Two weeks ago, I got a Wahoo Elemnt GPS bike computer. It did not change my life. But it's pretty cool.
There are many, many more in-depth and informative places to find reviews of products, with DC Rainmaker far and away the best in the game for cycling geeks. Nobody presents as much information, and to avoid redundancies, I'll direct you to go straight there for the nitty and the gritty. What this quick review will focus on is the actual experience and functionality on the bike during your ride, wherever that might be.
My good ol' buddy Steve from Wahoo sent out Elemnts almost the day they were available, and I greedily charged mine, ready to put it through the paces. It being Northern Michigan, however, we got a blizzard that night. So much the better (at least for this review) because one of the features of the Elemnt is that it just so happens to control the Wahoo Kickr I have in my garage. Wahoo says its working on the ability to control any Smart trainer down the road, but for now, only the Kickr works. It lets you choose from a few settings, including ERG mode (what you do on your Cyclops at Brockmiller Elite Endurance), Level mode and Resistance.
The real gem, though, is the ability to load routes, and the Kickr reacts. So, any route you have saved on Strava or saved from third party apps like RidewithGPS, you can ride on your Kickr, getting in a similar workout but avoiding the frozen hellscape outside. Map anything you want, and ride it in your basement. Pretty sweet. I did some random ones to test, and the feel is smooth. It's obvious they've worked on the algorithm for elevation changes, because the choppy-jumpy-not-fun climbing gradient issues that plagued other apps aren't an issue.
Once I finally got outside the Elemnt worked well, expect for one day where I had trouble with my heart rate picking up. That ended up being a dead battery, so not the Elemnt's fault. I really like the display; it's black and white and reminds me of the Nook I had in college. Crisp, clean, and the pages are extremely adjustable. Not only can you choose your 10 most important data fields, you can use the display arrows to have it show more or less on the fly. In a race, I only look at heart rate, cadence, speed, time and distance. Training, I like to add gradient, average speed, time of day, and maybe elevation to the mix. I can use the same page, but just adjust what is displayed. Kind of a neat trick.
Maybe the best feature of the Elemnt is how connective it is. I have a number of speed, cadence, and speed/cadence sensors on an embarrassing amount of bikes. Just to test this thing to the limit, I walked into my garage and tried to connect to about 8 sensors all at once; no problem. It saved all of them, and it also let me name the sensors so its easier to keep track of which is which on which bike. Smart idea.
I haven't had the time (or the weather) to check out the map feature. It doesn't do turn by turn directions, nor does it let you pick a location to navigate to. It does do a pretty incredible job of telling you where you are and offering lines (they're roads, trust them) on how to get where you are going. If you really use mapping features, the Garmin 1000 is the way to go, but if you don't travel constantly, or do some diligent planning ahead (map it on Strava before you go and you're good) then it isn't too big of a hiccup.
Finally, do you like Harry Potter? Do you remember the Marauder's Map? Well, now you can live that. The Elemnt's map will display your buddies' locations in real time, provided they're using the live track feature with their phones. So when you drop them all on Smokey Hollow, you can bring up the map and see if they're chasing you down, or if they gave up and are heading back on Ladd. It's going to be especially cool for big group rides in the woods, making it possible to meet up with other people riding two different routes, or time when to head back and meet up after Friday Night Lights.
Again, there's an awful lot to this GPS unit that I'm not going to cover. If you're in the market, however, Wahoo has put together a solid device that does a lot compared to similarly priced options, with the added allure that Wahoo is famous for constantly adding features, updates fixing bugs. The Elemnt is $329, right in the same price point as the very popular Garmin 520.