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Hands-on: Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORE Direct Drive Smart Trainer

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Wahoo was busy today announcing a full slate of three new products, including the new full high-end Wahoo KICKR 2018 edition, Wahoo Headwind, and what this post is about, the Wahoo KICKR Core.  You can click on the Headwind post shortly, and later today you’ll find my complete In-Depth Review of the full KICKR 2018.  Until then though, here’s what’s new on the less expensive KICKR CORE trainer.

This new trainer from Wahoo is designed to sit in the ‘middle-ground’ of trainers from a price and features/functionality standpoint.  Here’s the quick version of the lineup:

Wahoo KICKR 2018: $1,199 direct drive trainer with larger flywheel, includes cassette
Wahoo KICKR CORE: $899 direct drive trainer with medium flywheel, no cassette included
Wahoo KICKR SNAP 2017: $599 wheel-on trainer with good but not great road-feel

The new KICKR Core is designed to compete directly with the Tacx Flux and the Elite Direto, both of which have done extremely well in the last two years at the $899 price point, easily undercutting Wahoo’s KICKR lineup (and likely costing them a lot of money).  Of course, in the last few weeks Tacx went ahead and applied the pressure again by cutting the price down of the Flux to $799 (while also announcing the new Tacx Flux 2 today at $899-$949 – exact price TBD).

Either way, this new option will definitely be appealing to those that were looking at the Wahoo KICKR CLIMB, which is finally shipping, but didn’t quite want to fork out as much as Wahoo was charging for their other direct drive trainer, the full KICKR (yes, the Wahoo SNAP 2017 was also compatible…but some folks just want a direct drive unit).

The Tech Specs:

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Unlike the Wahoo KICKR 2018 and Wahoo Headwind, the KICKR CORE is a little bit behind the production curve.  Those two units start shipping this week, and as such, I’ve had them for a while and can have reviews ready to go.  Whereas with the KICKR CORE I just got my first hands-on look at it yesterday, and haven’t had the chance to put any riding time on it yet.  Hopefully at some point over the next few days I will (and then I’ll add a new ‘First Test Ride’ section down below once so – UPDATE: Added below.).

Still, let’s dive into the core tech specs in a bulleted fashion:

– Direct drive trainer: This means you remove your rear wheel just like a regular KICKR
– Flywheel: It has a 12lb flywheel, which is slightly less than the 12.5lb KICKR 2017 flywheel and the 16lb KICKR 2018 flywheel
– Legs: The unit can’t adjust height like a full KICKR can for different bike sizes, it is what it is
– Cassette: Unlike a regular KICKR, this unit doesn’t include a cassette, which will set you back $50-$60, plus $10-$20 in tools to install
– Sound: This uses the new KICKR 2018’s belt system, so it’s silent as well – a huge difference to competitors
– Handle: This unit lacks a handle compared to newer KICKR units, still, it’s not too bad to move around as I found out for taking photos
– Protocol Compatibility: ANT+ FE-C, ANT+ Power, Bluetooth Smart FTMS, Bluetooth Smart Power
– App Compatibility: Every app out there basically (Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, Road Grand Tours, SufferFest, Kinomap, etc…)
– Compatibility: 130/135 QR, 12×142 & 12×148 Thru-Axle
– Max Incline: 18% simulated grade
– Max Wattage: 1,800 watts resistance
– Stated Accuracy: +/- 2%
– Wahoo CLIMB Compatibility: Yes. Simply yes.

As you can see, this is more or less the KICKR that most people have been asking for at least the last year, if not two years, since the Tacx Flux came out.  In doing so Wahoo will likely end up cannibalizing their higher end KICKR sales, as this model will meet the requirements of the vast majority of people.  From a max incline/wattage/accuracy standpoint that’s more than true.  And then it really comes down to flywheel and trainer legs.  Given most people were quite happy with the ‘older’ KICKR (pre-2018), this has virtually the same flywheel weight.  And the legs? Hmm, shrug, like most other trainers anyway.

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Of course, the legs in many ways look like the Magene Gravat/Gravat II trainer that I tested earlier this year.  And that trainer inversely looked like an exact replica of the upper portion of the KICKR.  So they kinda both probably borrowed from each other here.

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When it comes to sound, I can’t realistically test that on the show-floor, there’s just too much ambient noise.  But perhaps I can steal the CORE for the evening one night and put together a nice video showing how quiet it is in a room somewhere onsite.  The company went with a new silent belt system just like the higher end KICKR 2018 that was also introduced today.

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And that’s ultimately what this comes down to – testing it. I simply haven’t had the opportunity to put it through its paces yet.  This is merely a quick trade-show first look post.  Once it’s ready, likely in August, I’ll definitely be doing that – no doubt about it!

After the show closes I’ll try and put together a bit of an interim roundup of trainers, especially in this mid-range pricing bucket.  Though, I’d caution that some trainers didn’t make the cut for announcement here at Eurobike (including a few that were last minute pulls from the show).  So the story won’t quite be as complete as we typically like it post-Eurobike.

First Ride Details:

(Added in later)

I got a chance to steal a Wahoo KICKR CORE for the evening here at Eurobike and put it through its paces.  This included both Zwift (workout and simulation modes) and TrainerRoad (ERG mode for 30×30).  It also includes noise/volume testing as well as digging into accuracy too.  All of which I’ve wrapped up into a single video.  I’ll put more text around this in the morning, but it’s 3:03AM and the video covers everything super cleanly.

Update 2 – And here’s another video I shot now that I have a unit to test. This one is all about the sound:

How it compares:

I’ve added the Wahoo KICKR CORE into the product comparison database so you can see how it compares against other units on the market. For the purpose of this particular comparison, I’ve decided to rank it up against the similarly priced Elite Direto and Tacx Flux. However, if you want to see how it ranks against the less expensive $599 trainers or the more expensive $1000+ trainers, you can do so in the full product comparison tool here.

In any event, here’s the details:

Function/FeatureWahoo Fitness KICKR COREElite DiretoTacx Flux
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated September 18th, 2018 @ 1:55 amNew Window
Price for trainer$899$849 ($799 for 2017 models)$799USD/€799
Attachment TypeDirect Drive (No Wheel)Direct Drive (No Wheel)Direct Drive (no wheel)
Available today (for sale)YesYesYEs
Availability regionsGlobalGlobalGlobal
Connects to computerYesYesYes
Uses mouse/keyboard as control unitYEs (with apps)Yes (with apps)Yes (with apps)
Uses phone/tablet as control unit (handlebar)YEs (with apps)Yes (with apps)Yes (with apps)
Wired or Wireless data transmission/controlWirelessWirelessWireless
Power cord requiredYesYes (no control w/o)Yes
Flywheel weight12.0lbs/5.44kgs4.2KG/9.2LBS6.7kg (simulated 25kg)
ResistanceWahoo Fitness KICKR COREElite DiretoTacx Flux
Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)YesYesYes
Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)NoNoNo
Maximum wattage capability1800w1,400w @ 40KPH / 2,200w @ 60KPH1,500w @ 40KPH
Maximum simulated hill incline16%14%10%
FeaturesWahoo Fitness KICKR COREElite DiretoTacx Flux
Ability to update unit firmwareYesYesYes
Measures/Estimates Left/Right PowerNoYEsNo
Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)NoNoNo
Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)No (But can use KICKR CLIMB for incline)NoNo
AccuracyWahoo Fitness KICKR COREElite DiretoTacx Flux
Includes temperature compensationYesN/AYes
Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)YesN/AYes
Supported accuracy level+/- 2%+/- 2% (Sept 2018 models, +/- 2.5% for earlier models)+/-3%
Trainer ControlWahoo Fitness KICKR COREElite DiretoTacx Flux
Allows 3rd party trainer controlYesYesYes
Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)YEsYesYes
Supports Bluetooth Smart control for 3rd partiesYEsYesYes
Data BroadcastWahoo Fitness KICKR COREElite DiretoTacx Flux
Can re-broadcast power data as open ANT+YesYesYes
Can re-broadcast data as open Bluetooth SmartYesYesYes
PurchaseWahoo Fitness KICKR COREElite DiretoTacx Flux
Amazon LinkN/ALinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerWahoo Fitness KICKR COREElite DiretoTacx Flux
Review LinkLinkLinkLink

Remember, you can mix and match the products within the product comparison tool here, comparing whichever trainers you want.

Wrap-Up:

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As I noted above, the Wahoo KICKR CORE is essentially what’s been missing from Wahoo’s lineup the last two years.  And to add more essentiality to it, it’s basically just a Wahoo KICKR 2017 without its lower base. Instead, it got gifted inexpensive trainer legs and had its cassette removed.  But in doing so they shaved off $300 on the price. Probably a fair trade-off for the vast majority of people.

Sure, it doesn’t have the bigger flywheel weight of the KICKR 2018, but I’d mostly shrug at that.  After all, it did gain the quiet trainer aspects, which is likely more important to most as it does away with the infamous KICKR whine.

The question is how it’ll compete with the likes of the Elite Direto and the Tacx Flux.  With the original Flux now dropped in price to $799, and the new Flux 2 coming in with at the same price (perhaps $50 more, that’s TBD) but with a dramatically bigger flywheel (32KG simulated), that’s a huge difference in feel. Unfortunately, the Flux 2 wasn’t ridable yet either (soon…soon).  Thus, it’s hard to know for absolute certain.  Other specs on those two trainers are pretty similar, but the Wahoo has the edge on noise, as the Flux/Flux 2 isn’t silent.

In any event, it’s clear that more companies are paying attention to this sweet-spot of trainer pricing.  The $799-$899 price point now represents what the $1,199 trainers had a mere couple years ago (if not last season for that matter).  This year will, without question, be the best year ever in terms of trainer choice and value for your money.  The only real question will be figuring out exactly which one to buy.

With that – thanks for reading!

Note: You can pre-order the Wahoo KICKR CORE with Clever Training now (with free US/Europe shipping), and in doing so via CT you help support the site. Not only that but you’ll get 10% back in points with the DCR VIP program. Current estimates are for it to ship in August sometime. Oh, and here’s the Europe-specific link.

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109 Comments

  1. Stuart

    “It has a 12lb flywheel, which is slightly less than the 12.5lb KICKR 2017 flywheel and the 16lb KICKR 2017 flywheel”.

    So… um… was the 2017 KICKR a 12.5 pound or 16 pound flywheel? (Not that it really matters to me; I have the original KICKR, and unless my neighbours start complaining about the noise, I don’t see myself forking out the cash to replace it any time soon.)

    • Stuart

      Oh, and the comparison table doesn’t actually have the Kickr (of any type) in it – oversight?

    • Sorry, should say ‘2018’ is a 16LB. I see the CORE up in the table, odd. Is it showing now by chance?

    • Stuart

      Yeah, it’s showing now. I must’ve seen the article REALLY early. 🙂

      Thanks.

    • Ped Antic

      Of course it’s effective moment of inertia that matters, not flywheel weight. Mass arranged close to the axis of rotation will be much less effective than that same weight further from the axis. And if there’s any gearing ratio between the drive and flywheel that can have a “massive” effect too.

    • Urs

      Thank you Ped Antic, I was going to write this!!! Would be interesting to also include the gearing ratios in the reviews. While the Direto has almost the same Flighwheel weight, it lacks in any gearing so the rotational energy stored in the Flighwheel will be much lower since the rotational velocity has a square impact to it

    • Yeah, it’s not really even ratios, because that’ll vary a lot too depending on design and is too difficult for most consumers to understand.

      Rather, it’s a different metric altogether. In talking with both Tacx and Wahoo, they’re liking the idea of doing a total ‘simulated inertia’ value, which is a much better proxy. We’ve got some ideas…for after Eurobike.

    • The simple thing would be to state that trainer X simulates inertia of rider that weighs Y kilos.

  2. Bill Brannon

    What is the possibility that there will be a belt drive upgrade available for the 17 Kickr?

    • Barry D

      Would be nice to see. My wife bought me the 2017 Kickr (already had the original Kickr) and preordered the Climb this past Christmas.

    • John

      None. The internals of new Kickr ‘18 (and Kickr Core) are a redesign from the earlier models.

  3. scott

    I got rid of my Kickr I had used for over 3 years because the noise it made caused irreparable hearing loss–permanent tinnitus. Love my Tacx Neo.

  4. Andy CS

    Can’t find the Flux 2 announcement anywhere. Does anyone have a link?

  5. Chris S

    Silent as in… really? Quieter than a direto?

    Regarding thru axle compatibility, do you have to use a hokey adapter skewer or can you use your bikes original thru axle?

    • Definitely. As in…silent.

      Just in time, mere seconds ago I just published a video with my first rides details and sound and more: link to youtube.com

      You can use your original bike skewer – same adapter as the regular KICKR (versus how Tacx does it with a weird adapter thingy).

    • Stuart

      That’s a change from the original Kickr, then – when I bought the thru axle adapter for mine, it ended up being a longer-than-normal skewer, a changed thingy for the non-drivetrain side of the frame to sit on, a small washer type thing to screw onto the cassette, and some adapters that sit in the space that the normal thru axle sits.

      It works well enough, mind. But it sounds like there’ve been a few changes over the past few years in the design of the Kickr. (Refinement and improvement? That NEVER happens… 🙂 )

    • Yeah, in my brain those changed a few KICKRs ago. 🙂

  6. Jason

    At what point does it become worthwhile to consider upgrading to one of these new trainers.

    I have a 2016 era KICKR that I bought refurbished. I’m not seeing where the market or apps are making an upgrade a necessity or advantageous yet.

    • Stuart

      For me, it’s one of two things.

      Noise, or when the cost to repair is more than it’s worth to me, relative to the cost of getting a new one.

      Noise: right now, I live on my own, and the only way it could be a problem is if my neighbour (we share a common wall between our living rooms) has issues when I do early morning/late night sets. Hasn’t happened yet…

      Repair: it’s still going strong, and I’d be surprised if I have major issues down the road, although the feel of it was a little choppy last night.

      The other things – like the Climb, the Headwind, and other similar frills and whistles – are “nice to have”s, but not sufficient to warrant the money to me. That said, I very much doubt that the market for smart trainers is anywhere near saturated yet, and that’s probably where the R&D is going: keeping the offering for a given company competitive with everything else on the market. Or bringing something new to the market that’s competitive with what’s already out there (and if you’re a new entrant, you need to be either better with the price, or better with the feature set, if you want to make inroads against established brands.)

  7. MikeS

    No announcement for the Wahoo watch?

  8. Darren H

    Difficult to tell from the pictures, but does that front leg fold back in any way for storage?

    • It folds in partially. So it saves you a bit of space, but not an overwhelming amount.

    • Julian Chan

      Thanks Ray. For the space limited, is there any difference between the KICKR and the KICKR CORE? From what I can see from your videos, the KICKR’s legs fold in, so it is has a narrower footprint.

      How much larger is the KICKR CORE’s footprint? I’m all sold on the CORE, except for where I can store it!

  9. Dean Dunn

    Just tried to pre-order this from Clever Training UK, but it wont allow me to use the 10% code?

  10. Will you a review of the new KICKR 2018 “full” trainer?

    • Yup! I had hoped to have it written up for Sunday morning. Then for this afternoon. Now I’m just aiming for the universal ‘Coming soon!’. 🙂

      Data collection, photos, video, everything is all done. Just a case of writing the text around it.

      Super short version: Accuracy is solid, new flywheel is shrug, quietness is awesome.

      But ultimately, if I look at the Core (now having ridden it), I’d say: Accuracy is solid, flywheel is same great flywheel, and quietness is just as awesome. P.S – You save $300.

    • Looking forward to it.
      I’ve a Gen 1 Kickr (2014 version, bought end 2015) and was looking to replace it, not because it doesn’t work, just because I want to take advantage of latest advancement, and get a more quiet environment. So you are just saying that the Core is good enough?
      When would you recommend the “full” over the core? if not here, pls answer this question in the review 🙂
      Keep up the good work!
      thx

    • Core is totally good. At this juncture, I see virtually no reason to recommend the KICKR over the CORE, unless someone really really really like adjustable height.

    • Awesome.. thx.. so Climb + Core for the price of the “full” KICKR 🙂

    • PeterF

      As I just sold my Tacx Genius, so I’m in the market (short term) for a new trainer. I had intended to get the Neo, but now I’m torn…

      From what I’ve read:

      Tacx Neo – 1030 euro, available now
      * no calibration necessary
      * some report problems fitting their bike (notably: disc brakes)
      * reports actual (“spikey”) wattage back to TrainerRoad
      * big and cumbersome to handle

      Wahoo Kickr 2018 – 1200 euro, end of july
      * includes cassette and thru axle adapters
      * calibration rarely necessary (?)
      * reports calculated (“smoothed”) wattage back to TrainerRoad
      * Climbr compatible (far too expensive though)

      Wahoo Core 2018 – 800 euro, end of September
      * includes thru axle adapters
      * calibration rarely necessary (?)
      * Climbr compatible (far too expensive though)

      For the Neo BikeRadar reports “produces up to 450 watts of resistance when pedaling slowly at 6km/h (3.7mph) to simulate incredibly steep climbs”, and you had a similar remark about the Flux 2 (“10km/h at 15% gradient”).

      How do both Wahoo’s compare?

      That’s one of the reasons I got rid of the Genius, I want to ride VR trips but with my lowish FTP riding the Großglockner was impossible on the Genius whereas I had no problems in real life…

  11. RobertBB

    Dumb question, but I’m still on a Kurt Kinetic…..!

    Does this unit support Campagnolo cassettes out of the box, or do I need a different cassette body?

    (PS: Nothing wrong with the KK and my Assioma pedals, but the g/f has decided she wants to get into indoor training too – !!WOOT!! – so I’ll be giving her my KK)

    • njguglie

      Campy uses a different freehub body, so you would need to change that out. However, if you are on 11-speed campagnolo, the spacing between cogs is the same, so you can use a SRAM or Shimano cassette on the trainer with your campy bike.

    • Andy B

      Yes, I recently contacted Wahoo support who gave the same response ….

      “Hi ,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      In essence, the CORE will be compatible with all 11 speed groupsets however, you will not be able to put a Campagnolo specific cassette on to the freehub body.

      The spacing across all 11 speed groupsets is identical, be it Campag, SRAM or Shimano. With this in mind, you will be able to run a standard Shimano 105 cassette on the free hub and this will work with your Campagnolo groupset.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions.

      Thanks,

      Stephen”

  12. Herman

    Im curious what different between Gravat2

    Gravat2 about $700 in Taiwan
    also quiet like Tacx Neo
    the accuracy seems good.

    Any reason should I make choice
    between gravat2 and kickr core?

    • I think it really depends on where you are. If you’re living in China or Taiwan, then the support structure is there for Gravat (and probably better than Wahoo). Whereas if you’re living most elsewhere, the support structure isn’t as good for Magene as Wahoo.

    • Herman

      Thanks for your reply

      but really want to see

      Gravat2 depth review 😀

    • Patrick

      I am still looking forward to Ray’s review of the Gravat2 since he tried one a couple of months back.

  13. Alan Taylor Farnes

    Your chart says that the Core doesn’t measure L/R power figures but only a total power figure. Is this true? Can you tell us more about how it is measured? L/R is pretty important to me having torn my ACL. I know this is being touted as a Direto killer but this one feature may sway me back over to the Direto if the core really doesn’t do L/R.

  14. Christian C

    Is the default, non-adjustable height of this trainer for 700c wheels? I didn’t see a trainer block in the video. I’d assume my wife will need one for her 650c bike.

  15. vicent

    Thanks Ray for the post!
    I think i will replace my kinetic with this one…but I have one question.

    I have an 11 speed bike and my wife has a 10 speed. Can she use the trainer on a 11 speed cassete?

    • Sorta, but not in an ideal world.

      In the video above you can see what happens when you do (first, it doesn’t sound good – but more importantly there will be gears you can’t shift into).

      It’s less of an issue in ERG mode, but it’s really workable in apps like Zwift where you need to shift.

  16. Henk

    I’m interested to see how the updated CycleOps trainers turn out, but right now I think the Kickr Core will be top of my list to replace my Vortex Smart. Wahoo and CycleOps have excellent support in South Africa, the rest not so much.
    With how quiet this one is, and with up to 18% gradient, the more expensive ones suddenly seem pointless to me.

  17. MAGNUS

    Ray – how big of a difference does the flywheel size make? (e.g. Kickr18’s 16lb vs Core’s 12lb)

    From all of your comments I see you don’t feel it’s worth the $300 difference, which I get, but what impact or difference does it make?

  18. Bruce

    Hi, first time commenter, DCR. Big fan. After viewing and reading your reviews, I’m going to go for the Core. Can you offer any contact/advice on how to pre-order one? Dread having to manually check website to see when they go live, then get on the line.
    Thanks, and keep it up. You attention to detail is appreciated.
    Bruce

    • Hi Bruce-

      You can actually use either of the links on the left sidebar to pre-order the Core. Both support the site, and historically speaking Clever Training gets pretty much some of the first shipments of Wahoo products. Plus, you can use the DCR/CT VIP program as well (link to dcrainmaker.com) to get 10% back in points, or in this case roughly enough to pickup another sensor with a pair of socks to boot.

      Cheers!

    • Bruce

      Fantastic! I will do exactly that. Thank you for just the answer I was looking for, Ray.

    • bruce

      I did it! crossing fingers it comes in before end of August. thanks again

    • Tom Howlin

      Ray,

      Is the DCR/CT VIP program work with clevertraining.co.uk?

      If so this is the option I’ll chose!

      Cheers,.

    • Bruce

      Aaargh! I was so jazzed about the core that I helped a friend pre-order another one. I saw in your wife’s newsletter that you had been delivered a production model and I was hoping they would deliver them at least on time. I just spoke to clever training and now all deliveries are delayed until at least the end of September. Darn it! Could you please give me your next best suggestion ? I can’t wait at least two months :'(

  19. dbsmith1

    “Kickr Snap…with good but not great road-feel”

    LOL.

    When I “traded down” from a Kickr to a Snap two years ago I commented here that the Snap had far better road feel than either the Kickr or the Tacx Neo.

    DCR replied that “I’m not much of a “road feel” guy when it comes to evaluating trainers (or something very similar).

    I guess, in the intervening two years, DCR has figured out what “road feel” means when talking about bike trainers?!

    For my money the 2016 Kickr Snap has GREAT road feel and it’s a heck of a lot more convenient to use than a wheel-on trainer.

    • I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone saying the SNAP has better road feel than the main KICKR. Also, the SNAP is a wheel-on trainer (not wheel-off).

      Ultimately, I don’t put a ton of value in road-feel for most of the trainers out there, but I also can give you rough ballparks as I always have done in terms of whether something sucks or not – which is usually my barometer.

      Most people argue between whether the KICKR or NEO has the better road feel – and my bet is that if you blind-folded most they’d not know which is which.

    • dbsmith1

      Heh, heh, DCR.

      Well I recall what I wrote (that the Snap had better road feel than either Kickr or Neo) and, as I posted earlier, I recall what you replied — basically what you said today i.e. ‘I don’t pay much attention to ‘road feel”. That’s why I posted today — to call you out on trashing the Snap’s road feel.

      I had a Kickr for 3-4 weeks and also a Neo (both purchased and returned later) and I’d take the bet about telling the difference blindfolded. The Neo’s ‘virtual flywheel’ doesn’t spin up/down like a real flywheel.

      And, as far as road feel goes, I’m not sure what ‘wheel-on’ or ‘wheel-off’ has to do with anything? Is road feel a function of trainer type? Or, more likely IMO, a function of flywheel weight (all else equal — which of course it never is!).

    • Actually to be very specific I pointed out to you back then that the accuracy of the Snap was the most problematic, and that I didn’t think the road feel was as good as the KICKR or NEO, which, I still don’t.

      As for the wheel-off vs wheel-on comment, it was in reference to the last line of your comment. The SNAP is a wheel-on trainer, not a wheel-off trainer as you noted. Generally speaking though, you’ll get better ‘road feel’ with wheel-off trainers simply because you could get wheel-slip on a wheel-off trainer that’s almost impossible to get on a wheel-on trainer.

    • dbsmith1

      Far be it from me to face off with the Guru. BUT IMHO you’re conflating road feel with power accuracy and wheel slippage.

      Certainly wheel slippage is related to power accuracy. In the real world (i.e. not the realm of elite athletes) I wonder how big an issue wheel slippage really is? A properly-adjusted wheel-on trainer using a properly-inflated, trainer-appropriate tire will not slip at the kind of power outputs 99% of us generate. YMMV.

      ‘road feel’ means, to me, the way the trainer feels when spinning up, holding a steady pace and rolling out. It has little/nothing to do with power output or accuracy. Again YMMV.

      IMO the 2016 Kickr Snap has better road feel than either the similar vintage Kickr or Neo. In a rank-ordering, the Neo would come last — the ‘virtual flywheel’ is an interesting concept but the algorithm used to emulate a real flywheel is imperfect (as, honestly, you’d expect).

    • Lawrence

      The reason wheel-off is so much more popular than wheel-on has to do with all that friction required to keep the tire from slipping. It drags down the overall feel and makes wattage accuracy suffer too.

    • dbsmith1

      Interesting comment:

      1. What evidence do you have that “wheel-off is so much more popular than wheel-on”?

      2. “All that friction required to keep the tire from slipping” (wheel-on) is just a design factor to be taken into account — no different than figuring out how much magnetic resistance (or air/fluid/etc) resistance to design into a wheel-on trainer.

      I’ve owned both the Kickr and the Neo; I returned/sold both in favor of a Snap. That decision had little/nothing to do with cost.

      I just prefer the road feel of the Snap and the ease of use — I often work out indoors even in Spring/Summer because of rain or heat. I can easily change from outdoor-to- indoor-to-outdoor on the same bike, without having to readjust anything.

    • dbsmith1

      And, not to be too clever: “all that friction required to keep the tire from slipping” is something that happens naturally, courtesy of gravity, when riding outdoors!

      All that friction is at the core of any concept of “road feel”.

  20. Benoit Rochon

    Is the Core disc brakes compatible? I see it mentioned in the specs for the Kickr, but not the Kickr Core. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work but you never know…

  21. Joachim

    Great Hands-on – as always. Thanks for the great work…

    I currently own a Tacx NEO but I´m considering to sell the NEO and buy the KICKR Core + Climb combi.
    I´ve never really used / liked the NEO road pattern simulation. But of course the silent working of the NEO and the (hopefully) exact power measurement is great.
    But what I don´t like about the NEO is the “road feel” on steep (Zwift) roads when riding low cadence. I always think that I feel each single magnet…

    What do you think / what would you do? Keep the NEO and be happy or switch to the Kickr Core + Climb combination?
    Thanks.

  22. Great Review – I was wondering if you feel as stable on the base using it with the Kickr Climb. Does the new Wahoo kickr feel more steady than the core with the climb also engaged?

    • The new KICKR is heavier, so in theory it’s more steady. But both Shane and I (and Shane seen in the video) did some pretty big sprints on it without any real issues, and that was on an uneven surface no less.

      When you add a CLIMB, you get a bit more rocking sensation – but that’s OK, because the CLIMB is designed for it (the bottom tapers out on all sides so it can tilt in different directions naturally).

    • So Which feels more stable when using the climb the new kickr or the kickr core? I’d think the kickr would because it seems to have a larger base as the kickr core just goes out a bit on each side and the other is like a v. If your on the climb with the kickr core i wonder if you’d have more side to side wobble. I watched your video of the climb and it looks like you guys were using the standard kickr not the core.

    • Wijn

      HI DC and Joachim. I was planning to buy a Tacx Neo Smart until I found out about this Kickr Core 2018.

      Both tick all my boxes and I remember from DC’s review of the Tacx Neo how silent that device is. Silentness is one of my main deciding factors and I wonder how the Kickr Core compares to the Tacx Neo when it comes to noise.

      Can you give some feedback on this?

  23. Stephen P

    Do you expect more trainers at this past point over the next 2-3 months? I’m ready to purchase my first trainer and it’ll be at this price point. Do I need to wait another month or two and see what else comes out? Or is it safe to commit to the Kickr Core?

    • I expect more indoor training stuff between now and Interbike. I think it’s a mistake to wait to announce at Interbike this year…but…that’s what some companies are doing. I think waiting beyond mid-August is basically saying to consumers “We might have products in time, we might not, hope for the best.”.

      Just my two cents.

  24. Hey Folks-

    Super quick update on KICKR Core availability/shipping/whatevers.

    Wahoo has done a few things in the last couple days:

    A) Asked all retailers to cease taking online orders for KICKR CORE
    B) Pushed back the shipment date to September 12th, 2018
    C) Pushed back the date retailers can re-list the KICKR CORE until September 12th, 2018

    Wahoo says this is in order to build-up inventory levels of the KICKR CORE. Frankly, that makes almost no sense to me. Just like it didn’t make much sense when they ‘built up inventory levels’ for the KICKR CLIMB back in May/June/July and held shipping till mid-July.

    Same goes for ceasing taking orders till Sept 12th. That logic doesn’t make much sense, unless you’re concerned you won’t have any units at all to fulfill within a reasonable time frame (Wahoo has often been concerned about that). Ideally, they’d simply do what every other company on earth does which is advice shipment timeframes for quantities of units, so that retailers can in turn advice based on fulfillment expectations. Earlier orders get earlier ship times, etc… It’s not difficult stuff.

    Obviously this benefits companies like Tacx and Elite (and likely others) significantly, since they have inventory today and Wahoo is not only not shipping for over a month, but not even taking orders – so you’re left with not really knowing when your KICKR CORE would start shipping once they do (it could be Sept 12th, or it could be Nov, you don’t really know anymore).

    Turning to good news… As for the unit itself – I’ve been using it a couple weeks now and it’s great. Very solid, zero issues. Love it.

    I won’t release an in-depth review though until they start shipping some of them somewhere. That way I can ensure the firmware matches what you’re getting.

    Cheers!

    • Bruce

      In your opinion, what competitors’ model is a viable alternative? You mention tacx and elite companies. That wahoo sprung this news so close to when we were supposed to receive deliveries, and not offer any substitute or discount on the already available 2018’s ticks me off: wait indefinitely, or pay $300 more. Personally I don’t feel like rewarding, or enriching them for jerking me around.
      What other models can you suggest ? Thanks

    • The closest in terms of other options are the Elite Direto and the Tacx Flux 1 – both are widely available today, and $100 cheaper no less.

      The main differences are:

      A) The KICKR Core is silent, whereas the other two aren’t. But neither of the other two are crazy loud either, they’re both fairly quiet trainers. If you have a fan, it’s louder than all three.

      B) The KICKR Core has a bigger/better flywheel, since it’s essentially a 2017 KICKR. So you lose a bit of inertia there with the Direto – less so on the Flux…but…you save $100 and can have it tomorrow.

      C) The KICKR Core can simulate slightly higher grade than the others, though, if you’ve got Zwift set at the default 50% trainer difficulty, you’d never see that limit anyway.

      That’s really it when it comes to the main differences. The charts above compare the models in more detail as well.

      I think the oddest thing about the entire shipping bit is the lack of clarity on fulfillment. I don’t think anyone has an issue with Wahoo saying “Look, if you order now (mid-August), delivery won’t be until late September, since all orders over the last 30 days since Eurobike have filled up the first production runs.”

      But to say instead “You can place your order on Sept 12th and hope there will be units left for delivery on September 13th or 15th or whatever, or, you might not see units till October.” To me, that’s just…odd…and as you’ve shown, it’s just giving their competition sales on a silver platter.

      This isn’t 2014 anymore, people are buying trainers earlier in the season (as Wahoo knows from their very own KICKR 2018 sales). Shrug…

    • Bruce

      Thank you for your thoughtful opinion and the information. You are a trusted resource. What’s annoying is total lack of transparency to existing pre-orders, let alone future ones. I had to find out while ordering an additional unit for a friend that dates had been changed! I had called Wahoo and got slightly different information, but no more clarity. They were tracking two containers on ships, but were vague on time frames once they arrived, etc.
      I want the Core, but I need something soon. Is your test version up for sale? Lol
      As others have said, thank you for your prompt and thorough replies, even in the midst of family, work and your other obligations!

    • Bruce

      I used the CT link for the Direto, but because it’s “on sale” (as it is everywhere), there’s no 10% off or points?

    • Yeah, I think when it’s on sale you don’t get the 10% or points. Most times. There are exceptions when you can double-down (usually when a manufacturer also ‘supports’ the sale as well behind the scenes), but they are somewhat rare.

      Thanks for the support!

    • Bruce

      You’re the best, Ray! I ordered the Direto from Amazon, will get it, a table for my laptop, a mount for my cellphone, a cassette, a cassette install kit, and a wheel riser (I’ll put a towel down) on Friday for an assembly party…did I miss anything?
      Wouldn’t have felt confident enough to pull the trigger without you, and I have no compunction over cancelling my Kicker Core. Thank you

    • Yup, I think you’re good to go!

      The only thing to consider is that if you’re looking to use a desktop computer (as opposed to a phone/tablet), whether or not you need an ANT+ USB stick for the app you want (i.e. Zwift).

      But otherwise, looks good!

    • Bruce

      Already have one from an old Garmin watch. Good catch tho!
      With appreciation,
      B

    • Erik

      Thanks for the update Ray. Hopefully it will be readily avaiable in September.

  25. Brett

    Now that Cyclops has dropped the price on the Hammer to $999 I’m wondering if I should wait for a Core or get Hammer now. I appreciate your opinion, thanks.

    • Totally depends on how much you value silence.

      Accuracy-wise the Hammer is solid, and, if you can find a way to get 10% off that Hammer…then you’re down to the same price. 🙂

  26. Hey folks – I know a bunch of you were looking for sound-off style tests between the KICKR CORE and KICKR 2018, as well as the Tacx NEO. Ask no more: link to youtube.com

  27. Kevin Lincoln

    Does the 2018 Kickr’s 16 lb fly wheel provide a smoother more realistic ride vs the Kickr Core’s 12 lb fly wheel? Is it noticeable? Thank You!

  28. Mark Hill

    Upgrade a Stac Zero Base to Halcyon for $450 or get a KIKR Core? Assuming the silence factor the same for both but looking for whether the $350 difference is made up by ride quality and features of the KIKR over and above the Stac Zero?

  29. Kevin

    Hey Ray Do you think the 2018 Kickr’s 16 lb fly wheel provides a smoother and more realistic ride vs the Kickr Core’s 12 lb fly wheel? Is there a noticeable difference for ride quality between the two? I am waiting for you answer before I buy one of them. Thank You!

    • MAGNUS

      I’ve had my Kickr18 for a few weeks now, and cComing from the Kickr17, there’s no notible difference. I should mention I do about 90% of my riding indoors.

      I does feel as solid/smooth as before but to say it’s ‘improved’ I couldn’t really tell.

      If both the Kickr18 and Core would have been available at the same time I would have happily of gone with the Core and saved the cash. That said, I’m a fool that likes shiny new things so I also didnt mind spending the extra cash to have a silent trainer right moew along with the Climb.

    • Kevin

      Thanks for your answer!!

  30. Boombang

    What is the simulated grade like at low speeds? Sure a few people are likely to ask the same thing, but which is going to be the best trainer option for incorporating a lot of climbing training between the Flux 2 and the KICKR Core?

    I am asking this primarily given on the Tacx Flux 2 ‘First Look’ you said “Dramatically decreased speed you can maintain 15% grade at from 50KPH down to 10KPH”. That sounds like it is very workable for me and a real USP, but how it compares to the KICKR Core would sway my purchase. Sorry if missed this in the above but can’t find reference. For reference I ruled out the Direto after buying one and ending up returning it.

    • RD

      Ditto, looking forward to this grade/speed analysis between Hammer, KICKR18, Core, Direto, Flux2! Thanks DCR!

    • Boombang

      I’ve pre-ordered a Core following the Direto disappointment. Figured even if the Flux is great for climbing training I do not want to risk an unreliable product or one where support is poor. Hopefully can tell you myself in a couple of weeks (when they eventually get the stock out to stores!)

  31. Devi Wolthuizen

    Ray,

    Which trainer would you recommend?

    Tacx Flux 1 for €549,-
    Elite Direto for €619,-
    Wahoo Kickr Core 2018 for €799,-

    or wait a bit for the Flux 2?

    Thanx,
    Devi

    • In that scenario, it really just depends on how much you care about sound. If that doesn’t bother you (or if you have a loud fan), you could save the 250EUR and pickup the Flux 1 and likely be happy. I would note that if you’re a bit heavier (like solidly 00kg+) and like riding hills a lot, then you might want to look to the CORE instead. But if you’re lighter than that you’d never have an issue.

      The CORE will give you a bit more inertia, but again, I suspect most people wouldn’t care a ton if they could spend 250EUR on some other gizmo or gadget. Heck, that buys a new Wahoo BOLT or Garmin Edge 520 (maybe even 520 Plus) these days.

  32. João

    Hi Ray,

    How’s the stability of the Kickr Core? I have currently a Tacx Flow Smart and i have been reluctant to stand up or sprinting in the trainner. It don’t seem to be very stable or to allow side movement.

    On a trainer like Tacx Neo, on the videos i saw there’s seem to be some kind of side movement allowed. Is it also a thing in the Core?

    Thanks

    • Totally different league in terms of physical stability than the Flow Smart.

      No issues there. In I think my video up above you’ll see Shane sprinting at about 1,200w or so, on gravel, and no issues.

  33. Luis

    About cadence for the core. If I put cadence sensor will work?. Also I have other option I have Assioma powermeter pedals so I will be able to se my cadence in Wahoo app or for example Zwift?

    • In Zwift you can choose to use either a standalone cadence sensor or the power meter pedals. So on Friday when I rode the Core with Zwift, I used the power meter pedal for cadence data (but still used the trainer for power and control).

  34. brett

    So, the 2017 Kickr is on sale for $999.My question is which is the better buy that one or the 2018 Kickr core for $899. What are the pros and cons besides the obvious $100 and the quieter core. Thanks

  35. Zac

    Is the Core or any of comparable models Campy compatible or available with a Campy freehub? I love my Campy gear but sometimes I just wish it were more widely used.

  36. DB

    Hi all,

    I’m a casual bike rider here who just semi-impulse purchased a Kickr Core last night – my first trainer! I have very little experience with bike maintenance (haven’t removed my rear wheel in probably 5 years) and more importantly, no bike tools. Looking for some help figuring out what tools/accessories I should buy to make setting up the trainer properly. My bike is a 2015 Trek FX 7.2 hybrid (with a 20″ frame) and its product details show a Shimano HG31 11-32, 8 speed cassette. That seems easy enough to find, unless I should be considering other options? And can I manage this with a normal array of tools from my toolbox, or do I really need a cassette lockring tool? Any recommendations for one? Any help would be much appreciated!

    • Zac

      Lockrings are splined and you need the proper tool to tighten it. They are relatively inexpensive and Park Tool makes them. You also need a wrench to turn it, but anything that will open up to the 1″ or 25.4mm size of the tool will work, even a plumbers wrench. A bigass torque wrench would be even better to get the proper 40nm of torque, but I wouldn’t worry about that, just get it tight. Chain whip can also be helpful with a torque wrench otherwise you are torquing against freehub pawls.

    • DB

      Thanks for the tips, Zac. I ended up ordering an inexpensive kit with lockring tool and chain whip, and won’t worry too much about exact amount of torque!