Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL review: a no-brainer for triathletes

Is there anything to rival the RIVAL?

Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL

by Myles Warwood |

As we become more fitness-focused and inevitably more connected to our phones, the importance of smartwatches is on the rise. Replacing the regular wristwatch, these so-called ‘smart’ devices can track your movements, measure your heart rate, display messages, take phone calls, count your steps and generally keep an eye on you.

Wahoo is an American brand that has been making waves in the cycling computer and indoor training market. Recently it released a smartwatch called the RIVAL. The RIVAL enables users to track swimming, cycling and running – all three triathlon disciplines. Needless to say, the RIVAL is waterproof, otherwise, it would be a bit useless.

Cycling expert Myles Warwood looks at how the RIVAL can fit the life of a cyclist who likes to ride both indoors and out.

Useability

There are five buttons around the outside of the RIVAL - three on the right and two on the left – so it’s very simple and intuitive to operate. The top-left button controls the light, the bottom left and right move through menus, top right will bring up any notifications (WhatsApp messages, e-mails or missed calls) as well as help you cycle through a menu.

The all-important button is in the right middle - it brings up the sports tracking functions so you can select which to track.

There are many options here, from track running to cycling and through to strength work and yoga.

Cycling through menus can make it sound a little clunky when you’re trying to find your sport of choice, but if you’re only ever doing one or two similar disciplines, Cycling and KICKR (the name for Wahoo indoor turbo trainers) you only ever need to press similar buttons. You soon get used to the navigation.

Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL
©What's The Best/Myles Warwood

Battery life

Depending on how many notifications your watch receives and how often you use it, the battery life of the RIVAL is exceptionally good. It will last for around one week before you connect it back up to its charger. Charge time is very quick: it can go from flat to 100% in only an hour.

The more you use your RIVAL, the shorter the battery life will last. Typically using it for three-hour-long rides a week (and a few dog walks as well) will see it last for around one week.

Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL
©What's The Best/Myles Warwood

Accuracy

If you have other Wahoo products, like the KICKR range or even an ELEMNT bike computer, it will connect seamlessly and feed all your data through. This means if you’re riding with an indoor cycling platform like Zwift, for example, your heart rate will be fed through the KICKR and be visible on screen.

As mentioned, it will also connect to your Wahoo ELEMNT bike computer. If you have one, it will give you an on-screen reading of your heart rate with colours to indicate which heart rate zone you are in. You can read more about this functionality in my hands-on review of the ELEMNT.

The heart rate monitor is very accurate and reliable, rarely dropping out and allowing you to figure out your heart rate zones with all the data you can pour over after your ride.

If you don’t have a bike computer that will map your GPS for uploading to Strava afterwards, the RIVAL will do it for you. With its inbuilt GPS, it’ll be able to track your movements and Strava segments. It will do all of this without the need for you to connect it to anything via a USB.

Rivals to the RIVAL

Or should that be who is the RIVAL rivalling? Well, the clue is directly in the name, it’s knowingly the direct rival to the Garmin Forerunner. There’s a price differential of around £90, with the RIVAL costing £299.99 and the Forerunner being around £389.99.

If you’re going to take on a GPS watch, then the Forerunner is a bold target for Wahoo to challenge, but it’s a move that certainly seems to have gained popularity. It shouldn’t escape attention that Garmin and Wahoo have been trading blows in the bike computer market since the inception of Wahoo.

Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL
©What's The Best/Myles Warwood

Related: The best fitness tracking smartwatches | The best fitness trackers

Should you buy it?

The Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL is an incredibly good smartwatch which will fit in to your everyday life as well as your fitness routine.

If you want a smart watch which is simple to use and will give you small and easy to read notifications as you exercise, then maybe it’s the watch for you.

If you want something that will help you negate the reason for a mobile phone, if you didn’t want to take your phone on a bike ride, for example, then this watch has no capability to do that, and you’d be better off looking for something like an Apple Watch or similar.

Verdict

An incredibly simple, easy to use multisport GPS smartwatch. A no-brainer for triathletes and individual sports, there’s very little better at the price point.

Score: 4.5/5

Specifications
Dimensions: 46.5 x 46.5 x 15.3 mm
Display size: 1.2 in (30.4 mm) diameter
Resolution: 240 x 240
Glass: Gorilla® Glass
Materials: Ceramic bezel, nylon polymer case, silicon strap
Strap length: 10 in (25.4cm)
Weight: 53g
Battery: Rechargeable Lithium Ion, Smartwatch Mode: 14 days, GPS/HR: Up to 24 hours
GPS: Built-in, supports GPS and GLONASS
Water rating: 5 ATM (water resistant up to 50 meters)

How we tested it:

The Wahoo RIVAL was adopted into my daily routine for both everyday and fitness applications, which included road cycling and indoor cycling.

What to read next:

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Myles is a Commercial Content Writer for What's The Best, Parkers and CAR. His areas of expertise include cycling, fitness tech and hot hatches.

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