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(The Gear Loop) - Wahoo is busy reinforcing its cycling offering, with the launch of the Wahoo Systm training system and recent updates to its Elemnt Bolt GPs computer proving it isn’t going to be beaten by Garmin and the like.

The next notable refresh is the Elemnt Roam, which we reviewed earlier this year when we took it on a sodden Welsh test route. With dual band GPS, increased colours for the display and a slight tweak to the design, this latest model arguably sits at the premium end of Wahoo’s cycling computer range.

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But with Garmin’s premium GPS cycling computers now costing in excess of £600, Wahoo’s £329 list price for the second generation Roam seems incredibly reasonable.

Granted, Wahoo’s apps don’t delve quite as deep as Garmin’s, but without wishing to sound like a broken record, we feel some of this data crunching goes a tad overboard - not just for the everyman, but for the elite athlete too.

The Gear LoopWahoo Elemnt Roam (Gen 2) review photo 19

Standout features of this Roam update include dual band GPS for more accurate location tracking, a 64 colour screen -as opposed to the 8 of the predecessor - and 32GB of internal memory, making it much easier to sync a variety of favourite routes and offline maps.

Our quick take

Wahoo has successfully implemented a number of improvements over the current Roam GPs cycling computer, including the increased internal memory, faster processing speeds and detailed climb information. But this is still more of an update than an overhaul, something fans of the simplistic set-up will praise. That said, there are more sophisticated data crunching computers out there if you have the budget. 

Wahoo Elemnt Roam (Gen 2) review: dual band GPS and improved colour display are welcome additions

Wahoo Elemnt Roam (Gen 2)

4.0 stars
For
  • Strong battery life
  • Easy to use
  • Increased internal memory
  • Plays nicely with lots of third party stuff
Against
  • GPS lock is slow
  • Lacks data and info of some rivals
  • Map is fiddly to navigate

In the Loop

Everything you need to know about the second generation Wahoo Elemnt Roam

  • 32GB of internal memory
  • 17+ hours battery life
  • USB-C Charging
  • Accelerometer, gyroscope and barometric altimeter
  • 64 colour, 2.7-inch colour screen
  • Wahoo Systm X compatible
  • Seamless Supersapien integration
  • Public route sharing with ride broadcast
  • New summit Segments Climb feature

Design and styling

Very little has changed on the outside, as Wahoo has managed to cram a host of updates into essentially the same chassis as its predecessor, which we think is the perfect size for an array of genres of bicycle.

Wahoo FitnessWahoo Elemnt Roam (Gen 2) review photo 1

However, charging is now taken care of by USB-C, which is located underneath a little rubber flap on the bottom of the unit. Wahoo has also listened to customer feedback regarding the Elemnt Roam and has given the three buttons at the foot of the unit a convex finish.

This might sound inconsiderable but muck and mud used to collect in the old buttons and it was a real pig to clean, so should appease those MTB fans that like to get filthy on winter rides.

Wahoo FitnessWahoo Elemnt Roam (Gen 2) review photo 6

The toughened Gorilla Glass screen now boasts 64 colours, as opposed to the previous 8. This isn’t immediately noticeable at first, because the Wahoo interface relies heavily on a high contrast output, rather than an all-singing smartphone experience as that found on the Hammerhead Karoo 2.

Internal memory has been bumped up to 32GB, which is great news for anyone with numerous offline maps and routes saved. The previous 4GB of internal memory could get bunged up quickly, especially if you travelled around countries and loaded numerous maps to the device. 

The Gear LoopWahoo Elemnt Roam (Gen 2) review photo 17

Wahoo’s Elemnt Roam mount is still a handsomely designed piece of sturdy plastic that sits out the front and fits to most bars. Alternatively, Wahoo also provides a little rubber quarter turn mount and some cable ties if you don’t want anything as permanent on your bike.

Despite the updates in hardware, battery life is still pegged at 17 hours, although this can deplete if interacting with the unit a lot and relying on the backlight. It's plenty enough for most rides, but those multi-day lunatics might be better placed with the solar-assisted charging found on Garmin's 1040 Solar. 

New features

Again, interaction with the second generation Elemnt Roam feels very familiar, and despite the screen now looking sharper with its spread of colours, the experience is much the same.

Fire up the unit, which takes an irritatingly long time (despite the faster processor), and the high contrast home screen gives you the option to cycle between a map, a standard workout screen and climb information. There’s also the option to look at previous rides via the history tab.

Wahoo FitnessWahoo Elemnt Roam (Gen 2) review photo 9

But it is in climbing where the real updates sit, because Wahoo has unleashed a new Summit Segments Climb feature that makes it easy to check on the progress of a current climb, view the stats of completed climbs and cycle through information on upcoming climbs on a route. Anyone with a Garmin has likely been using a very similar ClimbPro feature for a while now.

It works by analysing the data of any route that you have stored either on the Wahoo Elemnt companion app, or through third party apps like Strava, Komoot and many more.

Wahoo FitnessWahoo Elemnt Roam (Gen 2) review photo 4

Once you’ve selected a route and sent it to the device, the home screen gives a little graphical insight into the elevation changes over the proposed journey. Cycling through the up and down zoom arrows on the side of the device flicks between the elevation to go and the total.

When approaching a climb, the Wahoo Elemnt Road will then offer a bespoke climb page that, like all of the other pages, can be customised with various data fields. These include things like current speed, grade, total ascent and VAM, which stands for "velocità ascensionale media" or average climbing speed to you and me. 

Wahoo FitnessWahoo Elemnt Roam (Gen 2) review photo 8

As with previous generations of the Roam, the seven LED lights remain on the left hand flank, while a further five sit along the top. These too can be customised to show things like speed, where a faster than average speed will flash blue, while slower is yellow.

It can also be customised to detail heart rate zones or your tailored power zones, should you be using accompanying power meters. The top LEDs are reserved for things like smartphone notifications, Strava segments and turn-by-turn directions, but these can be turned off via the app.    

Performance in the wild

We’ve always enjoyed the simplicity of the Elemnt Roam and Wahoo has decided to keep the tried and tested formula largely the same. 

The Gear LoopWahoo Elemnt Roam (Gen 2) review photo 10

That high contrast screen is super easy to read when on the bike, even with the backlight function switched off and under deep tree cover, it’s a doddle to look up vital information quickly and easily.

Where something like a Garmin Edge 1040 requires a fair amount of on-screen swiping, which can be tricky with sweaty fingers or if the screen gets sticky with isotonic drink spillage, the Wahoo has two fat buttons on the side that zoom in and out of the data screens, so you can have as many numbers or as few as you need.

Wahoo FitnessWahoo Elemnt Roam (Gen 2) review photo 3

The side LEDs are also handy, especially when set to average speed, as it’s a nice gentle reminder that you may be going a lot harder or taking it easier than normal, allowing for quick adjustments to pace during a training ride.

Granted, the simplistic home screen can’t match what is currently offered by Garmin, which feels more like a smartphone than a GPS bike computer with its suggested daily workouts, live weather conditions and whatnot. But that’s why you pay the big bucks and do you really want all that info, anyway?

The Gear LoopWahoo Elemnt Roam (Gen 2) review photo 16

One gripe we had was with the GPS, which has been upgraded in this version to a dual band set-up for greater accuracy. Indeed, it offers a far more accurate representation of routes, particularly when riding in built-up areas, but it took an age to get a GPS lock.

This can be the case with Garmin products, too, but our time with the latest Apple Watch Ultra proved that GPS lock can be almost instantaneous with the right tech and placement of antennas.

The Gear LoopWahoo Elemnt Roam (Gen 2) review photo 18

When riding out from our start point, which is admittedly surrounded by a smattering of two-storey buildings, the Wahoo Elemnt Roam would often take upwards of three minutes to get a GPS lock, which isn’t great.

It’s not the end of the world though, as we found it to be accurate when reviewing post-ride data, although interaction the the on-screen map is, by and large, clunky. Panning and zooming is via the rubber buttons.

Wahoo FitnessWahoo Elemnt Roam (Gen 2) review photo 7

From the head unit, it is possible to retrace ride, route to start and take you to saved locations on the map, but this has to be done in the companion app. It’s also possible to bring up favourite routes on the device and kick off navigation that way.

Those wanting a more sophisticated cycling computer -one that acts more like a smartphone - will have to part with more money and look towards Garmin and Hammerhead.

To recap

The second generation Wahoo Elemnt Roam offers some welcome upgrades, including a more colourful screen, faster processing power and the addition of greater internal memory. This has allowed for a few neat software features, including the climb information, to be added. But those looking at something completely revolutionary will likely be disappointed, as this really is an upgrade rather than starting from scratch. However, it’s good news for riders that like to keep things simple and reliable, which the Wahoo Elemnt Roam most certainly is. What’s more, Wahoo doesn’t like to close off its systems, so we enjoy the way software updates apply to older computers and the fact sensors and trainers from rival brands easily sync. Wahoo seems to understand that modern cyclists like to use a variety of products from numerous manufacturers.

Writing by Leon Poultney.