Wahoo Fitness at CES: Update on the KICKR CLIMB Timelines

Like many fitness tech companies at CES this year, Wahoo Fitness decided against being on the show-floor with a large booth.  Joining Fitbit and others, Wahoo went with off show-floor arrangements, in this case a suite some 31 floors above the craziness of the exhibition halls.

It’s here that I found myself a pile of Wahoo BOLT computers and two Wahoo CLIMB units.  One was paired to Zwift, while the other was paired to FulGaz.  Both though were totally functional and gave me a chance to see where the hardware readiness currently sat.

To do that, there’s no better way than to jump on the bike and get rollin’.  Obviously since this was effectively just another meeting in non-stop meetings, I was just in street clothes and not cycling gear.  But for what I was looking to validate, it would only take a few seconds.  And what was that specifically? Smoothness.

You’ll remember from my preview at Eurobike this past summer, I thought that overall the concept was pretty cool, and fairly engaging.  But I was concerned about the smoothing as you hit various climbs/descents, as it felt choppy.  That was mostly an artifact of the unit being too fast in terms of changing incline levels.  It was so efficient and quick that it just felt awkward, like a fancy automotive assembly machine versus the smoothness of the road.

So given that, I simply jumped on the two CLIMB units (which had the most recent firmware) to see where things stood.

From my short tests, things seem much improved here.  Obviously, I’d want to see a slew of conditions, but on both FulGaz and Zwift things felt a million times better.  About the only outstanding question left is whether or not there’s any edge cases where it doesn’t work as well.  For example certain types of gradient changes, or any quirks in certain apps.

And of course, I’d want to see how things stood up to longer-term use too in my own pain cave.

Speaking of longer-term use, that’s actually what’s currently held stuff up a bit.  Wahoo has previously noted that the engineering of the CLIMB is a pretty complex affair, especially from a safety and load standpoint.  Ensuring that little fingers can’t easily get caught in the up-down portion (which slats protect), or that a heavier cyclist can use the product just the same as a lightweight.

But what’s caused some of the delays (remember, the goal was to ship by November 2017) is the manufacturing pieces, and ensuring that the parts meet their testing levels.  The previous test pass of 20,000 cycles (automated test) caused an issue with one part that had to be investigated to determine if it was a one-off or a more systemic item.  It sounds like that’s behind them now, and the goal is to do another small pre-production run over the next week or so, followed by another set of automated cycle tests.  If that passes, then they’ll start full-scale production.

All of which puts them into February sometime for delivery.  Initially, some units will go by air from their factory facilities in Asia, and then they’ll transition to more economical shipping via ocean-going cargo ships.

This is actually one reason Wahoo never took preorders (nor authorized any retailers to do so either), in that they didn’t want a situation like the ELEMNT years prior whereby things were delayed for those that had put money down.  None of which of course changes the fact that many of us want our gadgets now, but at least we don’t have money stuck somewhere waiting for it.

As for a full in-depth review, I wasn’t able to steal one of the suite ones, so things will have to wait one of the more final production runs occurs.  But once that does and they give the green light on shipping, then I’ll definitely post a more in-depth review of the unit.

With that – thanks for reading!

DC Rainmaker :

View Comments (51)

  • Hi Ray - The clever training coupon code on their .co.uk site does not work for wahoo products! Have wahoo products been excluded over here (or indeed everywhere)? Cheers. David

    • They've temporarily been excluded on the UK site from the discount. It's something they're trying to sort out. :(

  • Did release get pushed back yet again? I keep reading that on the bookfaces but unable to find any credible sources.

    • Wahoo is far from the first (and most certainly won't be the last) to fall victim to their own enthusiasm for a new product. In my limited experience, this is very much an outlier for them.

      They are generally good about not announcing a product so early in development, and listing estimated delivery. I can't help but guess that Chip's direct involvement and influence pushed this out a too early because he was personally invested and wanted to see it get to market "first" of any motion simulator.

      I'd rather they acknowledge they screwed up on the early announcement and admit they are trying to make sure the product release is a perfect as possible.

      How bad would it be if they released early with a buggy, flawed or even dangerous product rather than making sure they get it right the first time?

    • I have had one on order (and paid for) since October of last year. I was just told the "New" delivery date is sometime in June. I cancelled my order and got a full refund and have totally given up on Wahoo as a company.

  • Hi thanks for the great work! Always the go-to place for the latest cycling/tri tech out :)

    Can you confirm that the 2016 Kickr Snap cannot connect to the Kickr Climb? And that it's not only a case of it will damage the frame if you do?

    Thanks!
    Riccardo

    • Correct, not compatible.

      The way the CLIMB system is architected, everything routes through your trainer first. Thus, apps can't control the climb directly.

      You could technically buy a CLIMB and use it in manual mode with any trainer, but that requires pressing the button every...single...time you want to go up or down.

    • I'd be curious what folks think of it in Richmond, specifically on the cobblestone hill.

    • Got mine yesterday... naturally the day I’m starting marathon training.... and the day Zwift is set to Richmond (eg the flattest course).

      I used the world hack for the first time to get on Watopia and did a 10 minute ride to give it a quick test ride.

    • Same - order placed some time ago, and card charged immediately after, so hoping I'll be one of the first to receive a unit.

    • Ok, so I’m not alone in the antsy department. I got my preordered in May during the VIP sale. It still says “processing” on mine too.

    • Ordered mine from Cleaver training back on 11/27/2017 and still says "Processing" for the status. Wondering what will happen. (Black friday sale from DCR so $60 off, well assuming I get it as they billed my card awhile ago)

      Maybe I'll be first in line?

    • That's my understanding, but at present Wahoo hasn't authorized any retailers (including themselves) to take pre-orders. There were some mistaken exceptions last fall sometime from one or two retailers, but I'm not sure what happened to those.

    • Hey Ray,

      Still know if mid-June is looking like the date? I've got points with Clevertraining.com I want to use.

    • Nothing new for actual delivery that I have seen.

      A comment from another venue claimed the delay may be related to clearance issues with some front disc brake fork models.

    • Currently slated for mid-June.

      They've started production and are currently stockpiling units in distribution centers.

      Earlier delays were due to resolving outstanding issues (various issues along the way, a few outlined in comments here and there up above). And then now the hold-up is them wanting to have more than just a handful of units ship out.

  • REI site is now showing 'ships in next 30 days'... hoping to get an update on a more concrete available/release date. Despite the numerous delays I'm still eager to ride one.

    • Finally... received an e-mail from Wahoo which announced that you can pre-order and shipping begins mid-July.

  • One major flaw with the climb that I see for using it as part of using zwift as a distraction from a structured workout, you can't have something else connect to the kickr in erg mode.

    Zwift doesn't pair to the climb directly it pairs to the trainer so you must have a smart trainer connection in zwift to the trainer in order to control the climb. That is fine for normal use but that prevents using a external app (Xert in my case) from being able to control the trainer while the climb follows the terrain that I'm biking on. I.e. the use case where I want something better then zwift to control the structured workout in erg mode while using zwift as a distraction.

    A minor problem with the Climb. No disc brake caliper pad spacer with how much the climb costs and the Kickr comes with one, you'd think the climb would too. Wish these were better designed for disc brake bikes with thru axle so have a place to put the spacer when I take the bike off and a way to hold the axle adapter in the device so when I move the kickr/climb without the bike on they don't fall out. Magnets? (though that limits to use of aluminum) Or a notched ring around the adapter with a ball on a spring that would clip into it (think the way most socket wrenches hold the socket part onto the wrench)

    • Not two apps to control things. One app to control a structured workout (paired to trainer as a smart trainer) and the other to be a fun distraction(zwift paired to trainer as a power meter). In that case the climb falls under the fun distraction.

      I'd say thats a pretty significant number of people going by the number of xert users who run zwift at the same time

    • Yeah, doesn't really solve for that scenario that I'm aware of. And I suspect trying to use two apps to control things at once is a pretty slim edge case.

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