The Wahoo ELEMNT cycling computer was announced in September last year and has been available in Australia for a month or so now, the ELEMNT is Wahoo’s first stand alone GPS bike computer following its RFLKT and RFLKT+ devices that mirrored data from smartphones recording users ride data.
The Wahoo ELEMNT is a genuine Garmin challenger coming packed with features like dual band ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart capable, smartphone app setup and customization, mapping, smart notifications and live tracking, WiFi and more.
Read on for our review of the Wahoo ELEMNT GPS bike computer, you can click the links below to go straight to any section.
The ELEMNT App
Riding with the ELEMNT
Strava Live Segments
Features and Specifications
The first thing you will notice when you get the ELEMNT is the packaging is top quality, the Wahoo marketing and product team have really done a great job with the quality of ELEMNT box with a fold out flap and slide out tray, as well as with the instructions and guides on the package and inside.
Another thing you would have noticed is the missing vowel from the model name and the capitals, that’s a Wahoo thing and follows names like KICKR, RFLKT, TICKR, so it’s a Wahoo ELEMNT computer, not a Wahoo Element computer. Kind of cool and quirky and is a point of difference from all the other brands out there.
The Wahoo ELEMNT cycling computer comes packaged with three different mounts, there’s an out front mount, a standard stem mount and an tri bar extension mount. There’s also a USB recharging cable, a quick start guide and a product information booklet as well as a two zip ties for the stem mount.
This review is for the Wahoo ELEMNT bike computer, there’s also a Wahoo ELEMNT bundle that contains these additional items, a TICKR heart rate monitor as well as speed and cadence sensors. I connected to existing sensors on my bike and a Wahoo TICKR HR strap so I didn’t need the bundle.
On to the ELEMNT bike computer itself, in terms of size and weight I would describe it as being at the larger end of medium sized computers in that it’s noticeably bigger than a Garmin Edge 520 which is a small sized computer, but it’s also noticeably smaller than a Polar V650 or Garmin Edge 1000.
The ELEMNT has six buttons, there are three along the bottom that are for starting, stopping, lap and other menu items. There is one on the top left side for turning the Wahoo ELEMNT on and off as well menu items like adding sensors, pairing and un-pairing phones and various other device statuses. And there are two buttons on the lower to mid right side that zoom your page screens in and out, more on that later.
The mount is a quarter turn mount, similar to Garmin but it’s a slightly different size and it turns clockwise to click in, and anti-clockwise to release.
Click to zoom on any of these images.
I always start with the hardware before getting to the computer set up so above is the Wahoo out front mount, typically that’s all I would ever use as I don’t mount computers directly on the stem. You can see the stem mount and the aerobar mount in the photo below.
The out front mount positions the ELEMNT perfectly with enough room to press the bottom buttons and the mount and ELEMNT are compact enough to fit within the front profile of the bikes handlebars and stem.
Once you’re done with mounting the ELEMNT, or you can do this step first it’s up to you, you will need to download the Wahoo ELEMNT app from either the App store or Google Play depending on your phone. Most of the configuration of the ELEMNT will be done via the app on your phone.
Once you have downloaded the app and created your account you will need to pair the ELEMNT to your phone, it’s as simple as turning on the ELEMNT and then scanning the QR code from your phone.
Once paired you will be ready start setting up and customising the ELEMNT screens and settings.
I haven’t included photos of everything because there are simply so many customising options I would literally have a hundred photos, which is great and it might sound complicated but the setup of the ELEMNT is very user friendly and intuitive.
First you will want to set up the WiFi connection so if there are any device updates it will update via WiFi. Next I went through and set all the measurement options to metric and linked various account like Strava, Ride with GPS, etc.
Then you can setup page screens and again there are so many options, virtually everything is possible. There are four pages and up to ten data fields are available on each, there’s a Lap page, Workout page, Climbing page and Map page. Setting up the data fields you can drag each data item up and down the screen depending on your own own preference and press the arrow on the right to change each item.
There’s also a separate Kickr page available if you want to control your Kickr.
You will also set up phone notifications for texts and emails while you’re riding via the app as well as HR zones, sensor details, you can select what the side and top LED’s are used for i.e. power, HR, speed or turn them off.
You also set the Live Track and mapping via the app as well as backlight settings, lap functions and automatic uploads, etc.
Here’s a sample of the Wahoo Fitness app pages.
To pair sensors you can just wake them up on the bike and then on the ELEMNT press the top left menu button, scroll down to the Sensors section the Add Sensor and you will get a message to hold the ELEMNT next to the sensor, as long as you are near the sensor it will start picking each one sensor. Once the first sensor is paired click more to add the rest.
The Wahoo ELEMNT will record ride data using either ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart sensors.
One of the things you would have noticed during the setup is there is no touch screen or colour screen, I don’t have any issue with either but it may be important to you. GPS signal and sensors are acquired quickly, quicker than most other GPS bike computers I have used.
Starting a ride is as simple as pressing the middle bottom button and your ride is started. One of the features I really liked about the ELEMNT was the ability to zoom in and out on each page, you have ten data fields set up per page but you can zoom in line by line by pressing the top right button dropping the bottom two fields off the screen with each press of the button and making the reaming fields larger. The bottom right button zooms back out restoring two fields with each press.
Using and viewing data on the ELEMNT was straight forward and user friendly, sometimes it takes a little while getting used to a new computer but I didn’t really get that with the ELEMNT, to manually record a lap the bottom left button is used, to scroll through screens the bottom right button is used, text notifications came through signalled by a beep and were easy to read. Map screens were clear as was the elevation data.
I left the auto pause feature on and when you stop at traffic lights you will get notified by a beep and screen message that the ELEMNT has auto paused, you can adjust these settings via the app.
The side LED’s are a nice feature and as mentioned above you can set them up to alert against either Speed, HR or power averages. When using the ELEMNT on an indoor trainer you can turn off the GPS from the top left menu button.
If you are riding with the ELEMNT paired to your phone via Bluetooth then your ride data will be syncing as you’re riding, once you finish and end the ride the data is available immediately on the app and within seconds to third party platforms like Strava and others, I found this the easiest and quickest way to upload rides, you can also upload rides via WiFi.
Since this review was first written Wahoo have announced that the ELEMNT now fully integrates with Strava Live Segments. All you need to do to start using the feature is star the segments within Strava that you want shown on the ELEMNT. The Wahoo ELEMNT app will upload those segments via WiFi to the ELEMNT bike computer and then your ready to ride, and segment hunt.
When you near any starred segment a special Strava Live Segment screen will notify you of the segment start, your progress within the segment and then your result once you finish the segment.
The Wahoo ELEMNT is one of the most advanced bike computers available right now, it’s Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ sensor and power meter capable, has smart notifications, mapping, live tracking, WiFi, automatic upload syncing with multiple platforms, IPX7 waterproofing, GLONASS GPS, EPS and Di2 compatible, smart trainer compatible and the list goes on.
You can view all the ELEMNT features in the table below plus a comparison to the Garmin Edge 520 and 1000.
|WAHOO GPS COMPUTER MODEL||WAHOO ELEMNT||GARMIN EDGE 520||GARMIN EDGE 1000|
|PHYSICAL AND PERFORMANCE|
|Physical dimensions (WxHxD)||57.5 x 90.5 x 21.2 mm||49 x 73 x 21 mm||58 x 112 x 20 mm|
|Display size, WxH||68.6mm (2.7″) diagonal||35 x 47 mm||39 x 65 mm|
|Display resolution, WxH||200 x 265 pixels||240 x 400 pixels|
|Weight||98 grams (3.5 oz)||60 grams||114.5 grams|
|Battery||USB Rechargeable||USB Rechargeable||USB Rechargeable|
|Battery life||17 hours||up to 15 hours||up to 15 hours|
|ANT+ Heart Rate Strap||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Cadence / Speed||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Power Meter||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)||Yes||Yes||No|
|Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Strap||Yes||No||No|
|Bluetooth Smart Cadence / Speed||Yes||No||No|
|Bluetooth Smart Power Meter||Yes||No||No|
|Power Meter Capable||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Recording Interval||1 Second||1 Second||1 Second|
|Display GPS & Sensor Data||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Control Music Playback||No||No||No|
|Mount||1/4 Turn (Unique)||1/4 Turn (Garmin)||1/4 Turn (Garmin)|
|Electronic Gear Shift Display||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Strava Live Segments||No||Yes||Yes|
|Accepts Data Cards||No||No||Yes|
|PRICE (head unit only)||WAHOO ELEMNT||GARMIN EDGE 520||GARMIN EDGE 1000|
To say I enjoyed riding with and using the Wahoo ELEMNT would be a massive understatement, it is a seriously impressive GPS bike computer that’s packed with features but is still user friendly and easy to set up. Forgetting about all of the technology packed in because that’s all covered in the sections above, the ELEMNT just feels right to use and it felt that way after only one or two rides. The user experience from setup to riding is first class with the ELEMNT.
The things that stood out with the ELEMNT were the app, the zoom in/out feature, the accuracy and the lack of dropouts with sensors and the ability to use both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart. The screen was easy to read and the buttons logical in their layout. I liked the overall size of the unit which was surprising because when I first used the ELEMNT I thought that would be a negative after using smaller form factor units for years.
My only real complaint and where I would mark the ELEMNT down a little would be the slightly boxy look, but that’s user preference. Likewise some will find the mapping not up to the standard of a Garmin 1000. I don’t really use map functions a lot but it would be a fair point. The lack of a colour touchscreen will be a factor for some but I have only ever seen one touchscreen done right on a bike computer so again, it’s not an issue for me.
The Wahoo ELEMNT is priced only slightly above an Edge 520 and quite a bit lower than the 1000 or where the new Edge 820 will be so there are no real complaints with the pricing, technically the Garmin Edge 520 is more advanced but then the ELEMNT does other things better.
After a couple of weeks riding the Wahoo ELEMNT I could hardly fault it at all, I loved it and if you’re thinking of getting one then I highly recommend the Wahoo ELEMNT.
Thanks to Wahoo for sending me out a demo unit to test.