Biking Review technology Travel

Wahoo ELEMNT Review: Bike Navigation On Road and Off

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Datavores rejoice! Digital reams of biking metrics are delivered to your handlebars with the Wahoo ELEMNT bike pc. On this assessment, we give attention to the ELEMNT’s utility for bikepacking and route navigation.

The sky turned inky grey after a really, very lengthy collection of days within the saddle. I’ve already pushed, pedaled, and muscled my bike greater than 370 miles. I’ve received one other 50 to go earlier than I attain the end line. After hours of monitoring cloverleaf loops on deserted mining roads, my Wahoo tells me to show downhill in the direction of an enormous inexperienced gate — and across the signal that prominently shouts, “Road Closed.”

“Yeah,” I inform my associate, “we’re on the right path.”

Yup, that’s our route

This summer time, I tackled my first bikepack race, 420 miles on distant Idaho gravel and wispy trails. The race director offered a turn-by-turn cue sheet to navigate the course, beginning and ending at my native neighborhood pub.

I’m an analog sort of man, so I printed the notes and tucked them in my bibs. I then downloaded the GPX file for the route, strapped the Wahoo ELEMNT to my bars, and held on tight as I adopted the mammoth loop by means of central Idaho.

Wahoo ELEMNT Bike Pc Evaluate

Wa-Who?

Garmin almost owns the bike pc market. However it isn’t the one child on the town. Atlanta-based Wahoo made its splash in biking by way of the favored KICKR bike coach. However it shortly introduced its tech outdoors when it added bike computer systems and a number of sensors to trace coronary heart fee, cadence, energy, and extra.

The ELEMNT represents Wahoo’s top-tier bike pc within the collection of three (the BOLT and the lately launched MINI spherical out the suite).

Wahoo ELEMNT

  • Specs
    • Display measurement: 2.7 in.
    • Weight: three.5 oz.
    • Battery life: 17 hours (reported); 15 hours (examined); rechargeable
    • LED lights
    • Waterproof: Down to five ft.
    • Shockproof: Sure
  • Connectivity
    • BTLE sensors: HR, velocity, cadence, energy
    • ANT+ sensors: HR, velocity, cadence, energy, digital shifting, muscle oxygen
    • Wi-Fi: Sure
    • Cellular compatibility: iOS, Android
  • Satellites
    • GPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU Galileo, QZSS
  • Worth

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When creating a motorcycle pc, Wahoo understood the challenges of competing with sensible units. From superior retinal shows to touchscreens and colourful interfaces, manufacturers make investments billions of dollars to make telephones and different cellular units snappy and environment friendly.

So as an alternative of making an attempt to rebuild what’s already nice, Wahoo leveraged the strengths of the cellular gadget (like contact interface navigation), made integration a snap, and targeted on making a motorcycle pc that’s strong, easy to make use of, and supplies heaps of knowledge.

With connectivity to energy meters and a set of sensors, the ELEMNT can deal with a great deal of stated knowledge, which is beneficial for bikepacking and route navigation.

Out of the Field

settingsOpen the field, and you’ll discover the gadget packaged with a handful of zip ties, a micro-USB cable, and three units of mounts to swap amongst a secure of bikes: time trial aerobars, an out-front mount, and a easy stem mount.

What you gained’t discover is an instruction guide. That’s as a result of the ELEMNT is very easy to arrange it doesn’t want one. Whereas that’s a daring assertion by the model, it proved true.

As an alternative, customers obtain the Wahoo ELEMNT app, flip the gadget on, and scan the QR code with a smartphone. Presto, the ELEMNT is activated.

As soon as activated, managing routes, making a profile, customizing shows, pairing with sensors, linking accounts — almost all the things — is completed by way of the ELEMNT app. And the app repeatedly pushes updates, so allow Wi-Fi to benefit from the newest firmware. This additionally helps maintain your route library updated.

Wahoo ELEMNT Controls

With the heavy setup carry accomplished on the telephone, settings mechanically sync to the ELEMNT by way of Bluetooth. The ELEMNT has six push buttons that proved straightforward to navigate and toggle whereas sporting gloves.

A single button on the left powers up the ELEMNT. And two (up and down) buttons on the suitable perform as zoom management, toggling by way of deep knowledge screens and a map scale.

Wahoo_buttons

Lastly, three buttons on the underside function main cockpit controls. These permit the consumer to entry route historical past, begin and cease rides, and toggle between map, gradient, and metrics fields whereas within the saddle.

My favourite display shortly turned the elevation profile, which not solely exhibits the elevation climbed, but in addition the elevation forward. Massive image, it sheds perspective on how climbs examine from one to the subsequent.

Getting Began

RwGPS_shotCreate your route utilizing a mapping software program, like Journey with GPS

To plan a route, you’ll both have to create a brand new route or import an present route via a linked mapping account. Wahoo syncs with the heavy hitters, together with Strava, Komoot, and Journey with GPS (advisable).

When you authorize a mapping account (and sync the ELEMNT to Wi-Fi), account routes seamlessly sync by way of Bluetooth via your telephone. I discovered that activating lengthy routes (like my 400-mile bikepack course) or choosing programs on the fly proved slightly laggy.

Wahoo-Routes2Approved mapping apps routinely sync with a smartphone. To push a path to the ELEMNT, press “Select Route” on the gadget; routes mechanically save to the ELEMNT.

The ELEMNT harnesses OpenStreetMap (OSM), displaying roads and extra outstanding trails, however no topography.

Wahoo ELEMNT Show

The grayscale OSM maps appeared a bit spartan at first. I hoped to see some topography mapping, perhaps in shade. However for readability, the monotone palette communicates instructions shortly, and over time I started to understand the simplicity.

Wahoo_routeOn route (left), darkish chevron arrows level the best way. Off route (proper), trails and roads are seen. However until you recognize the place you’re going, the ELEMNT gained’t direct you again on track.

A collection of darkish chevron arrowheads level you towards the route course, and miles consumed flip to a strong darkish line. Prime and aspect LEDs draw the rider’s consideration to approaching turns and affirm if you find yourself on (or off) route.

ELEMNT Route Discovering

On the planet of the ELEMNT, a route is a direct line between factors a and b. The ELEMNT acknowledges that there are peripheral roads, however the display won’t scale past the “route.” So by its calculations, you’re both on route or off. There isn’t a in between.

Pedaling on target? The ELEMNT flashes inexperienced as you move an intersection. Took a improper flip? The ELEMNT flashes purple for those who missed the right route.

GASCH_NICA_4191-1600x1066Rerouting on the fly in Nicaragua. Photograph used with permission: Marc Gasch

Do you have to veer far off target, the ELEMNT gained’t assist you navigate one other approach again on track. For that, you’ll need to get resourceful to work round.

Working example: On a recon experience in Nicaragua final spring, my driving companions and I discovered that not all roads on our maps turned out as predicted. Sometimes, we had to decide on an alternate route that pulled us off the Wahoo route. To pedal us via the crux, we used an offline map app, MapOut, as a “traditional” map. This helped us navigate again onto the unchanged Wahoo route.

Alternatively, in case you’re predisposed to curiosity and exploring the place the street might deliver you, eschew the Wahoo’s “route” and convey a map. Then, press the beginning button to document the route. If you’re again residence, you’ll be able to obtain and analyze to your coronary heart’s content material.

Charging the Wahoo ELEMNT

Wahoo claims the ELEMNT holds a cost for 17 hours. In my expertise (whereas crunching by means of map knowledge), this was a bit formidable. I discovered that 15 hours was extra correct. Regardless, you’ll want a backup energy provide for those who pedal a number of days on the street.

However what the Wahoo lacks in battery life it makes up for in flexibility. The ELEMNT can cost whereas navigating. Pedaling into the night time, I related the micro-USB to the underside of the ELEMNT and to a transportable energy financial institution stowed in my feed bag. With a spare energy supply, the ELEMNT stayed charged for all the 70 hours.

Wahoo ELEMNT: What We Favored

Setup. Getting began with the ELEMNT is extremely easy.

Usability. The ELEMNT leverages a cellphone to carry all that we love about our cellular units. It places the uncooked bolts of navigation, sturdiness, and metrics on a easy, easy-to-read gadget.

Tactile buttons. The button interface performs nicely with gloved palms.

Wahoo_turn-by-turn

ELEMNT App. Wahoo’s companion app is straightforward to make use of and repeatedly up to date.

Sturdiness. The ELEMNT is waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof.

Costs on the fly. This can be a should for longer rides.

Knowledge fields. The ELEMNT supplies heaps of knowledge for the coaching nerd. Fields may be decreased for studying easy visible cues.

Robust sign. With 4 satellites guiding the best way, I by no means dropped a sign, even inside slender canyons and underneath deep forest cover.

OSM maps. I didn’t like these at first. I assumed they have been too easy and I needed extra visible knowledge. However after driving with it for some time, I turned a convert. It’s the correct quantity of navigation knowledge you want.

Flip-by-turn navigation. This digital cue sheet actually got here in useful.

What We Didn’t Like

No map view. Whereas OSM maps are included, they’re robust to discover. Vast-angle views shortly lose element. Until you’re on a prescribed route, it’s robust to determine the place you’re on the ‘”map.”

No off-course navigation. The ELEMNT exhibits the paths, however until you might have these trails saved as a route, it gained’t inform you which street or path to take.

Sluggish startup. Activating a route on the fly takes time, particularly for lengthy routes with heavy information.

Touchscreen show. However on this day and age, I kind of anticipate it.

Lack of colour. Similar expectations, however when you study to learn the black-and-white maps, the visible load is straightforward to interpret.

Parting Ideas on the Wahoo ELEMNT

Wahoo’s ELEMNT is an easy, easy-to-use system that enhances the biking expertise. Gone are the times of stopping at each cut up within the street to examine (and double-check) if I’m on the proper route.

The ELEMNT app and integration with the smartphone makes route creation and navigation a snap. However it’s not with out error. As soon as off track, the lack to navigate again on track is the device’s Achilles heel. However updates are common, and maybe this too will ultimately discover its means onto the ELEMNT.

And as for these cue sheets? These stayed tucked away in my bibs. And the telephone stayed on airplane mode for many of my race. I solely pulled it out for the occasional image and to textual content to my spouse.

The Wahoo, although, was a reliable associate that helped me keep on the right track late into the night time, all the best way to the end line. And that’s exactly the place the ELEMNT shines.

By Steve Graepel

Contributing Editor (and Gear Junkie Idaho Bureau Chief) Steve Graepel is allegedly a criminal and a thief, conning his pals to steal away time from their households in pursuit of premeditated leisure, which usually includes a motorcycle, a pack-raft, skis, trainers, climbing rack, or all the above.

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