Wahoo Elemnt

Please be fair and thoughtful in your opinions. No rants please.
Psamathe
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Wahoo Elemnt

Postby Psamathe » 18 Sep 2018, 10:34pm

Following my 2 month France/Belgium/Germany/Netherlands tour, the 1st part of which was navigated using a Wahoo Elemnt, below my experiences with the device and why I'd never touch one again.

Issues (issue 4 was the major reason I arranged a full refund and purchased a different device part way through the tour)

Route Line Fails To Display
It gave up drawing the route line on the screen. Still gave off-track warnings, etc, but no route line for you to see. After a few days and a factory reset that returned.

Unable To Load Routes
Suddenly unable to load any routes. Spent an entire afternoon trying to load route for following day but finally gave up when virtually out of battery power. Even functionality in the device “Take me there” stopped working. Signs were it was Wahoo’s infrastructure not working. Contacted Wahoo and after a few days “we’re working on it” and a few days later “it’s working again”. But several days unable to load routes whilst on tour is a more than significant failure of their systems.

False Off-Track Warnings
Suddenly kept giving off-track warnings when I was clearly on-track (exactly following their route line). Eventually got so frustrated at the distraction hard rebooted and the issue cleared.

Failure To Draw Underlying Map Properly (the worst of the issues)
Worst bug of all started at Saint Quentin (France) and continued north through Belgium - it gave-up drawing large sections of the underlying map. You’d be on breadcrumbs for about half the screen (occasionally no route line - see one of photos below). Sometimes repeatedly pressing the Page button would make it redraw correctly, sometimes not. I had my sense of humour failure with the device on my 3rd time round a busy roundabout cobbled surface in an impatient French town on Sat mid morning, frantically pressing Page to find which exit I needed. The failure to draw a complete map is far worse in complex street areas (towns, just when you really need it). Having been in software development for many years using small weedy processors it has all the signs of a software bug caused by limited processor power (or limited storage access speed). This issue persisted and made the device worse than useless. Factory resets, re-boots, etc. all failed to fix it. Once the issue started it was happening most of the time (i.e. every few miles so you might get a couple of miles ok, then a mile with much of map blanked out). Re-boots and factory resets made no difference. Photos of the display showing this issue below

CSIMG_554558064259A.jpg

CSIMG_554557935012A.jpg

CSIMG_554557906432A.jpg

CSIMG_554557878147A.jpg


Got the agreement from the retailer for a full refund (which they have now done). On getting the agreement (whilst on tour) I went and purchased a Garmin at twice the price but even for the basic like for like functionality the Garmin worked the Wahoo didn't.

My original text used a lot more colourful language but I think the photos of the screen illustrate how good/useful the device is at navigating and they probably say more than my rather predictable frustration. The above is no more than my experiences.

geocycle
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt

Postby geocycle » 19 Sep 2018, 9:06am

Interesting. I have an elemnt bolt and so far I am very pleased with it as it is much more reliable than my garmin edge and far easier to use. However, you have clearly had a major problem and I understand why you'd want to throw it under a bus! Were you trying to load a very large route and was this via the blue tooth from your phone or were they on wifi?

Psamathe
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt

Postby Psamathe » 19 Sep 2018, 9:44am

geocycle wrote:Interesting. I have an elemnt bolt and so far I am very pleased with it as it is much more reliable than my garmin edge and far easier to use. However, you have clearly had a major problem and I understand why you'd want to throw it under a bus! Were you trying to load a very large route and was this via the blue tooth from your phone or were they on wifi?

It (the map drawing issue) stated after St Quentin and continued irrespective of the route. Routes were less than 40 miles and it had certainly handled longer routes prior to this issue starting.

My opinion/theory is that is relates to the mapping of the area and the rather weedy processor/storage. When the mapping became more complex, more storage access more processor demands and it just was not up to the job. But that theory is a complete guess but once it was happening even factory resets would not clear it so I can only think it related to the mapping.

The other issues just illustrated what (in my opinion) an unreliable bug-ridden device it is and I suspect most users use it in a training monitoring mode rather than for navigation.

Something I was aware of prior to purchasing was the diabolical software design that made the loading routes issue so bad. The Elemnt device has ongoing Bluetooth communications with your Smartphone. The recorded data from a ride are automatically sent from Elemnt to smartphone over the Bluetooth link (and notifications passed Smartphone to Elemnt). Good solid local communications link between their Smartphone App and the Elemnt. The system for loading 3rd party routes is you get them into the app on the smartphone which then requires an internet connection to load the up Wahoo's infrastructure; then connect the Elemnt to the internet over WiFi and the Elemnt loads the route from Wahoo's infrastructure. Why not go over the existing established Smartphone <-> Elemnt Bluetooth link? To my mind poor design and it causes additional problems when Wahoo's infrastructure proved unreliable causing yet more disruption through poor app design.

I think the navigation is something they just "tagged-on" in the hope it would shift a few extra boxes and it is the training (cadence/HR/sensor/etc.) market where their focus lies.

Ian

Bez
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt

Postby Bez » 19 Sep 2018, 9:54am

Interesting, and different from my frustrations with the Elemnt. I agree that their navigation functionality isn't well thought-through and is a bit of a tacked-on feature. I'd previously hoped they'd build on this aspect of the firmware, but it seems to have stagnated.

It's worth noting though that your third problem, false off-route warnings, has also plagued every* Garmin device I've owned.


* I think. Certainly many of them, and all of the ones I've used in the past few years (1000, Touring Plus, 800… I don't think the 200 had an off-course feature, and I can't remember what the eTrexes did, although they had their own flaws).

Psamathe
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt

Postby Psamathe » 19 Sep 2018, 10:35am

Bez wrote:Interesting, and different from my frustrations with the Elemnt. I agree that their navigation functionality isn't well thought-through and is a bit of a tacked-on feature. I'd previously hoped they'd build on this aspect of the firmware, but it seems to have stagnated.

It's worth noting though that your third problem, false off-route warnings, has also plagued every* Garmin device I've owned.


* I think. Certainly many of them, and all of the ones I've used in the past few years (1000, Touring Plus, 800… I don't think the 200 had an off-course feature, and I can't remember what the eTrexes did, although they had their own flaws).

The Garmin I purchased (to replace the Elemnt) was overspec'd for my use but I needed something and could only buy what the shop stocked. But it was twice the price so I've tried to avoid comparing the two devices as it's not comparing like with like. That said, with the Garmin I only got genuine "off-track" warnings (that does not mean they wont start tomorrow but none in the month of daily use). There are aspects to the Garmin I'm not over-impressed with (but those are functionality choices made by Garmin) and it does have some irritating bugs. But it did navigate me for a month where the Wahoo didn't.

The off-track warnings was a "failure" but minor and sorted (reboot) and it was only included in the list as one of several issues (you should not be having to reboot the device mid-ride). When you get angry and frustrated you (or I) drag back in all the annoyances/failures previously overlooked. It was the last map drawing failure that for me meant I could not continue using the device (the map drawing failure went of for several days until I gave up on the device).

Ian

Bez
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt

Postby Bez » 19 Sep 2018, 12:05pm

Psamathe wrote:The off-track warnings was a "failure" but minor and sorted (reboot) and it was only included in the list as one of several issues (you should not be having to reboot the device mid-ride).


Agreed. I've only ever needed to reboot a Garmin mid-ride when charging from a dynamo: they seem to hate fluctuating power input. One additional quirk of the Elemnt's off-course functionality which I found was that if I had to make a forced detour, I'd obviously get the off-course notification when starting that detour, but I'd also get it once I rejoined my planned route and for a hundred yards or so afterwards.

FWIW, my issues with the Elemnt were one bug (the app lunched my phone battery even when not using the app or the device) and a number of feature omissions/decisions which I couldn't get on with (forced "track up" when navigating; unusable map when zoomed out; a handful of less important ones).

If I could take the navigation functionality from Garmin, the display clarity and ease of setup/download from Wahoo, and the battery life from Lezyne, I'd be a happy camper :)

Richard Fairhurst
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 19 Sep 2018, 12:40pm

Psamathe wrote:Photos of the display showing this issue below

They're quite telling. The 'cutoff' line is perfectly straight. That suggests to me that their map data is tiled, and that one of the tiles is failing to render. Possibly a memory issue, possibly data corruption in the tile, or possibly just a plain old bug in the rendering code.

The system for loading 3rd party routes is you get them into the app on the smartphone which then requires an internet connection to load the up Wahoo's infrastructure; then connect the Elemnt to the internet over WiFi and the Elemnt loads the route from Wahoo's infrastructure. Why not go over the existing established Smartphone <-> Elemnt Bluetooth link?

I really wish there was an open standard for sending routes to GPS devices over Bluetooth or wifi, just as there is for (say) 360° cameras (Open Spherical Camera API). It's nuts that all these hardware manufacturers keep reinventing the wheel and imposing their own solutions in the mistaken hope that it sells them more hardware.
cycle.travel - maps, journey-planner, route guides and city guides

Psamathe
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt

Postby Psamathe » 19 Sep 2018, 2:23pm

Richard Fairhurst wrote:
Psamathe wrote:Photos of the display showing this issue below

They're quite telling. The 'cutoff' line is perfectly straight. That suggests to me that their map data is tiled, and that one of the tiles is failing to render. Possibly a memory issue, possibly data corruption in the tile, or possibly just a plain old bug in the rendering code.
......

What I found was that if you press the "Page" button (which switches the display to the numeric info display (distance, av speed, etc.)) and press it again (and maybe keep repeating) to force the map screen to redraw, sometimes it will recover and draw the full map, sometimes not. An un-reliable way to see the entire map.

Richard Fairhurst wrote:....
The system for loading 3rd party routes is you get them into the app on the smartphone which then requires an internet connection to load the up Wahoo's infrastructure; then connect the Elemnt to the internet over WiFi and the Elemnt loads the route from Wahoo's infrastructure. Why not go over the existing established Smartphone <-> Elemnt Bluetooth link?

I really wish there was an open standard for sending routes to GPS devices over Bluetooth or wifi, just as there is for (say) 360° cameras (Open Spherical Camera API). It's nuts that all these hardware manufacturers keep reinventing the wheel and imposing their own solutions in the mistaken hope that it sells them more hardware.

I think Wahoo's Elemnt has re-invested it particularly badly, introducing Wi-Fi/Internet and their server infrastructure quite needlessly. If their server infrastructure converts the .tcx/.gpx into some Wahoo secret format then I'm sure the device or smartphone app could do that same conversion. To me it looks like either stupid system design or it being bolted on as quickly/crudely/cheaply as possible using available off-the-shelf components.

The daft thing is that I can't see how Wahoo's chosen architecture will help them sell anything. I was aware of the daft scheme they used before I purchased the device (so not something I can really raise as a reason to bin the device) but when the infrastructure it depends on is down for an extended time (several days) then it becomes a big issue.

Ian

geocycle
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt

Postby geocycle » 19 Sep 2018, 4:35pm

Psamathe wrote: The system for loading 3rd party routes is you get them into the app on the smartphone which then requires an internet connection to load the up Wahoo's infrastructure; then connect the Elemnt to the internet over WiFi and the Elemnt loads the route from Wahoo's infrastructure. Why not go over the existing established Smartphone <-> Elemnt Bluetooth link? To my mind poor design and it causes additional problems when Wahoo's infrastructure proved unreliable causing yet more disruption through poor app design.

I think the navigation is something they just "tagged-on" in the hope it would shift a few extra boxes and it is the training (cadence/HR/sensor/etc.) market where their focus lies.

Ian


That's illuminating. I have only uploaded a few routes, all were instantly transferred but I now realise they were when both devices were connected to the wifi. The only minor glitch was last week where I transferred a route outside and it took three goes to load. I took it to be a bluetooth issue but in fact it could have been using my 4G connection. I do agree that it is not primarily a navigation device. Yes, you can follow a breadcrumb trail and get on screen directions but the B and W maps are limited. I see the wahoo as a 21st century replacement for the cateye computer rather than a full on GPS/satnav.

That said it has been excellent to set off on a ride where it finds that satellites quickly, records easily, tells Mrs G where I am (pros and cons of course!), alerts me to texts, saves it without fuss, has a brilliant battery and it uploads it without cables to the ipad when I get home. I can then have a brew and look at the route taken. My Garmin edge touring sometimes struggles to find the location, doesn't communicate with the phone, runs out of battery after 6 hours and requires bespoke software and a cable to upload the routes into a computer. Route planning on the GET is pretty dreadful although you can usually follow a downloaded route OK. I'm prepared to believe the newest Garmins such as Edge 1030 overcomes these issues but at twice the cost.

ScottishGeek
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt

Postby ScottishGeek » 19 Sep 2018, 6:40pm

I have an Element Bolt but never used it for navigation so can’t comment on that. Overall though I find it most frustrating and have gone back to my Garmin.

On the plus side it
Is compact
Has a nice, easy to read, display

On the downside it
Doesn’t inform you when ant+ devices connect
Doesn’t inform you when it obtains a gps signal
Doesn’t inform you when it’s battery gets low
Doesn’t inform you when an ant+ devices battery gets low
Is much slower than my Garmin to get a gps fix
Auto stop takes ages to activate, especially with a speed sensor.

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100%JR
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt

Postby 100%JR » 20 Sep 2018, 7:30pm

ScottishGeek wrote:I have an Element Bolt but never used it for navigation so can’t comment on that. Overall though I find it most frustrating and have gone back to my Garmin.

On the plus side it
Is compact
Has a nice, easy to read, display

On the downside it
Doesn’t inform you when ant+ devices connect.Once connected on initial setup they auto connect when in range
Doesn’t inform you when it obtains a gps signalYes it does
Doesn’t inform you when it’s battery gets lowYes it does if you've selected the battery life indicator as one of your choices(you can have up to 10 items displayed on each screen)
Doesn’t inform you when an ant+ devices battery gets low I'm not aware that my Garmin 800/820 did this?
Is much slower than my Garmin to get a gps fix Takes about three seconds here
Auto stop takes ages to activate, especially with a speed sensor.instantaneous when speed reaches less than 3mph!?

I've only ever tried my bolt for navigation once (just to see if it works) and it was faultless.Having to use Ridewithgps or Kamoot might be a pain for those that do.You can use Strava/Memory Map but you won't get turn-by-turn.
The Elemnt/Bolt has fully customisable screens but you need a Smartphone and the App to do this.
After persevering with four faulty Edge 820s I gave up and bought the Bolt.I won't be going back to Garmin!

ScottishGeek
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt

Postby ScottishGeek » 20 Sep 2018, 8:09pm

ibbo68 wrote:
ScottishGeek wrote:I have an Element Bolt but never used it for navigation so can’t comment on that. Overall though I find it most frustrating and have gone back to my Garmin.

On the plus side it
Is compact
Has a nice, easy to read, display

On the downside it
Doesn’t inform you when ant+ devices connect.Once connected on initial setup they auto connect when in range Not if their battery is flat but you don’t know as it doesn’t tell you.
Doesn’t inform you when it obtains a gps signalYes it does with an on screen notification? Not that I’ve ever seen.
Doesn’t inform you when it’s battery gets lowYes it does if you've selected the battery life indicator as one of your choices(you can have up to 10 items displayed on each screen) I want it to alert me without having to display the value. Why should I need to clutter my screen for a basic function? Every Garmin I’ve ever had does this.
Doesn’t inform you when an ant+ devices battery gets low I'm not aware that my Garmin 800/820 did this? My Garmin does. Visual and audible alert when battery gets below 20%
Is much slower than my Garmin to get a gps fix Takes about three seconds here More like 1 minute.
Auto stop takes ages to activate, especially with a speed sensor.instantaneous when speed reaches less than 3mph!?
Varies between around 5 to 10 seconds.
I've only ever tried my bolt for navigation once (just to see if it works) and it was faultless.Having to use Ridewithgps or Kamoot might be a pain for those that do.You can use Strava/Memory Map but you won't get turn-by-turn. Used my Garmin for navigation today as a test. Faultless with turn bu turn notifications.
The Elemnt/Bolt has fully customisable screens but you need a Smartphone and the App to do this.all set up via phone.
After persevering with four faulty Edge 820s I gave up and bought the Bolt.I won't be going back to Garmin!never had a Garmin go faulty. Really wishing I hadnt bought Wahoo.

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100%JR
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt

Postby 100%JR » 20 Sep 2018, 9:00pm

ScottishGeek wrote:The Elemnt/Bolt has fully customisable screens but you need a Smartphone and the App to do this.all set up via phone.

Why put "all set up via phone"when I've already said that in the text before it :roll:

That's the whole point of the Elemnt/Bolt....you need a Smartphone to set it up.If you read the Specifications etc it tells you this.If you don't have a Smartphone then this unit isn't for you!No need to use a PC/laptop so you can change things anywhere.
Re Garmin.
Edge 800 very troublesome from the off but was OK after multi-patch firmware fixes then OK for 18 months.
Edge 820 as i said FOUR faulty units,touch screen useless(especially in wet),poor battery life and after 12 months of Firmware patches still not right.Go on Garmin users Forum there's page after page of faults and it's still not right so what do Garmin do?
Release the 1030 and from feedback from fellow CC members who bought these it's the usual Garmin story.
Since releasing the 800 Garmin seem to release units that aren't ready then think releasing firmware patches make it OK(again look on Garmin users Forum).I prefer a unit that works from the get go.
The Bolt was half the price of the Edge 820 and it's far superior 8)

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100%JR
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt

Postby 100%JR » 20 Sep 2018, 9:04pm

ibbo68 wrote:
ScottishGeek wrote:The Elemnt/Bolt has fully customisable screens but you need a Smartphone and the App to do this.all set up via phone.

Why put "all set up via phone"when I've already said that in the text before it :roll:

That's the whole point of the Elemnt/Bolt....you need a Smartphone to set it up.If you read the Specifications etc it tells you this.If you don't have a Smartphone then this unit isn't for you!No need to use a PC/laptop so you can change things anywhere.
I take it you didn't know this?If so hardly Wahoos fault is it :wink:
Re Garmin.
Edge 800 very troublesome from the off but was OK after multi-patch firmware fixes then OK for 18 months.
Edge 820 as i said FOUR faulty units,touch screen useless(especially in wet),poor battery life and after 12 months of Firmware patches still not right.Go on Garmin users Forum there's page after page of faults and it's still not right so what do Garmin do?
Release the 1030 and from feedback from fellow CC members who bought these it's the usual Garmin story.
Since releasing the 800 Garmin seem to release units that aren't ready then think releasing firmware patches make it OK(again look on Garmin users Forum).I prefer a unit that works from the get go.
The Bolt was half the price of the Edge 820 and it's far superior 8)

Psamathe
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt

Postby Psamathe » 20 Sep 2018, 9:38pm

ibbo68 wrote:...
Release the 1030 and from feedback from fellow CC members who bought these it's the usual Garmin story.
....

I'm very happy with my 1030 (after a month daily use). It has bugs and quirks but I avoided making comparisons in this thread as it was more a review of the failures of the Wahoo Elemnt rather than a comparison Elemnt vs <every other device available>. I felt that as a review of the Elemnt device better to focus on the really pretty serious navigation failures rather than discuss the range of GPS navigators available.

Ian