Wahoo Fitness KICKR Review
Compare to Similar Products
Wahoo Fitness KICKR
|Price||$1,300 List||Check Price at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$499 List||$369.99 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
$69.99 at Amazon
|Bottom Line||Boasting top-shelf performance, the Kickr is one of our highest rated trainers||The best in the test, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better at-home training tool||A smooth and solid performer, the Zwift Hub brings direct-drive to a entry-level price point||This tire-drive trainer is our favorite, touting excellent performance at an affordable price||A super affordable but unrefined trainer for infrequent users|
|Rating Categories||Wahoo Fitness KICKR||Tacx Neo 2T Smart||Zwift Hub||Tacx Flow Smart Tra...||BalanceFrom Bike Tr...|
|Connectivity and Power Accuracy (25%)|
|Road Feel (25%)|
|Specs||Wahoo Fitness KICKR||Tacx Neo 2T Smart||Zwift Hub||Tacx Flow Smart Tra...||BalanceFrom Bike Tr...|
|Drive Type||Direct drive||Direct drive||Direct drive||Tire drive||Tire drive|
|Weight||47 lbs||47 lbs||33 lbs||21 lbs||19 lbs|
|Type of Trainer||Smart||Smart||Smart||Smart||Standard|
|Communication Protocol||ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi||ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth FTMS||ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth FTMS||ANT+, Bluetooth||None|
|Dimensions L-H-W (inches)||20" x 28" x 17"||22.6" x 29.5" x 21.7"||19.5" x 24" x 18.1"||26.6" x 25.6" x 16.1"||22"x22"x15"|
|Storage Dimensions LxHxW||20" x 9" x 17"||24.4" x 10.2" x 17.3"||19.5" x 24" x 18.1"||22.2" x 16.1" x 9.7"||22"x22"x15"|
|Power Comparison||1-3 watts, 1%||1-3 watts, 1%||5-7 watts, 2.5%||10 watts, 5%||N/A|
|Roll Out Time @ 200 watts||57 seconds||26 seconds||42 seconds||6 seconds||5 seconds|
|Flywheel||16 lbs||Virtual||10.3 lbs||3.5 lbs, Magnetic||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 and 142mm and 148mm thru axles||130mm and 135mm, adapters available for other widths||130mm and 135mm || May need 3rd party adaptors for 142mm and 148mm|
|Additional Notes||11-speed cassette, QR adapter and hub spacer, thru axle adapter and hub spacer||No Cassette included||8, 9, 10, 11, or 12 speed HyperGlide cassette included||Skewer||Skewer|
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.
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.
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.
The Kickr offers a high-end road feel. In our roll-out test, the Kickr took 57 seconds to slow to a stop 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.
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.
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.
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. It comes with hub adapters to work with 12 x 142 and 12 x 148 axles.
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.
The Kickr is almost ready to ride when you pull it out of the box. 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.
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.
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.
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.