Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 vs. ROAM (v2): Which One to Choose?

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 vs. ROAM in my hands

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This article summarizes my experiences with Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 vs. Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM v1. You will learn about their differences, advantages, and disadvantages. Although I have not yet tested ROAM v2, I have also added information about it to add context.

KEY TAKEAWAY

The main difference between Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 and ELEMNT ROAM is that BOLT v2 is newer, has a larger internal memory (16GB vs. 2.78GB), better display, and easier to click buttons. It also features a USB-C charging port. On the other hand, it has a shorter battery life (15 vs. 17 hours), a smaller display (2.2″ vs. 2.7″), and only one strip of LED.

However, the ROAM v2 offers the same display size as the ROAM v1 but 64 colors, 32GB storage, USB-C port, multi-band GNSS, and better buttons.

Based on my experience, I believe BOLT v2 and ROAM belong among the best bike computers on the market.

Continue reading to learn more.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 vs. ELEMNT ROAM (v2): The Basics

Here is the summary of the main differences between Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 vs. ELEMNT ROAM (v2).

FeatureWahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMWahoo ELEMNT ROAM v2
Dimensions77.5×47.2×21.3 mm
3.05×1.86×0.84 in
85×58×20 mm
3.35×2.28×0.79 in
90×59×21 mm
3.54×2.32×0.83 in
Weight68g93g94g
Screen size2.2″2.7″2.7″
TouchscreenNoNoNo
Display colorsColored (64 colors)Colored (8 colors)Colored (64 colors)
Claimed battery life
Real battery life¹
15 hours
16 hours²
17 hours
14 hours³
17 hours
n/a
Storage16 GB2.78 GB32 GB
ButtonsEasy to pressHard to pressEasy to press
Smart navigation (rerouting)YesYesYes
Multi-band GNSSNoNoYes
ConnectivityANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-FiANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-FiANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
ChargingUSB-CMicro-USBUSB-C
Start-up time∼35s∼40sn/a
Crash/incident detectionNoNoNo
Mounts in the boxOut front aero mount
Stem mount
Out front aero mount
Stem mount
Out front aero mount
Stem mount
More infoWahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 ReviewWahoo ELEMNT ROAM Reviewn/a
BuyCheck Price
Check Price (amazon.com)
Check Price
Check Price (amazon.com)
Check Price
Check Price (competitivecyclist.com)
This table compares the main features of ELEMNT BOLT v2 and ELEMNT ROAM.
¹Based on my unscientific testing - multiple rides with multiple connected sensors (HR, power meter, radar), and navigation turned on during about 30% of rides. Auto brightness on.
²Brand new device
³Almost 2-year-old device

Let me now explain them in depth.

In the Box

Both bike computers come with a stem mount and an aero mount.

However, unlike Garmin Edge computers, the stem mount uses plastic zip ties instead of elastic bands to attach to the stem.

Due to the different dimensions of the devices, the BOLT v2 aero mount is not compatible with the ROAM (or v2). While you can fit the BOLT v2 into the ROAM aero mount, it doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing.

Other box contents, like the manual, etc., are the same.

Physical Dimensions & Weight

BOLT v2 is smaller and lighter than ROAM (v2), weighing 25g (26g) less. Some may argue that the weight difference is insignificant, but those who care about weight might disagree.

I prefer BOLT’s compactness and find it more suitable for everyday riding. However, its display is logically smaller, which could be a dealbreaker for some people (more about the display later).

But still, both bike computers are smaller than the Garmin Edge 1040 or Hammerhead Karoo 2, for example.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 vs. ELEMNT ROAM (v2): Features Comparison

Below, I’ll compare the features I find essential as a road cyclist and announce the winner at the end of each section.

Ease of Setup

Both devices are equally easy to set up. You simply scan a QR code with the ELEMNT Companion app to connect the head unit to your phone.

Then, you can pair sensors, such as an HR monitor, a power meter, or a cycling radar, and you’re ready to ride.

Wahoo excels in this area, as their bike computers are easy to set up and use (more about their usability below).

Winner: It’s a draw

Display

The most significant difference between BOLT v2 and ROAM (v2) is the display. 

The BOLT v2 received a significant upgrade from its first generation, now featuring a 64-color, 2.2″ display with a matte/glossy finish that’s easy to read in direct sunlight (see this comparison of the ELEMNT BOLT 1 vs. 2). The ROAM’s display is bigger (2.7″) but can only display 8 colors. However, the ROAM v2 (also 2.7″) can display 64 colors.

Moreover, the BOLT v2 and ROAM v2 can change the background of some data fields based on your zone, such as power or heart rate zones, which the ROAM v1 (and eventually BOLT v1) cannot.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 zoomed data fields
Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 – zoomed data fields
Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM zoomed data fields
Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM – zoomed data fields

I used the ROAM for around two years, so I got used to its larger display. It’s ideal for navigation or displaying more data fields.

The display size will probably be the most significant factor in deciding between these two bike computers. Consider your preferences and how you will use the bike computer before purchasing. You can read my guide on choosing a bike computer for more info.

Even though the ROAM’s display is larger, I prefer the BOLT because of its compactness and colors.

Winner: BOLT v2

Battery Life

The ROAM boasts a claimed battery life that’s two hours longer than the BOLT. However, due to battery depreciation (my ROAM is about three years old), it doesn’t last as long as the BOLT, which is only a few months old.

I get about 14 hours of use of ROAM and 16 hours on BOLT v2 with 3 connected sensors: 

  1. Power meter
  2. HR monitor
  3. Garmin Varia RTL515 radar 

Please note that my battery life tests are not standardized. I recharge both computers to 100%, use the same functions, and monitor their battery life (learn more about how I test bike computers).

Below is a chart of the best bike computers and their claimed battery life.

Winner: ROAM (assuming a brand new ROAM also surpasses the claimed battery life)

Control & User Friendliness

Controlling the ROAM and BOLT is easy since their menus are intuitive and straightforward. I rate this the same across all ELEMNT bike computers.

To adjust the data fields, screens, and other settings, you’ll use the ELEMNT Companion app.

I appreciate this synergy, although it makes both bike computers reliant on your smartphone (unlike Garmin Edge head units).

The only difference in controlling the ROAM and BOLT is the design of their bottom three buttons. The buttons on the BOLT v2 are not recessed and are more level with the screen, making them easier to press. In contrast, I have difficulty pressing the ROAM buttons with full-finger gloves in winter because they are recessed. On the other hand, the ROAM v2 has newly designed buttons that are as easy to press as the BOLT v2.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 - buttons detail
Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 – buttons detail
Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM - buttons detail
Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM – buttons detail

Winner: BOLT v2

Maps & Navigation

I divided the following section into two parts. One focuses on navigation, turn-by-turn directions, and so on, while the other focuses on offline maps.

Navigation

The ROAM and BOLT v2 offer turn-by-turn directions, route recalculation when off-course, and navigation to a selected point on the map. For comparison, BOLT v1 couldn’t recalculate the route when off-course.

While their navigation features aren’t as advanced as those on the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus or Edge 1040 (they are in a league of their own), they are adequate for most use cases.

Since both bike computers rely on buttons for control, browsing the map can be unpleasant. Additionally, you won’t be able to create routes directly on the bike computers. You’ll need to use the smartphone app for that.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 (left) vs. ROAM (right) - navigation
Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 vs. ROAM – navigation

But overall, navigation on both head units works well. Route recalculation is quick, and turn-by-turn directions are displayed in advance, giving you sufficient time to react.

Lastly, the ROAM v2 has an edge in accuracy because, unlike the BOLT v2, it uses multi-band GNSS.

Offline Maps

Both bike computers come with preloaded maps, and you can delete or download new maps using the Companion app.

However, due to the limited storage space (2.78GB) on the ROAM, you can only download a few countries. If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ll have to decide which countries to delete based on location.

In contrast, the 16GB storage on the BOLT v2 lets you download more maps, providing greater freedom. The ROAM v2 doubles this space to 32GB.

Winner: BOLT v2

Other Differences

Another noteworthy difference is the LED strip. The ROAM includes two LED strips (one on the left and one on the top), while the BOLT has only one (on the top).

The ROAM’s strips seem brighter since each box has a dedicated LED.

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

These LED strips can indicate your speed, power, or heart rate. They can also show directions (when using navigation), notifications from your smartphone, or alert you about incoming cars if you use a bicycle radar.

While they can be useful to quickly check your power zones, I personally don’t miss them when using a bike computer without an LED strip.

The BOLT v2, released in 2021, comes with a USB-C charging port, whereas the ROAM (introduced in 2019) still uses MicroUSB. Luckily, ROAM v2 also uses USB-C.

There are a few other minor differences, such as fonts, beeps, and so on, but these won’t significantly impact your overall experience.

Total score: BOLT v2 (3) | ROAM (1) | It’s a draw (1)
Overall winner: Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2

BOLT v2 vs. ROAM v1: Pros & Cons Summary

I summarized the mutual pros & cons of both head units below.

BOLT v2 Pros

  • Easier to read display (less glossy)
  • Lighter and more compact
  • Larger internal storage
  • USB-C charging port

ROAM Pros

  • Larger display
  • Longer battery life

BOLT v2 Cons

  • Smaller display

ROAM Cons

  • Hard to press (and clean) buttons
  • Small internal storage
  • MicroUSB charging port

My Verdict

It’s unsurprising that for most cyclists, the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 is the better choice than the ROAM v1.

This is because it’s two years newer, features a better screen, has larger internal storage, and can perform all other features that the ROAM does.

However, the ROAM v2 matches BOLT v2 colors, doubles its storage, and has better accuracy thanks to the multi-band GNSS.

ROAM (v2) is the way to go if you prefer a larger screen, suitable for improved map readability and navigation.

Do you have any questions regarding Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT or ROAM? Feel free to ask in the comments section below.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 vs. ELEMNT ROAM FAQ

Recent Updates
  • Jan 7, 2024: Added info about ROAM v2 for added context.

5 thoughts on “Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 vs. ROAM (v2): Which One to Choose?”

  1. Profile picture of Petr Minarik - the founder of cyclistshub.com

    Živjo, zanima me, če ti je kaj znano, kateri je boljši za cestno kolesarstvo (touring) in kateri za izven cestno kolesarstvo (offroad)?

  2. Profile picture of Petr Minarik - the founder of cyclistshub.com

    Petr,
    Why not compare the roam v2 with the bolt v2 ? Roam v2 been out for a minute and would have given more value. Without reading this review I feel anyone would choose the bolt v2 over the roam v2.

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