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New bike computer – direct rival to Garmin –  is designed to reduce drag

Wahoo Fitness has just revealed the Elemnt Bolt which it says is the first GPS cycling computer and mount developed as an integrated system to reduce drag. 

“When tested against leading competitors using computational fluid dynamics (CFD), the Elemnt Bolt system reduced air resistance by over 50 percent – equating to a 12.6 second time reduction over a 40km (25 mile) time trial course for a rider traveling at 21mph.”

Yes, before anyone points it out, a rider traveling at 21mph is going to cover 40km (25 miles) in the same time whatever bike computer is fitted. What Wahoo means is that the reduced air resistance will result in the rider actually going a little faster than 21mph with the Elemnt Bolt fitted for the same power output, or that they’ll be able to hold 21mph at a slightly lower power.

BOLTTurnByTurn.jpg

BOLTTurnByTurn.jpg

Wahoo collaborated with cycling aerodynamics expert Dimitris Katsanis to develop and test the Elemnt Bolt. Katsanis played a major role in designs used by British Cycling and the Team Sky road and time trial bikes ridden to victory in the Tour de France in 2015 and 2016.

BOLT_Rider_Front.jpg

BOLT_Rider_Front.jpg

“In recent years, the sport of cycling has placed a premium on the study of aerodynamics and gaining a mechanical advantage wherever possible,” said Katsanis. “With this in mind, Wahoo created a bike computer design that lends itself to actually improving results on the bike, in addition to tracking them. We thought about the desired result and worked backwards from there, designing the computer and mount as a single integrated aerodynamic package while still delivering on the core Wahoo user experience.”

The Elemnt Bolt uses the high-contrast 2.2in display and QuickLook LEDs that Wahoo introduced on the Elemnt, and provides easy access to relevant ride data, plus call, text and email notifications. Elemnt Bolt is equipped with WiFi for over-the-air updates and both ANT+ and Bluetooth, allowing it to connect to sensors of all kinds and electronic shifting systems.

As with the Elemnt, all data fields and page configurations on the Elemnt Bolt can be customised via a companion app that’s available for both iOS and Android.

Pre-loaded with maps from around the world, the Elemnt Bolt integrates with popular cycling platforms like Strava Live Segments, Best Bike Split Race Plans, and Ride With GPS.

Check out our review of the original Wahoo Elemnt here. 

It sounds like Wahoo is really taking a shot at Garmin, the brand that dominates the cycling GPS market, with this launch. It'll be interesting to check out how it performs so we'll try to get a review sample in as soon as possible.

Elemnt Bolt retails for £199.99 and is available now from wahoofitness.com and bike dealers. 

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

26 comments

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surly_by_name [524 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

If it improves performance, is it not likely to be considered a faring and thus contrary to rules?

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tritecommentbot [2268 posts] 5 months ago
5 likes

Tragic how long it takes the industry to come out with basic shit like this. 

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hawkinspeter [784 posts] 5 months ago
2 likes
surly_by_name wrote:

If it improves performance, is it not likely to be considered a faring and thus contrary to rules?

I think it's only a problem if it's JUST for improving performance. This one is a cycle computer as well similar to how a bike helmet can be made aerodynamic and keep to the rules.

I like the Wahoo kit that I've tried, but this looks like it should just be an option for the Element rather than a whole different product. Anyhow, I welcome the competition with Garmin.

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Rapha Nadal [542 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Appreciate that it's early days but have any notes on the unit size (arf, arf) been released yet?

A friend of mine has the "other" Wahoo GPS and, whilst it's an utterly solid, well functioning & dependable unit, it's bloody massive!

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hawkinspeter [784 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

I've just looked on Wahoo's website and they list the non-aero Element at £250 (this one being £50 cheaper). Have they beefed up the non-aero Element? The only detail that I spotted being different was the display size - the Element uses a 2.7" compared to the Bolt's 2.2".

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DrJDog [412 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
surly_by_name wrote:

If it improves performance, is it not likely to be considered a faring and thus contrary to rules?

 

No, because no computer at all would likely be more aerodynamic.

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SingleSpeed [316 posts] 5 months ago
3 likes
DrJDog wrote:

No, because no computer at all would likely be more aerodynamic.

 

The outfront mount pushes the leading edge of air around the computer causing a dispruption in the airflow in turn allowing the air to pass 3.45% more efficiently over the cables on a standard non integrated road bike, which equates to approximately 3.2 Seconds over 100km or a 1.2Watt saving over 2.5hrs.

.

I have no idea if that is true but I'm thinking of putting it in my bullshit Showreel for ENVE & Zipp.

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P3t3 [411 posts] 5 months ago
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If the display is that sharp and it has mapping as the photos suggest then it is going to be killer.  It does look quite deep front to back but by the look of it the integration of the mount into a smooth shape is part of that.  

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PaulBox [664 posts] 5 months ago
2 likes

Most cyclists I know use a number of bikes, and share a computer across them. Being a lazy b@satrd I wouldn't fancy having to use an allan key every time I wanted to switch bikes. I just have Garmin mounts on each of my bikes.

If you don't have a charging point near your bike you're also going to have to unbolt it every time you need to charge.

Oh, and lastly, even in secure storage when commuting I wouldn't fancy leaving this attached to my bike.

So yes it looks nice, sounds good, but it's not very practicle without a quick release of some kind.

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cdamian [152 posts] 5 months ago
2 likes
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davel [1499 posts] 5 months ago
5 likes
unconstituted wrote:

Tragic how long it takes the industry to come out with basic shit like this. 

I got an email from Wahoo the other day saying a 'huge announcement' is coming on the 14th.

I can't wait for that one.

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arckuk [62 posts] 5 months ago
4 likes
PaulBox wrote:

Most cyclists I know use a number of bikes, and share a computer across them. Being a lazy b@satrd I wouldn't fancy having to use an allan key every time I wanted to switch bikes. I just have Garmin mounts on each of my bikes.

If you don't have a charging point near your bike you're also going to have to unbolt it every time you need to charge.

Oh, and lastly, even in secure storage when commuting I wouldn't fancy leaving this attached to my bike.

So yes it looks nice, sounds good, but it's not very practicle without a quick release of some kind.

It looks like the mount is separate from the computer. On the web site, it is possible to purchase a spare mount, and the flashy video shows a typical 'twist to lock' in action. I think they're marketing it as an integrated device so that it can be included at the weigh-in at a UCI event (pretty minority attraction, but so pro smiley). There's a screw on the back side to make it non-removable.

The unit looks smaller than the element, but no specifics are given. Screen size is listed as 2.2 vs 2.7 inches, and it is 60 vs 99 grammes, and has up to 15 vs up to 17 hours battery. Oh, and it only has one row of LEDs vs 2 on the element. 

The aero bollocks is pretty superfluous, but it does look like a potential improvement on the form factor of the element (i.e. it's not a brick). A clear black and white screen will beat a limited colour one for visibility on a sunny day. To a Garmin 810 user who gets pretty annoyed with continuous bluetooth connectivity issues and moody touchscreen, the wifi integration with ridewithgps and strava and button based interaction of this device makes it look quite promising. 

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PaulBox [664 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
arckuk wrote:

It looks like the mount is separate from the computer. On the web site, it is possible to purchase a spare mount, and the flashy video shows a typical 'twist to lock' in action. I think they're marketing it as an integrated device so that it can be included at the weigh-in at a UCI event (pretty minority attraction, but so pro smiley). There's a screw on the back side to make it non-removable.

So I completely mis-understood it then... cheeky

Ta.

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Nimrod808 [4 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Is the unit compatible with Garmin quarter turn mounts? For aerobars with existing Garmin integrated mounts?

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cdamian [152 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
PaulBox wrote:
arckuk wrote:

It looks like the mount is separate from the computer. On the web site, it is possible to purchase a spare mount, and the flashy video shows a typical 'twist to lock' in action. I think they're marketing it as an integrated device so that it can be included at the weigh-in at a UCI event (pretty minority attraction, but so pro smiley). There's a screw on the back side to make it non-removable.

So I completely mis-understood it then... cheeky

Ta.

DC Rainmaker clears this up: "This screw is there in the event you want to screw your BOLT into the bike mount semi-permanently.  By enabling this, Wahoo’s sponsored pro teams (such as Team Sky) could include the unit during bike weigh-ins"

I guess this is also nice to make it a bit safer to leave your computer on the bike for a moment.

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kil0ran [400 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Cool. That might just convince me to finally replace my RFLKT+ (which does a reasonable job most of the time but is let down by occasional pairing issues and dodgy buttons).

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marcof11 [7 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

 without seeing  the technical report I doubt the figure of 12 sec  advantage.

I think they tested the improved aerodynamic without the rider behind..Comparing the computers in a wind chamber without a real rider.  Then assuming that the advatnage transfers equally in a real life situation with a rider . Any such advantage  will be lost when the air hits the rider that is behind it .  ready to be proven wrong , but it is easy to makeclaims without offering a paper to support it

 

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Trickytree1984 [24 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
hawkinspeter wrote:

I've just looked on Wahoo's website and they list the non-aero Element at £250 (this one being £50 cheaper). Have they beefed up the non-aero Element? The only detail that I spotted being different was the display size - the Element uses a 2.7" compared to the Bolt's 2.2".

No. It's identical except for the fact it's smaller and has only 1 set of LEDs

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Trickytree1984 [24 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
Nimrod808 wrote:

Is the unit compatible with Garmin quarter turn mounts? For aerobars with existing Garmin integrated mounts?

Not officially. But yes it fits. Best to take a sharp knife to you mount and widen the entry points slightly. Plenty of vids on YouTube. K-edge sell adapter s for their mounts

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Trickytree1984 [24 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
PaulBox wrote:

Most cyclists I know use a number of bikes, and share a computer across them. Being a lazy b@satrd I wouldn't fancy having to use an allan key every time I wanted to switch bikes. I just have Garmin mounts on each of my bikes.

If you don't have a charging point near your bike you're also going to have to unbolt it every time you need to charge.

Oh, and lastly, even in secure storage when commuting I wouldn't fancy leaving this attached to my bike.

So yes it looks nice, sounds good, but it's not very practicle without a quick release of some kind.

It's a mount like any other. Just put it on your existing mount if you like. You don't have to use the mount it comes with. Any wahoo mount will work. Or any Garmin mount with some persuasion. I do think they need to make that a bit clearer

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sammutd88 [44 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Waiting patiently for Wahoo to release a model with a colour screen and proper navigation. I think they have a terrific philosophy on connectivity and the "non touchscreen" approach with nice, large buttons, but the monochrome screen looks rubbish compared to the Garmins. On the topic, I'd like to see an Xplova X5 without the camera option. I believe something like that would be a market leader if the user interface was good and the screen behaves in rain/heat.

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DoctorFish [54 posts] 5 months ago
1 like
sammutd88 wrote:

Waiting patiently for Wahoo to release a model with a colour screen and proper navigation. I think they have a terrific philosophy on connectivity and the "non touchscreen" approach with nice, large buttons, but the monochrome screen looks rubbish compared to the Garmins.

I went from a garmin touring to an elemnt. The black and white screen of the elemnt is far clearer then the colour one on the garmin in all weather conditions. The navigation (not sure what you mean by proper) also works better and clearer on the Elemnt both with following ridewithgps routes and with direction sent to it from a mobile.

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sammutd88 [44 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
DoctorFish wrote:
sammutd88 wrote:

Waiting patiently for Wahoo to release a model with a colour screen and proper navigation. I think they have a terrific philosophy on connectivity and the "non touchscreen" approach with nice, large buttons, but the monochrome screen looks rubbish compared to the Garmins.

I went from a garmin touring to an elemnt. The black and white screen of the elemnt is far clearer then the colour one on the garmin in all weather conditions. The navigation (not sure what you mean by proper) also works better and clearer on the Elemnt both with following ridewithgps routes and with direction sent to it from a mobile.

 

Can you enter an address into the Wahoo and have it build directions from your current location? Without your mobile phone.....

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part_robot [246 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

Damn. Still doesn't have re routing. I use that feature a lot on my Garmin so I can go off piste and get back on track later down the line...

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davenportmb [74 posts] 5 months ago
3 likes

A new aerodynamic GPS? Fucken neato. I must have it.

*continues eating McDonalds breakfast meal*

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Crashmat [2 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

No GLONASS? Does that matter with modern GPS units? My old Edge 200 loses signal every time it passes a tree....