Tech

Best Bike Calculator (2022): Garmin, Wahoo, Bontrager, Hammerhead


Wahoo Offers Two Rugged Cycling Computers: $300 Element Bolt, a small, sleek aerodynamic unit designed for racing; and the larger Elemnt Roam, about the size of a pack of Marlboros, designed to find the way. Roam has been on the market for three years when it was updated in October 2022. I tested this new version.

The latest version of Roam, which looks exactly like its older brother, offers dual-frequency GPS. The explanation is too simple: dual frequency allows GPS devices to operate on two frequency bands instead of one. Single frequency GPS units provide accuracy within 15 feet. Dual frequency GPS unit provides centimeter accuracy.

Where could this make a difference? Let’s say you’re biking on a poorly maintained single track through a poplar forest in the Rockies. With single-frequency GPS, objects like towering trees can block or interfere with the signal, which can cause inaccurate routes, leaving you with the possibility of getting lost. That might not be a big deal in an urban setting, where you might stop at the local coffee shop to ask for directions. But in the wilderness, deviating 15 feet can mean making a fatal error.

With enhanced dual signals, turn-by-turn navigation prompts for all maps of any file type—preloaded or uploaded via apps like Strava, Komoot, or Ride with GPS—are accurate. If you somehow make a wrong turn, there is a rerouting feature that will quickly get you back on track. If you are really lost, the “breadcrumb” feature will navigate you back to the starting point even when the device is offline.

Also new: “The Summit”, color-coded gradients in level data fields and elevation graphs when traveling on third-party routes or Strava segments. No wonder the Forest Service’s mountain road seems merciless and endless: You can now see that it’s 13% level.

I like the Roam’s easy-to-read display, which uses an ambient light sensor to automatically adjust the LED backlighting. Instead of a touchscreen, there are three bottom buttons that let you scroll between custom screens like the main map, nearby Strava segments to tackle, and the main dashboard. That dashboard includes miles per hour, miles traveled, clock, ride time, heart rate (when combined with a heart rate monitor), revolutions per minute (when combined with an odometer) electricity) and average mileage per hour. By pressing the button on the bottom right, you can zoom in or out the panel, a great feature for aging eyes.

Battery life is 17 hours on the newly upgraded Roam, roughly the same as the old model. That level of stamina pales in comparison to Garmin 1040 Solar, but Wahoo is still a solid choice for any endeavor within that term. With 32GB of expandable storage, there’s more room to save favorite routes, detailed maps of new locations, up to five structured workouts from Wahoo, as well as planned workouts from partner apps like TrainerRoad, Training Peaks and Today’s Plan.

One of my co-testers found the included handlebar clamp to be too heavy, with the Roam locking into a large plastic frame almost as big as the unit itself. The computer is less likely to snap or slip out of place on the go, but the expanded plastic stand feels like it could snap in half on impact.

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