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Wahoo Elemnt review

3 Aug 2016

The Wahoo Elemnt may be missing vowels but it’s not short on features

The cycling GPS market has really exploded of late, with lots of entries from smaller brands such as CatEye and Lezyne looking to destabilise the Garmin monopoly. Most of them aren’t as feature rich as a Garmin unit, utilising the GPS chip only for speed and distance. The new Wahoo Elemnt however promises lots of functionality and connectivity all wrapped up in a neat user-friendly package.

This isn’t Wahoo’s first foray into bike computers (it launched the Rflkt last year) but this is its first stand alone model that doesn’t need a permanent phone connection to run. Instead there’s a companion app that you use to perform the intial set up and change any settings. It’s here that you connect it to Strava, TrainingPeaks etc. The Elemnt has Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity, which it uses to do all of the data transfers. There is a USB port but it’s there purely to charge the battery.

Buy the Wahoo Elemnt from Amazon here


Wahoo Elemnt screen

The Elemnt has three main screens to scroll through as you ride along, which is done with the right most of the three buttons along the bottom of the unit. The first screen provides the usual ride data (speed, distance, time, heart rate etc.), the second screen provides climbing data (gradient, metres climbed etc.) and the third screen is the map. So far, nothing new. The interesting part is how you alter the main riding screen on the fly.

The two buttons on the right hand side zoom in and zoom out of the data screen. Just want your speed? Zoom in until only speed displays. Speed, distance and time? Zoom out twice. It’s really simple and very intuitive while riding along.

To change the order of in which they appear you do need to use the app but it’s a very quick process, so it could easily be done in the café if you need to.

The other big feature is the LEDs that run up the sides. If you set them to monitor your heart rate or power, they will move upwards and change colour to give a quick visual representation of your current zone.


The Elemnt has maps loaded onto it, so you can download routes and follow them but it can’t make point-to-point routes up on the fly. The routing works with Strava, so if you create a route on Strava the Elemnt will automatically download the route when connected to WiFi. The route shows as a black line on the map with arrows pointing in the direction of travel but it doesn’t give you direction change warnings as you approach a junction, which means you need to keep the map open to follow a route. If you don’t mind taking the odd wrong turn you could just wait for the LEDs to flash red and warn you of a mistake, but most would find that a frustrating way to travel. Wahoo has future plans for the LEDs to flash left and right in advance of a turn as a warning.

Update - Wahoo has now updated the firmware on the Elemnt so that it displays proper turn-by-turn routing directions, which has greatly improved the usability.

The Elemnt comes preloaded with road maps of the entire world so as soon there’s no need to worry about it not working if you take it on holiday (the maps for China & Russia aren’t loaded onto the device as standard due to their scale but they will automatically download if you visit either country).

When connected to a phone, the Elemnt can also be used to find riding partners (assuming they are also equipped with Elemnts). This would be really useful if you became separated on a ride or for finding friends at the start of a big sportive.

Outside of following a route, or finding a buddy, the maps aren’t a whole lot of use as you can’t browse around the map – it just stays centred on your location. 

In use

The whole computer comes together really well. The app is intuitive and easy to use (because Apple has done all the UI hard work), which makes changing any settings a total breeze. Other computer manufacturers need to sit up and take a look at how easy Wahoo has made it. Out on the road, the Elemnt runs well – the screen is easy to use and it responds well to inputs. The first time I used it, it did crash and wouldn’t turn off until the battery ran flat but this hasn’t happened since.

The one thing that I have been struggling with is syncing data to Strava. If a ride ends at home, and the Elemnt immediately connects to my WiFi, then it syncs just fine. If a ride ends a work, and then the upload is attempted later, the sync doesn’t always function correctly – the ride still appears on my weekly totals, just not as individual rides. It’s frustrating but I’m sure it’s just a firmware issue with my early sample.

Overall though it’s a great computer that delivers on its claim of being the easiest bike computer to use and any future updates will only improve on that.

Update - 25/03/16

Wahoo has added quite a few additional integration elements in the latest firmware update. The Elemnt can now display gear position and battery information for SRAM eTap and Shimano Di2 (when equipped with the Shimano D-Fly ANT+ transmitter). The information can be displayed in either graphical or numerical form. Di2 users are also able to control the screens through the use of the Di2 buttons fitted under the lever hoods.

Also included in the update is compatibility with muscle oxygen sensors, such as Moxy, so the Elemnt can display muscle oxygenation metrics.

Update - 03/08/16

Wahoo is making a great name for itself with this computer, as it keeps releasing free updates that make the product better and better. The Elemnt is now compatible with Strava live segments, to show you how you're performing on the road. Since the Elemnt automatically syncs with a Strava account, all you need to do is 'star' a segment for it to be saved to the Elemnt.

Then when you approach the segment on a ride a special screen will pop up displaying extra info about the segment. The coolest feature is that the Elemnt uses the top row of in-built LEDs to advise you how far along the segment you are, while the side LEDs show you how far ahead of behind the KOM time you are. As the segment comes to an end, if you're close to taking the record the device will prompt you to go harder. 

Buy the Wahoo Elemnt from Amazon here

Wahoo Elemnt GPS bike computer
Size 57.5mm x 90.5mm x 21.2mm
DayBright Display Size 68.6mm
Mount 3 mounts: out-front, stem and aero
Backlight Yes
ANT+ Yes
Bluetooth Yes
Wi-Fi Yes
Altimeter Barometric
Compatibility Works with Strava and more
Profiles Multiple
Battery Life 17 hours
Weight 3.5oz. (99g)

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