Reviewed: The New Wahoo Elemnt Roam GPS Bike Computer
Wahoo introduces an upgraded Roam with color monitor and impressive GPS capabilities. We look at the new features and whether the Roam is useful for triathletes.
After Wahoo upgraded the Bolt, it was only natural that they would release an improved version of their Elemnt Roam. At first glance, the upgrades seem to be aimed at taking advantage of the adventure/gravel craze that continues to gain momentum. However, this unit has ample features for triathletes to enjoy. The unit catches up with it’s contemporaries with USB-C charging, support of multiple third-party apps, and on-board data display of Supersapiens.
Enhanced Color Display
Increased storage capacity
Improved Dual band GPS
Tri friendly features such as custom alerts, improved unit interface, and pre-loaded training plans
Additional subscriptions, such as Wahoo ecosystem and Strava, required for maximum unit usefulness
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It would be fair to assume that I was skeptical about the capabilities of the Elemnt Roam version 2.0, given my experience when testing the Bolt version 2.0.
However, my concerns were put to rest on my first ride with the updated Roam. This Roam, like Wahoo’s other computers, is easily set up through Wahoo’s Elemnt App and provides customizable fields on multiple screens. The display is adjustable to the user’s preferences, easily adapting to those with eagle eye-vision or to those who prefer larger font. Wahoo continues to use an ambient light sensor screen, 2 rows of LEDs, customizable alerts, and various mounting options. In other words, they have not sacrificed any of the fan-favorite features that sometimes get killed when companies put out an updated version.
Wahoo Element Roam Review: The Good
Let’s just get this out of the way first. The computer feels like it has been built for those riding for adventure or tackling gravel racing – And that is not a bad thing. Instead of climbing back up on my soapbox and touting the benefits of gravel riding as off-season training and mental balance, and how more pro triathletes are racing in events like Unbound or the Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR) series – I will point out the features that make this a great choice for triathletes. But if you have already heeded my advice, or if you choose to now, this computer would be an excellent choice for off-road riding as well.
It’s just a tactile experience, right? The buttons on the updated Roam have been changed from indentations to raised and textured. This update makes it easier to use when wearing gloves during cold-weather rides. As a bonus, these buttons are much easier to use with wet bare hands – think coming out of T1.
The battery life is an impressive 17 hours. No matter where you’re riding, you’re likely to get enough juice for the day. As a racing triathlete, the battery capacity is more than sufficient for an Ironman distance.
The Elemnt Roam can be set up with custom alerts, like notifications to keep you on track with your fueling and hydrating strategies.
Like the updated Bolt, there are color displays in the heart rate and power zone fields. Through the Wahoo Elemnt App, your power zones and heart rate zones will be auto-calculated and the display color in those data fields changes based upon the zone you are in. I love this feature, as it lets me train/race based on zones by simply glancing at the screen to ensure I am hitting my desired targets. Speaking of training within your limits: the updated Roam also displays Supersapiens for those monitoring blood glucose.
64 color display
Alright, so this won’t make you faster, but the enhanced color display sure makes use of the navigation features much easier to see.
Dual Band GPS
Not a flashy upgrade, but an important feature to ensuring consistent route connectivity and accuracy. Unlike my experience when testing the Bolt, I was impressed with the re-routing when intentionally going off my pre-loaded route. Upon set-up, I thought it was a bit of a novelty, watching my Roam update the Maine maps (that’s where I currently am and tested the unit). After all, what could this little unit know that I don’t know? I then followed one particular re-route as I was certain this was reason for critique. After finishing my meal of crow, the Roam route is now one of my favorite (and previously undiscovered) roads.
Increased to 32 GB of storage allows for plenty of space to store multiple routes and area maps. If you are looking to mix up your training, but afraid of getting lost, set your concerns aside.
Will this feature make you faster? Yes – if you follow it. Will this feature add more fun? No – if you follow it. You are able to follow pre-planned or already stored structured workouts on your device. It’s a great training feature if you like to follow something structured.
This should go into a “great” or “must-have” feature on all bike computers. The Wahoo pairs to an ANT+ rearview radar unit and alerts you of oncoming cars through the unit’s LEDs or, my personal choice, with on-dash display. There is a color line running vertically on the left side, green is clear and red is car approaching. The coolest part is that you see a car moving up the screen as the vehicle approaches. Unfortunately, as of now in the United States, the Garmin Varia has the market on rear radar locked up, and is priced accordingly.
Wahoo Elemnt Roam Review: The Ok
This is not a knock specifically against Wahoo – more on the industry standard attempt to generate revenue. To fully appreciate all the features and maximize use of the unit, it is best to use the entire Wahoo ecosystem: Wahoo X for a training subscription, Wahoo Rival Multisport watch for hand off onto device (which is cool during a race), all the Wahoo Kickr devices, Tickr heart rate monitor, pedals, and Wahoo nutrition. (Ok, the last one doesn’t exist – at least not yet.) They have/make it all. To have everything work seamlessly with the Roam, you must become a Wahoo convert. But in their defense: Ever weighed yourself with the Garmin Smart Scale?
This feature is best described as “How much pain is left?” The Summit Segment feature requires using preloaded segments through third party apps, such as Strava, for the full experience. When riding, your screen displays the vertical gradients in color coded sections (how bad it will get) and distance to the top remaining – but only if you are on a Strava section and a subscribing member with your account linked to the Elemnt app. It is a great feature that can motivate you to the top or help you pace yourself over a long event. It also keeps Wahoo up to speed with similar features already found in Garmin and Hammerhead.
The downside experienced with using Summit can be found when going off the pre-loaded route. Although your directions will be rerouted, the anticipated climbing does not make the reroute patch. Additionally, at this time Wahoo is only able to display climbing segment information on pre-loaded routes, not when off the route or free route climbing, whcich is something the new Hammerhead does. However, Wahoo is continually updating their software, so I anticipate this feature is a launching pad for more to come.
Wahoo Elemnt Roam Review: Conclusions
The upgrades to the Elemnt Roam bring much-needed features to a device that was being surpassed by competitors such as Garmin and the new Karoo by Hammerhead. When viewed as a standalone bike computer, the Roam is great, but not exceptional. However, as part of the Wahoo ecosystem, the new Elemnt Roam is a great addition to a comprehensive training and racing system. I would argue that if shopping for a new computer, and you are not held up on size/weight restrictions (such as aerobar constraints, when the Bolt would be your best option), the Roam is worth strong consideration.