I put a pic on instagram when my KICKR arrived and a bunch of people wanted a review. I thought I’d use it for a month to make up my mind.
A recap on my history with trainers:
I’ve mainly used a BT-ATS for the past 3 years. Yes, it is outrageously expensive for what it is. I still think it’s worth every penny because it’s simple, rugged and feels like you’re peddaling through sand. It’s a feeling I’ve grown to love. It provides a different stimulus than the Lemond; Raoul once mentioned something to me about low kinetic energy trainers requiring a different muscle firing pattern, which sounds fairly plausible.
I also like the Lemond, which feels far more ‘road-like’ than the BT (it’s clearly a fairly high KE trainer, although I’ve heard stories of custom trainers with 50kg flywheels….). I know power is power is power, but a set wattage just feels MUCH easier on the Lemond than the BT. The Lemond is pretty noisy, but apparently the 2013 model is much quieter.
Note how every trainer I use has the same basic setup, requiring the removal of the rear wheel. This is the only way to fly. Shredding tyres on friction trainers is so last year.
Enter the Wahoo KICKR
The KICKR is very similar to a Lemond except it has an inbuilt power meter, is magnetically braked and controlled via BTLE or ANT+ (ie your iDevice or computer with an ANT+ stick.) There’s an exhaustive review here, which is worth reading if you’re considering buying one.
So after a 4 month wait, a massive box arrived on my doorstep. This thing is heavy, over engineered and clearly well built. Set up consisted of unfolding the legs, plugging it in to 240v and pairing it to the Wahoo app on my iPhone. That’s it.
Remove your bike’s rear wheel, put the bike on the KICKR, set up the workout you want on your iPhone/iPad, hit start and you’re away. The KICKR takes care of the rest, controlling power regardless of what gear you select or your cadence. The ‘feel’ is very similar to the Lemond (excellent), as is the noise level (not so excellent). If you’re a 200w FTP rider, you won’t have a problem. It’s really quiet at that power. If you’re signficantly above that, and you live in an apartment block with neighbors who don’t get up at 5am like you….you’re eventually going to find a horse’s head on your doorstep.
I set the Wahoo app for 300w via my iPhone (screen shot below):
and did an hour, with my Quarq running in parrallel. You can see they are within 5w of each other. Also note my ghetto PC7 TT mount, manufactured by Papa Bens Industries ©
My world view….
The one negative: the software is not as good as it could be. If you want to plug in one W number and sit on that, the Wahoo app is all you need. If you want to do complicated intervals, there isn’t a really simple solution at the moment. Kinomaps, TrainerRoad, IMobileIntervals etc – all are OK, but could be much cleaner/more intuitive/better. However, as Wahoo has made every aspect of the KICKR open to developers we’re going to see an avalanche of avenues for riding against your friends over the interwebs on video-enabled courses. So the more people who buy one, the more fun we’ll all have (fun being a relative term in this case).
Final verdict: I give the KICKR unit 10/10 and the software 6/10.