Wahoo Elemnt and Garmin Edge bike computers are deservedly popular and they dominate the market, despite the increasing competition offered by brands such as Hammerhead and Bryton.
When it comes to which bike computer you should choose from one of these brands, there are several things to consider. Garmin has a larger range of products catering to different riders’ needs and budgets, but Wahoo has several advantages including added extras and a refined interface.
In this guide, we take you through the details and features that make Garmin and Wahoo head units some of the best bike computers and how to choose the right one for you.
Wahoo Elemnt vs Garmin Edge ranges
Although it’s slimmed down its range of Edge computers recently, Garmin still offers five different models. That starts out with the compact, relatively inexpensive Edge 130 Plus. It’s got a monochrome screen and is controlled via five buttons on its sides and bottom edge.
Move up the range and the Garmin Edge 530 is larger and has a colour screen, although it’s still button controlled. The Edge 830 is the same size as the Edge 530 but has a touchscreen, while the Edge Explore has a slightly larger touchscreen. The larger-format Edge 1030 Plus has now been eclipsed by the Garmin Edge 1040 at the top of the range.
Latest deals on the Garmin Edge 1040
In contrast, Wahoo offers only two Elemnt computers: the Elemnt Bolt and the Elemnt Roam. They’re both mid-sized non-touchscreen colour computers controlled by an array of six buttons, three on the face and three on the sides of the computer’s body.
Latest deals on the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt
As well as the screen, Wahoo includes one array of LED lights on the Elemnt Bolt and two on the Elemnt Roam. These can be programmed to display different information, including your heart rate zone or information about upcoming turns if you’re following a route.
Latest deals on the Wahoo Elemnt Roam
Garmin’s battery life depends on the model; the smallest Edge 130 Plus has a claimed 12-hour run time and that stretches up to 24 hours for the Edge 1030 Plus.
The latest Edge 1040 has solar charging – like the Garmin Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar smartwatch – to increase battery life still further, with a claimed seven-day run time on a single charge when topped up by eight hours a day of riding in daylight.
The Wahoo computers sit somewhere in the middle, with the Elemnt Roam having a 17-hour quoted battery life and the Elemnt Bolt 15 hours.
How much do Garmin and Wahoo computers cost?
The Wahoo Elemnt computers closely track the £260 / $300 Garmin Edge 530 and are comparable in size. The Elemnt Bolt is smaller and costs £265 / $300, the Elemnt Roam is slightly larger and costs £300 / $380.
Garmin’s range has a wider spread of prices, from the £170 / $200 Edge 130 Plus up to the £630 / $750 Edge 1040 in its solar-charged version.
Mounting and extras
Wahoo scores on its mounts for the Elemnt range. The computers come with a forward mount with half-turn engagement. Although they are plastic, the mounts integrate with the computers really cleanly, making for a smooth, aero appearance. You can screw the computer to the mount for safety and peace of mind if you leave your bike.
In contrast, Garmin computers come with a plastic half-turn bar-top mount secured by two rubber straps as standard. If you want an out-front mount (due to their large size, it’s pretty much a necessity for the Edge 1030 Plus and Edge 1040) you need to buy it separately.
You can buy the Garmin Edge and Wahoo Elemnt computers as a bundle. Depending on the model, this usually includes an HRM strap, speed and cadence sensors and, for Garmin MTB bundles, a silicone case, MTB mount and remote.
Garmin and Wahoo computers support ANT+ and BLE connectivity, while higher-spec models from both brands have built-in WiFi, so you can upload rides to apps without having to link them to your smartphone.
Configuring Wahoo and Garmin computers
Although Garmin has upped its game on setup and configuration, Wahoo still wins out with tight integration with its smartphone app. This allows you to set up and customise pretty much everything via the app rather than on the device itself, although that’s still an option.
Garmin is catching up with an easy phone-based setup and the ability to move your data over from an older Garmin device. There is also phone-app control of some settings, but it’s not as easy as with Wahoo’s app and you still need to use fiddly on-device menus to customise many features.
Wahoo and Garmin features
All but the entry-level Garmin 130 Plus, which just has a breadcrumb trail to follow, get mapping with a base map, and the Elemnt computers come with maps too.
Wahoo’s base map is fairly basic and doesn’t include street names. Garmin’s maps are more colourful, include street names and mark wooded areas and other features. Garmin also gives you heatmaps to map out cycle-friendly routes to follow.
Garmin and Wahoo match each other feature-for-feature, with items such as climb profiles, live tracking, radar support and on-device workouts. They also enable you to configure the data you see as you ride. You’ll get more data fields per screen on the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus and 1040, but fewer on the Edge 130 Plus.
Garmin and Wahoo computers give you plenty of workout stats via their respective phone apps. Garmin Connect is particularly full-featured, giving you loads of stats on training effect and other metrics, whereas the Wahoo app covers the basics.
In both cases, you can set up an automatic sync through to Strava, TrainingPeaks or other fitness apps if you want more analysis. You can also link the computers to Komoot for routes and to create a log of your activities.
With its smart trainer range, Wahoo has good functionality for trainer control, although that is matched by Garmin.
Which one is better, Wahoo or Garmin?
With its wider range, Garmin is the obvious choice if you’re after either a budget or a premium bike computer.
Most of Garmin’s computers are the better bet if you need extended battery life, particularly the latest Edge 1040. In the middle, it’s also the only choice if you want a touchscreen, although bear in mind that this can be difficult to use in the wet, off-road or if you are wearing thick gloves.
For a button-controlled device, the choice is more nuanced. Wahoo’s devices look neater on the bars and include an out-front mount – something you’ll have to pay extra for with Garmin. The added features such as the LED arrays and the easier smartphone interface, along with a less reflective screen that’s easier to read in the sun, would probably tip the balance in favour of Wahoo too.