I’ve been using a Wahoo Element Roam GPS Cycling computer for the last 110 rides. We published an initial story about how the first phase of the Roam test went. Even though we were only at the beginning, it was clear that an old dog can learn new tricks! The Roam is as easy as pie. And anyone that’s ever made a pie knows, making a pie is not that easy, but eating a pie…well, that goes pretty dang easy.
The other major player in the GPS Cycling Computer market is Garmin. I haven’t used a Garmin, but a couple of mi amigos have them and one of them just bought his second Garmin. I’m afraid that I can’t be much help in the way of providing much of a comparison between the two brands so I’m going to focus on what I liked about the Wahoo Elemnt Roam and what I think needs to be improved.
The large bright color screen is easier to see without reading glasses and the tactile click buttons are a great choice for use in the field. The Roam stood up to rain, sleet, snow, and mud. The battery life has been admirable and the cold weather performance has also been pretty good (temps as low as 15 F).
The Roam is easy to set up and the connectivity with the companion app on my smartphone allows the Roam to receive software updates and download all of your ride data. It also can be set to forward that data to other apps like Strava. (Strava should be its own review or podcast. There’s so much to say about Strava)
I like the way that the ROAM became my digital coach. It didn’t take long for me to become addicted to seeing the data that Coach Roam had for me at the end of every ride. I’ve done a couple “races” since I started using the Roam and it allowed me to track my progress. It changed the way that I determined when I was done with a ride. I used to ride until I was tired or had completed the loop that I planned to cover. Sometimes I’d have my best guess of what that mileage was and I could look at the clock and see how long I’d been gone. The wahoo is really precise in recording the distance and only records the time that you spend moving, so you get a better idea of the time spent in the saddle. That data acts as a motivation to see those numbers improve. Just recently, I noticed that most of my rides were one-hour of effort. So in the past few weeks, I made sure to mix in longer efforts to build some endurance. My riding and general health have improved over the last ten months and Coach Roam helped provide both data and motivation to get there.
There are a variety of ways to mount the Roam. Our unit came with a couple of mounts and I purchased a couple of aftermarket mounts for both the bars and the stem cap. When I rode my klunker, I just stuck the roam in a pocket and that also worked pretty damn well!
The Things that Need Improvement (or just need to be turned off in the settings)
I don’t have much to compare this to, other than standard computers that count the number of wheel revolutions to compute speed and distance and the parade of Apple iPhones that I’ve had. So let the knit-picking begin…I’d like to see a longer battery indicator at start-up and at the top of the main screen. It’s only one click to get to the screen that shows battery life. It took me a good six months before I got lazy with charging the Roam and it died in the middle of a ride. I had to re-link it to the iPhone after that, but that’s been the only real hiccup that I’ve encountered.
There are a couple of aspects of GPS computers and their connectivity that concern me. The default setting allows text messages and phone calls to show as an alert on the Wahoo. I turned that off right away. When you connect the Roam to outside application platforms like Strava, there’s another whole set of privacy settings to consider. All of those concerns can be addressed in the preferences that you set up with each of the accounts. It goes deeper than just your location history, if you link your heart rate monitor data to the Wahoo, there’s personal health information that should remain private. This is why I said the Wahoo Elemnt Roam was as easy as pie. The software interface and privacy concerns represent the difficulty level of making the pie, while using the Roam is like eating the pie – easy and delicious.
There’s still a big part of me that says that I don’t need to know the data that Coach Roam shares during and after the ride is over, but there’s just about an equal part of me that wants to see that data and see my PR’s on Strava. There’s a whole new social media platform on Strava, where you can follow friends and see how hard Jeff Mead has been training for the next Hugh Jass Race. I think that we’ll talk more about Strava on one of our upcoming Danger Gnome podcasts.
So yeah…I’m a Wahooligan now. I join other Wahooligans like Adam Blake and Leia Schneeberger that recommend the Wahoo!
For more information about Wahoo’s GPS Computers visit – Wahoofitness.com