Truth be told, before testing the Wahoo ELEMNT, I was not really a big fan of GPS cycle computers. For me, the faff involved in setting them up and getting them to work properly, always outweighed the minor restrictions associated with using a smartphone to record my rides. But boy, has my attitude been changed…
After just a few minutes playing around with the Wahoo ELEMNT, and the simple Wahoo App on my phone; I was pleasantly surprised to find I was all up and running, and ready to ride.
After a few days of using it, I felt I had a good measure of its features; and started to tweak the settings to suit my riding style. Now, nearly four months on, and I can’t bear to ride without it.
So what is it that makes the ELEMNT such a game changer?
It's easy to mount
The Wahoo ELEMNT comes with three different mounts (bar/stem, out front and aerobar); so it's easy to fit whatever your setup; and you don’t have to go and buy another mount to use it on a second bike.
OK, it's not the smallest of devices; but I haven’t had any issues fitting it to any of my bikes, even with a bar bag.
It's easy to setup
Getting the Wahoo ELEMNT set up, paired to your smartphone, and ready to go for a ride, really can be done in a matter of minutes.
You don't even need to switch on your computer. You can do everything through your smartphone using the free ELEMNT app.
It's easy to read
The screen may not be colour, but to be honest I've found the high contrast black and white display really easy to read; even in bad weather and poor light conditions.
There is also a backlight, which can be set to on, off or to stay on for 5 seconds or more each time you press a button.
You can choose which data fields you want to view and what order they will appear using the app. Then, the two buttons on the side of the unit, allow you to increase or decrease the number of data fields you see while you're on your bike.
In addition to the easy to read display, Wahoo have also added another clever feature with their quick-look LED indicators. These show you all kinds of information; from how you're performing against your average speed/power/heart rate, to whether you've received a text or an email.
It's easy to add your sensors
Adding sensors is just as quick and easy as the rest of the setup. You can do it on the app, or the device; and either way it takes seconds.
I've been using theWahoo TICKR HRM Chest Strap and the Wahoo RPM Speed and Cadence Sensors; and they all work flawlessly. The real benefit for me, with the speed and cadence sensors, is that there are no magnets to fit and line up; so they can be swapped between bikes, or removed for cleaning in seconds.
It's easy to follow
The navigation side of things on the Wahoo ELEMNT, like all the other features, is very easy to use.
Your route is shown with a black and white chevron line, which really stands out from the map and is really easy to follow. In the settings, you can choose whether or not you want the map to rotate on the screen as you turn, and you can zoom in and out using the buttons on the side of the device.
You also have the option to view one metric at the top of the map. If you want to see more, it's just one press of a 'page' button, to switch to the data screen and back.
In addition to the map, the ELEMNT now also features turn by turn directions (although these are currently only available on routes created using the 'Ride with GPS' route planner). A message pops up well in advance of the turn, and counts down the distance till you reach the turn. The quick look LEDs also show the direction to turn at the top of the device; which is great when you're riding in traffic, and you don't want to spend too much time looking at the screen.
The Wahoo ELEMNT will also alert you when you go off course, and when you re-join your planned route. The quick look LEDs flash red or green, and you also get an audible alert; so you always know if you've taken a wrong turn.
It's easy for others to follow you
The live tracking feature allows your friends and family to see where you are, and if you're on the move. This has been great for me, as my wife no longer has to call and chase me to see if I'll be home in time to bath the kids!
But you can also use it to find your friends, or for them to find you, when you're out and about.
It's easy to plan your routes
Surprise surprise, planning your routes and getting them onto the device is really easy too.
The ELEMNT works with both Strava and Ride with GPS, which both have really easy to use route planners.
To get your routes onto the device, you just authorise your accounts in the ELEMNT app and providing you have Wi-Fi signal, your rides will all be uploaded to the device automatically. It really is that straightforward.
You also have the option to create routes from rides you have already done, within the app.
It's built to last
I'm not one of those people that are easily deterred by bad weather, nor by poor road/trail conditions. As a result, I like products that are built to last, and the ELEMNT ticks that box too.
With a shock proof casing and a waterproof rating of IPX7, the Wahoo ELEMNT is up to the toughest rides.
You can use it indoors
If you're not into getting wet and muddy on your bike, then the ELEMNT also works with the Wahoo KICKR Turbo Trainer and the Wahoo KICKR SNAP Smart Turbo Trainer, indoors. You can even recreate workouts from your favourite (outdoor) rides!
I've got to admit, riding on a trainer isn't really my kind of thing; but I wanted to give it a go, just to see how it worked; and again, it was really straightforward.
Setup was slightly more time consuming than setting up the device itself; but still pretty easy; and with nothing to plug in but the power lead for the KICKR.
You might have noticed a pattern running through this review, and it really has been the main selling point for me: The Wahoo ELEMNT GPS Cycling Computer is just so easy to use. It has totally changed my view on riding with a cycle GPS.
Of course there has to be a trade-off, right? Well, as far as I can see, no. It has all the features you could ever need and then some! Wahoo have completely broken the mould with the ELEMNT. For me, it really is a game changer.