- Easy out of the box set up with Wahoo ELEMNT Companion app
- Excellent turn by turn navigation and prompts
- Additional features when used with Di2 and D-Fly
- Found satellite quicker than Garmin Edge
- 2.7” Color display
- Text, email and phone alerts
- Dual-band ANT+ and Bluetooth allows pairing of devices and sensors
- No auto-pause MPH setting
- No option to discard ride, forces upload
- Stem mount uses zip ties to attach to bars which isn’t ideal
- Slow to power up
- Tech support was a bit slow
- No lanyard to tether head unit to bars
Price: $379.99 USD
Screen: 2.7” color display
Weight: 89g head unit; 42g out-front mount (per personal gram scale)
Battery Life: 17 hours (per company)
Battery: USB rechargeable
Waterproof Rating: IPX7 (waterproof up to 5ft)
What’s in the Box: ELEMNT ROAM Unit, integrated out-front mount, stem mount and Quick Start Guide
How Obtained: Company sample
RBR Advertiser: No
NOTE: The features of the ELEMNT ROAM are so extensive, it would take too much time to test and review each one. Since its release in May 2019, many reviews have been published already. For the purposes of this RBR review, I am highlighting my experience with certain functionality and noting key features. For additional information refer to the Wahoo fitness site.
Taking ELEMNT ROAM for a Test Drive
When Wahoo Fitness sent me an ELEMNT ROAM to test, I was curious how it would stack up to Garmin. I’m a long time Garmin user both for watches (Forerunner) and cycling computers (Edge). The ELEMNT ROAM was surprisingly quick and easy to set up desired data fields, pair sensors on multiple bikes and sync with third-party apps like Strava. Using the Wahoo ELEMNT Companion app on my smartphone, I just followed the prompts and in no time, I was done. If you are still using a flip phone, this could be a problem. You could probably use an iPad and run the same app.
The only time during use I need to refer to the manual was to learn how to upload routes and auto-pause settings. I didn’t find anything in the manual about auto-pause, so I reach out to Wahoo’s tech support to find out if there was a way to set the MPH to activate the auto-pause like you can on the Garmin Edge 1000. Support response took over 24 hours, I submitted a ticket on a Wednesday at 1pm and heard back Thursday at 8pm. Unfortunately, auto pause is not a setting you can change, and it caused my average speed to read low (more on that later).
For my testing I mounted the ROAM next to my Garmin Edge 1000. During each ride, I’d compare key data points like power, speed, cadence, distance and average speed. The data matched except for average speed.
The ROAM uses a button interface instead of a touch screen. There are pros and cons to this. Buttons are great in colder weather when trying to operate with gloves, or in summer when sweat dripping onto the screen can cause it to change. One con to having buttons is that it’s less intuitive what each button will activate or change, so it requires some trial and error during the learning process. Buttons vs touch screens are a personal preference, but I did find that when I hit the recessed buttons along the bottom of the ELEMNT ROAM head unit, I wasn’t always sure it activated. There was always a bit of a delay when pushing the buttons. Even when turning on the head unit, it took a long time to warm up and be ready for use.
When Wahoo launched the ROAM, it touted the navigation and mapping features. Wahoo was targeting the gravel and MTB rider who ventured off the beaten path. I put the ROAM to the test on a night gravel ride in Oregon, IL. I was running both the Garmin and Wahoo head units on this particular ride because I was in an unfamiliar area and didn’t want to get lost out in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, with no idea how to get back.
At the start of the ride, I launched the Garmin first. It kept searching and searching for a satellite with no luck. I powered up the Wahoo and it immediately found the satellite. For the first 5 miles of the ride, only the Wahoo was providing turn by turn navigation, until the Garmin found the satellite and started navigating, too.
I used the ambient light setting on this ride, so the backlight turned on as the sun was setting. To help with navigating in the dark, directional lights appear on the top and side on the head unit. A feature that I like a lot, because sometimes you get distracted when riding, or the audible alert can’t be heard over traffic noises.
Some of the navigation and routing features include:
- Global maps for some countries are pre-loaded on the head unit. Additional countries can be downloaded over WiFi.
- Take Me To feature lets you create a route with turn-by-turn directions by selecting a location directly on the ELEMNT ROAM map page or from a saved location (e.g. home). Or in the ELEMNT Companion App enter a destination, address or point of interest to generate a route by syncing it to the head unit.
- Retrace Route (breadcrumb trails) reverses the route you just rode and takes you back to the starting point.
- Back on Track (on-demand rerouting) feature reroutes you with turn-by-turn directions if you veer off course.
- Strava integration for Live Segments, complete with progress status to help you get that KOM/QOM.
Added Features When Used with Shimano Di2 and D-Fly
The road bike I used to test the ROAM has Di2 and D-Fly which enabled me to test some additional features. First, I was able to see both front and rear gear selections.
Integrates with Wahoo Smart Trainers
The ELEMNT ROAM to control KICKR, KICKR CORE or KICKR SNAP in three different modes – level mode, ERG mode, and routes & ride history mode. When in route and ride history mode, the ELEMNT controls the KICKR to automatically change resistance to match the elevation profile of your route. You can pull up a real life ride and then “ride” it on your trainer. It’s great for practicing your efforts on a specific course that you might not have easy access to.
Where the ELEMNT ROAM Falls Short
There are a few areas where the ELEMNT ROAM fell short in my testing. First, there is no way to set the speed to auto-pause the unit. On my Garmin Edge 1000, I have it set to auto-pause at 3 mph. This give a much more accurate average speed over the course of my rides — especially when there’s a lot of stop and go.
I ran the Edge 1000 and the ROAM side by side for numerous rides. Depending on the distance of a ride, the ROAM showed an average speed between 0.5 and 1 mph slower than the Edge 1000. Comparing my average speed to others on the same ride, they would show the same average speed as my Edge 1000. If you are using Strava, segments go by time, not speed so you can compete on a level playing field. But it was frustrating to see a significant average lower speed than others riding with me.
Another pet peeve is once I’d finished a ride, there was no option to discard it. The ROAM would automatically upload the ride to the third-party app linked during set-up. Since I was running two units, there were times I didn’t want to save a ride to Strava, but there was no choice — it would automatically upload.
Now this point may seem picky, but I use it all the time with my Garmin Edge. The ELEMNT ROAM does not come with a lanyard to tether it to your handlebars. While the out-front mount from Wahoo is more substantial than the Garmin mount, I worry about the until getting bumped and lost especially when out mountain biking. I’ve had the Garmin get knocked off a few times, and the lanyard saved me from losing the head unit. There is an integrated mount locking screw that secures the ROAM the mount, but it is too cumbersome when you want to remove the head unit for charging.
Wahoo Fitness launched the ELEMNT ROAM targeting gravel and MTB riders who may need more navigational features than the basic road rider. The mapping and routing features are useful for where ever your rides take you. The easy set-up and ELEMNT Companion app integration make it ideal for the novice or power user.
Sheri Rosenbaum regularly contributes articles and reviews products for RBR. She’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Chicago area and a major advocate for women's cycling, serving on the board of directors and volunteering with the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. Click to read Sheri's full bio or visit her web site sunflowersandpedals.com.