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Wahoo Elemnt Rival smartwatch review

The turbo innovator enters the watch market… with mixed results

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0
GBP £350.00 RRP | USD $380.00 | EUR €380.00 | AUD $600.00
Wahoo Elemnt Rival smartwatch

Our review

Stripped-back features show that less isn’t always more
Pros: Usability; clear display; turbo link-up
Cons: Lack of in-depth analysis
Skip to view product specifications

The Elemnt Rival is Wahoo’s first foray into the world of sports watches and it’ll instantly divide opinion.

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Wahoo says usability is critical to this debut and it has stripped-out features deemed redundant to focus on those it feels are essential.

Usability has been key to Wahoo’s breakthrough in cycling (see the Wahoo Kickr smart trainer and Wahoo Elemnt Bolt bike computer) and that echoes here, with the five buttons easy to use with and without gloves.

The Gorilla Glass screen heightens its aesthetic appeal, and data is effortlessly viewed at speed. How many data fields you view is down to personal preference, which you program via the intuitive Wahoo app.

The Elemnt Rival uses GPS and GLONASS, and while pick-up is a little slow, retention is good. The optical HR monitor (it shines an LED into your wrist and measures blood flow) is okay, but as always this method’s nowhere near as accurate as using a chest strap.

One of the Rival’s key features is aimed at triathletes and duathletes in the form of ‘touchless transition tracking’. It’s a cracking idea, although clearly of no use to pure cyclists.

As you’d expect from the creator of the Wahoo Kickr Bike, there’s a specific indoor cycling option that pairs with any ANT+ FE-C trainer (essentially ANT+ on steroids).

The idea is to have one device (in this case, the Elemnt Rival) control another (the Kickr in my garage). The Elemnt Rival supports Bluetooth as well as ANT+, so it will pick up your power-meter data too. It also covers up to 60 sports, but you could argue it pays lip service to many.

In stripping things back, the Elemnt Rival lacks the deep physiological and performance analytics of its contemporaries at the same price point.

Disappointingly, there’s no support for structured workouts; no maps – not even breadcrumb trails; no navigation; and, unlike a top-end contemporary such as Polar’s Vantage V2, no Strava Live Segment on the device itself.

Where does that leave us? Arguably in no man’s land. It’s a sleek-looking watch that’s comfortable and generally very usable. That minimalist line-up is intentional and understandable – if it was £100 cheaper.

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And as its USP – that touchless transition technology – is solely for multi-sporters, I’d advise spending this cash on one of the best bike computers you can buy instead, such as Wahoo’s Elemnt Bolt.

Smartwatches for cyclists

Are smartwatches truly essential for cyclists when an all-singing bike computer, such as a Garmin Edge 1030, will give you all the two-wheeled features you’ll ever need… and probably some that you don’t?

A smartwatch can do a lot though: provide 24/7 data; comprehensive cycling stats; sleep pattern, recovery status and physical fitness analysis; and some can even tell you how well you’re acclimatising to altitude and give real-time advice on when to fuel your rides.

Combined with data from any other sports you’ll have a holistic view of your training and can create training plans and analyse your routes/rides in detail.

There is a lot to choose from though, and some of these features you simply won’t need so, beyond our test of six popular options, make sure you do your own research too. We’ve also got a guide to choosing the best cycling watch, with our top-rated options.

Also on test

Product Specifications

Product

Price AUD $600.00EUR €380.00GBP £350.00USD $380.00

Features

Heart Rate Monitor Type Optical heart rate technology
Battery life 24 hours of battery life in GPS mode and 14 days in smartwatch mode
Connectivity Ant+ and bluetooth
Rechargeable battery Yes
Screen dimensions 30.4mm