Garmin Edge 530 or Wahoo Element Bolt for Outdoor Workouts

Looking to get my first bike computer for the purpose of doing TrainerRoad outdoor workouts and for uploading routes to follow for when I’m out of town. Those that have been doing outdoor workouts, what have you been using? Any gripes about either head unit? I have a garmin 935 so I’m leaning towards the 530 to have everything on one platform and it sounds like it has better GPS/mapping capability

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I have an Elemnt and love and hate it. It’s intuitive and works most of the time… most. There are some annoying software issue. Often, I have to resync manually from Strava. And the app can crash, and sometimes the Elemnt does not connect to my phone. If you can live with that, I would definitely go for the Elemnt.

The battery lasts ages. Rode for 8 hours a couple weeks ago, still had 30% after that. The screen is great to read (in contrast to the Garmin, which is an LCD). And the user interface combined with the app is so intuitive.

Also, the Elemnt is NOT touch screen, which is an advantage. You can easily use it in all weather conditions (sun, rain, sweaty fingers, wearing gloves). Garmin often uses touch screens.

YMMV, but even despite the glaring software issues, I would buy an Elemnt again.

I’ve only used a Bolt, but would buy one again no problem. Works great for outdoor workouts. I do one or two workouts a week outdoors using it.

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Both are good head units. 530 has much better GPS vs Bolt. No issues with readability. A lot more features on the 530.

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Do you have data/articles on that?

530 has real car-like navigation and knows the street you are riding on without having a route loaded. Full turn-by-turn, street names, etc. Look at DCRainmaker article on 530? Bolt only has bread crumbs, and only turn-by-turn if you export route from Kamoot or RideWithGPS.


Ah you mean to say GPS navigation. I thought you were talking GPS accuracy

I have both units (well actually an 830 but that’s similar enough) and they each have their pros and cons. For outdoor workouts I prefer the Bolt as you can pause and move around in the workout, e.g. if you hit a red light and want to pause and restart the interval. I don’t think you can do that with the Garmin although @bbarrera will correct me if I’m wrong. :slight_smile:

You can restart and skip intervals on Garmin 530/830/etc.

When are intervals no longer the workout you are suppose to be doing? When you need to pause them. Just saying. If you need a pause button, maybe you need a better route. Or do the intervals inside on the trainer and bonus aerobic endurance work outside.

The Garmin 530 does not have a touch screen either. It’s the 830 that does. But for what it’s worth I would buy the 830 with a touch screen again if I had the chance. It has received a big upgrade since the previous iterations of the touch screen. Even in the cold with big gloves on the worst that ever happened was maybe I pressed the button adjacent to the one I wanted. But it never missed a press. But I find it much easier to navigate the screen than with buttons.

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Good points, wasn’t aware it’s so much better now.

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fwiw, even though this is a bit late, I have a FR945 and a ELEMNT BOLT and I’m likely going to sell the Bolt and get a 530. While I enjoy the Wahoo and it’s a very good computer, I would lean towards the Garmin for 1) Same ecosystem as watch 2) Auto-pause threshold rather than whatever speed the Wahoo defaults to 3) Actual GPS nav vs routing 4) ClimbPro

I haven’t had any bad experiences with the Wahoo, it just isn’t quite what I want for nav/climbing/etc

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I’ve done quite a few outdoor workouts on my Elemnt, and I’ll echo some of the opinions in this thread. It usually works well, though I’ve been experiencing 1min sensor dropouts here and there. The GPS accuracy is ok, but can be thrown off by dense tree cover to the side of the road, which would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that my older Garmin Forerunner 235 watch does a much better job. The readability and battery life are great, works well with my Varia radar, and the interface is easy, but sometimes inflexible. I’m waiting for the Hammerhead Karoo 2 to come out, that’s a potential replacement I’m considering.

I have not ever had a GPS or sensor drop outs that I have been aware of on my Bolt. Mine has been solid as a rock through every outdoor workout that I have done this year so far. The only problem that I have run into with my Bolt is the need to unpair and repair with my phone every couple of weeks - not sure if it the Bolt or app updates that cause this. But easy enough to fix.

Same. I actually frequently ride with both the BOLT and my Garmin Forerunner 945 recording simultaneously and the only difference is ever the slight variation in their thresholds for autopause. Even then, distance/speed/etc is almost always the same. Never to any degree of note if they are slightly different.

My one main complaint about the BOLT would be Wahoo’s inability to use power data to calculate kJ/work. I normally like to know where I’m at during a ride, and Wahoo opts to use some combo of speed/HR/weight to determine kJ rather than the obvious use of the power meter data… :upside_down_face:

^ Thanks to @Buckethead - this has been changed in an update

They moved to power based a little while ago in a recent update.

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Sorry, I didn’t see that update, you’re right!

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I really like my 830. I thought stuff like Climb pro were just a gimmick. Also, I live in Michigan so it’s not much good to me on an everyday basis. But I recently went home to visit family in Virginia and rode on Skyline Drive which is just climb then descend over and over with the climbs from 2.5 - ~5 miles. And Climb Pro was a nice addition as it showed me remaining distance, profile, grade, etc.

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I’ve used outdoor workouts once on my Elemnt Bolt, and the UI was great. The workout was a very simple recovery ride, so there wasn’t much in terms of interaction (warm-up, 60-70 minutes in Zone 2–3, cool-down). But it worked well. I did not time my ride well, though, so I think I prefer doing workouts indoors.

For navigation the Elemnt is alright. What I mean by this is breadcrumb navigation is very good, simple and reliable if you stick to the route. Because zooming and panning is a bit more cumbersome, you’ll likely prefer do anything more complicated on your smartphone.

Re-routing is at times a bit annoying (e. g. one time the algorithm insisted on me using a farm road parallel to the road and the Elemnt correctly claimed I was off-route). But if you are with your smartphone, this isn’t an issue for me.

Overall, I think I made the right choice for me. The Wahoo is easy to set up and very easy to use. Was my experience flawless? No, but what in life is.


  • Zooming data fields on pages. This feature alone sold me on the Wahoo. I’m serious.
  • Very easy to set up on your smartphone.
  • Easy to use.


  • I had to delete and re-add my Wahoo a few times when the Bluetooth connection got flaky. Fortunately, you don’t lose your settings and custom screens in the process, so this just a slight annoyance. I did not have to do this recently, though.
  • Changing data fields could be a bit easier. Sometimes I want to change my power field from 20-second average to 3-second average (for indoor workouts like 30-30s), and this is fiddlier than it should be.
  • Since a recent firmware update, the Elemnt Bolt insists on using Bluetooth to connect to my Tickr even if I pair it as an Ant+ device. Outdoors, things work beautifully, but indoors when I do TrainerRoad workouts, I need my Tickr to use its Bluetooth connection to pair with my iPad. So at the moment for indoor workouts, my heart rate only shows up in the TrainerRoad app and not simultaneously on my head unit. This isn’t a big issue, but I’d prefer if it worked correctly.
  • I’d really like to have a color screen like the Roam, but didn’t want to shell out the extra money at the time.