Eight years ago, Wahoo stepped into the bike computer market with a product that worked. It wasn't complicated. It had good battery life and a high-contrast screen unlike anything else available. In the time since then, the brand has grown from an outsider into one of the best cycling computer manufacturers. With the Roam v2, Wahoo has kept everything that has helped build its dedicated following over the years - and added updates that make sense.
Wahoo Elemnt Roam v2 - Technical details
To understand how the Wahoo Elemnt Roam - or lesser Elemnt Bolt - works you have to start by understanding the Wahoo point of view and even a little history. At one point the Wahoo bike computer was only a screen that sat on your bars while all the processing and connections happened with your phone. At this point, that's long gone but Wahoo still views the phone as an integral part of the experience. You no longer have to have a phone on every ride but a lot of the functionality of the Wahoo Roam starts and ends with your phone.
When you turn on the Wahoo Elemnt Roam v2, a screen with a QR code will greet you. From there you will need to open up the companion app on your phone and scan the code to get started. The entire product set-up happens on the phone and, unlike its rivals - the Garmin Edge 830 and Edge 1040 Solar, Hammerhead Karoo 2 and Stages Dash - you don't create screens with specific layouts. Instead, you select the data you'd like to view on each screen from top to bottom. The buttons on the right-hand side of the unit will then allow you to zoom in and out. It's a choice of displaying more information smaller or less information bigger. The specific layout is fluid and changes depending on how much you decide to zoom in.
This is the same for every screen you create but there are types of screens that are available. The primary data screen displays up to 11 data fields (nine for the Bolt) while other options display less but integrate other visuals. The options are Lap data, Workout data, Climbing, Map, Kickr Control, Planned Workouts, and Strava Live Segments. While riding you can switch through the screens, moving to the right, using the right button at the bottom of the screen. A double press of the left button will move to the left.
As you interact with the data, you will be doing so through another of the more innovative, and unique features from Wahoo - the high-contrast screen. The battery life for the Wahoo Elemnt Roam v2 remains unchanged from earlier versions at 17 hours and much of that impressive life comes thanks to the highly efficient e-ink-style screen. Like the previous generation, the new Roam uses a 6.7cm screen with a resolution of 400x240 but it's crisp, clear and high in contrast.
As before, the sensor for the backlight will only kick it on when the light starts to drop. During a sunny ride, there's just no need for a backlight and the text is easy to see standing out against the unpowered background colour. The foreground details use a black-and-white style but there is a bit of colour here and there to add extra contrast or specific details. The previous Wahoo Elemnt Roam also had colour but the new display brings it into parity with the smaller Elemnt Bolt and increases the shades of colour available from eight to 64.
Wahoo Elemnt Roam v2 - Technical details
Most of the technical details haven't changed. In recent years small incremental improvements have become the Wahoo way. There's a tendency to see that as a problem but it's also a strength. Wahoo is the most straightforward bike computer to use and each new product keeps that intact while updating what needs to change. It helps with simplicity but it can also make it difficult to actually understand the changes.
Externally the hardware hasn't changed much at all. The power button on the left and zoom buttons on the are slightly different but it's almost unnoticeable. The same is true of the slight colour change from a dark grey to a fully black design. As mentioned, the screen adds colours but otherwise remains the same size and resolution. The large bezels around the screen also remain unchanged and continue to integrate a series of lights that communicate more info depending on user settings.
The biggest two external changes are the power port and the bank of three buttons along the bottom. The power port remains almost exactly the same in size and placement but it's now USB-C instead of the older micro-USB. As for the buttons, they now match the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt and use a convex design instead of a concave one. It's a change that may sound small but given how difficult it was to press the previous version, it is actually a big usability upgrade.
Internally there are also a few upgrades and a mix of hardware and software details. On the hardware side, the GPS changes from single band to multi-band for better performance under trees and near buildings and available memory jumps from 4GB up to 32GB. On the software side, Wahoo x integration allows users of the full Wahoo ecosystem to take structured workouts away from an indoor trainer and Supersapians is now a supported sensor. There's also now a backup feature built into the app should you ever need to reset your Roam. The biggest software change though is the added ability to move around on the mapping screen. Zooming remains the same but dives into the menu a little and you can pan to see where you are going when it's unclear.
In addition to what's live with the release of the new unit, Wahoo has announced a couple of features still to come. Summit Segment promises to add additional context to the climbing details on the climbing screen with details like how many climbs are on a route and what's still upcoming. Then, for the friend that never loads the route, there is going to be a new public route-sharing feature built directly into the Wahoo software. There is also a compass and a gyroscope built into the Elemnt Roam v2 and those aren't currently in use. Wahoo isn't talking about what's to come for those but expects added functionality in the future.
Wahoo Elemnt Roam v2 - Performance
The strength of Wahoo bike computers - and this now includes the Elemnt Roam v2 - is simplicity. It's actually a simpler system to use your smartphone to set up the bike computer. A modern smartphone is free of the durability and battery life constraints of a bike computer and, as such, the screens are bigger and easier to use. It's incredibly quick to set a bunch of data fields through the companion app, so when it's time to ride you can decide how much data to view. Some situations might call for a couple of data fields nice and big while others need a lot of info. I tend to view nine data fields in most situations and then leave a couple that let me zoom out and check. Whatever you decide, this is a place where smartphone integration is a big plus.
Another big plus to the smartphone-first concept is the ease of use with gloves. The touchscreen is starting to be more common in cycling computers and not everyone is a big fan. Wahoo keeps more complicated interactions off its computers and that simplifies using buttons to interact with the unit. The new buttons are a big upgrade because of this. Pressing the old buttons would take enough force to flex an out-front mount and wouldn't always register. Each press had to be solid and you had to wait to verify the screen changed before pressing again. Now, press the button and the screen changes without drama.
One place where the smartphone-first design had always been a pain point is on the mapping screen. Wahoo maps have always lacked street names. That's generally not a big issue off-road but small gravel roads, or trails, can be difficult to visually identify. Come up to two small trails that head off in slightly different directions and before you'd be stuck unless you had mobile service. Now you can follow the options on the Elemnt Roam v2 using pan and zoom and you can figure out which one connects to the rest of the route.
As far as the other specific updates for the Roam, they are mostly invisible but also both necessary and nice to have. USB-C charging and the dual-band GPS both fall under what needed to happen. Both are nice upgrades, dual-band GPS is especially helpful on trails with tree cover, but other options have them at this point so they had to come to market and that's tough to rave about. The screen, on the other hand, falls under mostly invisible along with the extra memory.
Yes, there are technically more colours but it's not something you spend much time thinking about. Colour has always found a secondary use in the Wahoo interface and having more barely registers. The one noticeable detail is that there's now colour coding in the heart rate and power fields. The screen was already great so adding more colour is less exciting than it might sound.
Wahoo Elemnt Roam v2 - Verdict
The strength of the Wahoo computers is simplicity. Use your phone to set the head unit up and connect the apps you prefer for after-ride analysis or pre-ride routing. Then go for a ride and everything just works. Mapping is excellent and rerouting works without issue if you make a wrong turn. If you need to look around the map, you can and there are climbing details when you need them. The screen is easy to see, there's plenty of battery life, and there's no touch screen to manage with gloves. At the end of the ride, the data automatically uploads. That's simplicity when it comes to a bike computer - and that's why it makes such a convincing case amid the rabble of contenders currently dominating the best cycling computer space.
Looking at its rivals, Garmin Edge 1040 Solar is a well-designed solid option but it's pretty pricey at £629.99 / $749.99 / €749.99. While it boasts solar charging, a massive screen and impressive mapping and navigational capabilities, it's hard to ignore everything the Wahoo Elemnt Roam v2 brings to the table at £349.99 / $399.99 / €399.99.
The changes made make it a better unit but if you have an older Elemnt Roam there's little reason to upgrade and if you are deciding what computer to get, the reasons haven't shifted. The changes are welcome but they don't fundamentally change the way the unit works. If you want a simple-to-use, non-touchscreen bike computer then Wahoo is an excellent choice. If you want a larger screen with more data fields and two extra hours of battery life, choose the Wahoo Elemnt Roam. If you'd prefer to save some money and don't mind a smaller screen with a little less battery then the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt v2 offers the same features and the same user experience.
Wahoo Elemnt Roam - Tech specs
Price: £349.99 / $399.99 / €399.99
Screen size: 2.7-inches, 64-colour
Dimensions: 59.5mm x 90.5mm x 20.5mm
Battery life: 17 hours
GPS: Dual Band
Water rating: IPX7