After entering the bike computer market in 2016, Wahoo is now jumping into the multisport watch game – today it launched the new Elemnt Rival. In an all-too-competitive field, like the Elemnt Bolt and Roam bike computers, the Rival looks to add a level of simplicity and functionality to differentiate it from other multisport watches on the market.
We’ve had a chance to check out the new Rival for a few weeks, putting the watch through its paces through a number of workouts and daily activities.
You can’t jump into this space and compete without taking care of a number of basic functions. The stylish-looking Rival (ours came in “Kona White”) has a ceramic bezel and features an optical heart rate monitor sensor. It offers both bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity so you can connect various types of sensors (power, HR, speed and cadence), has a barometric altimeter and is waterproof to five atmospheres. It has a 64 colour, 240 x 240 pixel screen with an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the backlight.
Battery life is excellent – even while tracking a few workouts a day we’ve only had to charge the watch once during our time using it. Wahoo says that the watch will last 14 days in watch mode and 24 hours in GPS mode and we’ve got no reason to doubt any of those numbers – the battery life is really impressive.
That’s a lot of watch for $579.
Set up and workout tracking
As with the Wahoo bike computers, setting up the Rival is a piece of cake. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you pair the watch to your phone with a bar code that appears on the watch. The Elemnt app is available for both iOS and Android and is really easy to navigate. You can customize the watch face with different widgets and its really easy to customize the various workout fields so you can easily get the data you’re looking for while you’re working out. Wahoo has done an excellent job with the default workout fields, so my guess is that, like me, you won’t end up doing a lot of tweaking to the fields, but its easy enough to do if you want to. The watch easily uploads all your workout data to the Elemnt companion app and, from there, you can easily upload your workouts to other third party platforms.
Pairing the watch with the Wahoo Tickrx heart rate monitor provides advanced running dynamics including cadence, ground contact time, vertical oscilation and “running smoothness,” too.
We didn’t have a chance to put the Rival through its paces during a triathlon, but one of the innovative features of the Rival is what the company is calling its Touchless Transition technology. During a race the watch will automatically figure out when you’ve moved from the swim to the bike to the run without having to touch the watch at all. It also can interact with the Elemnt cycling computers, too, so once you’re on the bike in a race your watch data will be transferred to your computer so you can easily keep track of things.
For indoor training, the Rival can also be used to control a Kickr smart trainers.
Real life use
We’ve really enjoyed our time using the Rival watch – the impressive battery life and ease of use for tracking workouts has been excellent. The smartwatch features aren’t as robust as on some other multisport watches, but you can set the watch up to show messages and phone calls.
Bike and run workouts tracked seamlessly, but we did find some discrepancies for swim workouts. If you’re doing a set with short recoveries of less than 5 seconds, you’ll want to hit the lap button rather than depend on the watch’s auto lap feature. Distance measurement in the pool was a bit inconsistent, too – for one workout it was bang on, for others the watch seemed to add some distance. It is really easy to go back into a workout on the Elemnt companion app to change things out, though.
Even with the ambient light sensor, the watch face can seem a bit dark at times, but it’s easy to hit the light button (top left), and the screen lights up whenever you hit a button during a workout.
The bottom line is the new Rival, like Wahoo’s bike computers, will have almost an immediate impact on the multisport watch category. You’re getting a very stylish watch with a lot of impressive features for the money. Add to that the ease of use and touchless capabilities, and you have a watch that does exactly what triathletes want – allows you to focus on your training and racing while providing all the data you want during a workout and afterwards.
You can find out more about the Wahoo Elemnt Rival here.