Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT: An In-Depth Review

I’ve owned a Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT for a while now, so it’s about time I shared my thoughts in the form of a review. If you’re thinking about buying a new cycling computer, this post will contain all you need to know.

Summary and Recommendation

This post is a bit of a monster. Here’s my summary and recommendation in bitesize form:

  • The Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT is VERY easy to use
  • The screen is clean and easy to read, with good contrast – data fields were visible in all light conditions (except eclipse – I didn’t test during eclipse…)
  • The integration with the Wahoo app works very well – it keeps fiddling around with settings on the device itself to a minimum (like virtually not at all)
  • The BOLT doesn’t have true mapping (you can’t re-route on the device itself if you take a wrong turning) but the ‘breadcrumb trails’ (along with the app) are more than enough for my needs
  • It looks attractive and the included out-front mount purports to be a little bit aero (#aero) – c’mon people, these things matter!

TLDR: Recommended as an excellent all-round bike GPS device.

And here are the links to treat yourself to a whizzbang new bike GPS:

Monty's Top Pick
Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt

Fully-featured bike computer with GPS. Compact - smaller than the ELEMNT. Syncs with Strava and other bike apps. Very easy to set up and use.

Buy Now - Amazon Buy Now - Wiggle
If you click this link and make a purchase, I earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Okay, with the summary out of the way, it’s time for the detail. Grab an appropriate performance-enhancing beverage of your choice and let’s dig in…

Time For A Mont-age

By way of cycling GPS device backstory (we all need one), I’ve owned a Garmin Edge 510 since 2013. Prior to that I owned a couple of non-GPS bike computers and (when they were invented) a couple of different ride-tracking apps on my phone (you might have heard of Strava…?).

I bought the BOLT to replace my trusty 510, which had started to flag (and was no longer so trusty).

In making my buying decision, I compared the BOLT with its larger (and slightly older) brother, the ELEMNT, and (as has become a bit of a habit) summarised my findings in a blog post.

Enuff guff. On with the show. Er, review.

What Is It, This ELEMNT BOLT?

A. Bike. GPS. Device.

It’s a bike computer that attaches to your handlebars. It records and displays data on your ride, either picking information up from sensors attached to the bike (and sometimes to you) or by using the built in GPS chipset (to know where you’ve been, how long you’ve taken to get there, etc).

If you want to know more about bike GPS devices in general, I’ve written quite a few posts which you might want to read.

You could start with my Ultimate Guide to Bike GPS devices – the headline probably (definitely!) oversells it, but it’ll give you a good overview.

What’s In The Box (And What Does The Box Look Like)?

All good reviews need to involve some sort of ‘unboxing’. Thusly, here are a selection of photos that explain what you get when you buy a BOLT.

Firstly the box, because every good unboxing requires one. There was actually an outer box, as I ordered the Wahoo from Wiggle and it got magi-delivered through the post. Tsch, modern life.


The sides of the box unfurl and you get a bit of promotional bumf. I guess this is aimed more at the casual, shop-based picker-upperer, who still requires a little persuasion to purchase, rather than someone that was essentially stuck with it. Still, helpful stuff (that I never read…).

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT box unfurled

As is usual in this post-iPhone age, the device is presented up encased in a plastic presentation pouch, with all the additional gubbins hidden beneath. And this device came with gubbins-a-plenty (my Pantomime name).

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT unboxed

I bought the ‘bundle’ version, so the BOLT also came with a heart rate strap and speed and cadence sensors. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), if you buy the device-only version, you’ll get … only the device (plus the charging and bike-attaching paraphernalia).Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT bundle

I know you yearn to see a Wahoo speed sensor up close. I do not like to disappoint.

Here it is, sitting in a mount, which you use to attach it to the hub of either your front or rear wheel. So not the usual magnet on a spoke, passing by a sensor setup that you might be used to in speed sensors of yore.

Wahoo speed sensor

And here is the cadence sensor. The pod (the bit at the bottom) goes in the mount (the bigger thing in the middle) and you use the zip-ties to attach them both to the inside of your crank arm (the non-drive side).

Wahoo cadence sensor

I was about to say that my Garmin cadence sensor is more elegant (the Garmin bit that goes on the crank arm is essentially a heavy rubber band with a magnet built into it) but then I realised that the Wahoo version doesn’t use magnets. My Garmin sensors are only (très) elegant because I have a hole in my chainstay where the sensor for the cadence and speed sits.

If you are not blessed with a hole (an intentional one) in your bike frame for a Duotrap, you’ll probably find the Wahoo cadence sensor (and indeed the speed one), a more flexible (and yes, elegant) solution than a magnet-based one.

Also, CONFESSION TIME. I haven’t actually yet fitted either the speed or cadence sensors to my bike. As you’ll read below, the BOLT was so easy to get going, using my existing (whisper it) Garmin speed and cadence sensors, that I never really got round to fitting them…

I will report back (and, update this post), when I’ve done so.

(For the time being, I do note some online reviews suggest battery life is an issue with the Wahoo sensors – probably worth doing a bit of digging around this before splurging on the ‘bundle’ over the device-only option).

…Anywayz… the bundle option also includes a heart rate strap. Behold. It connects via Bluetooth Smart and, when purchased on a standalone basis, revels in the ‘Tickr’ name (following the Wahoo strategy of omitting the odd vowel from its product names).

Wahoo Tickr heart rate strap

Aero Mount For Aero Mont

Wahoo supply two options for mounting the BOLT to your bike.

Option 1 is a (boring old) stem mount, which I was going to show a photo of but then realised how distinctly un-interesting it looks (if you’re keen, feel free to have a gander at the ‘contents of the box’ photo above, where it makes a cheeky appearance).

More exciting though, Wahoo also supplies an out-front mount for the BOLT. Whilst I haven’t yet tested it in the Sportive Cyclist wind tunnel, a quick visual assessment suggests the mount might be somewhat aero (#somewhatAero).

And since visuals are all that really matters when it comes to being aero, this ticks all the boxes for me. Please to enjoy a series of photos.

Sans BOLT, the aero mount looks distinctly un-aero.

Wahoo ELEMENT BOLT aero mount 1

However, its smooth, sculpted undercarriage hints at the aero benefits that await…

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT aero mount 2

Note (to the extent you’re interested), that the underneath of BOLT device is cut away such that when twisted onto the outfront mount, the underside forms a single (yes!) aero (looking) curve.

Putting BOLT into Aero mount

Et voila, the photo below shows the device clicked neatly into the mount.

Incidentally, the hole at the bottom right of the mount, where the arm starts, is where you can insert a little screw (supplied) in order to secure the BOLT into the mount. This isn’t necessary from a practical perspective – the BOLT is held securely in place by the twist-in mount. Instead, it is to allow pro teams to classify the GPS device as being permanently attached to the bike for the purpose of meeting the UCI’s minimum weight requirement.

Given that I like to take my GPS device off the bike at the end of a ride, and my recreational rides haven’t tended to be governed by the UCI rulebook, I haven’t used the screw quite yet… ELEMNT BOLT in aero mount 1

Ta da! Ready to fit to the handlebars of my trusty steed (my bike…).

ELEMNT BOLT with outfront mount

The Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT device

Wait, you don’t want just to look at tedious close ups of plastic (pretend aero) bike mounts? You want to see what the BOLT itself looks like?

Oh, go on then… Here is a BOLT, complete with plastic (or whatever) pretend screen readout.

Above the screen you’ll note a horizontal line of 7 LEDs. These light up at various times when riding to designate, say, whether your current speed is above or below the average for the session, or to announce that you’ve missed a turn and gone off course from a route you were following.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT device

Those three indentations below the screen are buttons, and that part of the device is rubberised and textured. You will have no slippy finger issues with this bike computer, oh no. The buttons on the front of the BOLT are used to scroll through the pages, start and stop the device etc.

(Oh, and in case you were wondering, the BOLT does not have a touchscreen – it’s all about physical buttons).

Talking of which, there are a further two on the right hand side of the device.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT side buttons 1

Generally these tend to perform ‘up/down’ function (or, on the ride data screens, adding and reducing the number of data fields showing on the page).

With the left hand side of the device not wanting to be shown up in the button stakes, we have…

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT side buttons 2

… the power button. Which turns the BOLT on. And off.

The BOLT charges by way of a USB port on the bottom edge of the device, hidden beneath this subtle sky blue rubberised cover.


In addition to using the USB cable to plug simply into a power socket, I imagine you could use it to connect to your computer, but I haven’t tried this.

Given that most people will want to use the BOLT in conjunction with a smartphone (where you connect via Bluetooth), and with the prevalence of wifi in most homes, physically linking one to a computer feels like a rare scenario. Still, whatever floats your digital boat.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT charging port

How Easy Is The BOLT To Set-up And Get Started?

Answer: about as easy as it gets.

For some reason, I decided that my first ride with my new electro-GPS gizmo would be a lunchtime ride on a ‘working from home day’ (if my boss is reading, I worked late… plus… work/life balance agenda etc etc).

I was desperate to get out on the bike as soon as lyrca-ly possible (ASALP). And setting up the BOLT took literally took a couple of minutes.

Thankfully I had done a little thinking ahead, so plugged it in to charge a few hours earlier (even then it was 50% charged out of the box). I installed the Wahoo iPhone app and it prompted me to scan the QR code* which appeared on the BOLT when I turned it on.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT set up with QR codeWhich I did, and thusly the BOLT and my iPhone were officially married paired.

(*A QR code seems to be some sort of 2-dimensional bar code that, when presented up to the camera of your smartphone, automatically gets it to do something.)

I then had to create a Wahoo account (done from the iPhone), connect the BOLT to my wifi (done from the iPhone), allow it access to my Strava account (done from the iPhone) and fill in a few basic details – height, weight etc (yawn, done from the iPhone).

And that was about it. Ready to go.

(As might be obvious, I was using the iPhone app. There is an equivalent Android app. Based on my reading of the instructions for the Android app on the Wahoo website, I’d say the process is exactly the same as for iOS and therefore, one assumes, equally quick and intuitive).

How Do You Attach It To Your Bike (And Is THAT Easy)?

Answer: YES! (to the question in brackets).

As mentioned above, we have two attachment options: the stem mount or the out-front aero mount. The former might have taken a little time (or at least a little careful consideration) because the mount attaches to your stem with zip-ties. I only wanted to do that once.

Instead I chose the aero mount because… you know… #aero.

Attaching it was simples.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT on ride

I dug out the appropriately-sized allen key (hex key for los Americanos) and loosened the bolt. This allowed me to slip the bracket around the desired section of my handlebars, and then I tightened the bolt to fix it in place. A two minute job (if that).

Then it was a case of placing the BOLT device onto the mount at a slight angle and then twisting it until it clicked into place. Whilst my describing skills have probably come up a touch short, I can confirm that it’s all very obvious and not dissimilar to the Garmin mount system.

Intuitive To Use

Yeah, so I think we’re detecting something of a theme. The BOLT felt straightforward to operate, right from the start.

At some point in the ‘onboarding’ process, an image from within the app explained what each of the buttons do. In case, like me, you’re wont to promptly forget such vital information, the buttons on the front of the device (below the screen) are labelled (on the section of said screen immediately above), depending on their function at that time.

For my first ride, I didn’t have time (#worklifebalance) to fit the speed and cadence sensors to my bike (or fit the heart rate strap to my body) which no doubt simplified things. But still, I pressed the button to start, got on with my ride, and the BOLT got on with doing its thing.

I should say, I was ‘dual devicing’ (maybe duel devicing?), riding with my old (sniff) Edge 510 as well as the BOLT, and I just hit start on that device as well. And it too got on with doing it’s thing.

ELEMNT BOLT vs Edge 510

I guess the point I’m making is that back in the day, starting with a new Edge device involved quite a lot of messing around before things seemed to be up and running. With the BOLT there was none of that.

Screen And Visibility

I have no objective measure of determining the relative clarity of the BOLT versus other devices (including my Edge 510).

I will say that my highly subjective eyes found the text and numbers displayed on the screen to be very well defined and therefore easy to read whilst riding. I’ve had no problems with readability in all the myriad riding conditions where I’ve used the BOLT (including one ride so wet that the recessed buttons on the front all filled with water…).

The photo above shows the BOLT display next to my 510. It certainly gives the impression that the display on the BOLT is significantly better. I’m sure this is true – the 510 is 5 years old and is touchscreen to boot – but I think the angle of the photo might overemphasise the difference.

Still, the display on the BOLT is excellent. As you’ll see further down this post, you can reduce the number of data items showing, in which case the font size increases markedly, further aiding visibility.

Uploading Ride Data…

…Is a piece of piddle. In fact, after I finished my first ride above, the file had uploaded to my Strava account before I’d even thought about it.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT end ride

When you hit the button to confirm finishing a ride, the summary screen shows up, display your vital (ride) statistics.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT ride data

If you hit the button that is bottom right of the screen, now labelled ‘Week’ you get a summary of all your ride activity for that… week.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT weekly total

As soon as I wander within range of my home wifi, the ride immediately synchronises with my Strava account.

Now, to be fair, this happens on my Edge 510 as well.

The difference is that when I hit ‘Yes’ to upload a finished ride on the Edge, it syncs to the Garmin Connect app on my iPhone using Bluetooth and then, because I’ve set it up to do so, Garmin Connect syncs the ride with my Strava account.

The bit where Garmin Connect communicates with Strava tends to work. The bit where the Edge 510 connects to my iPhone via Bluetooth isn’t always quite so smooth, resulting in a failed upload and me having manually to try it again.

Returning to the BOLT (for ’tis the subject of this ‘review’), the headline message is, once again, that the uploading of ride data just works.

(If you don’t have a Strava account (what?!?), or an account with one of the other BOLT-compatible cycling apps, your ride data will simply upload – again automatically – to the Wahoo app for later perusal and in-depth analysis.)

The Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT ‘app’

Hmm, I’m not sure that in this day and age, the word ‘app’ needs the inverted commas (okay, quotation marks). I think it might just be a word and we’re just going to have to deal with that.

Basically, you (we, I) use the app to manage all aspects of your life interactions with the BOLT and the world of Wahoo (which is not what Wahoo call it, sadly).

You can view data and maps from recent rides, select new routes or workouts to follow and update your Wahoo account profile with things like height, weight, age and, if you’re so inclined, your heart rate and power zones.

Finally, you employ the app in order to change settings on the BOLT. The ability to do this from the device itself is limited (to the point of not really being possible).

Locating Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT

As you can see from the screen grab below, you can select which screens you want your BOLT device to show, connect various sensors, and set up when the LEDs will flash and when alert sounds, er, sound.Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT app

The ‘Customize Pages’… page enables you to switch on or off which data screens you want the BOLT to show whilst you’re on a ride. Each page can be further, er, customised in terms of selecting which pieces of data you’d like to see when riding

Wahoo ELEMNT app custom pages

I mentioned above the LEDs that run horizontally along the top of the device (above the screen). You can use the app to decide what the LEDs are used for. Since I don’t have a power meter (… or do I …?) and I haven’t tended to use the heart rate strap (it’s on the list…), I’ve got the LEDs set up to show me my speed.


Talking Of Data Screens…

We WERE talking about data screens!

The ‘Workout Data’ page on the app screen shot above is your core ‘how fast am I going/how far have I ridden/er, what time is it?’ page. You’d expect to see a variant of this on any bike computer worth its salt (or maybe worth its satellites).

The clever thing about the ELEMNT BOLT is that, on the workout data page, you can use the up and down buttons on the side (told you they’d come in handy) to increase (and decrease) the number of fields showing on the screen at any one time.

So, say you’re a data fiend, you can have nine fields showing, as in this photo below (where, helpfully, as I took the photo whilst the BOLT was sitting on my desk, only the ‘Clock’ field contains anything resembling useful data.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 8 data If you’re only moderately data hungry, you can press the side buttons to reduce the number of fields showing to, say, four of your most favouritist fields, which each field readout increasing in size to fill the available screen ‘real estate’.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 4 dataFinally, if you’re some sort of cyclo-minimalist who buys an expensive bike GPS device in order to display precisely one data output whilst riding (what is wrong with you!?!), a few more side button presses and the BOLT is happy to oblige.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT 1 data

What Apps Can You Connect And Sync With?

I mentioned Strava already. I’ve also linked my RidewithGPS account, so that any routes I create there are automatically synced with my BOLT.

The following screenshot from the Wahoo app gives you a flavour of the other fitness and training accounts you can also connect (should you so desire).

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT linked apps

Does The BOLT Have Route Following Capabilities?

Yes (in short).

But (to continue), the BOLT does not have route creation capabilities. When you upload a ride (see below), the BOLT doesn’t ‘know’ which roads you are following. It cannot re-route you if you make a wrong turn (like a car sat-nav or Google Maps would).

Instead, the BOLT helps you to follow a series of navigational ‘bread crumbs’ (essentially GPS coordinates) that it overlays onto the simple maps that have been pre-loaded onto the device.

In terms of the detail shown, the maps are pretty simple:

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT map zoomed in

The simplicity of the map above is possibly due to the relative lack of roads. On a recent hunt for more roads in a smaller area (otherwise known as a visit to my parents), I was lucky enough to be shown this smorgasbord of streets (plus a river – the wide light grey snake; and some footpaths – the thin lines). Lovely.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT detailed map

Once you’ve uploaded a route, you can see it displayed on the map.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT route map

This is more than enough detail for my purposes (not least because this is showing a section of a route that is in my local area…). The chevrons (yes, chevrons) point you in the direction you need to ride.

You can zoom out on the maps screen, in order to give you an overview of your ride. I would note that this does result in the map losing quite a lot of detail. Like roads…

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT route

(“Just ride around in a circle near Burton-on-Trent. It’ll be fine…”)

More usefully, hitting the ‘Page’ button brings up the screen showing the elevation chart for the proposed route, along with some relevant climbing related data fields (which clearly would be populated if you were looking at this screen whilst riding).

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT elevation

Even more usefully (particularly for those who are not riding one of your standard training loops) is the fact that the BOLT will display directional ‘cues’ at appropriate times whilst riding. Below is an example of the cue sheet page, telling you how much distance is left on the ride and, in this case, the next two turnings.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT cue sheet

It’s important to note that in order for the BOLT to show you correct cues, these will need to be included as part of the route ‘file’ that is uploaded to the device.

By way of example, routes created on Strava and then sync’ed with the BOLT don’t currently (as of November 2017) contain turn-by-turn directions. The BOLT won’t therefore know to show them (there’s nothing to show) when you’re out following the route.

Alternatively, if you use RideWithGPS to create routes (which I am a bit partial to), these do contain the turn-by-turn data when sync’ed with the Wahoo. Thusly a series of handy turn directions are shown at more-or-less appropriate times. Good times.

Massive Magazine Of Maps

The BOLT (or maybe the app, who knows) seems to come with come with considerable coverage of cartography. Fiddling around in the menus of the Wahoo gives page after page of maps, including those in the screen shot below (which, since I’m still a fan of Sesame Street, are brought to you by the letters ‘S’, ‘U’ and ‘V’…).

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT maps Europe

There are many multitudes of maps from other continents as well…

How To Upload A Cycle Route To The Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT (The Hard Way)

And by ‘hard way’ I of course mean ‘quite easy’. Because most things about this here bike computer seem pretty easy. In fact, my first route upload experience almost happened by accident.

I had an early opportunity to test the navigation capabilities of the BOLT outside my local area. Not long after buying the BOLT, I participated on a ‘Cycle Day’ organised by my august (note: not August – I work there all year…) employer. Essentially it was a supported mini-sportive to entertain customers that aren’t that bothered about golf, but are bothered about lycra (cycling of coursbeing the new golf…).

Unnywho, the ride was in Warwickshire, which I don’t know well, and the organisers supplied a gpx file of the route. Although I knew that there would be ride leaders with every group, providing human navigation rather than satellite, I thought I’d still try out the BOLT.

I downloaded the .gpx file onto my work computer. I emailed it to my personal hotmail account (yes I still use hotmail) thinking I would probably have to do something on my home computer later. I decided to check my iPhone to see if the email had arrived (ye of little faith).

Email GPX file to iphone

A quick tap on the icon within the email and the ‘what do you want to do with it?’ option box popped up. Lo and behold, there was an ‘Import with ELEMNT’ icon. Intriguing.

And reader I tapped it.

Importing GPX files Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT Whizz bang whooo, it uploaded just like that (almost just like that).

Import file Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT

Boom! There it was in my list of routes in the Wahoo app….

Wahoo ELEMNT app routes page

… ready to be investigated in more detail:

Wahoo ELEMNT app route map

Come Cycle Day, all I had to do was find the route on my BOLT device and then follow it.

Now disappointingly, it was my iPhone that let me down on the day. I didn’t get many photos. Certainly none of them demonstrated the navigational capabilities of the BOLT.

In any event, like those created via Strava, the route file supplied by the ride organisers didn’t contain turn-by-turn directions (shame on them!), so it wasn’t flashing up directional cues to me on the ride anyway.

You’ll have to wait until later on this post in order to see photovisualimagery of the BOLT in route-following action (ooh Monty, you tease…).

The Even Easier Way To Upload A Route To Your ELEMNT BOLT

Whilst the above ‘accidental upload’ (which would be the name of my ’80s revival experimental synth-pop band) filled me with a surprising amount of delight, it turns out there is an even easier and more effective way of uploading routes to the BOLT (and I assume the bog-standard ELEMNT as well).

I’ve hinted at it already.

Basically, all you have to do is create a route in an app like RideWithGPS, make sure that your account on said app is connected with your Wahoo account, and then sync the two. Any rides created in RideWithGPS (or whatever) should then just pop up on the list of routes, whether that’s in the Wahoo app…

Wahoo routes RidewithGPS

… Or on the BOLT device itself.

Syncing Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT with Ride With GPS

How To Follow A Route On The ELEMNT BOLT (Whilst Riding Your Bike)

Now this is really complicated. No, wait, typo. I meant really easy. Do this:

  1. Fire up the BOLT;
  2. Scroll through to the maps screen;
  3. Press the ‘Route’ button;
  4. Scroll down to the route in question;
  5. Press the ‘Select’ button; and
  6. Press the ‘Start’ button.

Here is a photo of my thumb as it embarks on the challenge of completing step 5 above. Note how tired it looks.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT selecting route

And What Do The Directions Look Like When Riding?

I’m glad you asked. Mainly because I took some photos answering precisely that question.

After almost crashing experimenting with taking photos with my phone whilst riding (and a video that would have qualified for ‘Most Tedious YouTube Video 2017’), I decided to take a few static shots, having paused my ride a few metres before a turn on the route.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT directions

I found the instructions quite easy to read. They appear on screen in good time for the turn. The distance count downs as you approach, which is helpful and I would say somewhat accurate. Often the turn was upon me and it said I still had 10 metres to go.

I imagine this is caused more by the quality of the GPS coordinate data rather than the BOLT not knowing where it is (though I base this assumption on absolutely no specialist knowledge at all).

In any event, it doesn’t really matter. A combo of being given fair warning of a direction, the name of the road being clearly stated, and a 10m margin of error being sufficiently close to get the right turn in most cases, means that the BOLT does a good job from a navigational aid perspective.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT next instruction

Live Tracking: What Is It And How Does It Work?

Well it’s a way you allow people to track you (live, like) when you’re out on the bike.

You share a link with family, friends, random people you’ve met, and they can click that link (ooh, internet) and see where you’ve been, where you are now and, if you’re following a predetermined route (rather than wandering aimlessly), it’ll show them where you plan to go.

Depending on how much of your life you share (I like to do Facebook Live sessions from my bathroom), you can set the live track link so that it is either valid until the end of the day or valid forever. I’d suggest the former choice is the safest for most people.

You can also set up the app such that a tracking link is sent out automatically each time you start a ride, either to a select few email recipients or to everyone on your company intranet (ha I jest, I course mean everyone you have befriend-agramed on Twittered-In).

Wahoo ELEMNT app live tracking

The live tracking feature also allows you to see other Wahoo users whilst they’re out and about (presumably on their bike). The app screenshot above claims that a ‘Mark S’ is (was) conquering the lanes of South Derbyshire, whilst a foto taken of my BOLT device (at another time) had ‘Graham S’ (both members of the ‘S’ family?) riding through the D of Derby.

Tracking other Wahoo users

(Whilst something of a novelty for me at the moment, perhaps if BOLT (or other Wahoo device) ownership proliferates, this ability to find other Wahoo users nearby will be helpful for coordinating group rides.)

Making The ELEMNT BOLT Do Smartphoney Things

So a couple of Sundays ago, I was on my way out of the door, attempting to get a ride in before a school friend, over from Canada, was dropping by to tell me he was giving up his hard-earned career in medicine in order to day trade (!).

And also just to catch up (mainly to catch up).

Anyhoo, as I walk outside, fully lycra’d up, iPhone in back pocket, the BOLT suddenly started to ring. Which was a surprise.

Even more of a surprise because I am one of those people that has their phone on silent all of the time (I think I still have a 1990s sense of mobile phones being slightly pretentious… also I am scared of talking to humans).

It turned out that my iPhone was RINGING THROUGH MY BOLT (a phrase I never thought I’d write). And I hadn’t told it to.

Even more millenial was the fact that my mate was calling using WhatsApp, so the call was being done via my wifi (hashtag wifiWIN) and NOT THE MOBILE PHONE NETWORK (crazy…).

(In case you’re wondering, I answered the phone and had a nice chat with my pal about arrangements for his visit later that afternoon).

It’s not just phone calls. My wife texted (from Tesco) whilst I was writing this very post. I had the BOLT powered up on the desk next to me. In addition to appearing on my phone screen, the wordage of the text appeared on the BOLT (along with a suitably ’80s revival synth-pop bleep). If I had been on the bike, I could rest easy (ride easy) knowing that my wife was going to pick some snacks up for the kids.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT versus Garmin Edge 510

Wahoo ELEMENT BOLT vs Garmin Edge 510Look, to be honest there is no comparison. The BOLT is significantly better.

This is to be expected. The Edge 510 is around 5 years old, which is 35 in dog years and archaic in bike GPS years.

The display, whilst being touchscreen (whereas the BOLT is not), is not very clear compared to the newer competitor.

Also, the battery on my Edge is essentially knackered (as I am essentially knackered at the end of every weekend spent with the kids). It is not really fair comparing it to a whizz bang new unit.

If you’re considering a Garmin alternative to the BOLT, you’re really looking at the Edge 520 (the current model in the Garmin 5xx series). I’ll be reviewing that device soon.

That all said, I know people that bought the Edge 500 long after it was deemed obsolete because i) it did a job; and ii) the price was right. On the whole, most people have tended to be happy with it. The 510 is still a fully featured and very capable bike GPS device. Again, at the right price (maybe if Garmin put batches of old stock out for clearance), perhaps you’ll be able to pick up a bargain.


At 5,000 words plus, this post has turned into a bit of whopper. I’ll keep concluding thoughts to a minimum.

My experience with the ELEMNT BOLT has been great. It’s really easy to set up and then use on the bike. The route upload features works well and I have no problem following the directions as they appear during a ride.

In short, I think we might have a Garmin-beater, people.

Purchase A Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT

Monty's Top Pick
Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt

Fully-featured bike computer with GPS. Compact - smaller than the ELEMNT. Syncs with Strava and other bike apps. Very easy to set up and use.

Buy Now - Amazon Buy Now - Wiggle
If you click this link and make a purchase, I earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Many thanks and I hope you found this review helpful.

If you already own a Wahoo and you love it (or hate it…), please let me know in the comments below.

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.

21 thoughts on “Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT: An In-Depth Review”

  1. I’ve been using Wahoo Elemnt for 5000km now (replaced a Garmin 1000) and concur with the summary. Natty piece of kit, does exactly ‘what it says on the tin’ and very easy to use. Recommend 10/10

    • Interesting. I have a Garmin Edge 1000 currently. I am beating myself up that I am still stupid enough to buy Garmin products which seems to be perpetually stuck in pre-alpha version mode quality wise.

      Perhaps the Wahoo doesn’t have touch screen, but it appears you are actually able to see the course route. On the Garmin I think you are only able to have a stupid cyan/magenta course color which is difficult to distinguish from roads in general. I can easily live without being able to create routes on the device itself (I never do that anyway).

      It might be a little early to plunk down new money into a GPS device as the Garmin device does kinda work. But I am tempted….

  2. Thank you Monty. I’ve been toying with the idea of an Elemnt Bolt for a few weeks now and your review has tipped the scales for me. I just have to decide whether I can stretch my patience long enough to get someone else to fund it for me as an Xmas present or to wait until November’s pay kicks in and buy it myself. I will use your links!

    • Thanks Simon – very good of you. Whilst I don’t think it’ll be in any Black Friday sales (or cyber Monday), it might be worth at least waiting to see on those.

  3. Great review, thanks, very informative. One thing I’d like to know more about before I take the plunge is battery life. What’s your experience on how long it lasts? Thanks a bunch!

    • Hi Tim. Good question and I should probably have written about this. I’ve had a couple of cases where the BOLT ran out of battery on a ride. I haven’t got into the habit of charging it regularly, which I should do really. I am lazy after my Edge 510 just ran and ran between charges. The BOLT doesn’t seem to display battery charge on the unit itself (unless I’m missing it). You need to monitor it on the smartphone app, which again I’m not quite in the habit of doing. Initially it would alert me on my phone homepage to charge it every so often but this seems to have stopped… which reminds me to look into getting that working again. Will report back!

  4. Great review, thanks. I am really interested in getting the Bolt as all the reviews I have read have been great. The only issue I have is that I want to be able to get my ride data on to Garmin Connect. Is anyone able to tell me if this is possible and how easy it is? If this isn’t possible then I may have to go for the Garmin 520.

  5. Andrew, The product analysis and detail in your reviews is among the best I’ve ever read. But please, oh please, dispense with the parenthetical asides. I read reviews to learn the reviewer’s version of the tech facts and his/her opinions on the product which again, you do so well. But it’s a major pain in the butt to sort out your facts/opinions from your unnecessary and unenlightening “cleverness”.

    • Andrew, just to add a bit of balance here, I actually like both the reviews and the asides. I’d rather you didn’t dispense with them.

  6. Amazing mate, I really enjoyed reading your review. As experimiented cyclist I had to know that you worte an exceptional article. Even now I am thinking about change my SRM PC8… hahaha
    Greetings from Spain.

  7. Thanks for the top work on the review. You’ve tipped the scales on the Wahoo over the Garmin for me.
    And with regards to the asides, I think it’s what gives your blog it’s unique tone of voice and makes it stand out from the hundreds of cycling blogs out there. I’ve read two of your posts now and have impressed with the standard of writing and the balance of tech to humour. Keep up the good work!

  8. So. I went and bought one – mainly on the strength of this excellent review here. Thanks a lot Andrew. You should get a commission from Wahoo (tell them I said so…)

  9. I have a Bolt ordered from my local bike shop. Can wait to get it in and try it out! I suppose I will have to wait until the snow stops though.

  10. Hi, Thanks for the review! How does the Bolt handle routing if you at some point are outside the pre-loaded route? Will it simply pick up when you are back on the route again? Thanks, Soren

    • Hi Soren, the BOLT will tell you that you’re off-course but the unit itself won’t re-route on the fly. You’ll have to find your way back to the originally uploaded route. The maps on the BOLT itself should be sufficient to allow you to do this. You’ll also have your (smart)phone (I assume). If you can’t work how to get back on your own, you can use said smartphone (using the ‘Take Me To…’ function on the app) if you want to create a route back to a point that intersects with your original course (the routing in the Wahoo app is powered by Google Maps). Hope that helps!

  11. Thanks for the review & asides Andrew. Can the bolt be charged while in use? – (I have dynamo hub and battery charger with a USB outlet on my touring bike) And does the screen have a back light making it easy to read at night?

  12. Hi Peter,
    1) Yes, you can charge it while in use.
    2) You can set (using the app or a quick click on the power button), the back light value: off, on, or on for a few seconds.

    One more point that someone mentioned:
    You can set to see the Elemnt battery percent as one of the display fields.

  13. Thanks a lot Monty for this, really helpful. I think you just updated the article, so you’ll forgive my posting late.
    If you don’t pay for a routing app (I’m aware of the arguments that software isn’t free, and you should pay for what you use), how can you generate a route and then upload it to the headunit Wahoo? I don’t currently have a lap/desktop. Can you generate the route solely on the Wahoo app (I think RideWithGPS etc won’t give route builder without subscribing?)?
    Sorry for the volley of questions, any help greatly appreciated! Do you know if there is grapevine talk about their replacing or updating this model, I’d hate to buy it then learn they’re about to release a better unit for a similar price…

    • @ Julian S – the free RWGPS account does indeed feature a route builder. The Elemnt Bolt will sync when you ask it to, and download any new routes created.


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