The Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is aerodynamically designed bike computer and takes it to Garmin's Edge 520 Plus in a way that should make the company squirm - this is one of the best bike computers (opens in new tab) for doing it all.
The Wahoo Elemnt Bolt has the stand out feature of being aerodynamic, much like the design found on Wahoo's best bike trainers (opens in new tab). In fact the company says its 50% more aerodynamically efficient than the direct competitor in Garmin's Edge 520 Plus. That drag reduction could be a big appeal to serious riders that have already invested in the best kit to keep weight and drag down.
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt: What you need to know
This is a button based head unit, rather than touchscreen. It also uses a monochrome display rather than color. So if either of those display choices aren't for you then you may want to look at the Elemnt Roam that offers color but no touchscreen or Garmin Edge 830 that has both.
The Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is built to work with most sensors, offers superb smartphone functionality and works with the likes of Strava making this easy to transition to from your phone or another bike computer. It's the same attention to detail found on Wahoo's contribution to the world's best exercise bikes (opens in new tab), the Wahoo Kickr Bike.
So is the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt the best bike computer for you? We drill down into the detail for you below.
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt: Design and build
- 20-hour battery
- 2.2oz weight
- 2.2-inch screen
The Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is aerodynamic - yes we've said that already. But why is that 50 percent reduction in drag good? Wahoo claims that in a 40km time trial, riding at 21mph, that could save you over 12 seconds. Every little bit counts.
The head unit is compact with its 2.2-inch display and minimal 2.2oz weight, one of the smallest and lightest out there to cram in as many features as this manages. This also, uniquely to Wahoo, features two LED strips that can be customized using the app for alerts at-a-glance as you need.
The buttons are chunky and responsive, there's also a lot of them. The front three give you basic menu controls while side buttons are used for power, menu select and up and down which is great for changing display size and metrics on screen or zooming maps. Talking of which, the display is able to show 11 data points at once while staying clear.
The Bolt is compatible with ANT+, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for smartphone and sensors connections. Battery life is up to 20 hours with the LEDs off.
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt: Features and connectivity
- Turn-by-turn navigation mapping
- Strava Live Segments functionality
- Kickr control
- LED alerts
The Wahoo Elemnt Bolt might have a black and white display but that doesn't stop it from offering turn-by-turn navigation mapping. The display also crams in lots of data metrics and can be controlled via a smartphone. In fact, for initial setup, you have to use a smartphone - which is easier and updates in real-time.
LED strips are used to notify you of things like speed, pace and heart rate dipping below or being above your average for at-a-glance training while keeping the map central on the screen.
Strava Segment chasing is an option on the Bolt as is uploading of routes for navigation. You can also upload training plans from the likes of TrainingPeaks and Today's Plan if you have subscriptions, but also free workouts from Sky are available to use. You can also upload Take Me Anywhere routes from the Wahoo Elemnt companion app or via Komoot and Ride With GPS routes.
Link this up to your Kickr and you can train indoors seamlessly, tracking and logging your ride as you would if out on the roads.
The Bolt is well connected with plenty of wireless options that should mean this works with nearly all sensors and meters that you could want to connect.
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt: Performance
- Superb data display
- Decent mapping navigation
- Great battery life
The Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is a serious performer on the roads thanks to a fantastic combination of screen, battery and buttons. The screen is not only clear but also easy to control for clear data at a glance. Tap the zoom in and out buttons and data fields are added or removed - it's a great way to zip between readouts without needing to create new pages. Also excellent is notification display which appears as a new field added at the bottom, rather than popping up over the bottom third and losing readings as it does with Garmin.
The buttons make everything easy to navigate and attention to detail here is great. For right handed riders the zoom in and out side buttons are available on that side leaving your other hand on the front brake rather than the rear - a great safety detail when you're focused on the head unit and not the road.
Battery life is great with that 20 hour claim certainly being within reach on a ride. Add in sensors and activate those LEDs and you're likely to lower that a chunk to nearer 15 hours but it's still an all-day battery for most rides.
The display's brightness and clarity are excellent - noticeably better than the Garmin 520 Plus. This is the case without the need for a lot of backlight thanks to the great contrast. Perhaps this is one of the ways that helps the Bolt beat the Edge 520 Plus in battery performance.
Navigation is clear but the lack of color on the screen does make it a little less clear than it could be. That said the chevron style route marking is clear until you get into busy streets but even then the buttons make zooming in easy. Turn notifications are nice and early, somehow earlier than the Edge 520 Plus, which is helpful. Combined with the LEDs lighting from left to right if you're turning right and you've got a really intuitive navigation system.
Should I buy the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt?
The Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is a super powerful bike computer that offers most features for a relatively low price. If you want great connectivity for sensors and meters as well as fast data uploads, this is perfect. Also, if you need a clear and crisp display that offers lots of information and is easily controlled then you're all set here.
If you want a color display or touch controls then you may have to spend a bit more to get what you're after without sacrificing all the navigation and riding features the Bolt offers.
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt: Verdict
The Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is a solid cycle computer with aerodynamic advantages along with great button controls, superb battery life, an intuitive app and decent turn-by-turn navigation. The breadth of connectivity is a huge appeal as are the Kickr and Strava compatibility.
Short of a color screen and touch controls this has most of what anyone could want without a steep price tag. This is, for the range it sits in, one of the best bike computers out there right now.