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Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT V2/2021 | In-depth review and opinion

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It's been a few months ago since Wahoo announced the new Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT. This new model is still called BOLT, not BOLT 2 nor BOLT 2021. But despite not having changed its name, internally it receives a lot of changes.

The most obvious is the adoption of a color screen. But this is not the only change, this new screen brings other improvements such as data fields that change color or improved navigation, for which we now have routable maps (instead of a basemap as in the original model).

The advantage of this map is that the turn by turn directions we receive will correspond to the street on which we have to turn, and in addition, if you leave the route, the Wahoo BOLT will automatically search for the new road you must follow without you even knowing that you are lost.

The new ELEMNT BOLT offers the same software features as its older brother the ELEMNT ROAM (even more!) but in a much smaller size, similar to that of the Garmin Edge 530 and Edge 830.

This time the unit you will see below has been bought by me in store (from my friends at Marbella Cycling Club), it's not a test unit. So once the review is complete and unlike those test units, it will stay with me to assist me in future analysis (and review of firmware updates that the ELEMNT BOLT will receive).

Remember that if this review helps you in your purchase decision, you can show your gratitude by purchasing it through the links you can find on this page. Not only will you get the best price, but also the sellers return me a small percentage which is what pays for all the work I do here. So... thanks for your collaboration!

I've been using the new ELEMNT BOLT 2 for a few weeks as my main bike computer on all my rides (and also in trainer), more than enough time to know what the cheapest Wahoo model is capable of.

And without further delay, let's go with the good and bad of the new Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT V2

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT

Overall operation - 8.5
Training possibilities - 9
Platform and applications - 7.5
Battery life - 8.5
Finish and comfort - 8.5
Price/performance ratio - 7.5

8.3

TOTAL

A renovation in which a color screen and full routable maps stand out. If you're a Wahooligan, the new BOLT won't disappoint you. But of course, the screen may turn out to be small.

User Rating: Be the first one !


The good

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  • Very simple setup
  • Very good color display, contrast and visibility
  • USB-C
  • Rutable full-color maps from around the globe
  • Compatibility with all types of sensors

The bad

  • We rely on other platforms for training load / status
  • The screen may be small while using navigation
  • Almost absolute reliance on your mobile to create a route halfway

What's new in the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT V2

Buy Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT V2

Everything seems to be the same as in the first version, except for the inclusion of the color screen. If that were the case, it would be a remarkable change, but things go a little further and there are a few more things that have changed.

For Wahoo it continues to be the ELEMNT BOLT, it is not actually called the V2 or 2021 version. But the truth is that, regardless of its aesthetics, it is a completely new device. Here is a quick list of its main new features, where I also compare with the ELEMNT ROAM that it is a more expensive device. You might think it's just a smaller version of the ROAM, but the truth is that there are more changes in favor of the new BOLT.

  • Color display, up to 64 colors (for example the ELEMNT ROAM only has 8 colors)
  • Data fields that support color coding based on zone (HR zone, power zone)
  • Full on-device navigation with routable maps from around the world (just like ELEMNT ROAM)
  • Preloaded maps for Europe/North America/Australia. The rest of the world can be downloaded free over WiFi
  • Maps include elevation data (something not present in the ROAM)
  • 16GB of internal memory (compared to 4GB of the original BOLT and ROAM)
  • USB-C connector with fast charging up to 5A (goodbye microUSB)
  • Ambient light sensor (ROAM has it, the original BOLT does not)
  • 15-hour battery life

The main change of the BOLT is focused on navigation, but even if you don't do many routes, the rest of the new features are appreciated and are a good update to the original model. 

More memory, a very clear display and color-changing data fields... and of course that USB-C connector, much more reliable in the long run than the microUSB of a lifetime. But hey, let's go with everything you need to know about this bike computer.

All about the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT

Although aesthetically it may seem that it is the same device, the reality is that it has grown slightly in size and weight. You can hardly tell it but it's something that's there. 

The control remains the same via buttons on the top and sides of the device. The front three have changed design and now protrude slightly, improving the use with winter gloves because you can tell what is and what's not a button.

These three buttons change what they do according to the indication on the screen. It will indicate at all times what each of them will do if we press it, all quite intuitive.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 2 - Buttons

On the right side we have two scroll buttons that will be used to move around the menu, modify the zoom, change the amount of data on the screen, etc.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 2 - Buttons

About data screens it is interesting to clarify what their operation is. On the BOLT we have several pages that we can set up from the phone. We can switch between the different pages that we have configured by pressing the upper right button, also viewing the rest of the screens as Strava segments, map, etc.

On the data pages we will see the fields we have selected, in the order in which you added them. What makes all Wahoo devices special is that it allows you to “zoom” on these pages, increasing or decreasing the number of data on that screen and respecting the initial priority (the first one you select will be the one that increases in size). 

So we can switch between displaying from one to nine data fields per page, and all this at any time of your ride. It's something that applies to each and every data page.

The menu is extremely basic and only allows you to access a few functions for basic settings. Select the metric for the top LED line, turn off GPS for indoor use, enable multisport mode to display metrics from a Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL on the screen, or make adjustments with sensors.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 2 - Menu

This is because where we are going to make all the changes and management is in the mobile phone app, which is appreciated because we have a larger, faster and more intuitive screen.

To this configuration with the phone we must add that Wahoo has achieved a fantastic integration via Bluetooth. Any changes you make in the app are made instantly on the bike computer.

In any other brand we have to do a full sync, which can take tens of seconds, in the Wahoo if we select a data field on the app the change will appear straight on the BOLT, without the need to synchronize. Same with any other setting. The truth is that it is very comfortable.

The adoption of the color display allows Wahoo to do more with data fields, such as giving it background color based on zones for power and heart rate. Depending on the zone in which we are, the field background will be one color or another.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 2 - Color Data

That is combined with the row of LEDs at the top of the device (which Wahoo calls Quicklook), something that has already become a norm in Wahoo. 

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 2 - Quicklook LED row

These warning LEDs have multiple uses:

  • Indicate the power or heart rate. The higher the value, the greater the number of LEDs and the different color
  • Alerts or notifications
  • Turn warning notifications
  • Zone warning in interval workouts

These are some of the features it offers that come to mind right now, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some others.

If you look carefully at the top of the device, to the left of the LEDs, you can see the new ambient lighting sensor.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 2 - Light Sensor

Thanks to this sensor, the ELEMNT BOLT will be able to turn the display light automatically in low light situations. Not only when it gets dark, but also if we pass a tunnel or are in a very lush forest.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 2 - Illuminated Display

The support is still similar to the one released with the original BOLT. Wahoo boasts of it as an aerodynamic mount because, once the bike computer is mounted on it, both parts are fully integrated.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 2 - Aero Stand

Is there a watt savings compared to a normal one? Well, it's probably pretty hard to quantify, but you're not going to have worse performance.

Another of the many changes present is the charging connector. Wahoo kicked the microUSB into a USB-C connector. Thanks Wahoo!

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 2 - USB-C Connector

It has many benefits. It has greater durability, it allows fast charging up to 5A and adapts to the type of cable that is currently being imposed. It also has IPX7 resistance.

As for sensors, it supports pairing with them both by ANT+ via Bluetooth. We can manage them on the computer itself (add, edit, manage) or even better from the phone. Both search and rename them. 

Supported sensors are as follows:

  • ANT+/Bluetooth Heart Rate
  • ANT+/Bluetooth speed and/or cadence
  • ANT+/Bluetooth powermeter (on one or both sides)
  • Shimano Di2 via ANT
  • SRAM RED eTap via ANT+
  • Garmin Varia Radar via ANT+
  • Lights through ANT+
  • BSX and Moxy Muscle Oxygen Sensors via ANT+
  • Intelligent rollers via ANT+ FE-C
  • Wahoo trainers 

In short, almost everything that exists on the market except very specific cases such as control of action cameras or ANT+ scales.

With regard to trainer control, it is important to note that the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT has the complete ANT+ FE-C profile. In the first versions of the previous BOLT it was only possible to control devices from the brand itself, but now we already full support for non-Wahoo devices.

By this I mean that if you have a smart trainer you can use the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT to control its resistance in one of these modes:

  • ERG mode: Indicate the target watts and the trainer sets its resistance to those watts
  • Resistance mode: Similar to ERG mode, but with a percentage of resistance
  • Level mode: Similar to the previous one, but in level rather than percentage
  • Follow a route mode: You can use a route done before or any other synced route. It may be useful to prepare for your next race

Of course, with ERG mode it's possible to follow a workout that you have synchronized. That means that as you go through the different stages of your interval workout, the BOLT will ask the trainer for specific watts.

Once the workout is finished, it will be synced to the Wahoo platform and we will be able to access all the details in the mobile app.

The amount of data and information we have after our workout is good enough, but what the Wahoo app lacks is any type of training load tracking or performance analysis.

However, we have automatic synchronization with a lot of third-party platforms (Strava, TrainingPeaks, etc.), so once you sync your workout with your phone or over WiFi, they will appear in all those places where you can do that more thorough control.

Navigation on the new Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT

Without a doubt, where Wahoo has put the most emphasis on the new BOLT has been on navigation. Not only has it inherited the features of the big brother, the ROAM, but in some respects it is superior.

For starters, the BOLT V2 has much more storage capacity, going from the 4GB of the ROAM to the 16GB that is available on the BOLT. This allows Wahoo's new device to directly include maps of Europe/North America/Australia. Directly, without having to do anything but start using it.

And if you plan to travel, the rest of the global maps are available to download for free via WiFi. 

But that extra memory is not used exclusively to store more maps, which if you are not going to travel to another continent you probably won't be interested in. But what you will be interested in is that the maps now have elevation data. This is important when taking routes as you will not depend on the gpx you use or the application with which you designed the route passes that information to the device, so you will be able to see at all times the altimetry graph and what you have left to face.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 2 - Altimetry Graph

The fact that you have complete maps means that they are routable. In other words, the route is not drawn over the “image” of a map (which is what happens with the original BOLT), but when you reach a turn it can tell you to turn on Main Street or that your exit from the roundabout is the third.

And it is also important when recalculating the route in case you have taken another path or the originally planned road is closed. The BOLT will directly find you the new route, instead of constantly asking you to turn around until you get to the point where you deviated from the original plan.

How does the route recalculation work? Well, like any system of this kind, it depends a lot on the circumstances and where you're testing it. On most of the occasions that I have put it to the test by going off the road on purpose, it has quickly switched to the new route without asking my opinion about it.

However, there have been other times when it simply found itself lost, or the alternative route it offered didn't make much sense. This is because I am testing it on known ground and I know perfectly well if the proposal is better or worse.

Overall my experience has been positive and at no time would I have gotten lost, both on the road and on the trails; but keep in mind that this will also depend on the density of roads and trails in your area.

If there are only two possible paths to get from A to B, it doesn't have much thinking to do. But if there are 20 different options, maybe there are chances that the something might go wrong.

Anyway, we need to talk about how you're going to enter routes into the device. The Wahoo app offers us the option “Where to?”. It opens a map where we can select a place by entering it in the top bar or pointing it on the map.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 2 - Take Me To

This is a direct route, in the sense that it will take us on the most appropriate path to our destination, but without the possibility of making different stops. Therefore, if you want to visit several towns you will have to create the route part by part, and every time you reach an intermediate destination, use the app again to search for the next stop.

It's one way to do it, and the transfer of the route from the phone is practically instantaneous. But we may have an issue if we are in a place with little coverage because then we won't be able to load the maps.

If this type of navigation is not convenient for you, we have the possibility to import routes, for which there are two options: directly from a file or by synchronizing through a third-party platform.

In the first case we can use any .fit, .gpx or .tcx file to add it to the Wahoo BOLT. And if you want to use an external platform you have different options (Strava, Komoot, BestBikeSplit, etc.).

 

When you enter your account details, the routes you have created on that platform will be downloaded automatically. For example, here you can see routes that I have created on my Strava that are directly available in the app.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 2 - Strava Routes

And finally we find other additional options such as creating a route from the history (to navigate it again or do it indoors with the trainer) or the return to start option.

When we are navigating a route we have the map with the route marked, on which we can zoom or scroll thanks to one of the latest updates that the device has received.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 2 - Navigation

And additionally we can also see a sheet with all the turns we have to make and the distance to each of them.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 2 - Address Listing

The navigation screen can be modified with the data you want. In my case I have 3s power. But if you want to see a normal data page or do a workout don't worry, because when you need to make a turn it will appear at the bottom of the screen by scrolling the rest of the metrics on the screen.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 2 - Spinner Warning

Notifications are constant, and depending on whether the turn is left, right or any other type of deviation the notification sound is different. With some practice you won't even need to look at the screen. And if you want to do it at a quick glance remember that the top row of LEDs will also indicate the direction of the turn.

The only thing you need to keep in mind is that it does not offer the possibility to enter a specific address, for that we always need to have the phone handy as I indicated above. We can navigate to a certain point on the map, but it's not as simple as entering an address or POI.

Well, and there's another thing to keep in mind and that's the size of the BOLT's screen. In some circumstances it may be small, but you already knew that and it's not something I have to find out about. 

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT Internal Sensors (GPS, altimeter, thermometer)

When I talk about internal sensors I mean specifically three: GPS, barometric altimeter and thermometer. That is the order of importance in terms of the quality of data they must provide.

When the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT V2 hit the market a few months ago, the first owners complained about GPS issues. Bad records, irregular tracks and slowness in picking up satellites.

Several months have passed and Wahoo has already released several updates with improvements to the device, among which are improvements precisely for GPS. Specifically 16 updates mainly fixing bugs, and the one from September 28 improving GPS performance. By the way, the update is done very easily over WiFi and it's a matter of a minute or two.

Personally I haven't had any GPS issues in the entire time I've been using the device. Perhaps it is somewhat slower to obtain signal than other models that I have worn on my different rides, but it has not changed me when preparing for this rides. 

In my case, I leave the house and go slowly to the starting point, next to the road, for which it takes about a minute. I stop there, I do a final check of everything I carry and start the ride. If I'm testing more devices maybe it takes a little longer until I turn on and get them all ready. 

With that procedure, there was only one day when the BOLT GPS track started a few seconds later than the other devices, and once it started recording the track it did it perfectly.

GPS performance has been impeccable at all times, as is usual in cycling. Here are some examples of some of the exits I have done (a mixture of road and gravel).

Honestly, it's not worth it for me to stop at any image because at all times the different devices that accompanied me on the route (be it bike computer or watch) have recorded everything perfectly.

The same can be said about the barometric altimeter. 

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT - Barometric Altimeter

It's just the example of a single ride, but all the others are the same. The three graphs are not totally coincident because I haven't performed any calibration. This is especially important in the case of the Edge 130 that does not have maps, as both the Edge 830 and the ELEMNT BOLT obtain altitude data from the device's maps.

What we can see is that as the ascension takes place, the graphs of the Edge 830 and the ELEMNT BOLT are slightly separated, acting in reverse when it comes to descending. But all three graphs are completely parallel. 

In total ascent data, this is what the three devices have registered:

  • Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT: 1.203m
  • Garmin Edge 830: 1.207m
  • Garmin Edge 130: 1.188m

As for temperatures, there are no matches between devices but they all move between the same ranges. This is an aspect that worries me much less, mainly because if the Edge 830 says it's 31 degrees and the ELEMNT BOLT 2, there is 2 degrees difference, but what I do know is that it is hot. And the same if they're showing 6º and 9º. It's cold, I already figured it out.

This temperature measurement is done with an internal sensor, so it will depend on the ventilation offered by the case, the heat caused by the sunlight, the position on the handlebar, etc. 

 

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I hope that this in-depth review has helped you to decide if it is a valid device for you or not. All the work I do you can consult it without any cost, but if you want to support the page and by doing so the work I do, the best way to do that is to buy your new device through the links I provide .

And if you don't buy it today, remember to stop by when you do! Through these links you will not only get a competitive price and the best customer care, but also I will receive a small percentage at no additional cost to you. That's what allows me to keep offering you reviews like the one on this page.

Buy Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT V2

 

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT opinion

The new Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT is still the revamp of the original model, a bike computer that was already a fairly mature product. The new model had some complicated beginnings with regard to some firmware errors (on the part of GPS and navigation). Those youth failures have been refined and I have not appreciated anything particularly important on my side.

What hasn't changed is the ease of use that Wahoo offers. By needing the phone to perform any operation everything is extremely easy. Although it can sometimes be too basic, the ability to select any point on the phone map and have the app calculate the route directly is fantastic. And if I want a route that is more specific or with more stops, I just have to use any other application like Strava or Komoot to create it.

Is the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT comparable to the Garmin Edge 530? Totally. The Wahoo is a rival that can rival face to face to Garmin's best-selling model, each with its own peculiarities. 

The Wahoo is very easy to use, even for those who struggle with technology. In that sense, the Garmin platform and app is more complicated. And it has very good features such as LEDs that light up to notify us of different events.

However, with Garmin we have other points in its favor. As I say, the platform is more complete and allows us to carry a workout load control if we want it. We have other features like ClimbPro, FirstBeat metrics, more complete Live Tracking. 

But in the basic stuff both devices leave them completely covered. Are you asking me to keep one? Well, it is likely that in the coming months I will leave my Garmin Edge 830 at home and it will be the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT that takes up the space on my handlebars. Or leave the Edge 830 on the gravel bike and the BOLT for the road.

And with that... thanks for reading!

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6 Comments

  1. Hello good morning !!!!
    Will you ever do a review of Karoo 2?
    I am between the bolt 2 and the karoo.
    I don't know which one will be better 👍🏻.
    Thank you very much for your analysis

  2. Hello, thank you very much for the analysis, this great, can not be more complete!!!!

    If you were to compare it with a Garmin, which model would you compare it with?

    Greetings,
    JC

    1. Thank you Jose Carlos

      The direct rival in Garmin is the Edge 530, and in a sense also the Edge 830 whose only difference is the touch screen, something the Wahoo doesn't need because of its reliance on the cell phone.

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