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Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review

Perennial bike computer fave the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt gets a revamp

Wahoo Elemnt Bolt
(Image: © Wahoo)

Our Verdict

You’ll need to spend more money to own the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, but there are enough improvements here to justify the extra outlay. The GPS unit has been tweaked cosmetically, but it’s the addition of colour to the screen along with improved graphics that make the biggest difference overall. Expect much more intuitive guidance on-the-go too thanks to automatic rerouting, which is a definite bonus, while other revisions such as the better physical buttons, increased storage and USB-C charging bring the Elemnt Bolt bang up to date.

For

  • Improved screen
  • Smart navigation
  • 16GB free memory

Against

  • Buttons still quite hard to push
  • Pricier than the old unit
  • Screen area fairly small

Two-minute review

Whether you're riding a conventional or electric bike, the second-generation Wahoo Elemnt Bolt GPS bike computer addresses most of the issues that took the edge off its predecessor, which first appeared back in 2017. Most notably, you’re getting a much-improved screen with crisp and clean color features that make it infinitely more readable.

Getting to grips with the unit is easier too as the features and functions are more easily reached, navigation is more intuitive while the physical buttons on the front of the Elemnt Bolt have also been improved. You’ll certainly appreciate the automatic re-routing while you’re out on a ride, and the clarity of maps on the 2.2-inch screen is way better than it used to be.

Wahoo Elemnt Bolt

(Image credit: Wahoo)

We also appreciated the subtle tweaks to the body of the unit, there’s a sizeable 16GB chunk of memory available and the whole device seems sprightlier thanks to boosted processing power. While it retains long battery life, just like its predecessor, the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt can also be charged more efficiently thanks to USB-C connectivity. The price has gone up, but the improvements help to justify that increase.

Price and availability

The Wahoo Elemnt Bolt bike computer is available now and costs $279.99 / £249.99 / AU$419.95.

Design

The outgoing version of the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt was OK, but it was also let down by some niggling features that tended to spoil the overall device. Wahoo has addressed them this time around, with the screen being the main improvement. This time out you get crisper, cleaner fonts that are way more legible than before, even though all of the action is still squeezed into the dinky 2.2-inch screen. The addition of an ambient light sensor now means visibility of the 64-colour display automatically adjusts to suit conditions too. There’s Gorilla Glass as standard along with improved IPX7 water resistance.

Complementing that is the row of buttons along the bottom of the unit, which are now much easier to use, especially if you’ve got gloves on. They’re still not perfect, but it’s a definite step in the right direction.

Wahoo Elemnt Bolt

(Image credit: Wahoo)

The overall form factor of the revised Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is essentially the same, although there have been some minor tweaks to boost the aerodynamic properties of the unit. It’s a lot more compact than Wahoo’s larger Elemnt Roam model, so will suit riders who prefer a less obtrusive computer on their handlebars and weighs just 68g. The strip of LED lights along the top of the unit remain basically the same as those on the older model, which is one thing that worked perfectly and deserved to be retained.

Once you start exploring the menus and functionality there are other neat touches too, with for example, re-routing now available directly on the device, rather than relying on your tethered smartphone.

Of course, the whole package works that much better if you use it in tandem with the Wahoo app, especially when it comes to fine-tuning of the device. There’s also the stockpile of world maps too, which can be added to the unit depending on where it is you’re cycling.

Adding to the list of improvements is a chunky quota of storage – 16GB in all compared to 3GB previously – which means that combined with the speedier processing capability of this version the Elemnt Bolt is much more potent than before. Considering what Wahoo has done with the computer you’d expect it to suffer a more rapid battery drain, but that’s still said to be around 15-hours, which is good enough for a day’s cycling and, perhaps, more besides. The USB-C connector is a bonus too, compared to the less efficient microUSB of old.

Setup

Setting up the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt GPS bike computer is a breeze and once of the most appealing things about it. All you need to do is unpack it from the box, download and install the app on your smartphone, switch on Bluetooth and follow the steps from there. We scanned the QR code, which gets you off to an accelerated start after you’ve powered up the unit. Once the computer has paired with your smartphone you simply follow the onscreen instructions. You may also get a firmware update notification too, which you’ll want to do in order to keep things up to date.

Wahoo Elemnt Bolt

(Image credit: Wahoo)

The same goes for pairing sensors really, you just follow the prompts and the unit does most of the work. In terms of physical setup then there’s an out-front mount included, which is compatible with 31.8mm handlebars and requires a 3mm Allen key to fit. There’s also a stem mount in the box if you prefer to go down that route.

Similarly, the physical controls on the unit don't take much in the way of exploration. There’s a power/menu button on the left side of the unit, smart buttons along the bottom of the screen, which change function depending on the screen being shown while a page over button is at the far right of the trio. You can scroll up and down using the two buttons on the right-hand side of the unit.

It’s well worth exploring the app throughout too, as there are oodles of control options available. You’ve got core menus along the bottom, including Workout, History, Profile and Settings, with the latter allowing you to fine-tune the software and GPS computer to your requirements. History is great as it lets you track all of your routes and rides, compare data and see your progress. Similarly, Profile lets you take a deep dive into Power Zones and Heart Rate Zones as well as personalising the Elemnt Bolt to match your own age, physical make-up and so on. As you’d expect, the Workout area contains routes and planned workouts so that you can tie it all together to produce a complete set of tracking data.

User experience

The smart navigation is just that too, providing you with lots of assistance should you stray off a route as the device will get you back on track dynamically and without fuss. The unit is also great for doing those everyday things that crop up during a day’s cycling, with the option to change destination, get a route back to the start of your ride or simply backtrack over a favourite section within the space of a few seconds. Better still, the bulk of the process can be done via the unit, which is made all the more easier by those improved buttons. We still think they’re a little tricky to use, especially if you’ve got large fingers and gloves on. Nevertheless, practice does end up getting around this minor issue.

Wahoo Elemnt Bolt

(Image credit: Wahoo)

Wahoo’s supporting app is a key part of the user experience and really helps to compliment the GPS computer. It’s also your starting point for much of what happens on the unit too. The turn-by-turn navigation is largely excellent, with both upcoming notifications of turns lying ahead as well as pop-up and LED notifications from the row of lights across the top of the unit.

Once you’ve got your maps onto the unit that display really comes alive with a much more dynamic experience on offer compared to the older model. In fact, it’s central to the whole experience, which is way more immersive than it was before.

We also loved the ease with which it's possible to integrate third-party software services, such as those offered by Strava, TrainingPeaks and Komoot. Strava Live works to great effect too, which combined with the ability to connect a wireless sensor such as a heart rate monitor to the setup offers a comprehensive way of keeping tabs on your cycling.

Putting it all together and hitting the road for a trial run we found that the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt was way better than the outgoing model. While that used to deliver turn-by-turn navigation this new edition is much more joined up and fluid.

Buy it if

You loved the original Wahoo Elemnt Bolt
This revised model takes that and turns a good bike GPS computer into a great one.

You’re after simplicity
Setup is a piece of cake, and once you’ve got the app and computer running in harmony the ease of use makes this a particularly appealing bit of kit.

You want a more dynamic experience
The Elemnt Bolt is now much more immersive and you’ll revel in the colour and clarity of that improved screen.

Don't buy it if

You won't use it enough to justify the expense
This isn’t a cheap bike computer and while it’s very good you’ll want to get frequent use out of it in order to get best value.

You prefer a little more screen real estate
The 2.2-inch screen is much improved but still quite small. If you like the brand then consider the larger Elemnt Roam.

You’ve got huge hands
You might find its small size and those dinky buttons make operating it during a day out cycling trickier than anticipated.