Datavores rejoice! Digital reams of biking metrics are delivered to your handlebars with the Wahoo ELEMNT bike pc. On this assessment, we concentrate on 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 acquired 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, “Street Closed.”
“Yeah,” I inform my companion, “we’re on the suitable 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 way of central Idaho.
Wahoo ELEMNT Bike Pc Assessment
Garmin almost owns the bike pc market. Nevertheless 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. Nevertheless it shortly introduced its tech outdoors when it added bike computer systems and a number of sensors to trace coronary heart price, cadence, energy, and extra.
The ELEMNT represents Wahoo’s top-tier bike pc within the collection of three (the BOLT and the just lately launched MINI spherical out the suite).
- 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
- BTLE sensors: HR, velocity, cadence, energy
- ANT+ sensors: HR, velocity, cadence, energy, digital shifting, muscle oxygen
- Wi-Fi: Sure
- Cellular compatibility: iOS, Android
- GPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU Galileo, QZSS
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 offers 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
Open the field, and also you’ll discover the system 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 system 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 every part — is completed via the ELEMNT app. And the app repeatedly pushes updates, so allow Wi-Fi to benefit from the newest firmware. This additionally helps hold your route library updated.
Wahoo ELEMNT Controls
With the heavy setup carry accomplished on the telephone, settings routinely 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 correct perform as zoom management, toggling via deep knowledge screens and a map scale.
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.
Create your route utilizing a mapping software program, like Experience with GPS
To plan a route, you’ll both have to create a brand new route or import an present route by means of 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.
Approved mapping apps routinely sync with a smartphone. To push a path to the ELEMNT, press “Choose Route” on the gadget; routes routinely 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 somewhat 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.
On route (left), darkish chevron arrows level the best way. Off route (proper), trails and roads are seen. However until you realize the place you’re going, the ELEMNT gained’t direct you again on target.
A collection of darkish chevron arrowheads level you towards the route path, and miles consumed flip to a strong darkish line. Prime and aspect LEDs draw the rider’s consideration to approaching turns and ensure if you end up 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 any in between.
Pedaling on the right track? The ELEMNT flashes inexperienced as you cross an intersection. Took a incorrect flip? The ELEMNT flashes pink in case you missed the right route.
Rerouting on the fly in Nicaragua. Photograph used with permission: Marc Gasch
Do you have to veer far astray, the ELEMNT gained’t assist you navigate one other method again on target. 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 by means of the crux, we used an offline map app, MapOut, as a “conventional” map. This helped us navigate again onto the unchanged Wahoo route.
Alternatively, should you’re predisposed to curiosity and exploring the place the street might convey you, eschew the Wahoo’s “route” and convey a map. Then, press the beginning button to report the route. Once you’re again house, you possibly can 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 way of map knowledge), this was a bit formidable. I discovered that 15 hours was extra correct. Regardless, you’ll want a backup energy provide in the event you 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 the whole 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 properly with gloved palms.
ELEMNT App. Wahoo’s companion app is straightforward to make use of and frequently up to date.
Sturdiness. The ELEMNT is waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof.
Fees on the fly. This can be a should for longer rides.
Knowledge fields. The ELEMNT offers heaps of knowledge for the coaching nerd. Fields might 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. Large-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’ve got 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 nowadays, I type 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 gadget 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 appropriate route.
The ELEMNT app and integration with the smartphone makes route creation and navigation a snap. Nevertheless it’s not with out error. As soon as off track, the lack to navigate again on the right track is the software’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 companion that helped me keep on track late into the night time, all the best way to the end line. And that’s exactly the place the ELEMNT shines.
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