For PEZ readers who want the BLUF (bottom line up front): You can think of the new Wahoo ROAM 2.0 as either (a) the original ROAM but with a better 64-color high-contrast screen or (b) a bigger screen version of the updated BOLT. And if you merged my previous reviews of the original ROAM and the updated BOLT, you’d have a pretty good idea of what the ROAM 2.0 is all about. (NOTE: The official name is Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM but I’m going to drop the ELEMNT part for convenience.)
But for those of y’all who want a little more than that, please keep reading.
Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM 2.0 – $399.99
Tech specs, per Wahoo:
- Physical Dimensions: 3.56″ x 2.34″ x 0.8” (9.05cm x 5.95cm x 2.05cm)
- Display Size: 2.7″ (6.9cm)
- Screen Resolution: 240×400
- Weight: 3.3 oz
- Battery: USB rechargeable via USB-C
- Battery Life: 17 hours
- Waterproof Rating: IPX7 (waterproof up to 5 ft)
- Supported Satellites: GPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU, Galileo, QZSS, SBAS, NavIC
- Operating Temperature: -4°F to 158°F / -20 to +70 deg C
USB-C charging port
What’s in the box
Zip ties for stem mount, optional locking screw (in plastic bag) to screw the ROAM in place, out front mount, the ROAM unit, USB to USB-C charging cord
There are three “big” differences between the ROAM 2.0 and the original. First, the ROAM 2.0 is dual-band GPS. Most modern GPS units such as the original ROAM and updated BOLT can receive signals from different satellites: GPS (US), Galileo (EU), Glossnass (Russia), BeiDou (China), and QZSS (Japan). But they only receive signals from a single GPS band (frequency). Previously, dual-band receivers were very expensive (thousands of dollars). But now (in the last couple of years), low cost dual-band technology has made its way into consumer devices such as cellphones and watches.
Which one is the new ROAM and which one is the old ROAM?
Without getting into all the technical details, dual-band GPS has more accurate positioning (about a 2X reduction in position error). It also acquires signals faster. And dual-band GPS works better in more “cluttered” environments (think dense urban landscapes with high-rise buildings).
The second difference is the screen. The ROAM 2.0 gets a 64-color high-contrast screen that’s the same as the updated BOLT but bigger (2.7″ vs 2.2″).
The new ROAM (left) screen is noticeably crisper and brighter than the old ROAM (right)
Third, the ROAM 2.0 has 32GB of memory compared to just 4GB for the original. What that means is that the ROAM 2.0 comes preloaded with maps for North America, South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan. Thailand, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. If you want more maps, Russia, Asia, and Africa can be downloaded over WiFi (but you might have to delete one or more of the preloaded maps to make room). And remember, you need to leave free space to be able to load routes and retain ride history.
Another (minor) difference is that the smart buttons on the bottom of the ROAM 2.0 are raised (convex) whereas the buttons on the old ROAM are concave.
Form factor-wise, the new ROAM and the old ROAM are the same
Setting up the ROAM
If you read either of my reviews of the original ROAM or the updated BOLT, set up of the ROAM 2.0 is much the same. If you don’t already have it, the first thing you need to do is download the Wahoo ELEMNT Companion app (either iOS or Android). I’ll walk through some of the process just to provide a feel for how the app works, but I won’t go through absolutely everything (there’s a certain someone on the web — and we all know who that is — who excels at that and I both defer and admire).
Turn the ROAM on and wait for QR code to appear
And then follow the instructions on the app
The app will probably ask you to install an update (left), but first you’ll have to connect to your wi-fi network (right)
The ROAM has four default pages (screens) that you can configure based on how you want data displayed:
- Lap data (I toggle this screen off)
- Workout data
You use the app to configure a page. You can drag data fields to reorder them on the page (light blue). Tap (yellow) to delete a field. Press and hold on the field name to change it to a different field.
Changing a data field is not a daunting task
The finished product of my workout data screen configuration
You configure each of the pages the same way. You can also create custom pages. I did one for power.
Creating my power data field
I added other data fields to complete my power page/screen (a constant reminder of how much I suck)
You can pair sensors on the ROAM directly or with the app (the latter is easier IMHO).
Wake up the sensor you want to pair so the app can find it
And don’t forget to connect to your favorite training apps to upload rides. Again, easy to do with the app.
If it isn’t on Strava, it didn’t happen
Riding the Wahoo ROAM
1 – Menu (hold to power on/off). 2 – Smart buttons (change based on screen). 3 – Page over. 4 – Scroll up and down. Green – Side LEDs that can be set for performance metrics (speed, heart rate, or power). Yellow – Top LEDs that across the top that can be set for directions and notifications.
Press the left side button to toggle between data screen and menu
You use the app to set the LEDs
Riding with the ROAM 2.0 is the same as any other Wahoo ELEMNT bike computer, which is pretty much like with any other cycling GPS computer. You power it on and press START (using one of the smart buttons) to start a ride. If you have the AUTO-PAUSE feature enabled, the Roam will pause whenever you stop (whether it’s a stop light or a coffee stop) and re-start when you start rolling again. At the end of the ride, press STOP and the ROAM will ask you END RIDE? Press YES and your ride is recorded and will sync with whatever apps you’ve authorized.
Easy peasy to start and end a ride
Maps and routing
If you are like some people I know who never load a route onto their cycling computer but insist on riding at/off the front only to miss or make a wrong turn, then you can skip this part.
One of the things I love about the ROAM (either the original or new one) is that you don’t have to be tethered to a computer or even a wireless network to load a route. The Wahoo app will access all your saved routes on connected apps and you can load a route to the ROAM as long as the ROAM and your phone have a Bluetooth connection. So that means if you forget to load a route when you leave home, you can load it at the ride start (if that’s where you were going) or anywhere along the ride.
Like everything else, you use the app to load a route. If you want to delete the route before the end of the ride, just hit the X (red arrow).
Wahoo uses colors to help distinguish key features to help make the map easier to read:
- Gray – for “regular” streets (NOTE that Wahoo maps don’t have street names)
- Yellow – for “main” roads (lighter to darker shades depending on how “big” the road is)
- Dark blue – for bike trails
- Light (aqua-ish) blue – for water
You can see all the different uses of color on the map
If you’re riding with a route loaded and on your map screen to navigate, here are some examples of what you’ll see.
Black chevrons indicate you’re on the route
Follow the blue chevrons to get back on route (the green field is the distance to and direction of the next turn — even though Wahoo maps don’t have street names, the directions will tell you which way to turn and the name of the street)
As you get closer to the turn, the top LEDs will flash in the direction of the turn
The green “which way do I go?” field will appear on whatever page you’re on
One thing I noted when I reviewed the original ROAM was that:
sometimes after making a turn, instead of directions for the next turn (often times very shortly afterwards) the navigation directions stay “stuck” on the previous turn. When I make the next turn, the navigation “catches back up.” This seems to be random and doesn’t happen a lot. I don’t know if this is a GPS, mapping, or Roam unit issue. I do know that other ELEMNT, Bolt, and Roam users have reported similar occurrences. However, it’s worth noting that the routing on the map page, i.e., the black chevrons, still shows the correct route. So when in doubt, follow the black chevrons.
What do all those other GPS units have in common? Single band. I didn’t have this problem with the dual-band GPS ROAM 2.0. I would sometimes experience a very short lag after a turn, but the navigation never got “stuck.” And it managed to “keep up” when I had back-to-back turns with very short intervals in-between.
Color is used to help see and distinguish severity of gradient (green, in this instance so relatively easy) and power zone (yellow, so just above my “sweet spot” — and the side LEDs are set to match the same color as the power field on the screen)
Wahoo also uses color to display post-ride data
If you want to be tethered to your phone
As I wrote about the original ROAM:
Although I keep my phone in my back jersey pocket when I ride, I prefer to be “disconnected” from it. After all, part of riding is to get away from it all. But as a practical matter, I’ve set my Roam up to display any text messages (but not email) that I receive. This is mostly in case my wife or daughter needs to get a hold of me while I’m riding.
Toggle which alerts you want to receive. Also, you may have to go into your phone settings to make sure messages sync properly.
When I get a text, the top LEDs light up green and I get a sound notification (you can turn either or both of these on or off depending on your preferences). I can glance down to see who it’s from and whether it warrants me having to stop and respond immediately. The message will disappear off the screen of its own accord, but you can also press one of the smart buttons to discard it (off the ROAM, not from your phone) immediately. You can also press DND (do not disturb), which will turn off alert pop ups for a set period of time (configured in the app).
Zooming in and out
If you were wondering why you prioritized data fields on the Workout data page, it’s because you can zoom in and out with the right side buttons to display fewer or more data fields in priority order.
Zooming in to display fewer data fields and make them larger (you can also zoom in or out on maps)
I said at the beginning that I wasn’t going to cover everything in this review. But hopefully, I’ve done enough to provide a good idea of what the new ROAM 2.0 can do. Some of other stuff that might matter depending on what’s important for your riding:
- Summit Segments that displays the difficulty of the climb ahead and how long is left until the summit
- Public Route Sharing to easily share a route with other ELEMNT users
- Supersapiens Integration to monitor blood glucose levels in real time
- Take Me To (on demand route generation)
- Retrace Route (breadcrumb trails)
- ANT+ radar integration
- Live Track so others can follow your ride in real-time
- Specialized ANGi crash detector integration
The ROAM integrates with the out front mount to form a sleek profile #aero #marginalgains
Honestly, the ROAM 2.0 and other modern bike computers do a lot more than what I want/need, but I realize that there are a lot of people out there who are into the tech/features and want as much of it as can be loaded into a bike computer. If you’re one of those people, you’ll have to decide if the ROAM 2.0 meets your needs. Mine are more “simple.”
Should you upgrade to the new ROAM2.0 ?
This is what I wrote after I reviewed the upgraded BOLT with its 64-color high-contrast screen:
The new BOLT also one-ups its big brother ROAM. Essentially, Wahoo brought the color features of the ROAM to the smaller screen BOLT and made them better. So definitely a better mousetrap. Am I giving up my ROAM for the new BOLT? From a practical (aging eyes) standpoint, I’m still partial to the larger screen real estate of the ROAM. So I’m hoping that it won’t be too long before Wahoo releases a bigger mousetrap with an updated ROAM emulating the new BOLT.
Well, the bigger mousetrap has arrived. So for me, the answer is unconditionally YES. And I’m guessing that the most likely customers are others like me, i.e., original ROAM owners who want a better screen (not that the screen on the original ROAM was bad).
Those of y’all still riding the older B&W BOLT and want to upgrade to a color screen will have to decide between the new color BOLT or the new ROAM 2.0. That will probably mostly depend on whether you want to spend an extra $100 for a larger screen.
If you do any night riding, you’ll appreciate the ROAM’s backlit screen
If you’re currently riding the new color BOLT and are happy with it, there really isn’t a “compelling” reason to ditch the BOLT for the ROAM 2.0. Functionally, they’re both essentially the same. The only real difference is the screen size (also memory 32GB for the ROAM vs 16GB for the BOLT). So it might be hard to rationalize buying a new bike computer to replace a bike computer that’s still fairly new (the new BOLT was released last year). Especially since we’re nearing the holiday season and your spouse/significant other may be expecting that you should be spending $$$ on them and not more bike bling for yourself. I certainly don’t want this review to be responsible for any domestic discord.
Spec is 3.3 ounces or 94 grams
Should you switch to the ROAM 2.0 if you’re riding a different bike computer? That’s a harder question to answer. I’ve ridden Garmin (but not in a while) and ride Hammerhead (on my other bike so I don’t have to deal with moving a bike computer from one bike to another … yes, I’m that lazy a git). All three are good/very good. From my experience, it’s not a question of “better” but “different.” For example, if you want more detailed maps with street names, Garmin is the way to go. If you want a smartphone pretending to be a bike computer, that’s the Hammerhead.
What the ROAM has (also the BOLT) that Garmin and Hammerhead don’t have is the app. There’s a lot to be said about being able to do everything to set up and configure the ROAM with an app on a phone with a larger touchscreen instead of fiddling on the bike computer itself. IMHO it’s both easier and more intuitive. And basically just use the ROAM to ride. IMHO it’s an “elegant” arrangement. If all other things between different GPS bike computers are more or less equal, that could be what tips the scales in Wahoo’s favor.
Click here to learn more about all of Wahoo’s ELEMNT bike computers.
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