Wahoo Kickr

Winters here in the Chicago area can be pretty brutal … so riding outside from mid-December through mid-March is often not an option.

The only real option, other than going to a gym, is to use an indoor trainer.

There are many trainers available … from dumb, resistance based, trainers to sophisticated smart trainers, to rollers.

I used to use a Kinetic Road Machine resistance trainer … it was OK, but not great. It had a ‘power meter’, that was supposed to report power to trainer apps … but I had no confidence in it (it has no idea how hard you were pedaling, just how fast your wheel was turning).

A few years ago I decided to upgrade to rollers … but could not get the hang of them. There was no resistance … it was like riding on ice.

I decided to get a Wahoo Kickr smart trainer. Wahoo pretty much defined the consumer bike trainer market.

Standard disclaimer:

Being into technology, I’ve accumulated a fair bit of bike tech also.  As such, I’m going to try doing thumbnail reviews of some of the bike tech that I current, or used to, use.

These aren’t going to be super technical reviews.  For that kind of thing I suggest you head over to
DCRainmaker‘s blog or GPLama‘s YouTube channel.

These are going to be my impressions of the product … what I like, what I don’t like, what could be better, and some things that should be left just the way they are.

All the items I’m going to review have been purchased outright by me and I don’t get any compensation for the reviews (unless I provide an Amazon link, in which case I get a small commission).

The Kickr line is a ‘smart’ trainer … smart because it has built in sensors and can vary the resistance to suit the training needs.

Wahoo offers 3 different Kickr models.

  • Kickr Snap, which is a wheel on smart trainer. Wheel on means that your bike needs to have a real wheel & tire.
  • Kickr Core, which is a wheel off … but lower priced trainer. Wheel off means that the wheel & tire are removed from the bike and the chain is attached to a cassette on the trainer. Sometimes this is called a direct drive trainer.
  • Kickr, their flagship trainer. Also wheel off, but allows for more adjustment.s and simulates more power. It also includes a ANT+ / BTLE cadence sensor.

All Kickr models offer the same basic features … varying resistance and power measurement.

I purchased my first Kickr 2016 and have since upgraded to the latest model (2018). More on why I upgraded later.

In general, I’m really pleased with the Kickr. It suits my purposes quite nicely and is easy to deal with.

Things that I like about the Kickr…

  • Built in power measurement.
  • Variable resistance
  • Infrequent calibration requirements.
  • Can be used by most training software.
  • No need for a special training wheel, since the bike mounts directly on the trainer.

Things that I don’t particularly like about the Kickr…

  • It’s heavy (about 50 lbs).
  • Older models were somewhat noisy.
  • Kind of expensive. The model I have is their flagship trainer. Wahoo also offers a wheel on model (Kickr Snap) and a less expensive wheel off model (Kickr Core).
  • Although they provide a cassette with the unit, it’s not necessarily the right one for your bike. When I got my first Kickr, I used it with my Specialized Allez and the drive train was pretty noisy and didn’t mesh well. I replaced the cassette on the kickr with the same one that was on the Allez’s wheel and it’s much better. I think they should offer the Kickr without a cassette and have their bike shop dealers provide an appropriate cassette. Obviously this doesn’t help people who buy mail order.
  • There was a bit of a quality control issue on the Kickr 2018 that Wahoo acknowledged. They provided a free repair kit with instructions. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to apply the fix myself. I had to take the Kickr to a local Wahoo dealer to get the repair done.

Why did I upgrade my Kickr?

Two main reasons…

  1. The Kickr 2016 isn’t compatible with the Wahoo Climb. The Climb replaces your front wheel and raises & lowers the front of the bike based on what incline the training software is calling for. I’m planning on getting a climb later this year, and wanted to make sure the Kickr would be compatible.
  2. The Kickr 2018 is quieter than previous models. While it wasn’t super noisy, it did make a noticeable noise. The new model is pretty close to silent. The only real noise is made by by bike’s drive train.

My Kickr 2016 was originally going to be sold … they tend to have good resale value … but Ginny expressed an interest in using it.

Do I recommend the Kickr?

Yes, I absolutely do recommend it. If you can’t ride consistently year round, and want to stay in some cycling form, a good trainer is invaluable.

The Wahoo Kickr (all models) are very solidly built, have very good technical support, and very broad software support.

Couple the Kickr with a good training program (Zwift, Trainer Road, SufferFest, etc), and you’ve got a really good setup.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *