Garmin Edge 820 vs Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt
So you want a bike computer and are trying to decide between the Garmin Edge 820 vs Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt, well today is you lucky day, because I have used both and I have a very good handle on the basics of the two units. I also have links if you are looking for a more in-depth review.
My current setup is using the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt on a K-Edge Combo Mount.
This year I made the switch from the Garmin 820 to the Wahoo Bolt for one simple reason, SWEAT. At first I loved the 820 with it’s colored screens, but during the summer when I started to sweat a lot on rides the touch screen would get all wonky on me.
The situation would be something like this, I am at a stoplight sweating profusely with sweat occasionally dripping on the cycle computer. The sweat droplets at some point could caused the screen to change from what I wanted to view to something else. The light would turn green, I would look down and not see what I expected. Trying to switch back with sweaty fingers and a wet touch screen was almost impossible. I would have to swipe the screen multiple times before it recognized the touch screen actions. This also occurred during some hard sessions when I was pushing the pace. It was frustrating having the screens switch on you when the values you expected to see weren’t there.
A few times I would have to stop biking just so I could fix the screen issue and get back to the screen I wanted.
I thought that maybe the sensitivity of the Garmin was set too high, so I lowered it. The problem with lowering the sensitivity is the touch screen then becomes harder to swipe and have it recognize the action. Often it would require 2 or 3 attempts before it would register the action. That wasn’t a big deal when at a stop light, but certainly was when pushing the pace.
Making the switch to the Wahoo Bolt completely solved the problem. No more screen switches unless I physically did them. As an added benefit, the Wahoo is easier to view during bright sunny days.
Garmin Edge 820 vs Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt – Garmin Edge 820 Review
Reasons To Buy The Garmin Edge 820
Garmin is known for making great GPS products and the Garmin Edge 820 is one their flagship cycling computers. With a colored touchscreen display, the 820 is probably the most advanced GPS cycling component in the market today.
Obviously when comparing the 820 to the Bolt, there are differences, so here is my take on where the Garmin 820 shines.
- Better Build Quality: When holding the two units, the Garmin Edge feels much more solid and has the appearance of a higher quality unit compared to the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt.
- Turns On Faster: When turning on the units the Garmin comes alive at 18 seconds and gets a GPS signal at 29 seconds. The Bolt takes roughly 29 seconds to get a signal and be active.
- Battery Life Indicator: At startup the 820’s main screen shows battery life, temp and time. To see battery life and time on the bolt you need to press the power button again to get to another screen that displays that information.
- Screen Resolution: The 820 is a color screen vs the Bolt’s blue and white. In terms of looks, the Garmin feels more refined.
- Touch Screen: The 820 has a touch screen. The Bolt doesn’t have one.
- Customization: The 820 can be customized on the fly without needing an app. The Wahoo ELEMNT needs their app.
- Auto Stop: The Bolt doesn’t allow you to enter in an auto stop speed, the auto stop activates when you actually stop. The 820 allows you to enter in a speed (Example 5 mph) in which case the auto stop will be initiated. I find this functionality really useful when you have a lot of starting and stopping between lights in a city setting. This is probably my biggest complaint with the Bolt. Adding this functionality to the Bolt would be a big win.
Garmin Edge 820 vs Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt – Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt Review
Garmin Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt Perks
Wahoo basically came out of no where to become one of the dominate forces in the biking industry for cycling computers and trainers. The Wahoo Bolt is one of their flagship cycling computers in the ELEMNT line consisting of a smaller profile than it’s bigger brother the ELEMNT.
With the Wahoo Bolt now being my main cycling computer because of how it performs, below are the main advantages I feel it has over the the 820.
- Better Navigation – While the navigation on the Garmin uses a touch screen, it can be extremely finicky sometimes and not respond to finger presses. This is especially true if you have a high sweat rate. The Bolt uses buttons and I have found it to be much more reliable and easier to use. If the Garmin had both a touch screen and additional buttons that could perform touch screen like actions, the Garmin would be the winner. Winner : Wahoo
- Unit Weight – The Bolt (61 grams) unit is 7 grams lighter than the Garmin (68 grams) and I believe even lighter with the attachment, but I didn’t want to take mine off to test the weight. Winner : Wahoo
- Brighter Screen – When cycling in bright sunlight the Bolt is way easier to see.
- Sweat Factor – If you sweat a lot, the 820 screen will get a little hazy and make it much harder to see. The Bolt doesn’t seem to be as adversely effected. A clean cloth will rectify the situation, but it can be annoying sometimes on longer rides, especially since the Garmin is a touch screen and you are trying to clean it while riding.
- Retail Price – Garmin Edge 820 retails for $349 vs $250 for the Bolt.
- Aero Dynamics – The Bolt is said to be more aero than any other cycling computer and that appears to be the case, but in the scheme of things it really probably doesn’t matter because it’s so miNUTE. (See Geeky Aero Dynamic Stuff Video below)
- Setup – The Bolt setup uses the Wahoo App and it was super easy. The Garmin takes a little more time to setup.
- Field Zoom Capability – The Bolt has the ability to Zoom in or out to display more or less fields. When Zoomed in the fields are large and easy to see. When zoomed out you can see many more fields, but the sacrifice is a smaller font size. The Garmin doesn’t have this ability. I find this functionality really useful at times.
- Light Alerts – The bolt has 7 light indicators on the front of the unit that provide various alerts and warnings, something that the 820 doesn’t provide. The indicators can be used to alert you to turns when following a map via GPS or can act as speed indicators.
Geeky Aero Dynamic Stuff
Garmin Edge 820 vs Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt | Bottom Line
You can’t go wrong with either system, but at $100 less and some cool functionality the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt seems to be the clear winner.
Where the Bolt falls short is in it’s mapping capability. Garmin’s 820 maps are simply beautiful and much easier to see over the black and white display Bolt. If you rely on mapping a lot for your rides, the 820 is probably a better choice.
Garmin Edge 820 vs Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt | Related Links
Check out DCRainmakers Reviews
Update: Nov 2017 – If you are wondering which unit I prefer, well the winner is the Wahoo Bolt. I currently use it on my Felt AR1 and have put the Garmin Edge 820 in storage. For me the Wahoo does everything I need and I have yet to have any issues with the unit, even when sweating.