Review: Review: Wahoo Fitness Kickr Power Trainer
A serious chunk of money, but if you are serious about your training this is certainly a machine to think about!
It’s probably best to start a review of the Wahoo Fitness Kickr by saying what it’s not. It’s certainly not just a turbo trainer. Calling it a turbo trainer is like calling a Ferrari a car. Yes it’s factually true, but to call it such would be to miss the whole point, the very essence of its being.
The Wahoo Kickr is more your own personalised torture chamber, one in which you, the willing participant can develop your very own love/hate relationship with it as time wears on. As a training device it will happily provide you with a range of ways of kicking your own ass, wrapped up in a neat package that will have you coming back for more!
I’m going to briefly look at its downsides, there are not many, but one of them at least is pretty considerable – and dare I say it would stick in the craw of most.
At 20kg it’s a hefty chunk of metal, thankfully it folds down nicely, so doesn’t need to take up much space. I kept mine at the side of the washing machine, it needs a gap about 12” wide to slide into.
Next up is the electricity, without electricity it is just a lump of metal which you can spin around with pedals. This could be an issue for those would like to take it to a race for warm-up purposes, unless you have a generator this won’t be going with you. Team Sky use these trainers, but I would imagine the Death Star features some pretty beefy electrical generators. I would imagine a future device incorporating a dynamo of sorts to provide its own power supply.
The Kickr is a dumb unit, in that it requires an external device to provide the brains and user experience for operation. This initially took a fruity device but can now be found on Android devices as well, I used my Sony Xperia to control it with zero issues (more on that later).
Last up in my foible list is the biggie. There’s no way to escape it, the unit is £999 in the shops. That’s a sizeable chunk of money to lay down for a training device……BUT, and it’s a big but, I’ve got to say that if you are serious about your racing (and can find the cash for it) it’s worth every penny.
Onto the goodstuff…
Upon arrival you will notice that it’s heavy, 20kg of heavy in fact, this means that not only is it stable, it’s also rock solid in its constructions – this is a trainer for the long-haul! With individually alterable stands it can sit snugly on uneven floors and the middle leg of the tripod has the wheel size adjustment settings, the Kickr can cope with sizers from 29” to 24”, covering most of you cycling fleet!
The next thing to note is that it comes with a cassette attached, so simply remove your rear wheel (you are running 11-speed I hope?) and slid it on in! I found that the wheel insertion could be tricky on the Canyon TT bike which was the main recipient, however on a standard road machine it was plain-sailing.
Once you have inserted your bike, and plugged the Kickr into an electrical supply (you’ll need an adapter as it comes with a US plug socket!) it’s a case of firing up the Wahoo Utility App on your Android/Apple device and completing a simple calibration. 30 seconds is all it will take and you are done.
The Kickr talks to your phone/table via Bluetooth4, and in all the months I used it I had no issues with connection drop-outs or being unable to find the devices – it really is a breeze to use.
There’s a growing range of apps you can use to control the Kickr, this is really one of its strong-points, Wahoo having open-sourced the technology behind the Kickr means that you can use apps from Wahoo themselves or Strava, Kinomap or as I did, the Segments app – which will allow you to mirror in ride-feel any particular Strava segment – if you are planning on riding the Stelvio, this is a useful training tool 😉
The apps and software packages are both wide and varied, and will provide you with all the tools you need to best your performance. Wahoo themselves provide a basic app which give 4 settings: 10 power curves, resistance (percentage based), erg (specific wattage) and sim (quite complicated, but based around slope, wind, and your own physical characteristics (i pretty much ignored this one)).
Most of my time was spent using the erg feature and I found it suitably uncomfortable (which in this context is a good thing).
I had the unit setup outside the kitchen window for most of the time, and whilst it makes a bit of noise as your speed increases it was not loud enough to warrant any cross looks from the kitchen 😉 It’s probably too loud for ‘living room’ usage, but if you have a garage or conservatory it should be spot-on!
I really enjoyed my time with the Kickr, it was solidly built and, dare I say it, fun to use. I don’t ride with power normally, most of the time I don’t even use a computer of any sort, but I found the ease of use and it’s simple to access menu’s a great tool for helping to increase my wattage.
It doesn’t offer the ride feel of a decent set of rollers (my personal favourite), but it is an enormous step-up from a standard trainer and it provides all the measurement features that any aspiring racer could possibly want. It’s also upgradeable, so as Wahoo develop their software the trainer can take advantage of new features.
At £999 it’s a big chunk of money, but if you are serious about taking your training up a notch or 3, then it’s a worthy investment and would certainly help your racing speeds!
if you really want to spend an evening reading before you buy this beauty, then checkout DCRainmaker’s review of the unit.