Tech & Wearables

Wahoo Elemnt Roam: What I love – and what bugs me

The Wahoo Elemnt Roam boasts a large-full color display, excellent mapping features, and is easy to configure. But one thing bugs me.

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The Wahoo Elemnt Roam is a really handy bike computer, with all of the bells and whistles expected of $379 training tool.

The 2.7-inch, color screen is super easy to read in any light conditions, and the backlight always provides excellent viewability. The display is my favorite of any of my bike electronics because of its readability.

Using my iPhone to configure screens and data fields is so easy, it’s a surprise that other electronics brands have not adopted this user experience and functionality. One nifty feature: the zoom buttons on the right side allow me to quickly and easily toggle the number of data fields displayed, among other functions. This is handy when I only want to view speed, distance, time, heart rate, and power for instance. If I want to know the time of day, or temperature, or elevation gained, I can just tap a button, and more data — albeit in smaller font size — are displayed.

While I am not a TrainingPeaks power user, I can easily set up workouts to be downloaded to the Elemnt Roam where visual and audio cues aid in completing them.

I appreciate the Roam’s mapping and navigation. Saving a location, whether at home or when traveling, helps me to (almost) never get lost. No matter where I am, as long as I save a location as a starting point I can select the return to start option. Uploading turn-by-turn navigation is a  powerful tool and makes riding new routes more fun.

And one of the niftiest navigation features of the Roam is the feature that allows me mid-ride to set a crosshair on the display, at street-level resolution, and set this as a destination. Then the Roam will just show me the way to go on the map screen.

But there’s one thing that bugs me.

The rocker buttons on the side of the Wahoo Elemnt Roam are easy to activate.
The rocker buttons on the side of the Wahoo Elemnt Roam are easy to activate. The ones on the front: not so much. Photo: Greg Kaplan

The buttons on the face of the unit are frustrating to use — noticeably so — especially compared with the buttons on the sides of the unit. And there is a lag in response.

The rubber-encased buttons on the side of the unit sit proudly and are very easy to press to engage functionality. But the three buttons on the face of the unit — which are the main function buttons — are concave, and are not easy to activate. When I do press them, occasionally there is a slight lag from when the button is pressed to when the unit responds to input. This means confusion and frustration when I repeatedly try to press them and the unit goes a little bonkers responding to the multiple button presses.

With the recently updated Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, the three buttons on the face of the unit were updated, and appear to be much easier to use.

I hope that future updates to the Elemnt Roam have similar improvements.