Garmin vs Wahoo computers

Garmin has been kicking it forever in the cycling world. Of recent, Wahoo came on the scene with a couple of killer products and even pro team Bora HansGrohe equipment for in 2018.
Wahoo a relatively new company, initially with a kickstarter in 2013 has started to boom the last 3 years in the cycling world. Best known for their smart trainers, they also have a line of computers. Garmin for many many years has been steadfast in GPS units and the words Garmin and GPS are synonymous in many categories.Three computers I have used the most have been the 500/810 and Element Bolt, all for turn by turn directions, mapping and normal cycling functions.

 Garmin 810/820  Wahoo Element Bolt  Garmin 500
 $399garmin_820  $249bolt1.jpg $279garmin510.jpg
✔ Upside ✔
  OSM maps   Preloaded street maps   Smallest size
 Colour display  Auto wifi upload / download / sync
Best Battery Life
Strong Bluetooth to phone
Bluetooth & Ant Sensors
Aerodynamic design
Includes out front mount
Training programs for smart trainers
✖ Downside ✖  –  –
Touch Screen Some interface functions only available on phone  Not designed for routing
No wifi  No OSM Maps  No Wifi
Weak / Hit Miss Bluetooth   Ant+ Only
Rubbish interface Rubbish Interface

Wahoo Element Bolt

The smaller brother to the original larger format Element, very easy to use and needs the companion app on a smartphone which configures the unit and programs the screens. The unit has an amazingly easy setup with wifi connectivity for seamless uploading downloading automatically completed along with software updates. The unit is a small form factor with the unit which shape integrates with the mount for an aerodynamic promise. The black and white screen is clear and draws little power meaning a long battery life. This unit is the best for regular routing and turn by turn directions, No errors like on Garmin, no crashing and route fail. Very simple, very reliable. The drawback is no auto-routing if you go off course, but I never use that anyway. Averter having used these platforms for years the nicest thing is a well designed intuitive interface, makes setting up and working with the computer a joy, no guesswork needed.

Bottom Line, if you are not routing around in the woods – get this. If you are routing around in the woods and use other smartphone apps like Gaia GPS then get the Wahoo. The features I really love – morning before riding turn it on, it auto syncs my ridewithgps plans for the day, walk back into my apartment after ride, it senses wifi and it automatically updates strava and ridewithgps with my ride (you can turn this off if you like). Easy.

Garmin 810/820

For those needing to use OSM maps this is the one, the colour touch screen is easy to read and might save your bacon in the woods, as you can scroll in and out of OSM maps. A 6hr battery life which is OK and bluetooth that is rubbish requiring you to plug in a wire to download / upload, as there is also No wifi. The 820 is great for adventuring, especially when used with open street maps.

Bottom Line, In the woods, on hiking trails? Get this and upload a solid set of OSM maps, the colour and the detail will get you out of sticky spots. Navigation is mediocre and often crashes/has errors compared to Wahoo. Learn the unintuitive interface and you will be fine.

Garmin 500/510

The 500 is the OG Garmin, small minimal and measures power from ant+. Not suitable for mapping, no maps screen and marginally ok for routing. Speed, Distance, HR, Power all done well. Decent battery life due to the black and white screen.

Bottom Line, Need something to cover the basics? Get this, its more than ample, economical and works well. Learn the unintuitive interface and you will be fine.

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