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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.

In this article, I’ll answer the question “Which is the better cycling computer” and I’ll explain how I came to that conclusion, so please read on.

Garmin Edge 820 vs Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt

Purchase The Garmin Edge 820 or Wahoo ELMENT Bolt

✅Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt :
✅Garmin Edge 820:


My current setup is using the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt on a K-Edge Combo Mount.

K-EDGE Pro Combo Mounts Niterider

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.

Cycling Sweating

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.

Garmin 820 Advantages vs Wahoo Bolt

Obviously when comparing the 820 to the Bolt, there are differences, so here is my take on where the Garmin 820 shines.

Garmin 820 Cycling Computer Advantages

Garmin 820Advantages Over The Wahoo Bolt
Better Build QualityWhen 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 FasterWhen 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 IndicatorAt 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 ResolutionThe 820 is a color screen vs the Bolt's blue and white.  In terms of looks, the Garmin feels more refined.
Touch ScreenThe 820 has a touch screen.  The Bolt doesn't have one.
CustomizationThe 820 can be customized on the fly without needing an app.  The Wahoo ELEMNT needs their app.
Auto StopThe 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.

Check our our more in-depth review of the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt

Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt Review (2018)

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.

Wahoo Bolt Cycling Computer Advantages

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.

Wahoo Bolt Cycling Computer Advantages

Garmin 820Advantages Over The Wahoo Bolt
Better NavigationWhile 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.
Unit WeightThe 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.
Brighter ScreenWhen cycling in bright sunlight the Bolt is way easier to see.
Sweat FactorIf 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 PriceGarmin Edge 820 retails for $349 vs $250 for the Bolt.
Aero DynamicsThe 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)
SetupThe Bolt setup uses the Wahoo App and it was super easy. The Garmin takes a little more time to setup.
Field Zoom CapabilityThe 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 AlertsThe 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.

The Garmin 820 weighs around 68 grams

Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt 61 grams

The Wahoo Bolt weighs 61 grams

Geeky Aero Dynamic Stuff

Bottom Line

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 Bolt display.  If you rely on mapping a lot for your rides, the 820 is probably a better choice.

Purchase The Garmin Edge 820 or Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt

If you decide that either the Garmin Edge 820 or the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is your next cycling computer, please use our Amazon Affiliate links.  It will get your cycling computer to you fast and helps our website pay for hosting and allows us to get new products to review.

✅Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt :
✅Garmin Edge 820:

Garmin Edge 820 vs Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt | Related Links

Check out DCRainmakers Reviews

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT (In-depth Review)

Garmin Edge 820 (In-depth Review)

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.  

Garmin Edge Explore 820 Cycling Computer Review

Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt Review (2018)


About The Author

Tom Crandall

Tom has been writing about photography, cycling, running and fitness since 1988, covering everything from the product reviews to the latest in fitness trends. Tom is the Editor-in-chief of,,,, and a few other publications, he began racing in college while getting an Information Resource Management degree at George Mason University. Based in the photography and cycling-crazed city of Austin, Texas, with his wife Kathleen and pug Olaf, Tom enjoys running, walking or riding most every day.


  1. Craig

    I really want the Bolt except for the fact that I also want the Varia warning system which steers me back to the Garmin ecosystem.

    • Tom Crandall

      Yeah the Varia warning system sounds sort of cool. I just haven’t felt the need for something like that. When I am out riding I usually pick routes that don’t have a ton of traffic. I also usually can hear them coming up behind me, so I don’t feel the warning system would do that much to improve the situation.

      • MJLSr

        +1 – Until the Bolt can support Varia and other ‘lighting network’ features I have to stick with the Garmin. A few $’s savings and some minor aero claims do not trump safety. I also get those Varia warnings on my 645 – and for that I am thankful for the vibration, easy to notice when I may not be looking at the Edge or Varia remote, and its saved my tail a few times already, especially on solo rides!

        For the interface: I’m often riding in a hot/humid/sweaty environment and generally just set the Edge to autoscroll and leave it at that, no touching required – the Edge remote is also reliable, albeit a few more $’s to donate to Garmin.

  2. Rick Hudson

    I like the Wahoo Bolt for the simple fact that it works great with the other Wahoo product eco system including their KICKR Trainer, Speed Sensor and HRM. I would really like to get on the KICKR Climb and see how that works.

    It also would be nice if the Bolt would have a similar speed Auto stop functionality that the Garmin has.

  3. Jack Judson

    Totally agree with your assessment about the Bolt. I also made the switch from the Garmin to the bolt. While I certainly think the Garmin is nice, the bolt seems to be more of a cyclist computer rather than a GPS unit. It does exactly what it was designed to do and does it really well.



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