Wahoo has launched an updated version of its smallest cycling computer, the Bolt, with a high-resolution color screen, larger onboard memory, updated user interface, multi-sport handover between it and Wahoo's Rival smartwatch, and a host of other refinements that make this cycling computer a winner.

Wahoo Element Bolt Highlights
What's new for the second generation Elemnt Bolt?
First things first, if you're looking for a giant leap forward in cycling computer tech from Wahoo, this isn't it. Most of the additions to the second-generation Bolt bring it up to speed with Wahoo's larger Roam computer. The new Bolt features a color screen, Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity, GPS/GLONASS connectivity, turn-by-turn navigation, live tracking, mid-ride re-routing, an ambient light sensor to adjust screen brightness, and text messaging support—all features already present in the more expensive Roam.


Color-coded zones are a great addition to the Wahoo Roam
That said, the Bolt does offer some refinements that put it slightly ahead of the larger Roam. Where the Roam has an 8-color screen the Bolt features a broader 64-color palette. The Bolt uses its colors strategically to call out important data, such as heart rate and power zones. I find this feature quite useful. I don't really need to know if my heart rate is 165 or 168bpm, but I'd like to know which zone I'm in. A quick glance at the screen gives me this information without having to focus too much on the numbers. Users can customize the use of color indicators as well.

Small screen, but with increased contrast and clarity.
Speaking of focus, the Bolt's screen size and overall resolution is smaller but the high contrast display makes it appear that slightly crisper than the Roam. This plus the wider range of colors make this smaller unit easier to read in some situations, such as mapping, though riders with aging eyes will probably still appreciate the larger screen size of the Roam when looking at multiple data fields.

The Bolt is also the first Wahoo computer to transition away from USB micro to USB-C charging. The switch improves charging speed as well as water resistance. The Bolt's frame has an IPX7 waterproof rating, meaning the Bolt should withstand an accidental submersion in one meter / 3.3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Hopefully, it won't take you that long to cross a creek on your next gravel race or mountain bike ride.

The Bolt's user interface is similar to Roam—scan the QR code on the device's screen with your smartphone and follow the set-up instructions. I find Wahoo's smart-phone based setup to be the most intuitive and least painful of all the cycling computers I've tested, with nary a hiccup when connecting auxiliary sensors, such as heart rate monitors and power meters. The Bolt also connects to Wahoo's whole ecosystem, whether you’re a triathlete or adventure racer using the Multisport Handover mode to track data between this head unit and the Rival smartwatch, or using it to control your Kickr cycling trainer.

During the initial setup, I had to go through several laborious rounds of software updates. This is forgivable in a new product launch and everything has performed seamlessly since then. Unlike cycling computer test guru DC Rainmaker, I've yet to encounter any issues with sluggish data field updates, sensor dropout, or the app crashing. According to a Wahoo tech support representative, his issues may be unique to riders in very high-density cities with loads of map data. My Colorado testing grounds aren't nearly as dense as Washington DC.


Better buttons are a welcome upgrade to the Bolt.
One of my favorite features of the Bolt is small in the larger picture, but one I immediately appreciated upon unboxing. The Bolt's menu buttons are convex with a reassuring "click" that lets you know your digit had hit its target. This is especially nice when wearing thicker gloves and a welcome upgrade to the recessed and somewhat vague-feeling buttons of the Roam. Some cyclists prefer the smartphone-style touch screens found on Garmin and Hammerhead's cycling computers. Personally, I find buttons to be the better option when toggling through menus in adverse weather. Plus, buttons keep my screen smudge-free. Advantage Wahoo in this tester's opinion.

Wahoo Elemnt Bolt versus Elemnt Roam - Which computer is better for you?

Screen size2.2 inches / 55.88mm2.7 inches / 68.58mm
Resolution240x300 pixels240x400 pixels
Battery Life15 hours17 hours
Charging SystemUSB-CUSB micro

Prior to the unveiling of the new Bolt, these two computers had very different target audiences. The Bolt was Wahoo's stripped-down aero computer for road racers, while the Roam was aimed at the gravel and adventure segment. With this launch, there's a significant overlap between these two cycling computers. Unless you really need two extra hours of runtime or the larger display, the new Bolt is the clear winner in terms of features and price.

Early Verdict
Wahoo's Roam is a value-packed cycling computer with a great screen, an intuitive interface, and features that make it suitable for road, gravel, mountain bike, and even multi-sport use. We will update this review if we run into any issues or if Wahoo rolls out additional features.

Buy the new Element Bolt at Competitive Cyclist