This post, with videos and a features chart, is an in-depth comparison of the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt vs Garmin Edge 130 Plus. The Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is a little more expensive than the brand new Garmin Edge 130 Plus (usually around $30 more). And the Garmin Edge 130 Plus is hailed by many as one of the best possible bang-for-your-buck bike computers you could possibly find. For example, Cycling News says that the “feature-packed Garmin Edge 130 Plus contains everything you would ever want from a cycling computer.”
So, it might seem to be a no-brainer to buy the Garmin Edge 130 Plus. But first, spend a few minutes checking out what the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt offers for the extra dollars. We hope this post will help you to make the best decision for your own personal cycling needs!
First I have compiled a chart that compares the key features offered by these two bike computers, including training metrics and navigation. Then I discuss the differences between the two bike computers. Then, I offer some advice on which bike computer to buy, based on your needs. If you don’t have enough time to read all of this, you can jump to the Bottom Line on which bike computer is right for you. Otherwise, please read on for more details!
First off, here is a chart that highlights the differences between these two bike computers.
Chart Comparing the Features of the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt vs Garmin Edge 130 Plus
|Prices:||Usually $229. Please click here for the best Price on Amazon Right Now.||Best Price on Amazon Right Now: $199.99|
|Size of screen||2.9" x 1.8" x 0.87" (74.6 mm x 47.3 mm x 22.1 mm)||1.1" x 1.4" x 0.63" (27.0 x 36.0 mm x 16 mm)|
|Screen color||Black and white, but sharp and crystal clear||Black and white, but sharp and crystal clear|
|Diagonal screen size||2.2" (56 mm)||1.8″ (45.0 mm)|
|Weight||2.2 oz (62 g)||1.2 oz (33 g)|
|Waterproof rating||IPX 7||IPX 7|
|Touchscreen or button control?||Button||Button|
|Does it have a row of 7 LED lights to give you at-a-glance information?||Yes||No|
|Battery Life||Up to 15 hours||Up to 12 hours|
|Satellite Systems:||GPS/GLONASS/BEIDOU/ Galileo/QZSS||GPS/GLONASS/Galileo|
|Base maps?||Pre-installed world-wide base maps||No, so you are limited to courses that you download|
|Can you add maps?||Yes||No|
|Address search (input address and it will plot a route)? AKA On-Device Course Creator||Yes||No|
|Turn-by-turn navigation with street names in cues?||Yes||Yes, but very basic, breadcrumb-style navigation only. And only for downloaded courses, e.g. from Garmin Route Creator or Komoot|
|Recalculate route on the device?||Yes||No|
|Calculate route back to start?||Yes||Yes|
|Create a route on the unit?||Yes||No|
|Can you program it with a smart phone?||Yes, and it is easy and fun!||No; you use buttons and menus and sub-menus on the unit to program it|
|How easy is it to program?||Much easier to program, because you can do it on your smart phone, using the excellent Wahoo app||Quite a complicated menu system, which you have to control with 7 buttons on the unit|
|Weather on the unit||Yes||Yes|
|Garmin Connect compatible?||Yes||Yes|
|Connect IQ™ compatible?||Yes||Yes|
|Automatically syncs your rides?||Yes||Yes|
|ANT+ and Bluetooth (to connect your devices?||Yes; also WiFi||Yes; but no WiFi|
|Compatible with Vector™ power meters||Yes||Yes|
|Power meter compatible (displays power data from compatible 3rd party ANT+™-enabled power meters)?||Yes||Yes|
|Live Track Incident detection (so someone is automatically notified if you have an accident)?||Yes||Yes (new enhanced version). BUT it will only work if you have your Smart phone with you, as this unit does not have WiFi, only Bluetooth & ANT+|
|LEV/ebike compatibility via ANT+?||Yes||No, but coming very soon|
|Compatible with heart rate monitors, plus speed and cadence sensors?||Yes||Yes|
|Shimano Di2 electronic shifting integration?||Yes||No|
|Barometric altimeter (to detect altitude)?||Yes||Yes|
|Accelerometer (to detect incidents)?||Yes||Yes|
|Compatible with Garmin Varia?||Yes||Yes|
|Customizable data pages?||Yes||Yes|
|Auto Pause® (pauses and resumes timer based on speed):||Yes||Yes|
|Auto Scroll (cycles through data pages during a ride)?||Yes||Yes|
|Calories burned based on heart rate?||Yes||Yes|
|Download structured workouts to the unit, so you can follow them on your bike?||Yes||Yes|
|Courses (compete against previous activities)?||Yes||Yes|
|Virtual Partner (so you can compete against a digital cyclist)?||Yes||Yes, but only within a course|
|VO2 Max estimate? (the maximum amount of oxygen a person can utilize during intense exercise)||Yes||Yes|
|FTP tracking? (Functional Threshold Power is the average power that a rider can produce over the course of an hour)||Yes||No|
|Time in heart rate training zone?||Yes||No|
|ClimpPro (new feature that shows you graphically the grades ahead)?||No||Yes, but only if you have preloaded the route|
|Download Strava Live Segments to the unit?||Yes||Yes|
|Grit rating (how tough is the route)?||No||Yes|
|Flow rating (how well did you ride the route)?||No||Yes|
|Hang time (how long were you in the air when jumping, how far did you go)?||No||Yes|
If you find this review useful and decide to buy one of these bike computers, please use one of our affiliate links to buy. It’s the only way I get any income for the many hours of research and writing I do, and of course, it costs you nothing – so we both win! When you buy with one of our links, you make it possible for Maggie and I to keep publishing this blog (thank you!). At the end of this post, I offer links to online buying options. Click here for buying options. There are several buying links along the way as well, in case you don’t make it to the end (which is a long way ahead!)
Videos of the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt and Garmin Edge 130 Plus
These videos will give you a great overall picture of the two bike computers.
The video above is from the YouTube channel DesFit, which I think is the best bike computer video channel of them all. He also reviews other devices, such as fitness trackers. Check it out!
So, How to Decide between the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt and the Garmin Edge 130 Plus?
Next in this post, we will review what these two units have in common, and then what their differences are. In a nutshell, they have a lot of differences. Also, the Wahoo is close to double the size and weight of the Edge 130 Plus. However, when it comes to your training needs, they are not that far apart. The Garmin Edge 130 Plus has a surprisingly impressive range of features. It even has some very cool features that the Wahoo does not offer, such as ClimbPro. However, the Wahoo ELMENT Bolt does offer significantly more for the extra $30.
Price Comparison between the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt vs Garmin Edge 130 Plus
In terms of price, the comparison is usually as follows:
Wahoo seldom goes on sale because its price to value ratio means it does not have to go on sale. The Edge 130 Plus will not go go sale anytime soon because it is brand new.
What the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt and Garmin Edge 130 Plus Have in Common
Advanced Bike Training Features
Both of these units are top-quality bike computers that offer a dazzling number of advanced bike training features.
Sensors: You can connect both bike computers to a range of training devices and sensors, such as heart rate monitors, and speed, power, and cadence meters. You can connect both of them to these monitors using both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart. At the pricepoint of the Edge 130 Plus, this is pretty amazing.
Structured Workouts: With both of them, you can download training workouts from an app to the unit. Then, you can do the workout on your bike, following the workout instructions on the unit.
GPS: The Garmin Edge 130 Plus can access GPS, GPS+GLONASS, and GPS+GALILEO satellite systems, so it should be able to acquire a GPS signal fast, wherever you are. Incredibly, the Wahoo Bolt can connect to even more satellites, namely the GPS, GPS+GLONASS, GPS+GALILEO, BEIDOU and QZSS (Quasi-Zenith) satellite systems. So, expect no communication issues with either of these bike computers.
VO2 Max: Both of these bike computers will show you VO2 Max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen you can utilize while exercising. It is used to test the cardiovascular fitness of athletes before and at the end of a training cycle. It is a very useful metric to chart your fitness gains and training progress. Both bike computers require you to hook up a power meter in order for this to work.
Wireless Uploads of Your Bike Rides
Both the Edge 130 Plus and the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt will record your bike rides and then will wirelessly transfer your data to Garmin Connect (or Strava, or several other apps) via Bluetooth Smart.
You can also plug both units into your computer using the provided micro USB cable to upload your bike rides.
Advanced Analysis of Your Cycling Performance and Power Output
Both of these bike computers offer advanced analysis of your performance and power. However, the Wahoo does offer more advanced analysis.
Strava Live Segments: You can download Strava Live segments to both of these bike computers. You can star Strava segments ahead of your bike ride on the Strava app or web site. They will then automatically sync to your Edge 130 Plus or Wahoo. This is new on the Garmin, but has been standard on Wahoo since its first ELEMNT in 2015.
Automatic Transfer: With both bike computers, if you get a course from Strava, it will automatically transfer any Strava segments on that course.
KOM/QOM or PR?: You can view the segments on either of these bike computers before you ride. And you can set up which effort you plan to pursue: KOM/QOM or PR. These stand for King of the Mountain/Queen of the Mountain or Personal Record.
Customizable Data Pages
With both bike computers, you can customize the data pages. This means you choose what you want to see as you are cycling.
Both bike computers are very connected, with phone call and text message alerts, and a ton of other connected features. Connected features that both bike computers share include:
- smart notifications
- being Garmin Connect compatible
- being Connect IQ™ compatible
- automatically synching your rides
- using ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart to connect your devices (such as heart rate monitors, speed and cadence sensors)
- being compatible with Vector™ power meters (and other power meters)
- Incident Detection (to alert someone if you have an accident)
- Live Track
- Weather, and
- being compatible with Garmin Varia.
Both are waterproof – IPX 7, which means they can most likely survive 20 minutes submerged in a puddle (but don’t test it!)
In terms of connectivity, both of these bike computers offer Live Tracking. This means that designated people can track where you are. However, the Edge 130 Plus has an edge here: it come pre-equipped with Garmin’s latest, updated live tracking. The LiveTrack feature has been improved. Now it shows three sets of data. It shows a purple line for your planned route. It also shows a blue line for your actual route. Finally, a blue dot showing your location updates every 30 seconds.
What the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt Has, and the Garmin Edge 130 Plus Does NOT Have
The Wahoo is usually around thirty dollars more expensive. Depending on what your needs are, it might be worth it to spend the extra dollars for the extra features it offers. For a start, it has more advanced metrics, much better navigation, and better app integration.
The Edge 130 Plus offers many basic training metrics, including support for power meters. However, it will not offer you advanced metrics, such as Normalized Power® (NP) or TSS (Training Stress Score®). TSS measures how much stress you put on your body as you ride. It is calculated using NP, Intensity Factor® (IF) and ride duration. The point of TSS is to help you figure out the best best way to plan your workouts and rest periods. The Wahoo does offer these advanced metrics.
However, even though you will not be able to check on these advanced training metrics as you ride with your Garmin Edge 130, you will be able to assess them later. Apps such as Garmin Connect or Strava will analzye your ride records and calculate these metrics for you.
LED Lights on the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt
A great little feature that is not seen on any other bike computer is the row of 7 LED lights at the top of the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt. These LEDs are handy for navigational information, but they can also show you your speed, power, or Heart Rate zone. (You can configure your HR zones in the profile tab.) These LEDS will also display data about the notifications you receive. The Garmin Edge 130 Plus does not have this feature.
Most notably, if you are following a route – even just a breadcrumbs route – these lights will blink red if you go off course, and blink green when you get back on course. However, bear in mind that these lights can be hard to see in bright sunlight.
These LED lights can even be linked to Garmin Varia Radar, and then they can let you know if cars are coming up behind you, and when they are going to overtake you.
Worldwide Base Maps
Considering its price, we are very impressed that the Wahoo Bolt ships with worldwide preinstalled base maps. These include maps of North America, Europe, Asia, Oceania, and South America. If you wish, you can download maps for Russia, Asia, and Africa via WiFi.
By contrast, the Garmin Edge 130 Plus has no maps at all, and you cannot download any either.
Turn-by-turn Navigation with Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt vs Garmin Edge 130 Plus
The Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt also offers turn-by-turn navigation. It alerts you to upcoming turns, telling you the name of the street you will be turning onto, and how far ahead of you it is. You can even plug in an address while you are out on your bike, and then the Bolt will give you directions to get there.
The Garmin Edge 130 Plus has no ability to give you turn-by-turn navigation instructions. You can download a course to it from Garmin Course Creator, or a third party app such as Komoot. With these courses, it will give you basic, breadcrumb-type directions including turn-by-turn directions.
When following your breadcrumb trail you can zoom in and out, and pan. The Edge 130 Plus will let you know if you have gone off your course. However, do not expect to see street names, or to get help with rerouting.
In my personal experience turn-by-turn navigation with street names is hugely helpful, especially when cycling a new route. I tried with breadcrumbs navigation, but basically always found it more trouble than it was worth. But many people do find it helpful. And of course, not all cyclists actually need navigation. I have on occasion used Google Maps on my phone, paired with Bluetooth headphones. This works fairly well – until the battery on your smart phone dies!
You Can Program the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt with Your Smart Phone!
While both bike computers have a fair number of buttons, in practice you will use the Wahoo buttons less. This is because of the key factor that makes the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt a more attractive unit than any Garmin unit for some cyclists – the fact that you can program it on your smart phone. You program the Garmin Edge 130 Plus on the unit itself, using buttons to access menus and sub-menus. This is fine if you are good at that sort of thing.
However, you program the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt using the excellent Wahoo app on your phone. Many users love the Wahoo app because it is so easy to use.
Using your phone to set up your bike computer options is so super easy that it made me question all the hours I have spent navigating bike computer menus (and sometimes swearing as I did it). If you love setting up customized data screens, you are most likely going to have a blast with your smart phone and the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt bike computer!
Zoom Buttons on the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt
The zoom buttons on the right-hand side of the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt can be used to zoom from 11 sets of data to just 1 or 2 – quickly and on-the-fly. You can also use them to zoom in and out on maps. This is a really useful feature that cannot be found on the Edge 130 Plus.
Features that the Garmin Edge 130 Plus Has, But the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt Does NOT Have
The Garmin Edge 130 Plus has some truly amazing features when you consider its relatively low price point. For example, it has a recovery calculator, which will tell you when it is advisable to train hard again. This is not offered on the Bolt.
The Garmin Edge 130 Plus comes preloaded with ClimbPro, which is an excellent Garmin feature. It is extremely useful for those who like to cycle up hills. On the 130 Plus, it only works on downloaded routes. But it’s really quite awesome – it basically shows you graphically the grades that lie ahead, as well as the grade you are currently climbing. This could be immensely useful on long-distance, hilly rides. For me, it would tell me when it is time to do a U-turn! You can see this feature in the graphic above, on the second unit from the right.
The Wahoo does not have this uniquely Garmin feature. But as it is so popular, Wahoo is sure to figure out its own version soon! Mind you, I have been thinking this for more than a year now, and it has not happened yet. Wahoo really should get on this – it is an immensely popular feature, and for many cyclists, it is the deciding feature that makes them choose Garmin over Wahoo.
Auto Syncing during Bike Computer Setup of the Garmin Edge 130 Plus
As you set up your new Garmin Edge 130 Plus, it will automatically import all your activity records, user and activity profiles, and all of your sensors (up to 30). This makes for a really fast and stress-free setup process. This is a new Garmin innovation (mid 2020). If you have named your devices, the names will be imported too.
The Wahoo does not have this feature. However, the Wahoo app is very easy to use for initial set-up, and for all subsequent changes. Especially because you do it on your phone!
Mountain Bike Metrics
Most remarkably, the 130 Plus ships with Garmin’s fairly new Mountain Bike Metrics. These offer cool ways to motivate you on your mountain bike – such as how long you were in the air (Hang time), and how hard your ride was (Grit rating).
Garmin was able to include the jumping and flow metrics because the Edge 130 Plus has an Accelerometer that can measure them. (The Edge 130 did not have this.) It is this device that also makes it possible for this relatively cheap bike computer to have an incident alert feature. That is, if you suddenly fall over, your significant other can be alerted. Of course, you have the option to disable in case of false alerts. Which unfortunately do happen.
Details about the New Mountain Bike Metrics on Garmin
- Grit rating – this shows you how difficult a route is.
- Flow rating – this shows you how well you descended a tough route. This gives you a metric to try and beat the next time!
- Hang time – this shows you on the fly how long you were in the air after a jump. Later, you can analyze every single jump in great detail on Garmin Connect. How far did you jump, how long were you in the air, and how fast were you going?
The Flow and Grit metrics will be useful for XC and CX racers. The Grit metric will render a difficulty score for particular routes. This can help you to compare one course to another.
The Flow metric can also be very useful, as it uses speed and accelerometer information to score how well you flow through a course. If your goal is to improve lap times, this will help. It will show you exactly where you’re losing seconds, or braking a bit too much.
Why Aren’t I Seeing the Mountain Bike Metrics?
If you are not seeing the mountain bike metrics, this would mean that you did not choose the mountain biking profile for your ride. Update this, and voila! They will appear!
Bottom Line on which Bike Computer is Right for You: Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt vs Garmin Edge 130 Plus
- You want a premium bike computer with awesome new training features, at a very reasonable price relative to other premium bike computers.
- You like a small, compact, and intuitively easy-to-use bike computer. Honestly, the range of training options and available data on this bike computer is pretty much unbeatable at this price.
- Mountain biking is your first love, because the mountain bike metrics are both cool and very useful. If you race mountain bikes, this is a no-brainer. But if you just want to improve your mountain biking, it’s also pretty much a no-brainer.
- Also buy it if you have tons of useful sensor information, user profiles, etc., on an older Garmin unit. If you are anything like me, the auto syncing will put a big smile on your face!
- You would find the very cool ClimbPro feature useful.
- 7 LED lights to give you a quick impression of metrics such as speed, heart rate, and power – without anything but the briefest of glances at your bike computer.
- Pre-installed world-wide base maps.
- True turn-by-turn navigation with street names.
- The ability to easily program your bike computer on your own smart phone.
It comes down to what you need and value, and how much you are willing and able to pay for it. It’s a tough choice, but somebody’s got to make it!
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