WAHOO KICKR – PRODUCT REVIEW

Shaun George BOTS Guides

We got our hands on the much talked about Wahoo Kickr (2018) for a few weeks. The Kickr has been a sort of an industry standard for the past few years thanks to its superb ride feel and realism. As for the brand, Wahoo is a stable in the cycling world with their reputable cyclocomputers and indoor trainers.

Wahoo tends to discreetly make minor changes to its Kickr iteration every year, with this latest model they’ve focused on refinement and overall ride feel with that bigger flywheel. Unfortunately, the unit has seen an overall weight increase to 22kgs which is on the heavier side when compared to its rivals. Thankfully, Wahoo has stuck to their simple, tired, and tested design which means that the Kickr is easy to store and move around in the house.

WHY WAHOO?

Most good-quality trainers cost a hefty sum – when investing your hard-earned money on a trainer, why not buy from the best?

Wahoo is a highly respected name in the indoor trainer industry, and it’s something that’s been proven with a cult-like following all around the world by all kinds of athletes – from the top athletes out there to regular weekend warriors keen to expand and improve upon their passion for cycling.

Wahoo has built a reputation through its incredibly high performing products that are super reliable and very well built. After-sales services is another aspect where you don’t need to worry about investing in a Wahoo product. They’ve got your back! All Wahoo trainers have a 1-year warranty from the date of purchase.

FEATURES

The new 7.25kg flywheel in the latest Wahoo Kickr is what’s responsible for the super smooth and progressive ride feel. It’s as realistic as it gets with this iteration of the Wahoo Kickr.

The larger flywheel definitely makes sprint efforts more sustainable and with good connectivity, we never experienced any lags with speed, wattage, or resistance – everything all stayed on point, even in Zwift training sessions with the ERG mode on.

It’s reasonable enough to believe that most riders won’t even come close to exploiting the wattage output of 2,200w. Simulated gradients on the other hand stop at 20%, slightly lower than on its rivals.

Equipped with ANT+, ANT+ FE-C, and Bluetooth connectivity, the Kickr can talk to your smartphone or other smart devices, GPS computer, and external sensors and smart devices all at the same time, making indoor sessions and outdoor workouts hassle-free.

Set up is quite simple, as Wahoo has included an 11-speed cassette and a generously sized power cable in the box – you won’t need to invest in a cassette for your bike (unless its 10-speed or lower).

Once set up you will definitely appreciate the super-accurate readings that it gives out. As a bonus feature out of the box, the Kickr can provide you with cadence data that none of the other trainers can provide, out-of-the-box.

PERFORMANCE

This is where it really matters. Performance – there’s plenty of it.

The Kickr’s claimed accuracy levels of +/- 2% were fairly accurate with what we found in our testing. Power accuracy is one of the hallmark features of this trainer and that hefty flywheel of course. The overall experience can’t get any more realistic than this. For example, it’s pretty hard to hold 40kph, and if you do, your wattage would be around what you’d expect to see out on the road.

Apart from accuracy figures, the 20% inclination simulator is also super fun especially with apps such as Zwift where every little bit of simulation matters.

To add to the overall experience, let’s talk about the sound or lack thereof. Apart from the slight hum and the usual drivetrain noise you’re not going to be able to hear a thing. Trust us when we say it’s one of the quietest indoor trainers in the market. When you stop pedaling, you hear the freehub sound as you normally would out on the road, but that noise appears to reflect a bit louder off of the metal exterior of the flywheel than it did in previous models. Still, it’s barely noticeable and we actually thought that it was a rather desirable and pleasurable sound. Maybe we’re crazy!

COMPATIBILITY

Another perk, in a long line of perks, of the Kickr is better compatibility across a variety of frame and wheel sizes. By simply turning a knob on the middle support arm, you can change the height to accommodate almost all road and mountain bike wheel sizes (24-inch, 650c, 700c; 24-inch, 650b, and 29er). The KICKR also supports 130/135mm QR, 12×142, and 12×148.

Wheel size adjustability

Remember that free 11-speed cassette we spoke about that comes with the Kickr? Its a SRAM/Shimano compatible 11-28t cassette and the freehub body can accept 8-, 9-, and 10-speed cassettes, as well as SunRace or SRAM Eagle NX 12 speed cassettes.

When it comes to the “smart” features, the Wahoo KICKR is one of the most widely supported trainers out there, from an application standpoint. There are almost no apps that don’t support the KICKR.  Every major one does, and usually across both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart variants.  Zwift and TrainerRoad as our two main apps (which are the two main apps most of use) which we found to be working really well with the Kickr. We didn’t notice any stuttering or compatibility issues. Everything was super quick and hassle-free to use.

SPECIFICATIONS

Weight: 21.5kg
Accuracy: +/- 2%
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 & ANT+
Max Resistance: 2200 Watts
Max gradient simulation: 20%
Flywheel: 7.25kg
Thru-axle compatible:
Yes


Wahoo’s Kickr is definitely one of the best trainers made by them. Is it the best in the market? Maybe. It’s quite a personal preference. What we can say though, is that Tacx is putting up stiff competition too. The Kickr’s spot-on accurate, reacts quickly, and the flywheel is the best Wahoo has ever offered.  All of that is great, as Wahoo should be proud of it.

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