With the update of the BOLT I’d like to lay out the differences between the ELEMNT BOLT and the ELEMNT ROAM. This article is about the new BOLT with color screen. The ‘old’ doesn’t have this, that’s the easiest way to tell if you’re handling an old or new BOLT. In this article I’ll go into the notable differences between the ELEMNT computers. I’m not going to list out all the features, just compare the two where they differ and why that could matter.
|dimensions||77 x 47 x 21mm||89 x 54.4 x 17.8mm|
|Screen resolution||240 x 300px||240 x 400px|
|Battery Life||15 hours||17 hours|
Looking at the specifications you can tell the ROAM is slightly bigger than the BOLT, and this ‘real estate’ is used for its screen, which has 100 more pixel rows, length wise.
One small difference is that the ROAM has ANT+ LEV E-BIKE integration, which, if you don’t know what is is, is support for electric bikes, so this probably doesn’t matter.
Apart from a bigger screen the ROAM is larger than the BOLT, and it has some different buttons they are now convex vs concave. Or: they’re bumps, not dents:
Personally I like the new buttons on the BOLT. They are raised and seem to give more feedback on a push. There’s a nice click to it (not that you’ll hear that while riding). But overall, they have the same look and feel. Here’s a sense of size, both next to a credit card:
And the sides:
One thing in user experience is: how fast is it? How quickly does it change pages or recalculate your route?
Booting the device isn’t really an indicator. Although the BOLT has a faster CPU, both use different software and load different element. Plus, you boot it before you go on your ride, once. Anyway, the boot time is about the same. In navigation I didn’t see a notable difference either.
The faster CPU on the ELEMNT BOLT does come to play when loading a route for example as in my tests it beats the ROAM every time. I’ve had a similar experience with rerouting too, when going off course.
While there’s color on both, the BOLT has 64 colors and the ROAM only 8. In terms of size 2.2″ BOLT vs 2.7″ on the ROAM. Slightly bigger, but in terms of resolution the BOLT comes close as they have the same amount of pixels horizontally. And because of the more options in colors, Wahoo can use anti-aliasing. This means that everything looks smoother and nicer. Curves look round vs pixelated. A zoomed out map is readable vs a hot mess of dots (more about this in navigation).
Here are the data pages side by side. If you look closely at the letters you can see that the ROAM has some weird thickness here and there and the BOLT is a lot smoother.
Data fields & LEDs
While both ELEMNT computers have similar data pages, there is a small difference.
The ROAM has two rows of leds. One to help you navigate, and one to indicate the zone of your preferred data field.
The BOLT only has the zone LEDs on top.
WIth its larger display you can also get more data fields on you screen on the ROAM. With a maximum of eleven, compared to 9 on the BOLT. A minor detail, and I actually had to look this up as I hadn’t noticed.
Both the BOLT and the ROAM now have the ‘smart navigation’ feature which allows you to plan or reroute your ride on the fly, without the need to bring your phone.
Plus, on the BOLT you can set the bike type for your navigation, making sure you don’t get sent off road on your time trial bike for example.
But I think the real difference is the use of the screen. As once again the use of colors really helps. There are more colors used for roads and water, and roads just appear as.. well, roads. Not dithered or spotty. It’s a much more readable map:
Initial loading of the map appears to be faster on the BOLT. But once it’s loaded I hardly noticed a difference during cycling and zooming in or out. Even though the BOLT has more map data (as it also includes elevation).
The screen size of the ROAM is definitely nicer to have for navigation, but that’s just it. A nice to have.
I’ve tested both computers with a KICKR CORE to see if there’s a difference in experience, and to be short: no. As you may expect the integration between a KICKR trainer and a BOLT or ROAM is flawless. It’s in the same eco system and you’ll have no issues controlling your KICKR from either device.
Personally I believe the BOLT is, at current, the better purchase. It’s cheaper, has a better screen and a couple of neat features like the zone highlighting on your data screen. I’d only go for the ROAM if you’re into long rides, battery life and screen size. The small screen of the ROAM can be bothersome to some, but I believe the feature set far outweighs this. Unless you are into ‘roaming’ the countries. Then the purchase of a ROAM is a good one.
On top of the very comparable feature set the ROAM is about $100 / €70 more expensive than the BOLT, you might see the ROAM on special though as it’s a bit older.
You can buy both computers directly at Wahoo, but also at various other stores:
Just a note about the “links to buy” in this article, as they are sponsored. I do look for the lowest price I can find at the time of writing in a handful of stores, but by using the links I earn from qualifying purchases made through these links.