Wahoo KICKR – The Best Indoor Smart Trainer
Wahoo KICKR – The Best Indoor Smart Trainer
The 5th generation Wahoo KICKR indoor smart trainer (MSRP $1,199.99) is the best purchase I’ve made in years and is the most valuable piece of fitness equipment I own.
I started looking into indoor smart trainers last summer, when Colorado’s devastating forest fires kept us inside due to smoke pollution and poor air quality. However, due to supply and demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic, I wasn’t able to procure one until the fall.
Even then, I was just looking for an indoor trainer so I wouldn’t lose all the muscle and strength that I’d built over the months of cycling on a daily basis.
Wahoo KICKR Review
Initially, I wasn’t even looking at smart trainers (bike trainers that directly connect your speed and power to the app you’re using and adjust the trainer’s resistance according to the course selected); I just wanted something to get me through some bad weather days.
However, my tech-savvy partner convinced me to look into Wahoo smart trainers to not only maintain but improve my fitness level through enhanced training, and also so that we could meet up for virtual ride dates together.
The two main features of the Wahoo KICKR are its ability to provide a realistic ride experience (resistance, sprints, coasting, descending, etc.), and, when paired with a smart app, the technological ability to participate in group rides, or do your own training.
I started out with the Wahoo ecosystem essentials: Wahoo KICKR 5th generation smart trainer, floormat, and adjustable training desk. I used an iPad to connect the trainer to the Zwift virtual fitness program.
For the tech savvy, the 5th generation Wahoo KICKR’s upgrades include a proprietary auto-calibration process that eliminates spinning down, superior power accuracy of +/-1% (previously +/-2%), and KICKR AXIS feet that provide up to 5°tilt and offer three different stiffness (easy, medium, hard) options tuned to your side-by-side movement ride style. In essence, KICKR AXIS feet provide adjustable lateral movement.
The most versatile trainer in the Wahoo family, the off-wheel Wahoo KICKR includes an 11-speed cassette, requires no calibration, and can adjust to accommodate different wheel sizes -including mountain bikes- (24” to 29”) and is compatible with most apps.
Let’s face it. Sometimes getting yourself and your bike ready to go out the door can sometimes be a process. And sometimes, there’s just no time for it.
Having my Wahoo KICKR sitting in my pain cave/bike room with multiple program options to select from, I can squeeze in a quick, and intense ride. Having that option has kept me on a daily ride routine.
The realistic feel of the ride and being on my own bike is a much better experience than tediously riding the stationary spin bike I used to have.
I had no idea how much I’d like the Wahoo KICKR! It is part of my daily routine, and I enjoy changing up my training rides to suit my needs. Its versatility and endless ride customization options make it a fun and valuable training tool.
For those who want to build the ultimate ecosystem and train even “smarter” with equipment that provides as realistic a ride experience as possible, Wahoo offers the KICKR CLIMB and KICKR HEADWIND smart accessories.
Basically, the KICKR CLIMB Indoor Grade Simulator (MSRP $599.99) adds physical grade changes (cyclists can actually experience the “tilt” of the climbing grade on the KICKR CLIMB), and Bluetooth & ANT+ controlled KICKR HEADWIND Smart Fan (MSRP $249.99) mirrors the shape and position of a cyclist’s body while training. Before purchase, however, make sure they are compatible with your generation Wahoo KICKR.
A few words about the Wahoo KICKR HEADWIND.
I got my tech-savvy partner a KICKR HEADWIND as a gift a few months ago. He loved the ability to control the airflow from his smartphone. The KICKR HEADWIND’s airflow is so precise, as his heart rate increased, so did the air flow- hitting him in the exact places he needed to cool down.
When he comes down to my place and uses my Wahoo KICKR, it’s funny to have him ask me to adjust the setting or tilt on my non-KICKR HEADWIND fan I use in my pain cave. There’s no going back to a mere floor fan for him.
He trains for much harder rides than I do, but I can appreciate having a fan whose airflow adjusts without me having to interrupt my workout to adjust the settings.
I use the social virtual training platform, Zwift when I ride on my Wahoo KICKR. No longer do distance or inclement weather prevent me from meeting up for virtual rides or training dates with my partner, or meeting up with a cycling friend or two for a social ride.
Most recently, I had a friend challenge me to see which one of us could reach 1,000 Zwift miles first on our indoor trainers before summer. With approximately 280 miles for him, and 325 miles for me to attain our goal, I hit the trainer hard- sometimes riding twice a day. Within a couple of weeks, I won our friendly challenge. Whatsmore, I enjoyed it.
Paired with social virtual training apps, WAHOO KICKR has brought my training to an entirely different level.
I could never have guessed how quickly I’d like it and that it would become part of my daily routine. I went from 30 minute rides to 2 hour training rides- previously unheard of on an indoor trainer. My friends whose only experience with indoor trainers had been with traditional (i.e. “unsmart”), are aghast at how enthusiastically I embrace indoor training now and how many miles I tick off each week.
The WAHOO KICKR is worth the $1,199.99 asking price. For me, it has become the most valuable piece of training equipment I own and I look forward to using it every morning. Highly recommend it for cyclists or triathletes who require that daily cyclist’s high- even when bad weather won’t allow it.
Dr. Of Stoke
Freelance writer, bicyclist, outdoor recreation enthusiast, social justice advocate, and mom to her furbaby, Utah the Adventure Dog.
A Colorado native, Kate considers the outdoors her mother ship. She brings her passion for bicycling, the environment, and issues of diversity to her writing. Her primary outdoor recreation activities are mountain biking, fat biking, snowshoeing, camping, peak bagging Colorado’s 14ers, road cycling, and Nordic skiing. After suffering two major knee injuries within four years, Kate hopes to return to alpine skiing next season.
Kate earned a bachelor’s degree in History from Colorado State University and later an MSEd and Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Purdue University. In addition to her education, Kate’s background serving on the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and experience working for non-profits and bicycle sales well position her to bring depth and understanding to the complex changes currently taking place in the outdoor recreation industry.
We also heard she has a (slight) obsession for blue heelers.