Since its launch in May, we’ve never ventured out without the Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM GPS bike computer. Now it’s time for our verdict: will the ELEMNT ROAM let you leave your smartphone at home? And how useful are the GPS device’s features in everyday use?
With the Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM the world of Wahooligans has become a lot more colourful! For the first time, Wahoo have given one of their GPS devices a colour display. Following on from the ELEMNT BOLT and ELEMNT (Classic), the new ELEMNT ROAM features lots of technical innovations, with a particular focus on intelligent navigation. Just like your car’s in-built navigation, the ROAM promises route finding, including turn by turn instructions, without the use of your smartphone. Getting sidetracked or exploring new roads shouldn’t be a problem either, with the new “Back on Track” re-routing function helping you find your way back to your planned route. When connected wirelessly to a smartphone the ROAM shows what it’s capable of. You can let your loved ones at home know where you are via the live track function, LEDs and display messages can signal incoming calls/emails and you can easily sync the device with Strava, Komoot and a selection of other third-party providers. The battery is claimed to last up to 17 hours, with the brightness of the display automatically adjusted via ambient light sensors. With a multitude of wireless connectivity options (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ANT+), you can also pair it with a rear radar and indoor trainer. In addition to the worldwide map and predefined training plans saved on the device, we wouldn’t have been surprised if it had had a camera and a Netflix app given how many functions it offers!
How does the ELEMNT ROAM differ from the ELEMNT BOLT and ELEMNT?
|Device||ELEMNT ROAM||ELEMNT BOLT||ELEMNT|
|Price||€ 349.99||€ 219.99||€ 279.99|
|Weight||93 g||62 g||102 g|
|Dimensions||89 x 54,4 x 17,8 mm||74,6 x 47,3 x 22,1 mm||90,5 x 57,5 x 21,2 mm|
|Display type||Colour||Black and white||Black and white|
|Internal storage capacity||2.78 GB||2.78 GB||2.78 GB|
|Customisable LED lights||centrally on top and on the left||centrally on top||centrally on top and on the left|
|Ambient light sensor||yes||no||no|
|Optional safety loop||yes||yes||no|
|Wi-Fi network connectivity||2.4 GHz, 5 GHz possible||2.4 GHz, 5 GHz possible||2.4 GHz only|
|Turn by turn navigation||Komoot, Ride With GPS, Strava, any other navigation app||Komoot, Ride With GPS||Komoot, Ride With GPS|
|Re-routing function in the event of a deviation||yes||no||no|
|Navigation to the start of the route||yes||no||no|
|Route planning||on device and via app||via app||via app|
|Battery life according to the manufacturer||up to 17 h||up to 15 h||up to 17 h|
The main differences between the three Wahoo bike computers are summarised in the table above. The ROAM and the ELEMNT have the same display size and are very similar in size and weight. The smaller BOLT isn’t just shorter and narrower but also significantly lighter. However, its stated battery life is also 10% less. The Wahoo ROAM is the only device with a colour display, ambient light sensor and integrated navigation features that can be used directly on the device, as well as offering extended app compatibility. However, if you can do without those features, it’s worth taking a closer look at the two previous models. Depending on your needs, you can get the smaller and lighter Wahoo BOLT or the equally sized but significantly more affordable Wahoo ELEMNT, both of which are only a little less featured than the ROAM.
The Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM on test
As we’ve come to expect from Wahoo, the new ELEMNT ROAM is elegantly designed. The build quality is very high and the buttons around the sides (on/off button on the left, up/down buttons on the right) are easy to use. Unfortunately, the three buttons below the display are a bit more difficult. Recessed into the housing and sloping down towards the display, to operate them you have to press them at the lowest point which is only really possible with your fingernails. Using them with gloves can be a struggle. The included computer mount could only convince us to a limited extent at first. It broke after just a few rides, though Wahoo said that this problem was limited to the first devices. They have made improvements and all devices sold since the launch are said to have been delivered with the new mount. We’ve had no problems with the new bracket and the handlebar clamp is nice and secure too. It doesn’t rattle or vibrate and is sufficiently stiff for the ROAM. However, if you’re looking for something more visually appealing, you should consider the beautiful K-EDGE Wahoo Aero ROAM Mount: it looks good and performs just as well. In contrast to the standard mount, the K-EDGE bracket is mounted on the right side of the stem and not on the left, so depending on your cockpit configuration, you have some options here.
The screen of the ELEMNT ROAM is high-contrast and the display is legible even in direct sunlight thanks to the anti-glare matt surface. At 2.7”, the display is slightly larger than that of its in-house competitors, offering a good compromise between compact dimensions and a comprehensive data overview. A narrower bezel with a larger display would have been an even more elegant solution. The different coloured paths and streets are a nice feature and help with clarity, especially in situations that only allow for a brief glance at the device. Equally, this wasn’t really a deal breaker on the previous models. In general the map is excellent for road/gravel riding, though the more complex map of the Garmin Edge 1030 may be a better alternative for exploration. However, the maps on the Garmin also take significantly longer to load. In our tests, the battery life of the ELEMNT ROAM lasted for about 14 hours with turn-by-turn navigation. Here, temperature, the use of the LEDs on the side, sound and display lighting all have a major effect on battery life. One thoughtful feature means that if the battery runs out and the device automatically switches off, you won’t lose your data. The recorded ride is saved and can be synchronised with your smartphone/computer after powering the device back up. The customisable display fields are equally practical and you can display up to eleven data points simultaneously.
Connecting the device with your smartphone is easy, intuitive and fast. Wahoo have always been good at making this seamless and the American brand continues to shine in this area. Connecting with other Bluetooth devices, such as heart rate, speed and power meters, is quick and trouble-free via the app. The slow and complicated Take Me To feature (automatic route calculation) on the device itself is only recommended in case of an emergency and you’ll have an easier time planning your routes on your smartphone. Note: if you enter a destination on the Wahoo app on your phone, you can’t choose whether you’re riding a road bike or MTB, so you may end up riding trails on your road bike! The Back on Track function does its job satisfactorily, but doesn’t do much more than suggest the most logical option to get back on track. The small internal storage space of only 2 GB just isn’t acceptable in 2019/2020, especially given that the ROAM doesn’t even have an additional SD card slot. The available storage space is barely enough for rides in the Alpine tripoint or on Alpine crossings. On longer rides through several countries, the maps have to be swapped out as you go. While this can be done quickly and easily via the app, it also requires a correspondingly good internet connection. The map for Germany alone is 1.14 GB! The GPS accuracy of the ROAM is the same as that of the BOLT and ELEMNT. Accuracy may suffer when you’re riding in a low valley with lots of trees, but that’s a problem inherent to all GPS devices available on the market.
Our tips for maximum battery life with Wahoo GPS devices
- disable backlight
- disable LEDs
- for indoor training deactivate GPS
- if you know the route don’t use turn-by-turn navigation
- don’t connect your smartphone while riding or at least deactivate notifications for incoming calls/messages
- on very long rides, you can strap a narrow power bank under the handlebars and plug it into the Wahoo device as it can be charged during operation
- we only recommend charging with a power bank, not directly from your dynamo (in case you have one)
Our conclusion on the Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM
No question, the Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM is a fun gadget! The new, high-contrast colour display is easy to read and the wireless connectivity performs convincingly. We still don’t recommend you leave your smartphone at home though as the integrated routing function on the ROAM is rather complicated and the device doesn’t have enough storage space for detailed maps. The ROAM still works well for road and gravel, but it may quickly limit you on longer adventures. If you don’t absolutely need a colour display, you may be better off going with the more affordable alternatives.
- high-contrast display
- easy-to-read display
- seamless connectivity with smartphone and sensors
- selecting your destination on the device is complicated
- buttons under the display are more difficult to use than its predecessor
- storage space is very limited
Tested by Ben, Philipp, Robin, Valentin
Duration 10 months
Price € 349.99
Weight 93 g
For more information visit wahoofitness.com
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Words: Photos: Benjamin Topf, Philipp Schwab