Wahoo jumped deep into the GPS market with the ELEMNT, with a full range of functions, live Strava updates, a large screen and programmable interface... it is ideal for mountain biker.
Wahoo Fitness are probably best known for their direct-drive trainer, the Kickr. In late 2015, Wahoo announced the ELEMNT bike computer, to go with the sensors and trainers, the ELEMNT is set to complete their range.
The new unit is large, a tad smaller than a Garmin 1000 but bigger than a 520. It foregoes a touchscreen for 6 highly tactile buttons, and uses an app to set up the device, and upload your data. Best of all, it's compatible with just about any electronic training accessory you have.
Opening up and setting up
I'm a big fan of 'plug and play' with electronics. And the ELEMNT is pretty close to as simple as it gets. Opening the box, there's a graphic which shows all sorts of screens you might choose to set. You do need to download the app, but then it's a case of starting up the unit, pairing via a QR code scan, and you're done. Enter your profile details and you are ready to customise the unit for your needs.
With Wahoo's range of training based products, it should be obvious that the ELEMNT is focused more on the data fiends than riders who just want something to record rides with for an upload to Strava.
Wahoo let you customise the data fields that are displayed, and how many pages you have access to. You can change the information on each screen and the priority of what is shown. This goes from the basics like lap functions with averages and maximums, heart rate values and limits; functions for ascent and descent, grades and rates; and power functions. There are far more options, but if you really want to use the ELEMNT for serious training you'll want to check the specifics at wahoofitness.com.
You can change how much you can see in each page while riding, too. The buttons on the right of the computer let you scroll up or down to see more or less, and a button on the bottom right lets you move to another page – perhaps one just for laps and intervals. Or just the maximum recordings from a ride – you can customise the data pages and fields to suit your purposes.
What some people will really like, or hate, is the connectivity with your phone with on screen alerts for calls and text messages. But you can switch each one off as well. If you share a link from the app, you can also have yourself live tracked. Far from a stalker setting, this is great for safety. It does assume that you have network coverage though, and is just a static point, not a route.
Wahoo have built small LED lights in as visual indicators to show if you're above, or below a target measurement. Along with audible cues, this is all programmable.
The ELEMNT lets you connect to WiFi networks, and if you set it up to work with Strava, Today's Plan, Training Peaks or another data recording or ride sharing device, it will do this for you when you sync your phone, meaning you only need to plug the unit in to charge it.
Coming with a stem mount, out-front mount and tri-bar mount (that's a key market for Wahoo after all) you have some choices for fitting. You might even end up with one mount on your mountain bike and one on a road bike – as chances are you have one if you take training seriously. While it looks like a similar mount to a Garmin, it isn't.
On the trail with the ELEMNT
The proof is in the pudding, and while I wondered about the merit of launching a GPS without touchscreen, not having to fumble taking gloves off to use the unit, or have it not work when doused in sweat or rain was a real plus. In fact, considering the first ride with it, and many more, were in less than ideal conditions the ELEMNT was a cinch to use.
The unit was fast to power up and gain a satellite, and even when riding you could feel the buttons and when you clicked them. As you can change how much data is shown, you can have the main figures you want to see easy to read – even from a glance.
The ELEMNT does have mapping and you can download routes to it. When we first tested the unit they didn't do \ turn-by-turn navigation, but updates have meant there are now screen pop-ups for turn-by-turn navigation.
There is more to say and do with the ELEMNT than can be fitted in here. Suffice to say, it has all the functions you could want for a training device, with ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity. But it can also be run as a very basic unit without any distractions. The device can upload wirelessly, and it's also a competitive price. I think the ELEMNT could well be a great bike computer for many mountain bikers, especially those who want to focus on their ride data, and who would be using it on conjunction with a training plan to get the most out of their riding.
- Great value for the functions
- Very easy to set up and use
- Nothing major!
RRP: $499.95, $599.95 with sensors