Wahoo Elemnt Roam long-term review

29 Jul 2019

Page 2 of 2Wahoo launches the Elemnt Roam


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

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

Product launch: Elemnt Roam

‘Using a bike computer shouldn’t be the hardest part of a ride,’ says Wahoo’s director of project management Jose Mendez at the launch of its latest product, the Wahoo Elemnt Roam.

It’s a fair point. Using a GPS computer when you ride should be there as an assistance, not a hindrance. Once its the latter, it defeats the purpose of what it’s there to do.

A cycling GPS computer is there to give structure to your ride. To offer maps so you can see where you’re going. To show the time, distance and any other data fields that you may need when you ride. To store said data and transfer it to a third-party app so you can analyse it once home or simply show off to your fellow riding friends.

Pushing the boundaries when the tarmac ends

The new Wahoo Elemnt Roam promises to do the above but, thanks to the emergence of gravel and adventure riding, also give advanced navigation for those who like to ‘push boundaries’ with a neat colour screen and long-life battery to match.

‘On-board routing, routing if you go off-course, a route to the beginning of a course, these were things we know that Wahoo missed,’ admits Mendez.

‘So we went away with those challenges, looked at what the consumer wanted and came up with Elemnt Roam.’

The biggest update to Wahoo’s Elemnt is its navigation. It’s been given a significant overhaul not only to be more advanced but at the same time to retain its simplicity.

Mendez explains that the improvements in mapping come directly from customer feedback given on Wahoo’s flagship Elemnt unit, which has now been on market for three years.

‘This is an evolution of Elemnt. We listened to the consumer who told us they wanted more robust mapping capabilities,’ says Mendez. ‘Our teams took on the challenge, developed the software and came up with Roam.’

Chief among the changes with navigation is an improvement in re-routing. Go off-course on your pre-designated route and the Elemnt Roam will not revert to telling you to simply turn around, rather re-routing you from the unit itself, continuing your guidance to your destination.

From the brief opportunity I got with the Elemnt Roam at its launch in Yorkshire, I got to see this re-routing in practice.

Suffering a mechanical early on in the press ride, I was left behind with a member of Wahoo staff and instructed to chase back on when the bike was sorted.

In the excitement of the chase, said colleague and I stopped looking at the maps notification and rode off-course. Instantly, the Wahoo rerouted us to meet the route a few kilometres down the road.

More new features

Another addition is the Elemnt Roam’s ‘Take me to’ feature.

Say you ride past a new cafe or the base of a tasty looking climb, you can save that location directly to the Elemnt Roam and then instruct the unit to redirect you to that location at any point from the computer.

The Elemnt Roam will also have the capability to route you to the start of a pre-downloaded route and it’ll also be the first Wahoo GPS unit that will have the ability to pan the map.

The Elemnt Roam is also Wahoo’s first foray into coloured screens, which Mendez admits was a decision that took much consideration.

‘We didn’t make the decision to add colour lightly but because of new technology now available, we believe the introduction of colour improves the experience,’ says Mendez.

Wahoo’s USP was its simplicity, and colour - by its varying nature - can complicate things. That’s why rather than going full bore and making the entire thing a technicolour cluster of data, Wahoo has added subtle touches across the unit, just to help distinguish things.

For example, when you leave a pre-selected route or are being navigated to a route start, the arrows guiding you will be blue to distinguish you from the black places upon the selected route.

Another example is how Wahoo has colour-coded training zones to make it easier to follow when you’re on your limit. Now, instead of following a number or a word, you can just follow a colour.

The rest of the display is monochrome and clear to read. It also helps that Wahoo has slightly altered the composition of the computer to bring the interface flush to the screen which prevents shadowing.

Long lasting battery

With advanced mapping and a colour screen does come the issue of battery life. More to run, more for the battery to do. However, Wahoo claims a 17-hour battery life, not at its most basic running, but at full functionality.

Wahoo claims that even when paired to a power meter, connected to your phone for text alerts and used with full mapping capabilities, it’ll last you for a full 17 hours.

That’s more than enough juice for your usual roadie and enough to appease the multi-day adventure riders, too.

Mendez admits that achieving such battery life was a challenge but possible due to more efficient battery technology and that the brand couldn’t ‘have called it Roam if you cannot go roam’.

The new Elemnt Roam’s screen is 6.89cm (2.7in) and weighs 93.5g. All units will come with a neat integrated out-front mount and stem mount, too, with the out-front mount utilising Wahoo’s nifty ‘UCI screw’ that attaches the unit to the mount. This means that the computer counts as a fixed part of the bike and therefore can count towards the weight limit.

Price and packages

The Elemnt Roam is set to retail at £299.99 for the unit and the mounts with a bundle inclusive of heart rate monitor and cadence sensor also set to be released further down the line.

It’s also worth noting that the Elemnt Roam will eventually fill the Elemnt space in the market with the latter set to be phased out by the end of the year.

This, however, shouldn’t worry current Elemnt users as Wahoo has promised to continue its software updates on the unit for the indefinite future.

Rating - 5/5


Page 2 of 2Wahoo launches the Elemnt Roam