Easy to use with a compact size that takes up little space on your stem or handlebars, and a 12-month battery life, the Wahoo Elemnt Mini is a good choice for cyclists that don't need advanced data and just want to know how far and fast they've been. Syncing with a smartphone provides detailed route analysis for post-ride geekery plus a few more useful features.
Out of the box, the Elemnt Mini is easy to set up. You get a quarter turn mount with two cable ties that attach to the handlebar or stem. The clamp is secure but I'd rather see reusable rubber bands to make it easier to swap from one bike to another. Though it's not strictly compatible with Garmin mounts, with a bit of effort the Wahoo will fit into one, though removing it from said mount is a bit trickier than normal.
Also in the box is a speed sensor. Fit it to front wheel and connect to the Elemnt Mini and you have a perfectly usable standalone computer that provides the basic metrics such as speed and distance. If that's all you need from a cycle computer the Elemnt Mini does a fine job, though there are significantly cheaper options if that's all you want to record from your ride.
If you always ride with a smartphone in your jersey pocket, and who doesn't these days, then the Elemnt Mini can be paired with the dedicated and free Elemnt app to open up more features. And this is where the Elemnt Mini gets interesting.
The app syncs seamlessly with the Elemnt Mini and uses your smartphone's GPS to pull together plenty of data from your ride, and your ride can be shared easily to your favourite ride tracking website such as Strava, TrainingPeaks or MapMyRide.
Connected to a smartphone and with the app fired up, the Elemnt Mini effectively acts as a monitor for your smartphone. I didn't notice any noticeable extra drain on the battery of my phone during a ride of a couple of hours, and being able to look at the ups and downs of my route after a ride while tracking my speed and pace (via average speed) during a ride is a good combination.
There's more on offer than just tracking your route using GPS; hooking the Elemnt Mini up to a smartphone opens up more useful features. You can receive notifications of incoming calls and read text messages, and while some cyclists will undoubtedly moan at this intrusion on their feeling of escapism blah blah... I actually found it a useful feature as I could screen calls for importance and get the gist of a text message without having to dig my phone out of my pocket, which means less stopping and more pedalling.
You can also make use of Live Track. This feature sends a special code to a friend, partner or family member so they can track your ride. Sadly, no one showed any interest in following my regular lunchtime rides so I wasn't able to test out this feature, but it's there if your loved ones need this sort of safety net.
By default, the Elemnt Mini provides two data screens. The first shows your current speed, distance and time, a second screen shows lap time, speed and distance, handy for intervals and timing climbs or particular sections of a training loop. At the end of a ride, you get a summary screen showing your total time, distance and average speed. A small clock and Bluetooth symbol are permanently displayed in the top left corner.
Part of the appeal of Wahoo computers, and a trump card compared to rival systems, is the ease of customising the data screens. From within the app, you can very easily customise and add pages to suit your requirements. I added a third screen that showed my heart rate, speed and calories burned, for example, but you can easily set up any combination you want. You can only add three metrics to each page, but you can add as many pages as you like, there appears to be no limit.
You cycle through the screens by pressing the bottom right button. Start and stop is the left button. That's yer lot, but you don't need any more buttons. The raised ridge of the buttons ensures they're ergonomic to use with or without gloves. There might be no fancy touchscreen but it really doesn't need one.
You can access the main menu by pressing both buttons together, and here you can pair with a smartphone, sync with any compatible sensors and go into 'system info' where you can see how much memory space you have available, current battery state and total distance.
The grayscale screen is easy to read in a range of lighting conditions, the text is clear and easily legible even with shades on and glancing down at the bars for a quick look at speed. It's IPX7 rated and waterproof up to 5ft and, it withstood some heavy rain and a hosepipe with no concerns. There's no backlight for riding in the dark though.
What I really like about the Wahoo Elemnt Mini is its diddy size; it looks unobtrusive on a bike compared to the increasing size of other cycle computers like the mammoth Garmin Edge 1030. The long battery life is another bonus, no more fretting about battery duration during a long ride or setting the bike up in the morning only to find you forgot to charge your GPS computer. And as I always have a smartphone in my pocket the collaboration between the two devices works well.
There are limitations, but they probably aren't factors that are going to concern potential customers. You can't, for instance, connect a power meter so no tracking your power output. You also can't connect third party sensors, it only works with Wahoo's range of heart rate, speed and cadence sensors. That's annoying if you already happen to have other sensors, but less a problem if you're starting from scratch.
However, while the Elemnt Mini is inexpensive compared to the company's more feature-rich computers, there are more affordable computers that pack GPS and mean you don't have to worry about taking a smartphone with you to get the route recording data, and there's no faffing with adding a speed sensor to your bike.
If all you want is basic ride data without the need to carry a smartphone, then the Garmin Edge 25 offers a comparable list of features and compact size, and it's been around long enough now that you can find it discounted to about the same price as the Elemnt Mini. The Edge 25 also lets you follow a breadcrumb trail for routing, which is basic but useful if you only occasionally need to follow a predetermined route. With a battery life of eight hours, you'll need to charge it more regularly, however.
The Wahoo Elemnt Mini is a well-designed computer that will serve many cyclists that just want basic functionality very well, and the compact size, ease of setup and long battery life get a big thumbs up. But anyone wanting route tracking without a smartphone, or needing more advanced data, will find it a bit limiting and a bigger investment would probably pay off in the long term.
Compact, long battery life and easy to use, but a tad expensive
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Wahoo Elemnt Mini
Size tested: Diddy!
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Meet ELEMNT MINI – the super compact sensor based bike computer that makes it simple to see and share ride data. Pair with the powerful ELEMNT companion app to unlock enhanced features, such as ride tracking.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
BOTH PHONE FREE AND PHONE MODE
WORKS WITH WAHOO DUAL-BAND SENSORS
WIRELESS CONNECTION & UPLOADS
COMPANION APP SET UP
FULLY CUSTOMIZABLE SCREEN
PARTNER APP AUTOMATIC UPLOADS
SPEED SENSOR INCLUDED
1.8" DIAGONAL SCREEN SIZE
PHONE MODE ONLY*
LIVE TRACK PORTAL
TEXT & PHONE ALERTS
It might be Wahoo's cheapest cycle computer yet but there are plenty of options at this price, including standalone GPS computers that ditch the need to sync a smartphone
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Works very well on its own but better with the smartphone app
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Long battery life, simple and easy to use and customise
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Doesn't work with third party sensors. Really works best when paired with smartphone
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? The right friend, yes
Use this box to explain your score
If all you want is a basic cycle computer with no worries about flat batteries, the Elemnt Mini has a lot going for it, but if you want to ditch the smartphone whilst still tracking your route, or want to add third party sensors, the Elemnt Mini is restrictive
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.