Garmin Edge 530 vs Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM: Which Is Better Value?

It will surprise no one, not least someone with your above-average intelligence and surprisingly high FTP, that this post is a comparison of the Edge 530 (birthed by Garmin) and the ELEMNT ROAM (imagineered by Wahoo).

Both are bike computers, bless-ed with GPS and other wondrous features. But are they any good? And which should you buy?

All will be revealed…

Some things will be revealed…

I’ll type some words which may not make sense….

Let’s get on with it. Pronto!

So They’re Bike Computers Then?

Yes. You can attach either the Edge 530 or the ELEMNT ROAM (on in my case both) to your bike’s handlebars.

Through the magic of GPS (satellite positioning), both do a fine job of recording where you’ve ridden and how long you took. Whilst riding you can display all manner of data items: speed, cadence, distance ridden and still to go, heart rate, power.

Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM vs Edge 530

Fundamentally they both do the same job of being a pretty sophisticated bike GPS. I’ll run through the main differences (and similarities) as we go through the post.

Price and Positioning

It’s worth mentioning price at the outset, as there is a disparity between the two devices that you should probably bear in mind as you read this post.

The ELEMNT ROAM right now costs a-chunka-change more than the Edge 530.

Here are the current ‘device-only’ manufacturer-recommended prices at the time of writing:

  • Edge 530: £260 / $300
  • Roam: £299 / $379

Whilst I do like the ROAM, in particular it’s user interface, I find myself grappling with whether that’s enough justification for the £40/$79 price difference.

I guess you can make your own mind up as we go through this comparison.

For completeness, the ROAM is effectively top of Wahoo’s range of ELEMNT bike computers, above the more compact BOLT V2, released in mid-2021.

The Edge 530 is third from top in Garmin’s range, behind the larger 1030 Plus and the same-sized Edge 830. Both the 830 and 1030 Plus have touchscreens though, whereas [er,…SPOILER ALERT!] the Edge 530 doesn’t.

Garmin Edge 530

High performance at a reasonable price. Sophisticated training and performance features. Good for trails and MTB. Not touchscreen. Complex at first but powerful when you get the hang of it.

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Size, Weight and Build Quality

Let’s start with the elephant in the room, which is the elephant that is the ROAM.

(So. Proud. Of. My. Liguistic. Prowess.)

The ELEMNT ROAM is quite a bit bigger than the Edge 530. And not all of it is usefully so.

The screen (which we’ll explore further below) is only marginally larger on the ROAM than the Edge (2.7″/68mm vs 2.6″/65mm).

The bevels around the screen are wider on the ROAM, albeit they do accommodate two sets of LEDs for tracking certain data and providing light-based alerts.

ROAM vs Edge 530 screen bevels

The ROAM looks more chunky and less sleek. I’d argue (for ’tis mon blog mon ami) that the Edge 530 is more modern looking.

The additional heft on the ROAM translates to an additional weight of … less than 20g. Which is neither here nor there when we consider that you (yes you) don’t have a sub-10% body fat percentage.

The Montgomery cheapy kitchen scales (look out for it in the shops this Christmas) measures the ROAM at 96g and the Edge 530 at 77g. Which is essentially what the respective websites say, so…. helpful.

They’re both made to a premium standard. The materials used in both feel high quality. Both devices feel well put together.

I’m pretty comfortable that the claimed level of waterproofness, which is the same for the 530 and the ROAM is accurate.

(For the record, it’s IPX7 – immersion in 1m of water for up to 30 mins – which feels sufficient for most of my aquatic cycling needs).

Screen

And as I’ve already mentioned above, the ROAM’s screen is only very slightly larger than the Edge 530’s… except it isn’t.

For mathematical reasons that appear to have exploded my small brain, using my trusty ruler to measure screen width and height, the screen area on the Edge 530 is actually 7% larger than the ROAM’s.

The ROAM’s screen is a longer vertical rectangle. The 530’s screen is wider than the ROAM’s (by 5mm) and therefore a more square-shaped rectangle (Pythagoras I am not).

Garmin Edge 530 vs Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM

In short, both devices have a similar amount of screen ‘real estate’.

To my (bespectacled) eyes, the Edge 530 seems brighter and the colours are more vibrant.

The ELEMNT ROAM only has 8 colours and they are used somewhat sparingly. It feels like a monochrome device with a bit of colour rather than a true colour unit.

Readability

In terms of definition, contrast and brightness, neither device is best in class.

(If you’re wondering, of the GPSs I’ve tried so far, the best for definition/contrast is the ELEMNT BOLT V2, and the best for brightness is the Stages Dash M50.)

Text on the ELEMNT ROAM can be a bit pixelated, I’ve already mentioned the somewhat monochromy vibe (yes, vibe) and it’s not super bright on a sunny day.

The Edge 530 is definitely brighter. I’ve had no problems reading it in all riding lighting conditions.

The 530’s screen is somewhat reflective, but I only noticed it when I compared it to a bike computer that one that isn’t (yes, the BOLT V2…).

Some users (cos they’ve commented on my vids) find the text can be a bit blurred around the edges (ha), rather than super sharp. This hasn’t bothered me though.

Readability isn’t just about colour, contrast and plus des pixels.

When you reduce the number of fields showing on the ROAM’s data grid pages, the font size increases. If you go with one or two fields, the text size is massive, making full use of the screen.

ELEMNT ROAM vs Edge 530 text size

This makes the ROAM excellent for riders that might find smaller text, up close, difficult to read.

Whilst you can reduce the number of fields showing on the Edge 530 data screen to a single item, the font size only increases marginally. It remains relatively small and you have huge areas of empty white space.

LEDs

A key physical difference between the two devices is that the ELEMNT ROAM has two strips of LEDs built into its screen surround, whereas the Edge 530 … does not.

The LEDs are a Wahoo thing. Both the V1 and V2 BOLTs had a horizontal strip above the screen. The ROAM has both this horizontal strip and a vertical one to the left of the display.

LEDs on Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM

It’s a nice feature. The ones above the screen can be set to show your current speed, power or heart rate against the average for the ride so far. They can also flash for various alerts (turn directions, Strava Live Segments, phone notifications).

The LEDs down the side are most useful if you have a Varia radar, as they can show the locations of passing cars, as an alternative to bar showing down the side of the screen itself.

For choice, I’m less bothered about the LEDs to the side of the screen. If it meant the ROAM case could be reduced in size, I’d get rid of them. On the other hand, I really like the LEDs above the screen.

Whilst probably not a key factor in your ROAM vs Edge 530 buying decision, the LEDs are a worthwhile feature addition on the Wahoo.

Physical Operation

Neither the Edge 530 nor the Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM are touchscreen (in case that wasn’t clear).

For me, the button placement on the ROAM is better. It has three multi-purpose buttons on the front, as well as Up and Down on one side of the device, plus power on the other.

The function of the front buttons changes, depending which page you’re on. The labels above each button (at the bottom of the screen) make the whole thing intuitive.

Edge 530 vs ELEMNT ROAM buttons

Apparently some Wahoo ELEMNT users didn’t get on with the indented/concave front buttons (they’re flat on the V2 BOLT, in response to feedback) but I’ve never had a problem with them.

The ROAM’s buttons are all slightly rubberised, which aids grip. If you like a high quality button, the ROAM is right on the…

[whispers: “button”]

All of the Edge 530’s buttons are (…prepare yourself…) on the edges [Mont shrugs like a Frenchman] of the device.

Two buttons are on the side that faces you whence velocipeding (Start/Stop and Lap), Confirm and Back on the right edge, and Up, Down and Power on the left.

Garmin Edge 530 button locations

My two issues with the Edge 530 buttons:

  1. I frequently confuse Confirm with Back, which is annoying when you do want to confirm something and you find yourself back at the start of a process; and
  2. When riding, the side buttons sort of require you to squeeze the device, for fear that simply pressing a button on one side will pop it out of the mount – I find this is a contorting position for my hand/wrist and also risks pressing the buttons on the other side from where you attend (which is often, again, the ‘Back’ button).

That said, whilst I prefer the ROAM in terms of buttons, I should be careful not to overstate the differences. Particularly whence compared to the rest of the market.

Despite the petit (petty?) button-oyances, the Edge 530 is pretty easy to operate from a physical perspective. It just takes a bit more time getting used to (and doesn’t have those three great buttons on the front).

User Interface

Having dealt with the physical, let’s get metaphysical. Or what happens when you actually press the buttons.

The ROAM is more simple and easier to use than the Edge 530. It has fewer features and therefore needs fewer menus and sub-menus to keep said features in.

Whilst some settings can be changed on the ROAM device, the majority are made via the Wahoo ELEMNT app on your smartphone. These changes are sync’ed across to the device.

Using an app on a touchscreen smartphone is generally quicker than navigating through on-device menus using buttons. It does rather tie you to having and using a smartphone though.

The Edge 530 is virtually the opposite. It has molto featurii so plenty of menu rabbit holes. Changing settings is via the buttons on the GPS itself. Only a limited number of things can be set in the Garmin Connect app.

ROAM vs Edge 530 user experience

You don’t need a phone to make the most of it though. So, roundabouts and swings.

At the basic level, the Edge 530 and ELEMNT ROAM are equivalent in this area. Both have full on-board navigation.

If you’re following a route using either device, and you go off course, it will re-route you back on track.

The maps on the Edge 530 are more detailed. As a result of a fairly recent firmware update, you have 3 maps styles to choose from (Classic, High Contrast and Mountain Biking).

Edge 530 vs ROAM mapping

The ROAM maps are simplistic but I’ve found them sufficient for my needs. It’s not purely a navigation point (more UI) but the maps are easier to zoom in and out, and move around, because of the three buttons on the front.

ROAM vs Edge 530 navigation

Moving around maps on the Edge 530 is more painful (to the point where I don’t really do it).

Apps

I’ve mentioned the respective smartphone apps already. They’re not super comparable because they’re not quite intended to do the same thing.

Garmin Connect is a full training platform with social features (you can follow other users and see their activities in your feed).

The ELEMNT app records your own rides and syncs them with other platforms, facilitates the uploading of routes and workouts, and is used to change the settings on the ROAM.

You’ll need to upload your rides to third party apps to leach them properly from a training perspective or to get your dopamine hit of social acclaim.

This is fine for me (and for many others) as I use Strava to track all my ride data and undertake what can’t really be considered training and performance analysis.

On this basis it’s probably a wash between the two (Garmin Connect will also sync with a wide range of training and ride tracking apps).

Ecosystem

The breadth of Garmin’s fitness devices probably constitutes an ecosystem, even if the term is a little wanky.

As well as bike GPSes, there are sports-watches-cum-fitness-trackers, radars, trainers, fishfinders and the Garmin Connect fitness platform to tie them all together.

Wahoo’s range for the discerning cyclist, particularly on the hardware side is building out (bike GPS devices, indoor trainers, smart bikes, power pedals).

It doesn’t, however, meet my (fabricated) criteria for being an ecosystem, as you don’t need to run them off a Wahoo software system.

Sure you use the Wahoo app to change settings, but not the ‘sticky’ activities like tracking fitness stats and connected with compadres.

So, chances are, a Wahoo user is already using a third party ride tracking or fitness app (Strava or TrainingPeaks). It’s dead easy to switch to another GPS manufacturer and keep uploading ride data.

If you’re one of those strange folk that use Garmin Connect as your primary fitness and ride tracking dashboard then can’t really move to another bike computer maker without changing software platform (unless you want to start uploading all your fitness files manually like an absolute heathen).

Battery Life

Ah, the battery life question. Asked a lot but which always strikes me as somewhat boring.

Garmin claims 20 hours of battery life for the Edge 530 and I have no particular cause to doubt them.

I certainly don’t threaten 20 hours in a single ride nor, probably, over the course of a fortnight. My Edge 530 doesn’t seem to need charging on an excessively frequent basis.

The Wahoo ROAM is in the same (two-wheeled) boat.

Rated at just 17 hours but on a practical level, at least for me, very similar to the Edge 530 in terms of charging frequency. i.e. I just plug in a USB charging cable every 3-4 rides.

Both devices support external battery packs whilst riding.

The Edge 530 can connect to the Garmin Charge power pack via contacts in the mount, which is a neat solution. For the Wahoo ROAM, you’ll need to connect via a charging cable, which is less elegant and more susceptible to water getting in via the USB port.

Connecting To Data Sensors

The ELEMNT ROAM and Edge 530 are very similar in terms of connecting to sensors, certainly in terms of the mainstream sensors (heart rate strap, speed/cadence sensors, power meters, radar).

Both devices connect to ANT+ and Bluetooth sensors, and both can control smart indoor trainers via the ANT+ FE-C protocol.

The only ‘thing’ (because it’s not a sensor, rather an ANT+ controlled device) that can connect to my Edge 530 but can’t link with my ELEMNT ROAM (yet?) is the ‘smart light’ bit of my Varia Radar and rear light (the RTL 515).

The ROAM quite happily shows approaching vehicles picked up by the Varia radar. It just can’t be used to switch between the modes (different flashing patterns) on the integrated light.

With both devices, connecting new sensors is very easy. And existing sensors stay connected (not always a given, back in the bike GPS dark ages).

So really it’s a wash. Unless you are a passionate smart light user, it’s difficult seeing data sensor compatibility being a major part of your Edge 530 versus ROAM buying decision.

Features

Well, the Edge 530 has more of them (er, features…).

To be clear though, the ROAM has no particular deficiencies. It covers all the broad bases:

  • Training, including structured workouts
  • Routes, navigation and mapping
  • Live tracking
  • Third party software integrations (Strava, including Live Segments; Komoot; TrainerRoad and the rest)

And covers these bases well.

It’s just that, generally speaking, the Edge 530 has more ‘sub-features’.

I can’t predict which Edge-specific features might resonate with you, but for me, I very much superheart the ClimbPro screen (colour-coded elevation profiles specific to each climb on your route.

I also like the nutrition and drinking reminders (Mont hastily makes a note to use them more often).

You might be swayed by the incident detection (automatically messaging emergency contacts if the Edge detects a crash) or the bike alarm feature.

Newness (Or Will Either Device Be Replaced Soon)?

Important disclaimer: I have no particular insight on this. This is all purely speculation. Capiche?

Wahoo released the ELEMNT ROAM in May 2019, so it’s just over 2.5 years old. The original V1 BOLT was released in 2017 and replaced in mid-2021, four years later. If Wahoo maintains the same pattern, we’re talking spring 2023 for the next ROAM.

But you’ve got to imagine Wahoo feels a certain pressure (or opportunity) to launch a touchscreen bike GPS. Perhaps this gets released before 2023, either replacing the ROAM or sitting just above it in the range.

With the new(-ish) V2 BOLT expertly filling the compact, button-operated bike computer niche, and this theoreticaly new device going head to head with the Edge 830, there is a slight risk that the ROAM is stuck in ‘GPS no mans land’. Which is not a term you hear that often.

That all said, the ELEMNT ROAM is a good bike computer for now and the future. Wahoo is excellent at releasing regular firmware updates. It even adds features to discontinued models. Just this morning my V1 BOLT got the January 2022 update that enables custom alerts (i.e. to eat, drink, consider life choices) every [insert your own number] minutes, kilometres or calories.

The Edge range (to the uninformed observer without any inside information whatsoever) seems more balanced and logical. All five of the bike computers in Garmin’s current range occupy clearly defined niches and rider use cases.

And the Edge 530 probably targets the niche with the most universal appeal: compact; buttons rather than touchscreen; colour screen; all the features.

The Edge 530 and the 830 were both released in April 2019. Extensive analysis in my post comparing those two devices determined that Garmin tends to refresh GPS models every 3 years or so.

So two things:

  1. The Edge 530 and Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM are actually the same age in terms of release date; and
  2. Maybe we’ll see the launch of the Edge 540 and 840 this year (but who knows… certainly not me).

(As I close this section off, I feel honour bound to repeat: this is all pure speculation).

So Which One Should You Buy?

The Edge 530 probably. Priced at £40 (UK) or $79 (US) cheaper than the ELEMNT ROAM, the Edge feels a better value device.

Garmin Edge 530

High performance at a reasonable price. Sophisticated training and performance features. Good for trails and MTB. Not touchscreen. Complex at first but powerful when you get the hang of it.

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For choice I prefer the user experience on Wahoo devices, but the extra features on the Edge 530 (at the lower price) more than offsets this.

And many of the ROAM’s attractions can also be found in its more compact, more colourfully-screened Wahoo-in-law, the V2 BOLT (which also happens to be priced in line with the Edge 530).

That said, if you’re in the market for an easy-to-setup device, with a great user interface and the ability to display a small number of data fields in a mahoosive font, then the ELEMNT ROAM might well be just up your strasse.

Still Undecided On Which Garmin or Wahoo Bike Computer To Buy?

Here are some of my other review and comparison posts that may help you decide:

Garmin Edge 530 Review: A Bike Computer With ALL The Features (Except Touchscreen)

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT V2 vs Garmin Edge 530: Does The Updated BOLT Change The Picture?

Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM vs BOLT V2: A Detailed Wahoo Bike Computer Comparison

Monty - Sportive Cyclist
Monty is an enthusiastic road cyclist with only moderate talent. He started Sportive Cyclist in 2013 to record the journey to his first 100 mile ride, the RideLondon 100. Over time the blog has expanded to include training advice, gear reviews and road cycling tales, all from the perspective of a not-very-fit MAMIL. Since you're here, Monty would also like you to check out his YouTube channel. Also, Monty really needs to stop referring to himself in the third person.

2 thoughts on “Garmin Edge 530 vs Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM: Which Is Better Value?”

  1. I cannot take this review seriously. The 530 is notoriously poor to read in all lighting conditions, even with 100% brightness, whereas the Wahoos or very bright. This one statement makes the rest a nonsense.

    Reply
    • Ha ha! You’re not meant to take it seriously! It’s an amateur blog where humour is meant to be my schtick. Sounds like you have a 530 but if you want to compare it to the BOLT v2, take a look at some of the BOLT v2 vids on my YouTube channel.

      Reply

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