Wahoo Fitness Elemnt Roam GPS computer offers a bigger color screen, better navigation

by James Huang


The new Wahoo Fitness Elemnt Roam GPS cycling computer builds on the intuitive operation and setup of the original Elemnt and newer Elemnt Bolt models, now adding a larger-format full-color screen and enhanced navigation functions. Couple all of that with what is hopefully a continuation of the company’s now-proven record of reliability and stability, a solid battery life, and a competitive cost, and it seems safe to say that the new Elemnt Roam will further the company’s upward trajectory.


Bigger is better

The original Elemnt was a hit for a lot of reasons, most important of which were its easy-to-use operation, admirable firmware stability, and the way Wahoo very cleverly moved the initial setup and more advanced features on to the associated companion app. While every other GPS cycling computer forced you to do everything on the device itself – with Garmin being the notable example of this practice – Wahoo harnessed the processing power and more user-friendly interface of your smartphone to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

Not surprisingly, it quickly earned the company a giant following.

The new Wahoo Fitness Elemnt Roam (left) uses the same screen size as the original Elemnt (center), but in terms of shape, it’s virtually an inflated version of the Elemnt Bolt (right).

This new Elemnt Roam, however, now promises to take everything people liked about the existing Elemnt and Elemnt Bolt, but with … more.

Size-wise, the Roam is bigger than Garmin’s Edge 530 and Edge 830, but smaller than the Edge 1030. Visually, the Roam is basically an inflated Bolt, complete with a similarly sculpted case and more neatly integrated out-front mount.

The 69mm (2.7in, diagonal) LCD screen is technically the same size as what’s found on the first-generation Elemnt, but the display is noticeably crisper with more contrast and better readability, particularly in bright sunlight. A new light sensor also allows for automatic screen adjustments depending on ambient conditions, the cover has been upgraded to Corning Gorilla Glass (the same as what’s used on iPhones), and that glass face is situated closer to the LCD panel so there’s now less of a shadow box effect than before, too.

The screen is now rendered in color, but Wahoo continues to forego a touchscreen interface, instead sticking to the same six-button layout found throughout the Elemnt family. There’s one button on the left side, two on the right, and three on the lower edge of the front face (which, thankfully, are still easy to access when the computer is positioned on a close-fitting out-front mount). As before, each button is fully rubber-covered and weatherproof.

Wahoo has resisted the temptation to use a touchscreen on the Roam, instead sticking to the six-button format shared with other members of the Elemnt family.

As on the original Elemnt, the Roam is also equipped with two strips of LED indicators — one along the upper edge, the other on the left side. These can be programmed in the companion app to graphically display metrics like heart rate, speed, and power.

Also as before, the Roam is equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ANT+, which confers a wealth of compatibility options with various smartphones, wireless sensors, and electronic drivetrains. The companion app is available in both iOS and Android formats.

Claimed maximum battery life is 17 hours — the same as the original Elemnt, and two hours more than the Bolt — and actual weight is 94g for the device itself. The matching out-front mount adds another 32g.

The included out-front mount is elegantly contoured to match up with the computer body. Unlike with the Bolt, however, Wahoo Fitness didn’t make any wind tunnel claims here. Either way, the combo looks great, and a small screw allows you to secure the computer to the mount, which not only provides a measure of security, but also provides a few extra grams of leeway when it comes to UCI minimum weight limits.

More powerful navigation

As the name suggests, enhanced navigation is a big part of the new Roam’s appeal, particularly if you’re well off the beaten path.

Road maps (both paved and unpaved) are still supplied by the highly detailed OpenStreetMap database, but trail information is now sourced from Singletracks and MTB Projects, which should provide more accurate detail on routes and elevation. Turn-by-turn navigation has improved as well, with easier-to-follow color-coded graphical prompts, and faster reroutes if you have to take a detour or miss a turn.

Initial setup on the Roam is as simple as ever, with an on-screen QR code providing very easy pairing with an associated smartphone.

There are a wealth of new on-device navigation features, too: Get Me Started guides users to the beginning of a selected route; Take Me To brings up a list of locations that you pre-select on the companion app, and then puts together a route from wherever you are currently; Route To Start pulls up the shortest route back to the your starting point, in case you decide you need to get home right away; and Retrace Your Route guides you back to your starting point along the same route that got you to wherever you happen to be.

Granted, some of those functions require the companion app for full functionality (locations must be pre-selected on the companion app, for example), but the device itself is still notably more useful for navigation than before.

Other GPS cycling computers require you to do the initial setup and customization directly on the device, but Wahoo Fitness moves all of that on to the companion app, which offers a far easier interface.

Other features include Strava Live segments, on-screen call and text notifications, on-screen controls for Wahoo’s family of KICKR indoor trainers, Wahoo’s handy Perfect View Zoom (which allows users to select the number of fields displayed, and automatically adjusts the size of the fonts to suit), and real-time live tracking — not only for selected recipients, but also other Wahoo users that might be nearby.

Roam if you want to

Retail price for the new Elemnt Roam is US$380 / AU$600 / £300 / €350, including one out-front and one stem mount, and a micro-USB cable for recharging and hardwired data transfers. Wahoo says that the new model should be available for purchase now, and the Bolt and the original Elemnt remain in the lineup, but the latter will be phased out (at significant discounts, I might add) once the current supply is exhausted.

CyclingTips has a production unit in hand, so look for a more in-depth review shortly.

www.wahoofitness.com

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