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Wahoo KICKR CORE Trainer In-Depth Review

Wahoo-KICKR-CORE

This past July at Eurobike, Wahoo announced their two latest trainers – the near-annual update of their mainstay, the Wahoo KICKR (2018 Edition), as well as a new lower priced trainer – the KICKR CORE. Wahoo has always had an even lower priced option, the KICKR SNAP, but that trainer isn’t quite as powerful and requires your wheel be left on the bike. The KICKR CORE aimed to essentially sit in the middle-ground of those two trainers from a budget standpoint, as well as lower the price of Wahoo’s direct drive trainer option.

Except, a funny thing happened – Wahoo probably just gutted sales of its higher end KICKR 2018 trainer. After all, they essentially just took an existing KICKR 2017 trainer (that almost everyone loved), made it silent, slapped less fancy legs on it, and called it the KICKR CORE for $300 less. Donezo.

But is it really that simple? Well, that’s what I set to find out. It’s been about a month and a half since I started riding the KICKR CORE as my main trainer, so I’ve got plenty of miles on it. Structured workouts, free-form Zwifting, and just dorking around. All on plenty of apps too – Zwift, Fulgaz, TrainerRoad, and more.  I’ve been capturing all that data and have it here for you to dig into.

First though, the usual note that a loaner unit was sent to me, which I’ll shortly be packing up – along with the KICKR CLIMB and a few other gizmos from the summer Wahoo releases. I’ll summon the DHL man and he’ll hate me for the massive pile of heavy stuff. But ultimately, it’ll go back to Wahoo and that’s that.  Just the way I work. If you found this review useful – hit up the links at the bottom of the review – I appreciate it!

What’s in the box:

First up is getting this thing out of the box and built. Unlike past KICKR series products, this does actually require some assembly. Also, it’s in a really tall box compared to past KICKR products.

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Now in my case, I did an entire unboxing video which I’ve yet to edit and publish, so I’m taking some screen captures from said video. Once you manage to get the inside of the box detached from the outer shell, you’ll find the trainer sitting there. About 2 seconds later the power cords will fall from the foam and clunk down onto the trainer.

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Meanwhile, if you get rid of the foam you’ll find the two legs in there – each wrapped in plastic. You’ll also find a small tool for attaching the legs and some bolts. Along with the quick release skewer and thru-axle adapters

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Here’s both of those sets of small parts:

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Back on the installation front, you’ll study the manual 18 times over trying to figure out which leg is considered the front leg and which leg is considered the back leg. Eventually you’ll give up on the manual and simply look at the front of the box and try and match the two together.

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Then you can start building it. It’s really just a case of attaching those two legs. You’ve essentially got a 25% chance of getting it right. That’s because you could (try) attaching the leg to the wrong side. But you could also try attaching the leg in the wrong orientation on the right side. Again, just look at the outside of the box.

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A few minutes later you’ll be all set:

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And you’ll have your proud trainer looking back at you:

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The power cords are off to the side. However, you’ll notice you’re missing a cassette on it. Fear not, we’ll get to that in just a moment. After all, this is called the ‘What’s in the box’’ section, not the ‘Get it working’ section.

The Basics:

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The basic concept of the KICKR CORE is to follow what both Tacx and Elite did with their respective $899 trainers in the last two years. Both were huge successes for them, and in doing so they took away sales from Wahoo’s higher end and lower end units. Essentially, Wahoo had a gap in their lineup.

So to create the KICKR CORE they took what is essentially a 2017 KICKR, made it quiet, and gave it a different pair of legs. Roughly. It’s not quite that simple, but in a lot of ways it sorta is.

But before we get too far, let’s do a quick dive into the core (get it?) 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 Trainer Control, 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: 16% simulated grade
– Max Wattage: 1,800 watts resistance
– Stated Accuracy: +/- 2%
– Wahoo CLIMB Compatibility: Yes. Simply yes.

For comparison, here’s the price points of Wahoo’s trainer lineup (I dive into all the details in the comparison section down further below):

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

Oh, with that out of the way let’s get into the details of setup and configuration…which won’t take too long. Unlike similarly priced trainers from Tacx and Elite, there’s virtually no assembly required here. Minus adding in the cassette – which is the same for all trainers at this price point (Wahoo’s higher end full-KICKR includes a cassette).

You’re looking at about $65 for a Shimano Ultegra 11-speed cassette. Of course, you can go SRAM if you have SRAM.  You will need a lockring tool though to install the cassette, and ideally a chain whip. Those will set you back about $10-$25 for the tools.  The process is super simple though and shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes.

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The legs fold-out in a manner fairly similar to that of the Gravat trainer.  It’s a bit wonky to close when lifting it up, kinda like the Gravat, though it has slightly more (barely) protection than the Gravat for closing your fingers in there.  Either way, it’s different than the full KICKR which allows you to adjust the height as well. Honestly, you won’t notice. There are times I’ve gotten a new KICKR and totally forgot to change the height for weeks – didn’t notice.

You’ll then plug it in using the included 110-240v power block/plug.  This cable connects via a small flexible quick-disconnect option on the back of the trainer, in case you trip over the cable (it won’t hurt anything then).

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Once powered up you’ll get status lights for power, as well as ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart control/connections on the back:

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Being a direct-drive trainer, that means you’ll remove your rear wheel and affix your bike to the trainer directly using the quick release (or thru-axle if your bike is of that variant):

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Of course, one of the biggest features of the KICKR CORE (as well as the new KICKR 2018) is the silence. Gone is the sound of the whining belt, and it’s replaced with…well…nothing. Basically just your drivetrain. You can hear it here in this video I’ve shot:

This change in volume comes from a change to the belt itself, going to a v-shaped belt. Of course, you can’t retrofit this back onto older trainers because the belt grooves would also be different on the parts under the covers as well.  A bit of a domino effect unfortunately.

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In the event you’re connecting up a KICKR CLIMB, that’s compatible too. Simply bring the CLIMB’s little cabled remote down next to the KICKR and hold it down for pairing mode. Quick and simple.

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Do ensure that you set the wheel size on the combination using the Wahoo App, that way it knows how much it can descend properly.  It only takes a second to do:

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Speaking of the Wahoo app, it’s here that you can turn on or off a handful of settings.  One most notable setting I like to turn off is ERG mode smoothing.  While this sounds great (and pretty, and it is), it essentially falsifies data from an accuracy standpoint and makes everything look perfect.  So I always turn it off.  But for most people (that aren’t doing accuracy testing), you can leave it on without any impact.

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Given the KICKR CORE is a smart trainer, it’ll change resistance automatically in a few different ways, primarily driven by different applications/methods.  But most of this all boils down to two 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.

There is also a level mode (set levels 1-20ish), but frankly you are never going to use this.  In the case of simulation (aka slope) mode, the KICKR CORE can simulate from 0% to 16% incline – which is pretty darn high. Sure, some trainers can go over 20%, but realistically, if you’ve ever tried riding up 16% inclines on a road bike, you’ll either nearly fall over or just want to anyway.  Not to mention that by default Zwift halves the incline anyway (though, you can change that easily if you want).

The second mode the trainer has is ERG mode.  In that case, the company claims up to 1,800w of resistance at 40KPH. Although, realistically, you don’t care about that. I can only barely break 1,000w for a second or two, and even most front of the non-pro pack cyclists aren’t going to top 1,800w.  The pros would only be just a bit beyond that.  Said differently: Peak numbers don’t matter.  Instead, what matters is actually a harder metric to make clear – which is the ability to simulate high grades and lower speeds (especially if you’re a heavier cyclist).

And this is where the KICKR CORE has an advantage over the Elite Direto and Tacx Flux. First of all: being based on the 2017 full KICKR, it just doesn’t have those issues. I did some steep incline testing and didn’t see any issues.

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

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Next, a lot of folks will ask about road-like feel, and I always say pretty much the same thing:

When it comes to road-like feel, I put the KICKR CORE in roughly the same category as the other high-end trainers I mentioned.  Much of that is driven by the flywheel, and be it physical or virtual, flywheel sizes tend to be measured in weight.  This impacts inertia and how it feels – primarily when you accelerate or otherwise change acceleration (such as briefly coasting). It’s got a 12lb/5.45kg flywheel, which is almost exactly the same as the KICKR 2017 (and all previous KICKR’s), as well as the high-end Elite Drivo II.

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The exact flywheel weight isn’t everything though, because companies can use differing methods to significantly enhance the effective flywheel weight (or simulated weight in other lingo).  For example, Elite’s Drivo has two listed sizes, one is the actual flywheel size (6KG/13.2LBS), while the second is the replicated flywheel size.  This is because with its two-belt system, it actually doubles-down on that replicated feeling in the same way pulleys or levers make it easier to move a heavier load.  Other companies use similar methods, and it’s not about smoke and mirrors, but rather very simple physics here.

Either way, 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 off so much of that.  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.  When it comes to that feel, I find the road-like feel of the KICKR CORE and the KICKR 2018 indistinguishable. That’s despite the fact that the KICKR 2018 has a 16lb flywheel versus the 12lb one on the KICKR CORE. Others that have ridden both say the same – you just can’t tell.

Finally, when it comes to calibration (roll-down) you can do so via both the Wahoo Fitness app or most 3rd party apps like Zwift or TrainerRoad.  You’ll spin up to about 23MPH and then stop pedaling. The trainer will slowly coast down and it’ll measure the time it takes to determine any required offset.

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Generally speaking, you’ll want to do this anytime there’s significant temperature shifts, or if you move the trainer. I found that as long as things remained stable there was no impact on not doing so week to week.

App Compatibility:

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The Wahoo KICKR CORE follows the industry norms as you’d expect from most trainers these days.  As you probably know, apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, SufferFest, Rouvy, Kinomap and many more all support most of these industry standards, making it easy to use whatever app you’d like.  If trainers or apps don’t support these standards, then it makes it far more difficult for you as the end user. Given the KICKR CORE is essentially of the same firmware lineage as the full-blown KICKR trainers, it’s no surprise everything here is as expected.

The KICKR CORE 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 CORE, 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, Magene, and Elite do support to varying degrees):

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. Which honestly frustrated the hell out of me this review round. That’s because I was specifically using Zwift on Apple TV for much of my testing, and that’s limited to two concurrent sensor connections (+ the remote control). So I would have to choose between heart rate data or cadence data. Whereas other trainers broadcast cadence over the same single channel, so I get that data too. Sure, in Zwift one can, in theory, use the companion app to get in more sensors – but I find that flakey and inconsistent.

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. For example, for my accuracy testing section, I recorded the data on a Garmin Edge 520 as well as the trainer apps.  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 (non-workout 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. Here you can see TrainerRoad paired as an ANT+ FE-C trainer with Windows:

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And one last time, here’s said trainer in both Zwift and TrainerRoad, this time on my iPad via Bluetooth Smart:

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All of this worked without issues for me.  Oh, and Apple TV worked too – where I actually spent the majority of my time with the trainer.  Again, this is really no surprise here.  The only issue is that Wahoo has yet to implement FTMS. While that annoys me from the ‘Wahoo just can’t follow standards’ standpoint, practically speaking it has almost no impact on you. Because Wahoo is a giant in this space, all apps support their legacy/private Bluetooth Smart control protocol anyway.  I suspect we’ll see Wahoo add it at some point, but I don’t expect that point to be near-term.

Power Accuracy Analysis:

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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 three different bike setups, though the majority of time was spent on setups #1 and #2 below:

Canyon Bike Setup #1: Garmin Vector 3 (Dual), Stages R (Single), Avio Power Meter (Left-only)
Canyon Bike Setup #2: SRM EXAKT (Dual), Stages LR (Dual)
Canyon Bike Setup #3: PowerTap P1 (Dual), Stages LR (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).  Also, I did some brief testing with a pair of Favero Assioma pedals too – but I didn’t collect a meaningful amount of data on that configuration.

In my case, I was looking to see how it reacted in two core apps: Zwift and TrainerRoad.  The actual apps don’t typically much matter, 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 CORE achieved that level.  Here’s the levels being sent by TrainerRoad (in this case via ANT+ FE-C on Windows) and how quickly the KICKR CORE responded to it:

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In general this is pretty good. Not the best ever (an award Elite with their Drivo 1 still hold), but solid. You’ll notice slight variations from interval to interval, which is mostly based on me getting into a better gear. In fact, TrainerRoad gives you a little warning before a workout that putting the bike into the small ring up front will produce better results for most trainers. And that’s true. You can see the middle intervals were much more smooth than the first few, as I shifted for those. The last two I was just simply getting tired as this was the second workout in a row I had done.

But what about accuracy within that? After all – the above is just showing how quickly it responds, not actually whether or not it’s accurate. For that, we’ll compare it against the Stages LR and SRM EXAKT. Here’s that data set:

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As you can see, these are pretty darn close – at least to the Stages LR (which is the dual-sided Stages that’s been proven pretty reliable compared to many other power meters I’ve tested). The SRM EXAKT seems oddly a bit low (usually if/when I see it err, it goes high).

Still, what you’ll notice is that the power shifts from approximately 150w to 440w pretty equally among all three. There’s no delay from the KICKR CORE (occasionally an issue on trainers), nor any weirdness coming back to the recovery bits. It really nails it in line with the power meters.  Again, the slight variability on the first couple were mostly me having it in too ‘fast’ a gear (which is why TrainerRoad recommends a smaller ring up front).

From a timing standpoint, it seemed to take about 2-4 seconds to stabilize between those two wattages, which is what I’d expect/want. If something only takes under a second to shift between those two it’ll feel like hitting a brick wall.  Inversely, if something takes 8-10 seconds, that’s a third of the interval itself.  But this timing was good:

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And the power curve between the Stages LR and Wahoo KICKR CORE was very close as well:

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Next, let’s look at a structured workout over on Zwift. Like TrainerRoad, this too is in ERG mode. So same made on the CORE from a technology standpoint, but just different app. Also, in this case I changed it up and used Bluetooth Smart to control it from the Apple TV. The specific workout is called ‘Jon’s Mix’ in Zwift, and it’s what Zwift uses for development testing – and also what I tend to use as well as it’s a great blend of differing wattages and responsiveness. Here’s the set details:

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As you can see, overall things are very close – at least for most of the steady-state sections.  The three big spikes you see in the middle there are supposed to be 800w efforts held for 10-seconds per the workout. I failed to achieve that, so I ended up around 700w.  I know full well I can’t hold 800w for 10-seconds except on the bestest of awesome days. This was not one of those days.

To make it a bit easier to read I’ll add a 5-second smoothing and zoom in for the first 9 minutes or so:image

You can see that the Stages LR and CORE match very well, with the SRM pedals tracking a bit below it. The SRM briefly drops out at the 5-minute marker – that could just be some transient signal thing or a Garmin Edge 1030 thing or magic pickles. I have no idea, I’m not concerned with it for this particular chart (instead I’d be concerned that from one interval to the next a mere 30 seconds later the power is different on the SRM).

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Oh, and here’s the unsmoothed variant:

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There’s a couple of things of note in there. First is the part where I peak upwards of about 700w. For that, the KICKR CORE and Stages LR agree nicely. As I noted, I can’t hold 800w steady for that long, but I can hold about 700w.  So the nearly 900w of the EXAKT simply isn’t real.  So the unit does a nice job of responding to my attempt to hold that wattage.

However, one thing you’ll notice across all three sets is that purple line as I spin back down. That’s a tell-tale sign that I out-spun the trainer (it’s also a tell-tale sign that my legs couldn’t pull it off). This happens when you sprint really hard, and then soft-pedal briefly. Lots of trainers show this symptom, including Wahoo’s own KICKR SNAP.  Though I don’t typically see it on the full-sized KICKR models, nor on others of that price range.  In this case, it only lasts a few seconds – but it doesn’t quite capture the recovery as accurately as it should.

Finally, the last third of the workout which is essentially two steady-state sections. Again you can see some transient droppages occurring here for both the SRM and Stages power meters for a second or two each. That’s actually a first for me in the new DCR Cave, but I’ve also got a pretty funky temporary mobile hotspot and cellular signal thingy close by that may be impacting stuff.  Either way, doesn’t matter here.  Instead, focus on the closeness of the Stages LR and KICKR CORE here.

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Now one could make the argument that once you account for drivetrain losses that either the KICKR CORE should be about 1-2% lower or the Stages LR about 1-2% higher. And that’s probably true. But, it would also be true within the accuracy ranges of both.  Note that the KICKR CORE had a calibration done prior to this workout after about 10 minutes of pedaling on it, and then the SRM and Stages both had zero offsets done too.

Next, let’s go into regular Zwift mode for a non-ERG workout.  In other words, where the trainer is set on a specific grade (i.e. 4%) and then you change gears however you see fit to accomplish riding that profile.  Here’s a look at a ride around Zwift’s Innsbruck course (data files here):

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In general, things look pretty darn close between the units for the vast majority of the workout. So let’s zoom in on the two sprints in there. Note, I’ve smoothed the above at 3-seconds, but the below has zero seconds of smoothing on it (showing original data). Here’s the first of those two sprints. This one is sorta a two-parter. I went up to about 700w, and then backed off slightly, and then went back up again.

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You can see on the first sprint that the KICKR CORE seems to be the same as the others. The Stages LR undercuts slightly, but SRM and the CORE match.  However, on the second half of that, the KICKR CORE overshoots a fair bit – about 80w or so for one second, and then backs down to just barely 40w or so overages. It’s super subtle, but is notable.

If we go to the next sprint at about the 28-minute marker, you can see this happen again – also looking at about a 75-80w gap. Once again, only for about 1 second before getting back a bit closer.  If I were to smooth this, it’d look like it was lasting slightly longer than it is.

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I’m not the only one to see this – Shane Miller also noticed the same thing, but in his case he’s able to output more power.  And the problem appears to happen the most at much higher outputs – like 1,000w+.  For me, I can’t attain those wattages, so it’s somewhat of a moot point.

In my case, if we look at the mean/max graph of this ride, it becomes more clear:

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You can see the peak 1-second power here about 75w over the next nearest value from the SRM pedals.  Now differences at peak sprint power are normal amongst any power meter or trainer test – you’ll usually see say 10-40w differences for 1-second recording. Some of that is really just timing aspects, in terms of transmission and head unit recording. Just the way it is.  But 100w? Well, that’s a wee bit much.

For fun, here’s another quick graph showing the same thing from another ride:

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And zoomed into the sprint:

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You can ignore the lower Stages LR value on the sprint, as I was using it in a single-sided Stages-R configuration for an unrelated test (though, it does show you the impact of left/right balance differences in sprints).  As you can see, the KICKR CORE rises about 60-80w above Vector 3. Also, secondary fun tidbit about those last two graphs: You can see the normal differences when it comes to recording the same source on two devices. One of the two upper CORE lines was recorded on an Edge 520, while the other by Zwift. Very similar, but not exactly the same.

Now whether this sprint overage is a big deal probably depends on a lot of factors. For most people (myself included), I just don’t sprint enough and at high enough intensities for this to matter significantly. Especially as I am more of a triathlete than a roadie.  For example, a sprint at 600w just manifests itself as anything.  It takes about 700-800w for you to start seeing it.

Of course, some people may even like this ‘feature’ – it’s free wattage.  Though, most days I try to at least pretend not to like it.  And then there’s the simple reality that it’s something Wahoo can probably fix in a firmware update. There’s a long line of trainers that in early firmware versions will overshoot sprints. A really long line of trainers – even some of Wahoo’s past trainers did initially. So put this in the camp of we’ll see. And again, for me this doesn’t show up in workout/ERG modes, only in non-workout modes for me.

(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:

I’ve added the Wahoo KICKR CORE 2018 into the product comparison database.  This allows you to compare it against other trainers I’ve reviewed.  In a rare move for this section, I’m actually going to show two comparison tables. The first is Wahoo specific, showing you the differences between the three Wahoo price points (KICKR, KICKR CORE, KICKR SNAP), along with the 2017 KICKR (since that’ basically what this trainer is).  Then after that I’ll show you the differences for trainers in this price range from other companies.

Function/FeatureCycleOps HammerElite Drivo IITacx NEO SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR COREWahoo KICKR 2018
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 21st, 2019 @ 6:17 amNew Window
Price for trainer$1,199USD$1,199$1,369$899$1,199
Trainer 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
Wired or Wireless data transmission/controlWirelessWirelessWirelessWirelessWireless
Power cord requiredYesYes for broadcast, no for general useNoYesYes
Flywheel weight20lb/9kg13.2lbs/6kgSIMULATED/VIRTUAL 125KG12.0lbs/5.44kgs16lbs/7.25kgs
ResistanceCycleOps HammerElite Drivo IITacx NEO SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR COREWahoo KICKR 2018
Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)YesYesYesYesYes
Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)NoNoYesNoNo
Maximum wattage capability2,000w2,296w @ 40KPH / 3,600w @ 60KPH2,200w @ 40KPH1800w2,200w @ 40KPH
Maximum simulated hill incline20%24%25%16%20%
FeaturesCycleOps HammerElite Drivo IITacx NEO SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR COREWahoo KICKR 2018
Ability to update unit firmwareYesYesYesYesYes
Measures/Estimates Left/Right PowerNo9EUR one-time feeNoNoNo
Can rise/lower bike or portion thereofNoNoWith KICKR CLIMB accessoryWith KICKR CLIMB accessory
Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)NoNoWith accessoryNoNo
Can rock side to side (significantly)NoNoNoNo
Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)NoNoYesNoNo
AccuracyCycleOps HammerElite Drivo IITacx NEO SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR COREWahoo KICKR 2018
Includes temperature compensationYesN/AN/AYesYes
Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)YesYesN/AYesYes
Supported accuracy level+/- 3%+/- 0.5%+/- 1%+/- 2%+/- 2%
Trainer ControlCycleOps HammerElite Drivo IITacx NEO SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR COREWahoo KICKR 2018
Allows 3rd party trainer controlYesYesYesYesYes
Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)YesYesYesYEsYEs
Supports Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control Standard)YesYesYesYEsNo, but supports most apps
Data BroadcastCycleOps HammerElite Drivo IITacx NEO SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR COREWahoo KICKR 2018
Transmits power via ANT+YesYesYesYesYes
Transmits power via Bluetooth SmartYesYesYesYesYes
Transmits cadence dataYes (with Sept 2019 firmware update)Yes
PurchaseCycleOps HammerElite Drivo IITacx NEO SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR COREWahoo KICKR 2018
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkN/AN/A
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training EuropeLinkN/ALinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerCycleOps HammerElite Drivo IITacx NEO SmartWahoo Fitness KICKR COREWahoo KICKR 2018
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Next, here’s a look at the competitors in this price point.  The KICKR CORE is at $899, which is at the same price point that the Elite Direto was at. It’s currently down to $799, where it matches the Tacx Flux 1. Those are basically what you’re competing against. Personally, I’d spend the extra $100 to get a silent trainer with a bigger flywheel (even ignoring the flywheel, I’d spend that for silence).  But one has to balance that with the fact that once you add in a fan, most of these trainers would produce the same ‘training room’ net sound anyway.

Function/FeatureWahoo Fitness KICKR COREElite Direto (2018)Tacx Flux 1
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated November 21st, 2019 @ 6:16 amNew Window
Price for trainer$899$849 ($799 for 2017 models)$799USD/€799
Trainer TypeDirect Drive (No Wheel)Direct Drive (No Wheel)Direct Drive (no wheel)
Available today (for sale)YesYesYEs
Availability regionsGlobalGlobalGlobal
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 Direto (2018)Tacx Flux 1
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 Direto (2018)Tacx Flux 1
Ability to update unit firmwareYesYesYes
Measures/Estimates Left/Right PowerNo9EUR one-time feeNo
Can rise/lower bike or portion thereofWith KICKR CLIMB accessoryNoNo
Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)NoNoNo
Can rock side to side (significantly)NoNoNo
Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)NoNoNo
AccuracyWahoo Fitness KICKR COREElite Direto (2018)Tacx Flux 1
Includes temperature compensationYesN/AYes
Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)YesYesYes
Supported accuracy level+/- 2%+/- 2% (Sept 2018 models, +/- 2.5% for earlier models)+/-3%
Trainer ControlWahoo Fitness KICKR COREElite Direto (2018)Tacx Flux 1
Allows 3rd party trainer controlYesYesYes
Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)YEsYesYes
Supports Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control Standard)YEsYesYes
Data BroadcastWahoo Fitness KICKR COREElite Direto (2018)Tacx Flux 1
Transmits power via ANT+YesYesYes
Transmits power via Bluetooth SmartYesYesYes
Transmits cadence dataYes (with Sept 2019 firmware update)
PurchaseWahoo Fitness KICKR COREElite Direto (2018)Tacx Flux 1
Amazon LinkN/ALinkLink
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkLinkLink
Clever Training EuropeLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerWahoo Fitness KICKR COREElite Direto (2018)Tacx Flux 1
Review LinkLinkLinkLink

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

Summary:

Wahoo-KICKR-CORE-Closeup

I suspect it won’t take long for the KICKR CORE to become Wahoo’s most popular trainer, and for largely good reason. You can save $300 with almost negligible ‘loss’ compared to the full KICKR 2018. Plus, you could ‘re-invest’ that $300 into the cost of a KICKR CLIMB. At least, that’s the proposition I’d make if I was trying to justify the purchase of both devices.

From an overall ease of use and durability standpoint, it’s just like any other Wahoo product: It just works, and works well. It’s clearly well built, just like the beastly KICKR was before it. Probably overbuilt really for the price point – but I suppose that’s Wahoo’s problem to own.

The only downside is the very slight over-shooting that both Shane Miller and I are seeing on some sprints (not all sprints in my case). For me and my power output, the impact is very minor (only a few dozen watts in the most extreme cases, at sprints of 800w).  Whereas for Shane he’s a bit more of a powerful cyclist and can get upwards of 1,200+ watts, so the gap is slightly more for him.  Of course, some people might actually like this ‘bug’, which in software parlance would then be a ‘design feature’.  I suspect Wahoo will be able to reign this in, as this type of overshooting on early firmware of trainers is actually fairly common (from many companies).  Either way, for my riding it doesn’t bother me, and for most people I’d easily recommend this over the full KICKR based primarily on the cost savings.

With that – thanks for reading and feel free to drop any questions down below!

Update – Nov 2018: Some folks have reported having issues on the KICKR CORE. Specifically the stickers flying off, in some cases the unit not being silent, and related noise-type things. It sounds like Wahoo is going through some growing pains with the new manufacturing facilities for both the KICKR and KICKR CORE. Wahoo has been swapping out units (and stickers) for those that have had the issue. I suspect this is impacting between 3-8% of people, based on the unit volumes being shipped. But it’s hard to guess. Wahoo has said they’ve increased QA at the manufacturing facility, but ultimately time will tell. Given Wahoo is quickly assisting those that have issues, I wouldn’t make this a major driver in your purchasing decisions.

Found this review useful? Or just wanna save a bundle? Here’s how:

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 (a 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.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased.  By joining the Clever Training VIP Program, you will earn 10% points on this item and 10% off (instantly) on thousands of other fitness products and accessories.  Points can be used on your very next purchase at Clever Training for anything site-wide.  You can read more about the details here.  By joining, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers.  And, since this item is more than $49, you get free 3-day (or less) US shipping as well.

Wahoo KICKR CORE (EU/UK link here)
Wahoo CLIMB
Wahoo KICKR DESK
Wahoo Headwind Fan

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the unit (though, no discount/points). Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells). If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.

Thanks for reading!

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603 Comments

  1. Nicolas Prud'homme

    Hi,

    This is a comparison question. I currently own a Tacx Flux first generation, which I enjoy most of the time. They say that it does simulate up to 10%, but I feel that after reaching 7-8 %, I max out, and I just go steady from there. I am a relatively heavy guy (89 kg) and usually will output around 400 watts for 5 minutes, close to 300 watts for an hour (on good days).

    My question: Do you believe that the Kicker Core will really simulate up to 16% if the Tacx Flux wasn’t able to come close to 10%?

    Thanks

    • Yeah, there’s honestly a pretty big difference between the Flux and the Core. The Flux (1) was designed as a $799-$899 budget trainer, whereas the CORE is more or less a regular 2017 KICKR with some tweaks. So that was designed as a $1,200 trainer.

      I’ve never heard any complaints about simulating grade on the CORE.

  2. Audun

    Ray, you probably have some inside information on what new trainers might be presented at the Eurobike from Wahoo (or Tacx/Garmin or other companies) that you can’t share with us, but would it be smart to wait a few weeks before getting a new Kickr, Kickr Core and/or Kickr Climb? At the moment I’ve narrowed it down to Wahoo because I want the compatibility with the Kickr Climb. If there’s any new models from Wahoo on the horizon, I’d rather wait, since I already have a Tacx Genius Smart.

    I am very tempted to just get a Kickr Climb to use with the Genius in manual mode, and wait a little while get a 2019 model Wahoo Kickr (Core), but then what if there’s a new Climb coming… Wish I was more patient! 🙂

    • Yeah, I can’t share anything more specific than that as my usual rule – buying trainers in August is a poor idea unless you get a really good sale on them. Sorry!

    • Audun

      Prices aren’t too bad here in Norway at the moment, about €480 for the Climb and €765 for the Core, but those will probably dop if new models are announced at the Eurobike, I guess.

      Do you think any other company will come up with a Climb-like unit?

  3. Dartmed

    I am on the fence between the core and the snap… I know the core is better since it’s a direct drive and can simulate greater climbs. The thing is how much better for a complete rookie. I am a 45 old , very heavy new rider currently on the journey back to fitness. I also have a hybrid 8 cassette bike that I am planning to use ( I will upgrade to a road bike but not at the moment). The wheel on has issues but it seems easier to set up for a novice ( no casette install,change or indexing issues). I also don’t have a bike shop nearby. The snap is cheaper also. So how much will a rookie miss going the snap road. I am struggling to make a disicion…

    • VeloFreak

      Don’t bother with the kickr snap, get a tacx vortex, is the best deal, then get the core. I have the vortex, very happy with it for the price it costs, really nice. If you use it a lot, get the core and sell the tacx. My 2 cents

  4. moench

    What should I do if I have a 10 speed campagnolo drivetrain? The cassette is not compatible with the free hub. What can I do?

  5. Wookie eats Hobbit

    Hi, I’m just wondering if you’ve received any further updates on the issues with the Core?

    I was looking at buying this, but I’m worried by all the comments on the net (Yeah I know lol), about ESD issues still existing.

    Also, is it better to still wait a few days, re Eurobike. (I did see you article on the Kickr bike, but wondering if there may be some more news etc)?

    Thank you.

  6. NUNO PINTO

    Anyone having intermittent losses of signal/control using the edge 1030 and CORE ???
    I am following a workout on the Edge that control the resistance of the trainer using ANT/FCE, once in a while one of the units disconnects, effectively turning the CORE a dumb trainer. Workaround I have found is to use the EDGE menu to send a new resistance value. That reestablish the connection.

  7. Been looking at the Wahoo versus the Core and couldn’t figure out why would pay more when the Core seemed to be doing everything you could want??? From review looks like the Core is the way to go and pocket the difference. Is the climber add-on worth it?

  8. Peter Balog

    Im lookint to replace my Bushido with a direct drive trainer. My budget first was far away from A Neo or Neo2.
    But now i think that i can stretch to a Neo 2 (there is a quite ok price right now)
    Bu t i am struggling to choose between the Kickr Core or the Neo2.
    I wont´t be able to get a Kickr Climb if i take the Neo.
    What would you suggest to get?
    Neo 2 or Kickr Core (maybe with the Climb)

  9. NUNO PINTO

    Gentlemen,
    Please let me know if I am an isolated case.
    I have been using the 1030 loaded with workouts to control the CORE. Since a couple months, its rare for the EDGE not to lose connectivity and stop controlling the CORE, at least once per workout (1h),
    Example, I m doing an interval and the TARGE POWER is 250W, then the EDGE loose the connection/signal with the CORE and the brake is off…no more resistance… The workaround is to go to the screen where I can use the + – buttons and send a new TARGET POWER.
    I cant figure out if the problem is on the CORE or the EDGE….
    Recently after the CORE upgrade, it looks that the problem is more frequent… I hope this is not corporate war between GARMIN/TAXC and the competition, meaning the big G is by purpose creating connectivity issues…
    Cheers

  10. troy k stabenow

    Leaping forward a year from this review, do you still feel that this is the right way to go for someone not taking the Neo, and who is using a standard road bike? I use an Elemnt Bolt computer, which I like, and my plan is to put my 2003 Litespeed Vortex with 9 speed Dura Ace on the trainer. Since I am 9-speed bound, the free cassette with the Kickr doesn’t help at all. On other hand, i like the stabiliy legs of the Kickr, and the handle; but otherwise it appears the variable angle thing is really not needed for a standard road bike. What I can’t do is assess how the Core now stands up to other products in the 800-1100 range. Just to be clear, i considered the Neo2T but am leaning Wahoo because of the possible price difference and also in case I ever decide to add the climb. I know you are busy, but if you find the time, i would love a simple response of “Lean Kickr,” “Lean Core,” etc. If I go Core, I might add the climb now.

    • NUNO PINTO

      I am happy with the CORE, I have initially got a NEO V1 but had to return it due to incompatibility with disc-brake bikes.
      CORE is a medium trainer with great performance, NEO 2T is the top-of -line…comparations are a little unfair here.
      So far the CORE has been extremely good, I had been training for 9 months, around 5 times per week. Its silent, works good and cheaper, and with the money I saved, I went for the Wahoo Smart Fan.
      I have no problem on the stability, even though you feel that it is easier to lean more to one side that the other due to the weight of the free-wheel.
      I do not care about the climb or the TACX terrain simulation…I train with GARMIN EDGE controlling the trainer and workouts downloaded from Training-peaks.
      If I had to worry on TACX vs Wahoo , it will be on the “partnership” TACX/GARMIN….I am waiting for some novelties on this.

  11. Thomas

    Just bought a Kickr Core and have a few questions:

    Biggest issue is: I bought an Ultegra 11 speed (11-28) cassette with it. Put it on the Kickr Core. Attached my bike (Canyon Endurace AL Disc 8.0). Now, in almost any gear setting, the chain is grinding SUBSTANTIALLY and not running smooth. It’s like there is only one gear or two where I can ride in, the rest is not working.
    Is there anything I could have done wrong? I used the adapter for 142×12 (and I checked multiple times that I used it in the right direction). I did not have to bend the frame or anything to get it onto the trainer, so it should be good?!
    On the bike, I have an ultegra cassette with a mountain setup (11-34) but that should not make an issue, right? The distances between the gearrings and everything should be the same…
    I am not changing cassettes very often, is it possible to get that wrong (like placing one of the rings or distant rings the wrong way)?

    Second thing… I noticed some periodic sound from the fly wheel while driving. So it’s not where loud or anything, but there is some vibration and some periodic sound. Is that normal?

    Another thing:
    Is anyone using the original Wahoo App? I installed it on my Android tablet and did a workout, and it was ok… Changed to netflix and watched some stuff. Whenever I switched back, it was properly adding distance and showing the right power… but after the training, it showed that it hat not collected data most of the time. Distance and time was reasonable, but cadence and power was only showing some data points… maybe only, when the app was active (and not Netflix)? Is that normal?
    Is the app just not very good and I should switch to Zwift or TrainerRoad (I was planning to test that anyhow)?

    Thanks for any input on my questions 🙂

    • Nuno Pinto

      Hi Thomas,
      If the chain is worn down, that means that the whole transmission on your bike is worn down (cassete and chain-ring). When you move the bike to the trainer, the new cassete is not fitting in the chain due to the chain-links being extended from use. It could also be that it needs some rear-derailleur adjustment. But I would bet on the chain being old.
      I believe that if you are using the app on IOS, whenever you switch application, effectively moving the wahoo to the background, then it stops recording or controlling the trainer.
      I use a GARMIN EDGE to record and controller the trainer and a laptop or tablet for media consumption.

    • Thomas

      I measured the length of the chain before mounting it… it is not brand new, but still fine.
      Anyhow, I know the sound of a worn out chain and cassette and what I am currently experiencing is worse. I have to check again later, but I think it’s more about the chain grinding against the front derailleur. As it said, it’s substantial…
      But it should not be normal that I would have to completely readjust everything whenever I switch between Kickr and outdoor riding, right?

      Concerning the app, for the moment I’ll run the app from my phone and do media consumption with the tablet, that should work then.

      Thanks for the answer anyhow.

    • Nuno Pinto

      Whenever I put my MTB on the trainer I need to tweak the cable tension, its not too much.
      The way I use the trainer is that I choose the gear with the best chain line and then leave it there. I use the EDGE to change resistance on the CORE, and use mostly ERG mode…so no need to change gear…I will change gear in ZWIFT and alike…

    • Raiontzukai

      There might be a slight difference in spacing between both cassettes or freehubs. I had noise trouble when I first bought the trainer and even though I got a new cassette and chain for the bike, my drivetrain is still noisier on the Kickr than when outside. The lbs that sold it to me offered to look at the bike both on the Kickr and with the wheel on, but I haven’t bothered yet. Can you use the barrel adjuster to reduce or eliminate the grinding when the bike is on the turbo?

  12. Christoph

    Hello,

    what is a little bit missing for a buyer’s guide is the number of issues / reliability the trainers have.
    I know this is hard information to gather, but does anyone know about issues with the

    – Kickr core
    – Tacx NEO 2 Smart T2850
    – Wahoo Kickr
    – etc?

    and how often these occur / how common problems are?
    Those trainers appear roughly on par, so that should be the main buyer’s criterion.

  13. XS Travel

    I want to buy and run KICKR Core in a cold garage but Wahoo are telling me, “The KICKR Core is designed for use in indoor, climate-controlled environments. Use at temperatures below 15C can result in degraded power accuracy.”

    Whilst my garage doesn’t freeze, it will get close to zero in mid-winter.

    So by how much will power accuracy degrade – is there a relationship between temperature and power such that I could take a view on when to stop using it outdoors?

    Does anyone have any experience of running their KICKR in the cold and how does it behave?

    • XS Travel

      Any takers for this one?

      I’m using a normal trainer with Vector 3 pedals but I really want to go smart and get erg mode.

      Wahoo won’t reply to any more questions about temperature, which is disappointing.

      I could move indoors but I would have to move my wife and children into the garage – where for starters they would find out how many bikes I have 🙂

      Can anyone recommend a smart trainer that will work in a cold garage?

      Thanks

      I

  14. Swervie

    I recently picked up a Wahoo refurbished Kickr Core. It works great, except I have not been able to register it through the Wahoo Fitness app. I don’t ever get the option to register it. Tried this with iPhone and Android devices.I can do everything else, update firmware and spindown. Wahoo says it’s not a big deal and has supplied me with all the free offers to Zwift, Strava, etc, but it’s just bugging me. Anyone else have this issue, should I even care about this issue?

    • James

      I just (today) ordered one the refurb’ed Cores also; great price if this thing works… I will reply here once I get it set up.

    • Olly

      Hi,
      I also have/had this issue and opened a ticket. Here’s Wahoo’s reply:
      “Registration is not currently possible for refurbished trainers, however this will not have any impact on your warranty or service coverage.”
      Hth,
      Oliver

    • Swervie

      Thanks for the info Olly!

      Well I’m glad I’m not the only one who has this issue, and wish they would have told me this in the beginning when I opened my ticket. I do think it’s kind of amateurish that they have nothing in place to allow the registration of refurbished devices that they are constantly selling.

  15. AKA_Europe

    Hi. Just bought the Kickr Core and was wondering if I could use the heart rate from my Fenix 5plus (it’s in broadcast mode over ANT+) and have it picked up by the Kickr Core before it’s bundled in the Bluetooth connection to my phone. So far I haven’t managed to have the Kickr Core connect to my watch (for HR purposes), but I’m guessing this should be doable. Bit reluctant to purchase a HR chest band as I’m not a big fan of wearing something on my chest..

  16. Thomasnattakun

    DCR and all folks
    I am new with direct drive smart trainer , currently i own MTB 29er 1×12-speed drivetrain
    Wahoo KICKR CORE sound good deal ,per specs requires Cassette: 8/9/10/11

    Curious if this would have any compatibility issue literary all those MTB 1×12-speed ?
    Anyone has experience much appreciate for all answers

    .

    • Swervie

      If the 12 speed stack is the same width as an 11 speed stack it should work fine. I think Shimano’s new 1×12 stack is the same width as the 11 speed. From what I’ve read, the new HDr by SRAM uses a 1.8mm wider freehub so your best bet is to contact Wahoo with this question.

    • Marco

      The Shimano 1×12 uses a new freehub called Micro Spline, so you need another body on the Kickr if i’m not mistaking.

  17. Michelangelo Ivaldi

    I have an elite realtour trainer and a stages powermeter. I’d like to upgrade my trainer to a direct drive one. Considering that I already have the power meter on the crancks, is there a cheaper solution than the kickr core with the same functionalities but no power measured?

  18. Marco

    Had my first ride yesterday on the new Kickr Core. Did a calibration in Zwift after 10 minutes. Coming from a Tacx Flow Smart wheel-on trainer, I’m wondering if a Direct Drive trainer is that much harder to pedal even on flat roads in Zwift!? Or is there something wrong with the Kickr Core?

    I also hear a whirring sound as if a bearing is bad, not loud but it is there when the flywheel is turning, no matter if i’m pedaling or coasting.
    After the Zwift workout I did a calibration with the Wahoo Utility app. Will try today with the Wahoo Fitness app to see if it makes a difference.

    • Marco

      Forgot to mention: Because the effort for pedaling on a flat part in Zwift was harder for me, I barely noticed resistance changing when I was climbing. Yes it got harder, but the difference was much smaller to notice compared to the Tacx Flow Smart wheel-on trainer.

      So still wondering if it’s me or the Kickr Core having a problem!? 😉

    • Marco

      Turns out that you really need to calibrate with the Wahoo app, not in Zwift and also not with the Wahoo Utility app! All is fine now resistance wise. Now only the light whirring noise needs to get resolved…

  19. Olly

    For those who also ordered a refurbished Kickr Core: mine offered a firmware update upon connection to Wahoo app. I checked firmware version to see if it’s latest and was surprised that version number was much higher than what is listed on Wahoo support site. Digging a bit deeper I spotted it’s the firmware release for Kickr ’18. So I contacted Wahoo and they told me a wrong power control board was installed. So my Kickr Core gets replaced.
    It works perfect, even power matches perfect with my Favero bePROs, analyzed with DCRAnalyzer.

  20. Chris McReynolds

    What a horrible experience I’m having. I can’t believe nobody is warning people about this. I have a Kagura Smart that isn’t very accurate and I’m now letting other family members use it, unpowered. At least the Kagura is relatively predictable when connected to my Garmin Edge and I ramp up the resistance. This Kickr, my “upgrade” to free up the Kagura, is using “simulation” that isn’t just unrealistic, it’s as though it’s trying to Gaslight you. It won’t hold steady power. It tries to “simulate” overcoming your body weight (I assume) but very unpredictably. No matter where you increase cadence from, it will add a resistance spike at the wrong time and then drop resistance too much so that you can’t even hit any target zones (unless they’re about 50 watts wide and you never plan on any greater precision than that). In static ergo mode it does the same thing but is only slightly more stable. If you enter 150 on the control app (I’m using Android in this case) it will hold about 145 per the app and about 135 per my calibrated Vector 3 dual. This thing is worse than useless. I can’t use it for training. How can people put up with this? I tried using only the Garmin FEC controller and it had all of the same problems. I guess Wahoo is just too smart for me and knows better when to throw random resistance in. It’s not “realistic.” It’s worse than “passive” resistance (and the passive mode doesn’t really work either, you can only use it unplugged and limit yourself to maybe 130 watts of resistance in your highest gear at about 100 RPM). I can’t even use the thing. If there’s a software solution I can not find it documented anywhere online and nobody is mentioning these kinds of problems. The relevant topic is covered online, sort of, but requires iOS to even try to fix it.

    • Do you have any comparison data to share by chance (side by side with Vector)?

      Also – did you do a spindown calibration of the CORE?

      As you noted – what you’re describing (it ignoring the set-point power levels) isn’t a problem I remember hearing of before. Typically when that happens (across any trainer), it’s because some other device has ‘control’ over it. So two things battling for control.

  21. LM

    Don’t buy a Kickr Core. I bought one a month ago and haven’t been a ble to ride it:
    1. First it arrived without B adapter for a quick-release bike. Waited a week to get one.
    2. Found out that the android app simply does not work on the two android phones in this house. Checking reviews in the Google Play Store shows an average rating of 1 star — everyone saying the android app does not work. Wahoo support asked me for the S/N as if the problem might be with the Kickr’s connetions (which was obviously not the case as it connected fine to Zwift as well as a borrowed ipad).
    3. When i could finally use the borrowed ipad to do the firmware upgrade and the spindown, i came to realize that the Kickr Core makes a clicking and clacking sound when it is spinning. Again Wahoo support only asked for the S/N.
    4. We are now two weeks further and no solution. When i ask how we are going to solve the noise problem, there is no answer.

  22. Ludo M

    Here is my experience with Wahoo and the Kickr Core:
    * Ordered a Kickr Core “certified refurbished” on Oct 7, 2019. I was of course aware of the numerous negative reviews online (tons of customers having to return their Kickr or Kickr Core for various issues) but I figured that a certified refurbished was actually the safest bet to get a reliable unit as it was presumable checked, verified, and certified.
    * When it arrived I found out that the android app failed on both android phones in our household. For both the firmware update and spindown test there was a consistent failed at the end of the procedure. On a borrowed ipad the same worked fine, so it was not a connection problem with the unit but confirmation that the android app is no good (see all the reviews/comments in the Google Play store). I pointed this out in emails to Wahoo customer support but they consistently ignored my comments about the android app.
    * Next, from the beginning the Kickr Core made a loud clicking and clacking sound. I sent a video with sound to Wahoo. Several days later customer support told me that the unit needed to be replaced. They asked for the shipping address and I gave it to them.
    * I also pointed out to them how disappointing this is that they continue to ship out defective units, despite the fact that there are so many customer complaints. Especially if you want to claim that you certify that it was refurbushed, you should at least check that it works well, but Wahoo obviously doesn’t do that (or doesn’t do it well). Instead of taking responsibility, they responded with some template spin about occasionally and rarely one will fail.
    * I asked if the replacement Kickr Core would come with a return shipping label. Wahoo responded by saying no you need to pack it and send it first before we send one out. We’re a full weeks after my purchase so I point out that it is extremely frustrating that I paid 3 weeks earlier and still don’t have a functioning unit and that, in my opinion, they should have already overnighted a replacement.
    * Another support person (NAME) asks me if maybe I want a Tickr or some other small stuff thrown in. I respond by saying that honestly at this point if I needed an HR monitor or the other items I would rather buy them from another company that I have always had good luck with.
    * In return, NAME responds by saying …. that they no longer want me to have a Kickr Core and that therefore he has changed my Kickr Core replacement case into a return for refund. Yup, no kidding, without me ever saying anything like that, Wahoo arrogantly decided that they do not want me as a customer. That’s what you get from Wahoo for saying that you’d rather not get the free Tickr or cadence sensor — yikes.
    * So I tell NAME that I never said that I did not want the replacement Kickr Core (I do want it and I already paid for it 3 weeks ago) and I ask NAME for the contact information for his supervisor so that I can discuss in person that this type of refusal to sell to particular customers is not an OK thing. NAME has not provided the requested information and he has not responded.

    That’s just how my story went and where we are now. Wahoo refusing to replace the Kickr Core that was defective right out of the box. I can get a refund but they do not want me to have a Kickr Core. Draw your own conclusions if you are considering a purchase.

    [Note from DCR: Customer service name removed for privacy reasons]

    • Olly

      Hi Ludo,
      here’s my experience with Wahoo support, a bit different than yours.
      * I received my refurbished Core and setup was easy, everything in the box. At first connection I updated firmware as promped by Wahoo app and did the required spindown afterwards. First ride was perfect. Trainer is super silent and even power data are perfectly aligned with those from my Favero power meter. Sent data to DCR Analyzer, difference 0.8%.
      * When I read about Core firmware update that enables cadence I looked up firmware version installed on my Core. I was a bit surprised that it doesn’t match the firmware numbering at all. A bit later I found it it’s the version number of Kickr ’18. Also Wahoo tool and Zwift reports it as Kickr, without “CORE”.
      * I opened a ticket at Wahoo and gave them the information. They apologized and said a wrong control board was installed, unit will be replaced. They will prepare a return label and as soon as they received it replacement unit will be send. I said I don’t want to lose a training day and unit is working, asking to send replacement unit immediately which they agreed.
      * I received replacement unit two days later. While unpacking I spotted that former user also packed his cassette’s spacer. I setup this unit and while simply turning flywheel by hand I heard a kind of dragging noise. Disappointed. Anyway, I gave it a try. Firmware version was ok, so at least correct control board. First ride was even more disappointing. Noise level much higher that my previous Core which was super silent. And at higher speed of flywheel I get some clicking sound on top. Power data were about 8 % too high in average, up to +25 W at 250 W. No way I’ll keep that unit.
      * Add all mentioned above to Wahoo on my existing ticket, asking for replacement of this unit. Confirmed by Wahoo it’ll get replaced. Replacement unit shipped with Express.

      All in all I’m disappointed by quality of refurb’ed Cores. As Ludo and Cypher mentioned also, I had expectation/hope that those unity get a kind of QA before they leave out to customers, especially as issues were known/confirmed by Wahoo and units have been in use already.
      But their customer support is pretty good from my point of view. Replacements were handled quick and easily, communication is prompt and polite. No need to argue for me.

    • Ludo M

      I am glad that you received such good customer support. While waiting for my exchange Kickr Core I was told (and I quote the Wahoo rep) “We would rather have you be using a product that you are satisfied with instead of being dissatisfied with ours. Once the product has been received we will refund you promptly.” I never asked for a refund, only to get a replacement asap. It is not up to the company to decide for me and let me know that they have changed their mind about the exchange. Then I had to escalate to NAME’ supervisor in order to get the case changed back to waiting for an exchange. That is poor service.

      [Edit from DCR: Customer service person’s name removed for privacy reasons]

    • Jim

      Unbelievable. It seems to have become a consistent fact that if you order a new Kickr the problems have been largely worked out but if you buy a refurb or have the misfortune of buying one of the original defective units you are going to be in for a long tale of sending them back for replacement many times. At least until the warranty expires then you have a nice doorstop.

      I can’t believe Wahoo is still sending out these defective units as replacements and expecting their customers to be happy with that. While I know it would be expensive to replace the defective unit with new fixed ones, sending out garbage replacements as well as the whole saga of the original defective units has done Wahoo irreparable damage to their reputation IMHO.

      I will be purchasing a new direct drive smart trainer in the next couple of weeks and have unequivocally eliminated any Wahoo product do to the unending return cycle I continue to read about more that a year after the units were released. In fact, because of the way Wahoo has handled this, it is very unlikely I will ever purchase anything from them again.

      If I were you I might look at their refusal to exchange the unit as a blessing in disguise and happily accept the refund.

    • Stuart

      Comments like these make me glad that I live in Australia. If I buy a Kickr (core, snap, whatever) from a retailer and it’s faulty, the retailer has to make it good for me, and claim their recompense from Wahoo. The phrases “of merchantable quality” and “fit for purpose” have real legal teeth here; that sort of runaround would get the attention of the ACCC _very_ quickly.

  23. Kevin

    Quick question. Do Wahoo turbos – Snap and Core – fit long cage derailleurs (ie. 11-32t cassette)?
    Thanks.
    Kevin

  24. Joe Magro

    Word of warning to those still considering this trainer. I waited a year in hopes Wahoo would truly solve the ESD frying the optical sensor problem. Had multiple friends go through this issue during the 2018 holiday season and was content to wait and see. Based on continued recommendations from this site, and a CEO statement from Wahoo, I decided to make the purchase.

    In October 2019, I purchased a new Kickr Core. I confirmed it had the improved power block (not really a fix for static coming from the rider) but had no way to know whether a ground had been added to the board (better solution in my opinion). For context, I ride in my garage on concrete, and live in a dry climate. During my 8th or so ride, while taking off an outer layer after warming up, the trainer stopped transmitting speed and power. After confirming through multiple apps, I contacted Wahoo Support.

    To their credit, the support team quickly sent a replacement, although no one would discuss with me the failure mode of the trainer. The replacement was a newer serial number, again with the improved power block.

    On my first ride with the trainer, 15 minutes in and again after removing an outer layer, I felt a slight shock and the unit stopped transmitting speed and power.

    I’ve reached out to Wahoo again tonight, and if I can’t have an honest discussion about this issue, and the chance of it repeating a third time, I will look elsewhere this winter. It’s clear the act of removing a jacket in my dry climate is more than the PCBAs in this trainer can handle. While I believe that, now understanding the limits of the hardware, I could work around the Kickr Core’s flaw on a 3rd unit, that’s not a concession I’m willing to make for a $900 device.

    Thanks for reading, and I hope for those of you in a similar climate this is helpful.

    • Joe Magro

      To update: Today, I called Wahoo customer support and had a chance to speak with some of their team leaders. We went through a process to re-establish the unit’s connection with first my phone, and then my AppleTV. The speed/power signal, to my surprise, did return. I also recreated the static buildup scenario with them, but was not able to cause the trainer to disconnect.

      It is clear that the optical sensor was not damaged last night as I removed my jacket. While I am left confused at the seemingly impossible coincidence, last night’s signal disruption was not the result of permanent damage to the trainer.

      I was also told today that, since last winter, Wahoo has more or less simulated lightning strikes on the Kickr Core and it was confirmed the replacement unit I was shipped did in fact have a grounded board. They were extremely confident in the product and agreed that taking off a jacket should not cause a failure.

      What does this mean? I’m still concerned with the impact of ESD on the device, but am more confident now in resiliency and a power cycle/ reconnect process reestablishing connection. I will continue to take my jacket off in my cool, dry, concrete environment and if the trainer should permanently break, I will update this post.