Garmin isn’t the only one with skin in the bike GPS game. Tim Rob­son tests the Wa­hoo Elemnt, a full func­tion com­puter with a lot of abil­ity.

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - Outdoor Bike Lane -


RRP $600 (sam­ple on­line price, Aus­tralian re­tailer)

WEIGHT 105g (head unit only)) INFO http://au.wa­hoofit­ness.com/ gps-bike-com­puter-elemnt TESTED BY Tim Rob­son

THERE IS a be­wil­der­ing ar­ray of prod­ucts out there if you’re look­ing to record your cy­cling per­for­mance, be it as a happy am­a­teur look­ing for sim­plic­ity of use, or as a more se­ri­ous user try­ing to max­imise per­for­mance via data.

The leader in the field of GPS cy­cling com­put­ers to this point has been Garmin, which of­fers a solid range of com­put­ers across a wide price spec­trum. Wa­hoo is a late starter to the game, but has made a name for it­self via a range of so-called ‘smart’ train­ers that can be linked to on­line pro­grams to im­prove the sta­tion­ary cy­cling ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s also branched out into the GPS head unit space with this, the Elemnt.

I’ve used a few de­vices over the years, and I’ve re­cently wound back to a tiny Garmin de­vice that ba­si­cally told me how far and how fast I was go­ing – but it wasn’t quite enough info. I was still keen on some­thing that was easy to read and easy to cus­tomise, with the abil­ity to pre-load mapped routes.

The Elemnt can be had for around $500-600 de­pend­ing on where you shop, and it comes com­plete with three dif­fer­ent mounts and a USB charg­ing ca­ble. It’s a fair size both in screen size and thick­ness, and uses three easy to use but­tons along the bot­tom, a zoom but­ton on the side and a bank of LED lights up the left side to help you mon­i­tor things like av­er­age speed or heart rate zones.

The lights are ac­tu­ally pretty use­ful – I’ve set them to tell me what heart rate zone I’m in. Blue is good, green is great and orange is push­ing it, and stray­ing into the red tells you its time to wind it back a bit.

It’s de­signed to pair up with your smart phone via a Wa­hoo app in or­der to set it up and main­tain it, which was an easy, pain­less process us­ing an iPhone 6 S Plus. We’ve also tried the Elemnt on a Sam­sung S6 with sim­i­larly good re­sults.

It also works seam­lessly with apps like RideWithGPS and Strava, al­low­ing you to down­load your re­sults and up­load routes with ease via the phone.

In use, the black and white Elemnt is easy to view even on bright days with sim­ple graph­ics and good con­trast, and it teamed up with a Garmin-branded heart rate mon­i­tor with zero fuss.

The main screen can be con­fig­ured to show as lit­tle or as much in­for­ma­tion as you need, in­clud­ing the ba­sics like elapsed time, speed and dis­tance as well as more ad­vanced fea­tures like up­com­ing to­pog­ra­phy (or, as I called it on a long ride, the suf­fer me­ter). It also of­fers a turn-by-turn nav­i­ga­tion func­tion, with in­built maps for both Aus­tralia and NZ in­cluded.

It can be used for a heck of a lot more than that, too, in­clud­ing record­ing and dis­play­ing data from power me­ters and wireless elec­tronic shifters from SRAM, but it’s equally at home re­lay­ing more ba­sic in­for­ma­tion in a sim­ple-to-use and sim­ple-to-view for­mat. It will even send mes­sage and call no­ti­fi­ca­tions to the screen if your phone is con­nected via Blue­tooth.

The Wa­hoo Elemnt has frankly amaz­ing abil­i­ties that I may well never tap into, but it doesn’t de­tract from its job of be­ing a use­ful, func­tional bike com­puter. With an in­cred­i­bly easy yet ro­bust in­ter­face, the Elemnt will also ap­peal to peo­ple look­ing for a sim­pler life.

The Elemnt is rated to last 15 hours on a sin­gle charge, though it fell to less than 10 per cent charge af­ter 10 hours. There is an out-front bracket in­cluded in the box, but it is a bit too flex­i­ble when press­ing but­tons.

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