Garmin or Wahoo?

Looking for recommendations for a new bike computer. So far I’ve had a Garmin 500 which was fine and I’m currently running a 920XT triathlon watch. I’m looking for something with better routing/navigation but without breaking the bank. I’m pondering the Garmin 530+ or one of the Wahoo’s, the Bolt is very comparatively priced at the minute.

Does anyone have experience with both Garmin and Wahoo? What do you like about them? What don’t you like? Do you wish you’d bought something else?

I have a Wahoo Roam and love it but if navigation is your main concern I think the 530 would be a better choice than the Bolt. The bolt has GPS but the routing info isn’t built in. Therefore if you go off route it won’t re-route you and you have to find your way back on to the route itself. The Roam does have good navigation and routing but the Bolt and original Elemnt do not.

5 Likes

Anybody know if you can get the power button repaired on my Garmin edge 1000 ? Thanks

I have the 530 and like it, the gf has a wahoo and likes it…I went with the 530 just because everything else I have is garmin, but I really don’t think it matters, just pick which ever one tickles your fancy and youll be fine, there isn’t a clear better choice

3 Likes

Wahoo!

I’ve had an ELEMNT for 3+ years. Enough battery for 10 hours. Yet to navigate me the wrong way.

My experience with older Garmin units wasn’t good and their customer service worse.

2 Likes

I have both the Wahoo Bolt and the Garmin Edge 830, and I’ve been using them simultaneously for a few weeks now to see which of them I prefer. You can’t go wrong either way; they’re both well functioning, with distinct advantages and disadvantages.

The 530 is different from the 830 in a few respects, so keep that in mind when reading the following.

What I think Wahoo Bolt is better at:

  • User friendliness (all done via your smartphone, especially smooth for setup and customization of screens).
  • TrainerRoad Outside workouts (pausing, resetting intervals, etc.).
  • Readability on the bike (the ability to zoom in and out of no. of KPI’s on the screen is brilliant, and sun light doesn’t affect readability at all).
  • Sync of segments and routes from Strava are swift.
  • Weight (only relevant for those of us with an OCD in regards to grams saved).
  • Price. The Bolt is a rather mature product by now, and that is also reflected in the price.

What I think Garmin Edge 830 is better at:

  • Navigation (although I think the 530 is inferior to 830 in this regard).
  • Graphical displays (power, HR).
  • Strava Live Segments (it seems Garmin better adjusts expected time in accordance with the segment profile, whereas Wahoo seems to simply use average speed for the segment).
  • Special features such as incident alert if you crash (has come in handy once for me!) or if your bike is being moved while you’re inside a coffee shop.

Negative things about the Wahoo:

  • Navigation isn’t all that (but if that is important, consider Wahoo Roam instead of the Bolt).
  • Design. It feels a bit plastic and old school compared to Garmin’s rather sexier hardware.

Negative things about the Garmin:

  • Price. The 830 is significantly more expensive than the Wahoo, without adding much in regards to being a pure training tool.
  • Setup and adjustments of screens is cumbersome (although easier with touch screen than buttons on the 530).
  • Garmin’s firmware updates are not bullet proof, and although I haven’t had any bad experiences with 830 in regards to sudden freezes or errors, I have had plently with prevous Garmin computer. Fingers crossed for none of that with 830!

Elements I think they for practical purposes are identical:

  • Upload to various training diaries (Strava, TP, etc.).
  • Battery life (both will need an external power source if you plan for a slow everesting).
  • Accuracy of GPS, connectivity to external sources.
  • Smartphone alerts.

Conclusion: As training tools, they are equally good. As for TrainerRoad Outside workouts, I favour the Wahoo. The Garmin is a technically superior piece of equipment, with lots of smart features, but Wahoo is ahead in terms of user friendliness. If I were forced to choose one, I feel inclined to pick the Wahoo.

22 Likes

I agree with all these sentiments. I have a bolt and a 530. 530 I use if I’m on some weird route I haven’t ridden before and I have a course loaded. Doesn’t happen that often.

I despise the garmin interface for changing things. They should have revised the entire system a decade ago but continue to push forward a UX that was crafted in the early 2000’s. Its unfortunate.

The Bolt just works. And for TR outside stuff it blows away the Garmin. Scale up and down the number of data points instantly on the bolt is another huge plus. On my workouts I only want to see 3sec power and maybe the interval time. OFF I want to see HR and maybe cadence and time remaining. Simple push of the up down buttons makes this super easy.

(edit): There are a TON of features for mountain biking and gravity on the garmin I simply do not use at all. If that’s something that appeals to you, another tick in the Garmin column maybe.

1 Like

Switched from Garmin to Wahoo Element Bolt after getting sick of failed Garmin uploads via Garmin connect.
I’ll never go back… Wahoo navigated me turn by turn through the 800 mile Round Denmark Bike Race… never missed a turn & played quite happily with a power pack plugged in to it. Instant uploads via phone app whenever I chose to do it.
Works really well with TR outdoor workouts as well.

5 Likes

I picked the Garmin and mostly agree with what you wrote. Having used the Bolt and 530 here are my quick notes:

  • the navigation on the Bolt is inferior
  • readability is the same to my (late 50s) eyes
  • my preference is a collection of custom pages (Garmin) versus zooming in and out (Wahoo)
  • ClimbPro and other Garmin features are really nice
  • phone setup of Wahoo is really nice, but I actually prefer to customize screens on the Garmin while riding and actually thinking about it (versus pulling out my phone while riding). So I took the 30 minute one-time hit and did initial configuration using the buttons on 530.
  • over 1000 rides on 520 & 530 and no issues with firmware upgrades or lost rides
  • the additional Garmin features outweigh initial setup ease-of-use of Wahoo

This is my workout screen during an interval targeted at 207W (in garage so power showing 0):
511

you can “rewind” an interval but not as flexible as Wahoo.

And post workout view after an “Ebbetts” style 4x8-min sweet spot workout:
45

2 Likes

Some good advice here, and there’s really thorough reviews over at dcrainmaker.com

2 Likes

I really like ClimbPro too, but wish it would work without being on a route, unless I’ve missed something. I use an 830 myself, I find buttons harder to navigate the screens.

1 Like

If you want good navigation, then you need to look at the Wahoo Roam, not the Bolt. As noted, Bolt (or ELEMNT) will not re-route you if you get off course.

Unfortunately the Roam is a bit more expensive.

This is probably the one are where Garmin is superior. I personally prefer Wahoo over Garmin any day of the week. Easier interface, simpler setup, better overall experience…but I rarely use navigation, also. That said, I did just get a Roam recently and the navigation has been great the few times I used it.

3 Likes

@sid210. Garmin will be able to fix it.

I’m in the same boat. Having had the 500 and 920xt, all my data is in Garmin Connect. I’m tempted to go Garmin just for that continuity but I just want to make sure I’m not going to miss out on a killer feature from Wahoo.

I also had the G500, switched to the Bolt in 2017. I love the ability to use the phone to set the screens. And my favorite feature is the ease with which I can enlarge the display. Each screen can serve multiple functions, which is great during races when I need just 2 or 3 large numbers.
Also, their support is great. After almost 2 years my front button melted in the sun (Philippines - its hot!). They just told me to send a picture of the issue and they sold me a new one for 40% off.
Navigation is not a huge deal for me as I’m a natural explorer and not afraid of getting lost - some of my most epic rides. :grin:

1 Like

I’ve had a Garmin 820 and now a Wahoo Element.

I LOATHED the Garmin, HUGE POS.

2 Likes

Care to elaborate?

I have a Bolt. I’ve been mulling over going to the 530 for a while, and haven’t quite been able to justify it yet. I keep trying though, but too much of a “nice to do” rather than “need to do” at the moment.

There’s a few things about the bolt that bug me. Navigation, unless you map the route yourself, isn’t turn by turn. Calorie count is off the wall - not an issue when you have power, but I don’t always have it.

Positives for the 530 are mainly around making proper use of the first beat metrics. I have a 245 watch, so I’m interested in tracking the bike. The crash alert is great - I was tracking on the watch (on my gravel bike, which I don’t have power), and came off. The alert worked really well. I believe the navigation is a step up from the bolt. The battery life, which made me pick the bolt over the 520 at the time, also fixed.

830 v 530 - a lot of it is buttons v touch screen. Circulation issues mean I’m full finger gloves most of the year, so buttons is a plus for me!

1 Like

I do brevet rides and rerouting is a “no-no”. So this is not a problem for me as long as it beeps at me and tells me I am off route. I would also like for it to give me turn-by-turn instructions that pop up and light up … in the middle of the night when I am half delerious and need som prodding.

Does it give turn-by-turn?

I tried a Garmin etrex something-or-another 30 and it was absolutely miserable. You could put a route in there, a brevet route, and it would immediately start rerouting you if it thought it had figured out a better route, which would lead to disqualification for a brevet ride. I sold it for half price a month after I bought it.

My Garmin 800 died (battery) after faithful service for years. I replaced it with a (actually 3 units, before Garmin got it right) with a 810 that worked for a couple of years, but this year it is starting to give “route calculation errors” and no longer gives turn-by-turn. Strange, because it will still flag when I go off route, but it will not give me turn-by-turn.

So will the Wahoo give turn-by-turn? If I go off route the rule is I have to retrace my ride back to the point where I left the route, so I absolutely do not want any automatic re-routing.

The Elemnt/Bolt will give you Turn- by-Turn if the route is uploaded from Komoot’s or RWGPS only. If it’s from other sources like Strava it will give you a breadcrumb to follow on the map screen but will not alert you to an impending turn.

2 Likes