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Garmin Edge 530 vs Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt (2021): Which Bike Computer Should You Buy?

In the mid-range segment of bike computers, the Garmin Edge 530 and the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt are the go-to devices. The Garmin Edge 530 is a feature-rich device that aims to provide cyclists with a bunch of features and a wide range of performance metrics at a reasonable price. On the other hand, the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is a much simpler, but equally capable, bike computer that’s arguably easier to use. Today, we’ll be comparing the two by looking at different areas of importance such as ease of use, navigation, design and more. By the end, you should be able to pick which one is better suited for your cycling needs.

Garmin Edge 530 vs Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt Comparison Chart

ModelGarmin Edge 530 Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt
 Garmin Edge 530, Performance GPS Cycling/Bike Computer with Mapping, Dynamic Performance Monitoring...Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT Bolt GPS Bike Computer, Stealth Black
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Dimensions3.2 x 1.9 x 0.8 inches
2.7 oz
3.05 x 1.86 x 0.84 inches
2.4 oz
Screen2.6 inches
246 x 322 pixels
2.2 inches
240 x 320 pixels
Water RatingIPX7IPX7
Supported SatellitesGPS, GLONASS, GalileoGPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU Galileo, and QZSS
Companion AppGarmin ConnectELEMNT app
ConnectivityBluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi®ANT+®, BLUETOOTH®, and Wi-Fi®
Extra FeaturesLiveTrack
Group Livetrack
ClimbPro
Mountain Biking features
Garmin Connect: course, segment and workout downloads; Automatic activity uploads; Social media interactions
Device to device transfers
Weather alerts
Smart notifications -phone calls and messages
Audio prompts
Accident detection
Assistance
Connect IQ™ downloadable features
LED row indicator
Livetrack
Group Livetrack
Automatic activity uploads
Weather alerts
Smart notifications
Course, segment and workout downloads
Battery20 hours15 hours
MountOut-front
Stem
Out-front
Stem

Design

The Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt has a brighter and sharper display than the Garmin Edge 530.

garmin edge 530 vs wahoo elemnt bolt design
The Garmin Edge 530 (left) has a slightly larger screen than the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt (right).

When it comes to design, the Garmin Edge 530 has a cleaner and more modern look since it doesn’t have any face buttons—all of its buttons are at the sides. On the other hand, the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt has a more rugged design with a slightly recessed screen and three face buttons. One advantage of the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is that it has a more aerodynamic design when attached to its out-front mount.

Size-wise, they are about the same. The Garmin Edge 530 measures 1.9 x 3.2 x 0.8 inches and it weighs 2.7 ounces. Meanwhile, the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is measured at 1.86 x 3.05 x 0.84 inches and it weighs 2.4 ounces. Both units come with an out-front mount and a standard mount that allows you to place them anywhere on your bike handle.

Display

As for their screens, the one on the Garmin Edge 530 is slightly bigger, at 2.6 inches diagonal. It’s also a color screen. The screen of the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is only 2.2 inches, in comparison. Even though the screen of the Wahoo ELEMNT is smaller and monochrome, it’s actually easier to read since it is sharper (due to higher PPI) and brighter. In contrast, the Garmin Edge 530 screen is a little bit darker, so you’ll need to turn up its brightness if you want to see it under sunlight.

One nice feature that you only get with the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is its row of LED lights just above the screen. You can program these LED indicators to show you different data such as your speed, heart rate and more. This is a nice feature that shows you different metrics (depending on which ones you programmed) with just a glance.

Features

The Garmin Edge 530 is more feature packed than the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt.

garmin edge 530 vs wahoo elemnt bolt features
Both the Garmin Edge 530 and Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt are capable bike computers, but the former has more extra features.

Navigation and Routing

The biggest advantage of the Garmin Edge 530 over the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is with its navigation capability. The Garmin Edge 530 provides mapping data that includes street names, which is very helpful. Furthermore, it gives you turn-by-turn directions when you select a point on the map. If you veer off course, it will guide you so that you can maintain course.

Meanwhile, the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is a bit limited in this area, but it still provides the necessary information for you. It won’t give you turn-by-turn directions if you go off course, but its LEDs will flash red and it will point you to a general direction in order for you to get back on course.

Extra Features

The Garmin Edge 530 offers more extra features than the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt. For instance, included with the Garmin Edge 530 is ClimbPro, which shows you elevation profiles of routes with details such as distance, ascent remaining, gradient and more. The Garmin Edge 530 also gives you various notifications such as for accidents, hydration and nutrition alerts, weather alerts and more. The device also gives you more fitness metrics and there are various mountain biking features as well.

If you are looking for a bike computer that has a lot of interesting features for you to play with, the Garmin Edge 530 has an advantage over the much simpler Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt.

Ease of Use

The Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is easier to set-up and use than the Garmin Edge 530.

garmin edge 530 vs wahoo elemnt bolt ease of use
All the Garmin Edge 530 (left) buttons are located at its sides, while the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt (right) has face buttons that are much easier to reach.

Setup

These devices are set-up differently. The Garmin 530 does not have a companion app that you can use to set it up. Instead, you have to do everything within the device itself, like picking routes, setting up fields and more. For some, this is easier, however, if you are used to devices with a touchscreen, this can be tedious.

Meanwhile, the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt requires that you use your smartphone when setting it up. The companion app allows you to drag and drop various data fields and set them up to your preference. The changes are reflected immediately on the ELEMNT Bolt. For a lot of people, this approach is easier, since almost everyone has a smartphone and are used to touchscreen devices.

Button Placement

All of the buttons on the Garmin Edge 530 are at its side and there are no face buttons. At the left side, there is a power button and two other buttons that let you change pages when you want to view different data. At the right side, there are two buttons that let you move back and forth menu options and confirm. There are two buttons at the bottom, and these function as the start/resume/end buttons. The button placement of the Garmin Edge 530 is not optimal if you are right-handed, since the buttons that you’ll likely press a lot when riding are kind of hard to reach.

On the other hand, the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt has three face buttons for its start/resume/pause/end functions, a power button on the upper left side and two buttons on the right, for zooming in and out. The button placement on the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is much better because of its three face buttons.

Operating the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is easier than the Garmin Edge 530. The three face buttons on the ELEMNT Bolt are much easier to press and operate. On the Garmin Edge 530, you’ll have to maneuver your hands a lot to reach its side buttons.

Battery Life

The Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt has a longer battery life than the Garmin Edge 530.

garmin edge 530 vs wahoo elemnt bolt battery life
Both the Garmin Edge 530 (left) and Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt (right) come with standard and out-front mounts.

On paper, the Garmin Edge 530 edges out the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt when it comes to battery life. However, in real-world use case, the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt can have a longer battery life, depending on how many features you enable on the Garmin Edge 530.

The Garmin Edge 530 is advertised to last up to 20 hours, but many of its features require that you enable Garmin Connect, which can drain the battery faster. For instance, if you want to receive smart notifications, the Garmin Connect is required. Also, the screen is a bit dark, so you’ll want to up its brightness, and this can drain the battery further.

On the other hand, the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt has an advertised battery life of 15 hours. While it doesn’t quite reach that advertised battery life, it comes close to it. Many of its features are built into the device and you don’t need to open extra apps, allowing you to conserve battery. In this area, the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt has a clear advantage.

Verdict

The Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is easier to use, but the Garmin Edge 530 has more features.

Choosing between the two will boil down to whether you want an easier-to-use or a more feature-rich device. The Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is easier to set-up and it is more user-friendly. Although it is a bit limited when it comes to extra features, it has all the necessary ones that you’ll need. On the other hand, the Garmin Edge 530 can be a little more frustrating to use at first, but once you get used to it, it will be fine. Its biggest advantage is that it comes with a lot of extra features that are nice to have.

FAQs

📌 Which is better Garmin or Wahoo?

It depends on which factors are most important to you. If you prefer a bike computer that’s easier to use, the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is the superior device. However, if you want a device that has more features, the Garmin Edge 530 edges the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt.

📌 Can you use the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt without a phone?

You can, but it will be extremely limited.

📌 Does Garmin Edge 530 have a touchscreen?

No, the Garmin Edge 530 does not have a touchscreen. The touchscreen Garmin bike computers are the Edge 830 and 1030.

📌 Is the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt waterproof?

Yes, it has an IPX7 rating, meaning that it is waterproof up to 5ft.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Carlo Salvador

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about fitness, gaming and music.