The Takeaway: The Elemnt Bolt is a feature-rich cycling computer in a small and sleek package.
- Wahoo brought all the navigation functions introduced on the Roam over to the Bolt platform.
- A new 64 color display for maps and highlighting critical training data
- Claimed battery life remains at 15 hours despite the addition of the color screen.
- Ambient light sensor automatically adjusts backlight and LED brightness.
- The simple button and app interface remain unchanged.
Two years ago when Wahoo launched the Elemnt Roam, it was often described as a larger version of the company’s Bolt. Since then, it seems Wahoo has been busy figuring out how to take all the features it introduced in the Roam and pack them into a Bolt-sized unit. The new Wahoo Elemnt Bolt looks just like a mini Roam, and that’s because, by most standards, it basically is.
There’s now a color screen to aid with navigation and more clearly highlight critical training metrics. Improved navigation features such as automatic “Back on Track” re-routing and navigating to locations without using the companion app, which first appeared on the Roam, are now also on the new Bolt. Beneath the sleek new design, this new Bolt very much remains a Wahoo product. Which is a good thing for anyone who enjoys the easy setup and customization in the Wahoo Elemnt App and the extensive third-party app integration (Strava, RideWithGPS, TrainingPeaks, Komoot, SingleTracks, MTB Project) that Wahoo offers. All the other core features, such as turn-by-turn navigation, live tracking, and synced structured workouts, are here as well. In many ways, the new Bolt feels like a big update rather than a wholesale redesign.
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt Details
Display type: 64 Color | Battery life (claimed): 15 hours | Screen size: 32mm by 48mm; 56 mm (diagonal) | Sensor compatibility: ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart | Internal memory: 16GB | Waterproof rating: IPX5 | Mount types: Integrated out front, stem
Now in Color
Besides the updated look, the most noticeable feature is the new color screen. However, you might not notice it at first. Color is mainly used in the navigation mode to highlight specific landmarks or features. Users can also select certain training metrics to be highlighted with color. Or you can opt not to do that and keep the screen mostly monochrome, which is nice if you enjoyed the simplicity of the first Bolt. If you like to be dazzled with color instead, check out our review of the Hammerhead Karoo 2, which senior test editor Matt Phillips’s loved for its beautiful screen.
The Bolt’s new screen does have improved legibility in all kinds of light conditions. Wahoo positioned the screen a bit closer to the Gorilla glass surface to help with readability, particularly when viewing from an angle. The glass surface also has a slight matte finish to help minimize glare. Wahoo also added an ambient-light sensor to the Bolt, which automatically adjusts screen brightness. As someone who constantly toggled the backlight ‘on’ and ‘off’ on the original Bolt, depending on whether or not I was using the device indoors or outside, I appreciated this addition.
Wahoo introduced a slew of new navigation features when it launched the Roam. All of these carry over to the new Bolt. You can now navigate to stored locations and select any spot on the map you want without pulling out your smartphone.
When you open a preloaded route, the Bolt now asks if you would like directions from your current location to the beginning of the course you chose. If you need to cut your ride short, “Take me back to start” will plot the quickest way to get you back to wherever you started your trip.
The rerouting function will automatically plot a way to get you back to your original route if you deviate from a loaded course. Besides being very useful, all these functions just plain work. The routes that are auto-generated go out of their way to avoid busy roads. But like most auto-generated bike directions, they can occasionally take you on a little unexpected adventure as well.
During my second time riding with the Bolt, I decided to give the “Back on Track” functionality a test. I was looking to add a climb to my usual hour-long loop from the office, and I had some idea of where to look for it but hadn’t had a chance to map out the particulars. I turned up the road I knew went over the ridge and let the Bolt figure out how to get me back to my route. Within a few seconds of being on the climb, a new course popped up on my screen. At the top of the climb, I was greeted by a chain across the road with a “No Trespassing” sign. The downside of auto-generated routes is sometimes they work perfectly, and sometimes you have to decide between some light trespassing and turning around.
Some Notable Hardware Upgrades
Along with the updated look come a few hardware updates. The internal memory expanded to 16GB, up from 2.78GB. The improved storage should help users who often travel with their bike spend less time installing and uninstalling the vast free library of maps Wahoo provides through its app. Longtime users of the Bolt will also notice that the three buttons on the unit’s face are now convex. It’s a small change but should make the buttons easier to use and keep water from pooling up the way it did with the old concave button design.
Claimed battery life remains at 15 hours despite the addition of the new color screen. Charging now happens through a USB-C port instead of mini-USB. Weight remains a nice, low 69 grams on our scale. The outer dimensions of the Bolt are just a hair larger than the prior model, while the screen dimensions remain the same.
Wahoo’s locking mount interface did not change, which is good if you are an existing Wahoo user and already have various mounts on your bikes. However, because the shape is updated, the leading aero edge of the new Bolt will not perfectly align with older aero mounts. It’s not a functional issue, and in regular use, you can’t even see it.
The Garmin Edge 530 is the likeliest direct competitor to the new Bolt. It has many of the same features and abilities as the new Bolt, in addition to a 5-hour-longer battery life and Trailforks integration. Both are a huge bonus if you primarily mountain bike or venture far off the grid.
The Bolt does offer much easier setup and customization thanks to Wahoo’s smartphone app. Aside from Trailforks, Wahoo also has broader and better third-party service integration, plus free worldwide map downloads. It’s easy to make a good argument for either device. For many people, the choice might come down to which platform they are already using. The Bolt might eke out the slightest of wins based on its more user-friendly and customizable interface.
Riding With the New Elemnt Bolt
Using the new Bolt offers a very similar experience to the old one, and I mean that in the best way possible. Wahoo has made a series of cycling computers that are feature-packed but also highly user-friendly. The new Bolt is no different. It’s easy to set up and customize. The number of metrics you can choose to display is breathtakingly large. Still, with Wahoo’s signature quick zoom function, it never feels overwhelming. With the push of a button, you can always choose to see more data or less without having to dig through any menu. When removing fields from the screen, the remaining ones will also get larger.
The updated screen is crisp and easy to read in all kinds of lighting conditions. Auto backlight works great and quickly responds to changing light. Whether I was dipping in and out deeply wooded areas on my mountain bike or riding my trainer in my basement, the screen was always easy to read.
Wahoo chose to keep color focused on the maps and navigation screens, where it’s used to highlight parks, bodies of water, and other landmarks. Loading and following routes on the road was an absolute breeze. Using the reroute function, I could do some seamless explorations of my usual loop without ever feeling lost or needing to stop and pull out my phone for directions.
However, I was slightly disappointed with the function of the color screen while mountain biking. Wooded areas are shaded green, and trails are displayed as very thin, hard-to-see brown lines. It was still easy to follow a loaded course on or off-road, but navigating on the map while in the woods is not.
Aside from that one issue, the new Bolt is an excellent sequel to the original. It’s a great computer for those who want all the features but in a small and sleek device.
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