KICKR

Review Wahoo Kickr

 

Wahoo Kickr

Wahoo Kickr

  • Feel
  • Resistance
  • Noise Level
  • Set-Up
  • Portability

Our Review 4.2


Pros:

  • Open platform
  • Bluetooth and ANT+
  • No tire wear
  • No fuss

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Pricey
  • App(s) needed

Recommended by DC Rainmaker (one of the most respected cycling bloggers), the Wahoo Kickr is up there as one of the best you can get. What makes it particularly amazing is that it is compatible with a lot of 3rd party software so that you can ride on films and get all sorts of cycling stats as you train. For example the Wahoo Kickr is compatible with the BKOOL virtual reality software, The Sufferfest Films, TrainerRoad stats software, and more…

The Wahoo indoor bike trainer is a direct-drive trainer where you fix your bike directly to the machine. This has two main benefits, one is that you eliminate back tyre wear that is an issue with other turbo trainers, and the second is that you get a direct link up between the resistance unit and your bike for a potentially more accurate performance (i.e. no chance of back tyre slippage and thus inaccurate force transfer).

The resistance of the trainer is controlled wirelessly via software that can be run off a smart phone, tablet, or computer. Fine resistance control can be manually set, or you can train to set power limits, or you can have an automatically varied workout via pre-defined sessions or virtual films. The films automatically vary you resistance depending on the gradient of the route you are cycling, which is pretty cool.

The DC Rainmaker review is immensely detailed so check this out if you want to know the ins and outs of the Wahoo Kickr in huge detail. Make sure you check back here for the latest best UK prices though ; )

Once upon a time, I worked at a bike shop. It was awesome, but it also sucked. It actually sucked more than it was awesome, but that was probably an isolated incident, due to nincompoop management. I may or may not have been fired.

Anyways, here are the reasons it was awesome:

  • Discounts
  • Ability to test new bikes and equipment
  • Didn’t open until 11 – plenty of time to ride
  • Getting to know the local reps
  • Wahoo Kickr in the fit studio

Ever since direct drive trainers entered the market, namely the LeMond Revolution, my interest has been piqued. The thought of just slapping my bike to a cassette and not having to worry about wearing out expensive tires is enough to make me salivate. Why don’t I own one then? The LeMond Revolution is loud (~ 90 db) and more capable trainers like the Kickr are expensive – $1,099!

The Kickr also weighs a ton – relatively speaking – and being a skinny cyclists who despises lifting anything, I have my reluctance.

Anyways, onwards to the details…

 

Setting Up the Wahoo Kickr

Since the trainer was in a fit studio, I didn’t have to do anything set-up wise. However, if you were to buy one, you wouldn’t really have to do anything more than open a box and pull apart the legs. The base is quite wide when pulled apart and given that thing is a beast – it weighs 46 pounds – it’s safe to say that it’s quite stable.

I have yet to update to 11-speed, so the standard 10-speed cassette that came with it worked fine with my bike. Though, if you’re running Shimano/SRAM 11-speed (or 7-, 8-, or 9-speed) or campy, you’ll need an adapter (~ $69.99) or a different cassette.

Attaching my bike to it was like putting on a wheel. If you can do that, then you can put your bike on a Kickr.

Not that I needed to adjust anything, but Wahoo made setting up the Kickr for other wheels sizes a snap. Err, more like adjusting a knob and lever, but you get what I’m saying.

Otherwise, make sure the thing is plugged-in and that you’re connected via a compatible app. All compatibility is done through Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+. When I used it, I downloaded the Wahoo Fitness app on my iPhone 5s .Once connected, you’re ready to ride.

If you’re not connected to an app, then you have a big, heavy, more or less unadjustable trainer.

 

Ride and Resistance

The Kickr operates on an electronically-based platform, which provides, in my opinion, a somewhat-but-mostly-realistic road feel. I say, “somewhat-but-mostly… ” because the Kickr has four resistance modes. They all function very well and do exactly what they were built to do, but they don’t exactly translate into road riding like most fluid trainers, unless operating in the Level Mode.

  • Level Mode: acts like a fluid trainer, in that it has exponential resistance; just pick the power curve.
    • Didn’t spend much time here, because I wanted to play with the other modes.
  • Resistance Mode: set the resistance to a certain percentage; from 0 to 100%.
    • Kinda felt like the spin-bikes of old, but was good for steady state stuff.
  • Erg Mode: set a desired power and it’ll maintain it regardless of your cadence.
    • Awesome mode and can be absolutely brutal. My favourite mode to ride in.
  • Sim Mode: set your weight, bike type, wind resistance, grade, and etcetera to mimic riding outside.
    • Quite good if you want to focus on a climb or gradient.

The Kickr really seems to shine in the Erg Mode, but performs really well in the other modes. However, I’d have a hard time justifying the cost of the Kickr to use it solely in Level Mode. Resistance Mode is alright and as I mentioned above, it was cool for steady-state tempo riding, but again, Erg Mode would be the better alternative. Sim Mode was cool for mimicking climbs and what not, but it wasn’t a mode I loved spending time in.

 

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Kickr is a badass trainer! Kind of expected given the price tag though. Given that the Kickr is all open-source, it’s compatible with anything that’s either Bluetooth 4.0 or ANT+. Therefore, whatever devices you want to pair with it or apps you want to run with it is easily accomplished.

Moving forward, I’m guessing this is the start of where bike trainers are heading – electronically controlled on open-sourced platforms. Wahoo got it right with the Kickr and after a couple weeks of squeezing in pre-work rides – before I may or may have been fired – I would definitely consider taking a Wahoo Kickr home with me.

 

 

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