Wahoo Elemnt ROAM GPS Computer: Getting Rolling – by Guitar Ted
In the world of GPS consumer products, Wahoo is a relative newcomer, but has established itself as a worthy alternative to Garmin, which has led the consumer GPS device market for many years. Wahoo released a new version of its popular Elemnt ROAM GPS computer last October. When I was contacted by a marketing firm about training with power meters, Wahoo’s Elemnt ROAM came up in conversation, and well…..here we are.
Next, you might want to understand my troubled relationship with ‘technology’, meaning PC’s, Macs, and devices of all sorts. See, I have this knack for making things fail, act goofy, or hiccup. I’ve baffled IT people and flummoxed the most avid device people with how I have been able to stumble upon a device’s shortcomings. So, please take that grain of salt in mind as we move forward. I may have issues with a device. You may never see that in your experience. I don’t even have a clue how I do this. I guess this is just my fate with electronics.
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at the Wahoo Elemnt ROAM.
What It Is: This is the latest version of the Elemnt ROAM. The updates from the first version include significant new, innovative features – including dual band GPS, enhanced navigation, updated Summit Segments Climb, higher contrast screen, and upgraded memory capacity. Also the new “Summit Freeride” feature has been added since the new version 2 ROAM came out last Fall and that is included in this review unit as well. Following is a bulletpoint list of the new features and upgrades.
- Dual Band GPS: Delivers an enhanced and more accurate navigation experience especially when riding in areas where GPS reception can be limited – such as forests or urban areas.
- Summit Segments Climb: Automatically detects climbs in a preloaded route, shows any already completed climbs, and users can view more in depth information about the current or upcoming climbs in their ride.
- 64 Color High Contrast Screen: Allows users to easily navigate through their workout screens, while also experiencing more detailed mapping data and easier to read colour coded charts, graphs and data fields.
- Memory capacity of 32GB: Allows users to manage and store a greater number of regional map packs and stored routes.
- 17 hour Long Lasting Battery Life: Means it is easier than ever for riders to stay on course for longer.
- Summit Freeride Feature: Helps the rider identify and anticipate climbs on the road ahead, even when a route has not been loaded.
Additionally the Elemnt ROAM connects to Wahoo’s ecosystem of trainers, indoor training bikes, and workout programs.
Navigation Features: Besides turn-by-turn route navigation, the following features are available exclusively on the ELEMNT ROAM and ELEMNT BOLT v2 (with color screen):
- Back On Track: Automatic re-routing to get you back on course after a wrong turn.
- Route To Start: Turn-by-turn directions guide you along the shortest route back to the start of a ride.
- Get Me Started: Get Turn-by-turn directions to the starting line of a selected route from anywhere.
- Retrace Ride: Turn-by-turn directions to retrace a ride’s path back to its starting point.
- Take Me To: Select a point on the map or enter an address for on-demand navigation directly on ELEMNT ROAM.
- Saved Locations: Save your favorite locations to easily generate turn-by-turn directions on the fly directly on ELEMNT ROAM.
- Bike-Type-Based Routing: Choose a bike type to generate routes on the fly along paths appropriate for your ride.
There is a lot more going on here with this device so hit this link to check that out. let’s move on to my first impressions, set-up, and first ride experience.
First Impressions: Out of the box I was greeted by several plastic baggies with different bits to help me get started. You’ll get an “Out Front” mount and a stem/bar mount, so you’ll be good out of the box for two bicycles. There is a multi-lingual legal/warnings/information booklet, a Quick Start Guide, a few cable ties for the stem/handlebar mount, a USB C charging cord, and the unit itself, of course.
The unit is somewhat smaller and lighter than a Hammerhead Karoo 2, (which I’ve used) and it seems to be average in weight for such devices. This Wahoo product does not have a touchscreen, but it has three buttons on the face, one on the left side, and two on the right side. The buttons seemed tactile and should be easily operated with a gloved hand.
The Elemnt ROAM comes with that handy “Quick Start” guide that will get you up and running with little waiting. Honestly, the thing that took the longest was the updating which the set-up prompts you to do while getting the unit set to use. Once I walked through the set-up, I connected my Ride With GPS account and all my saved rides automatically loaded into the Elemnt ROAM. Cool!
I was a bit confused at one point with getting the Ride With GPS account up on the ROAM because of an unmarked data entry line that I ended up realizing was for my email. But other than this, set-up was a breeze.
First Rides: I have done a couple of rides with the Wahoo so far and the first was on a heavily overcast day and we may have had some wildfire smoke in the upper atmosphere. (That’s been a problem here off and on for weeks now) This may or may not have contributed to a “freeze-up” of the functionality of the computer a few times. I was able to get the computer to ‘wake up’ again each time simply by going back to the home data page. I think it may have been the unusual atmospheric conditions which caused the hiccup because my next ride was on a very nice partly cloudy day and everything worked great.
There are a lot of layers to most full-featured GPS units, so I am going to focus on a couple of things here that were impressive and which I found useful. The big deal with the latest Elemnt ROAM is the “Summit Freeride” feature which alerts you to an upcoming climb. It doesn’t matter which page you are on, when a climb is detected, an audible alert and the word “CLIMB!” is flashed on the screen. The unit then walks you through the upcoming climb with gradient data, current summit time at the average speed you are climbing at, and more. Once you reach the top, the word “SUMMIT” appears and the head takes you back to the page you were on before.
The climb data page, (shown above) is also great because it shows you how much you have to go to reach a summit visually, which aided me in gauging my efforts better, especially when I could not see the summit ahead. The gradient alert is colorized and changes with the severity of the climb. Sadly, there is no altimeter, you only get the less than ideal graph to give you any indication of current altitude. However; with the companion app on your smart phone, you can analyze altitude data from your ride later. That said, I wish Wahoo would have included an altimeter only because I find that an interesting distraction while climbing.
As I have said, there is a lot going on here, so there will be a second part to this introduction coming soon.
Note: Wahoo Fitness sent over the Elemnt ROAM GPS Computer for test and review to Riding Gravel at no charge. We are not being bribed, nor paid, for this review and we will always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.