Confused between Wahoo Elemnt Bolt vs Garmin 530? This article will help you decide! Truth to be told, both Wahoo Elemnt Bolt and Garmin 530 are very good bike computers. They have decent navigation features and performance. Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is better in terms of design and battery life, but Garmin 530 offers a colorized map and more customizability.
Continue reading below to find out more about:
– The design and build quality of each bike computer here
– Which model that is generally easier to set-up and use
– The connectivity features of Wahoo Elemnt Bolt and Garmin 530
– The map quality of Wahoo Elemnt Bolt vs Garmin 530
– The comparison of their battery life
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt: Design
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt can be configured easily through the mobile app, which is available for Android and iOS. You won’t need to punch a bunch of buttons; instead, you can use the familiar interface of your smartphone to select the data that you want to see and change the order of appearance. See also: Wahoo Elemnt vs Garmin 1030
This device still has physical buttons. On the right side, there are two zoom buttons that also function to increase or decrease the number of fields on a data screen. Meanwhile, the three buttons on the front side provide basic functions like start/stop, select, and dismiss. On the left side, there is the power button that will also give you access to the settings.
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt has a similar overall layout like Wahoo Elemnt. The difference is just it is smaller, and it only has a single line of LEDs on the top.
The size of Wahoo Elemnt Bolt vs Garmin 530 is not only smaller, but also more aerodynamic. The company has taken a step further to ensure that both the bike computer and the mount are aerodynamic. As a result, Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is said to have 50% less drag than a Garmin device on a Garmin mount across different wind angles.
However, the position of Wahoo Elemnt Bolt when mounted is a little bit different. It will sit with some distance from the stem and handlebar. Some people probably prefer the bike computer to sit closer to the handlebar. Nevertheless, the mount of Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is quite rigid and solid. It won’t flex when you press a button, which is really nice.
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt: Features & Connectivity
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt comes with the usual metrics on speed, distance, time, power, elevation, heart rate, and others. There are built-in integrations with a wide range of devices, including eTap and Moxy sensors. Wahoo Elemnt Bolt also has turn-by-turn navigation, Live Track, Strava Live Segments, and the “take me anywhere” feature which will search for a destination and guide you there.
It is equipped with some workout functions, including the ability to sync automatically with Today’s Plan and TrainingPeaks. It can guide you through an interval training with power targets and pop-up prompts while providing a bar-graph visualization.
Since the Wahoo Fitness company was started as an iPhone accessory company, there is no surprise that the current Wahoo models still rely on smartphones for some features. You will need to use your smartphone for the initial set-up. Fortunately, the process is very easy. The drag-and-drop functionality will allow you to customize the data screens quickly.
Once the set-up is finished, the bike computer can operate independently without your smartphone. You can pair it with external sensors. After ending a ride, it will search for a known Wi-Fi network within range in order to upload data.
Still, keeping your smartphone connected to Wahoo Elemnt Bolt while riding can add some useful functions. You will be able to see incoming call/text/email notifications, enable Live Track, and set the bike computer to automatically upload data via your smartphone.
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt: Performance & Battery Life
Although the company claims that Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is aerodynamically superior to the competing Garmin model, it is the ease of use, compact size, and long battery life that makes Wahoo Elemnt Bolt particularly attractive.
The wireless data transfer of Wahoo Elemnt Bolt vs Garmin 530 is much more seamless. You can sync routes wirelessly via the mobile app. The routes that you have created on Strava, Ride with GPS, and Komoots will automatically populate the bike computer.
Unfortunately, routes from Strava will only show up as lines on the map. You can get turn-by-turn navigation only when you are using a route from either Ride with GPS or Komoots.
Anyhow, the turn-by-turn navigation is really good. The maps are fairly accurate, and the prompts are timed perfectly. You can be on any data screen, and a prompt will pop up with an arrow when you are getting close to a turn. The prompt also provides a real-time distance countdown.
The weakness of Wahoo Elemnt Bolt is the black-and-white screen. While it is great for alphanumeric data, it is not very good for showing a map. The screen can get too dense at a certain zoom level. Also, the maps of Wahoo Elemnt Bolt aren’t as robust as Garmin’s, as they lack color coding and points of interest.
The battery life is awesome. Wahoo Elemnt Bolt can easily last two times or three times longer than Garmin 530. When tested for a six-hour run with the navigation features and Strava Live Segments enabled continuously, the battery only dropped from 100% to 51%.
Garmin 530: Design
In terms of size, Garmin 530 is a little bit bigger. It is a little bit thicker than a typical smartphone, and it has a 2.6-inch color screen covering most of its top surface. It comes with usual 90-degree twist-lock mount from Garmin, along with two o-ring mounts which you can use on the bike’s handlebar or stem.
This bike computer is controlled mostly via the seven physical buttons on the sides. It has a Micro USB port that is concealed behind a flap on the bottom side. The Micro USB port is used for connecting to a computer and charging.
The lack of a touchscreen is kind of unfortunate because setting up Garmin 530 through the physical buttons can be quite tedious. You will need to press the up and down buttons on the left and the enter and back buttons on the right repeatedly. You may also need some time to read the manual because the menu system is not very intuitive. Some common settings are put in the global menu, but some others are put in the profile-specific menus.
On the good side, Garmin 530 offers plenty of customizability once you get the hang of it. The profiles are extremely flexible. You can set many different sets of metrics on the profiles. This will allow you to use the same bike computer for different activities, such as road biking and mountain biking, without having to make too many adjustments – just switch the profile.
Garmin 530: Features & Connectivity
When choosing between Wahoo Elemnt Bolt vs Garmin 530, a lot of people will still choose Garmin 530 despite the tedious set-up process because of one reason: the powerful maps. Garmin 530 has a color screen, and it can show routes with a highlighted line. As a result, the maps are much easier to read and follow.
Just like Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, Garmin 530 can provide turn-by-turn navigation when you are using a route from Ride with GPS or Komoots. However, unlike Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, Garmin 530 also allows you to import interval workouts and provide rich, useful graphics. Garmin 530 also has the ability to create a course from a previous ride, although the fundamental features of Garmin 530 are still geared towards routes that you have created in advance.
Garmin 530 also supports the Trailforks mapping service. This is a very good news for mountain bikers. You just need to log in to your Trailforks account on the paired smartphone, and the unit will sync automatically with your account.
This bike computer can also connect to a wide range of external sensors. If you have a power meter and a heart rate monitor, Garmin Edge 530 can provide additional performance metrics, including training load, estimated VO2 max, estimated FTP, and real-time performance condition.
Garmin 530: Performance & Battery Life
Garmin 530 is not perfect; the size of the display screen often feels a little bit too small for displaying a map. However, it has managed to tick almost all of the boxes for both racers and casual riders. It has plenty of customizability and a vast range of performance metrics.
Recording and uploading rides is mostly painless. Once the bike computer gets into the range of your home’s Wi-Fi network, it will upload data automatically. Or, just keep it paired with your smartphone, and it will do the job as well. You just need to remember to keep it charged.
While the initial set-up requires time and effort, Garmin 530 is very practical in the daily use. When you are about to go on a ride, you just need to select a profile and press the start button. When you want to end the ride, just hit stop and confirm to save the recorded data.
The battery life of Garmin 530 is good, although not as long as Wahoo Elemnt Bolt. The claimed battery life is 20 hours. When tested on a six-hour ride with a high brightness level and the navigation features enabled, the battery only dropped from 100% to around 30%. For most riders, it should be sufficient.
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt vs Garmin 530
In general, Garmin 530 is more recommended. It has a color display which will make navigation a lot easier. The maps are also more robust with color coding and points of interest. Plus, Garmin 530 offers a lot of customizability and performance metrics.