For elite athletes, it is common knowledge that smart trainers provide the most efficient cycling workouts. Over the last several years, Wahoo has developed a reputation among the cycling community for producing world-class cycling products. To help these elite cyclists take their training to another level, this KICKR review will detail two of Wahoo’s popular indoor smart trainers, the KICKR and KICKR CORE, and their new features.
In the previous editions, the KICKR was known for its precision, responsiveness (the KICKR featured up to 500 W in 2014) and for its compatibility with other fitness apps.
Since Wahoo’s signature indoor trainer, the KICKR, made its debut in 2013, the fitness technology company has continued to refresh the KICKR each year, with the biggest upgrade in the most recent version being the hardest to notice: they made the KICKR silent.
New users will be blown away by how quiet the new KICKR will be compared to other popular indoor trainers. Thanks to a minor structural adjustment, you’ll be able to train in silence and not have to agitate your family or roommates.
As for the KICKR CORE, it combines the legendary performance of the KICKR with a simplified design. The latest version of KICKR CORE provides accurate power and a silent training experience for cyclists. KICKR CORE costs about $300 less than the KICKR.
To help riders decide between the KICKR and the KICKR CORE, we spoke with the folks at Wahoo on the differences, similarities and the cool features to look into with the two indoor smart trainers.
Getting the Realistic Ride Feel
Both the KICKR and the KICKR CORE are known for giving cyclists a realistic ride feel courtesy of the trainers’ heavyweight flywheels. Just as riding outdoors requires the effort to get up to speed and inertia once the cyclist is moving, the flywheel replicates these forces by giving initial resistance. Further resistance continues from an automated electromagnetic brake as riders simulate grade changes or crank through interval workouts
The steel construction for both KICKR and KICKR core ensures riders they’ll stay in place while they crank out the watts and will have the durability to withstand the intense training and heavy use for years to come.
Connecting With Your Smartphone
Both trainers carry multiple connectivity options that will allow riders to customize the way you train. With your KICKR or KICKR CORE, you can connect to your favorite devices and sensors via ANT+, Bluetooth and ANT+FE-C.
You can also pair your smartphone or tablet (Apple iOS and Android) to use your favorite third-party apps. That way, you can train with popular third-party training apps like Zwift or TrainerRoad.
Silence is Golden
Silence is golden with the new KICKR model. In the new version, Wahoo switched out the belt to bring down the noise level. This adjustment gives cyclists a virtually silent experience.
In addition to the silent feature, the KICKR is set to deliver the most realistic road feel. The KICKR carries a 20-percent maximum grade, meaning it can simulate up to a 20-degree incline. Wahoo increased the wattage output to 2000W and increased the accuracy of the unit [+/- 2%].
The KICKR, listed at about 47 pounds in total weight, is also easy to install and cyclists will be able to take it anywhere without problems. Wahoo said the portability feature is great for small spaces where the trainer can be stored away for traveling for race days.
Out of the box, the KICKR comes with a trainer, a power block, thru axle adaptors and a quick start guide. When you purchase the KICKR, you can be assured you have everything you need to start training. Once you’re connected to the Wahoo app and the everything is calibrated, you are ready to ride right out of the box.
Simple, But Powerful
Like the KICKR, the KICKR CORE delivers a realistic, accurate and quiet indoor training experience by using flywheel technology and advanced algorithm. The KICKR CORE tracks the rider’s speed, power and distance with power outputs of up to 1800 W. It also features a max incline of 15 percent grade to ensure the toughest of rides. Weighing at around 40 pounds, the KICKR Core is about seven pounds lighter than the KICKR, but the KICKR CORE does not come with a cassette.
The KICKR CORE is built with the durability to withstand all the indoor training sessions and works with various apps and training software. The KICKR CORE is compatible with 9, 10 and 11-speed cassette types and 130/135 mm quick release, 12x142 and 12x148 hub types to accommodate the majority of bikes.
Completing the Wahoo Training Ecosystem
From its accessories – like the Elemnt Bolt and TICKR X – to the smart trainers, Wahoo has an Ecosystem to help create an ultimate training experience for hardcore trainers.
“No other company offers the immersive ecosystem that Wahoo does,” Wahoo said. “Whether riders want to record a ride outdoors on an ELEMNT GPS bike computer and replicate the ride indoors or join friends on Zwift for a competitive group ride, the KICKR and KICKR CORE are the center of that ecosystem that allow riders to move indoors.”
Both Wahoo trainers give accurate power and resistance to allow users to control their workout. When paired with KICKR CLIMB or KICKR HEADWIND, riders can build the ultimate pain cave to help them achieve their cycling goals.
Conquer the Hills With KICKR CLIMB
The KICKR CLIMB is an indoor grade simulator that is designed for serious cyclists looking to replicate the outdoor hill-climbing experience. It works in tandem with the KICKR or KICKR CORE to mimic real roads and improve pedaling technique. The KICKR CLIMB replicates the gravitational pull of ascending by physically adjusting your bike to simulate grade changes and getting your muscles to take on the steepest hills. The KICKR CLIMB raises your bike to 20 percent grade and descends to -10 percent grade.
Staying Cool With KICKR HEADWIND
The KICKR HEADWIND is a training fan all elite cyclists should have in their pain cave. The KICKR HEADWIND puts your workout to the test by producing outdoor-like headwinds to the cyclist. With wind speeds topping out at over 30 mph, this smart fan will keep you cool during your most grueling workouts. It is rider-optimized, as the KICKR HEADWIND is designed to mirror the shape and position of a cyclist’s body while riding on a bicycle. With KICKR HEADWIND’s speed mode, the fan matches your simulated bike speed so the faster you ride, the more wind you’ll feel. In heart rate mode, the bike responds to your workout and provides more cooling as your heart rate increases. With that being said, the KICKR Headwind works as hard as you do.
The KICKR HEADWIND weighs about 12 pounds so it is as portable as the other Wahoo products included in the training ecosystem.
KICKR Review Verdict?
The KICKR costs about $300 more than the CORE. The KICKR offers more power, an adjustable frame for different sized bike frames and comes with an 11-speed cassette so it is ready to ride out of the box. Its max power is set to 2000 W, as opposed to KICKR CORE’s 1800 W. Weighing at around 47 pounds, the KICKR is about seven pounds heavier than the KICKR, but the KICKR CORE does not come with a cassette. The KICKR is perfect for competitive cyclists or riders who are consistently training indoors.
As previously mentioned, the KICKR CORE does not include a cassette or wheel block. The KICKR CORE is a perfect match for cyclists who have specific cassette needs enjoys customizing their bikes and devices. Both the KICKR and the KICKR CORE not only deliver accurate and realistic training experience but also a smooth and silent ride you’ll come to appreciate.