WAHOO ELEMNT RIVAL MULTISPORT GPS WATCH – PRODUCT REVIEW

Wahoo Elemnt Rival is an all-new multi-sport smartwatch aimed squarely at the Triathlon segment. Like the brand claims, the watch does not really have lifestyle features commonly found on most watches like sleep tracking, music, etc but stays focused on what most serious riders and triathletes really need to complete their training and race days strong.

Its highlight feature is something Wahoo calls ‘Touchless Transition’ whereby data automatically transfers between the watch and computer, as well automatically between different activities such as Swimming, Running, and Cycling. Thus leaving you capable of focusing purely on your performance and not on pressing a bunch of buttons on your watch!

Let’s take a look at Wahoo’s first every smartwatch and how it compares to the smartwatches we’re used to!

WAHOO RIVAL – TOP 3 FEATURES

Its built-in GPS will record your progress through different stages of a multi-sport event. Sporting the smoothest transition technology, means you don’t even have to inform or touch the watch when you swap from swim to ride to run. The watch automatically tracks transitions & T1/T2 times.

The 24-hour GPS battery life is also a plus, while its in-app performance tracking will have any athlete glued to their results for hours afterward – calculating how they can perform better next time.

One of the few smartwatches compatible with Power Meters, as well as controlling Smart Trainers and accessories within the Wahoo ecosystem.

WAHOO RIVAL – PRODUCT OVERVIEW

We’ll be taking a look at the Wahoo Elemnt Rival GPS Smartwatch based on the following criteria:

  • Setup
  • Design
  • Display
  • Connectivity & Tracking Features
  • Training Modes

1. SETUP

In line with all Wahoo products – the Rival Set-up is one of the easiest of any smartwatch we’ve used. All the quick start guide tells you to do is to download the Wahoo Elemnt app to your phone, scan the QR code that appears on the watch face when you power it up, and follow the instructions. The watch pairs with your smartphone like a charm.

You can customize virtually every aspect of the watch using the app. From accent colors to button function and sports profiles.

While it’s paired it will also receive certain smartphone notifications which can also be customized or switched off as required.

2. DESIGN

The Wahoo Elemnt Rival is designed to be functional and practical. Although it does sport some fashionable designs, it still maintains a very sporty look. This means that people who wish to wear this as both a sports watch and something for their day to day might find it a bit underwhelming on the aesthetics.

The Rival is available in two colorways Stealth Gray and Kona White. What sets the Elemnt Rival apart is its smart angled ceramic bezel, which is theoretically more resistant to scuffs and scratches than metal or plastic and is topped off with Gorilla Glass.

Stealth Gray and Kona White

It is extremely lightweight, coming in at just 53g. This makes it a breeze to wear and also comes with a silicone strap which is sturdy but comfortable, especially for sweaty workouts.

The watch has 5 buttons in all, 2 buttons to the left of the clockface and 3 to the right. The watch does not have a touchscreen, which may seem like a drawback, but is actually good for athletes who don’t want to deal with incorrect inputs due to sweaty fingers. So all functionality on the watch is controlled using these 5 buttons.

The light, which can be activated by a quick tap of the top-left button, and is bright enough to see the screen clearly, but not overbearing – and also handy if you’re running in the dark. 

The display is nice and large and makes for easy monitoring of your progress. The last thing you want to do in the middle of a run or ride takes your eyes off the road – so a quick glance is enough to know if you’re on track.

3. DISPLAY

The watch is 46.5 x 46.5 x 15.3 mm in size and the 30.4mm colour screen has a 240x240px resolution.

The screen itself is made from Gorilla Glass and does not have any touch functionality. In the age of swipes, pinches and taps, the last thing you want on a cycling smartwatch is a touchscreen, for the reasons mentioned above.

Looking at other watches that do have touch screens such as the Apple Watch – they are entirely useless when wet and have a moderate hit rate with full-finger gloves; buttons on the other hand are not stymied by damp weather, sweaty fingers, or gloves.

The watch face has four different options, including two digital versions and two analogue ones. The colours and widgets can also be changed, via the app.

4. CONNECTIVITY & TRACKING FEATURES

The Rival takes advantage of both the GPS and GLONASS satellite networks and can connect to ANT+, and Bluetooth sensors; the latter also facilitates a connection to your smartphone. The Rival also sees ANT+ FE-C capability so that it can control any of the best turbo trainers should you want to run a workout directly from the watch. 

It is a watch, after all, so of course, it tells the time, has a timer and a stopwatch. Being that it’s smart, the time is set automatically using GPS, and will automatically adjust as you cross time zones or tick over to daylight saving time with no input.

The Element Rival can also transmit data from the watch to your Wahoo bike computer and back again during transitions. After your workout, the watch automatically uploads your activity to the Elemnt app and Strava or any other mainstream third-party app. It does unfortunately not support Strava Live Segments, which would’ve been a fun feature to have so you can actively compete with fellow athletes.

The Rival has an Optical heart rate monitor, which works by shining an LED into the wrist and measuring blood flow. Smartwatch HR monitors are notoriously inaccurate. The Rival however is probably accurate 95 per cent of the time, which is pretty amazing given other smartwatches in the same price bracket.

The slogan attached to the Elemnt Rival is ‘Never Lose Focus’, and so the watch has some, but not all, of the smartwatch features you’ll find on some of its competitors.

It will track your steps, tell you how many calories you’ve burned through the day but won’t track your resting heart rate or sleep metrics. For the ‘smart’ features that it may lack, the Rival makes up for in spaces with performance-based features like power meter support and touchless transition.

It doesn’t do navigation, sleep tracking or adaptive training guidance so you could say its functionality is limited compared to the more ‘wearable’ orientated watches, but Wahoo intends the Elemnt Rival to be a sports watch for more serious athletes who already know what they’re doing and where they’re going.

5. BATTERY LIFE

This one will run and run. Even with 24/7 heart rate enabled and exercising most days, you can easily get a week-plus out of it. Wahoo claims 14 days in smartwatch mode, that’s probably without the HRM on.

It clips into a sort of charging pad, which is slightly plasticky but works well and charges the Rival quickly and efficiently.

PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions46.5 x 46.5 x 15.3 mm
Display Size1.2 in (30.4 mm) diameter
Display TypeColor
Display Resolution240 x 240
Lens MaterialGorilla® Glass
Bezel MaterialCeramic
Case MaterialNylon Polymer
Strap MaterialSilicone
Strap Length10 in (25.4 cm)
Fits wrist circumference 140 mm – 240 mm
Weight53 g
BatteryRechargeable Lithium Ion
Battery LifeSmartwatch Mode: 14 days
GPS or HR Mode: Up to 24 hours
GPS FunctionalityBuilt-in
Supported SatellitesGPS and GLONASS
Water Rating5 ATM (water resistant up to 50 meters)
Perfect View Zoom ButtonsYes
Ambient Light SensorYes

As far as smartwatches for sports goes, the Wahoo Rival has gotten rid of all of the fancy features such as contactless payment, navigation and other features, to instead offering a watch that a purest would appreciate.

It does however lose out on things like Music and Strava Live Segments, this is a pretty big deal depending on who you ask. Wahoo makes up for this with their continuous updates and unmatched eco-system. So who knows, Wahoo might give us more functionality with time!

There is no other watch for the multi-sport athlete that has such a seamless transition tracking feature. Because let’s be honest, when you’re tired out of your mind, you don’t need the headache of trying to configure your smartwatch.

Nonetheless, even if you’re not always switching between sports, and stick only to cycling. The watch still does everything you want it to and is extremely reliable. Despite lacking a few features, it is one of the only watches with support for a power meter and can control your trainer!

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