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Wahoo KICKR 2018 Trainer In-Depth Review

Wahoo-KICK2018-Header-Image

Like clockwork, Wahoo announced a new KICKR trainer at Eurobike this year – the KICKR 2018. Following an Apple-like release model, Wahoo has refreshed their high-end KICKR trainer each year, usually adding minor tweaks along the way that in culmination end up being fairly important if one skips a few years.  And in some ways, this year’s change was probably the biggest yet: They made it silent.

Really, it’s actually silent.

Oh, and it’s got a significantly bigger flywheel for more inertia.

And that would probably be the headliner for any review except one minor complication: They also announced a new trainer – the KICKR CORE.  And guess what?  That trainer is silent too, costs $300 less, and has almost every feature the higher end model has.  None of which takes away from this review of the KICKR 2018 unit – but it’s something that you should absolutely be aware of when making a purchasing decision.  While I’ve ridden and tested the KICKR CORE (in this post), I don’t have a review published for it.  That’ll happen in the coming weeks, assuming FedEx doesn’t lose any boxes this weekend.  All of which I discuss in my summary section of this post.

In the meantime, this review is all about the full-blown KICKR – for those that want the very best Wahoo has to offer.  Note that Wahoo sent over a loaner unit to try, which will get boxed up and shipped back after this and the CORE review.  If you found this post useful, feel free to hit up the links at the bottom to help support the site.

With that – let’s dive into it!

What’s in the box:

Wahoo-KICKR2018-Box

Out of all the trainers I unbox each year, I enjoy unboxing the KICKR the most.

Why?

Well, not because I have some quirky like for the blue chevrons or the crazy dense packing foam.  Nope, it’s because it takes me the least amount of time to get it up and working.

The Wahoo trainer is the only direct drive trainer that comes with a cassette installed.  For some reason the other companies think we enjoy purchasing and installing a cassette separately.  Not only that, Wahoo is one of the few companies that keeps the entire trainer as one pre-installed piece.  So I don’t need to do an arts and crafts project to get it working.

(Manly men call that using tools, I call that a pain in the ass sitting on a dirty garage floor wrestling with a 50-pound hunk of metal with spinning parts)

So this is what you get when you turn that Wahoo box upside-down and remove the box contents:

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Inside is the KICKR itself, alongside it is a small bag of extra parts as well as a power cable.  I don’t have any photos of it, because I did a video unboxing of it. At least until the point that one of my cameras stopped recording about 80% of the way through.

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The power cable is the same power cable as Wahoo has always used, which is dual voltage (110-220v), so you can take it anywhere without issue.

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I do recommend cutting a Wahoo logo out of the manual and sticking it on the power block so you don’t mix up which is which. The Wahoo cord has no Wahoo logo on it otherwise.

Wahoo-KICKR-Power-Cord

Alongside the manual you’ll find the included Wahoo RPM cadence sensor.  This works inside and out to give you cadence from the KICKR.  Most other companies transmit cadence from the trainer itself, but the Wahoo units don’t do that – so they include a sensor as well.

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Additionally, you’ll find axle adapters in the back, to be used for threading thru which axle type you have (quick release or thru-axle).

Finally, there’s the trainer itself:

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As you can see, the cassette is already installed.  An 11-speed cassette by default, but you can swap it out to whatever you need if required for other speeds.  The freehub supports 9/10/11 speed cassettes, though only SRAM/Shimano. Like the 2017 KICKR, it does not support Campagnolo cassettes natively, but for those running 11-speed, it’s not really an issue as it’s compatible with mixed components (as this article dives into extreme detail on).

With that, let’s dig into the details.

The Basics:

Wahoo-KICKR-2018-Overview

With the KICKR all laid out on the training mat there’s actually one thing you’ll need to do – which is to ‘raise your seat post’. Actually, it’s not technically the seat post, but rather the post under the main portion of the trainer.  This matches up to your specific bike size, so unless you’re riding the same small circus bike that my wife is riding, you’ll unlock the gigantic screw and lift it up.

Wahoo-KICKR-2018-AdjustLevel

While you’re at it, if you didn’t already – you’ll want to spread apart the two trainer legs.  This keeps you from tipping over. Riding with them together would be a poor (but relatively short-lived) experience.

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Speaking of to-do’s, you’ll want to insert the small skewer attachment in the sides of the unit. You’ll find these in that small baggy, and there are different ones for regular quick-release skewers versus thru-axles.  The KICKR 2018 supports 130/135mm QR, 12×142, and 12×148.

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Next, like most other trainers you’ll need to plug the KICKR into an electrical outlet in order for it to provide any meaningful amount of resistance.  Otherwise, it’s like a limp biscuit and doesn’t give too much resistance or broadcast any power (or allow control).  For those wanting to do car-side intervals at a race, you can pick up a car outlet adapter online and it’ll work fine, as it doesn’t draw much power.

Wahoo-KICKR2018-PowerCord

The cable is a two-part design that allows it to break-off in the event you trip over it.  Handy for the days you will undoubtedly trip over it.  It also bends at the point going into the KICKR, again, handy for when you inevitably do trip over it.

The KICKR has two status lights on it – below the handle in the back.  A red one for ANT+ connections/control, and a blue one for Bluetooth Smart connections/control.

Wahoo-KICKR2018-Handle-Lights

The resistance control on the KICKR works in a few different ways, as well as by different applications/methods.  But most of this all boils down to two most common core methods:

ERG Mode: Setting a specific power level – i.e. 225w.  In this mode, no matter what gearing you use, the trainer will simply stay at 225w (or whatever you set it to).
Simulation Mode: Simulating a specific outdoor grade – i.e. 5% incline.  In this mode, it’s just like outdoors in that you can change your gearing to make it easier or harder.  Wattage is not hard-set, only incline levels.

In the case of simulation (aka slope) mode, the KICKR 2018 can simulate from 0% to 20% incline, which is pretty high, though not as high as Elite’s Drivo II at 24%.  But realistically, if you’ve ever tried riding up 24% inclines on a road bike, you’d probably fall over.

The key thing I look for in trainers is when it comes to either resistance controllable mode is how quickly it responds.  The KICKR has a long history of responding very quickly, but it’s still something I dig into within the power accuracy section.  You don’t want a trainer that takes forever to simulate a quick change in incline, or is laggy when doing intervals.

Meanwhile, as for the second mode (ERG mode), that’s when the KICKR can be specified to hold a given wattage (i.e. 300w)  In that case the company claims up to 2,200w of resistance.  They don’t specify what speed though, but it’s likely 40KPH or higher.  Realistically though, you don’t care about that. I can only barely break 1,000w for a second or two, and even the strongest of cyclists out there can’t come anywhere near these numbers, let alone at these speeds.  Said differently: The peak resistance numbers on trainers like the Elite Drivo 1/2, Wahoo KICKR, CycleOps Hammer, and Tacx Neo are really all for show. Nobody’s touching them, and it just doesn’t matter practically.

What does matter though is whether there’s a delay or not in changes to resistance, and with the KICKR 2018, I test that in my 30×30 test down below in the power accuracy section. So check that out.

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Note: If doing similar tests on your own, be sure that in the default Wahoo Fitness app you deselect the ERG mode smoothing option.  This option will artificially smooth your power data to make it look pretty (it’ll look crazy perfect), but doesn’t actually match what the KICKR is doing from a power measurement standpoint.

2018-07-20 18.02.01 2018-07-20 18.02.11

So what about road-like feel?  Does the bigger fly-wheel make a difference?

Shrug.

Sure, I’m sure it does – but you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference, even riding them side by side.  The thing is that the original KICKR’s flywheel seemed to please most people anyway.  And while the new one might be better (I can’t seem to tell the difference in my workouts), it’s definitely not at the legendary (and now defunct) LeMond Revolution Pro trainer level. But of course that trainer was as loud as a jet engine and wasn’t resistance controllable. So comparing apples to cucumbers here.

As I’ve long said – for me personally, it’s hard to separate the fact that I’m riding indoors from outdoors. It’s still a trainer, and I’m still looking at a wall in front of me.  My brain can only turn that off so much.  Overall I think the unit’s got a pretty good road-like feel.  I’m not sure if it’s the absolute best out there (trying to compare them all over time is near impossible), but it’s pretty solid.

Finally – to briefly cover calibration – the KICKR should have a roll-down calibration done.  Wahoo says it’s more like every once a while versus every time, but the key things would be when you move it around or change temperatures or do anything substantial to it.  If it’s sitting in your living room at a stable temp, you can do roll-down calibrations far less often.

The process is quick and simple though.  Simply hit the calibration command on your favorite app – and then speed up to about 22MPH, after which you’ll stop pedaling and let it coast down.  It times how long it takes to determine the calibration factor, and automatically applies it.

2018-07-20 18.02.44 2018-07-20 18.02.54 2018-07-20 18.03.00

Don’t worry though – I’ll talk all about power accuracy in later sections.

App Compatibility:

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The Wahoo KICKR set the standard on trainer + app integration years ago when it was first introduced, and to this day that’s still mostly the case.  Virtually every app out there is compatible with the Wahoo KICKR series, even Wahoo’s own competitors like Tacx/Elite/BKool that make apps are also compatible with the KICKR series.

That said, the Wahoo KICKR actually isn’t the most ‘universally compatible’ trainer these days.  That’s because Wahoo has yet to implement the industry standard Bluetooth Smart FTMS trainer control protocol.  But in some ways, that’s more of a technicality than anything, because as I noted – every app already supports Wahoo’s own trainer control standard over Bluetooth Smart anyway.  So from an end user standpoint it has no meaningful impact to you.

The KICKR 2018 transmits data on both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart, as well allowing interactive resistance control across both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart.  By applying resistance control apps can simulate climbs as well as set specific wattage targets.

In any case, the Wahoo KICKR 2018 supports the following protocol transmission standards:

ANT+ FE-C Control: This is for controlling the trainer via ANT+ from apps and head units. Read tons about it here.
ANT+ Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard ANT+ power meter, with speed baked in as well.
ANT+ Legacy Wahoo Trainer Control: Some older apps might still use this to control the Wahoo KICKR, it’s what Wahoo first started out on, but today most apps would use the FE-C variant.
Bluetooth Smart Wahoo Trainer Control: This is Wahoo’s private method of controlling trainers
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard BLE power meter with speed as well.

It DOES NOT however, support these protocols (which trainers from Tacx and Elite do support):

ANT+ Speed/Cadence Profile: This broadcasts your speed and cadence as a standard ANT+ Speed/Cadence combo sensor.  Wahoo doesn’t do this for any trainers.
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence Profile: This broadcasts your speed and cadence as a standard BLE combo Speed/Cadence sensor.  Wahoo doesn’t do this for any trainers.
Bluetooth Smart FTMS: This follows the industry standard Bluetooth Smart FTMS control, which is basically the Bluetooth variant of ANT+ FE-C for controlling trainers.  Wahoo doesn’t do this yet.

So basically, the only meaningful takeaway of the above is that you don’t get cadence data from the trainer itself.

However, as you may remember from the unboxing section – the KICKR 2018 comes with the Wahoo RPM cadence sensor for your crank arm.  So in that sense you’ll get both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart cadence data (assuming you install said sensor).  Or if you’ve already got a power meter or cadence sensor on there, you can keep that as well.

Finally, It’s these same standards that also allow you to connect via head units too. For example the Wahoo ELEMNT/BOLT as well as Garmin Edge series support ANT+ FE-C for trainer control, so you can re-ride outdoor rides straight from your bike head unit to your trainer.

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In the case of the KICKR 2018, these easily pair up that way.  You can also use it for recording data as well too.  For example, for my accuracy testing section, I recorded the data on a Garmin Edge 520 and a Wahoo BOLT.  From there I’m able to save the file and upload it to whatever platform I like.

For me, in my testing, I used Zwift and TrainerRoad as my two main apps (which are the two main apps I use personally).  In the case of Zwift, I used it in regular riding mode and workout mode, whereas in the case of TrainerRoad I used it in a structured workout mode.  I dig into the nuances of these both within the power accuracy section.

But ultimately, the Wahoo KICKR series is the most widely supported trainer out there from an application standpoint. I’m aware of no trainer apps (out of the 20 or so that I track), that don’t support the KICKR.  Everyone does, and usually across both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart variants.

The Sound (or lack thereof):

Wahoo-KICKR2018-Belt-Drive

Let’s just get this out of the way nice and quick, like pulling off a band-aid: The KICKR 2018 makes no sound.

I’ve seen lots of funny comments around this topic, almost doubting it, but really, it’s silent.  The only thing you’re going to hear is your drivetrain, and at super-high volumes a very faint whirring sound of the flywheel spinning.

The design of the Wahoo KICKR 2018 has been changed from previous years to remove the sound (obviously).  The first portion of that was changing the belt type (again), to entirely eliminate the sound.  But with the belt-type change was also a mechanical change to accommodate the new belt type.  Meaning you can’t just swap these new belt’s on old KICKR’s because the grooves are different, and it’d be like trying to run a train on the wrong gauge of track (i.e. freight train versus inner-city subway).

This same change was also implemented on the new KICKR CORE as well.  And thus, that too is also silent.  Again, I want to reiterate this point because I’ve seen some confusion on it: The sound/volume levels are identical on both the KICKR 2018 and the KICKR CORE (also introduced the same day – July 8th, 2018).

Really, they’re identical.

What’s not identical of course between those two trainers is the flywheel weight and the frame that holds up the trainer.  But neither of those impact volume and both of those are things for a later section of this post.

Just to illustrate this point I included a sound section in my YouTube video about the KICKR 2018.  But, I also recorded this separate snippet as well so you can hear it nice and close with just a phone:

Now – there is one slight downside to the new KICKR 2018 and sound (as you might have heard if you listened above), and that’s what happens if you stop pedaling.  With the new KICKR 2018 the flywheel is metal, which doesn’t mean a whole lot per se, except that the metal reflects the noise of the freehub slightly more. So as you stop pedaling you hear the freehub sound as you normally would, but that noise appears to reflect a bit louder off of the metal exterior of the flywheel than it did in previous models. Still, it’s barely noticeable.

Wahoo-KICK2018-Flywheel

In the grand scheme of things, this is hardly a big issue – you have a freehub on all quiet direct drive trainers as well – like the Tacx Neo too.  It’s just the way the sound bounces is slightly more here.  Speaking of which, here’s a complete comparison video I put together between the KICKR 2018, KICKR CORE, and Tacx Neo:

Of course, the answer to this one is simple, Finding Nemo like: Just keep pedaling, just keep pedaling.

Power Accuracy Analysis:

Wahoo-KICKR2018-PowerAccuracy

As usual, I put the trainer up against a number of power meters to see how well it handled everything from resistance control accuracy, to speed of change, to any other weird quirks along the way.

In my case I used two different bike setups, one half of my time on one, another half of my time on the other:

Canyon Bike Setup #1: PowerTap P1 (Dual), WatTeam G3 (Dual)
Canyon Bike Setup #2: Stages LR (Dual), SRM Exakt (Dual)

This is all in addition to the trainer itself.  Note that because you remove the rear wheel I can’t use something like a PowerTap hub to compare as well (which I would use in power meter testing normally).

In my case, I was looking to see how it reacted in two core apps: Zwift and TrainerRoad.  The actual apps don’t much matter (at all), but rather the use cases are different.  In Zwift you get variability by having the road incline change and by being able to instantly sprint.  This reaction time and accuracy are both tested here.  Whereas in TrainerRoad I’m looking at its ability to hold a specific wattage very precisely, and to then change wattages instantly in a repeatable way.  There’s no better test of that than 30×30 repeats (30-seconds at a high resistance, followed by 30-seconds at an easy resistance).

There’s two ways to look at this.  First is how quickly it responds to the commands of the application.  So for that we need to actually look at the overlay from TrainerRoad showing when it sent the command followed by when the KICKR achieved that level:

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So let’s zoom in one one of the intervals, showing the ramp in power from approximately 140w to 428w.  As you can see below, the timer shows 4:02, meaning 4 minutes and 2 seconds, that specific interval started at 4:00.  Thus, it took two seconds to ramp between those two.

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That’s right about perfect. As is often the case, I slightly overcommitted in the first two seconds, going to 472w before the KICKR wrangled me back into the 420’s.  That’s totally normal for most trainers as there’s usually a surge and slight cadence shift.  Also, you don’t really want 0-seconds either, as that’s like hitting a brick wall.

Then there’s the accuracy piece here – was the KICKR accurate during this?  For that I’d compare it to another two power meters, though I can only find one file at the moment – the WatTeam Gen3 prototype.

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In this case things look very close, with the WatTeam tracking about 12-18w higher at ~430w.  That’s right about normal for two power meters at totally different parts of the drive-train. Perhaps the WatTeam is a tiny bit higher, or the KICKR a couple watts low.  We won’t know for this specific one with only two power meters.  But that’s why I have other rides anyways with more power meters.  Either way, throughout this you don’t see any bizarre spikes or drops, especially during the shifts of power.

Next, let’s switch to a Zwift ride – this one actually just from yesterday.  In this case I’ve got the KICKR 2018 data alongside the Stages LR (dual-sided) and SRM Exakt (dual-sided).  I must first congratulate the SRM pedals for flippin’ finally being at least in the ballpark of the others for once.  Gotta start sometime I suppose.

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Now obviously at a high level these are all very close.  We see a little bit of lower-separation from the SRM pedals, which appears to be an issue with the left-side pedal specifically (potentially still installation, calibration, or just life status – unsure).  But the Stages LR and KICKR track really nicely.

If we look at some closer sections – for example these surges here (all this data I show smoothed at 3-seconds), you’ll notice that mostly the KICKR is below the Stages from a power standpoint, which is where it should be.  However, you do see in some of the peaks of these sprints that the KICKR very slightly overcommits on the power.  This is a semi-common problem on some trainers when you quickly pull back the power after peaking.  It’s barely noticeable, but it’s there for those that want to nitpick.

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You can see it again during this sprint – just barely reaching over the top of the others, when it should be at least equal or below the other two:

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But to be clear – we aren’t talking much.  If you look here it’s only about 13w on 720w, which is well within the margin of error for these devices collectively, especially once considering different placements on the bike/drivetrain.

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Finally, let’s look at another Zwift ride – just for the heck of it.  In this case it’s compared against the PowerTap P1 pedals (dual), and the WatTeam Gen3 (dual as well).  As you can see at the high level – overall pretty clean.

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If we look at the sprints on some of these, you’ll see the KICKR is reading barely high at the peaks as well – matching the WatTeam.  But again, the difference to the PowerTap P1 is only a mere 14w on 660w – so pretty small and also within the margin of error.

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One thing I do appreciate and want to point out is that it doesn’t overcommit drastically when I pull back the power.  That’s a more common issue where some trainers can’t seem to control their flywheel when you do this and it overshoots your power (I’ve seen the KICKR SNAP do this in the past for example), but that doesn’t appear to be the case here.

Finally, in the event you want to look at any more data, here’s one more ride you can crack open and look at. It’s a bit messy because Zwift crashed half-way-through and thus Zwift loses data/control until I restarted the app and split it across two rides.  But, if you do check it out you’ll notice the power values match the other power meters – so that’s what counts.

Ultimately, I’m not seeing any issues here.  I know certain folks will harken back to the days of the original KICKR, which had issues with its power meters (primarily getting dorked up during shipping, as explained a few years back here).  But this is a 4th generation KICKR, far removed from those days – and these days I simply haven’t heard of people having any meaningful Wahoo KICKR accuracy issues in the last 2-3 years since they made that shift.

For fun, I mostly treated this KICKR like crap – to see if perhaps shipping-type things would occur again.  Specifically, I dragged it to Eurobike.  It sat un-tethered in the ‘trunk’ of the RV as we drove across and around Europe, bonking around about 2,000KM of driving, being whacked against things and constantly dragged out/moved around.  I did rides after that (as seen by yesterday’s ride), and all seems well.

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy portions were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)

Trainer Comparisons:

Wahoo-KICKR-2018-TrainerLineup

I’ve added the Wahoo KICKR 2018 into the product comparison database.  This allows you to compare it against other trainers I’ve reviewed.  For the purposes of this table I’ve compared it against the Elite Drivo II, CycleOps Hammer, Tacx Neo and the KICKR CORE.

I know that’s a lot for one table, but it’s kinda the important blend. One one hand you have the higher end units (Drivo II/Hammer/Neo), but the KICKR CORE is essentially just a KICKR 2017 that’s quiet.  So if you had done this two weeks earlier, you’d have compared that as a trainer that cost $300 more.

Function/FeatureWahoo KICKR 2018Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORECycleOps HammerElite Drivo IITacx NEO Smart
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated September 28th, 2018 @ 5:41 amNew Window
Price for trainer$1,199$899$1,199USD$1,199$1,369
Attachment TypeDirect Drive (No Wheel)Direct Drive (No Wheel)Direct Drive (no wheel)Direct Drive (no wheel)Direct Drive (no wheel)
Available today (for sale)YesYesYesYesYes
Availability regionsGlobalGlobalGlobalGlobalGlobal
Connects to computerYesYesYesYesYes
Uses mouse/keyboard as control unitYEs (with apps)YEs (with apps)Yes (with apps)Yes (with apps)Yes (with apps)
Uses phone/tablet as control unit (handlebar)YEs (with apps)YEs (with apps)Yes (with apps)Yes (with apps)Yes (with apps)
Wired or Wireless data transmission/controlWirelessWirelessWirelessWirelessWireless
Power cord requiredYesYesYesYes for broadcast, no for general useNo
Flywheel weight16lbs/7.25kgs12.0lbs/5.44kgs20lb/9kg13.2lbs/6kgSimulated/Virtual
ResistanceWahoo KICKR 2018Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORECycleOps HammerElite Drivo IITacx NEO Smart
Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)YesYesYesYesYes
Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)NoNoNoNoYes
Maximum wattage capability2200w1800w2,000w2,296w @ 40KPH / 3,600w @ 60KPH2,200w @ 40KPH
Maximum simulated hill incline20%16%20%24%25%
FeaturesWahoo KICKR 2018Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORECycleOps HammerElite Drivo IITacx NEO Smart
Ability to update unit firmwareYesYesYesYesYes
Measures/Estimates Left/Right PowerNoNoNoPaid optionNo
Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)NoNoNoNoWith accessory
Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)No (But can use KICKR CLIMB for incline)No (But can use KICKR CLIMB for incline)NoNoYes
AccuracyWahoo KICKR 2018Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORECycleOps HammerElite Drivo IITacx NEO Smart
Includes temperature compensationYesYesYesN/AN/A
Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)YesYesYesYesN/A
Supported accuracy level+/- 2%+/- 2%+/- 3%+/- 0.5%+/- 1%
Trainer ControlWahoo KICKR 2018Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORECycleOps HammerElite Drivo IITacx NEO Smart
Allows 3rd party trainer controlYesYesYesYesYes
Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)YEsYEsYesYesYes
Supports Bluetooth Smart control for 3rd partiesYEsYEsYesYesYes
Data BroadcastWahoo KICKR 2018Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORECycleOps HammerElite Drivo IITacx NEO Smart
Can re-broadcast power data as open ANT+YesYesYesYesYes
Can re-broadcast data as open Bluetooth SmartYesYesYesYesYes
PurchaseWahoo KICKR 2018Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORECycleOps HammerElite Drivo IITacx NEO Smart
Amazon LinkN/AN/ALinkN/ALink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkLinkLinkN/ALink
DCRainmakerWahoo KICKR 2018Wahoo Fitness KICKR CORECycleOps HammerElite Drivo IITacx NEO Smart
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Again, you can mix and match the products in the comparison database as you see fit here.

Summary:

Wahoo-KICKR2018-Finale

So here’s the thing – the Wahoo KICKR is the best trainer Wahoo’s ever made. It’s quiet, works with every app out there, is easy to use, and doesn’t require an arts and crafts project to get it up and running.  It’s spot-on accurate, reacts quickly, and the flywheel is the best Wahoo has ever offered.  All of that is great, Wahoo has no reason to be ashamed of it.

Except one minor problem: KICKR CORE

It’s the younger sibling that realistically most people will want instead. It’s $300 cheaper and is still just as silent. It’s got the same flywheel from last year (which is the same from every previous year) and all the electronic functions that the KICKR 2018 has.  The only hardware difference aside from flywheel is that the legs are static, versus going up and down.  That’s it.  If you had told anyone before July 8th (when the KICKR 2018 was announced) that they could save $300 to not make the legs go up and down and get a silent trainer – everyone would have taken you up on it.

Now it’s easy to say Wahoo shot themselves in the foot here – but that’d be missing actual reality: They had no choice. Both Tacx and Elite were already eating Wahoo’s lunch with their $899 Direto and Flux units over the last two years.  Except neither of those units was as good as a KICKR, and neither was totally silent.  So Wahoo basically just one-upped both of them with the CORE.

But again, this isn’t about the CORE, it’s about the KICKR 2018.

The only downside here is that I think Wahoo isn’t super competitive when compared against the Tacx Neo from a features standpoint – such as being able to operate without any power or being able to simulate things like cobblestones.  Of course, generally the Neo costs more so that’s probably OK – but for those countries where it’s a wash, I’d likely go Neo.  Also note that everyone has varying opinions on which has better road-like feel, Neo or KICKR. That’s as political as it gets. I’m good with both.  Of course, if you want to use the KICKR CLIMB, then you’ll need a Wahoo trainer.

In any case – hopefully this helps you to decide.  If not – drop a comment down in the comments section and I’ll do my best on helping you flip that virtual coin.  Thanks for reading!

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Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take the time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

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Wahoo KICKR 2018
Wahoo KICKR CORE
Wahoo CLIMB
Wahoo KICKR DESK
Wahoo Headwind Fan

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135 Comments

  1. BikePower

    I’m replacing a CompuTrainer and the one thing I always disliked about that trainer is the need to ride for 10 minutes and do a spin-down before each ride. It sounds like you still need to do that every so often with the KICKR, but the NEO does not require periodic calibration. Is that right?

    Also the NEO is bit more accurate with regards to power, allows the bike to move laterally a bit, simulates road vibration and has downhill wheel assist.

    Leaving price out of the picture (they are fairly close in price now anyway), and assuming you don’t need something like the CLIMB, is the NEO the way to go? Thanks!

    • Correct, you should do it every so often – though, in fairness to even that statement with the KICKR, I didn’t re calibrate the unit between the Alps/trip and getting back home – and it stayed spot-on.

      Road-feel wise it’s purely a religious type debate. I’ve heard both sides of it.

      So yup, really comes down to whether you want CLIMB or not (or other nuances like riding it without it being plugged in).

  2. Richard Kaufmann

    So if I want a great trainer setup, and don’t like wasting money for no benefit, do I go Neo or Core + Climb? Seems odd, but you’ve convinced me there’s no significant difference between the 2018 and the Core. And I’m willing to dish out for the Climb, but only if its more than a gimmick.

    • BikePower

      Personally, on longer trainer rides it sometimes gets uncomfortable with the bike always in the same position. If the bike position changes (with the CLIMB) then it could make those rides less uncomfortable because your weight would be distributed a bit differently on the bike as the angle changes. Don’t know for sure because I haven’t tried the CLIMB, but it’s a factor that might swing me to a Wahoo trainer.

    • Michael Coyne

      That actually is the first thing that GPLama observed (not expecting it) when he tried out the CLIMB for the first time.

      Also as somebody who has trained on a long, flat (albeit windy) sandbar for a long time only to suddenly move to a very hilly area and back – it absolutely makes a difference whether you’re using the right muscles/motions. I used to pick windy days and bike into the wind as a substitute, and it definitely isn’t. To me, regular trainers’ way of increasing resistance definitely feels more like increasing the wind. It’s not bad, but it’s just not the same…

    • Richard S Kaufmann

      So I pulled a Crazy Ivan and went with a Stac Zero Halcyon. Ray’s video and Stac’s replies to the thread sealed the deal.

  3. MartinR

    Thank you, Ray! Can all these trainers (Kickr18/Core/Neo/Drivo2/etc.) handle very low speeds at high gradients? Like you would normally experience on a MTB bike riding steep trails.

  4. FJ

    Yup, given the above, I totally agree. Between the Neo and the Kickr, price differencial is a factor depending on where you are. Here in Switzerland, the Neo can be had cheaper than the Kickr for example (and cheaper than the Drivo too) for around $1200. So:

    If you want the Kickr climb, don’t care about terrain simulation, want something that is easier to move/carry around, get the Kickr

    If you want terrain simulation, want slightly better power accuracy with no need to calibrate, and don’t intend to move the trainer too much, go for Neo

    Personally I was waiting for Eurobike before making my choice. Just received a Neo yesterday since I’m definitely in the second bucket above

    • MartinR

      Agreed! However, the NEO should be made portable because it doesn’t require power and thus is ideal for warm-ups.

  5. Gabor Jordan

    Hello,
    Thank You for the review, and do not misunderstand me, do not want to criticize and it is a very minor thing, but in general, I do not recommend to put a logo on the PSU that way. It has to dissipate heat, that loose paper is good insulation.
    Regards,
    JG

  6. Jeff Y

    So the last purchase I made based on DCR’s recommendations was the Watteam Powerbeat G2. That has been an absolute disaster with 5 sensors and 3 pods and now they want me to send them my crank for a “Professional” installation….or…. give me 20% off the G3. But this isn’t about the Powerbeat. Everyone would love the best, but why pay $300 extra. As a triathlete, I can’t reach 2000w let alone 1000 (although the G2 says I can do 4600+w) and all I need is an accurate simulator to keep me in shape during the off-season and train on those rainy days. Gonna be the Core for me.

  7. David

    Great review as always. Two questions:

    1) Have we reached peak trainer? That is, it sure seems like all of the major manufacturers have mastered building a quiet high end trainer with about as good accuracy as you can hope for or need. Is the future all about the doodads and features that they can add on (like the Climb or road feel enhancements or, I suppose, VR features at some point)?

    2) Is there any difference between how the Kickr and Core interface with the Climb? Can’t see why there would be, but this might be an important consideration for some. And are we getting a full Climb review anytime soon?

    Thanks!

    • 1) Yup, I agree, it’s going to be harder and harder to make unique trainers. It’s going to be all about ‘extra’ type features like you noted.

      2) No difference to my knowledge with respect to CLIMB. CLIMB review in the next week or so.

    • David

      Cool. Thanks. Please feel free to tell us that we simply *must* have the Climb. I just can’t otherwise justify upgrading from my perfectly good first gen Kickr. Or is a rusty skewer on my four-year old Kickr a good enough excuse to upgrade the whole thing? 😉

  8. Charles Morgan

    Another difference with the Core version (from what I’ve read elsewhere):
    The Core version doesn’t include a cassette and also doesn’t include a cadence sensor.

    • Robert

      Just checked on this and you are correct. You need to buy the cadence sensor for the Core, which is $40. The issue for me on this is I will use more than one bike on the trainer which means I need to buy two sensors. How can critical information such as cadence be an option on a high-end trainer? Especially when they include it on the other versions. Wahoo can’t afford to include this feature? Probably only costs them $5…Wahoo if you are reading this, this is the kind of BS that will stop me from buying your products. Stop going Apple on us and include the sensor on the Core unit.

  9. Ken N.

    I currently use the Tacx Neo but used to use the original Kickr. For me, the most important unique feature that the Tacx has is the ability for the bike to tilt left and right which is absent from the Kickr. On a sprint in Zwift, there is a lot of lateral torque as I am pushing down on one pedal while bulling up on the other pedal and handle bar. The ability of the bike to lean left and right both makes the sprint feel much more natural, but most importantly to me, it limits the lateral stress on the rear fork. Bike frames are not designed to have the kind of lateral stress applied to the rear fork that one can generate in a sprint with the rear axle locked in place. When I used the Kickr, I used my old backup aluminum frame bike for fear of damaging my good bike. With the Tacx, I use my carbon road bike without worrying. Of course, with the Kickr Core $700 less than the Tacx Neo, if I were buying a new trainer today, it would be hard to justify the extra cost even though I love the Neo and think it is clearly the best trainer if money is no concern.

    • Dan

      Having broken a specialized aluminum frame on a powertap, (top tube to seat tube cracked in front of weld) I looked into stresses a little bit and carbon out lifecycles aluminum by quite a bit. However, of course as always, do what you feel is best for you.

    • Jon

      Get the best of both worlds with the ‘built-like-a-brick-$hit-house’ KICKR and put it on a home-built (or soon to hit the markets) Rocker Plate!! I couldn’t be happier with my setup done this way! (BTW, thanks for the great review as always Ray, I’ve sold my 2016 KICKR and have on order this 2018!!)

    • Ken N.

      Dan, its not that I thought the aluminum bike would handle the stress better, it was that if my 20 year old aluminum bike died, I wouldn’t care. In fact, it would give me an excuse to get a better backup bike. 🙂

  10. Ivan

    Ray, could you please tell me, do you know if new Kickr 2018, or even better, is Kickr Core compatible with long cage derailleurs? It would be a nice setup for my M5 recumbent, which has 11-36 cassette.

    Thanks,
    Ivan

    • Stuart

      I run a medium cage derailleur (Shimano R8050) on my road bike, which is fine on the original Kickr. Given that the Kickr is basically designed to be the equivalent of a rear wheel for a bicycle, I can’t see there being any issues with running a long cage derailleur on it, although this is NOT definitive advice. Worst case might be that you need to lift the Kickr Core up a little bit to give enough clearance, but I’d be surprised. (Again: this is NOT advice based upon anything more than what I’d expect to be the case. I have not seen either of these devices in person, let alone seen them with a long cage derailleur in action.)

    • Ivan

      Thanks Stuart, i’ll try getting definite confirmation from Wahoo, although after i sent this first question, i saw that Ray wrote that the new Tacx Flux now supports long cage derraileurs, but..if Wahoo Core will be more sillent, i’ll try my luck with that one.

    • The thing with both the CORE and the KICKR is that there’s simply nothing for the derailleur to run into – since it’s air below it till you hit the ground. Thus unless your derailleur hits the ground on your bike, you’re good here.

      Whereas with both the FLUX and the NEO, the frame of the trainer tapered down towards the ground away from the trainer body.

    • Ivan

      In that case, great 🙂 thanks!

  11. Luke

    Hi, I am new to zwift and have set it up an an Apple TV 4 with an elite turbomuin with a misuro Bluetooth sensor. Given that Apple can only support 2 blue tooth sensors would I be better off upgrading to a neo over a kickr due to the seperate cadence sensor on the kickr? Thanks

  12. Vince

    I replaced the original kickr with the NEO last spring. I like the kickr app better but the NEO base eliminates the floor vibration the kickr had, which was an issue for me because my trainer set up is on the third floor. How does the new kickr 2018 vibration control compare to the NEO?

    • Steven Tran

      I’m interested in this two. I had the original Kickr as well and it vibrated like heck, but I lived on the ground floor. When I moved up to the next floor, I sold it and got a Neo, but there is still some vibration. BikeRumor had a comment today about the Kickr “[not] vibrat[ing] the whole house.” Is that true? Unfortunately, these things matter when living in old apartments with hardwood floors.

    • I haven’t heard of anything from Wahoo on that front.

  13. Moritz Haager

    So this sounds super fantastic but so did the review for the original gen1 kicker which I bought based on that review. That unit has been a disappointment to me coming nowhere close to the stated accuracy despite multiple emails to wahoo, buying the calibration kit etc. Contacting Wahoo multiple times they never resolved this problem and never offered to replace the unit or the strain gauge. I eventually just have up. Probably should have just returned it but I never did. I had bought it with the intent of putting a dedicated trainer bike in it but I have had to run a powermeter equipped bike on it for accurate workouts which defeated the purpose. It’s a nice feeling trainer but really I could have spent a lot less on a dumb trainer to use it in the way I do now for a similar experience. And the so called upgrade I to get power from the brake rather than the strain gauge really did nothing to alleviate this. Call me jaded but this experience has left me feeling rather cool towards Wahoo trainers, and smart trainers in general, especially given how expensive these units are.

    • Markus

      You describe exactly my experience with the gen 1 and Wahoo’s customer service. And my sentiment with regards to Wahoo because of this.

      Furthermore, I often wonder if these media samples get special treatement (e.g. testin) before being sent out to the reviewers. Or perhaps reviewers simply do not have the time to log enough time with these devices in order to discover all the glitches.

    • RE: Reviewers getting special units

      The vast majority of the time, reviewers actually get crappier units than consumers. In fact, this KICKR is a perfect example of that. From my understanding all the units that went to reviewers came from the first production run (straight from factory to PR agency and then straight to media). Except, during said production run they forgot to grease the freehub. So reviewers had to do that.

      In fact if I look at all trainers that I’ve reviewed, almost every case had initial units being considerably rougher than what consumers got – often just due to software.

      RE: Duration

      Not really an issue there. I used my first KICKR (that I bought as well) for a few years, never developed any issues. Lots of people have older KICKR’s without issues too.

      RE: Gen1 KICKR Accuracy

      I’m surprised the update didn’t fix it for you – it seemed to fix it for most people.

      RE: Customer service

      I do agree that years ago Wahoo’s customer service left a lot to be desired. But these days that doesn’t seem to be the case. I think they got the message there.

    • Gerald Brown

      Thats very much my experience also (with a Kickr 1) . Accuracy too low to be used, no real help from Wahoo and had to buy a power meter for my “trainer bike”. Accuracy now a bit better with updated firmware but not accurate enough to be usefull.

    • Robert Libralon

      Me too!, wahoo gen 1.0 was/is absolutely useless without the use of an external power meter. Very disappointing. Unfortunately, I don’t trust the wahoo 2018 version too.
      I wish the reviews of smart bike trainers would concentrates more on finding power drift problems.
      I suspect we have different versions 1s to DCRainmaker

    • Stephen

      I have a gen1. I put in a heap if effort trying to make sense of its quirks as a powermeter, and finally gave up and bought a crank based powermeter.
      Amogst other things, I found that the strain gauge worked much better than the ‘brake’ model (which produced crazy-high power readings – maybe because I did the advanced spindown on a hot day – and drifted badly over long rides).
      Wahoo were helpful at first and then just stopped responding – I assume the found my queries ‘difficult’ and decided not to entertain it any further. It left me feeling small and ‘an irritation’ and in my mind’s eye I see the workers in the wahoo customer support room saying ‘not that guy again’ and the supervisor saying ‘just stop responding’. It’s a shame, because I would have accepted them saying something like ‘it’s as good as it’s ever going to get’ or ‘it’s an old model and we dont want to devote resources to fixing it’, which I think was actually the case. Before that, they were very responsive and helpful.
      Despite my aggrievement, I just bought a 2018 model, because the quiet operation and bigger flywheel were compelling. But I probably wont ask them to troubleshoot accuracy again.

    • Barry D

      Your experience with the gen1 sounds very similar to my experience right now with the 2017 model. It is really frustrating because my gen1 worked really well and upgraded to the 2017 for the CLIMB. I also bought a ELEMNT BOLT before the 2017 model which I really can’t use paired to my Kickr now if I want good data because it preferentially uses power readings from my Kickr.

      I have been getting help from TrainerRoad and they noticed that my offset just drifted way off during my rides when these issues arise. When a major drift happens it is often preceded by a big drop in power, but not complete loss of resistance. I also find that at best the Kickr is about 10% higher in readings than my Vector2 pedals before it drifts at all.

      Been trying to get help from Wahoo now and I got one reply in a week after initial e-mail basically asking a series of questions I had already answered in my first e-mail. Admittedly, I didn’t summarize well, but since my reply clearing things up I have heard nothing. Pretty concerned I will have this problem last and there is a glaring difference in customer support between Wahoo and TrainerRoad (often get a reply the next day or same day).

    • Ruthless Cur

      I have to echo these responses too. I have a kickr from late 2015 that I’ve tolerated for inflated power readings (+25%) for 3 years. I did eventually give up on correcting this after Wahoo support had no real solution. I just contacted support for the “advanced spin down” solution, but not holding my breath. I want to sell my old kickr but won’t get a decent resale return if the power readings are off. My past experience with wahoo’s inability to own up to their short comings has prevented me from pulling the trigger on the 2018 model.

  14. Thanks for the great review! My 2018 Kickr comes on Monday. I’m currently using a Kinetic Rock and Roll Smart, and I think this is going to be one heck of an upgrade from that – no more dialing in resistance on my back tire! I’m also planning to purchase the Climb later this year – maybe Christmas!

    I enjoy your articles and YouTube videos – very well done!

    Ride on! John

  15. martha long

    What do y think is the best ant for these trainers w apple computer?

  16. Bob

    Heya DCR,

    The comparison table has the Kickr Core listed at 18% “MAXIMUM SIMULATED HILL INCLINE”. That should be 16%, no?

  17. Chris

    Ray
    For me the important advantage the Neo has is that there is no need to calibrate it. It saves time and hassle: you can track your metrics during warm up….
    Chris

  18. Husain

    Can you replace the free hub body with the new Shimano Micro Spline down the road?
    Thanks for the review.

  19. H M

    the reason that other companies don’t install the cassette is that is more of a PITA to remove the 11sp cassette to then install your 9/10sp one, than just leaving it off ( two tools not one etc). than just to leave the 11sp one off …

  20. From a system point of view Wahoo has done a really cool job.

    Wahoo KICKR 2018 (or KICKR CORE) combined with the Wahoo CLIMB, Wahoo KICKR DESK, Wahoo Headwind Fan. Tacx doesn’t have a desk, fan nor a climb-simulating device.

    I’m a Tacx Neo fanboy but the Wahoo system-as-a-whole is really really good. 🙂

    • Ian S

      I like Wahoo the company, and its good for us all that they continue to innovate, but I’d love to get sales numbers on desk and fan….you’ve got to be deep in the wahoo kool aid to pay those premiums for a table and fan.

      Kickr looks good but at the same price point of the Neo most people would still go Neo. Proven to have a highly accurate PM, more features (road feel, etc, etc) and works without power (though the use case is probably limited here). Core against flux is a different story though, I’d go Wahoo at that price point.

    • I suspect the fan will be low*, but the desk sales numbers sound more impressive than you’d expect.

    • MartinR

      Having seen the knock off desk, I’d expect the sales to plummet (if not corrected for the price or sued for counterfeiting) 😉

    • Yeah. Ironically, the knock-off desk fixes the one main issue I had with it: Wheels that didn’t lock.

      That said, I see two sides of the coin:

      A) I’m opposed to blatant knock-offs like this. The styling and such were 100% identical. It’s as knock-off as you can get.
      B) On the flip-side, Wahoo hasn’t innovated on the desk. Simply things like water bottle holders and USB/power ports are what people want and would pay for. Why can’t these be added?

      Just my two cents.

    • Eli

      The wheels make the bar along the bottom pretty high so if you accidentally step on them the desk can tip pretty far. The easy fix is to bend some cans to duct tape to the bottom corners so it can’t go as far if stepped on.

      I would have gotten the wahoo but way to expensive and wahoo limits them going on sale (the 20% off a full price item from REI) I expect the wahoo to cost more and be of better quality but why spend over twice as much?

      Baskets on the side near the bottom for the large power supplies of the kickr and climb would be nice. Those things are big and heavy so good for giving the desk extra stability plus moving off the floor of the basement in case of a few inches of water from a bad rain storm would be nice. And a basket for a surge strip

    • Andrew

      Can anyone point me to knock off kickr desks? The ones I’ve found are out of stock/unavailable. Prefer not to pay kickr prices for the desk. Thanks!!

    • The main one is this one: link to amzn.to

      But it looks to be out of stock for a bit. :-/

    • Andrew

      Thanks Ray! I placed an order, hopefully it ships. Talk about capitalizing on cyclists, pretty crazy how much these tables are. I’ll asmit pretty blantant copy 😛

      Btw I ended up upgrading in the 2017 kickr for the 2018 mainly for the silence. With baby on the way and I think this will pay for itself 😉 thanks again for your insight and love the write ups you and your wife publish!

  21. Nikolay

    Hi. Im using the gen1 Kickr, combining it with Power2Max powermeter. Im using Trainerroad exclusively. I dont feel that noise is any problem for me from the trainer now. As i understand that i dont have any accuracy issues as im using external powermeter or am i missing anything?
    Do you think its worth upgrading from the gen1 Kickr to the 2018 unit in terms of quality of workouts?

  22. Juan Becerra

    Hi Ray! Great review, as always! I still have the 2016 Kickr, and I also have a problem with my downstairs neighbors (As I live in a pre-war apartment in Manhattan) who complain not about the noise, but the vibrations I generate when I go over 200+ watts.
    I was able to make it better by using PeaceMaker anti-vibration panels but looks like I still wake them up when I jump on the trainer at 6am.

    Have you ever measured vibration as well? If so, how is this version compares to older models?

    Thanks!
    JB

    • Mattv

      Yeah, the vibration from trainers is really the big issue in apartments, not sound. When I lived in an apartment, I always felt super nervous about disturbing the other tenants. Until you been underneath someone using a trainer, it’s hard to be sympathetic, but it is annoying. I suspect if the flywheel has even the smallest amount of eccentricity, it will be annoying at speed.

    • I haven’t measured vibrations. Though, I would assume doing so would have to somehow take into account the surface/flooring/beam design that said trainer is on. Some surfaces and structures would resonate more than others.

    • Juan

      Thanks a lot, Ray!

      Yeah, it’s that old, wooden, box-like flooring from old apartments in NYC. Not much I can do about that part, except putting anti-vibration materials as I did.
      I will give the new Kickr a try and see if there’s a difference, so I can make the investment.

      Thanks again!

  23. Juan

    Yeah… I am trying to do something about it. That’s why I was wondering if this new version had somehow improved that part.
    Anyway, I called my LBS, they will get me a unit to test before I buy it. We’ll see.
    Thanks!

    • Mattv

      Juan – I think you have a new career as a trainer- apartment- vibration blogger. Of course, you may need to hire a lawyer, but a small price to pay for advancing the canon of knowledge on bike trainers. Clearly, not enough has been written on this subject.

    • Juan

      Hahahaha Yeah, I would definitely consider that! At this point the whole co-op board is involved, I hired a sound technician to measure the dB noise levels generated at her place and since the result came out negative, we just jumped into the legal arena. I hired a Lawyer who’s also a cyclist, but since we are both homeowners, this might take a while.

      I would consider ending this conflict by buying a trainer that generates fewer vibrations. I already experimented with 5 different noise and vibration isolation materials. I am an expert! LOL

    • Mattv

      Whoa, you are in deep! I’m going to be reading the Post looking for your story

      Have you gone down and listen to it when someone else was riding? I’d be curious to know how objectionable it is. I have a full rocker board suspended by wagon inner tubes. I bet that would isolate it.

  24. ms

    An advantage of the Kickr over the Kickr Core is the adjustable height. i like to use a wheel block to keep everything nice and steady. If you raise the Kickr up to the 29″ height and use a block it levels it with a wheel block and a 700C front wheel. All the metrics are unaffected.

  25. John Kim

    Any specs on that 11 spd cassette?

    It looks like a 11-32?

  26. Chris

    Would I notice any difference in the ride feel between this and my gen 2 (non-climb) version?

    • Perhaps if you rode them back to back to back you might be able to pick-out the difference in terms of flywheel, but I suspect you wouldn’t notice it.

    • TomG

      Thanks for the write up.
      I’ve always felt that inertia is important for a road-like feel BUT that’s more through thinking about the differences between outside riding and static rather than a direct experience of multiple trainers.

      Do I take from this comment that you do not feel that the difference in feel between Kickr 2018 and Kickr Core is significant?

  27. Johannes

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for another excellent review. One question: I am a sprinter type ride and sprinting outside on the road with traffic etc. can be rather dangerous as I recently experienced. Thus, my plan is to do my sprinting workouts on a trainer. Would you recommend the Kickr for that or another trainer?

    Btw, we ran into each in Sentosa/Singapore at this kiddy water playground. Hope you had a good time with a nice ride or two 🙂

    Cheers,
    Johannes

    • Hi Johannes!

      Good to hear from ya (and funny to run into you!)!

      I think you’re good either way. You can see Shane throwing down a 1,500w sprint on gravel in there without any issue (and somewhat purposefully hard/sloppy in terms of throwing the weight around). I suspect the KICKR might be marginally better for sprints simply due to base weight, but in my experience it’s negligible.

    • Johannes Seehusen

      Thanks very much, Ray! That helps a lot 🙂

  28. Eli

    Have they done anything about how the adapters stay attached to the kickr or provided a place to stick the spacer for a disc brake when the bike isn’t attached? Would be nice to take my bike off the trainer and not have to deal with making sure I don’t lose the spacer and be able to move the trainer without the adapters falling out and rolling away (getting lost in the basement is a pain)

    Seems like they haven’t since the Climb I just got has that same problem and doesn’t even come with the disc brake spacer anymore. (not a part all bike shops seem to carry so a pain to find)

  29. Fabio Pires

    Ray,

    The P1’s are still your main pedal power based?

    As always, thx very much.

    • No, I primarily use Vector 3 these days.

      The reason you don’t see them in this post was more of a logistical thing than anything else – I was using the WatTeam Gen3 prototype units, and we installed it with the PowerTap P1 pedals that day as I had the Vector 3 pedals on another bike. I didn’t dare want to swap pedals after that, else it would upset the apple cart from a calibration standpoint.

      Then I shifted back to my Stages LR setup, but moved onto testing the SRM Exakt units.

      Once I’m done with all that, I’ll be back to Vector 3 for me – which have been working without issue.

  30. bikeman

    any word on a price drop or sale for the 2017 KICKRs?

    • Generally not. Wahoo usually takes the approach of basically quietly going from one version to the next with little older inventory. I know this year in particular they were well over expectations in terms of sales, so I suspect they didn’t have a lot of inventory to work with.

      Sometimes in the fall they’ll sell off year prior inventory to an online retailer or two, to use as Black Friday type deals. But there’s definitely not guarantee of that.

  31. Justin

    Great write up but curious about why Kickr places a weight limit on their trainers. Are they the only ones versus their competitors that does this? Where would you stand on a smart trainer if you busted their weight limit? Or do you feel that the lawyers are “making” them set a limit? Thanks!

  32. Ian Smith

    And no word in this review that unlike Tacx Neo and Elite Drivo this Wahoo Kickr IS NOT Campagnolo compatible – you can’t use Campy cassettes on Kickr 2018 (and 2017). And Wahoo dosen’t sell Campagnolo freehub body for Kickr 2018! “In depth” review… You know, there are actually a lot of people on Campy hardware.

    • So many people that on my entire KICKR 2017 post comments section, only a single comment about it was ever made (and then one more comment of something re-confirming that same comment when the question was asked). This, a year later.

      Definitely worthy of note somewhere in the review I agree, but hardly a lot of people seem to care.

    • Also, worthwhile noting that a quick look at Campy cassette compatibility will yield that you can generally mix and match 11-speed cassettes between the three manufs without any major issues (especially for indoor). Meaning, you could use a SRAM/Shimano cassette with an otherwise campy system.

      This post details it rather nicely:
      link to cyclingtips.com

    • Ian

      Shimano and Sram cassettes don’t work with Campy properly. Don’t misinform people.

    • Read the article about the details, inform yourself on how things actually work and the nuances involved. Also, read the comments on said article about people running that configuration just fine (again, for 11-speed).

      Else, don’t buy a Wahoo if you really don’t want to. I don’t care either way.

      Seriously, you’ve come into this all angry and I’m giving you information to make an informed decision (and giving your very factual numbers on how many this apparently impacts over the last year). I don’t care what you buy – but don’t mislead others.

    • Paul G

      It bothers me that the Kickr is not properly Campagnolo compatible, major fail by Wahoo IMHO, especially for those running 10 speed Campagnolo.

  33. Nikolay

    Hi Ray.
    Im using the gen1 Kickr, combining it with Power2Max powermeter. Im using Trainerroad exclusively. I dont feel that noise is any problem for me from the trainer now.
    As i understand that i dont have any accuracy issues as im using external powermeter or am i missing anything?

    Do you think its worth upgrading from the gen1 Kickr, which i use with external powermeter to the 2018 unit in terms of quality and of workouts and precision of data?

    • If your using the power meter, you’re effectively sidestepping any accuracy issues (you can easily find out if you have accuracy issues by recording the power output from both KICKR and P2M and comparing them, there’s plenty of options free and paid to do so, the DCR Analyzer is just one option). There are inherent challenges with powermatch though, in that sometimes it’s not super stable or reactive. But if it’s working for you – then all’s good.

      Personally, I’d find something else to spend $1,100 on than a new KICKR if you’re happy with what you’ve got, especially on the noise front. Just my two cents.

  34. Neal Leddy

    Just for absolute completeness, KICKR 18 overseas orders not being shipped yet according to wahoo support

  35. Barry D

    My wife bought me the 2017 model and preordered the Climb this past Christmas. I have often not been an early adopter and this update is a big reminder why. Would love to have a more silent trainer.

    Also, I have been having random times when my Kickr 2017 just drops power in erg mode when holding a wattage using TrainerRoad and Sufferfest. TrainerRoad was helpful in trying to troubleshoot, but think I have to contact Wahoo again about it. Have you ever heard of this happening with the 2017 Ray?

    • Generally speaking, the only time I have *ever* had drops in ERG mode is when there’s a communications issue between the app and the trainer. But this applies to all trainers, and not directly the KICKR. Meaning, Tacx, Elite, Wahoo, etc…

      In most cases, it’s WiFi interference (perhaps having a WiFi access point too close), or it’s having the ANT+ stick too far away. While there’s always the slim chance that something is defective on your KICKR with the communications side, I’d focus troubleshooting on trying to minimize the distance between your ANT+ stick and the trainer itself (ideal distance = ANT+ stick under/next to it).

      Of course, if you’re on an iPad/iPhone/whatever with Bluetooth Smart, that’s harder. But by the same token I don’t tend to see as many issues there.

      Finally, when it comes to ERG mode specifically and holding wattages – the way trainer apps work is that they send the trainer a wattage at the start of a set (i.e. 350w). The trainer won’t change to another wattage until the app has given them something else. So if the trainer is holding 350w, and then randomly stops holding 350w, that sounds like the app or another device gave it a command for a new wattage level.

    • Barry D

      Thanks Ray.

      Did a lot of the troubleshooting that you listed off already on my own and talking to TrainerRoad. I am using TrainerRoad on a PC with the ANT+ stick sitting next to my Kickr using a cable to the USB port. There is very little chance of WiFi interference too as my router is far away and I have my PC connected with an Ethernet cable plugged into a TP-Link power adapter to power chances f the computer losing signal.

      I am waiting to see if the most recent firmware update fixes things for me although my lighting conditions were fine, but maybe l’ll be lucky and it’ll do the trick.

      My only other guess was the Wahoo Fitness app was causing issues somehow, so I have switched off PowerMatch, Erg smoothing and Erg speed sim. Then closed the app and restarted my iPad.

      I had been using PowerMatch for the Sufferfest so the data in Sufferfest would be pretty close to my Vector2 pedals (find the Kickr is often about 8-10% off the Vector2 pedals). Also, I hoped it could work so that I wouldn’t have to disconnect my Kickr from the Bolt to have data closer to what I’d see outside since if the Kickr and Vector2 are connected to my Bolt it uses the power data from the Kickr.

      The reason I asked was because I never, or very,very rarely, had these issues with the original Kickr in the same setup.

      Again thanks for your suggestions and time Ray.

  36. Basil leRoux

    In your Power Accuracy Analysis you say……. “I must first congratulate the SRM pedals for flippin’ finally being at least in the ballpark of the others for once”. Anthing to read into this about the SRM?

    • I think that line about covers it.

      I’m still hoping that there’s some magic trick into getting them consistently installed that doesn’t require magic fairy dust each time and waiting 2-3 weeks for them to settle.

  37. Arjun

    Do you think this is a good time to buy the Kickr SNAP 2017? It looks great and seems to suit my needs/price point, but I’m just worried that it’s been a year since released and a better model might be coming out soon. Do you see similar priced models coming out in the near future? Thank you so much!

    • There are no further Wahoo trainers expected this year. I do expect other trainers from other companies though. But I think in the $599 price point, more or less all are about the same. So I don’t expect much shift in that category.

    • Arjun

      Thank you so much! I ordered the SNAP, thank you so much for your help. I am amazed that you take the time to reply all of your comments.

    • Christian C

      How about the Tacx Neo? Is there an update coming this year or are they set with the updated freehub from a few months back?

    • MartinR

      Good question! I don’t know but I’d like to see a handle for better portability and a new case for better frame/disc brake fit + wahoo climb compatibility.

  38. Kev Turnbull

    Hi would it be possible to share the code on the belt for the kickr18.

    In your opinion would it be possible to put the new large drive wheel and sprocket / tensioner on a kickr 17?

    • Shane Miller put together a good explanation of why you wouldn’t be able to retrofit the 18 belt to a 17″

      “1) The larger drive wheel is needed to increase the surface area of the new vertical grooved belt. Or it’d likely slip at high torque.
      2) A larger drive wheel means it’ll spin the flywheel faster… so they had to increase the size of that.
      3) The internal gearing interface changes so that’s the third major component + the belt that needs changing.
      4) There would need to be a calibration/verification process on all of the above if it existed.”

      From his YouTube video in the comments: link to youtube.com

  39. Tim

    Hi Ray,

    I’m thinking about buying the kickr 2018. I’m not sure though whether I should wait until after Interbike for the rest of the industry coming up with their announcements. Do you expect more action at that top level later this year?
    Many thanks.
    Tim

  40. ms

    After one week here is my take on the Kickr 18.

    1. It is quiet.

    2. As measured against a Quarq D4, it is within 2%.

    3. On a dead level floor the outer leg levelers must be extended to keep it from rocking(pivoting) over the center leg axis as the center support extends below the two outer legs. Thus, it can emulate for a rocker plate by adjusting the two outer leg levelers.

  41. Julian

    Excellent review. I am dead set on getting the Climb so now left wondering if it is worth $300 for the extra 4% incline or go with the KICKR?

  42. Philip

    Thank you, Ray!
    Great review as ever!
    Two questions from someone who currently only rides rollers indoors but is preparing to join the world of 21C indoor trainers:
    1. When the Kickr (or Core) is in simulation mode and you hit an incline on Zwift (or any other app) that exceeds the trainer’s capacity (eg a 25%+ gradient on the Innsbruck World Championship course) what does the trainer do? Does the 25%+ gradient simply feel the same as a 20% gradient would? (Or a 16% gradient in the case of the Core?) Or does the trainer have a clever way of dealing with that situation? The answer to this question could sway me towards a Neo … (which I think can handle up to 25% inclines).
    2. Which of the Kickr, Core, or Neo is the gentlest on your precious bike?
    Thank you!

  43. Hi Ray!
    Thanks for the great review!
    Do you have any where instructions on how to re ride a route from the Edge? I am particularly interested on a 70.3 route for a race I have done in the past that I will be doing again later on this year, but I could not find info on the wahoo website.
    Thanks!

  44. Peter Beatty

    Hi, thanks for the review. In the look at the pending Flux 2 you commented on it usefully reducing the speed at which a high gradient could be maintained, effectively moving it into the realms of reality. Do you have figures for the Kickr18 and KickrCore along the same lines ? It seems to me that training indoors may as well be as close to reality as possible, though I’m not sure how much practical difference these changes make to the average amateur ?

    Cheers,

    Pete

    • I don’t have those figures yet, but Wahoo is on-board with a larger push from the trainer industry to standardize around those. We had a meeting with all the trainer companies at Eurobike about it.

  45. Robert

    Core does not include cadence sensor. You need to dish out another $40. A part that probably costs Wahoo $5 should be included on a machine that costs $900. This greedy little tactic will stop me from buying from this company. Elite Directo here I come.

  46. Sean Devlin

    In the comparison video, what is that wobble board the trainer is sat on and where can I get one?

  47. JC

    Well I sure don’t want to sound rude or ungrateful to somebody who graciously provides us all this information for free(thanks, DC!), but I’m also bummed that Wahoo leaves the Campy crowd hanging. Their CS should at least have the honesty to say they have no plans to change…I was strung along for over a year by thier refusal to tell me anything other than “we are actively working on a Campy solution…” even to point of suggesting I buy a V3….now it’s V4 and no Campy.. In the end I went with a NEO, but I would also appreciate if you did mention the Campy incompatibility on reviews, even if relegated to the fine print….I’m on a 10s so I’m doubly hosed, LOL. Thanks! 😁

    • Mattv

      I second this. I was ready to hit “buy” when I realized it wasn’t Campy compatible. Although its true that you can use a Campy 11spd with an 11 speed shimano, it’s difficult to adjust and makes significant chain noise. (Campy is finicky to adjust anyway).

      A while back you could buy an (expensive) campy cassette with a shimano body from Wheels Mftg., but they no longer have it.

      What bothers me is that Wahoo doesn’t say it’s not campy compatible. Their product page should “Not Campy Compatible” , or if they do, it’s hidden somewhere…

  48. Michael

    Does it not come with a heart rate monitor strap?

    • No. I’m not aware of any trainer that comes with a HR strap these days. The only exception is sometimes Wahoo does holiday bundles of sorts with all sorts of products in there.

  49. Robert

    Greetings,

    Can anyone tell me the difference between the Kickr 2017 vs the Kickr 2018…I saw a nice sale on the 2017 model but am willing to pay more for an upgraded 2018 version.

    Thank you
    Robert

  50. I wish Kickr Core can support the gradient up to 20% which would fully utilize the function of the Kickr Climb.

    Also, Wahoo should consider a trainer for sprinters and the other one for climbers.
    I would rather pick a trainer that allows me to train for climbing 30-40% hill than sprinting for 2000W.

  51. Matt

    Ray, do you know about whether the 2018 Kickr experiences any kind of power accuracy drift at sustained higher power outputs?

    I had a Kickr Snap which I used last winter but got rid of it mainly because of the horrific power drift which made it basically unusable for power training. For example, I found that going up Alpe du Zwift at around FTP, at the start right after the spin down calibration ten minutes in, power reported seemed OK. But by the top, power was reporting low by almost 15% versus my NGEco. This was most evident on long, sustained intervals, leading me to suspect temperature compensation working, or didn’t exist.

    I wanted to know if you have experienced anything like this with the direct drive Kickr, or if, after an hour at FTP, the power accuracy remains solid. I don’t like to put my nice bike with the real power meter on the trainer (I have a fairly decent aluminum bike I use for the trainer and commuting) so I really need power accuracy to be solid with no external meter. +/- 2% is fine, as long as it is still +/-2% an hour into a hard ride.

  52. Andrew

    Bought the 2017 a few weeks before the 2018 release. I haven’t used the 2017 much since it’s been insanely hot here in SoCal. In your opinion is it worth upgrading to the 2018?

    • No.

      I mean, the only real advantage you’d get here is being silence. Which of course for some people is important, but I’d guess living in SoCal you probably have less utilization of your unit than someone in Greenland.

      Now if you offloaded your 2017 KICKR (resold it), and then picked up a CORE for probably about the same price, that might be worthy.

    • Andrew

      Thanks for the reply and input Ray!! You’re reviews and insight always appreciated!

  53. Tom F

    Ray-

    I’m looking for a quiet fan to complement a quiet trainer. Is there one out there that provides enough air and is noticeably more quiet than others? I use a high velocity floor fan set up right in front of the front wheel at the moment, but it’s quite loud even at its slowest setting.

  54. LookingforSmarterTrainers

    From what I can tell, the new CycleOps H2 doesn’t change too much from the original (which is the only review I can find here at the moment). So I’d lean toward the 2018 KICKR as the better option with it now being silent.

    However, I haven’t been able to find much on the H2 yet and the comments on power-drift with past KICKR models that may also apply here would have me choosing a platform like the H2 that may be noisier but consistently accurate.

    Can anyone chime in on drift with the newer model now that it’s been out a little while or any experience with an H2?

  55. Ulli

    Thank you for all your work, much appreciated!

    Your DCR 10% discount code “DCR10BTF” doesn’t seem to work at Clever Training for the Wahoo KICKR 2018 and other Wahoo products, is that correct? Thanks!

    • Unfortunately, Wahoo restricts the coupon code usage there. But, you can still get back 10% in points, which you can turn around and use right away on accessories. So that’s like $120 in accessories (or anything really): link to dcrainmaker.com

      Thanks for the support!

    • Schmidt911

      Just purchased the Elite Direto from steep and cheap (the parent company is back country, who also owns Competitive cyclist) for $625. This included an additional $60 discount code. I had to contact back country directly to get this $60 as was not processing through the steep and cheap online site. But for $625 total it was worth the little extra effort. Selling my 3 month old cyclops Magnus…so many problems and Cyclops service sub-par.