While Wahoo claims its new Elemnt Bolt GPS computer and sculpted mount are aerodynamically superior to the comparably sized Garmin Edge 520 and 820 with their respective mounts, the real selling points for me are the Bolt’s easy-but-robust functionality, compact size, killer battery life (triple the Edge computers when using navigation, in my experience) and decent price.
Highs: Easy set up and on-the-fly adjustments to what you see on the screen; best-in-class battery life; easy-to-read screen; ANT+, Bluetooth and WiFi; aero design; competitive price
Lows: Black-and-white maps and navigation aren’t as robust as Garmin’s; can’t import workouts (yet); requires iPhone or Android smartphone for some set-up steps
Buy if: You want a full-featured (and aero!) GPS computer with excellent battery life that doesn’t cost the earth, and you aren’t married to Garmin
The Bolt has all the normal metrics and variations on speed, time, distance, power, heart rate, elevation, etc., plus integration with a host of devices, from your smartphone and WiFi to eTap and the Moxy oxygenation sensor.
The Elemnt Bolt offers turn-by-turn navigation, Strava Live Segments, Live Track and a feature called ‘take me anywhere’ where you use your phone to search out a destination while out on a ride and then the Elemnt Bolt guides you there.
The Elemnt Bolt is easily configured with a smartphone app (iPhone or Android). Instead of punching a slew of buttons on a computer, you just use your familiar phone to tap and drag which data you want where and in what order.
The Bolt does have physical buttons, though. Two zoom buttons on the Bolt’s right side serve not only for the map and elevation profile, but to increase or decrease the number of fields on any given data screen.
Three buttons on the face serve for basic functions like start, stop, select, dismiss, and a left-side button serves for power and to get into the Bolt’s settings. The Bolt is quite similar to the original Elemnt in this way — just smaller, and with a single line of LEDs along the top instead of LEDs along the top and the left side.
Garmin maintains an edge (excuse the pun) over the Elemnt Bolt in terms of presentation of navigation, with a detailed color screen. Bolt displays routes from Strava Routes with a highlighted line on the map and blinking LEDs when you go off course, but turn-by-turn functionality requires use of a route from Ride with GPS or Komoots.
Garmin also lets you import interval workouts to follow with helpful graphics, which the Elemnt Bolt does not — yet.
But all in all, the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is a better value proposition than the Edge 520 or the Edge 820 in an easy-to-use design. The one catch is that you have to be a smartphone user…