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Hands-on: Wahoo’s New KICKR 2017 Edition

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It’s that time of year again – new trainer season.  Or more precisely, just about the end of new trainer announcement. Wahoo’s been busy this summer between the new KICKR SNAP announced last month, as well as the new Wahoo ELEMNT MINI announced earlier this month.  But now, here at Eurobike, we’ve got two further announcements, including a new Wahoo KICKR as well as the CLIMB accessory for Wahoo’s 2017 trainers.

I talk about the CLIMB accessory in this totally separate post, so go check that out there.

What’s new:

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So what’s so different about the 2017 version compared to the 2016 version?  Well honestly…not much.  Basically, there are two core changes:

A) Increased bike compatibility
B) Integration/compatibility with Wahoo’s new CLIMB (see above).

Now, that first line item is more accurately broken out into three separate line items:

1) Increased 12×142 thru axle compatibility
2) Added 12×148 thru axle compatibility
3) More/better clearance for disc brakes and flat mount brakes.

As you can see, in many ways this is basically just like what Tacx did last year with the Tacx Neo update, which was pretty minor and just aimed at increasing bike frame compatibility.  The same here, though with the additional thru-axle compatibility they are more competitive with the CycleOps Hammer, which had pretty wide compatibility compared to Wahoo previously.

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If you look closely, on the left one (2017 edition), you’ll see near the flywheel, where the skewer is, it’s cut-out to improve compatibility for disc brakes, especially for CLIMB.  The right one (2016) is flat in that area.

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Beyond that, there are no other differences between this model and the 2016 model.  However, keep in mind that if you have an original KICKR, then there are changes that were introduced last year.  To recap those, the differences would be:

1) Made it quieter: A reduction in both volume, but also more importantly tone of the sound (it’s not silent)
2) Increased precision: Made changes to how they measure power to increase accuracy and reduce faults
3) Improved Responsiveness: Another hardware change increased the responsiveness of the unit during massive instant leaps of power (I.e. 150w to 500w).
4) Connectivity and Troubleshooting:  Added in new connectivity lights to understand what’s connected
5) Added a handle: They made the handle useful and big, and re-adjusted the weight so it doesn’t flop around and hit you in the shins

Got all that?  Good.

A Few Initial Rides:

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Eventually I’ll spit out an in-depth review, likely in September sometime, but for now it’s First Look style.  Mostly because almost nothing has changed except compatibility items.  Still, it’s worthwhile checking through to the accuracy pieces.  So I did a few workouts over the past 2-3 weeks to validate things are all happy panda.  Here’s a look at one that I did back while testing out the new Wahoo ELEMNT/BOLT workout control that was recently released.  You can find the full DCR Analyzer set/files here.

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Let’s take a quick look at that sprint and see how things handled.  The rest of the ride was mostly just floating along.  The sprint, however, was nearly 1,000w out of the middle of nowhere:

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While you’ll always get slight differences between units at peak power (max power) in a sprint, these are all incredibly close together.  You can see one minor recording oddity on one head unit (of the two) that were connected to the Garmin Vector pedals, but that’s a transmission/recording quirk and not a native data quirk.

Otherwise, all these three power meters were identical here.  Same goes for the series of smaller sprints a few minutes later:

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None of this is really any surprise.  People have universally been happy with the 2016 KICKR from an accuracy standpoint, which outside of compatibility items is identical here to the 2017 KICKR.  Also, if you didn’t know – the earlier KICKR’s all received a firmware update that allows you to leverage the same accuracy tweaks as the 2016 KICKR received; that update came out earlier this year.

If you’re looking for some more data, here’s another ride I did with additional data.  This was while testing out the new Wahoo ELEMNT/BOLT workout control that was recently released.

Wrap-Up:

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Overall as you might guess there’s little reason for most people to rush out and buy a new KICKR if you’re already a KICKR owner…unless you want CLIMB compatibility.  But if you’re in the market for a new trainer, especially a new KICKR, then certainly you’d want to pickup the new KICKR 2017 (KICKR 3).  And the good news is you won’t have to wait long for that because it’s in stock today and starts shipping today.

If you’re looking at trainers in general, I don’t anticipate any other trainers here at Eurobike, and I think we’ve seen the end of new units for the season.  Though there could always be one or two minor ones at Interbike in a few weeks.  Depending on what I hear there I’ll either release my annual trainer buying guide in the next few weeks, or right as Interbike gets underway.

With that – thanks for reading!

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73 Comments

  1. James

    When the 2016 was launched it was pretty obvious from the pictures that there was significant issues for post mount chain stay mounted disc calipers. For me, it was an immediate “nope” won’t work. Almost funny how it looks like then have used an electronic sander to carve out the necessary space.

    Surprising really (considering that the bike manufacturers “push” of disc brake road bikes was well under way) how many wheel-off trainers had issues with calliper having to be removed. Would be interested if this is an oversight or if disc uptake is actually quite low … what % of new bike sales $1500+ are disc?

    The Climb looks interesting and fun for those who are very into Zwift.

  2. Jason

    Ray, will the price stay the same for the Kickr2017?

  3. Mayhem

    So does it work with the frame’s own thru-axle now or are wonky adapters still required?

  4. Ricky

    Hi
    How is the noice is it less loud then 2016 verison ?

    I need to keep my neighbours happy :-)

  5. John Armour

    If you have the Kickr 16 and enough frame clearance can you still use CLIMB?

  6. Geoffrey

    One more reason to stick with my plan buy an Elite Dorito (cough) I mean Direto!!

  7. Paul Cotterill

    Any codes for Clevertraining.co.uk Ray?

  8. Ron Gurney

    Will Wahoo stand behind its previous loyal customers and provide an axle adapter kit to use the Climb with older Kickrs?

  9. Jonathan

    I wonder if the 2016 will go on sale anywhere. I don’t see anything yet but it’s early.

  10. Michael H

    Hi Ray, Wattbike are releasing a indoor bike in four days…..Perhaps it will be truly Zwift compatible. Like the Power Tap ones should be…That would be interesting.

  11. John

    Interesting,

    I am in the market for smart trainer and have a Giant road bike with disc brakes. I never gave a thought about compatibility with smart trainers. Does anyone know if Elite Directo / Wahoo Kickr 2016 version work or am I going to have to look at using the Wahoo Kickr 2017?

  12. Larry

    Can you please tell us about the Tacx NEO from Eurobike 2017, this is about the only thing I care about and is critically important in my decision to either buy one now or wait for the new model. Thank You.

    • There’s no changes to the Tacx Neo from a hardware standpoint at this point. There are some firmware updates on the way, but just minor stuff as always.

      There is also a Tacx Neo Smartbike coming a year from now (indoor bike).

    • Jonathan Smith

      Cycling weekly has some pics of it: link to cyclingweekly.com

      Due to limited indoor space/2 children under 3 I would have to keep the smart trainer in a cupboard & then set it up everytime I fancy a ride (something i have done for the last two months when I loaned a SNAP). The idea of an all in one solution like this, or from wattbike, would be something that I would buy today if it was available. Now would I wait a year…

  13. Bsquared

    “So what’s so different about the 2017 version compared to the 2016 version? Well honestly…not much.”

    Unless you have a disc brake bike with thru-axle!

    With the 2017 Kickr your bike should fit without removing rear brake from bike, kinda a big deal for those of us with post-mounted disc brakes. This puts the Kickr 17 back on my short list.

    And instead of wonky not-in-the-box QR conversion kit required with 2016, with the 2017 Kickr the conversion kit is in the box. And your existing axle is used to attach bike to Kickr, no weird QR conversion thingy to deal with every time you go to ride.

  14. Tommy

    I’m looking for a smart trainer. Not sure what to buy. I can’t see any reason to opt for the old version of the Kickr, unless the drop the price. Tacx Neo has my attention…but then are any of these worth £400 more than the Flux. Do I really need to simulate an incline >10%?

    Let’s see what Watt bike have in their locker in a few days

  15. Chris Furia

    Any idea if the adapter to utlize 12×142 thru axles will be available for sale/ue on the 2016 model?

  16. Matt dokken

    So I tried to purchase the new kickr with your clever training 10% code and it stated that the code does not apply for this product? Is the kickr and excuded product?

  17. james

    I have a Tacx Neo. I can lift the front wheel up and down and nothing rubs/grinds. It looks like if Wahoo let Zwift (or anyone else) control the Climb instead of going through the Kickr, they’d open up their market to existing trainers where there is no rubbing on the quick release attachment points.

    DC – you see any reason the Climb in Manual mode would not work with a Neo?

  18. Callum Henderson

    Do you think there will be a upgrade kit of sorts to allow 2016 to work with climb in future?

    • Nope.

      I do think that people will find creative solutions around this, but given the very clear (and rear) mechanical concerns about potential frame damage – Wahoo definitely won’t likely support the earlier KICKR units. Now…for the SNAP, that’s a different story.

  19. Richard Stuckey

    My canyon has little caps over the they axle ole that holds the rear mech on…. so not sure I can use one at all :-(

    Pity as sounds good

  20. hus

    Hi
    I bought my kickr in July 2017 and was bummed after watching the kickr climb review thinking that it would not be compatible.
    what i did notice today was that my kickr has the ability to pivot my bike freely at the rear skewer when I lifted it.
    Does this mean some of the recent 2016 kickr models have the upgraded skewer? if so, will this mean it will be compatible with the kickr climb, or will it still be incompatible due to a software issue?

    • Correct, sans-software, you’re SOL. :(

      I think I can convince them to open up the KICKR SNAP to allowing it, since they’ve admitted there’s almost zero reason it will impact the frame. But I can see their concern on the KICKR.

    • Ron Gurney

      Ray – What do you mean by “open up” the Kickr Snap to “allowing it”?
      How is the software of the 2017 Kickr different from the 2016 Kickr? As you already know, the lack of mechanical compatibility of the pre-2017 Kickrs with the Climb is causing quite a bit of consternation and frustration.

    • In short, in pressing Wahoo a bit more – there’s actually no technical hardware reason the SNAP V1 can’t do it. Wahoo initially said there were hardware concerns there, but that’s factually untrue, and they admitted as such after more pressing.

      The only hardware difference is a tiny bit of change in the holder mechanism with some additional grooves. But they said in an absolute worst case scenario it might cause a tiny bit of paint loss on your dropouts, maybe (emphasis on the maybe).

      Unfortunately, it’ll require a firmware update for the existing SNAP’s to work with it.

      (Note: For the full size KICKR, I totally get the hardware issue there – that’s real. Whether or not it ends up causing damage to your bike, it’s probably more long term than anything. But a company simply can’t risk it, especially on carbon frames and then have a frame snap as someone is descending and kill themselves. So I get that.)

  21. George Isenbarg

    Why is it no one that does reviews on trainers ever asks the company to make a cat 5/hdmi etc. connection to their unit so that you can hardwire it to your compute or router if you so desire?

  22. willy van thillo

    Hi

    I just have a simple question.
    I had the Kickr first generation and loved to train with it.
    However I switched to MTB and it didn’t fit.

    I have a trek ProCaliber 9.9SL Boost frame and it was not able to fit.
    What do you recommend for this bike? The bike has also the SRAM EAGLE so XD body…

    Can you help me with this one?

    Thanks a lot

    • Chader

      The CycleOps Hammer and the latest KICKR 2017 model fit the 148 x 12 Boost axle standard.

      As for the cassette, I don’t think anything fits the SRAM XD body or cassette at the moment.
      (I reserve the right to be wrong.) So I don’t think you have a choice for an Eagle compatible, wheel-off trainer right now.

  23. David W

    Hi Ray,

    Love the site and reviews. However, I think that there is a significant hole in your trainer noise measurement procedure- you only measure noise in steady state with constant speed and power. However, some trainers, like the new Kickr3, are many times louder when the brake is operating. Like when you coast, ease up after an interval, or if power is varying significantly. My Kickr3 really screams when the brake is operating even though it is pretty quiet most of the time. This has really screwed up getting along with the neighboring apartments. I had a Kickr Snap and neighbors on both sides complained about the noise and vibration. So I bought the Kickr3. They complained again. They said it was mostly quiet but they could hear an annoying screaming noise at times. So, I traded the Kickr3 in for a Tacx Neo and everyone is happy. I think you ought to add a peak noise test to your measurements. Pedal up to a high speed and then coast (Zwift in % mode, for example). Then measure the maximum sound level. My estimate is that the Kickr is about 4 times louder when coasting. And it’s at a very annoying frequency.

    • I’ll be honest, I’m confused.

      I just tried it on a KICKR3 and with a decible meter, and there was zero bump in sound, just a straight curve downwards. I spun up really fast, and then held it, and then let it go.

      I’ve never heard of what you describing from anyone else, though perhaps I’m missing something.

    • David W

      Hi Ray,

      I’ll see if I can explain better. This is a problem that I noticed from the day I got the Kickr3. I had roughly 100 miles on it before I sent it back. I found that when I was pedaling at constant power (in Zwift or TrainerRoad) the Kickr sounded like your videos- a high pitched noise that was a bit louder than the drivetrain noise and more or less equal to my fan. But not too bad. When I would coast (or ease up) after a hard interval, especially in Zwift where it was NOT in Erg mode, the high pitched noise would get a lot louder. I don’t have a dB meter but it was significantly louder than my fan. Enough that people would complain from next door. It would start very loud and gradually quiet down as the speed coasted down. Other than that one thing I was happy with the Kickr.

    • Chader

      What you are describing is the noise from the freewheel. It happens when you stop pedaling and the flywheel keep spinning. That is the same basic noise that most bikes make when coasting. There are designs that have different tone, volume and frequency when the freewheel is coasting.

      In my opinion, there’s meant to be minimal coasting when doing indoor riding and training, so I see it as a lesser issue. It might be nice if they used a quieter design.

      Many of the reasons you want a more effective freewheel for outside riding are absent for inside riding. That being the case, there are several freewheel designs that are quiet and nearly silent for some.

    • David W

      Chader,

      You could be right that it is the freewheel and not the brake. If so, it is the loudest freewheel I have ever heard. Maybe there is some sort of resonance in the flywheel or structure. I guess it doesn’t really matter what the cause is if it annoys the neighbors.

    • Chader

      I know I’m right. The electromagnetic brake on these is near silent. It is applying a magnetic current between to parts that don’t touch. There is nothing more than the wind around the flywheel and the bearings in the system of the brake that will make any noise.

      I have a CycleOps PowerBeam Pro with a similar brake, but is a wheel-on trainer. It is the quietest trainer I have ever used (note, I’ve not used a Neo). The PBP is a pure example of a straight resistance unit (with no gear reduction via pulleys and belts like the KICKR) and it is super quite.

      I’d make a big bet the basic freewheel is loud and is amped up because of the large structure around it, so I think you have that part right.

    • Chader

      Besides, if it was the brake itself, it would make that level of noise anytime it’s at that resistance level.

      Since the resistance level can be the same when you coast (the flywheel will just slow down), it would not increase only when you coast. That points directly to the freewheel mechanism as the source. Nothing else makes sense.

    • David W

      I know that the brake itself is silent. When you ease up or coast the brake applies more pressure to try and keep the power the same. The thing that I don’t know is about noise in the reduction gearing and housing when the brake is applied. The brake is inside the rotating black housing which has (according to Ray’s interview with Chip from Wahoo) a 40:1 belt reduction from the flywheel meaning that it is rotating 40 times as fast as the flywheel. Since the belt has flexibility I was thinking that there might be some oscillation in belt tension as the brake is applied which creates mechanical noise. Of course, I have no idea if this is the case or if it is the freewheel since I don’t have the Kickr anymore. At this point it doesn’t really matter and I still think that the noise needs to captured in the testing somehow.

    • What’d odd though is that the freehub (as others have stated) shouldn’t really increase the volume. The reason I haven’t captured it in testing isn’t because I haven’t tested it, but because it made no appreciable difference.

      In today’s test, certainly the freehub is a different tone – but is indeed less in volume others. The Neo would operate identically (actually, it’d be louder since the base volume is so quiet). The only way it would get louder is if something is broken in there.

      Which is I guess where I’m confused. Obviously you don’t probably have a recording of the trainer, but I’ve honestly never heard of anyone having that specific issue with a KICKR before (of it getting louder).

    • David W

      I went to a friend’s house and recorded his Kickr. I did this all by turning the cranks by hand and setting the phone on the floor next to the Kickr. First I just backpedaled to get the freehub noise by itself. Then I pedaled forward for a bit until I got the speed stabilized (with my hand of the pedal) then I coasted. I repeated this a number of times. Each time I coasted the basic “howl” got louder with the free hub in the background, as soon as I pedaled again the “howl” got quieter by a lot. So, that is two Kickrs that do the same thing. Listen to the attached file.

    • David W

      Still no file. Does the Choose File not work? Is there a place I can send it directly?

    • Nah, the upload thingy only works for photos. You can send it to ray at the domain name. :)

  24. JC

    FYI, the KICKR V3 no longer supports Campy 10-speed freehubs. I got the V2 with fingers crossed that Wahoo would eventually come up with a Boost-148 compatible hack, which they did in the form of a new model…I would like to train on both my RB (Campy 10sp) and MTB (12×148). Wahoo CS replied that I just need to upgrade my RB drivetrain to 11sp…..LOL, that’s “just” about alotta money, and I recently upgraded all my 10s Record components…..
    So it’s upgrade to V3 and train only on MTB or stay on V2 with only RB….or go to another manufacturer, or of course just upgrade to Campy 11….dang bike company’s

    • David W

      I sent back my Kickr3 because it was too noisy. I replaced it with the (unfortunately more expensive) Tacx Neo. That trainer has been great so far. Very quiet. One additional feature it has is an Edco universal freehub body that takes all Shimano, SRAM, and Campy cassettes. I don’t know why more trainer companies don’t do this rather than require you to buy multiple freehubs. You can get a 148×12 axle adapter for the Neo and then use one trainer for all your bikes.

  25. Sam

    Hi Ray, great review as always! I am this close to purchasing the new Kickr 2017 model, however I read somewhere about having a compatible frame. Stupid question but will my 2015 Cervelo P3 fit onto the Kickr? I cannot seem to find any further specs on my bike that I can marry up to the rear axle info that Wahoo have listed on their support page. I would hate to purchase such a pricey piece of kit to find that my bike doesn’t fit :(

    • Richard S

      I don’t know the answer for sure but I have purchased the Kickr17 and so far had my canyon road bike, Hoy town bike and XC MTB on it so I’d be amazed if it didn’t!!

  26. Deepak Rao

    Hi guys,

    Just got my Kickr. For Zwift [and other such apps], is it better to connect via ANT+ or BT? Using a Macbook Pro new model.

    Also, to pair the Kickr to my Elemnt, is there a choice between BT and ANT+?