Wahoo Elemnt Bolt

I’ve been a Garmin GPS user for years now on my bike. I think I started with an Edge 500, then progressed to the Edge 800, Edge Touring, Edge 520 and then Edge Explore.

In that time, I did dabble with a Polar V650 for a period of time, but then moved back to Garmin.

My latest device, the Garmin Edge Explore had been purchased after my Garmin 520 (which had served me well) suffered from battery issues. However, I haven’t used the Edge Explore as much as I thought I would and the battery life was never as advertised.

Wahoo

After using the Edge for a while, I was never that happy with the battery life of the device, even though it was supposed to get 12 hours, I usually got less than this. With three ANT+ sensors (heart rate, cadence and a Garmin Tempe), along with bluetooth to my phone, I imagine I’d get 4-6 hours from it whilst navigating, based on battery drain from use.

I also wanted some more training features, something I’d given up from the 520. So I started looking around and thought I’d get the Edge 530, until I read some reviews and saw some information on the Wahoo Bolt. In the end, I decided I’d risk trying something new and going for the Wahoo - after all, I’d already got the Wahoo Tickr.

Setup

Setup of the Wahoo was dead simple. This involved downloading the companion Wahoo Element app and then scanning the QR code on the Wahoo. Once setup, all the changes are made on the phone and are automatically synced to the device - whereas Garmin doesn’t support the same level of customisation on the phone (but does allow for some). It then connected the Wahoo to my wifi network and proceeded to download updates.

From the app, I was able to download new maps. I did delete all the countries I wouldn’t need and just kept the UK and Ireland to make things easier in the future, so I wasn’t downloading updates for places I won’t go. However, it’s nice to know that they are there if I need them at a later date.

First Ride

I spent the first ride with everything setup and running, including Live Track. I’d created a route around a route that I knew already (with a few tweaks) so I could see how things played out when I cycled it.

Overall, I was a little disappointed with the battery life, as with the routing and map view, I found the battery dropped from 100% to 86% on a ride that was only about 75 minutes long. However, some discussions online afterwards suggested that this was because of the Live Track feature that I had enabled1. However, a second ride with it saw it drop from 81% to 66% over the course of the ride, putting it on track for 6 hours. Considering the battery life is rated at 15 hours, I was getting significantly less than this, which in fairness at the minute, isn’t a cause for concern as I’m not doing rides of that length, but it is something I’m not getting that is advertised.

Mapping

It took a little while getting used to the monochrome screen but once that hurdle was overcome, it wasn’t to bad to use.

Downloading a map was dead simple, as you can link the Wahoo account to your Ride with GPS account and once you’ve done that, it easily connects. Just select the route and it gets downloaded and sent directly to the Bolt for riding.

The maps are taken from OpenStreetMaps, which is what I’d be using for navigation anyhow, so there isn’t any issues using these.

As I’d got the Bolt, there’s no re-routing should I come off of a course, so that wasn’t a big issue.

Mounting

I purchased a Wahoo to Garmin mount adapter, as then I didn’t have to worry myself about buying new mounts for the bike. It turns out that this works nicely and I’ve had no issues using my existing mounting solutions.

The adapter is a simple piece of plastic that converts the Wahoo mount to a Garmin quarter turn mount.

Conclusions

However, after using the Wahoo for a number of rides, I decided that it wasn’t for me and decided to switch back to a Garmin device.

It’s an excellent device, but it’s not possible to access the files etc on the device itself so if Wahoo wanted to stop access to the apps, would mean that the device is practically useless. With the news that Shimano have done similar recently, and that Wahoo have annouced a new model, I decided to sell.

I’m also heavily vested in the Garmin ecosystem, using a Garmin watch already, so all the data already syncs to there, so it made sense to go back to that and have all the data in a single place.


  1. To be honest, I don’t think I need this, as the only person I’ll be sharing with is my wife, and she can use the Find My app on her iPhone, due to our family sharing setup. ↩︎