Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL: The Watch That Will Change the Race

Wahoo’s much rumored multisport watch is here, and it will delight those who want a sport watch, not a wrist computer. The Wahoo RIVAL eschews many smart watch features to focus on performance and ease-of-use for full-distance triathlons. It delivers the essentials for serious athletes along with a couple unique innovations: Touchless Transition and Multisport Handover. Finally, its $379 MSRP is one of its most significant features in a market of endlessly escalating watch prices.

The design philosophy behind the watch eliminates distractions from its menus and configuration that are not central to running, biking, and swimming. It does not attempt to accommodate non-sport features like pay, music, and app store. Some activity tracking metrics are available on the configurable watch screens, but it does not have the complexity of watch and mobile app navigation for activity data. Most of the setup, including the activity screens, is done from the phone app. And the activity screens have zoom and automatic field heading innovations that enhance screen usability.

The Good: The price and core full-distance multisport features
The Great: Ease of Use, Touchless Transition, Multisport Handover, Perfect View Zoom, Setup
The Gaps: Mapping, Workouts (coming soon), Activity Tracking

Ease of Use

Wahoo’s Perfect View Zoom lets you build one screen that can behave as many. Then the automatic field headings make it all more readable. When you configure a screen, you add your fields in your priority order. As you are using the watch, you can zoom in and out of a screen to see 1 to 6 of your fields. The automatic field headings option will remove the headings and enlarge the fields after a short time to help with readability. The combination streamlines the use of the watch and lets you focus on the key fields that you want when you want them. The picture below shows several views of a single screen, and the last picture shows the larger data fields without the headings.

Innovative Triathlon Features

The RIVAL’s two new multisport features will be a dream to many triathletes. First, the Touchless Transition uses accelerometer movement and device connections to automatically detect transitions. If you are one who often messes up transitions with your multisport watch, this feature is for you. The watch is smart enough to flag when it thinks a transition began, and then retroactively discard or keep it. For example, if you get off your bike for a break during a race, the watch might start tracking that as a potential T2. But it will not commit and retroactively remove the transition when you get back on your bike and continue. After a race, you can review and edit the automatic transitions if needed.

The Multisport Handover takes bike computer integration to the next level. Instead of screen mirroring, it controls the bike computer and uses its connections to your bike’s devices. If you like to ride a triathlon with your bike computer and watch, the RIVAL will own the FIT file as a single activity. Before the start of a race, you put your ELEMNT, BOLT, or ROAM bike computer into Multisport mode, and it will just wait. When you get on the bike in T1, the watch and bike will connect, and your bike computer will automatically display your ride as if you hit the start button. During the ride, the bike computer will feed the watch its connections to your bike’s power meter, speed sensors, electronic shifting data, and anything else it has. This means you do not need to pair your watch to all your bike’s sensors—you can, but you do not need to. Simple.


The RIVAL’s daily use is easy and efficient. It takes three clicks to start an activity. When you are done, it shows a summary screen that scrolls through all your key activity data. And it syncs very quickly over Bluetooth to its mobile app. The mobile app is a clean user experience and lets you get to most of your metrics and analysis with a couple of touches. If you want to do deeper analysis, you will want to push your data to one of the many third-party tools like Strava, TrainingPeaks, Golden Cheetah, etc.

The watch is ideal for someone who is looking for a premier multisport watch that is not clouded with superfluous smart watch features. If a feature does not add to your ability to track and understand an endurance activity, it probably is no on the watch. The one feature that could be a gap to some is mapping—the watch does not support mapping and mapping is not on the short-term roadmap. With a $379 USD MSRP, the watch is a high-performance value leader.

Key Specifications
  • Battery: 24-hour GPS mode & 14-day watch mode
  • Ceramic bezel
  • Screen: 240x240 with Gorilla Glass
  • 5 ATM waterproof
  • 24/7 activity tracking
  • Trainer control (KICKR)
  • Optical HRM with broadcast & swim capture
  • Live tracking
  • Smart notifications
  • ANT+/Bluetooth connectivity to HRM, power meter, speed, cadence
    Swim metrics (lengths, distance, pace, stroke type, stroke count, stroke rate, etc.)
    Running Dynamics (with TICKR)