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new Wahoo Summit Feature – more climbing tools for your ELEMNT
Just as track mode is a mark of competence for a running watch, so is some sort of climbing feature for a bike computer. A mark of a competent performance bike computer might be the inclusion of the Last Lap NP metric.
That’s perhaps a slightly controversial couple of statements as 4 years ago no running watch had a competent track mode until upstart Coros introduced one. At the same time, a bike computer’s help for your hill climbs just about included grade or VAM if you were lucky. I also mention the Last Lap NP as I tend to use that as a litmus test for the quality of the range of performance metrics ie if a bike computer has Last Lap NP then quite a lot has to be in place to display it and there are almost certainly a wealth of other metrics alongside it.
I digress slightly. Let’s focus on climb features
A bit of climb tech history
Garmin’s ClimbPro feature promised a lot when it was launched but was hindered, in my experience, by inaccuracy. Yet its release was a watershed moment for cycling data geeks. Some of us spend a lot of time climbing and vital information for all of us is knowing what’s down the road for us – or, more correctly, how long and steep the next bloomin’ hill is.
Garmin kindly gives us hill-by-hill information whereas anyone else with a similar kind of climbing feature just gives us more generic upcoming hill information broken down into smaller sections by grade if we are lucky.
There are several downsides to what each company has delivered. However, the biggest downside faced by every single implementation of a climbing feature was that it relied on you following a pre-loaded course map.
OK, Garmin & Wahoo both went on to improve their offerings with on-device maps which added elevation profiles for ad-hoc routes and filled in the elevation profiles missing from loaded routes.
Hammerhead changed all of this a couple of weeks ago when they introduced a game-changing algorithm that guessed which was the next hill you were going up and displayed an elevation profile accordingly. To be clear: that does NOT require you to be navigating or following any kind of route. ie it’s an always-on, super-cool feature.
Garmin will inevitably copy Karoo 2 and probably improve their flavour of the algorithm with the addition of personal heatmap and global heatmap data to better predict the next hill you are most likely to go up. I would bet that the Garmin Edge 1040 later this year has such a feature.
Back to Wahoo
Before today’s update, Wahoo gave you a zoomable elevation profile of your entire route, including history. Here’s what’s new for the Bolt & Roam (Review here).
- [All models] – a new elevation-to-go metric. ie How much climbing remains for the entire trip (caveats)
- [Roam & Bolt 2] – Colour-graded grade metric
- [Roam & Bolt 2] – Colour-graded elevation profile
You can probably guess how it all works but if not here are the details of what the colour coding mean and how the zoom works.
Setting It Up
In order to get this new feature, update both your iOS/Android app and ELEMNT’s firmware.
When loading a route in the ELEMNT Companion app don’t expect to see the colour-coded gradients there. Colour coding is only found on Bolt 2 and ROAM.
In the images below, you can see I’ve added the new “Grade (slope background)” metric. That shows the current, measured grade (inclinometer) colour coded in the same way as the grades on the profile. Then on your map screen, you might choose to enable the Climbing screen which automatically displays the elevation profile plus others that you add to it.
That’s it! It should all now work, providing you are following a route of some sort.
Note: The Strava Live Segments page will show the graded colours but only on starred segments.
Note: the My Surrey Hills Route, shown above, is one that I sometimes load in an attempt to get ad-hoc hill information when cycling in a group (it beeps a lot!)
Elevation to Go Metric
Here you can see the cue sheet tells me there is 2125m of climbing to go from the start.
As far as I know that climbing-to-go metric is only visible on the cue sheet but it is updated as you progress. I’m guessing scenarios that involve re-routing take into account any increases or decreases to the remaining climb stat.
Coloured Grade Metric
This is simply a new metric that is coloured the same colour that represents the current, measured grade from the ELEMNT’s inclinometer.
Coloured Elevation Profile
With some caveats that I’ll cover in a minute, you can zoom in and out on the elevation profile using the side buttons. Here you see the fully zoomed-out view of the entire ride before it has started.
What the Wahoo Colour Graded Elevations show
GPLAMA shows a nice live ride video of the Summit feature and he suggests that these gradings might be changeable in the app. I had a brief look but couldn’t find them. They seem pretty sensible as-is.
- Black: Completed, or skipped elevation
- Grey: Descent <0%
- Green: <4%
- Yellow: <8%
- Orange: <12%
- Red: <20%
- Brown: >20%
These colours are determined and shown for 10m segments.
How Wahoo’s Zoom feature works on the Summit Elevation Profiles
Generally, there are 3 or 4 levels of zoom for the elevation profile and Wahoo claims these zoom behaviours
- Normal Mode (history only): 2km/2mi > 200m/600ft > Fit All
- Route Mode: 2km/2mi > 20km/20mi > Fit Remaining > Fit All (plus history)
Here are examples of how zooming works when on a screen by itself and when mixed with other data metrics.
If you have the top buttons on Di2 (SRAM might be similar) then a long button press on the right/left zooms in/out on the active graphic. If there is a map showing it will work on that by default but otherwise it will work to zoom in/out on the elevation. (via @Nestor)
I don’t think any descent-related features are needed.
In my experience, an unknown descent is best served by a zoomed-in map to help understand upcoming corners to be taken at speed.
Q: Wahoo SUMMIT – What’s Missing?
A: Quite a lot. Try these…
- Predictive next hill stats like Karoo 2. This is the game-changer that Wahoo needs to implement.
- Individual climb displays like ClimbPro and a whole host of metrics that would come with that
- Individual climb stats in the companion app once you’ve completed the ride
- Total Vertical Metres-to-go metric,
Di2 control of the zoom – I’d like to control the zoom via the Di2 top buttons and I’m not sure that’s possible (?IDK, see comments below, maybe it is)
Wahoo is definitely working on further improvements to the SUMMIT feature but I don’t know any details. As Wahoo has given the feature a name, SUMMIT, it might be reasonable to assume they will be beefing it up considerably as what is there right now isn’t especially impressive.
From a rider’s perspective, I would like to know more info on the current climb. I’m more interested in individual climb stats than stats for the whole ride, or at least when I’m riding that’s the case. And I’m definitely more interested in the predictive hill algorithms that Karoo 2 has than anything offered by Garmin. For those of us that rarely follow routes, the ClimbPro type tech is just useless 95% of the time, even though it is technically impressive.
I’m also not interested in any kind of climb by climb breakdown of the post-ride stats from Garmin, Stages, Wahoo or Hammerhead. I’d probably defer to Golden Cheetah or to Strava if I was cycling with mates or going for PBs. I always thought that Wahoo was into the same game as me by encouraging me to do those sorts of analyses outside of their platform? But in recent years they seem to be beefing up the competencies of their companion app which, in all truthfulness, probably benefits a wider number of riders.
Maybe it’s time for Strava to introduce primary segments that are the ‘official’ ones for every single climb of any importance globally. Then somehow the bike computers tag these automatically as laps.
The Summit features described are available now and I would hope that Summit is further expanded by the Summer so that many of us can actually use them on our 2-wheeled adventures in 2022.
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