Progression, iterations and the desire to make products better, are constants in the world of cycling. As the world keeps spinning, faster and faster, technology moves with it, getting better and better all the time. The cycling landscape is littered with tech and, from the early days, we’ve been obsessed with it. That so-called obsession isn’t a bad thing - and is what makes the cycle industry so progressive. One brand that’s always been pushing the boundaries of progression, is Wahoo. The new Elemnt Bolt is the brand’s second evolution of their small cycling computer.
Since 2017, the Elemnt Bolt has been a staple in the drop bar rider’s diet – and the same goes for pro riders. ProTour teams, such as BORA-Hansgrohe and INEOS Grenadiers, use the device to train and race with, ensuring they have every ounce of detail at their disposal. Personally, I’ve been a big fan of the Bolt and Roam for their supreme function and slick simplicity. I’m fairly obsessive – I don’t crunch every number, however, I like to know where my fitness is at – so the Wahoo cycle computers have been a staple for me. With this in mind, I was excited about unboxing the new Bolt.
So, what’s new with the new Bolt? Well, there’s heaps - so buckle up. First up, the storage has a ton more capacity than the previous version, now boasting 16GB. This means better storage for mapping and the like. Whilst we’re on this, the fixed battery has up to 15 hours and is charged via USB-C cable. What’s more, you can charge it whilst in use – with a power bank or Dynamo – which is super handy for those multi-day rides off the grid. It also boasts a new high-contrast, 64-colour display that is claimed to offer better legibility and increased resolution. The size remains the same as its predecessor at 5.6cm, and the display has a resolution of 240 x 300 pixels and comes with scratch proof ‘Gorilla Glass’. If you happen to be riding through changing light conditions, something which happens in our country more often than not, the ambient light sensor adjusts the brightness of the display automatically, if you set it up to do so. On the road, this worked well, especially in the later months of winter when I’d head out before sunrise or return after sunset. I found it reacted to the light conditions quickly.
A slight detour onto the sensors: the Wahoo receives all other data via Bluetooth connection with your smartphone, the barometric altimeter and the GPS, Galileo and GLONASSS satellite receivers. Another update is the navigation; the new Elemnt Bolt comes with Wahoo’s Smart Navigation. Similar to their other computer, the Roam, you’ll be routed back to your planned track if you leave it. In addition, you can switch your destination on the fly, navigate back to the start from any location, or retrace the route you’ve ridden back to the start – this is all done from the device without needing to whip out your smartphone. In practice this is great, keeping on the move whilst sorting navigation ultimately gets you to your destination quicker and more efficiently - no more standing on the roadside scrolling through maps on your smartphone. Routes can be easily uploaded via the Wahoo Companion app, with connected services such as Strava and Komoot. However, it can be a little fiddly depending on your tech savviness. And what’s more, there are a heap of routes on offer for road, cross and mountain biker. Bear in mind, the actual track, road, terrain and whatever else you’re riding, can differ slightly to real-world use. The Live Tracking function allows you to let your loved ones or friends know in real-time exactly where you are via SMS or email link. And, if you’d like to stay connected to the bombardment of the modern world, you can set it up to receive all text and call notifications. Get this set up and the world truly is at your fingertips; all incoming calls, text, emails and WhatsApp messages will be displayed as long as your phone is connected with reception. If you’d like to just ride, then you can simply turn on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ function and enjoy the peace.
Quicklook LEDs are again, like the last version, at the top of the display and, thanks to the updated user interface with coloured fields, you can now customise it to your preference, making it easier to focus on specific metrics. Simply put – the background of the colour changes depending on the zone you’re riding in, and flicks through blue, green, yellow, orange and finally red – outlining when you’re pushing the hardest (which you should probably know by that point). The number and position can be easily configured via the Wahoo Companion app. I’m a fan of the smart trainer and use it all year round; for the past few years I’ve used the Wahoo Kickr. I like that there’s integration with the trainer – and the new Bolt is no different. For structured training, it offers synchronized planned training sessions and alerts you to impending intervals – that’s a love/hate relationship. There’s also some handy INEOS Grenadiers training sessions and two FTP tests that come pre-installed and will work on both the road and your smart trainer. I like these as they’re already loaded up and offer climbing, sprinting, mixed and FTP workouts – they’re tough but super effective. The unit really shines when paired to Wahoo’s Kickr Bike or Smart Trainers as it lets you train in simulation, ERG, level or passive modes. These are my go-to when hitting the smart trainer as it keeps you on track and makes the training specific.
So, I’ve touched briefly on how it performs, but let’s look a little deeper. Firstly, the setup, via a QR code with the Wahoo Companion app, is done super swiftly – and is dead easy! Pairing it up to your other sensors, such as heart rate monitor, power meters and the like, is again, another simple task with Bluetooth. The device finds GPS signal quickly and software updates are easily installed via the app. What’s more it’s intuitive and takes you through every step. I reiterate – easy! Buttons – six of them – control the device, which is great, simple functionality in practice. The buttons mean full-fingered gloves are not a drama either, certainly beats a touchscreen and saves on battery runtime too. I touched on this earlier, but on the road with the changeable light conditions, the unit has great contrast – and this was the case even in the harsh direct sunlight. The display is easy to read when throwing down the power (ahem) and you can quickly gaze down and see the info you need (fields of data and display can be zoomed). The colour coded information helps you stay on track and is simple to work out.
I’ve headed out for a few longer rides as we’ve edged past the darkest day. The battery life has been great, with six hours in the saddle it still had just under 60% of battery left. And when I’ve been using it on the smart trainer, around 4 – 5 times a week, it’s held charge for more than a week. I didn’t use it for multi-day trips and would probably opt for the Roam device instead, but that’s only because I have one – this device would do a fine job. If it was me, I’d deactivate the LEDs, backlight screen, phone syncing and turn-by-turn (if you know the route) to save battery life. On the rides I took, the GPS accuracy stayed relatively on track, of course some of our country is remote and densely covered in bush so it may wander off course but not very often – and that’s not specific to just this device.
The new Wahoo Elemnt Bolt stays true to what it does best: it’s robust, reliable and not overly complicated. It does everything you could ask for but does it a modern and simplistic way. It captures the data on the ride or indoor trainer, so you can analyse your results via their app or whatever platform you want to push it to after the ride. It has brilliant legibility and is uber intuitive.
Distributor: FE Sports
Words: Liam Friary