coloured screen and the advancements in mapping, the price rise seems justified.

As is the way with Wahoo, the Elemnt Roam is fully integratable to the entire ‘ecosystem’ of products offered meaning it can be used harmoniously with the Kickr turbo trainer, Tickr heart rate monitor and Wahoo’s speed and cadence sensors.

Wahoo is yet to release the Elemnt Roam as part of a bundle with stuff like the heart rate monitor and cadence sensor but you feel that is only around the corner.

Price: 
£299.99

Page 1 of 2Wahoo Elemnt Roam long-term review