Wahoo launch ELEMNT BOLT: a CFD-tested, aerodynamic GPS bike computer - Road Cycling UK

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Wahoo launch ELEMNT BOLT: a CFD-tested, aerodynamic GPS bike computer

New premium bike computer and companion app promises 50 per cent less drag over competitors

Wahoo are continuing to make big steps in the GPS bike computer, launching the new aero ELEMNT BOLT – billed as the ultimate combination of power, simplicity and performance.

The BOLT is an evolution of the ELEMNT, a bulky but feature-rich unit which entered the market as a genuine rival to tech behemoth Garmin a year ago and was included in last year’s RCUK 100. While the ELEMNT was a great demonstration of intent, the dated design, colourless screen and comparative youth of the brand counted against Wahoo on that front but the ELEMNT BOLT takes things up another level.

The new Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT GPS bike computer boasts an aerodynamic design, promising a 50 per cent saving in drag (pic: Wahoo)

Entering the market primarily as a hardware upgrade, Wahoo have teamed up with leading cycling engineers to design a GPS bike computer which not only records the ride but offers performance improvements too.

The result is a GPS bike computer and integrated mount which together provide a significant aerodynamic advantage, claiming to reduce wind resistance by over 50 per cent over the top competitor when tested using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).

Familiar Features

As with all their products, Wahoo have sought to harness the power of the smart phones in our pockets to create a training and racing aid that was simple and intuitive to use. The BOLT inherits multiple features from the ELEMNT including the software, PerfectView Zoom, grayscale screen, QuickLook LEDs, mapping, and all the Bluetooth-connectivity and live functions we have come to expect from GPS computers.

One of the more contested features of the BOLT’s predecessor was the complete lack of on-screen colour or touchscreen capability, which is considered a backwards step in the market. However, Wahoo’s aim with this bold move was (and still is) to offer maximum visibility in all light conditions and with greater power efficiency.

So even on the most overcast day, the stark contrast between black and white is perfectly clear. It also contributes to the extended battery life which is claimed to be over 12 hours.

The incumbent function Wahoo is perhaps most proud of is the PerfectView Zoom. Through the companion app, you can arrange the Workout page data fields in order of priority, choosing from over 150 different metrics.

Then during a ride, the zoom buttons on the side of the unit enable you to hone in on fewer and fewer measurements for greater focus and visibility. It is a feature especially suited to high intensity efforts when you can glance at the small screen to see your wattage standing out rather than squinting through the pain at a messy cluster of data.

Finally, the BOLT hardware gets slightly-altered QuickLook LEDs running across the top of the unit. These both indicate direction as part of the Turn-By-Turn feature and can be programmed to indicate whether you are on pace with key metrics like heart rate, speed or power.

QuickLook LEDs, Bluetooth connectivity and turn-by-turn mapping are all features of the new computer (pic: Wahoo)

Connectivity and Convenience

Wahoo’s product range is founded upon smart phone connectivity. “Everybody carries an incredibly powerful computer in their pocket all the time now,” José Mendez, Wahoo Director of Product Management explained, “so we wanted to take advantage of that in creating a product that is the ultimate combination of power, simplicity and performance.”

The companion app (iOS and Android compatible) which controls the interface is optimised for quick and easy setup, customisation and control of the unit via Bluetooth.

The app is also fully integrated with popular hardware and software including all electronic shifting systems, TrainingPeaks, Zwift, Strava, Komoot and RideWithGPS, so routes and rides can be synced and uploaded effortlessly.

Wahoo promises the ‘ulitmately live experience’ with their Strava Live Segments, which include QuickLook LEDs and motivational messages to help you smash your KOM/QOM targets (pic: Wahoo)

Strava Live Segments are not a new feature for bike computers, but the ELEMNT BOLT claims to provide the ultimate live experience. Just like its competitors, the unit gives you warning to prepare for the segment, then as you make progress through it, the QuickLook LEDs indicate how you’re stacking up against your own PR or the KOM.

Finally, as the finish line beckons, the BOLT flashes up ‘Final Push’, which Mendez describes as, “that little voice in the back of your head that says ‘you can do it!’”

It does of course also serve as a controller for the Wahoo KICKR, the company’s flagship direct-drive smart trainer as used by Team Sky and Canyon//SRAM, making it 100 per cent “suffer-compatible”.

Take Me Anywhere

Wahoo has picked up on the tech industry trend of software’s marginal superiority over hardware, so customers benefit from any future software updates no matter which physical product they own.

Since the ELEMNT’s launch last Spring, the software has had several cool new features added, and the latest to be introduced was the ‘Take Me Anywhere’ function.

The complete mapping package is included with every unit as standard, rather than requiring additional bundles like some of Wahoo’s competitors. With ‘Take Me Anywhere’, you can drop a pin in the map from the ‘Ride’ menu in the ELEMNT app or even search for a specific location.

The app then generates a cycling optimised route from your current location which you can sync to the device, press ‘Start’, and let the ‘Turn-By-Turn’ navigation take over.

The only feature which requires your phone to stay connected to mobile data for the duration of the ride is Live Tracking. Its function is much the same as Strava Beacon or Garmin LiveTrack and can either be followed by other owners of an ELEMNT unit on the headset itself or via a link shared with family and friends.

Buy Yourself Some Time

Like so many others, the Wahoo team identified that aerodynamic design has muscled its way to the top of the priorities list in our sport. Mendez explains: “Aerodynamic efficiency is the ultimate goal in professional cycling but cycling computers rarely fall into line where drag and weight are concerned.”

With the help of Dimitris Katsanis, a composite engineer who played a crucial role in designs used for Sir Bradley Wiggins’ UCI Hour Record and Team Sky’s Tour de France wins of recent years, the BOLT underwent extensive testing to enhance the performance benefits. The resultant design certainly looks very aerodynamic.

The BOLT is quite a bit smaller than the ELEMNT, making it similar in size to the Garmin 520. In contrast to any other computer, the BOLT is not only tapered from front to back, but the detachable unit and mount are designed to fit together to form a single streamlined unit. The shape created is a continuous curve from the tip of the computer to the handlebar clamp and on through the stem.

The streamlined unit offers a 12.6-second over a 40km time trial at 21mph (pic: Wahoo)

Wahoo claim 50 per cent less drag than top competitors, which equates to a saving of 12.6 seconds over a 40km time trial at 21mph average. Though that might not sound like much, the margin of victory at even the biggest Grand Tours has been as low as eight seconds.

Wahoo believe this is a ground-breaking design feature “because a few seconds can be the difference between winning and losing.”


On the face of it, the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT looks like a device with capabilities like the Garmin 1000, but closer in size and price to the Garmin 520, making it a premium product with a mid-range price. The unit alone costs £199.99, while the bundle including HRM, speed and cadence sensors, comes in at £259.99. Available at http://uk.wahoofitness.com and leading bike dealers.

We had the chance to test the ELEMNT BOLT out ourselves at the product launch in Mallorca – look out for our first ride report.


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