We have a few teammates that have been using the Wahoo Kickr trainer, here’s what they think of it!
The Wahoo Kickr is the first trainer I’ve ever owned. It’s a great training tool. The best part of the trainer is being able to ride with controlled resistance. I use Trainer Road software and it allows me to use hundreds of workouts, including the dreaded Sufferfest workouts. Once you enter your FTP, the Kickr adjusts the resistance for you to meet the required wattage for the workout. There is no cheating yourself out of a hard workout! I also like the wheel off design allowing you to attach your bike directly to the trainer, eliminating the need for a training wheel and tires.
After training with the Kickr last winter, I came into the spring riding stronger than ever. If you are not training with power at least in the offseason, you are wasting your time!
For years, I’ve been spending the late fall, winter, and early springs days riding indoors on the once-gold standard computrainers. After I injured myself in late August, wallowing in self-pity, I decided to take the plunge and buy my first power-based trainer, the Wahoo KICKR, to keep some level of fitness for the second half of the cyclocross season. Prior to this I frequented various bike shops that had computrainer studios.
Having used the Wahoo KICKR for the past three months, the experience has been extremely satisfying. I have not had any mechanical issues with the trainer itself. The KICKR has shown many positives and benefits including:
– Design: The KICKR is built like a tank weighing in at 46 pounds. It also has adjustable feet if your floor surface is not completely level. The carrying handle is also a nice addition. The ANT+ protocol utilized by the KICKR allows me to see the power output and speed on my Garmin 500’s display.
– Wheel-off, direct-drive operation: Gone are the days of burning through trainer tires and trying to ensure you have the adequate amount of resistance applied to the trainer tire. The KICKR’s direct drive eliminates those uncertainties and areas susceptible to human error.
– Road-like feel: A lot of the KICKR’s weight comes from the large, drum-shaped, flywheel that houses the magnets that provide the variable resistance during the workout. This large flywheel allows one to feel a semblance of coasting when one stops pedaling and lets off the power momentarily. Some trainers are notorious for their lack of a road-like feel but the KICKR is not one of them. The flywheel and the road-like feel also plays an important when doing power-based intervals using a software program. The resistance applied to the trainer to create the power for the interval comes on in a consistent, gradual gradient, not instantaneously. There is no need to pick up your cadence in the moments before the interval starts. The large flywheel also makes it easier to stay on top of the power if your cadence drops (no more getting bogged down like on a computrainer).
– Power-based training, opensource platform: Due to the KICKR’s open API, any software company can develop a training program that utilizes the KICKR’s features. Thus far I am using or have tried the Wahoo Fitness App (free), TrainerRoad, PerfPro, and Cyclops Virtual Training. They all offer different options. I believe this variety is key to remain focused and motivated on your training even when the thermometer reads 0 in February (or March). As time progresses the training programs options available for the KICKR is sure to increase. On the topic of power, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the KICKR’s power. Doing such a comparison would require two additional power meters running simultaneously with the KICKR, something which I am not privy to. I will leave that topic to DC Rainmaker who has done a few reviews of the KICKR and its competitors.
– Noise: The KICKR produces a different type of noise compared to other trainers I have used but it seems to have an overall lower volume. Living in an apartment, this is key. I haven’t received any kind of noise complaints yet (knock on wood). I can still talk on the phone or hear music or television without needing to turn up the volume excessively.
With all of these positives, I still see some drawbacks to the KICKR:
– It requires an electrical power source. This will usually prevent its use as a race-day warm up trainer unless one finds an outlet onsite or has a power converter for their car. There has also been a rumor circulating of a Wahoo battery pack stemming from Wahoo’s partnership with Team Sky but so far no consumer battery packs have been produced.
– Its weight.
– Price. The KICKR does cost more than standard fluid-based trainers but is comparable to other power-based trainers. I like to see the price as an investment.
– The flywheel can get hot after 1-2 hours depending on the power being output by the KICKR. This is more of a warning than a drawback.
– Wireless ANT+ protocol. The wireless aspect is very nice and convenient but I would have liked to see a wired option also. ANT+ operates on the already-congested 2.4 GHz frequency thus making it susceptible to interference from wireless internet routers, cordless phones, other ANT+ devices, microwaves, etc. Interference issues can be exacerbated if you life in an apartment building where many routers and phones are present. In my experience thus far, I have only witnessed occasional signal drops lasting for a few seconds.
– Frame design. If the frame from the Kurt Kinetic Rock and Roll Trainer and the power unit/drive system from the KICKR could be combined I think this would be the best trainer imaginable.
The Wahoo KICKR has been a very good investment for my training needs. As time goes on, new accessories are produced, and new software gets developed I’m sure my positive experience with the Wahoo KICKR will only be increased. In the meantime I will keep riding on.