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Wahoo’s New 2017 KICKR SNAP Trainer: Hands-on

Wahoo-KICKR-SNAP-V2-2017

This week Wahoo quietly launched an updated version of the KICKR SNAP trainer.  That’s Wahoo’s lower-end trainer that sits at $599USD.  Of course, Wahoo only makes two trainers – the full KICKR (direct-drive), and the KICKR SNAP (wheel-on).  The full KICKR got a refresh last summer (aka KICKR2), which focused on a bunch of less visually obvious changes like higher accuracy, quieter, and some tiny status lights.  Standing from 10 feet away you probably wouldn’t notice the differences unless you were looking closely.

And that’s somewhat like what they’re doing this year with the KICKR SNAP.  These changes are summed up in a very concise bulleted list as follows:

– Increase in power accuracy from 5% down to 3%
– Addition of LED status indicators
– Expanded power matching support
– Slightly increased manufacturing tolerances

And…that’s it.  Really, the first two are the only ones you’ll likely notice since those are more tangible.  The power matching support was also brought to the existing KICKR SNAP trainer through a semi-recent firmware update there.

So this list is slightly smaller and less critical than that of the larger KICKRv1 to KICKRv2 we saw last summer (which saw reduction in noise among other changes).  But it’s still appreciated, especially the accuracy pieces.

If you want the full look at things, including audio levels and how it works in Zwift – then check out my below video:

Otherwise, onwards with the details!

A Closer Look:

So what’s in the box? Well, let’s start there.  First off is that the KICKR SNAP actually has a proper box now that looks all nice and fancy.  It’s no longer just a semi-branded brown cardboard box (or at least, that was the case from the unit I bought back last fall).

Wahoo-KICKR-SNAP-2017-BOX

The trainer sits in the box obviously, protected by foam.  Inside you’ll also find two smaller boxes, which contain more piece goodness.

Wahoo-KICKR-SNAP-2017-Box-parts

These pieces contain power cables, a trainer skewer, and a front wheel block.  They also contain a quick start guide and some legal paper stuff.  They do not contain Wahoo KICKR SNAP stickers as they used to.

Wahoo-KICKR-SNAP-2017-Interior-Boxes

Wahoo-KICKR-SNAP-2017-Box-Components

Why do I bother to call out the stickers?  Cause I used to use these to label my power cables so I could figure out which was which.  Instead though, I just cut off the front of the little useless paper warranty guide booklet and taped that to my power cord block.  There’s no labeling on that power cord otherwise, so this helps ensure you’ve got the right one in the event you get them mixed up (Pro Tip: You don’t want to mix up the CycleOps and Wahoo power cables, even though they both fit. They are very different and one will kill the other. It’s like a Trojan horse.)

Wahoo-KICKR-SNAP-DIY-Stickers

In any case, moving along, the power cord is required for the KICKR SNAP – so it doesn’t run untethered.  The voltage is 110/220v though, so no issues with using cross-region.

Wahoo-KICKR-SNAP-2017-DIY-Sticker-Donezo

Next, what if we stuck two KICKR SNAP’s side by side?  On the left, the SNAPv2, and on the right, the SNAPv1:

Wahoo-KICKR-SNAP-2017-vs-ORIGINAL

Basically, they appear identical to the untrained eye.

Wahoo-KICKR-SNAP-SIDE-BY-SIDE

But in reality, the difference (singular) gets to the LED status lights mentioned earlier, which sit near the flywheel on the V2 version:

Wahoo-KICKR-SNAP-2017-V2-LED

These are missing on the V1 version:

Wahoo-KICKR-SNAP-V1-NO-LED

Also, the V2 SNAP has a slightly different sticker model number, as you’d expect:

Wahoo-KICKR-SNAP-V1-LABEL

Wahoo-KICKR-SNAP-V2-LABEL

The only other change is one that’s not seen (hopefully not anyway), but rather behind the scenes.  Last winter there were a handful of people that saw some KICKR SNAP units (V1) that displayed some sort of ‘wobble’ in the roller.  There was a lot of debate on whether this was real wobble, perceived wobble, a weeble-wobble, or whatever.  Either way, it was somewhat out of left field, as there were no units in the previous 18 months that reported this.

Wahoo went back to their manufacturing facility and did some digging.  While they found the rollers were still within spec of what they specified, they decided to increase that spec further.  So these new V2 units have a higher bar from a manufacturing standpoint.  As I said, it’s likely that 99.99% of people will never notice or even care about this.

KICKR-SNAP-ROLLER

I don’t see any visual difference in the roller’s rolling between my Fall 2016 unit and this 2017 unit.  They both appear identical.

In any case, beyond all the new tweaks, the unit maintains all the existing KICKR platform pieces of past.  For example, it’s dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.  It transmits out your power and speed over ANT+ as well as Bluetooth Smart (but no cadence, as some competitors have).  It also is compatible with ANT+ FE-C for control through many apps, and the Wahoo Fitness Bluetooth Smart API for another large pile of apps.

This means it works with Zwift, TrainerRoad, KinoMap, and on and on and on as described in my massive trainer apps post here.  Basically any and every app out there is compatible with the Wahoo KICKR trainers.  If they aren’t….honestly…well, I know of none that aren’t. So it doesn’t much matter actually.

Speaking of apps, let’s give the unit a first ride.

First Ride Details:

KICKR-SNAP-2017-FIRST-RIDE

With everything all ready to roll, I went ahead and connected up the 2017 SNAP to Zwift.  I did this using an iPad and Bluetooth Smart, which in turn lit up the blue Bluetooth Smart LED light.

Wahoo-KICKR-SNAP-2017-LED-Status-Lights

On Zwift I simply selected the trainer from the list, and then paired both a heart rate strap as well as a cadence sensor.

2017-07-11 18.22.31

Quick and painless.

2017-07-11 18.22.27

After that was done, I realized I wanted to do a roll-down (essentially calibration), which Zwift can’t do (somewhat annoyingly).  So I killed off Zwift and opened up the Wahoo Fitness app on my iPhone to sort that out.

2017-07-12 13.27.08 2017-07-12 13.59.20

I had some issues with this actually. A lot of issues to be precise, but I think it was largely my fault.  My tire pressure was far lower than it should have been (looks like I’ve got a slow leak since the day prior) – which was causing severe accuracy issues.  Even though the spin-down check came back successful, the power numbers were 30-40w out (of course, I only know this because I have three other power meters on the bike).

Certainly, having it at 70psi isn’t acceptable per the manual, so I can’t fully blame Wahoo here.  But at the same time – that’s kinda the point of the spindown, to catch issues like this.  For example, Tacx will give you a red ‘out of range’ error if it’s not acceptable.  Wahoo doesn’t.  In talking with them last night about it, it’s something they’re considering adding.

In any case, with that all resolved I started off and rode around Zwift:

2017-07-11 18.32.40

For the most part, I was on the flatter sections of London, though did wander here and there to find some hills.  I really do prefer Zwift island instead though.  At least it wasn’t Richmond.

I did a few sprints just shy of 1,000w to see how it handled.  I saw a few oddities here, namely if I dramatically reduced power after the sprint (such as at 100-200w), that it would take 5-10 seconds until it recognized my new power level.  During that time I’d show about 0w.  Whereas if I went from 1,000w down to 300-500w, then it’d correctly recognize it.

What I suspect was happening here is something I’ve seen on a handful of other wheel-on trainers where the flywheel has to ‘catch-up’ after a significant acceleration and then subsequent speed decrease.  Until it does so, it’ll show zero value.  Interestingly the PowerTap G3 hub can also show this as well, though not usually as severe.

Which, is now a good time to talk about power accuracy.  After all, that’s probably the most important change here – from 5% to 3%.  So for this I decided to compare it against other power meters, namely the PowerTap G3 and Power2Max NG.  Here’s all that data overlaid together using the DCR Analyzer.  You can look at the dataset yourself here.

image

So overall things look pretty good…except for the sprints.  The KICKR SNAP significantly overshoots on my 900w sprint about 100-130w.  I did this 4 times…and each time it did the same.

image

So then I wondered if perhaps it was PSI related, so the next day I ensured the wheel was at 110-120psi and started the entire process all over again.  10-15 minute warm-up, half a dozen spin-downs and good accuracy on relatively normal wattages, but once again issues at sprint wattages.

I looped back to Wahoo again, and this time they had me do an Advanced Spindown within the app.  But after a bunch of back and forth and half a day of roll-downs, I wasn’t any closer to getting sprint numbers to agree.  At this point they started working to replicate my issue (simply a hard sprint in Zwift), and were able to.  A week later (last night) I received a beta firmware update which they believe addresses the issue.

So, back on the bike I went again. I did some warm-up, then the advanced spin-down, and then got right into a short but wattage-filled Zwift session (Analyzer link here):

image

Boom, success.

This time the sprints were in the right ballpark of the other power meters.  As always we see some slight differences in those peak 1-second numbers, some due to measurement differences and some just due to accuracy and recording differences.  Either way, it’s a heck of a lot better than before, this also includes the 400-500w range too:

image

So at this point I’d say things are definitely where I’d expect them to be.  You do notice though that the power doesn’t quite track as well immediately after the sprint when the wheel speed is still really high (9-minute marker two screenshots above), just like some other wheel-on trainers struggle with. This is where I peaked in power, and then backed off slightly before surging a bit more.

Of course, this is a first look – and not an in-depth review. That’ll come in time.  For now though, after these tweaks I’m content where things are.  I’d still like to see Wahoo though address their spin-down app to actually give meaningful feedback.  If the spin-down times are above/below spec, it should reject that attempt (as Tacx does in their app).  Or if the temperatures aren’t correct – it should note that too (I saw a 25°F swing in a matter of 10 minutes).  But again, at this point after a lot of spin-downs and with the new firmware I think I’m good.

Summary:

Wahoo-KICKR-SNAP-2017-Overview

All in all, these are nice changes to the SNAP.  As with the previous model it remains a solid mid-range trainer option, but with the new +/- 3% accuracy levels, it gets a bit of a nudge above the other options in the market which largely still sit at +/- 5% for the same price.  Plus, the Snap tends to be a bit more sturdy than the others and has the ability to match your power meter – which the others don’t have either.

On the flip-side, some of the other models can go higher in stated incline (i.e. the CycleOps Magnus at 15% vs the Snap’s 10%), so if increasing your level of pain is what matters more than accuracy, then that’s something to certainly consider.

Overall I wouldn’t look to upgrade an existing Snap to Snap V2, but if you’re in the market for a mid-range trainer, this is definitely among the top options out there to consider for this trainer season. And as I noted elsewhere, I don’t expect this to be a year filled with a bunch of new trainers.  I think we’ll see a few more minor tweaks from companies like this over the next 45 days, but that’s about it.

Finally, I’ll be doing more rides on this over the next month or so, once they finalize that beta firmware I have to production, and then release a full in-depth review with more power data after that.  Look for that in mid-late August.  Until then – thanks for reading!

FYI: You can now order the KICKR SNAP 2017 Edition from Clever Training. With units in stock, it’s now shipping.  The KICKR SNAP qualifies under the DCR/CT VIP program, which gets you 10% back in points as well as free US shipping.  Doing so helps support the site and ensure I can continue eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

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33 Comments

  1. Brian

    Besides the obvious lack of electronics, how do these compare to the KK RR? I’m wondering about ease of attaching your bike, noise, and “ride quality”. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    • DLinLV

      Brian, ease of attaching is simple. Line up the axle and flip the lever. Assuming you setup the axle/wheel spacing once to set alignment. Only thing left to do then is set the spindown through the Wahoo app, or via Garmin head unit, Zwift, Trainer Road….whatever app you like to use. Then, just ride.
      I wont comment on the ride quality on the new units, but it looks like Wahoo addressed issues some of us had with certain units last year. I trust they have resolved it, and I would buy one of these new units. It is a solid flywheel unit, one of the best as Ray has found, in this price point.

    • Julien

      I have both (KK Road Machine and Kickr Snap v1) and they are extremely similar, both as far as noise and ease of use. Obviously, the Kickr has all the electronics and power control, but other than that, they are very similar units.

  2. DLinLV

    I was one of the unlucky ones who bought a unit late last year. It had the wobble issue, made worse by the fact that it required at least 4-5 full turns to get the required spindown dialed in. Issues with the firmware, which would not update, and it was just a really bad unit, quality wise.
    I ended up returning to Clever Training (who helped me with trying to resolve with Wahoo and Trainer Road–great job, CT!) and they gave me a good deal on a Tacx Neo. I could have gone Kickr2 route, but was pretty fed up with Wahoo support by then (taking 1 week to respond to data/input they asked me to provide). I suppose in their defense, having to support product and travel to CES was too much strain on staff. Still, not having a trainer for 5 weeks in winter doesnt help your training plan.
    Just my experience, and I DO NOT consider this to be common for Wahoo. In fact, if I were to consider a new wheel-on trainer, I would buy the new Kickr Snap2 in a heartbeat, no question. My unit was just a bad unit, and my support was an anomaly from what everyone has experienced. So, I would give Wahoo another try. In fact, I might anyway, just to have a go-to trainer for my cross bike (Tri bike is on the Neo).
    Thanks Ray for the info, and a shout out again to Clever Training, a sponsor of this site.

  3. tim

    Cheaper price than direct drive, build stability and Wahoo’s name (and API compatibility) had me purchase the original SNAP back in late 2015. I rode with it off and on for about a year before giving up and returning it to REI due to frustration about accuracy.

    I felt like I was rarely within 5% of either of my power tap wheels. I question if the spin down did anything for me and definitely agree that having some indication of “goodness” on the spin down would be nice.

    I recall discussing a “target” time window for the spin down results… if I need to be within a target time, how can I get success when it is outside of that range? I feel like my resistance unit was pretty tight with a spin down of 12-15 seconds, seeing your example < 10 makes me think I was well under torqued though!

    Always checking tire pressure was painful, worrying if I over or under tightened the resistance unit knob to my wheel was a stress. Obviously any wheel-on trainer has most (if not all) of these issues, but I really felt that my SNAP (V1) couldn't resolve them with calibration, and my errors just jumped around after calibration. Once in awhile I was within 5%, but I wanted a trainer I could count on without requiring a separate power meter to validate it.

    Do you know what they changed to allow them to claim 3% accuracy? I say claim, given that I felt they never consistently achieved 5% on my V1 unit :)

    In the end I had the funds to change to the more expensive Kickr V2 and am glad I did, even though in the back of my mind I want something wheel-on (or at least in the wheel on price range) to be the answer :)

  4. Eli

    The Wahoo sticker on the bottom bar of the frame is also different. I know, big change

  5. Chris Benten

    I have Snap V1 and have not been able to do a regular Spindown in months (I think the Advanced Spindown also failed but only tried once or twice…deleted and readded app and some other troubleshooting to no avail). I have not given it much effort to track down as power still is pretty close to my PT P1s. So does the updated firmware for V2 work for V1? I have not been on it much as it is hotter than he77 here in Texas but looking to hop on for some early morning rides.

  6. Wayne D'Agostini

    It’d want to be more accurate than V1. My V1 was/is a dud. Reads about 20% high when simultaneously tested against two other on-bike power meters. And Wahoo did not back up their warranty with replacing it. Rather, they preferred an infinite number of emails to-and-fro with useless suggestions until I gave up

  7. Eric Jackson

    I bought a snap right after it first came out and I’ve had no problems with it. I have powertap P1 pedals though and for a while I did a lot of work outs, races, and every type of ride on zwift and it worked very well.

    I have given up with doing workouts on zwift I just don’t like the way the trainer responds. I know that some people have good luck with that but it just does not work well for me.

    I just do free riding with my own structure thrown in or I hop on a Group Training ride and that works really well for me.

    Being a pretty old guy the new smart trainers are so much better than what we had 30 years ago, that some of the little issues probably don’t bother me too much.

    I have not had an issue doing spin downs nor advance spin downs nor have I had issues with firmware updates.

    Irritatingly enough though beta firmware updates now require you to enter a password and if anybody knows that password please share it.

    I know it’s something pretty simple but I just can’t remember it and I always like to get new firmware updates… Lol.

    As I noted in another post I too have had similar issues with Wahoo customer support and I do hope they get it sorted out.

    What I’m really waiting on is an updated review of the new Elmnt and Bolt firmware that is supposed to control the kicker and snap better. I’m hoping that either Ray or Shane Miller is able to take a look at this for us.

    Are we allowed to ask these guys to do those things for us?

    • I covered the ELEMNT/BOLT trainer control piece in a pretty detailed way in both of those head units reviews, or is there something else you’re looking for?

      I’ve largely been waiting for them to support other ANT+ FE-C trainers to do more there.

      (As a side note, the reason Wahoo requires passwords for firmware is because they have a central system for delivering them, so while they are visible to you, they might not be applicable to you. Whereas Garmin will simply send me a GCD file to add to my device. It’s messier, but far more private. It may be to address something that nobody else is seeing (Garmin or Wahoo), and if others start to install it out of curiosity, then bad things could happen.)

  8. keith

    What is the beta firmware # you went to so I will know when mine comes in? I had last years model but sent it back due to bearing noise, and waiting on the new model within a week should be here.
    With the spindowns, they always said 2 1/2 turns on the blue knob and time should be within 10-15 sec. Is that going to be the same with the 2017 model ?
    Did you notice in the advance spindown what breaking number were you getting?

    I think for people like me who are not into the racing, or constant worry about wattage, just looking for a feel of climbing, fun riding on the courses, and group rides, this sits well with me. I’m 65, been cycling for over 30 years. We didn’t worry about wattage. We now seem to be stressing out about wattage and loosing the feel of just having fun riding. We just worked at getting better on climbs, we knew without using wattage meters if we were doing better. I know if I’m getting better without a wattage meter.

    thanks

    • The firmware number won’t really matter since it’s a private password protected firmware only for the 2017 SNAP and once it’s released it’ll be assigned a logical firmware number.

      As for the knobs, they say 2 turns and within 8-15 seconds. But from what I’m seeing more like 4 turns and 8-10 seconds. It’s part of why I’m annoyed that the rolldown piece is basically giving you fake news when it comes to validity of the rolldown test.

      Wattage matters for apps like Zwift, which base your speeds on that wattage. So if your trainer is over or undershooting by 10%, then you’re going to be offset by that much.

  9. Good stuff Ray. In a nutshell, ignoring preferences of roll on or fixed, is the Dorito worth the extra money?
    Great site.

  10. Steven

    What a disappointment. $599 for a wheel on trainer that really hasn’t changed much in two years, and $1199 for the Kickr. The Directo should steal a ton of sales from both the SNAP and kickr. I really thought they’d have a $799 wheel off SNAP this year.

    • GoustiFruit

      Yeah, waiting for the Direto as well. Unless the competition surprises us by September, which I don’t believe will happen. But if they do, great, the prices should drop a little :-p

  11. Efraim Shaw

    Shane the Llama guy says the roller is textured now too.

  12. Jeff T

    Does the spindown update any settings on the trainer? Or does it merely let you know if you’re in the right “zone” in terms of tire pressure and resistance unit pressure? Is the answer the same for all wheel-on trainers?

  13. JeremyB

    “– Slightly increased manufacturing tolerances”. Should be decreased instead of increased. If you increase a tolerance, you’re generally making things worse.

    If a dimension is, 12″ +/- 1″, increasing tolerance would be 12″ +/- 2″. Decreasing the tolerance (what KICKR did) would be 12″ +/- .5″.

  14. keith

    I got the Snap17 (as Wahoo is calling it), Yesterday 07/26/2017, and right away I noticed a big change. BEFORE with the older version it felt more stable in the back end. The newer version, I think they changed the end piece that connects to the opposite side of your back wheel where to can also screw down to keep it from moving back and forth. The end piece seems to be a floating end which caused the back wheel to float from side to side, almost like the trainer was not tight enough, or it was going to pop off when you would get off the seat and do sprints. You could feel your bike rock from side to side. I had the clamp VERY tight and it did not make any difference. They should have left the end piece on the other side of the clamp alone. Now it feels like the bike is going to come off the stand. ALSO: I was getting more of a vibration overall when I would take the speed faster. You could feel it in your hands, and while sitting on the seat, not on the older version.
    Not sure if this will be a final trainer for me, as I might later send it back in a few months for something better.

  15. John

    Which one do you prefer Magnus or this one?

  16. richard braginton

    Hi just read your review on the kicker snap 2 I am new to the smart trainer world although previously had an elite wheel in trainer. My question is I have an new iPad and my bike is equipped with and Garmin 520 edge with cadence and I use a Garmin heart strap is there anything that I need to change to get me up and running Zwift ? thank you for your anticipated help

    • Nope – you’re all good, you’re new iPad running Zwift can connect directly to the KICKR Snap (v1 or V2) using Bluetooth Smart. Meanwhile, your Edge 520 can also record the ANT+ signal as well.

      Nothing extra needed.

    • Richard Braginton

      Thank you for the information that really helps

  17. Greg Swanson

    One problem with the Snap is that it will not work with an older bike that is narrower between the backstays. I wanted to free up my road bike, and avoid damaging it by putting my old 10 Speed Gitane on the trainer, but it is too narrow between the backstays to be clamped on. There is no adapter for older bikes. This issue is not a priority for Wahoo Fitness, although when I asked about it, apparently they have received other inquiries about the issue.

  18. Jonathan Smith

    I’ve loaned a v1 SNAP whilst I wait for the Direto to be released.

    A question for DCR & anyone else who has a SNAP: 2 Full turns? I’ve experimented with 1 3/4 & 2…still not sure what my preference is when I use Zwift!

  19. Vitaliy

    Hey guys, I’m on the fence with trainers here. I think I narrowed it down to either Wahoo Kickr Snap and Tacx Flux.
    Will mostly use it for intervals, and some recovery spins during heat waves in Los Angeles. Don’t really need it for extensive off season training (winters actually much more pleasant is South California), so don’t need fancier options like Kickr 2 or Tacx Neo.
    The plan is to use it in living room with zwift on TV for spins, or movies etc during interval sessions. So, I guess besides durability and noise my main concern is how much rubber Snap will shred from my rear tire versus direct mount Flux.
    Any advice greatly appreciated.

  20. Jason

    Hi Ray, Big fan of your work. Thanks for all of the help you’ve given me over the years with all the puchases I’ve made.
    I am keen to get into the smart trainer sphere as I currently just have a Lemond trainer.

    I am keen on the new Elite Direto, but am also happy enough with the Kickr2 that was released this time last year.

    Do you have any indide info, goss, word on the street, that Wahoo might release another Kickr or other wheel off trainer in the next couple of months?

    I wouldn’t be able to get a Direto until November in Australia so happy to wait a little longer if the godfathers of smart training are going to relase something newer/better.

    Thanks in advance for your help

    • Eurobike is only 2.5 weeks away. One option would be to order the Direto now (since none will arrive for a while anyway), and then see what happens at Eurobike. I don’t expect anything major from anyone left, just minor stuff.

      If you decide you don’t see anything you like, you can keep your order. Else, you can cancel your Direto order. I can definitely say that Direto’s will be in high demand for at least the first few months of fall, so if you wanted longer to order, then that could push quite a bit further down (since I suspect orders will increase when I release my in-depth review on the production model, showing things, like Shane showed, look really darn good.)