Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 Review: THE BEST Bike Computer?

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 review: Me holding ELEMNT BOLT v2

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This is my Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 review.

I’ve been using it for the last months, and in this review, I explain why I think it is the best bike computer on the market. 

BOLT v2 is a successor of the ever-so-popular BOLT v1. It got multiple upgrades, including a colored display, full on-device navigation, etc. 

Continue reading to learn more about its comparison with other cycling computers, or buy it here (it’s also available at wiggle.co.uk).

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 Pros & Cons

These are the main pros & cons of ELEMNT BOLT v2 I found during its use.

Pros

  • One strip of LEDs that can indicate your speed, power, or HR
  • Easy-to-read display in direct sunlight
  • Aero mount included
  • Long battery life (15 hours)
  • Setup via an ELEMNT mobile app 
  • Easy to use (the app and bike computer are intuitive) and customizable
  • Full on-device navigation
  • Easy to press buttons (better than on ROAM and BOLT v1)
  • The internal memory of 16 GB
  • USB-C charging port

Cons

  • Relatively slow start-up time (about 35 seconds)
  • The lack of a touchscreen display
  • The display could be larger

I used all Wahoo bike computers (except for the original ELEMNT). I praise their ease of use, customizability via the ELEMNT app, and great screen readability.

The only complaint I have about the BOLT v2 is the display size. I am used to a larger screen from Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM. If Wahoo introduces ROAM v2, it could be an even better cycling computer for my needs.

Unboxing

Here are the contents of the BOLT v2 box:

  • Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2
  • Aero + stem mount 
  • USB-C charging cable
  • Manual

Wahoo differentiates itself from other bike computer manufacturers also with the aero mount. I don’t think it makes a noticeable difference (at least I didn’t notice it), but it looks sleek.

However, as with most handlebar mounts, it is designed for rounded handlebar, so in case you have an integrated cockpit, you will need to buy the two bolt out front mount.

Setup

The initial setup of ELEMNT computers, including the BOLT v2, is intuitive. You only have to scan the QR code with the ELEMNT app, allow pairing using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (at least on iOS), and pair the sensors.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 pairing via QR code
Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 pairing via QR code

Once you pair it, the app will quickly teach you how to control BOLT.

Then, you can adjust the pages and data fields directly in the ELEMNT Companion app. This is, in my opinion, one of the things in Wahoo excels. Customizing data fields and pages is so easy.

I don’t like using the menus of bike computers. They are slower to navigate (unless you have a high-end beast like Garmin Edge 1030 Plus).

Wahoo ELEMNT app customize pages
Wahoo ELEMNT – app customize pages
Wahoo ELEMNT app customize data fields
Wahoo ELEMNT – app customize data fields

My Experience

Below, I share my experience of using BOLT v2 for a few months.

Display

The 2.2in (240×320px) display of the BOLT v2 got the most significant upgrade. It still has the same resolution as the v1, but it is now colored (64 colors). 

For comparison, here are the screen sizes and resolutions of other alternatives:

  • Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM 2.7in (240×400px)
  • Garmin Edge 830 2.6in (246×322px)
  • Garmin Edge 530 2.6in (246×322px)

It still offers excellent readability in direct sunlight and can adjust the brightness based on the ambient light sensor. 

BOLT v2 readability in direct sunlight readability
BOLT v2 readability in direct sunlight

BOLT v2 can fit up to 9 data fields at once (ROAM can fit 11), and you can use the right side buttons to zoom in and out.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 zoomed data fields
Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 zoomed data fields

LED Lights

BOLT v2 (unlike ROAM) has only one strip of LEDs on the top. You can set them to indicate your speed, power, or HR using the app. They can also show you directions if you have navigation turned on. 

The LEDs will also flash when you receive a notification on your smartphone, during navigation, or if your Garmin Varia radar detects an object. 

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 vs. ROAM - LEDs
Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 LEDs

I didn’t actively look at them in the beginning. But now, I sometimes glance at them to check my power.

Battery Life

The claimed battery life of BOLT v2 is 15 hours. Based on my experience, I get the same or higher battery life, depending on what sensors and features I currently use.

I mostly ride with a connected power meter, HR monitor, and Garmin Varia RTL515 radar. With this setup, I reached 16 hours and about 15 minutes of battery life.

The navigation and map screen demand more power. I didn’t perform a specific test (95% of the time, I ride with navigation turned off), but it should last you for a half-day trip (12 hours).

One small detail worth noting is the battery indicator that appears when I turn the BOLT off. It reminds me when to recharge it.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 powering off - battery indicator
Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 powering off – battery indicator

Control

To control BOLT, you use one of the 6 buttons. They feel more intuitive than buttons on Garmin Edge 520 or 530.

The buttons on the first generation of ELEMNT BOLT were fine, but the second generation buttons are easier to press.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 buttons detail
Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 buttons

You have to use the smartphone app to adjust data fields, set the LEDs, etc. I like this possibility because it’s faster to browse a smartphone than on the computer using buttons.

On the other hand, you have to have your phone with you and take your phone out of your pocket if you want to adjust settings. 

I take a phone on every ride with me, so it’s not an issue for me. But I know riders who don’t like this smartphone-bike computer dependency.

Maps & Navigation

In terms of maps & navigation, BOLT v2 got one of the biggest upgrades. Now, it features full on-device navigation. 

It will recalculate a route if you deviate from the planned one, take you to a selected point on a map, and provide turn-by-turn instructions.

Thanks to the colored display, it’s also easier to read the map. The 16GB internal storage will allow you to download many more maps than the very limited storage (2.78GB) of BOLT v1 or ROAM.

I tested the navigation during a few rides. It worked fine except for areas with a weak GPS signal. 

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 GPS accuracy
Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 GPS accuracy – I returned the same way, that’s why there are two lines

Custom Alerts

One of the extra features on Wahoo ELEMNT bike computers is the possibility to set custom alerts using the ELEMNT app.

Until recently, I did not use this feature. But it’s helpful. You can set notifications (based on time, distance, or burned calories) that remind you:

  • Eat and/or drink
  • Clean and lube your chain
  • Recharge your power meter, shifters, etc.
  • Increase/reduce your cadence
  • Increase/reduce your power
  • Etc.

Pretty cool, huh? 

Here are a few screenshots from the Custom Alerts Manager in the ELEMNT app.

Connectivity

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 offers the ANT+, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity. It can:

  1. Pair sensors and devices like power meters, HR monitors, cadence and speed sensors, Garmin Varia Radar, etc.
  2. Automatically upload your activities to Strava or other compatible 3rd party apps.
  3. Control smart trainers. So, for example, you can increase/decrease the wattage of your intervals in an ERG mode.

The pairing of devices is again performed via the ELEMNT app. I didn’t experience any issues (like not finding the device).

Unfortunately, Wahoo bike computers can’t wake up Varia radar from the standby mode like Garmin Edge bike computers. So, you have to turn it on (and off) manually.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 Alternatives

Here are some of the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 alternatives worth considering.

  • Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM (also available at wiggle.co.uk) comes with a larger display (2.7″) but with fewer colors (8) and its buttons are harder to press. Read my in-depth Wahoo ROAM review for more info.
  • Garmin Edge 530 (also available at wiggle.co.uk) is also a button-based bike computer but it offers more features (including metrics for mountain bikers) and a larger display (2.6″).
  • Garmin Edge 830 (also available at wiggle.co.uk) is the advanced, touchscreen version of the Edge 530, but also more expensive.
Bike ComputerBuyClaimed Battery LifeScreen SizeDisplayTouchscreenOn-Device Navigation*Live SegmentsConnectivityWaterproofingWeightMemory
Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMCheck Price
Check Price (wiggle.co.uk)
17 hrs2.7in8 colorsNoYesYesANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-FiIPX793g2.78GB
Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2Check Price
Check Price (wiggle.co.uk)
15 hrs2.2in64 colorsNoYesYesANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-FiIPX770g16GB
Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v1Discontinued15 hrs2.2in2 colorsNoNoYesANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-FiIPX762g2.78GB
Wahoo ELEMNTDiscontinued17 hrs2.7in2 colorsNoNoYesANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-FiIPX7104g2.78GB
This table compares Wahoo ELEMNT bike computers and their features like the battery life, screen size, and more.
*On-Device Navigation means that the device can recalculate the route when you are off-course.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 FAQ

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 Technical Specifications

Here is the summary of the main features and the technical specification of the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2.

Technical Specifications

  • Battery life: 15 hours (USB-C charging)
  • Screen size: 2.2in / 55.9mm
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Weight: 68g
  • Dimensions: 77.5×47.2×21.3 mm (3.05×1.86×0.84 in)
  • Strava live segments: Yes
  • Smart trainers control: Yes
  • Smart navigation (rerouting): Yes
  • Connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
  • Waterproofing: IPX7
  • Internal memory: 16GB

My Verdict

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 is a worthy upgrade over the first generation of the popular BOLT.

The form factor remained more or less the same, but Wahoo fixed the main shortcomings of the previous generation. Most notably, the display and buttons.

BOLT v2 also features full on-device navigation, and 16GB of internal memory provides you with enough storage for activities, maps, and routes.

The only disadvantage for some riders could be the lack of a touch-screen display we know from Garmin Edge 830 or Edge 1030 Plus. 

However, thanks to the customizability via the smartphone app, easy-to-click buttons, and intuitive interface, I don’t mind it, and I enjoy the smartphone-bike computer synergy.

Considering its price and pros and cons, I believe BOLT v2 is the best bike computer for most riders. 

I hope you find this review helpful. Let me know in the comments if you have experience with ELEMNT or Garmin Edge cycling computers and your opinion about them.

Recommended Accessories

Below, I include a few accessories worth using with the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2.

Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B0881B1H5S&Format= SL300 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=cyclistshub 20&language=en US
… for measuring your HR

Wahoo Speed and Cadence Sensor

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B01E0YRQIA&Format= SL300 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=cyclistshub 20&language=en US
… for measuring your cadence & speed

Garmin Varia RTL515 Radar

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B086TVFX1D&Format= SL300 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=cyclistshub 20&language=en US
… for your safety (read my Garmin Varia radar review)

ELEMNT BOLT Two Bolt Out Front Mount

ONECOL
… for integrated cockpits | Source: competitivecyclist.com

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