new Wahoo Roam 2 Review
Wahoo’s new Roam 2 looks similar to its predecessor and boasts 6 significant software features plus improved capabilities under the hood, all aimed at making your cycling experiences better, let’s start off with a summary review and then a deep dive into all the new features further down – including using roam 2 with Supersapiens.
Over the last 3 or 4 years, Wahoo has emerged as the main challenger to Garmin. Why?
A: Garmin Edge bike computers will always have more features than a Wahoo Roam or Wahoo Bolt, but the reason why cyclists and triathletes like Wahoo in growing numbers is the superior rider experience.
USA – $399
Euro – Eu349
GB – £399 (?!?)
Verdict: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Awesome at everything except super-advanced navigation. You might not like its looks but it's my favourite larger-format bike computer.
new Wahoo ELEMNT Roam 2 Review - the most usable bike computer for performance and general navigation.
The new Wahoo Roam 2 is a faster device than its 3-year-old predecessor. Every existing feature is carried over and there are now some great improvements like hill climbing functionality, public route sharing, compatibility with Supersapiens and more besides.
Battery life is unchanged but the charge time is faster and, whilst the device//screen is essentially the same size, the screen quality is much improved with the colours boosted from 8 to 64. Maps are now more detailed and look better on this display.
Every kind of riding support you need is covered by the new Wahoo Elemnt ROAM, ranging from following a course from RwGPS whilst on holiday to chasing Strava segment PRs live on your TT bike. If leading-edge, adaptive power training with Xert is your thing or if that lung-busting FTP-booster session from Training Peaks is more your cup of tea then all will be good in both cases. Naturally, there are dedicated features to help you segment-hunt and navigate from Strava.
ROAM 2 handles niche but important use-cases like following variable efforts over a Best Bike Split course with your Kickr smart trainer and raising & lowering your bike with a Kickr Climb. Heck, even your sweat will be compatible with your Kickr mat…or anyone else’s mat for that matter too.
Multi-sport support is at the heart of Wahoo’s thinking with a novel feature to nicely hand off race control during your triathlon to your Elemnt Rival watch.
Maybe you have a bog-standard heart rate strap or rely on a Garmin Varia Radar light for safety or maybe you have a pressing need to display 14 kinds of muscle oxygen data metrics, Glucose metrics from Supersapiens or a Di2 gear visual chart; you guessed it. All is good.
The new Wahoo Elemnt Roam is the real deal that is supported by an expansive and impressive cycling ecosystem. Wahoo is in the cycling game for the long term and it is Garmin’s only real competitor.
Garmin Edge bike computers are good, of course, they are. Yet they have slightly more, often useless, features worsened by the difficulty to find those features. Garmin seems unable to stop itself from cramming everything possible into the menus, if kitchen sinks were part of cycling they’d be in there too! Wahoo simplifies the bike computer experience very significantly and lets you do all the one-off cycling admin on the Elemnt companion app. That’s why the new ROAM 2 is so easy to use. Oh, it’s also easy to use because there is no touchscreen. I don’t like bike computer touchscreens on the whole. All that said, the only real differentiator where Garmin wins, is its CIQ app store and cyclists with precise or unusual riding needs should always go for Garmin as a result. But that’s only a very small percentage of the people reading this…
- Complete smart trainer environment control – fan, trainers, gradient simulator
- Great Strava, RwGPS & TP integrations + many more
- *Total TBT routing*, re-routing and POI routing with a proper onboard map
- Onboard DEM – Digital Elevation Map for correct elevation.
- Full integration for 3rd party training plans and complex structured workouts
- Highly intuitive interface, simplified by offloading rarely used features to the companion app
- Supports all external BLE & ANT+ sensors of note plus Supersapiens
- Sensibly tough Gorilla glass, easy-to-read colour screen and buttons that work with gloves
- LEDs for clear zone alerts and visual feedback for navigation and Varia Radar.
- Live tracking and notifications via the partner app.
- Very many performance Features
- Safety Features
- Well-built and well-designed hardware
USA – $399
Euro – Eu349
GB – £399 (?!?)
- Few physiology insights
- Utilitarian rather than beautiful
- Wahoo’s ecosystem currently lacks the ability to add 3rd party apps
- No touchscreen – that’s a good thing, right?
- You must have a smartphone to (re-)configure Bolt 2
Table of Contents (Click to Expand)
Wahoo Roam 2 – What’s New
It’s a significantly new piece of hardware that introduces and develops several important features
TL;DR – Neat hill climbing functionality, support for Supersapiens, plus you get to share workouts & routes better between people & platforms.
- Supersapiens support – live display of Glucose level and trend [At Launch, Bolt 2/Roam 2 only]
- Outdoor workouts – You can sync your training plan from Wahoo X and follow workouts outdoors. Completed workouts sync back to Wahoo X for compliance scoring and planned workouts sync in advance to your Roam 2. [At Launch]
- New Roam setup – You can backup the sensors, pages and other settings from your old Wahoo bike computer and restore them when you set up the new Roam [at launch]
- Maps offer more details with colouration and selected POIs. [at launch]
- Summit segments – This is Wahoo’s next step toward better hill climbing features, starting with automatically detected climbs when you are following a route. [now live, Roam 1/2, Bolt 2]
- Public route sharing – is an app-based feature that helps groups of riders or organised events share route files for any ELEMNT. [now live]
TL;DR – better GPS, better screen, faster, and more storage for maps
- More Accuracy from the new Sony GPS Chip – gives super accurate dual-band GNSS over all the key satellite systems. All systems + Dual-band is permanently enabled.
- 64-colour screen – this is the same screen as the Bolt 2 but bigger. Roam 1 had 8+1 colours.
- New, faster processor
- 32Gb memory – was 4Gb on Roam 1 and is 16Gb on Bolt 2.
- New convex top buttons, easier to feel and press
- New slightly larger side buttons that have been slightly differently positioned
- New USB-C charging port
- New LEDs and ambient light sensor components
new Wahoo Elemnt Roam vs Garmin Edge 1040 – What’s the difference?
The new Wahoo Elemnt Roam competes with the Garmin Edge 1040 which is also a performance bikenav.
The essential differences between Wahoo to Garmin are that: Garmin has a deeper pedigree in mapping and map intelligence; Garmin has an app store (CIQ); a Garmin Edge is fully configurable as a standalone device and doesn’t need an app but as a result, they are complex to administer; Wahoo devices are slick to use and their interface seems ‘obvious’ once mastered; both Garmin & Wahoo tend to control retail prices as best they can.
Most cyclist and triathletes will be perfectly happy with either a Garmin or Wahoo.
Those of you with extremely complex sports tech needs and immersive routing needs will already own a Garmin Edge and won’t be reading a review like this for guidance!
new Wahoo Bolt 2 vs new Wahoo Elemnt ROAM 2 – What’s the difference?
The key difference is simply the size, ROAM is bigger than Bolt with a bigger screen that’s slightly more suited for navigating as a result.
There are several less important differences as the ROAM has a slightly better battery life and improved internals. Bolt 2 and Roam 2 will share the same features going forwards.
Deep Dive – Navigating and the new Wahoo Roam Dual Band GPS Accuracy
TL;DR – Roam 2 is more accurate than Roam 1…but to the extent that it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the more responsive screen on the Roam 2 which, to me, trumps the usefulness of a more coloured and more detailed map.
Q: What is dual-band?
A: Wahoo now considers 2 frequencies (bands) from every satellite it connects to. Each signal may be reflected or refracted differently en route to ROAM 2, the more the derived positions from these two frequencies differ the less likely ROAM 2 will be to rely on them.
The bottom line is that accuracy is theoretically improved in urban canyons, steep-sided valleys and under tree cover. This technology has been used by Coros and Garmin for about a year but, as far as I know, this is the first time that any company has used Sony’s GPS chip to do this.
My experience with the original Roam was that accuracy on regular roads was just fine for 98% of the time, occasionally it would be slightly off-track and I’d never notice the other 2% in any case. That’s a thing of the past now and I’d say that the new Roam is fine 99% of the time!
I’ve already covered a few hundred miles with Roam 2 but my one off-road test was through several areas of dense tree cover and I had the new and old Roam bike computers running side by side against the Apple Watch Ultra and Garmin Forerunner 955 on each of my wrists.
The results were not exciting. The Forerunner 955 was slightly worse but, to maximise battery life, I had that set to work less accurately with GPS-only. Roam 2 and the Apple Watch Ultra both used dual-band and performed indistinguishably from each other. They were both a little bit better than the old Roam but to the point where you had to look hard to see the difference. Check out these images to spot the tiny differences in some of these tree-lined sections. The final image shows a roundabout/circle with no trees and the GPS reception there is great…just as it is on roads 99% of the time.
Here are some images from what I would consider to be a normal country ride through towns and trees and often with open skies. There were zero issues with the Roam 2. The Forerunner 955 did have some minor issues (circled) but was using GPS-only.
So you might well think “Roam 2’s navigation is not much different from Roam 1” but you’d be wrong because the navigational improvements lie elsewhere.
The most obvious improvement is the responsiveness when using the map screen. The screen draws more quickly and routes load much more quickly. You can see from the earlier image of the two Roams side by side that the new Roam clearly has more detail and better colour. I like the ‘more detail’ aspect of this as it just looks nicer even though it doesn’t help navigation one iota. The addition of colour, however, is a different matter. Personally, I think that the new colours now add more distraction but others will likely say it adds more context. I would agree that context is important when navigating but mostly that helps running rather than cycling where you tend to follow relatively obvious paths with the latter.
Summary: For the occasional navigator like me and most triathletes, the Roam 2 is great and has improved. However, for frequent navigators/bike explorers who need more intricate routing features, your best bets are still with Garmin and Hammerhead but Wahoo might be fine for you. It is for me.
Roam 2’s elevation accuracy is probably OK. But this chart is strange in that it shows me starting and finishing at sea level (I’m at about 12m). However that 12m gap to the ‘correct’ elevation seems to disappear as I go toward the hill and reappear after it. Very strange.
Deep Dive – Supersapiens Support
TL;DR – Roam displays live glucose values and the recent trend. Setup is unusually complicated and requires enabling pairing in both the Supersapiens and Elemnt mobile phone apps. When using Supersapiens, there is no colour coding of glucose values nor are glucose zones available.
Q: Why glucose?
A: As an athlete, you realise that your ability to perform is fundamentally constrained by the availability of fuel and the availability of oxygen to burn the fuel. That’s why Wahoo now supports both interstitial glucose sensors and muscle oxygen sensors.
Getting Supersapiens to work
Supersapiens are constrained by unusual technical characteristics of the Abbot glucose sensor at the core of the Supersapiens platform. The sensor isn’t a conventional ANT+ or BLE sensor. If you have a Supersapiens energy band that must first be removed from the Supersapiens app and then the Roam 2 linked in its place; switch over to the Elemnt app and change the Roam 2 setting to enable Supersapiens on it and all should be good.
Wahoo says a phone doesn’t have to be present but I couldn’t get it to work unless one was. I’ll have to play with another Supersapiens patch as I was trying some unusual things with it which may have broken a connection somewhere.
The connection seems robust once working.
Bottom Line – You’ll need to have your phone with you when you ride and if you plan to run afterwards you’ll still need it as your Energy Band can’t work at the same time.
Showing & interpreting Supersapiens’ live glucose data
I couldn’t manually find the Glucose metric in any of the lists of metrics in the ELEMNT app although it did automatically appear on the Workout Data page and I’ve been afraid to take it off in case I couldn’t find and add it again!
Understanding fuel (glucose) metrics is not the same as understanding those for heart rate, pace or power. Its absolute level is important but its direction of travel is also crucial to understand as it can take your body up to 30 minutes to turn around an adverse trend and it’s also important to know that the Supersapiens reading is updated once a minute.
You should be OK to perform easy workouts at 80-110mg/dl (milligrams per decilitre) but harder workouts will need 110-180mg/dl. Those are the only two zones you need to know about and they are probably correct for you but can vary.
Q: My glucose is falling so I need more gels, right?
A: It depends. If you had a gel 15 minutes ago then no, that hasn’t kicked in yet. If you’re trying harder then, also, maybe No, though it might depend on how long you intend to keep trying hard. If it’s falling to the endurance zone and you’re doing endurance work then, again, maybe No. The point is…it’s complicated.
Saving the Glucose data into a FIT file
Wahoo saves the glucose to the workout’s FIT file as a single mg/Dl reading per minute (Source: Wahoo, not tested). This would normally not even be worth writing about as you would assume that you could already do that. But as far as I know, the only other way to export Supersapiens data is via a CSV file from the Supersapiens dashboard. Garmin’s CIQ fields couldn’t do it when I last looked.
Deep Dive – Outdoor Workouts
TL;DR – Execute today’s workout outsides and your target power is converted to a target power range.
Wahoo recognises that maintaining a constant power level is next to impossible on the road and soRoam converts precise workout power targets into power ranges.
Outdoor workouts are an extension of Wahoo’s existing ability to follow workouts from training plans from TrainerRoad, Today’sPlan, and TrainingPeaks and this works on all ELEMNT bike computers. Every Wahoo X workout for the week ahead is synced to Roam 2 and you can choose to follow any of them. Once the scheduled date for any workout has passed, it is deleted from Roam. Thus this feature effectively requires a subscription to an online training plan. (free Training Peaks allows you to schedule workouts one day in advance).
More: Outside Workouts
Deep Dive – Backup & Restore
If you have ever upgraded a bike computer or were sent a replacement you’ll know it’s a real PITA to set up the new device just like you had it before. Wahoo’s new backup and restore saves the pages and preferences of each of your ELEMNT bike computers and lets you restore them later. No workout data is saved but that should normally be in the ELEMNT app in any case.
This should work across all ELEMNT bike computers but for some reason, only a backup from the ROAM 2 showed when I was testing.
In a few weeks’ time, all the latest ELEMNT bike computers [ROAM 1, ROAM 2, BOLT 2 only] will get Wahoo’s latest development of hill functionality aimed to better guide you up upcoming hills. It’s similar to the CLIMB features already offered by Garmin and Hammerhead.
Whilst Garmin’s Hill feature works off planned routes and routes created on the device, it doesn’t need the elevation data to be supplied as Edge devices already have that on board. Hammerhead Karoo 2 takes Hill climbing features a step beyond Garmin and cleverly predicts the next hill you will climb…you don’t have to navigate or follow a route for this to work on the Karoo. With Wahoo, the feature is more basic and elevation can only be used from routes synced to the ELEMNT.
Wahoo claims the Summit Segments will have these features
- List of individual climbs on your loaded route
- Climb-specifc metrics like time-on-hill and vertical-metres-to-go.
Public Route Sharing
This new feature is geared towards groups of riders & event organisers and will work with any ELEMNT bike computer. The route is broadcast for anyone with the Wahoo ELEMNT app to grab and sync/follow on their Roam 2.
With an ever-increasing number of riders owning Wahoo bike computers this feature will become increasingly useful over time. However, any current solution to route sharing involves everyone using the same app or cloud service. I seem to recall that Garmin allowed route sharing by tapping Edges together (NFC), again that’s very clever but there needs to be a standard that Wahoo and Garmin follow and that any other company can jump onto.
new Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM 2 Specifications Review
The headline specifications show little change from Roam 1.
- Screen – 2.7″ Colour with 64 colours.
- Battery Life – 17 hours with fast charge
- Weight 3.3 Oz
- Water Rating IPX7
- Dimensions – 58.5 x 90.5 x 20.5mm
- Storage: 32Gb (4Gb on Roam 1 and Bolt 2)
- Charging – USB-C
- Magnetic Compass – Yes
- Barometric Altimeter – Yes
- Routable Maps -Yes
- Connectivity – BLE, ANT+, FE-C, WiFi
What’s in the box?
You get a high-quality, clamp-on, out-front, aero-mount for your handlebars which includes a retaining screw which stops the Roam from being twisted on the mount but this does NOT secure it to the mount. There’s also a cheap stem mount that’s held on with zip ties.
What is missing is a) a lanyard and b) a TT mount for aerobars.
Cost & Availability
There should be wide availability in the larger markets from Day 1.
Like Apple, these market prices don’t tally with each other at the current exchange rates. Either the EU price is too low or the UK price is too high. Karoo 2 and Roam 2 are similarly priced but the Edge 1040 is currently significantly more expensive and the smaller Edge 530 notably cheaper.
Take Outs from my review of the new Wahoo ELEMNT Roam 2
2023-24 look likely to be harder times for sports tech companies. The impressive range of Wahoo’s bike tech, including the new Roam, is in a good place for them to weather any economic storms that come. Wahoo clearly knows what software features to extend over the next few years and thus both the ROAM 2 & BOLT 2 are good investments as well as fine to buy as they now are.
This year seems to mark the point where high-end sports tech includes dual-frequency GPS accuracy as standard and, in my opinion, this level of accuracy is perfectly fine for cycling. Maybe even too good for most cycling needs and it’s strange that Wahoo doesn’t give the option to tone down the accuracy and boost the battery…I’d take that option if it were offered even though 17 hours is already a decent battery life that’s perfectly usable. There’s no need for a performance cyclist to have more than that. Multi-day adventurers might have a different opinion but they can just carry a battery pack or buy a Garmin.
Wahoo hasn’t changed anything of the essence of ELEMNT Roam nor how it materially stacks up against Garmin and Hammerhead. Being played out here with the features is a mixture of novelty and catch-up. Roam 2 is a good step forward for Wahoo that shows progress with product features and progress with the competency of the hardware.
The Supersapiens integration is big news for performance cyclists but is not a surprise as Wahoo is a part-owner of the company! What is a surprise is that Wahoo writes the Glucose performance data to the FIT file – sports teams and sports labs will love this feature and I plan to test that later this week to see any links to platforms like Training Peaks. The Supersapiens integration released today is very much a minimum viable feature, yet all that Wahoo can realistically add here in the short term are colour coding to the glucose metrics and introducing glucose zones. Other critical improvements that are needed are with the connectivity offered by the Abbott sensor but I can’t see that happening any time soon and it’s beyond the control of Wahoo and Supersapiens.
This is a great bike computer with a decent-sized screen for navigation. But it’s also an excellent performance computer for indoor cyclists and outdoor triathletes alike. If you already have a Wahoo or even a Garmin Edge 530 I can’t see any general reason for you to upgrade or switch but if you are unhappy with whatever you have at the moment then this is one to go for. Along with all my cycling buddies I now use a Wahoo ELEMNT bike computer…so please do take that as a recommendation!
I like the outdoor workout features and will occasionally use the new backup and restore. When public Route Sharing comes it might help my Sunday group rides but I’m most looking forward to the new Summit Segments feature.
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