By Simon Smythe published
Wahoo has entered the multisport watch market with its first GPS watch, the Elemnt Rival. With Olympians Alistair and Jonny Brownlee on board and a name that lays bare Wahoo’s ambition, the Rival clearly takes aim at Garmin’s sports watch dominance.
In order to woo users away from Garmin, Polar and Suunto, Wahoo focuses on what it calls its “user-centric design and unblinkered focus on functionality,” something that helped it take a good-sized slice of the GPS cycle computer pie away from Garmin with the Elemnt Bolt. And priced via Wahoofitness.com at £349.99, it’s £100 cheaper than the Garmin Forerunner 745, Garmin's 'advanced' multisport watch – though more expensive than the £259.99 Garmin Vivoactive 4, which is also GPS and heart-rate monitor enabled with multiple sports apps.
The Rival watch uses the same platform and mobile app as the Elemnt cycling computers and can be paired with the Wahoo TickerX heart rate monitor. Just like the Elemnt cycling computers, data is available in the Wahoo companion app following workouts and can be automatically uploaded to third-party platforms like Strava and TrainingPeaks. The Rival watch also connects with ANT+ and Bluetooth sensors and can control Wahoo Kickr smart trainers.
Bike computer user-friendliness
“The real magic of Rival is that we were able to take everything we did with the Elemnt bike computer and create a perfect parallel, giving triathletes and runners the same ease of use that cyclists have had access to since 2016,” said Chip Hawkins, founder of Wahoo.
“A key design concern was making a watch with looks to match its performance. This is a stylish, high-performance multi-sport watch that should be the choice of any athlete looking for a lightweight GPS watch with an unbelievable battery life to track the longest races.”
Wahoo says the Elemnt Rival watch is the first sport GPS device to innovate the way data follows an athlete through the stages of a multi-sport event, via proprietary Touchless Transition technology. Especially developed for the Rival, this allows users to seamlessly transition from swim to ride to run without touching their watch.
As a part of the Wahoo ecosystem, the Rival’s Multisport Handover mode allows it to interact with Element GPS cycling computers and transfer race data to a cycling computer for the bike leg of a triathlon, so that athletes can focus solely on their race.
The Rival incorporates a ceramic bezel and an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the backlight. Wahoo says it has a battery that lasts 14 days in watch mode or 24 hours in GPS mode, plus a barometric altimeter, an optical heart rate sensor, and live fitness tracking.
The Rival is already being used by some of the world’s top triathletes including Ironman world champion Jan Frodeno, American Ironman world record holder Heather Jackson, and Olympians Alistair and Jonny Brownlee.
Two-time Olympic triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee said: “Jonny and I are both really fond of Wahoo’s gear and have been using some of their products for a number of years now. Being able to rely on your equipment is completely essential for training and racing at the highest level.
“When preparing for the big races, you’ve got to be able to focus on what you’re doing 100 per cent and not worry about your kit. The Elemnt Rival helps me track all my metrics during a training session without distracting me from performing to the best of my ability – be that in the water, on the bike or when running.”
We have a Wahoo Elemnt Rival in for testing and will report back ASAP.
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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