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Wahoo Bolt or Garmin 530

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Wahoo Bolt or Garmin 530

Old 07-01-21, 02:14 PM
  #1  
mstateglfr 
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Wahoo Bolt or Garmin 530

I am finally set to replace my Lezyne Super GPS from 6 or so years ago. It works great still and has a long battery life, but I want the Varia for gravel riding(so I know when to move over since I often cant hear cars approaching).

I mainly use a GPS for in ride curiosity and easy post ride uploading. Basically, just seeing how far Ive ridden, my current speed, average speed, climb, etc- scrolling thru and doing some mental math then short term goal setting helps pass the time.
Maybe 12 or so times a year I need it for actual route riding on a preloaded route.

Anyone actually use both and have a preference?
I like that Wahoo uses usb-C for charging.
I think the touchscreen on Garmin could be nice, but its not like I have cared about that up to now.
Wahoo's resolution is apparently better.
Battery life is basically the same.
Both display Varia info fine for me.


Any big differences or basically 6 of one half dozen of the other?
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Old 07-01-21, 02:23 PM
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I have the same Lezyne computer as you, and wanted to make a switch last year. Started with the Garmin 530, and it was a bloody nightmare. Setting up the screens and other configurations was incredibly confusingÖ I think I made at least three calls to their customer service for assistance. (Note this was my first experience in their ecosystem.) Then the damn thing started disconnecting itself from the Bluetooth connection every single time I used it. So, every time I wanted to upload a ride I would have to reestablish the Bluetooth connections Ė between the computer and my phone, and also in the Garmin app. No way was I going to deal with that. So it got returned.

Then I bought a Wahoo Roam, had it configured and up and running in 20 minutes, It worked like a champ for six weeks. Then it simply stopped taking a charge. I was kind of disgusted at this point, so I just returned it and got a refund. Iíve been happily using my Lezyne computer ever since.

When I do try a new one again, it will be a Wahoo. No way will I touch another Garmin. But if youíre gonna go with it, get the 830 with the touchscreen - itíll make the initial configuration that much easier by saving you from pushing 1 million buttons.

One other piece of advice: buy from REI in case you need to return your first choice.
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Old 07-01-21, 02:31 PM
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I got an email from Garmin this morning that the 530 is $50 off for the month of July from the Garmin site.
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Old 07-01-21, 02:47 PM
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I have both the Wahoo Bolt and a Garmin Explore Edge. The downside on the Bolt is the small map that does not show street names. The Garmin map is easy to read and has street names. The Bolt works well with my Varia radar, I can hear the alerts. The alerts on the Garmin are barely audible. I have an older version Varia. I've used the back to start feature a few times on the Garmin, it works well. The Garmin also allows more customization of displays and added apps and widgets if you're interested. The Edge has a USB-C connector and runs on external power. The color screen, if left on, is a battery hog. I can run the Bolt for almost 8 hours without needed external power.
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Old 07-01-21, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung View Post
I got an email from Garmin this morning that the 530 is $50 off for the month of July from the Garmin site.
Yeah, i saw its $50 off on Competitive Cyclist too.
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Old 07-01-21, 03:04 PM
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I had a Bolt and moved to a 530 last fall (so some of this info may be outdated with the new Bolt and any firmware updates).

Setting up the screens on the Bolt is easier/more intuitive, that's the major selling point that it has over the 530, IMO. Once you're beyond the set-up stage, though, I don't think that there's really an ease of use advantage.

I like the maps/nav on the 530 is better. The screen is more legible. TBT cues are available on courses created on platforms other than RidewithGPS, which is the only way that I could get TBT to work on the Bolt. Also, audible TBT cues if you have BT headphones/speaker. I also like the fact that you can bring up the map screen and it'll tell you which cross-street is coming up next, even if you don't have a course loaded, so if you're not completely familiar with an area, but you know that you want to turn on County Road 26 or whatever, this feature helps. I know that you said that you don't use nav that often, I didn't either, but the usability of maps on the 530 resulted in me creating more courses and exploring more.

The 530 also has ANT+ light control, which the Bolt didn't have. It's not a huge deal, but it does give you a couple nice features: 1) you never have to fiddle with the single button on the Varia anymore - you start your ride on the 530 and it fires up the light. 2) you have the option of running the radar without a light, not something that you can do without ANT+ Light control.

Oh, btw, the 530 isn't touch screen - that's the 830.
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Old 07-01-21, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
When I do try a new one again, it will be a Wahoo. No way will I touch another Garmin. But if youíre gonna go with it, get the 830 with the touchscreen - itíll make the initial configuration that much easier by saving you from pushing 1 million buttons.
I rode with a buddy this past weekend with an 830 and he said he loves it, but dislikes that when he connects his phone to the unit, the GPS unit shuts down.
I was kinda like...so besides a very significant issue, you love it? I like being able to connect my phone so I can see texts, calls, etc on my gps unit.

Im leaning Wahoo sorta for the reason you mentioned- reviews show it as simpler. Its has less features which is a downside, but it has less to mess with which is an upside.
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Old 07-01-21, 03:11 PM
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I have the 530 and the GPS works with the phone synced. I get notifications while in the middle of an activity and when I crashed the GPS wanted to notify my emergency contacts.
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Old 07-01-21, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by KenCT View Post
The Edge has a USB-C connector and runs on external power. The color screen, if left on, is a battery hog. I can run the Bolt for almost 8 hours without needed external power.
The 530 has great battery life, even with the screen always on - probably on the order of 15-20 hours with the Varia. If you really want to extend the battery life, put it in to Battery Save Mode and it'll turn the screen off until you have a Varia notification, a text, an upcoming turn on a course or if you hit a button to see your info. I've done a century in battery save mode and got home with 77% battery left.
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Old 07-01-21, 03:18 PM
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I have no experience with the Wahoo, but Iíve been using a Garmin 530 for a few months. Iíve had a Garmin watch for years, so I wanted to stay within their system.

I had no trouble setting it up and getting it ready to use right away. One complaint is that it doesnít quickly and automatically upload rides to my iPhone, the way my watch does. I ask it to sync and it says the device is busy or somethingócanít be done right now, even though there is an active Bluetooth link. I can go to the phone app and pull in the data, or if I wait several minutes it will go automatically. Minor stuff. Otherwise itís working well for me, and Iím usually not very good with devices like this.

The 530 is not a touch screen. If you want touch, go with the 830. Besides this, 530 and 830 are nearly identical.

Last edited by Broctoon; 07-01-21 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 07-01-21, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
I rode with a buddy this past weekend with an 830 and he said he loves it, but dislikes that when he connects his phone to the unit, the GPS unit shuts down.
I don't even understand what this means.
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Old 07-01-21, 03:20 PM
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Both are great cycling computers in their own right. Search the net long enough and you'll find people who've had trouble with both (I had an issue with a first-gen Bolt) and many more people who are happy with both units.

The Bolt is FAR easier to set up and edit screens, that's the big advantage.
The 530 without a touch screen is a little tricky, but it's a moot point once you've actually set the thing up.
The 830 has a very nice touch screen which makes editing data fields less of a pain.


Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Setting up the screens on the Bolt is easier/more intuitive, that's the major selling point that it has over the 530, IMO. Once you're beyond the set-up stage, though, I don't think that there's really an ease of use advantage.
^ Basically that.

You'd be happy with either unit. Choose the one you like the look of. I'm in the Garmin camp myself.
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Old 07-01-21, 03:30 PM
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About a year ago I got a 530 and my experience was similar to those related above. Set up was a real pain and it would not stay synched with my phone. I returned it (kudos REI) and bought a Wahoo Bolt. What an improvement. Set up via the phone app was so easy. I've never had any problem with synch and I can see calls and texts on the screen. Wahoo also provides a nice tracking app if you want someone to know where you are. The Bolt plays well with Strava and RWGPS. I've never run the battery below half, even on slow centuries. tl;dr, I can't overstate how much more user friendly the Wahoo is.
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Old 07-01-21, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post

Im leaning Wahoo sorta for the reason you mentioned- reviews show it as simpler. Its has less features which is a downside, but it has less to mess with which is an upside.
But most of the Garmin's extra features are pretty esoteric things that are oriented toward hardcore training data junkies.

The Garmin's navigation and mapping is also more sophisticated...But since that is not terribly important to you, I think your decision is fairly easy.

By the way, while I had the Roam, I did a couple hundred miles with a friend who was using the Bolt - we were on a riding trip together. I ended up realizing that the Roam offers very little functionality over the Bolt, though it did cost quite a bit more money.
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Old 07-01-21, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I don't even understand what this means.
You can connect your phone to the GPS so that texts and other notifications are sent to the GPS unit. Each time he does that, the GPS unit crashes.
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Old 07-01-21, 06:10 PM
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The Garmin 530 doesn't have a touchscreen. I have one and I'm not wild about it. It can take forever to acquire satellites, and sometimes it just doesn't. It ignores the uploaded route, so it will tell me where I am, but won't provide a turn-by-turn. It's a bit of a crapshoot as to whether it will cooperate on any given ride. A while back, it stopped seeing my HRM (a Garmin HRM - the HRM itself interacts fine with other devices) and I haven't be able to get it to play nice. The setup menus are not intuitive. Uploading rides to Strava is also hit-or-miss. Now, I mainly use it for real-time speed/distance info, but the phone in my jersey pocket is the more reliable Strava interface. I do need to update the firmware, and I'm perfectly willing to acknowledge that there might be some element of "user dumb" involved, but if I was buying another GPS, I'd probably look at a Wahoo.
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Old 07-01-21, 06:17 PM
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Interesting to read that Garmin still hasn't figured out stable Bluetooth connections in the 30 series. My first computer was a 520 that sucked because (among many issues) when it dropped Bluetooth, it would also stop reporting Varia readings. As soon as Wahoo added Varia support to the Elemnt line, I switched and am on team Wahoo.
​​​​​​
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Old 07-01-21, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
I think the touchscreen on Garmin could be nice, but its not like I have cared about that up to now.
The 530 does not have a touch screen.
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Old 07-01-21, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
You can connect your phone to the GPS so that texts and other notifications are sent to the GPS unit. Each time he does that, the GPS unit crashes.
Ah. Yeah, that would piss me off, but it's not a problem that I've experienced.

On that matter, I'd add phone connectivity to be a little more robust for the Garmin side of things, too. Notifications from a wider range of applications, on-unit text replies, automatic crash notifications to next of kin along with coordinates to locate the corpse, etc.
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Old 07-01-21, 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Ah. Yeah, that would piss me off, but it's not a problem that I've experienced.

On that matter, I'd add phone connectivity to be a little more robust for the Garmin side of things, too. Notifications from a wider range of applications, on-unit text replies, automatic crash notifications to next of kin along with coordinates to locate the corpse, etc.
Thatís useful. Your spouse can immediately start building her new eHarmony profile when she gets that notification.
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Old 07-01-21, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Oh, btw, the 530 isn't touch screen - that's the 830.
Originally Posted by Broctoon View Post
The 530 is not a touch screen. If you want touch, go with the 830. Besides this, 530 and 830 are nearly identical.
Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
The 530 does not have a touch screen.
Yeah, I didnt think the 530 was touch when first looking at options a few days ago, but Competitive Cyclist strongly suggests it is touch when I saw the sale this morning and I went off that as reference.
https://www.competitivecyclist.com/g...-bike-computer
Clearly I need to still hold each and look at them.



Thanks all for the comments so far.
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Old 07-01-21, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by surak View Post
Interesting to read that Garmin still hasn't figured out stable Bluetooth connections in the 30 series. My first computer was a 520 that sucked because (among many issues) when it dropped Bluetooth, it would also stop reporting Varia readings. As soon as Wahoo added Varia support to the Elemnt line, I switched and am on team Wahoo.
​​​​​​
I've had 3 of their watches over the years and they've all been rock solid with whatever phone I've used them with. Everyone I know with their watches says the same thing. And so many people have problems with this with the bike computers, it's obviously a thing. It's really amazing that they can't circle the wagons and just get it right always.

Garmin makes excellent hardware, their Connect thing is pretty good, if you don't have problems they work really well. Their bugs drove most of Whahoo's sales.
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Old 07-01-21, 09:18 PM
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Maps without a touch screen are really frustrating to use.
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Old 07-01-21, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Yeah, I didnt think the 530 was touch when first looking at options a few days ago, but Competitive Cyclist strongly suggests it is touch when I saw the sale this morning and I went off that as reference.
https://www.competitivecyclist.com/g...-bike-computer
Clearly I need to still hold each and look at them.



Thanks all for the comments so far.
The 530 is not a touch screen device regardless what Competitive says.. Has never been. Neither the predecessors the 520 and 520 Plus.
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Old 07-02-21, 04:39 AM
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My decision to go Garmin was due to the data that Garmin Connect makes available at no extra cost. With Wahoo, youíll need to find an external source to hold your ride data (like Strava) if you want to see this data from a computer.

I agree that setting up a Wahoo is easier, but once thatís done it becomes a moot point. Moving from one Garmin to the next is now easy as the Garmin phone app will move the data over to your next computer.
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