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Wahoo Fitness KICKR Review

With excellent accuracy and performance, this is one of our favorite trainers for any indoor ride
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Wahoo Fitness KICKR Review (Wahoo Fitness KICKR V6)
Wahoo Fitness KICKR V6
Credit: Wahoo Fitness
Price:  $1,300 List
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Manufacturer:   Wahoo Fitness
By Nathaniel Bailey ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 12, 2023
84
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 12
  • Connectivity and Power Accuracy - 25% 9.0
  • Road Feel - 25% 8.0
  • Design - 20% 9.0
  • Setup - 20% 8.0
  • Portability - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Wahoo Fitness KICKR is an excellent direct-drive smart bike trainer that is one of the best performers in our review and one of the best on the market. It took top marks in nearly every area of our testing and had a few drawbacks. Its smooth road feel, maximum resistance of 2200 watts, and the ability to simulate a 20% grade suggest the target user. With premium features and excellent accuracy, this trainer is perfect for serious athletes who want high levels of control as they work out at home.
REASONS TO BUY
Highly accurate
Smooth road feel
Wi-Fi connectivity
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive
Heavy

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Star Rating
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Bottom Line Boasting top-shelf performance, the Kickr is one of our highest rated trainersA great trainer, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better at-home training toolThis trainer brings premium performance to a more affordable price pointOne of the best tire drive trainers, but still not as good as a direct-drive unitThis tire-drive trainer is our favorite, touting excellent performance at an affordable price
Rating Categories Wahoo Fitness KICKR Tacx Neo 2T Smart Wahoo Fitness Kickr... Wahoo Fitness Kickr... Tacx Flow Smart Tra...
Connectivity and Power Accuracy (25%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Road Feel (25%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
Design (20%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Setup (20%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Portability (10%)
7.0
6.0
7.0
5.0
9.0
Specs Wahoo Fitness KICKR Tacx Neo 2T Smart Wahoo Fitness Kickr... Wahoo Fitness Kickr... Tacx Flow Smart Tra...
Drive Type Direct drive Direct drive Direct drive Tire drive Tire drive
Measured Weight 47 lbs 47 lbs 40 lbs 38 lbs 21 lbs
Roll Out Time @ 200 watts 57 seconds 26 seconds 44 seconds 45 seconds 6 seconds
Power Comparison 1-3 watts, 1% 1-3 watts, 1% 3-5 watts, 2% 10-15 watts, 5% 10 watts, 5%
Communication Protocol ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth FTMS ANT + FE-C, Bluetooth ANT+ FEC, Bluetooth Smart ANT+, Bluetooth
Dimensions L-H-W 20" x 28" x 17" 22.6" x 29.5" x 21.7" 26" x 18.25" x 28.75" 26.6" x 25.6" x 16.1"
Storage Dimensions LxHxW 20" x 9" x 17" 24.4" x 10.2" x 17.3" 20.75" x 7.5" x 20.5" 22.2" x 16.1" x 9.7"
Type of Trainer Smart Smart Smart Smart Smart
Flywheel 16 lbs Virtual 12 lbs 10.5 lbs 3.5 lbs, Magnetic
Axle compatibility 130mm and 135mm skewer and 142mm and 148mm thru axles 130mm, 135mm || Adaptors for 142mm and 148mm available through Tacx 130mm and 135mm skewer, 142mm and 148mm thru axle 130mm, 135mm compatible || 142mm adaptor available through Wahoo 130mm and 135mm, adapters available for other widths

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Wahoo Fitness KICKR is an excellent direct-drive smart bike trainer, scoring top in nearly every testing area. This is a trainer for serious athletes who want high levels of control and accuracy as they train from home.

Performance Comparison


wahoo fitness kickr - the wahoo kickr is a top-performing direct-drive trainer that is...
The Wahoo Kickr is a top-performing direct-drive trainer that is easily a top recommendation.
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey

Connectivity and Power Accuracy


The latest version of the Wahoo Kickr brings a big update to connectivity: Wi-Fi. This is great for users who experience dropouts in-app connections through Bluetooth or ANT+. We found it easy to use, making automatic firmware updates even simpler. The Wahoo fitness application is one of the more user-friendly proprietary applications included with the trainers we tested. We had no problems connecting to the mobile application on IOS or Android devices. Connectivity with both Trainer Road and Zwift is seamless, and it received top marks in this category.

wahoo fitness kickr - testing app compatibility and comparing power accuracy between power...
Testing app compatibility and comparing power accuracy between power meter pedals and the Kickr.
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey

Power accuracy from the Kickr is excellent. We recorded readings within one percent of our Favero Assioma DUO power meter pedals during our testing, even during longer efforts. Tire drive trainers in our testing showed more variability in power readings and had more drift from baseline accuracy during long sessions on the trainer. If power accuracy is important, you cannot go wrong with the Kickr.

Road Feel


The Kickr offers a high-end road feel. During a test simulating stopping from cruising speed, the Kickr took 57 seconds to decelerate from 200 watts. This makes sense with a heavier, traditional flywheel (16 lbs). The Kickr provides a smooth and engaging virtual ride experience, and the latest version has improved the ERG mode.

wahoo fitness kickr - another fantastic feature of the kickr are the adjustable feet to...
Another fantastic feature of the Kickr are the adjustable feet to keep the trainer level on very not level floors.
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey

Resistance Changes

The Kickr doesn't have the most life-like resistance changes in SIM and ERG modes. The difference is much more pronounced in SIM mode when transitioning onto a steep slope, but even in ERG mode, the Kickr can't quite match the smooth transitional feel of a few other premium models. This is likely a result of the traditional flywheel it uses rather than a virtual one, as some of its competitors utilize. That isn't to say it's bad. There is a noticeable difference between the Kickr and all the tire drive trainers we tested, as it is much smoother. The ERG Easy Ramp feature makes returning to the middle of a workout much less difficult by slowly ramping back up to the desired power setting.

Rider Power Output Changes

Sharp increases in rider power output tend to send smart trainers into catch-up mode as they try to increase resistance to balance the incoming load. The Kickr does a good job mitigating the “slam on the brakes” feel but isn't perfect.

Design


The Kickr looks heavy and durable because, well, it is. Aesthetically, it's pleasing to look at, although a fully encased machine might be better at protecting the electronic components and resistance unit. It does have the ability to lower the height of the cassette to better match the height of various wheel sizes, which provides a level ride regardless of wheel size.

wahoo fitness kickr - you'll have to swap out the included cassette if you don't have an...
You'll have to swap out the included cassette if you don't have an 11-speed.
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey

Accessories and Compatibility

The Kickr does not come with a front-wheel block. It does come with an 11-speed cassette pre-installed. Pre-installed cassettes are great– if you have a compatible drive train. If not, removing and replacing the pre-installed cassette adds another (simple) step to the setup. If you don't have the tools on hand to do this, you'll need to order them or take it to your local bike shop.

The Kickr is compatible with 130mm and 135mm quick-release rear hub bikes, and it will also work with 142mm through axle frames. Adaptable for both 12 x 142 and 12 x 148 axles with the included adapters.

Setup


The Kickr is one of the highest-scoring smart trainers we tested for setup. It's easy to set-up and maintain. As a result, it earns top marks in this category.

wahoo fitness kickr - adjustment of the kickrs ride height is done through this simple...
Adjustment of the Kickrs ride height is done through this simple bolt mechanism.
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey

Initial Setup

The Kickr requires minimal setup before you can start riding. Setup through the Wahoo app is fast and simple after the trainer is plugged in. If you don't have an 11-speed drivetrain, you'll need to swap that out as well. The legs easily fold out by pulling up on the blue lock pins and snapping into the open position. All that is required to get onto riding is placing your bike on the trainer, which is essentially the same process as putting a wheel on your bike. Depending on your axle setup, you may need to use an adapter before mounting the bike. The steps are simple and well-explained.

Ongoing Setup

Once the initial setup is complete, there is not much ongoing maintenance. The Kickr has an auto-calibration feature, meaning there is no need for monthly calibration. If you have calibration concerns, coasting for a few seconds during your ride will allow the Kickr to auto-calibrate.

Portability


The Kickr is one of the heavier trainers we tested. It also folds into a reasonably compact package that's easy to store or transport in a car. Because of its well-placed handle, it is easy to carry. Our testers found it easier to carry than other heavy trainers and slightly less obtrusive shape when folded. The main downside to the Kickr is its lack of resistance when not connected to power. You can spin on it, but the resistance tops in the 120-watt range.

wahoo fitness kickr - you don't really have to collapse the legs to move the kickr...
You don't really have to collapse the legs to move the Kickr. Sometimes just unplugging it and moving it is just fine.
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey

Should You Buy the Kickr?


Depending on your goals, the Kickr could be a good option. It performed well in most tests, and users liked the road feel and portability. This is one of our favorite trainers, and we'd happily recommend it to a friend. At the same time, the price is significant, especially if you don't need a top-of-the-line trainer. It is also somewhat heavy compared to the competition, which could be a problem if you hope to travel with it or need to move it frequently. However, despite these minor hiccups, we think it is a trainer sure to please.

wahoo fitness kickr - the wahoo kickr is a top-performing direct-drive trainer that is...
The Wahoo Kickr is a top-performing direct-drive trainer that is well worth consideration.
Credit: Nathaniel Bailey

What Other Bike Trainer Should You Consider?


While we adore this trainer, it could be more than you want to spend or more than you need to meet your at-home fitness goals. The Wahoo Fitness Kickr Snap is similar and costs less than half the price, making it a shoo-in option for most folks, no matter their goals. If you're looking for the best you can get, the Kickr is almost perfect, but it does fall just short of the road feel our Editor's Choice pick, the Tacx Neo 2T Smart offers.

Nathaniel Bailey