Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM Review: Old but Gold?

Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM Review: Turned-on ROAM with a blurred flowering pink tree

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This is my Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM review. Although it’s old, it still belongs among the best cycling computers.

I’ve been using it for about two years, and in this article, I share my experience with it.

They are predominantly positive, but I found some things I don’t like about ROAM (more on them later).

The ROAM has the largest screen of all Wahoo bike computers (together with the original ELEMNT). It makes ROAM suitable for riders who often plan to use maps and navigation or prefer larger screens for better readability.

However, it is 3 years old already. So, is it still worth it?

If you want a Wahoo bike computer with a large screen, you have no other choice because the ELEMNT from 2016 has been discontinued already. Feel free to buy the ROAM here (or on rei.com).

But if you are open to other brands like Garmin, they have a few bike computers that I think are better.

Continue reading to find out more.

Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM Pros & Cons

These are the main pros & cons of Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM I found during its use.

Pros

  • 2 strips of LEDs that can indicate your speed, power, or HR
  • Large, easy-to-read display in direct sunlight (but with low resolution)
  • Aero mount included
  • Decent battery life (around 14 hours)*
  • Reliable connectivity
  • Setup via an ELEMNT mobile app
  • Easy to use (the app and bike computer are intuitive) and customizable

*Mixed rides with and without navigation. Connected power meter, HR monitor, smartphone, and RTL515 radar. Please note my unit is about 3 years old (I bought it second-hand).

Cons

  • Hard to press buttons with gloves
  • Setup via an ELEMNT mobile app (you need to have a smartphone at hand to set the ROAM)
  • The internal memory of 2.78 GB doesn’t allow you to download many maps (e.g., the map of Italy has around 660 MB and the US 3.8 GB)
  • Micro USB charging (USB-C would be better)
  • Relatively slow start-up time (about 40 seconds)

Of the features described above, I like most the ease of use and easy customization via the mobile app. In this respect, Wahoo outperforms Garmin.

On the other hand, the buttons are hard to press while wearing gloves. Maybe they are worn out a little. For example, Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT’s (v1 & v2) buttons are easier to press with gloves.

Below, I dive deeper into individual features.

Unboxing & Setup

I don’t have the original box because I bought a used ROAM without it. However, it includes:

  • Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM
  • Aero + stem mount
  • micro-USB charging cable
  • Manual

One thing I want to point out is the aero mount. It looks weird without the computer, but together with it, it’s sleek.

Just remember, it’s designed for a rounded handlebar. If you have an integrated cockpit, you probably won’t be able to use it because of the different handlebar shapes. Instead, you will need to buy the ELEMNT “Spoon” mount.

The initial setup of Wahoo bike computers is straightforward. You download the ELEMNT app, turn the ROAM on, and scan the QR code using the ELEMNT app.

Then, you pair the necessary sensors (like the speed, cadence, HR, power meter, etc.), and you can start using the ROAM.

Remember, all pairing is done via the ELEMNT app. I find it easier to use than browsing the device menu (like on Garmin head units).

My Experience

Below, I share my experience with Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM.

Display

The ROAM’s display resolution is 240x400px and uses 8 colors. For example, the ELEMNT BOLT v1 and v2 have the same resolution of 240x320px (v2 has a 64-color display).

It has an ambient light sensor in the top left corner that adjust the brightness, making it easy to read in direct sunlight:

Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM vs ELEMNT BOLT v1: Direct sunlight readability comparison
Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM vs. ELEMNT BOLT v1: Direct sunlight readability comparison

Thanks to its large size, it can also fit up to 11 data fields. The BOLT v1 and v2 can fit only 9.

Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM zoomed data fields
Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM zoomed data fields

You can increase and decrease fields’ number (and, therefore, size) by clicking the side buttons. So, if your vision is not great anymore, I can assure you will see everything you need when you “zoom in.”

Of course, you can scroll through multiple pages. You can set them through the ELEMNT app, create custom ones, and set the data fields as needed. So, if you like tweaking things, you can spend a lot of time making the best interface for your use case.

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

LED Lights

ROAM (unlike BOLT) offers 2 strips of LEDs—one on the left side and one on top.

You can use them as an extra indicator of selected metrics (speed, power, HR). So, you will see in which zone you ride, for example.

Wahoo ELEMNT app ROAM LEDs settings
Wahoo ELEMNT – app ROAM LEDs settings

If you use Garmin Varia radar (like RTL515 or RCT715), they will indicate approaching cars too. I don’t actively look at the LEDs unless I climb. So I would probably not miss them, but they are nice to have.

Battery Life

The claimed battery life of ROAM is 17 hours. I recharge it every week or two, depending on how much I ride. I can easily use it for about seven 2-hour rides or three 5-hour rides.

Because of my ROAM’s age, I can’t get to the 17-hour battery life. I reach about 14 hrs battery life with sensors like a power meter, HR monitor, and Varia radar.

Wahoo also updated the firmware (I believe it was back in 2021) and added notification of the battery status that appears when I turn it off. It reminds me when to recharge it.

Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM powering off - battery status
Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM powering off – battery status

Control

From my experience, Wahoo products are easy to use (mainly for our generation that grew up surrounded by technologies, mainly smartphones).

This also applies to ROAM. When I look for something, I find it where I expect it to. For example, when I used Garmin Edge 520 bike computer for the first time, I struggled with learning how it works, and some things didn’t feel as intuitive.

The most significant disadvantage of ROAM for me is the design of the buttons. I don’t know who designed them, but the three bottom buttons are difficult to press in gloves.

Maps & Navigation

Honestly, I am not a cyclist who often does multi-day bike adventures in places he doesn’t know and relies only on his bike computer. Instead, I use it mainly for tracking my rides.

But, I used the ROAM’s navigation features during vacations in Italy and Croatia. I created a route using mapy.cz (Czech maps like Google Maps, but better) and loaded them into the ROAM.

The turn-by-turn navigation is super handy (for example, the BOLT v1 doesn’t offer this feature). It always guided me to the set destination in unknown places or rerouted the route when I deviated from the directions. It never “crashed” or stopped navigating (unless I turned it off).

I also find it helpful in unknown descents. I always zoom in on the map and know what turns to expect. Try this “hack” if you have never tried it before.

I don’t use the “Take me to” feature (you pick a point on the map, and the ROAM calculates the shortest route), but it can be useful for bikepackers and adventure riders.

The ROAM’s downside is a small internal memory of 2.78GB. It doesn’t allow you to load a lot of maps. So, you will probably need to delete some maps if you travel to various countries.

Wahoo ELEMNT app maps (Europe)
Wahoo ELEMNT – app maps
Wahoo ELEMNT app maps (Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, UK)
Wahoo ELEMNT – app maps

Custom Alerts

The ELEMNT app allows you to set custom alerts. I discovered this feature fairly recently. But I find it pretty useful.

You can, for example, set a notification that reminds you to:

  • Eat
  • Drink
  • Lube your chain
  • Recharge your power meter, shifters, etc.
  • Increase cadence, reduce power

It’s up to you and your creativity.

Connectivity

Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM offers ANT+, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity. It can upload your rides to Strava (or show live segments), TrainingPeaks, and other 3rd party apps, show your phone notifications or control your smart trainer.

I paired multiple sensors with ROAM, including an HR monitor, power meters, Garmin Varia radar, etc. Everything worked fine, and I didn’t experience sudden drops.

The only issue I noticed was that the ROAM couldn’t wake up the Varia radar when it’s in the “standby” mode. This feature probably works only with Garmin bike computers.

Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM Alternatives

Here are some of the Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM alternatives worth considering.

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 ROAM FAQ

Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM Technical Specifications

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

Technical Specifications

  • Battery life: 17 hours (Micro USB charging)
  • Screen size: 2.7in / 68.58mm
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Weight: 93g
  • Dimensions: 89×58×17.8 mm (3.5×2.3×0.7 in)
  • Strava live segments: Yes
  • Smart trainers control: Yes
  • Smart navigation (rerouting): Yes
  • Connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
  • Waterproofing: IPX7
  • Internal memory: 2.78GB

My Verdict

Although Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM is about 3 years old now, it’s still competitive. And if you don’t want to buy a brand new one, you can always try to look for a second-hand one.

I like its easy-to-read display, long battery life, ease of use, and customizability.

On the other hand, the buttons could be easier to press (especially when wearing full-finger gloves), and the internal memory could be larger to allow storing more maps.

I don’t know if or when Wahoo plans to update it, but I believe it would deserve a refresh to address some of the downsides I described above.

Recommended Accessories

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

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 RTL515 radar review)

ELEMNT ROAM Two Bolt Out Front Mount

BLA D2
… for integrated cockpits | Source: competitivecyclist.com

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