Review: 500 miles with the Wahoo Elemnt GPS computer
Wahoo, with the release of their eminently connectable Elemnt bike computer are setting their sights on disrupting the market in a similar vain to what they’ve achieved with their Kickr indoor trainer.
Prior to the Transatlantic Way race around Ireland I’ve started using an Elemnt, with its first outing being a ride to Scotland.
I’ve cobbled together some initial impressions of the device, warts and all, and some of the things I’d like to see come from Wahoo in future firmware upgrades.
First up is the screen, at first it seems strange to be going to a black and white screen after coming from colour, especially at this price point, but the screen is super visible and crisp in a wide range of lighting conditions which to me more than makes up for the snazzy colours.
Setup is simple, I paired the Elemnt to my smartphone and did the donkey work from the handset, which then transferred the data via bluetooth to the phone – neat!
Starting a ride and in-ride use is simple and intuitive i think. There are very few buttons to press and cycle through for the screens, this is obviously a good/bad thing depending on your viewpoint – I like it for how easy it is, it should be mentioned that the buttons can be quite stiff, the device needs to be located so that is has easy access to the buttons, particularly on the side.
Within a few moments of riding an LED will light up on the left hand side. Its default setting is to monitor average speed, with a series of 5 blue, or 5 yellow LEDs indicating if you are above or below that speed, and by how much. I loved this feature, I felt it really encouraging to help me ride either at the appropriate speed (or a little faster). It came in particularly helpful at night where I was able to monitor my speed just by checking on the LEDs – the lights can be setup to monitor average speed, heart rate or power.
Mapping for me can be a fairly major piece of the GPS puzzle, and it is here that the Elemnt does OK, but only OK. The Elemnt has a world map on it by default, as opposed to country or city maps of it’s competitors. Getting routes on the device is great, all taken care of wirelessly from a variety of apps such as Ride with GPS or strava. But, and this may be a big but, it can’t route on the fly – so if you are in the middle of nowhere and need to get around a diversion you may struggle somewhat.
Also, hand in hand with the mapping comes the directions. As I write there are no turn-by-turn routing options, instead you follow a black arrow on the screen. It would be good to see turn-by-turn making an appearance at some point as it really should be there for a device at this price. Having to keep the map screen on is a little tiresome, and relying on some red LEDs at the top of the device to tell you you have gone wrong seems to be less than optimal.
Having said all that about the mapping though, I must admit it wasn’t the end of the world going to Scotland following the routing, I guess to some extent it was just different to the norm.
In use the device is clear and easy to read, has a reasonable battery life (with a very fast charge time), and provides a good range of data with minimal fuss. I’m not entirely convinced by the mapping functionality yet, but at the same time it’s certainly good enough to use for the Transatlantic Way where i’m following a set route.
I will carry on with testing and report back in a couple of thousand more miles.