Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review (vs Garmin 820 Explore)

Please be fair and thoughtful in your opinions. No rants please.
robing
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Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review (vs Garmin 820 Explore)

Postby robing » 27 May 2018, 10:00pm

Here is my review of the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt. As there is also an Elemnt I will just refer to it as the Bolt. In summary, I absolutely love this device, and it wipes the floor with the Garmin! Buying a new bike GPS computer is quite a big deal for me, as my previous Garmin Edge 500 had served me well for 8 years. But it's lack of mapping and no wireless connection meant an upgrade was long overdue. Having been a long term Garmin user, I was a bit apprehensive about 'jumping ship'. In fact first of all I got the Garmin Edge 820 Explore - but made sure I kept it pristine and kept all the packaging so I could return it if I wanted to - and I did. Why I returned it? The awful touch screen which has been much discussed, but also the UI is very clunky particularly if you try and navigate with it 'on the go'. Admittedly, you don't need a data connection to do this, but trying to do this on the touch screen and having to wait ages for it to load will have you tearing your hair out. Also it's near impossible to zoom in and out of the maps.

My concerns re the Bolt were: a/ the screen and maps being monochrome vs the colour Garmin. The Bolt screen is actually far clearer, especially in sunlight where the Garmin map is very hard to read. b/ Mounting the Bolt. I've got Garmin mounts on all of my bikes. All you have to do is snip a tiny bit of plastic away and the Bolt fits perfectly. And so will your Garmin, but trust me, you won't be going back to Garmin! c/ Not being able to use Garmin Connect. All my rides are on here so I didn't want to lose it. I got round this by synching my Dropbox account to the Bolt. Then it saves it as a .fit file on Dropbox and you can import this to Garmin Connect easily/ d/ The Garmin comes with European maps preloaded. Well actually on the Bolt it has this and more - you can add/update maps from anywhere in the world!

So to the unit itself. It's a doddle to set up via the smartphone app which worked seamlessly. It was a bit complicated setting up all the data fields, but I like several data screens and you only have to do all that once. The device is much easier to operate on the go than the Garmin, with the buttons being much easier to use. I particularly liked being able to zoom in and out of data screens and the maps easily. I also like the way the first data field is enlarged - I usually have this for speed. The old Garmins had this too but on the new one it wouldn't do that. You could vary the amount of data fields but you couldn't make one field enlarged relative to the others. The battery life is much better than the Garmin. You could get 2 days touring out of this easily.

Where it really excels is the navigating, particularly if you want to change route when you are out. You can use the 'take me there' feature on the app or Komoot and then it just appears on the Bolt and off you go. It integrates with Komoot, RWGPS and Strava seamlessly. I recently used it for Lon Las Cymru and it was faultless. I created the route using RWGPS which I followed every day and then if I wanted to head off to a campsite that was a bit off the route I just used the Bolt to find it.

Psamathe
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review (vs Garmin 820 Explore)

Postby Psamathe » 27 May 2018, 11:14pm

When you go "off route" does it update the route without a data connection (i.e. locally on device)?

Does the routing give turn by turn directions of is it just a track on a map that you follow (or a breadcrumbs without a underlying map)?

Are maps pre downloaded (e.g. over Wi-Fi) or does it just use "automatic caching" (and a GSM data connection)?

Have you imported routes from other not supported systems (e.g. cycle.travel)?

IAn

robing
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review (vs Garmin 820 Explore)

Postby robing » 28 May 2018, 12:28am

Psamathe wrote:When you go "off route" does it update the route without a data connection (i.e. locally on device)?

Does the routing give turn by turn directions of is it just a track on a map that you follow (or a breadcrumbs without a underlying map)?

Are maps pre downloaded (e.g. over Wi-Fi) or does it just use "automatic caching" (and a GSM data connection)?

Have you imported routes from other not supported systems (e.g. cycle.travel)?

IAn

No, when you go off route it doesn't update the route. However, it does shout at you - and the LEDS flash red.
I didn't have a problem with this, when I went off route it was always simple to get back on it.

Routeing from RWGPS, Komoot and the inbuilt take me there function all give turn by turn.

I did import a gpx file directly and it worked fine - no tbt but clear arrowed route on the map, never just breadcrumbs without a map.

Maps are preinstalled and you can add/update what you need worldwide over wi fi. And it's all free unlike Garmin.

You can't pan around on the map, you are always at the bottom of the screen but you can zoom in and out.
I found it very easy to follow a route even without turn by turn.

Psamathe
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review (vs Garmin 820 Explore)

Postby Psamathe » 28 May 2018, 11:37am

robing wrote:
Psamathe wrote:When you go "off route" does it update the route without a data connection (i.e. locally on device)?

Does the routing give turn by turn directions of is it just a track on a map that you follow (or a breadcrumbs without a underlying map)?

Are maps pre downloaded (e.g. over Wi-Fi) or does it just use "automatic caching" (and a GSM data connection)?

Have you imported routes from other not supported systems (e.g. cycle.travel)?

IAn

No, when you go off route it doesn't update the route. However, it does shout at you - and the LEDS flash red.
I didn't have a problem with this, when I went off route it was always simple to get back on it.

Routeing from RWGPS, Komoot and the inbuilt take me there function all give turn by turn.

I did import a gpx file directly and it worked fine - no tbt but clear arrowed route on the map, never just breadcrumbs without a map.

Maps are preinstalled and you can add/update what you need worldwide over wi fi. And it's all free unlike Garmin.

You can't pan around on the map, you are always at the bottom of the screen but you can zoom in and out.
I found it very easy to follow a route even without turn by turn.

My worry about importing routes is I have a "test route" I try with different navigation apps (one I've driven but never ridden) and some of those that claim to provide a "cycle friendly" route deliver a route I would describe as "certain death" ("complete madness", etc.). Hence my preference for sticking to cycle.travel as on my test route it makes good choices.

Thanks for your answers

Ian

robing
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review (vs Garmin 820 Explore)

Postby robing » 28 May 2018, 12:48pm

Komoot is pretty good for planning routes. You can set it for different types of cycle eg touring, road bike.
You do have to pay to unlock all regions though. You need to do this to be able to synch Komoot routes to the Bolt.
I also find Google Maps is pretty good for cycle journeys - once you've plotted your route you copy and paste the URL in to a file conversion program which converts it to gpx and then you can put it on the Bolt. This was how I did my route for Lon Las Cymru - it was without turn by turn though.

Psamathe
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review (vs Garmin 820 Explore)

Postby Psamathe » 28 May 2018, 1:09pm

robing wrote:Komoot is pretty good for planning routes. You can set it for different types of cycle eg touring, road bike.
You do have to pay to unlock all regions though. You need to do this to be able to synch Komoot routes to the Bolt.
I also find Google Maps is pretty good for cycle journeys - once you've plotted your route you copy and paste the URL in to a file conversion program which converts it to gpx and then you can put it on the Bolt. This was how I did my route for Lon Las Cymru - it was without turn by turn though.

My worry is that Komoot has given me what I call "certain death" route for a bike route (my test one). Hence my reservation, not that I'd ever ride on inappropriate roads but that if you plan on an "inappropriate" route given, then suddenly you find you've a much longer actual cycle because you want to live to cycle another day.

But I'm taking your excellent & useful review thread off-topic as my routing site concerns have nothing to do with the Bolt functionality beyond it's ability to import from other non-automatically supported sources.

Ian

robing
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review (vs Garmin 820 Explore)

Postby robing » 28 May 2018, 2:08pm

Thanks! To be fair I haven't had a lot of use with Komoot yet, I've used ride with GPS a lot. I haven't used cycle travel, but if you can save it as a gpx file then you can transfer it to the Bolt, but it won't have turn by turn.

It was only by using both devices that I could form an opinion. The Bolt really is a very well designed bit of kit.

martinn
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review (vs Garmin 820 Explore)

Postby martinn » 28 May 2018, 8:35pm

I have an elemnt, not the bolt, but the larger one.
Using ride with GPS to plan my routes, it works great.
If you use the cycle setting, it does follow every cycle route if it can, which isn't what I want sometimes.
If you go off route, when you get back on route it now can revert to route if you loose the arrows.
Its not perfect, but it's the best system I have used, or seen.

Martin

Psamathe
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review (vs Garmin 820 Explore)

Postby Psamathe » 3 Jun 2018, 4:03pm

I'm wavering between the Elemnt and the Bolt. Mainly to be used for navigation (with map & position marker on display) so larger screen appeals but Elemnt looks a bit "clunkier". Not bothered about weight, aerodynamics, and the extreme performance stuff, just nice map with position with imported gpx for navigation.

Anybody who have these devices and made their comparisons and choice got any thoughts on the two units?

Thanks
Ian

robing
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review (vs Garmin 820 Explore)

Postby robing » 3 Jun 2018, 4:54pm

Can't comment on the larger element but I find the Bolt screen fine for maps. You can easily zoom in and out.

Anyone know if you can create a circular route on the wahoo? That's one feature I did like on the Garmin.

AndyK
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review (vs Garmin 820 Explore)

Postby AndyK » 9 Jun 2018, 3:16pm

Just back from my first ride with my shiny new Elemnt Bolt. I'm quite pleased with it - the display's very clear even in bright sunlight, it synchronised perfectly with RideWithGPS (where I'd plotted the route to follow) and Strava (where I log my rides), and the turn-by-turn navigation from the RWGPS route worked as well as such navigation ever does. I noticed that it overlooked one junction - a right turn that looks like straight ahead on the map - but this is a common problem for all turn-by-turn navigation systems I've seen.

A minor niggle with the Strava synchronisation is that while the fully automatic upload is good, you don't get the chance to edit the title of the ride or specify which bike you were on - both things I find useful, as I use Strava as my main record of where I've ridden and how much mileage each of my bikes has done. The Strava phone app prompts you for both at time of upload. But I can always go in later and edit the ride details online.

After 41 miles of navigation and about three-and-a-half hours elapsed time (including 50 minutes motionless for puncture-fixing and coffee stop) the battery was at 67%, so I can see it lasting for a day ride.

The mapping is very basic but very clear and easy to follow, and seems to show some bridleways as well as roads. I feel that the designers really thought about how to make the display clear and straightforward for riders to follow on the move.

The Bolt comes with two mounting brackets in the box: the out-front "aerodynamic" one and a standard handlebar/stem-mounting one, which is handy as it means both my summer road bike and my touring bike are now set up with brackets.

Re. Psamanthe's query about the relative merits of the Elemnt and the Bolt: when I was buying earlier this week, Wiggle had a £50 cashback offer running on the Elemnt, making it the same price as the Bolt. I was tempted by the larger display on the Elemnt but went for the Bolt because I got the impression from various reviews that the Bolt might be slightly more robust and reliable. Also... AERODYNAMIC!!! ;-)

Psamathe
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review (vs Garmin 820 Explore)

Postby Psamathe » 3 Jul 2018, 7:02pm

******* I’ll update my contributions once I get home and have a chance to add the photographic evidence, but “heap of junk. Don’t buy one”, and that’s the polite version of my experience after 4 weeks and once I’ve finally given up on the thing

Ian



I’ll leave my previous comments below for historic value tomillustrate how wrong I can be and how experience can be a great teacher.

I’ll hi-jack somebody else's review with my own experiences of my Elemnt (not Bolt but apparently the functionality is the same). I’wve a few negatives but overall I love the device and am impressed, my negatives are more irritations (and it may be that all such GPS devices suffer similar issues. I use mine for navigation not any of the Strava training, etc. stuff it does.

1. Disable “auto-pause” for naviagtion - you stop to check your turn and the “Auto-pause” message obliterates the view of your position/course (it is an obvious settings option so not any issue with functionality).

2. It can be a bit laggy updating position and heading. Often not an issue but can make it a lot less useful when following a route with lots of turns close togather (e.g. through London).

3. Its “off-course” detection can be a bit over sensitive and on a couple of ocasions I’had it warn me of being off-course when I’m on a road with no turnings. It tends to recover fairly quickly.

4. Works excellently with cycle.travel (using TCX Course export format)

5. Holding “your position” marker at the bottom of the screen can make things unclear when your route doubles back on you (i.e. more than a 90 degree turn) but only an issue if you’ve not been paing attention to it.

6. Given it talks to your smartphone via Bluetooth it seems weird (and more hastle) that to get a course from your phone to the device needs an internet connection to send it via Wahoo. Why not transfer direct phone via Bluetooth to Elemnt (less GSM data, less power, etc.)

7. The display works well in sunlight but I do think colour would make things clearer (but Wahoo claim the contrast loss in bright sunlight makes monochrome better - and I’ve nothing to compare to so can agree or disagree. But “botom line” it works well.

8. Whilst it syncs through Wahoo’s servers, they have no web interface so you can use a browser to play around - which I regard as a positive.

9. There is quite a lot of functionality I’ve not tried yet (e.g. live tracking, all the fitness/training stuff, Strava, auto-emails on starting a ride, inter rider messaging)

10. I overlooked the repeating notification messages from your phone (e-mail arrives, sms text, phone call) but it’s actually really useful.

11. Software all seems really solid. No chrashes, no having to re-start because it’s stopped working.

I’m well impressed and very pleased with my choice (as influenced by the initial review from this thread and other reviewers).

Sorry for typos but on an iPad and don’t like (or not yet used to) this screen keyboard thing.

Ian
Ian
Last edited by Psamathe on 2 Aug 2018, 7:11pm, edited 1 time in total.

Bez
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review (vs Garmin 820 Explore)

Postby Bez » 4 Jul 2018, 10:23am

And another review if it's needed,
https://mashing53.cyclyc.com/wahoo-navi ... or-failed/

I loved a lot of things about the Elemnt but ultimately a number of its weaknesses pushed me back to Garmin (currently using a 1000).

robing
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review (vs Garmin 820 Explore)

Postby robing » 4 Jul 2018, 6:10pm

Bez wrote:And another review if it's needed,
https://mashing53.cyclyc.com/wahoo-navi ... or-failed/

I loved a lot of things about the Elemnt but ultimately a number of its weaknesses pushed me back to Garmin (currently using a 1000).

That review is flawed. You can easily set the Bolt to either have the maps as 'north up' (as if you were looking at a map), or ahead up - which I much prefer. The map detail is more basic on the Wahoo but the trade off is much more clarity - (particularly in bright sunlight) and vastly superior battery life. I used my Bolt/Komoot for navigating LEJOG recently and it was flawless. My longest day was over a hundred miles and over 12 hours in total - and I still had plenty of battery left in the Bolt. The Garmin wouldn't have lasted that long.
Also, going off route on Wahoo isn't the disaster it's made out to be. Most of the time you can find your way back and if comes to the worst you can always plot a new route with the phone app.

Bez
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Re: Wahoo Elemnt Bolt review (vs Garmin 820 Explore)

Postby Bez » 4 Jul 2018, 7:23pm

robing wrote:That review is flawed. You can easily set the Bolt to either have the maps as 'north up' (as if you were looking at a map), or ahead up - which I much prefer.


Your reply is flawed ;) You can set north up, but only while riding without navigation. If you're following a route, you have no choice.

If that's no longer the case, there must have been a firmware update which added the option (I filed a feature request). But trust me, I checked it out thoroughly: when I tested it there was no north up option during navigation.

robing wrote:Also, going off route on Wahoo isn't the disaster it's made out to be. Most of the time you can find your way back and if comes to the worst you can always plot a new route with the phone app.


Provided you've got signal, and it's not raining cats and dogs. Yes, as you say, of course you can find your way back on track, but the Wahoo is much less helpful when doing so than Garmins are.

The Wahoo beats the Garmin hands down in a great many areas. Most people will find it a better device. For how I want to use a GPS, I didn't. YMMV.