The Wahoo KICKR offers all the data you could ever need from your turbo trainer, but at a price which may have your eyes watering.
The Wahoo KICKR has an ever-growing list of compatible apps, making it one of the most comprehensive trainers available for compatible open source software. Apps and training websites like Zwift and Kinomap might cost extra on top of what is undoubtedly an expensive piece of training equipment, but they offer limitless potential for turbo training sessions.
The basic system requires the Wahoo KICKR base unit and a compatible smart phone; the Wahoo Fitness app has loads of options for displaying data. One feature I really liked, was the ergo setting. Using the phone app you can pre set a wattage you want to ride at and the KICKR will maintain this irrespective of your cadence.
This is ideal for long 20 minute threshold and sweet spot intervals. The only problem with the ergo setting is that once you stop pedalling, the resistance becomes exponentially difficult, meaning that to get going again, you need to reduce the wattage setting to nearly zero.
The ride feel is as close as you can get to riding an actual bike. A big part of this, is the ability to free wheel on the direct drive.
The app works well and is better than the equivalent Elite and Tacx apps. Uploading workouts to 3rd party sites such as Strava and Training Peaks is really easy. The online training portals are the real benefit though and can be great for breaking up the boredom of turbo sessions.
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Zwift, for example, is essentially a cycling computer game, and Kinomap lets you follow routes up icon mountain passes. The Kickr can also simulate virtual descents too, and allows you to freewheel.
Apps like Zwift complicated my own personal training plans, but they do offer an attractive alternative to cycling in a British winter. You don’t need to use to virtual reality apps like to justify the KICKR though. It is a great piece of kit that is ideal for any structured indoor workout.
Although, I wouldn’t recommend using it to ride out of the saddle – it feels like it is tearing your bike apart! If you are wanting a trainer that you can perform full gas, out of the saddle sprints on, then a static bike or Watt Bike is the only realistic option.
As with any turbo, noise should be factored in. The KICKR is towards the quieter end of the turbo scale, but when going full speed (~50kph) things can start to get pretty noisy. Typically I found it to be around 50-60db in my garage. The Tacx Neo is much quieter by comparison.
Something else to consider is the power supply. The KICKR is not suited to warming up at races as it requires mains power.
For £950, plus an extra £50 each for heart rate and cadence sensors (which you will really need if you’re serious about your training), it’s certainly a sizeable investment. As with all new technology though, you do pay the price to be at the forefront. Prices will inevitably tumble as competition heats up and high-tech gadgets become cheaper, but if you want one of the best turbo trainers it’s possible to get…
Visit the Wahoo website for more details.
The Wahoo KICKR is a feature-packed turbo that will give you all the data you’ll ever need in your indoor training. However the price is eye-wateringly high and can only really be justified by those who take their indoor training very seriously