Review of Wahoo KICKR smart trainer

Review of Wahoo KICKR smart trainer

So if you’re looking for a smart coach, this review will be very useful and help you make an informed decision.

Before going into detail, we would like to clarify that all articles are selected and evaluated independently by our team. When you buy products through the links on our site we generate a commission, but this has  no influence on our opinion.

Now let’s talk about KICKR.

The KICKR 2018 is the third generation, the most recent until April 2020, and although at first glance there is not much difference from previous models, Wahoo has focused on improving small details. These improvements have led, in this iteration, to be considered one of the best intelligent trainers of the moment.

Two improvements stand out, in the first place there is its update in the band system, which has turned it into a quite silent roller. On the other hand, Wahoo made the decision to increase the weight and size of the flywheel, which achieves a more realistic feeling when pedaling.

KICKR features

This is an intelligent electromagnetic resistance and direct transmission trainer. Therefore, you will need to remove your rear wheel to attach your bike to the system. However, one of the qualities of the KICKR is that it will be ready to use from the moment you take it out of the box.

The trainer already comes with an 11-speed cassette (11 – 28T) installed. Unless your bike has 8, 9 or 10 steps, you can unpack it and attach it to the trainer without further ado. The body pack included is compatible with Shimano and SRAM, so you can replace the cassette if necessary. In addition, Wahoo sells a Campagnolo adapter separately if required.

Its frame is made of steel, with a pair of legs that unfold to give very good stability. Its total weight is 21.3 kg, but it has a handle that makes it relatively easy to move. It also has a post that allows you to adjust the height of the system according to the track (24″ to 29″ for MTB and 650c to 700c for route) of the bike to be mounted.

The KICKR already comes with a QR (Quick Release) compatible with 130 and 135 mm hubs. However, if required, adapters for 12 x 142 mm and 12 x 148 mm Thru Axle are included.

KICKR smart trainer specifications:

  • Dimensions when unfolded (L x W x H): 50.8 x 71.1 x 43.2 cm
  • Dimensions when folded (L x W x H): 50.8 x 22.9 x 43.2 cm
  • Weight: 21.3 kg
  • Type of resistance: intelligent electromagnetic
  • Flywheel weight: 7.3 kg
  • Max. simulated slope: 20%
  • Max. output power: 2200 W

KICKR connectivity with devices and apps

The KICKR Wahoo transmits data using ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart, which also allows the control of the resistance through these same two protocols. With this you can connect a variety of devices and most indoor cycling applications.

You can also control or view your data with your ELEMNT and ELEMENT Bolt cycling computer as well as Garmin EDGE series devices.

It is important to mention that KICKR does not transmit cadence information, however Wahoo includes a cadence sensor that you can easily link to your favorite cycling computer or app.

KICKR 2018 Transmission Protocols

  • Protocol Function
  • ANT+ FE-C Control Controls the KICKR via ANT+ from apps and cyclo computers.
  • ANT+ potentiometer profile Transmits power and speed data as ANT+
  • ANT+ Legacy Wahoo Trainer Control Used by older apps to control the trainer.
  • Bluetooth Smart Wahoo Trainer Control The Wahoo method to control the trainer from your apps.
  • Bluetooth Smart Potentiometer Profile Transmits power and speed data via low power Bluetooth.

Our Experience With the Wahoo KICKR

One of the pros of KICKR is that it comes ready to use. When you take it out of the box you just have to unfold the legs and select the right adapter (quick release or thru axle) to your bike. The equipment already comes with the QR installed, if your bike uses this system it is important to check if your hub is 130 or 135 mm and make sure that the adapter is in the correct position.

Before you get on the bike, we recommend you install the Wahoo Fitness application (available for iOS and Android) which you will need to calibrate, configure and control the KICKR. Once installed, we suggest you perform the calibration or spindown process directly from the app. Like other Wahoo devices, the KICKR is completely configurable from your mobile.

Resistance with the Kickr

The KICKR is equipped with an intelligent electromagnetic resistance control and can be controlled in different ways:

  • Through the Wahoo Fitness application
  • From a cycling computer
  • Using some indoor cycling app
  • Through the slope variation in the KICKR CLIMB
  • Control through the Wahoo Fitness app
  • In addition to all the configurations you can make (wheel diameter, wheelbase, etc) the app allows you to control the resistance of the KICKR through different
  • modes.
  • Level: this mode simulates the gradual resistance of fluid or wind trainers. The resistance will increase as you increase speed, following the curve you select.
  • Resistance: In this mode you can set a percentage of resistance (0 – 100%) which remains constant regardless of speed.
  • ERG: This is ideal for structured workouts. This mode allows you to specify a power (in Watts) and the KICKR will vary the resistance to maintain the same power at your pace.
  • Sim: This mode simulates the resistance you would experience in real life, taking into account factors such as: weight, wind conditions, slope, type of bike, among others.

Control from your computer-cycle

If you have a Wahoo ELEMNT (ELEMNT, BOLT or ROAM) or a Garmin EDGE series you can control the resistance of your KICKR. The first method is through predefined workouts loaded on your computer.

You also have the possibility to recreate a previously loaded route. Using detailed GPS data, the KICKR will adjust the resistance according to the slopes you encounter on the simulated route. If you are also using KICKR CLIMB, it will vary the inclination of your bike, adjusting it to the slope, making the experience even more immersive.

Control from indoor cycling apps

The Wahoo KICKR has connectivity with the most popular apps, such as: Zwift, FulGaz, Rouvy, among many others. By connecting the trainer to any of these applications, it will regulate the resistance according to the conditions of your virtual route.

Many of these applications also allow you to perform structured training, offering you an alternative to increase the fun.

Control through KICKR CLIMB

In our case, we were able to test the KICKR in conjunction with the CLIMB. This ecosystem gives you an additional way to control the trainer’s resistance. By using the CLIMB’s tilt control, the KICKR will automatically vary the resistance to simulate a given slope.

KICKR CLIMB slope simulator

The KICKER CLIMB is an accessory capable of physically replicating slopes from -10% to 20%. You will be able to control the slope through its remote control or simulate slopes of some virtual route or structured training.

In case you are simulating slopes from an app or from your ELEMNT computer, it is necessary that the CLIMB is linked to the KICKR.

KICKR HEADWIND automatic fan

The HEADWIND is a fan that makes your workouts more comfortable and also gives them more realism. You can control the power of the fan from the Wahoo Fitness app or directly from the Wahoo KICKR.

Connected to the KICKR, you decide if you prefer to control the fan based on your speed, or based on your heart rate (heart rate sensor not included).

Our KICKR Wahoo verdict

Without a doubt this last version of the KICKR achieves the best coach Wahoo has ever created. It is silent, it is precise, it is compatible with all indoor cycling apps.

It is super easy to use. Many people will find the fact that it comes ready to use straight out of the box, without the need for tools, a great advantage.

The equipment is not cheap, and the investment can be even higher if you want the whole ecosystem (KICKR + CLIMB + HEADWIND). We clarify that this is an investment that will take your training to the next level.

In summary, the KICKR Wahoo is ideal for the person who seeks maximum performance and an excellent simulation in each of their training. The investment is justified when you are looking for a frequently used tool that is part of a comprehensive training routine.

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