Garmin 530 or Wahoo Elemnt Bolt for outside workouts?

Whats your experience? What are the differences?

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I have both a 530 and the original Wahoo ELEMNT. I purchased the 530 initially for the Radar support (which Wahoo later added) , lap by location, and more detailed maps in my area. The Wahoo implementation of workouts if far superior to the Garmin. The Wahoo UI allows pausing of the workout while still recording the ride which is good if your need to get to a better location to start an interval. Wahoo also allows stepping forward and back in the interval.


I’m also interested in this discussion as I am in the market for a computer too.

I tested my 520 against Bolt and stuck with 520 because the Garmin mobile app makes it simple to create outside workouts. It takes less than a minute to create say a 4x20 sweet spot workout and sync to the 520. Then I upgraded to 530 and it is a great computer unless you absolutely believe configuration needs to be done on your mobile phone (Wahoo and Stages). Wahoo is missing too many other features vs Garmin that I actually use and value. I’ve got over 1000 rides on 520 and 530, and never had an issue with Garmin.

Some of it comes down to how you create the workout (advance to start of next interval on lap button press), and really the major part is picking the right roads or trails to do the work. I’ve been using the button press to advance interval feature of Garmin for 4 years, before I knew anything about TrainerRoad. Honestly never thought much about Wahoo’s pause/rewind feature, and after using it didn’t find it of any real value. When on the trainer I don’t stop or rewind intervals, and don’t really care to do that outside. If inside and I stop to get water, or do a long 1-2 minute back-spin, I’ve disabled TrainerRoad’s auto-pause and it gets recorded. If its a 20-minute sweet spot interval and I stop for 67 seconds, I’m not going to “make it up” and do a 21:07 interval just for the sake of thinking its somehow better or more compliant.

As implemented, I really scratch my head over the TR auto-pause feature because its difficult/impossible to visually see how you are progressing if its not possible to do the work exactly as prescribed, because unless you look at heart rate its hard to tell if you did a short backspin or a longer 1-2 minute rest.


I’m really interested in the discussion as well, especially because of the pause function. I live in a hilly area and the intervals don’t always align with the terrain. I’d love to just have the opportunity to pause the workout and continue the ride until I get to a spot that lets me complete the interval.

While I could pause the Garmin, doing so would delete parts of the ride and hence the TSS. And if I do a couple of climbs to get to an even spot I might miss quite a bit in my data. Sure, it’s not really a problem but I’d like my progression to really show what I am doing. I want to do as many workouts as possible outside, as I enjoy the sun (duh…) and I want to have the feeling of putting down the watts on the road. And if 30 TSS are missing from 3 rides a week, I might dig myself into a hole.

That’s why I consider switching back to Wahoo (the roam for the navigation)…

Sidenote: seeing whats going on with the coronavirus in Spain and Italy (close to 1000 deaths a day), my thoughts have to be the definition of first world problem

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I have had both the bolt and currently have the 530. I can pause the 530 during a workout but I have to physically pause it with the button which is not a problem.

I lean more to the 530 but don’t think either one can go wrong. Both have pros and cons.

I bought the Bolt specifically for outdoor workouts (and the Varia). I’ve done one outdoor workout on the bolt and could not have been happier. Super easy to get on the bolt and then follow along while riding. While I considered the 530, I have never been in the Garmin ecosystem and saw no need to get one.

I think I replied to this on FB, but for the other forum users:

I recently switched to a Wahoo Roam from a Garmin 520. My experience is that the Wahoo is a little more suited for real world conditions. The ability to have auto pause when you come up to a stop sign, stop light is an amazing feature that Garmin does not have. The garmin wants you to his stop when you come to a stop. Also the ability to hit pause on your workout (the ride will still record) when you are on a bit of road that isnt suited for your interval until you have some road that is perfect for it is also a really cool feature. The wahoo also wont stop your ride once the workout is complete. The data screens are fairly similar when you are comparing the 530,830 and the wahoos and they will show the interval layouts similar to trainerroad.

Overall the user experience with the wahoo for me has been great. My biggest complaint about wahoo is that they dont have accident detection, but that is fixed by using the Specialized Angi unit (which in the 2 rides ive used it has been difficult to ‘wake up’. but ill chalk that up to user error). Not to mention that its super nice to have the ability to have certain fields in focus, ie power. Its just super nice IMO to just glance down and see a huge number vs everything being the same size. I really recommend the wahoo.

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Thanks for your post. I’ve already ordered the wahoo. Looking forward to the differences …

Same here, I used to have a Bolt. Really liked the device but the navigation was really lacking.
My mates suggested I buy an Edge 830, so I did… The very first ride, I immediately disliked it! The touchscreen was horrible with my gloves.

When I came home, I bought a Roam and I couldn’t be happier. The same smooth user interface as the Bolt, but a lager screen and better navigation.

I’m about to do my first outside workout in half an hour!


Looking forward to your impressions. I changed my KEdge mounts to Wahoo and will do the first outside ride this week :-). Next week looks like awesome weather!

I really normally like Garmin products but I hated not being able to pause during the workout. I know that pausing the workout because I have to get to a useable piece of road will be detrimental to some of the workout benefits but riding outside is way to important for me :-).

I ended up not doing the workout so I can’t yet comment :smiley:

Garmin does have auto start and auto stop for regular ride. It does not work during a workout, is that what you are referring to? I think the TR crew fixed the issue by adding a “pause” before each interval, so that you only enter the interval when you are ready. That said, of course it doesn’t account for something happening on the road which prevents you from finishing the interval.

Technically, I agree that it would be nice to have Garmin detect a stop and also pause the workout on top of the ride. That said, that would also make it so that it is not as “good” or quality workout, but it is a part of life and working outside with other cars, traffic lights, stop signs, etc.

The garmin won’t do this either. At least in the workouts I’ve done the cool down ends and then goes into a final segment that runs until you hit lap or end the ride. And if you hit the lap button then a banner pops up that says “Workout Complete!” and the workout ends but the ride continues.

That is true, and the music plays :stuck_out_tongue:
I save that for when I’m passing someone on an E-bike and then hit the lap key…

I’ve now done the first outside ride with the Wahoo.

Context: I’ve had a Garmin Edge 800 for 4 years (lost it while mountainbiking - it will forever be missed), then an Elemnt Bolt for a couple of months (was happy, but no outside workouts at that time), an Edge 530 since last summer. I also have a Garmin scale and a Forerunner 935 that I use as a daily watch. Save to say, I don’t hate on Garmin.

I liked the workout experience with the Wahoo a lot more than with the Garmin. Seeing the entire workout and the remaining total time was helpful to me (Garmin can do that too now… I really like the ability to pause the workout, and to go back and forth between intervals. I did lionrock and was preoccupied with work stuff, came out of a sprint and forgot to go into the threshold part. Two taps on a button: restarted the sprint and went into the threshold part. Worked really well.

I also paused a view times before an interval. Living in southern Germany we have many rolling hills and small villages with winding roads, which can make it a bit difficult to start a sprint interval as you find yourself going downhill around a bend on cobbles quite often but 15 secs later you are on a smooth road. So pausing just the workout with one push of a button was really good.

Two things I noticed about the Wahoo that I liked better on the Garmin: The Garmin switched screens to show me turns, the Wahoo just shows arrows, that might be okay on big roads but in villages with many turns and differing street names, that can be a bit hard - but that might just be a setup issue on my side. I also liked being able to switch between two screens (Workout -up- Map - down - Workout or Workout - down - elevation profile - up - workout) while you have to cycle through all the screens on the Wahoo.

All in all, I’m happy with the roam and I’ll sell the Edge 530.

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I’ve never used a Garmin but have no hate for them either. I have their radar and vector3 pedals and both have worked fine for me. I do like my wahoo head units though. Had an original Elemnt and now a Roam and I agree with everything you have said about them in regards to outside workouts.
I also agree that my one pet peeve is having to cycle through all the screens. Minor issue but a pain in the ass just the same.

Im in the market for one as well

Thing is i use a garmin fenix 6 watch, heart rate and track my fitness in the garmin connect app (sleep, v02 max etc.)

Im reading that the Wahoo bolt is better for outdoor workouts but i don’t know how well it would connect with the current Garmin ecosystem i am locked into :frowning:

That depends on where you ride and the workout you load. I’ve never had a reason to pause or rewind. On the other hand slenny posted above that he wants pause for riding thru villages in Southern Germany.

Agree with the others about how nice it is to flip up or down a page on the Garmin. I have a main interval page, and down arrow for a summary of all intervals performed, and up arrow to see interval max power and workout max power.

The 530 has real navigation versus the Bolt, you need to look at Roam for real navigation. A couple of months ago I took my 530 to Texas and without a course loaded I received warnings for upcoming sharp turns on the bike trail (same here, I leave my neighborhood via a bike trail with sharp turns). The Bolt didn’t have anything like that, or any awareness of streets, trails, etc (when I last looked at it).

Creating and loading workouts via mobile app has always been a nice feature on the Garmin. In less than a minute I can create workouts on a mobile app and sync to head unit. Since joining TR over two years ago I’m in the habit of looking at TR workout and lets say its 3x15 sweet spot, then I either already have it and sync it, or create it on the fly in less than a minute.

I’ve looked at online reviews of Roam and would miss too many Garmin features. I don’t feel locked in, honestly would miss too many features of the Garmin platform.

Personally I don’t think Garmin owners are compromising on workouts. I’ve been creating workouts on Garmin mobile app since 2017 and its really easy.

The unit that really has my eye for doing outside workouts is Stages Dash, but thats another story. When someone goes Wahoo its usually because of the phone based setup. Stages lets you setup on device, mobile app, and website. To be honest I’m more interested in changing my data pages during recovery intervals, on the bike while I’m thinking about it and that is one thing I really like about the Garmin (and yes, I think they should add mobile based setup for initial setup).

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If it matters to the OP, Wahoo currently has a $50 rebate on the Roam. If navigation is important to you and you are considering a wahoo then the Roam is the clear choice in my opinion over the Bolt. The Bolt is a better choice than the Roam if you are more concerned with weight.