Garmin 520 plus and Wahoo Elemnt navigation
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  1. #1
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    Garmin 520 plus and Wahoo Elemnt navigation

    Hi all, I need to replace my Garmin 500, and debating if to get a Garmin 520 plus or the Wahoo Elemnt computers.
    I do lead group rides in to new routes most times, also like to explore dirt single track and fire roads and a good navigating computer comes in very handy. Primarily I use RidewithGPS for creating routes and would like your opinion on:

    Do both units download routes from your phone app?
    Which do you like best for navigating?

    If you own one of this, basically what is good about your computer and Why do you think one is better than the other?
    Does any of those maps of-road trails? MTB single tracks?

    Thanks for your input.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankuota View Post
    Hi all, I need to replace my Garmin 500, and debating if to get a Garmin 520 plus or the Wahoo Elemnt computers.
    I do lead group rides in to new routes most times, also like to explore dirt single track and fire roads and a good navigating computer comes in very handy. Primarily I use RidewithGPS for creating routes and would like your opinion on:

    Do both units download routes from your phone app?
    Which do you like best for navigating?

    If you own one of this, basically what is good about your computer and Why do you think one is better than the other?
    Does any of those maps of-road trails? MTB single tracks?

    Thanks for your input.
    Iíve owned a Garmin 810: now a 1000 as well as owned a Wahoo Bolt, that I returned.

    810 sucked, 1000 is terrific, Bolt was great as well. Issue was the maps on the Wahoo kind of suck. Itís B&W which has some advantages in terms of visibility, but thereís no street names, and no zoom or pan. Maps on the Garminís are superior and, this might be important to you, you cannot get something like a topo map, or any other 3rd party maps like the OpenStreetMap onto a Wahoo. I have a Garmin topo map on my 1000 which is really useful when riding dirt trails or roads that donít show up on a road centric map.

    That said, Wahoo units have flawless interface with RWGPS. Create and save and bada-boom its on a Wahoo. You have to do a hardwired USB connection to a computer to get a RWGPS route onto a Garmin, though Iíve heard of an app that lets you do a BT sync to a RWGPS and to a Garmin.

    But for a lot of things, the routes created on the Garmin Connect website are as easy to use as RWGPS and is what I use. Once saved, itís on the Garmin mobile app and an easy sync to the device. Only disadvantage to the Connect course is itís hard to share with others.

    As to navigation, I hated the white text on black background Wahoo uses for turn-by-turn info. It was impossible to read while wearing sunglasses. The Garmin TBT is easy (for me) and it tends to show an arrow overlaid onto the map, plus distance to turn. Itís a better system IMO.

    Thing with smaller units such as the Bolt and 520 and Plus is the screen is small and the maps are harder to read than on the larger Elemnt , 820, 1030. So if reading and using maps is important, a larger screen is a good choice. Budget dependent.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
    Iíve owned a Garmin 810: now a 1000 as well as owned a Wahoo Bolt, that I returned.

    810 sucked, 1000 is terrific, Bolt was great as well. Issue was the maps on the Wahoo kind of suck. Itís B&W which has some advantages in terms of visibility, but thereís no street names, and no zoom or pan. Maps on the Garminís are superior and, this might be important to you, you cannot get something like a topo map, or any other 3rd party maps like the OpenStreetMap onto a Wahoo. I have a Garmin topo map on my 1000 which is really useful when riding dirt trails or roads that donít show up on a road centric map.

    I recall street names on my Element Bolt, but I have not used the Element since October for navigation. I say this because I recall it showing a street name when it prompts you when the next turn is coming and I recall it showing the street name and the distance to the turn.

    It's my understanding that the Element's maps are based on OSM maps. It has maps for pretty much everyplace you can think of, via the companion app.


    That said, Wahoo units have flawless interface with RWGPS. Create and save and bada-boom its on a Wahoo. You have to do a hardwired USB connection to a computer to get a RWGPS route onto a Garmin, though Iíve heard of an app that lets you do a BT sync to a RWGPS and to a Garmin.

    Yep, the Element is real easy to drop in a route. Once you link with RWGPS and add any route to your "routes" page, the element syncs those routes to the Element. You simply choose the route and off you go. I've never used any of the newer Garmins (have the old 800) and with it I had to connect the garmin to the computer and download the route to the Garmin, but I believe the newer Garmins have an interface with RWGPS for easier downloads in the newer units. I had drop out issues between the 800 and Stages power meter and went with the Element because of cost and because their were some reports that folks were having drop out issues with Stages and the newer Garmins. I did not want to spend that kind of cash and still have those issues.


    But for a lot of things, the routes created on the Garmin Connect website are as easy to use as RWGPS and is what I use. Once saved, itís on the Garmin mobile app and an easy sync to the device. Only disadvantage to the Connect course is itís hard to share with others.

    As to navigation, I hated the white text on black background Wahoo uses for turn-by-turn info. It was impossible to read while wearing sunglasses. The Garmin TBT is easy (for me) and it tends to show an arrow overlaid onto the map, plus distance to turn. Itís a better system IMO.

    The Element has the same type of overlay; it has Black arrows guiding you on the route, plus you can zoom in/out of the map and you get a popup notification (no matter what page you are on) to warn you of the upcoming turn, including the distance to the next turn. Additionally, you can include other fields on the map page, such as power, rpm, HR, speed etc. - whatever you like.


    Thing with smaller units such as the Bolt and 520 and Plus is the screen is small and the maps are harder to read than on the larger Elemnt , 820, 1030. So if reading and using maps is important, a larger screen is a good choice. Budget dependent.

    The Element Bolt is much smaller than those Element and the Garmin 1000s (i.e. similar to the 520), however, you can increase the font size for easier viewing on the fly. Note: if you where glasses with polarization it will affect viewing of the computer, especially the Garmin.
    OP check out the videos on Youtube as I believe they will answer pretty much all your questions, plus it will be more visual.

    https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/03/...th-review.html (detailed review by the Rainmaker)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZihFYi64V8&t=6s (DCrainmaker's video)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccDMxcW1BuM&t=1s (navigation)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qA0Jj9x8iSA (navigation)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qA0Jj9x8iSA (using maps for navigation)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NE9TJF3X5NA (short video on Maps)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc1fPPYrnpA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDKMsXcdrI4&t=20s
    Last edited by Methodical; 01-13-2019 at 06:32 PM.

  4. #4
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    I haven't used the 520, I have a 1030 as my computer now and it's really amazing what it will do, and I like the big screen.


    That said, for other Garmin head units, there are some features Garmin offers for navigation that I don't think Wahoo has like routable biking maps and auto reroute option as well etc. I know my 820 has those. Garmin uses it's extensive biking data base from rides it's users upload to Garmin connect to create 1 way or out and back rides from where you are using roads cyclists often use. All this is done on the head unit, no need for a phone to help, as I remember the Wahoo uses your phone to load routes from it so if you don't have a cell signal or your phone is running low on power it could be a problem to reroute.
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  5. #5
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    Be careful using the YouTube videos for finidng feature details.

    One thing that is great about Wahoo is that they are always updating and adding new features to their existing hardware (as opposed to making you but a new unit to get new features). Most of the videos on YouTube are older, and are likely inaccurate at this point.

    I use the Bolt exclusively now and won't go back to Garmin. I don't use the route planning feature much, but it does sync with RWGPS.
    Last edited by Finx; 01-14-2019 at 05:45 PM.

  6. #6
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    I have the Garmin 520 and I use the rwgps phone app to load turn by turn navigation. It works well. Just be sure to set up your alerts with plenty of advance. I think mine is 150 meters advance. Sometimes it waits until the last few feet to alert me for the turn. The stock map is only detailed to highways. Local roads are not visible on the map.

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfaas View Post
    The stock map is only detailed to highways. Local roads are not visible on the map.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk
    interesting, the 820 has all roads I would ever want to be on - even has all the 'B' roads / double track used during Dirty Kanza. Wonder if yours isn't pending a map update?
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    interesting, the 820 has all roads I would ever want to be on - even has all the 'B' roads / double track used during Dirty Kanza. Wonder if yours isn't pending a map update?
    I think the default zoom is likely only showing a wider area. If you zoom in the map you get better details and local roads.

  9. #9
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    Main thing that frustrates me about the Wahoo is the font on the nav prompts is insanely small. I have good eyes, but I reeeeeally have to look at it to get the road name, and that's hard to do when going 20+ mph and also looking for a road sign at the same time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    interesting, the 820 has all roads I would ever want to be on - even has all the 'B' roads / double track used during Dirty Kanza. Wonder if yours isn't pending a map update?
    It might be, but to be fair, I never look at the map. When I'm doing navigation, I let the prompts pop up on my main screen. I guess I might use the map if it showed more detail.

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