Wahoo’s Elemnt Bolt GPS, which was originally released in 2016, was purpose-built to achieve one goal. Be the most aerodynamic cyclocomputer ever made. Its unique, tapered design gives it maximum wind-slicing capabilities, causing less drag than conventional cyclocomputers.
That being said, does the Bolt have what it takes to be a worthy cyclocomputer after almost 5 years? And for regular folk too? Absolutely!
We’ll be taking a look at the Bolt based on the following criteria:
- Connectivity & Tracking Features
- Maps & Navigation
- Training Modes
The Elemnt Bolt is made out of a simple black plastic body, with a monochrome display. The Bolt is also IPX7 rated again water and dust, meaning it can handle just about anything you throw at it. Even the build quality feels solid despite its aerodynamic design.
Speaking of aerodynamic, to give you an idea about how much the wind resistance efficiency actually matters – Wahoo conducted Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) tests that visualize and study how air flows and reacts upon interacting with an object, and the test revealed that in a 40KM TT, a rider averaging 34 kph will shave approximately 12.6 seconds off his time using the Bolt compared to other cycling computers. The Bolt also gives you 50% less drag which can make a huge difference on the road.
In terms of hardware, there are a total of 6 buttons on the Bolt, 1 on the left side (ON/OFF Switch), 2 on the right (Zoom In/Zoom Out), and 3 on the front which provides menu options. There is a Micro-USB Charging port at the bottom of the device. It would have been nice to have an updated USB-C port, but from what we’ve seen across the Cyclo-Computer market, almost none have implemented USB-C.
The Bolt comes with a 2.2-inch Monochrome/Black-n-White display, with good visibility and viewing angles in all conditions. The display can be backlit which can be kept on constantly, for use at night, or only when important information is displayed such as turn-by-turn directions for Maps.
The map viewing experience is not as vivid and great looking as you might get on a Garmin product, but the advantages are significant. The Monochrome display allows for unbelievable battery life, which is a big consideration considering how Navigation is a really power eater.
Bolt displays routes from Strava Routes with a highlighted line on the map and blinking LEDs when you go off course, but turn-by-turn functionality requires the use of a route from Ride with GPS or Komoots.
3. CONNECTIVITY & TRACKING FEATURES
For its initial setup and use, you’ll need to download the Wahoo companion app onto your phone (iOS & Android) and pair it with your Bolt device. The app is quite straightforward and easy to use. Simply switch on Bluetooth and scan the QR code on the device and you should be good to go!
You’ll need the app to do any customizations of your screen information, as well as if you want to pair your Bolt with any sensors or third-party apps. The Bolt can connect to Wahoo’s range of heart-rate monitors, cadence trackers, and speed sensors. With apps such as Strava, your Bolt automatically uploads and syncs your completed rides and routes to the platform.
The Bolt also has Call and Messaging notifications, allowing you to keep track of who’s trying to reach you even if your phone is stowed away. It also allows for live tracking, which shows the name of Wahoo computer users on Bolt’s map screen, meaning you can track them down and won’t miss them if you happen to be hidden in a group as you pass one another on the road. It’ll also let you share your ride with other people, making it easy for the family to keep track of where you are.
4. MAPS & NAVIGATION
The Bolt’s primary function is to aid in planning routes and guiding you as you go along your ride. the Bolt displays your navigation directions in two ways, Breadcrumb Map or Turn-by-Turn Navigation.
The breadcrumb map shows you an areal view of your route, with arrows market across your route, like a breadcrumb trail which you follow. If this is too difficult to monitor, the turn-by-turn navigation will give you specific instructions such as “Left Turn: Bannerghatta Road“.
The biggest caveat that unlike the newer Elemnt Roam, or some of Garmin’s offerings, the Bolt does not have native maps and navigation. In other words, you’ll require apps such as Strava, Ride with GPS, or other apps to utilize maps, and transfer route information.
What this means is that if you stray off course, the Bolt is unable to give you directions to get back on course. Instead, you will have to zoom out and figure out how to rejoin your route again. Not the best, but certainly not a dealbreaker.
Other devices will automatically bring you back to your route, just as a car satnav would. To compensate in part for this, the Bolt does offer a ‘Take me to’ option in the companion app, which allows you to enter a place or postcode and the Bolt can then navigate there, assuming you have a data connection for your phone to do this – but you could come unstuck in a data dead zone or if you travel abroad and have no connection.
5. TRAINING MODES
Apart from just showing your metrics and mapping routes, the Bolt is also a useful training support tool. It can show you your status with regard to your Strava Live Segments, telling you if you are on target for Personal Records, or even a King/Queen of the Mountain (Fastest).
There are LED lights that go across the top of the Bolt, which will indicate your heart rate, power zone, or whether you are traveling faster or slower than your average pace at any given time. This will keep you paced at the optimal level for your training or race at a glance, rather than having to focus on the screen or change your position during maximal efforts.
This works really well at displaying your overall progress in an easy-to-understand and track format, we wish more trackers had this feature!
You can also import your training plans from the likes of Trainer Road for use outdoors (will require a power meter), or pair your bolt with your Wahoo Trainer or other ANT+ supported trainers for Indoor cycling. The Bolt will regulate the resistance and difficulty of your route, based on the information provided in your training plan.
- Physical Dimensions: 2.9″ x 1.8″ x 0.87″ (74.6mm x 47.3mm x 22.1mm)
- Display Size: 2.2″ Monochrome (56mm)
- Weight: 62.3gms
- Battery: USB rechargeable
- Battery Life: 15 hours
- Waterproof Rating: IPX7 (waterproof up to 5 ft)
- Supported Satellites: GPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU Galileo, and QZSS
The Elemnt Bolt coming up on its 5th birthday, is clearly not the most technologically advanced GPS tracker on the market, with its monochrome display and limited mapping features. But with regular firmware updates from Wahoo, it still holds its own even today.
However, the main selling point for this tracker is its aerodynamic and light form factor, which is significantly more than any other high-end current-gen GPS trackers. Its aerodynamic design, reliability, and affordable price point are all reasons to take this seriously, as you can still own a feature-packed GPS tracker which is fit for professionals, but at an affordable price point.
Shucks. We're sorry this post was not that useful
How can we improve this post for you?
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING:
I love the freedom which comes with riding a bike. On my Hardtail MTB , nothing is an obstacle, I seamlessly flow down trails and through traffic like water in a river. And that flow gives me immense satisfaction and the continued drive to get back on my bike the next day.
DISCIPLINE: Mountain Biking & Commuting
CURRENT BIKE: Marin Bolinas Ridge Disc
DREAM BIKE: Cannondale TOPSTONE Carbon Lefty 3