JUMP TO:

BUY NOW:

  • Backcountry
  • Competitive Cyclist
  • Wiggle

Wahoo KICKR V5 (2020) Smart Trainer In-Depth Review

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-CLIMB-Compatibility

Wahoo has just announced their latest generation KICKR, now in its 5th iteration. This new unit adds compressing feet to reduce vibrations on hard floors as well as slightly increase motion. It also eliminates the need for calibration by adding a new zero-calibration algorithm, as well as increasing an accuracy claim to +/- 1% (from +/- 2%). Further, it adds a wired connectivity option for a future accessory, to allow direct connection to your home network (potentially eliminating dropout issues for some people).

As with most new KICKR editions, the changes are rarely sweeping in nature – and this holds true this time as well. Wahoo tends to make more minor year after year updates, though did skip last year to instead launch the KICKR Bike.

I’ve been riding the new KICKR V5 (2020) for a while now, so I’ve got plenty of thoughts and data on how well it works, and where it might need just a bit more polish. Simply scroll down, or hit the big red play button below to get started.

Note that as usual I’ll send back this media loaner KICKR here back to Wahoo shortly and go out and get my own to add to my ever growing KICKR collection. You can help support the site by hitting up the links at the end of the post. With that – let’s dive into it!

What’s New:

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-WhatsNew

From across the room, the KICKR 2020 doesn’t look like a major upgrade. Here’s what’s changed:

– New compressing AXIS feet system to give slightly more motion (up to 5%), and quieter on harder floors
– New KICKR Direct Connect wired option for connectivity (with to-be-announced accessory)
– New zero-calibration software algorithm
– Increases claimed accuracy to +/- 1% (from +/- 2%)

And…that’s about it. Ultimately, this is at present a very minor update to the KICKR, though, the wired option might be interesting for some people having challenges with connectivity in crowded buildings (signal-wise). Unfortunately, at this time the accessory dongle for that network connectivity isn’t available yet (more on that later).

On the zero calibration design, this is actually interesting for both users and racing. Up until now, one should occasionally calibrate (spin-down), their KICKR, especially if the temperature has changed substantially – such as in a garage.  Else, it might not be accurate. Additionally, existing KICKR’s were relatively easy to tweak the accuracy to enable cheating. With the KICKR V5, a zero-calibration design there’s no longer a reason to calibrate.

While Wahoo allows you to calibrate, it’s mostly there as a pacification for some apps that might require it. And yes, the KICKR will technically ‘accept’ that calibration command and even slightly adjust. But like a friend receiving an unwanted present, a few minutes later it’ll quietly discard that calibration value present and self-calibrate itself back to normal. This effectively removes the ability for someone to willfully cheat the calibration values for races.

Finally, there’s the AXIS feet. These feet, in theory, give more cushion and allow a tiny bit of roll. In practice, I haven’t found that to be the case – at least with a trainer mat. There’s zero feeling of difference (even using the smallest/most cushion feet). However, on concrete (no mat), you’ll effectively get the same amount of cushion as a mat would provide. It also probably provides a slight bit of vibration dampening on certain flooring with sensitive neighbors, but that’s hard for me to test. Again, more on the feet later.

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Feet

As far as all the reliability issues of the KICKR & KICKR CORE of yesteryear, Wahoo says that they formed an internal dedicated quality team in Atlanta (HQ) and each of their factories, and then added additional processing/engineering checks as a result. They also say they track stats in far more detail than in the past. The changes from those efforts were made as running changes into the KICKR 2018/CORE and roughly peaked (change-wise) around a year ago (Summer 2019). Wahoo says there’s no changes quality-wise between a KICKR 2018 produced more recently (such as early this year) and the KICKR V5/2020. Ultimately, there’s little I can do from a test standpoint except wait and see on this one. Fwiw, my unit hasn’t broken yet in the three plus weeks I’ve had it.

Oh, and just as a quick recap, here’s the general overall specs:

– Dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart support, including ANT+ FE-C, plus power/speed/cadence broadcasting
– Axle Compatibility: 130 & 135mm quick release, 142x12mm & 148x12mm thru-axle
– 11-speed cassette included
– Compatibility for 8, 9, 10, 11sp cassettes (12-speed cassette compatible with XD/XDR adapter)
– Max 20% incline
– Max 2,200w supported resistance (at 40KPH)
– Power accuracy claim of +/- 1%
– Requires power cable/be plugged in

With that – there’s all you need to know about the KICKR V5 in one little section. Pricing stays the same as the past ($1,199), and starts shipping today.

Unboxing:

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Box

This year’s KICKR box looks…well…almost like the last edition KICKR box. Except now it’s black and white instead of gray and white. On the top panel you’ll see a listing of what’s new:

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-TopBox

And on the back there’s various tidbits on features:

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Specs

While the box I received claims it has an electromagnetic design (that would make it akin to the KICKR Bike and Tacx NEO series), that actually isn’t exactly the case. At least if one uses the fairly agreed upon industry terms of what that actually means. Normally (and including how Wahoo has historically used it), that would apply to the KICKR Bike, Tacx NEO Series, and Wattbike ATOM 2020. These designs largely basically eliminate internal belts and use a series of magnetic coils instead of a physical flywheel.

In my call with Wahoo about this, they agree that the term probably isn’t correct in this usage. While the KICKR does have magnets, and does have electricity, nobody in the indoor trainer industry would call it an electromagnetic design/flywheel.

Moving along, after dumping out the contents of the box, you’ll find yourself here:

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Box-Components

It’s nice and tidy, and works at keeping everything from getting dorked up. Here’s all the parts on a table, properly aligned:

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Box-Pieces

Inside you’ve got two sets of extra AXIS feet (one set is already installed on the KICKR), each set has a different thickness/flex to it.

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-AXIS-Feet-Unboxed

Then you’ve got two paper manuals you’ll likely never read (though, they do tell you about the thickness).

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Manuals

Then there’s the stickers. These are clutch (more on why in a few):

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Stickers

After that, there’s the thru-axle adapters and disc brake clamper keeper:

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Axle-Adapters

And the power cable/block.

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Power-Adapter-Brick

Oh, and of course the trainer itself. Don’t worry, you’ll see plenty of photos of that thing by the time we’re done with this review. Note though that the 11-speed cassette is pre-installed on it.

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Main-Side-Profile

And, a closer look at the model tag underneath it, shows the official KICKR name here is WFBKTR120 – with the 20 standing for year 2020:

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Model-Serial-Number

With that, let’s get it set up and talk the basics.

The Basics:

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Basics

To begin, you’ll plop the KICKR down on your trainer mat and open up its legs. You’ll do that by pressing down on the little blue leg locks, which then allow the two side legs to open up. You can close it for easier storage/transport.

DSC_8066

You can adjust the feet height too (but more on the AXIS feet in a moment), if you have uneven floors. Next, depending on your bike frame you may want to raise the KICKR up slightly so that it sits level. In my case, I brought it up slightly.

DSC_8073

After that, go ahead and plug it in. Now, at some point after the KICKR 2018 launched, Wahoo re-did the power supply to include ‘Wahoo Fitness’ on it (no trainer company, including Wahoo, has done this until this point). That’s handy if you’ve got multiple trainers around.

DSC_7433

But, I like adding stickers to power supplies so I can see them from far across the room (or, just behind me while on the trainer). So, I took the smaller Wahoo KICKR sticker and stuck it on the top of the power supply:

DSC_7795

Once powered on, you’ll see status lights at the top of the trainer, these indicate power as well as ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart connectivity:

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Status-Lights

Next, go ahead and toss your bike on. Given this is a direct drive trainer, that’ll mean removing the rear wheel and affixing it directly on the cassette:

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Bike-Mounted

You can choose whether or not to use a front wheel-block. You don’t need one, though I personally like it as it keeps my wheel from wobbling around aimlessly.

Alternatively, the KICKR V5 is compatible with the KICKR CLIMB, so you can connect/pair that up too, which will simulate the gradient of your route, moving your bike up and down throughout the course:

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-CLIMB-Compatibility

But…what about those AXIS feet? Well, there’s technically three sets of feet, with one foot per leg (the middle strut has a non-removable AXIS foot built into it). Here’s all three feet (in black) laid out, plus the mounting hardware for the left/right sides:

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-AXIS-Feet-Collection

As you can see from the manual that you didn’t read, the three sets of feet align to three different resistance levels, which would be most applicable based on rider weight. I tried all, though I did multiple full rides on the smallest and largest feet.

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-AXIS-Feet-Manual

Looking at mounting, the feet spin off and then are disassembled with a simple hex wrench. It takes just a few seconds to do/change.

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Single-AXIS-Foot Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-AXIS-Foot-Compiled

Here’s what a mounted foot looks like up close:

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Feet

The feet are designed to give up to 5° extra movement/sway side to side. The main idea here is less about feeling like outside motion (such that a rocker plate would provide), and more about giving a little bit more sway that helps in longer trainer sessions by allowing your butt to make micro adjustments on the saddle (as it would outside). Also, the feet help dampen vibrations on harder surfaces, for those that might need that (such as in some apartments)

So, does it actually make any difference to ride feel? In short, not really. At least not on a trainer mat – which Wahoo kinda seemed to agree with on the call I had with them. The trainer mat will already give you more cushion than this will. However, they did note (correctly) that you’ll feel slightly more movement on a hard surface, like concrete.

vlcsnap-2020-08-11-13h59m00s200 vlcsnap-2020-08-11-13h59m04s709

And indeed, you can see exactly that comparison of movement in my full video at the top of the post, side by side.

Note that the AXIS feet will also be sold separately, and will be compatible with all existing Wahoo KICKR trainers (but not CORE/SNAP, since that’s a different leg design). So, if you do have an older unit and want to reduce vibrations, that may be an option. They’re $79.

With all that said, let’s start riding. Given the KICKR 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., 205w.  In this mode, no matter what gearing you use, the trainer will simply stay at 205w (or whatever you set it to).
Simulation (SIM) Mode: Simulating a specific outdoor grade – i.e., 12% 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 V5 can simulate from 0% to 20% incline – the same as the KICKR 2018. While other trainers can simulate above 20% these days (including ones quite a bit cheaper than the KICKR), I continue to question how many people actually want to ride such a gradient. Just last weekend I did an actual outside ride where the road grade topped out at 17%. There’s no fun in doing that, let alone a 24% incline that some trainers can simulate.

And atop that, there’s little reason most of this matters if you use the defaults in Zwift, because it automatically halves the values anyway. A 10% grade feels like a 5% grade. You need to change the ‘Trainer Difficulty’ level to 100% in order to feel it (and most people don’t bother to). Where it can matter though is at low-speed high wattage climbs up those 12% or beyond ascents.

2020-07-24 16.25.21

The second mode the trainer has is ERG mode.  In that case, the company claims up to 2,200w of resistance at 40KPH. Although, realistically, you don’t care about that. I can only barely (maybe) 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 in this competition 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).

One core test I do with all trainers though is responsiveness: How quickly does it respond to ERG mode changes? I typically do that with my 30×30 test via TrainerRoad, though it doesn’t really matter what method you use as long as you’re looking at big shifts in wattage:

TrainerRoad-30x30-DCR-KICKR-V5-2020

Now, I dive into all the nuances of this later on in the accuracy section, specifically including my 30×30 test via TrainerRoad, though it doesn’t really matter what method you use as long as you’re looking at big shifts in wattage.

So what about road feel and noise?

Like I always say – 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.  Still, much of the road-like feel 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).

All that prefacing done, the KICKR V5 feels identical to the KICKR2018, because…well…nothing has changed there. The flywheel is identical here. And in terms of people’s happiness level with the KICKR2018, everyone is largely pretty happy there in terms of road-feel. Given this is the same, I’m just as happy here as before. It’s smooth when it needs to be smooth, and ramps up (and down) correctly as you accelerate.

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Flywheel

And as for sound? It’s essentially silent – just like the KICKR 2018. The only thing you’re going to hear is your drivetrain interfacing with the cassette. The trainer itself doesn’t make any noises, but your own bike will. By and large that sound level will vary based on how well you maintain your drivetrain. The cleaner and more well maintained, the quieter the entire trainer setup will be. I include audio snippets within the video at the top.

Ok, with all the basics out of the way, let’s talk app compatibility.

App Compatibility:

IMG_1804

The Wahoo KICKR set the standard on trainer + app integration years ago when it was first introduced, but that’s actually less the case today than it was nearly a decade ago. Sure, virtually every app out there is compatible with the Wahoo KICKR series one way or another, but that doesn’t mean Wahoo follows all the industry norms today.

As such, the Wahoo KICKR V5 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 as with the KICKR 2018, 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.

In any case, the Wahoo KICKR V5 supports the following protocol transmission standards:

ANT+ FE-C Control: This is for controlling the trainer via ANT+ from apps and head units, and includes speed/cadence data. Read tons about it here.
ANT+ Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard ANT+ power meter, with speed and cadence 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, and includes speed/cadence data.
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard BLE power meter with speed and cadence data.

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 can’t pair it with apps that only support proper FTMS, but I’m not aware of any major (or even minor) app that doesn’t support Wahoo trainers own propriety Bluetooth Smart implementation.

In the above, you’ll note there’s cadence data baked into the various streams, Wahoo started doing this a year ago with a Sumer 2019 firmware update to the KICKR 2018 and KICKR CORE. That’s handy if you’re connecting to Zwift on an Apple TV, due to Apple TV’s two concurrent Bluetooth Smart sensor limitation (plus the Apple TV remote).  This means you can pair the trainer and get power/cadence/control, while also pairing up a heart rate strap.

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Zwift-Pairing

Now, before we start pairing apps – you’ll notice I haven’t yet mentioned that wired port. Technically it’s an RJ25 port (identical externally to an RJ11 telephone jack port, just with more pins inside). However, you can’t just plug that into a 14.4 modem and dial-in Zwift. Instead, you’ll need to purchase a separate accessory adapter that’ll connect from that RJ25 port into RJ45 (Ethernet). Said adapter isn’t yet available, nor are there any apps compatible with it. Wahoo says they’re hoping to have this available by the end of the year, and while exact pricing isn’t yet decided upon – Wahoo says they’re aiming “for sure” to be less than $100USD.

DSC_8074

The idea behind it is that with said #donglelife adapter, you’d be able to connect the KICKR straight into your home network, potentially avoiding any ANT+/Bluetooth Smart interference issues. In talks with app partners thus far, the KICKR would then be picked up by your app on the same network.

As for not just putting the darn ethernet port into the KICKR to begin with (rather than putting a port to put a dongle to a port), it sounds like this was more of an ease of manufacturing item up front to make timelines for this product launch. Here’s to hoping down the road that evaporates. Still, this will be up to individual apps to actually implement. One might remember that Kinetic implemented a dedicated USB connection port in their Kinetic Smart control trainers years ago…and heard nothing but silence from Zwift on using it.

Below, RJ45 (Ethernet) in yellow, RJ11 (telephone-style) in black.

DSC_8075

In any event, in my testing of the KICKR V5 using ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart, I used Zwift and TrainerRoad as my two main apps (which are the two main apps I use personally), as well as a side dish of The Sufferfest (which, Wahoo owns now).  In the case of Zwift, I used it in regular riding mode (non-workout mode, aka SIM mode). Whereas in the case of TrainerRoad I used it in a structured workout mode (ERG mode). I dig into the nuances of these both within the power accuracy section.

Starting with Zwift, you can see the Wahoo KICKR listed as not just a controllable trainer, but also within the regular power meter and cadence section. You’ll want to pair it up as a controllable trainer (which will also pair it as a power meter) – as seen above.

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Zwift-Pairing

In Zwift, it easily handled the rollers of the tough Titans Groove route on Watopia. While not physically demanding for most people, it’s a very challenging course for most trainers since it’s got nice flat sections (for high flywheel speed testing) at the beginning, followed by constant shifting rollers up into the mountains/hills, and then back down onto the flats to round out the loop. It’s perfect for seeing how quickly a trainer reacts.

vlcsnap-2020-08-11-09h55m47s568

Meanwhile, you’’ll see the trainer enumerated in a fairly similar manner on TrainerRoad as well:

IMG_1780 2

Also, TrainerRoad’s tips page on using smart trainers in ERG mode, notably the ‘Gear Selection’ section:

IMG_1779 2

I’d *strongly* recommend you either read that page, or just simply ensure you’re using the small ring up front: This is for ERG mode specifically, shift into the small ring to get better control. I did all of my ERG mode testing with the small chainring up front and about mid-cassette in the back without issue in either TrainerRoad or The Sufferfest. Here’s a longer workout I did on TrainerRoad:

IMG_1783 2

And then another I did in The Sufferfest. First, here’s the pairing screen, where you can see the KICKR V5/2020 listed:

IMG_1793

And then mid-workout cookin’ along:

IMG_1807

As far as calibration goes, you can pretend to do calibration from just about any app.

However, as noted above – this is mostly just for show. One of the new features of the KICKR V5 (2020) is the zero calibration concept. While it’s not quite like the KICKR Bike or Tacx NEO in terms of not being possible at all to calibrate, Wahoo says there is no reason to calibrate it. So much so in fact that Wahoo will quietly override any calibration values it takes within a minute or two using a new continuous calibration system. Aside from general accuracy, this updated system eliminates various ways that people could tweak older KICKR units to boost power numbers for cheating in Zwift or other online races (even in major in-person events). The new behind the scenes continuous calibration looks at factors like temperature but also how the unit responds over the lifetime of the trainer to, according to Wahoo, ensure that it’s properly keeping itself in check even thousands of kilometers down the virtual road.

Wahoo-KICKR-V5-2020-Unboxing-Shot

Calibration aside, Wahoo has their own app for validating various settings within the KICKR, as well as toggling a handful of settings related to how the trainer functions in apps. To access these, you’ll download the Wahoo app on iOS or Android. Once in the app you’ll add a new sensor, which is your KICKR:

2020-08-11 13.39.36 2020-08-11 13.39.49

If you’ve just unboxed it, you’ll probably be offered a firmware update, which you should most definitely go ahead and do, since it’ll undoubtedly solve some issues I ran into over the course of this review. Updates take about 2-5 minutes depending on whether or not your KICKR is feeling speedy.

2020-08-09 12.17.30 2020-08-09 12.08.44 2020-08-09 12.09.43

In addition to this, there’s two other notable features. First is the ability to use an external power meter to control your KICKR. In essence this makes your trainer match your power meter. I very rarely recommend this (almost never), since it usually results in poor responsiveness. Plus, my general feeling here is that if either your trainer or power meter is so horribly off that this matters, then you should probably address that first. In the case of the KICKR, I’m not seeing issues with accuracy, so I really wouldn’t recommend this.

2020-08-11 13.38.56

The second feature is ERG Mode Power Smoothing. This basically fakes what the power data looks like in ERG mode (such as in TrainerRoad or Sufferfest). Sure, Wahoo would say that it’s not faked and just heavily smoothed, but no matter, it basically makes everything look perfectly smooth rather than the reality of human and trainer fluctuations. I turn it off (it’s on by default) for all my testing, because otherwise I can’t compare actual accuracy.

2020-08-11 13.39.02

Beyond this, you can see the serial number, firmware version, hardware version, and ANT+ ID of your trainer. And in the event you’re working on a support case with Wahoo, for troubleshooting they can also enable remote diagnostics of the trainer, which sounds kinda nifty:

2020-08-11 13.39.28 2020-08-11 13.38.48 2020-08-11 13.38.51

Finally, Wahoo’s own app can be used to control the trainer and record basic workouts. In fact, the Wahoo app is still one of the most widely compatible and data-driven apps out there for simply recording a workout (even an outside one). It’ll happily pair to all your sensors, and then save files and upload them to piles and piles of 3rd party platforms.

While I rarely use the app indoors, I do occasionally use it for random tests. In fact, even Strava recommends it as an alternative to their own app after they killed off sensor support last fall.

You can control the trainer in a number of ways, including in ERG mode (setting a wattage point), incline/gradient mode (setting a % grade), and level mode (setting a specific level). You can’t have it automatically execute a structured workout for you, though you can do that with 3rd party apps as outlined, or bike GPS computers like the Wahoo ELEMENT/BOLT/ROAM, by pairing the KICKR as a smart trainer:

DSC_8076

Aside from validating that the most recent firmware properly connects to the app and records data (it does), I didn’t use the ROAM to control the KICKR on any workouts. I think that by and large the vast majority of people are using various 3rd party platforms like TrainerRoad, Sufferfest, Zwift, or others to execute structured workouts.

Power Accuracy Analysis:

2020-08-10 16.55.58

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 one primary bike set up in the following configuration :

Canyon Bike Setup #1: PowerTap P2 Dual-sided pedals, Quarq DZero crankset
Canyon Bike Setup #2: Favero Assioma Dual-sided pedals Set #1, Quarq DZero crankset
Canyon Bike Setup #3: Favero Assioma Dual-sided pedals Set #2, Quarq DZero crankset

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 any case, I was looking to see how it reacted in three core apps: Zwift (Apple TV), TrainerRoad (Bluetooth Smart on iPad), and The Sufferfest (Bluetooth Smart). 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 and The Sufferfest 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.  Here’s the levels being sent (the blue blocks)) by TrainerRoad (in this case via Bluetooth Smart on iPad) and how quickly the KICKR responded to it:

image

In general, when it comes to ERG mode ‘accuracy’, I’m actually looking at three specific things:

A) Base power accuracy: Is the power measurement aspect correct?
B) Power Responsiveness: How quickly can it achieve a given set point (e.g. how long to go from 150w to 450w?)
C) Power Stability: How stable is it in holding a given ERG mode setting?

So, looking at the KICKR V5 2020, the simple answer to all of those is: Pretty darn good in most cases.

For example, on responsiveness, it was taking about 3-4 seconds to go from 150w to 456w, pretty consistently for most – virtually identical to the just-released Elite Direto XR two weeks ago. In some cases I might prefer 2-3 seconds (for both), but I’m not going to quibble too much there.

image

The next bit is stability. In the case of the above workout, it was after doing a Sufferfest 45 minute workout of relatively hard riding (I’m not sure why I always do these after my hard workouts, but…at least I’m warmed up). In any event, I was still pretty stable on most of them, and you see that the KICKR was pretty stable overall here. For these ones, as noted I was in the small chainring up front, and precisely mid-cassette in the back.

image

There was one interval where it achieved the change in 2 seconds, and inversely another one where it took five seconds (as seen above). But the average was 3-4 seconds.

So what about actual power accuracy then? Meaning – how does it compare to other power meters? For that here’s a comparison with a Quarq DZero and Favero Assioma power meters (data set here):

image

A quick glance shows that the KICKR V5 & Quarq DZero were exactly where I’d want them – with the KICKR being slightly lower than the Quarq DZero (due to drivechain losses). On this ride the Favero Assioma pedals were a bit lower than I’d like to see (by about 10w in most sets). After digging a bit deeper in that set the left pedal was reading abnormally low, bringing the total power down. I’ll troubleshoot that…another day.

Nonetheless, if we zoom in on a few sets we’ll see the three units agree very closely (save the Favero under-reporting slightly), but with the KICKR/Quarq relationship nailed correctly (again, with KICKR correctly being a couple of watts below the Quarq).

image

Everything is super silky there on power, and if we look at cadence, that looks close, but not perfect. The KICKR seems to be about 2-3RPM high in many sections. Hardly a massive deal, and there were no dropouts or major issues. But just something to point out.

image

Next, let’s look at a Zwift ride, this one compared against the PowerTap P2 pedals and a Quarq DZero. It’s a blend of different terrain in Zwift, to the Volcano, up it, and then back to town. You can see the variability in power efforts as a result. Here’s that data set:

image

Now, at a high level it looks pretty darn close, right?

Sorta. See, I took a glance at the mean-max graph, which plots time and power relationships. It’s a great way to quickly see why something might not align. It doesn’t tell the whole picture, but rather gives areas to go investigate. And in this case I noticed the KICKR spiked above the rest for shorter duration surges.

image

And so back into the main power graph to check out some of these surges. Now, I wouldn’t call them sprints. No, these were just moderate increases in intensity, usually between 300-400w, sometimes 500w. And you can see the KICKR peaking out over the top. Sometimes quite significantly, sometimes just barely.

image

And again here, in this first case by some 75w, and then repeatedly through this two-minute random snippet by just a touch – 10-15w in most cases.

image

So, fast forward a few weeks to a newer firmware version (the one the KICKR is launching today on), and while the issue is slightly less than before, it still exists in this data set from another Zwift ride:

image

In addition, it also introduced a seemingly new issue around low-cadence. While I rarely pedal at 50RPM, for whatever reason I was doing so with my then-shot legs during a climb. And that caused the power to actually increase dramatically:

image

You can see below the cadence graph for the same section. As my cadence dropped, so did accuracy. And as cadence increased, so did accuracy.

image

Note that the surges also are present in two other Zwift rides I did over the last three weeks, with roughly the same intensity. The less you surge (steady-state riding for example), the less the issue is. Whereas the more you surge (races with group dynamics), the more obvious the issue is. I’ve also tested it across three different sets of power meters.

Wahoo says they’re looking into both of these issues and plan to find solutions for future firmware updates. If you turn back the history machine, this sort of initial launch inaccuracy around surges isn’t uncommon for Wahoo trainers. In fact, I saw it the first month or two in the KICKR CORE as well as the KICKR SNAP. Hopefully it’s just a short-lived issue. Though, in the meantime, I suppose it’s great for folks in a race, since every minor surge gets you free power.

Finally, we’ll finish on The Sufferfest, which is an ERG mode workout I did last night. Here’s that data set:

image

This, as one can see above quite plainly, included boatloads of massive resistance changes. Also, I forgot to start the Fenix 6 recording the Favero Assioma during the warm-up, though I did double-record it on another Edge 530. But that showed a few dropouts later in the workout, so I skipped showing that above to keep it easier to read (but the data is available in the linked set above).

In any case, this all looks just fine and dandy when zoomed in:

image

Responsiveness on this workout was great, exactly where I’d want things to feel, though, the Sufferfest app often held onto the higher power intensity about 1-2 seconds after the interval ended before releasing to a rest break. Some apps will basically send the command a second or two early, such that the timing ends up perfect, but that didn’t seem to be the case here (or, the commands weren’t being received). It wasn’t all the time, but it was definitely obvious a few times.

Still, that app quirk aside, these all look great:

image

Though, as with all my other tests on the KICKR V5, cadence needs a bit of work still. It’s very often off by 2-3RPM. Again, not a huge deal, but of note:

image

OK – so where do we stand?

Well, so-so. As of launch, the accuracy here is clearly less than the KICKR2018 (since that doesn’t suffer from the surge overcommit issue, nor minor cadence offset accuracy issue). Nor does it suffer from the low-cadence power accuracy issue.

Are these major show-stopper issues? Probably not long term. Wahoo has a pretty consistent track record of quickly iterating through early accuracy teething pains on their trainers, usually quickly eliminating them in subsequent firmware updates. But ultimately, I can’t predict if/when that firmware update will come. I suspect most people probably won’t care (heck, some might even like the extra power boost).

Note that these power accuracy issues don’t appear in ERG mode (structured workout mode). So if you’ve got TrainerRoad or Sufferfest or such, then these are non-issues for you, best I can tell.

In any event, once a firmware update comes I’ll re-test and see if it resolves the issues.

(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 Comparison:

I’ve added the Wahoo KICKR V5 (2020) into the product comparison database.  This allows you to compare it against other trainers I’ve reviewed. For the purposes of this particular table, I’ve compared it against the Tacx NEO 2T, Elite Direto XR, and Saris H3 (basically the top trainers from each major company). You can also mix and match and create your own trainer comparison charts with just about any trainer on the market in the aforementioned/linked product database.

Function/FeatureWahoo KICKR V5/2020 (Current Version)Elite Direto XRSaris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Tacx NEO 2T Smart
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated September 29th, 2020 @ 4:12 pmNew Window
Price for trainer$1,199$949$999$1,399
Trainer TypeDirect Drive (No Wheel)Direct Drive (No Wheel)Direct Drive (no wheel)Direct Drive (no wheel)
Available today (for sale)YesYesYesYes
Availability regionsGlobalGlobalGlobalGlobal
Wired or Wireless data transmission/controlWireless + Upcoming Wired Ethernet AdapterWirelessWirelessWireless
Power cord requiredYesYes (no control w/o)YesNo
Flywheel weight16lbs/7.25kgs5.1KG/11.2LBS20lb/9kgSimulated/Virtual 125KG
Includes cassetteYes (11 Speed SRAM/Shimano)Yes (11 Speed SRAM/Shimano)NoNo
ResistanceWahoo KICKR V5/2020 (Current Version)Elite Direto XRSaris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Tacx NEO 2T Smart
Can electronically control resistance (i.e. 200w)YesYesYesYes
Includes motor to drive speed (simulate downhill)NoNoNoYes
Maximum wattage capability2,200w @ 40KPH2,300w @ 40KPH2,000w2,200w @ 40KPH
Maximum simulated hill incline20%24%20%25%
FeaturesWahoo KICKR V5/2020 (Current Version)Elite Direto XRSaris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Tacx NEO 2T Smart
Ability to update unit firmwareYesYesYesYes
Measures/Estimates Left/Right PowerNo9EUR one-time feeNoYes
Can rise/lower bike or portion thereofWith KICKR CLIMB accessoryNoNoNo
Can directionally steer trainer (left/right)NoWith steering accessory & compatible appNoNo
Can rock side to side (significantly)NoNoNoNo
Can simulate road patterns/shaking (i.e. cobblestones)NoNoNoYes
AccuracyWahoo KICKR V5/2020 (Current Version)Elite Direto XRSaris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Tacx NEO 2T Smart
Includes temperature compensationYesN/AYesN/A
Support rolldown procedure (for wheel based)Yes (though, will override for greater accuracy)YesYesN/A
Supported accuracy level+/- 1%+/- 1.5%+/- 2%+/- 1%
Trainer ControlWahoo KICKR V5/2020 (Current Version)Elite Direto XRSaris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Tacx NEO 2T Smart
Allows 3rd party trainer controlYesYesYesYes
Supports ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control Standard)YesYesYesYes
Supports Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control Standard)No, but supports most appsYesYesNo, but supports most apps
Data BroadcastWahoo KICKR V5/2020 (Current Version)Elite Direto XRSaris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Tacx NEO 2T Smart
Transmits power via ANT+YesYesYesYes
Transmits power via Bluetooth SmartYesYesYesYes
Supports Multiple Concurrent Bluetooth connectionsYes, 3 ConcurrentNo, just oneNo, just oneNo, just one
Transmits cadence dataYesYesYesYes
PurchaseWahoo KICKR V5/2020 (Current Version)Elite Direto XRSaris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Tacx NEO 2T Smart
Amazon LinkLinkLink
Backcountry.com LinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Competitive Cyclist LinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Wiggle LinkLinkLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerWahoo KICKR V5/2020 (Current Version)Elite Direto XRSaris H3 (CycleOps Hammer 3)Tacx NEO 2T Smart
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

And again, remember you can mix and match and compare against all trainers I’ve reviewed in the product comparison database here.

Summary:

DSC_7858

At this point, the KICKR V5 (2020) is essentially a minor update to the hardware that ensures Wahoo keeps roughly on-cycle for updating their marquee trainer. Historically, Wahoo has rarely done major updates of the KICKR series, instead preferring for more frequent minor updates. In this case, the changes are indeed pretty minimal – at least until Wahoo releases the wired ethernet network accessory for those that suffer from connectivity issues.

On the new AXIS feet, I just don’t see them providing a meaningful change compared to a simple trainer mat. Which isn’t to say they’re bad – not at all. Anything that increases comfort, especially for longer rides – even incrementally – is appreciated. But after numerous rides on the trainer, I simply can’t tell the difference when atop a trainer mat. When directly placed on a concrete floor, the difference is almost felt. Almost. Maybe? Kinda.

I do however like the idea of Wahoo moving away from a spin-down calibration on their trainer, which eliminates a significant way that people can skew their smart trainer accuracy in a more favorable manner (read: cheating) on Zwift or other apps in racing. While I’d love to have seen Wahoo go towards the true electromagnetic design on their KICKR Bike (like a TACX NEO Series), the existing technology they use, once a bit more polish is added, should fit the bill for now.

Until then, assuming Wahoo can sort out the accuracy issues – then the KICKR V5 will probably be just as popular as past KICKR units. I wouldn’t really recommend upgrading from a 2016 or 2018 KICKR, but if you’ve got an older one, it could be something to consider if you find the newer features useful to you.

With that – thanks for reading!

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 (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.

I’ve partnered with Backcountry & Competitive Cyclist, which help support this website when you purchase through the links below.

Wahoo KICKR V5 (2020)
Wahoo KICKR AXIS Feet
Wahoo CLIMB
Wahoo KICKR DESK
Wahoo Headwind Fan

For European/Australian/New Zealand readers, you can also pick up the unit via Wiggle at the links below, which helps support the site too! With Wiggle new customers get 10GBP (or equivalent in other currencies) off their first order for anything over 50GBP by using code [Currently Disabled] at check-out after clicking the links below.

Wahoo KICKR V5 (2020) (EU/UK/AU/NZ – Wiggle)
Wahoo CLIMB (EU/UK/AU/NZ – Wiggle)
Wahoo KICKR DESK (EU/UK/AU/NZ – Wiggle)
Wahoo Headwind Fan (EU/UK/AU/NZ – Wiggle)

And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that most folks getting a trainer for the first time might not have already:

ProductAmazon LinkNote
Basic Trainer MatThis is a super basic trainer mat, which is exactly what you'll see me use. All it does is stop sweat for getting places it shouldn't (it also helps with vibrations too).
Front Wheel Riser BlockHere's the thing, some people like front wheel blocks, some don't. I'm one of the ones that do. I like my front wheel to stay put and not aimlessly wiggle around. For $8, this solves that problem. Note some trainers do come with them. Also note, I use a riser block with *every* trainer.
Honeywell HT-900 FanI've got three of these $12 fans floating around the DCR Cave, and I frequently use them on rides. They work just fine. Sure, they're not as powerful as a Wahoo Headwind, but I could literally buy 20 of them for the same price.
RAD/Lifeline Cycle Trainer DeskThis desk is both a knock-off of the original KICKR Desk, but yet also better than it. First, it's got wheel locks (so the darn thing stays put), and second, it has two water bottle holders (also useful for putting other things like remotes). I've been using it as my main trainer desk for a long time now and love it. Cheaper is better apparently. Note: Branding varies by country, exact same desk.
Tacx Tablet Bike MountI've had this for years, and use it in places where I don't have a big screen or desk, but just an iPad or tablet on my road bike bars.

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!

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

You can click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture

*

192 Comments

  1. Fabio Mux

    About the wired connection i hope zwift will be an app that support that. They sell wahoo products, they have a lot of Pro like sanders, charles that use wahoo devices..Hope they won’t forget it..

    I’m one of the few people who think that a wired connection is the best option for a trainer (if u have a Pc as training device).

    • Yeah, I think Zwift is undoubtedly the most natural fit for it given the popularity.

      However, as noted they’ve had such a capability with Kinetic trainers for years…and the only thing Kinetic ever got back from Zwift on numerous requests was the sound of silence.

    • Eric

      But wahoo vs kinetic sorry to say it not a comparison. Kinetic is a has been that messed up a great thing.

    • I don’t know, there’s endless examples I could look at, even Zwift/Wahoo-related. For example, Zwift has never implemented the proper way to handle the the KICKR CLIMB in-game, which is why the feeling there is very subpar to FulGaz, which matches the scenery far better (and smoother).

      It’s easy to discard Kinetic’s wired port, but at the same time – why? Zwift kept saying they wanted a wired port, so Kinetic delivered, and then Zwift wouldn’t even answer their e-mails (even with a ‘nope’). And then Zwift wonders why no other trainer company wants to make wired ports. Why if you can’t get basic assurances it’ll be used.

    • Nuno Pinto

      “ Zwift wouldn’t even answer their e-mails (even with a ‘nope’).”….wow.. what kind of B2B relationship is ZWIFT having with trainer companies??? I am confused after reading this comment

    • Every single one of them repeats this in conversation after conversation after conversation I have with them.

      And I’m more than happy if Zwift reads this and then gets upset, because all they need to do is ask those companies for an honest assessment, and they’ll tell them the exact same thing.

      People wonder why bugs don’t get fixed in Zwift, now its largely that same attitude towards their indoor trainer industry partners

  2. Mayhem

    I don’t suppose there is any chance that the auto-calibration algorithm could be implemented on older KICKRs via a firmware update? Or do older units lack sufficient hardware like temperature sensors, processing power or whatver to enable this…

  3. jww

    Wahoo’s packaging containing inaccurate information on what’s inside is my favorite running subplot in endurance tech.

    They are going to sell a hellova lotta these this fall.

  4. Matthew Thomson

    Thanks for another great review. I woke up early hoping you would publish this article today … nice early birthday present to find it up.
    I was personally hoping Kickr would have a major change or two that would seperate it from the pack. After reading the review I am still torn between the Kickr and Tacx. I have found Garmins warranty/service to be truely amazing over the years and still like the idea of keeping to one company. I will digest the comments that are posted and hopefully will make my new trainer decision in the next week or so.
    Thanks once again for your amazing reviews!!

  5. Brandon

    Hopefully they have figured out quality. I bought a Wahoo and had it replaced 3 times before I gave up and bought the Tacx Neo. Not one issue since. Every other Wahoo product I’ve bought as crap as well. Got a HR strap and it only lasted a few weeks. They replaced it with one that lasted a few months then died. Went back to Garmin. Their cadence sensor eats batteries like it’s going out of style. Done with Wahoo. If it was one thing ok but everything I’ve bought from them was junk.

    • Frank

      Done with wahoo too they lost me on their last trainer,

    • Brenton

      I am very new to all this and whilst the review above is amazing in detail and depth your comment and the reply have turned me off getting a Wahoo unit at all so thank you. I am completely new to this and am confused on what type of bike frame and cassette I need to get as my 25 year old Trek hybrid bike more than likely isn’t suitable. I’ve researched every aspect of setting up an indoor bike/sensors/zwift and am debating going straight to a decent smart trainer rather than the cheapest route but need to decide on which way to go and what bike to get for it. I’ve noticed that they tend to say things like ‘Various Shimano, SRAM & Campagnolo cassettes’ but for someone thats not a bike enthusiast (yet) this isn’t enough information.

  6. Tom Howlin

    Micro update, do like the zero calibration.

    Do you expect other announcement from Wahoo? I.e is the 2020 winter line up 2020 Kickr, 2018 Kickr Core, 2017 Kickr Snap.

    i’m Looking to upgrade to either snap or Kickr. So trying to decide whether to wait.

    • My understanding is this completes the lineup for 2020.

    • Gryphon

      Ray, does this include Computers? Any refresh on the Roam forthcoming?

    • Charlie Anderson

      I think you forgot the bike in the Kickr lineup.

    • Chad McNeese

      There is almost no chance of a major update to the Kickr Bike this year. It was introduced just a year ago, and Wahoo seems to follow a reasonably consistent 2-year cycle on products.

    • Yeah, I was talking trainers. Zero chance of a KICKR refresh. They’re just barely rolling into Europe now, and still haven’t released the planned accessories like TT/remote shifters, etc…

      I think even a two-year (next year) cycle would be optimistic and probably unnecessary, especially since from a design standpoint I’d say they’ve got the most forward-thinking design.

      As for bike computers, I wouldn’t expect any ROAM refresh, that’s barely over a year old (while it was announced May 1 last year, they stopped production till July to address mount breakage issues.

    • Anonymouse

      What about the Climb?

    • No chance there as well. And honestly, I’m not sure what they’d do with CLIMB aside from adding steering.

  7. Wish they would’ve just added the RJ45 port instead to be honest..

    (Also, it says ‘Wahoo says their aiming “for sure” to be less than’, which should be “they’re” ;-))

  8. thank you for the review

    I asked Wahoo if the special (part-hidden) factory spindown still exists but didn’t get a definitive reply, any ideas if that exists or needs to exist?

    FYI: The AXIS feet seem to be generally not stocked at launch (I was going to buy some direct from Wahoo)

    a small section of the launch video from Wahoo DOES who noticeable rocking with a mat at around 10 seconds
    link to youtu.be

    • My understanding is that still exists, though I’m unclear if it also gets overwritten.

      AXIS feet sound like they’re all coming in September.

      My video should be up any moment, but essentially I’m skeptical on that snippet at 0:10. Either the Wahoo mat is crazy stiff somehow, or…there’s some creative video work there. On my $20 mat, it just sinks into the mat, it doesn’t resist at all.

    • tfk, the5krunner

      I guess rider weight could be a factor too.

      At GBP60 ish for the feet, I guess I could get a mat instead.

    • Yeah, the three sets of feet roughly correspond to weight. I tried the feet for my weight first (which would be stiffer, due to being heavier), and didn’t feel much. So then I tried the ones for the lightest riders, and those you could see a difference on concrete, but on a mat the mat just gives way first.

      I assume I’m heavier than that rider on the video.

    • Eli

      Also can depend on how you adjust the side feet. So they just barely touch the ground or out further so they feel more firmly planted

    • Chad McNeese

      Yes, it may be possible to extend them a bit and “preload” the springs. But that will be limited due to the relative flat design of their springs. So some lifting will likely be part of the Axis design, even if extended much more.

      The larger springs we’ve seen on other hacked setups (especially the larger inflated balls) can stay engaged to the lifted foot compared to the short travel Axis feet. It tends to improve the toggle at the center when you swap from the left-right direction and such.

      Some people like the more “firm” centered aspect of the short springs and no preload. But for those that like more travel and a looser center feel, the longer springs and preload are useful to get that.

  9. Paul S.

    A little bit of technical background… Adding an ethernet port on a product significantly increases the compliance-related testing you have to do, as the noise and safety voltage isolation of that port have to be tested, but otherwise, only the power brick itself has to be tested for conducted electrical noise and safety voltage isolation. (Of course the trainer has to be plugged into the power brick during the conducted noise testing, and the whole kit has to be tested for radiated noise.) By pushing back the release of the ethernet dongle, Wahoo had to do significantly less paperwork to get the 2020 KICKR out the door, and can take extra time with the dongle certifications.

    • Makes sense, and matches what Wahoo said about it pushing back timelines from a manuf standpoint.

    • Terrance

      Could they have done the connectivity using USB C? Just curious.

    • WF

      Adding an ethernet port isn’t any technical feat. They’re on $200 Chromebooks and cheap TVs. This is clearly to sell an overpriced dongle. Your post reads like PR for Wahoo.

    • klaus

      Make sense, because there is only an “A” attached to the FCCID (PADWF113-A).

      My Kickr2017 has the FCCID PADWF113 . Doesn’t find any Pictures with the FCCID from Kickr2018.

      And on link to fccid.io you find no new FCCID for Kicker.

    • Ozero Lee

      I was thinking the same thing!

      You know someone is going to trip on that cable, and at least if it’s USB-C, it’ll come out easier!

    • Paul S.

      Are you talking about my comment, or about Ray’s review? I don’t have a dog in the fight on the TICKR, my trainer is an H3. 🙂 I just used to work for a company with ethernet-enabled products, and I can tell you compliance engineering is not a painless process. Anything the product manager could kick down the road during development, I’m sure he or she was happy to do.

    • Paul S.

      @Terrance, Sure. USB C could have been done, but would have required a different approach. It’s possible they could have done USB to your computer, or maybe they could have done a generic USB that would allow you to plug in an aftermarket USB-Ethernet dongle, but I think that starts to force them to do SW driver development. I really don’t know the details of something like that.

      Pretty much any time you put a connector on a product, someone, somewhere, has made rules about how you have to test it. Sometimes that is governments, but sometimes it is just industry groups that own the trademarks. For example, here is what you have to do if you want to put a USB-C port on your device: link to usb.org

    • Eli

      I would have thought a usb device like how the ant+ dongle connects to the computer would be easier. (very simplistic driver as its just a serial port pass through)

    • Paul S.

      @Eli, Again, going out of my area of knowlegde a bit, but I agree that USB/Serial port converters are VERY easy to do compared with other options. I wonder if using ethernet opens up a play for Wahoo to do giant in-person eRacing events with better device security than what USB would offer? Sortof like what Concept 2 ergs do at the CRASH-B indoor rowing competition.

      @DCRainmaker, do you think we might see something like that?

    • I suppose anything is plausible, but one of the advantages of ethernet over USB-C is connecting to tablets/phones/Apple TV/etc… For all those devices, USB is mostly a non-starter. Sure, some tablets might support certain types of USB devices, but rarely a wide range that would require drivers.

      Whereas ethernet (via dongle or otherwise), solves a lot of scenarios beyond just connectivity drops.

      While I know I’m somewhat jokingly critical about how this is implemented here, I am looking forward to seeing it implemented by Wahoo and apps. I mainly just think that if we fast forward to Summer 2021 or 2022 or whatever, Wahoo will invariably just have an ethernet port built-in.

  10. Mark R.

    Wow.
    If ever there’s a review that makes me glad that I bought a Neo 4 years ago then it’s this one.

    1) RJ11 to Ethernet(RJ45)? In whose world does that make sense? Just build an Ethernet connector in!! Prediction #1 that this will last precisely one iteration of this trainer.

    2) we let you calibrate and then we throw that calibration away! So still no calibrationless unit that would properly end Zwift cheating as I’m figuring it’ll be child’s play to hack this and repeatedly insert deliberately skewed calibration numbers every 15 seconds or so. Prediction 2: the next rev of trainer will fix this by not allowing user calibration at all.

    3) peaky power readings

    4) power drift at low cadences (I’m kind of suspicious
    of trainers that seem to read weirdly high on release for Zwift (semi-legal) cheating reasons, maybe I’m just a bit paranoid here)

    5) implying that it’s a direct drive unit when it isn’t. (Just poor transparency, at least have the guts to stand behind your product as it is, don’t pretend it’s something that it’s patently not.)

    I know all of the trainer companies have had their ups and downs but they’ve had 3 clear years to get this right. It seems that some of them need more.

    Sticking with my Mk1 Neo (never missed a beat) thanks 👍

    Thanks for a great review again Ray.
    Great to see what is/isn’t hot.

    • Dave Lusty

      That’s RJ25, not RJ11 – there are clearly 6 connectors in the photo, where RJ11 has two. I highly doubt there’s an ethernet chip in there, far more likely is that this is a USB 3 with custom connector. My guess is that they decided RJ25 would be more secure thanks to the latch, given all of the movement of a trainer while riding. Also it just happens to mean that instead of a standard USB C to Ethernet dongle for $10 you’ll be buying the Wahoo official one for $100 which will be otherwise identical. If the wiring here actually had ethernet signals it would be trivial to knock up a cable for anyone with a crimping tool. If this is in fact USB 3 then they are free to create various dongles to connect other things like accessories. What if they released a braking or steering module instead of Ethernet, bet that would be popular!

      They didn’t imply direct drive, they stated the resistance is electromagnetic. It is Electromagnetic. What Ray said is that the industry has been using that term for direct EM resistance previously. I don’t have any issue with this since they are telling the truth technically. If we want to distinguish between belt and direct we need a new label – direct drive is taken so it’ll have to be something new, but this is wholly unrelated to the resistance mechanism. I have Kickr18 and Neo 2T and much prefer the belt drive for feel so I’m hoping they stick with it as the Neo has all kinds of downsides due to that set up. For instance, sometimes they break freewheeling with a firmware update so you have to pedal all of the time or completely lose momentum. It also feels gritty at lower speeds.

    • Eugene C

      A little common sense please. If someone desperately wants to cheat on Zwift, they aren’t going to go out and waste $1200 on one of the few smart trainers that actually makes it hard to do so. Yes, it overshoots on sprints. So does practically every other smart trainer.

      Nah, if someone wants to cheat, they’ll just buy a previous generation KICKR or some other trainer with an exposed flywheel to manipulate during the spindown process. If someone wants to cheat, they’ll just buy a left-only Assioma Uno and set the crank length to 200mm when it’s really 172.5mm.

    • Dave – Woah, good catch on RJ25 vs RJ11. So close! Thanks!

  11. WF

    I can’t believe they would put in a phone jack in just to charge $80 extra for an ethernet dongle. That’s utterly ridiculous. I was waiting for the next Kickr update to decide where to go from my SNAP. Tacx Neo 2T, it is. I don’t even need the wired connection, it’s just the sheer contempt for Wahoo’s customers. Who made that boardroom decision? Some dude laughing with a cigar?

    • Robert

      Er – if you don’t need the wired connection, why are you bothered by the need for an adapter and potential cost thereof to use said connection?

      I’d venture the wired connection is related to eSport events. Wired trainers are the simplest solution to avoid man-in-the-middle hacks that are really easy to do with BLE or ANT+.

  12. J.T. Conklin

    Given that the Axis feet will be available for the older Kickr’s, does that mean that otherwise the geometry of the new Kickr is the same as the old?

    In particular, I’m wondering whether the new Kickr is compatible with the Inside Ride E-Flex. When the day comes where my Kickr ’16 wears out and need to be replaced, it will likely be easier to source a Kickr ’20.

  13. Do you get the indication that they will use the port for anything other than interacting with apps via the internet? E.g., some sort of special hardware/accessory?

  14. Best Spindown?

    This reminds of a question I’ve been meaning to ask. Is the Wahoo spindown preferable to the Zwift spindown for a Kick ’18?

    Thanks!

  15. Don Barnard

    That high watts at low cadence thing is something I noticed on the alp du zwift and my kickr 2017. I was setting wattage PRs that seemed too easy. So… I’m not sure this is just a kickr 2020 thing. However, I haven’t revisited it in awhile since I’ve been using a power meter instead.

  16. Mark P

    So if the Axis feet are a bit pointless (I’d be getting them as an add-on to my 2018 KICKR) what do we think about getting a wobble-board instead? I’ve got thick gym matting down on the floor already, so probably quite similar to the mat

  17. Tom

    Great review! Will there be an update on the Kickr Core as well?

  18. Ihaan

    Ray,

    Comparison table seems to have Neo 2 and not 2T.

  19. Alvaro E

    Why would they put a telephone jack over a network jack or much better in my opinion a USB port? Wouldn’t be enough just having a usb that connects to my computer like my ANT dongle does? I feel this would almost be a plug and play solution for this issue. Of course, it doesn’t solve it for those people who want to use phones or AppleTV since I don’t think you could connect a USB port to those.

    • GLT

      Guessing the RJ11 was used purely to get four wires worth of copper into the trainer at a low cost. The future dongle will probably do all the processing required to be a good citizen on the customer’s LAN.

      It is reasonably mistake proof, since the voltage of a telephone line probably won’t damage the trainer & vice versa. After the owner’s manual has been tossed with the packaging material users still have a hint that it is related to communication in some way.

    • Eli

      until the phone rings and they didn’t design for the increased voltage :-p

  20. Jan Aniolek

    Hi Ray, you state (again and again):

    “And atop that, there’s little reason most of this matters if you use the defaults in Zwift, because it automatically halves the values anyway. A 10% grade feels like a 5% grade. You need to change the ‘Trainer Difficulty’ level to 100% in order to feel it (and most people don’t bother to).”

    I wonder whether this is really how you feel about riding it at less than 100% difficulty, or this is just the way you phrase it.

    The way I read your statement is that you say it is easier to climb up the virtual hill as far as wattage, whereas from what I’ve been reading around the net, the lower “difficulty” setting only eases the riding as far as the need for number of gear changes. The resistance that you have to overcome is the same, no matter the setting. I even read that some pros lower it so they can be on a higher gear right after the hill’s peak so they don’t spin out.

    I wonder what is your insight on it.

    • Chad McNeese

      “The resistance that you have to overcome is the same, no matter the setting.”

      That is an incorrect takeaway from your otherwise correct understanding.

      The RESISTANCE is set based on your rider weight input into Zwift, and the road pitch presented (and adjusted by the Trainer Difficulty setting.

      At 100% TD for a 10% hill, Z will give you the RESISTANCE equivalent to the math related. This will potentially force you to use your lower gearing unless you want a high pedal force and low cadence.

      At 0% TD for a 10% hill, Z will give you the SAME EXACT RESISTANCE as rolling on a flat, 0% road. The RESISTANCE you experience will never change in game.

      What that means is that the pedal resistance will never change. You will be in complete control of your resistance via your gearing selection, and not impact from road grade change in the game will be in effect. You could effectively roll at the same gearing and cadence on the entire course with no shifting. BUT, you would see massive changes in your speed based on the road pitch.

      The mistake people take away from that is it is “easier”. In one sense, that may be true if you look at it from a change vs no change (or reduced change in the default 50% TD setting). But if you care at all about your propulsion in the game, and keeping up with other riders, you are still forced to put out X watts to go Y kph up a Z% hill. So I don’t see it as easier, unless you are rolling solo and don’t want to shift.

      The math doesn’t change and you still must make the same effort. The only real impact is what you do with the shifting on the bike, and whether you “feel” the hill feedback.

  21. TheStansMonster

    Anybody want to volunteer to ride this thing hard for 6-8 weeks and report back if it starts squealing like a blown power steering belt like the 2 2018 Kickrs I’ve had did?

    • Chad McNeese

      Volunteer, yes. Pay my own money to be the guinea pig, no 😛

      Seriously, I do hope they resolved the failure issues, but am skeptical until we see these in wider use over several months.

  22. ocaz

    Will this work without being plugged in? I understand that I wouldn’t get resistance downhill but would everything else work under its own steam if pedalling?

    Reason for asking is I don’t have power supply in my garage

    • Chad McNeese

      Nope, there will be no power data unless it has power. It is the same as all prior Kickr’s in that sense and will not function well without power.

      You’d need to do the battery hack that some have used, run external AC power like normal, or use different trainer (Neo’s can function when not powered or dumb fluid/magnetic trainer).

  23. DAVID KNAPP

    I was wondering if you have any time frame on garmin to update their tacx line of trainers? I have friend that can get a discount on tacx so I was wondering if I should wait on new model or if I should purchase now?

  24. ocaz

    Thanks, I was swaying between this and the neo in anycase. Out of interest what is the battery hack?

    • Chad McNeese

      I don’t have a link, but you can google for “Wahoo Kickr Battery Hack” and find it. Just uses a 12v car battery and a hack to get the wiring connected. Not recommended and will likely void warranty, but it has been done for remote use away from mains power.

  25. Tom B

    Hej Ray,
    Regarding your comment about “control with power meter” I use this feature with my snap to avoid having to do a 15 minute warm up and spin down before a workout. Is this a bad move?

  26. Wesley Ng

    Will cold temperatures typically make smart trainers read low or high?

  27. Aldo

    Just curious to know if there is any difference between Assioma set 1 and 2 or just because 2 set of Assiomas are better than having 1 set 🙂

    • I actually have 3 sets now, two sets of Vector 3, two PowerTap P2, one PowerTap P1, and few others.

      I do actually have issues with one set of Favero Assiomas, though, not this one till this last 30×30 test. It’s currently out of commission. One of these days I’ll get around to e-mailing Favero about it.

      I have numerous sets mostly so when testing smart bikes or trainers I can swap easily or keep things on longer if need be. I really like to have pedals ‘settle’ for one ride before considering a test totally valid.

    • Aldo

      Interesting and thanks for your reply.

      I am still looking to buy an Assioma, but exchange rate and import taxes keep the local price (double the US retail price) way above what I am willing to buy. So, usually before I decide to buy such an expensive item, I look around everywhere to see if it is very, very reliable. And although, overall, people like the Assioma, there are always those long term users who seem to have problems with the pedal, which make me delay my decision to buy it. If something goes wrong, even though Favero seems to be very helpful, there is always a possibility that I would have to pay (high) taxes for a replacement sent by the factory (which should be free of charge, but good luck to convince the government that you are not cheating) or, worst case scenario, buy another pedal.

      Sorry for the rant. I know it is impossible to have a 100% reliable product, but cases like yours are always a step back for me.

  28. Nathan

    the Sufferfest app often held onto the higher power intensity about 1-2 seconds after the interval ended before releasing to a rest brake

    This is deliberate, by order of Grunter von Agony

    • giorgitd

      Haha, I always blamed my trainer, but maybe you are correct since a few intervals conclude ‘on time’, but most hang on for 2-5 sec. Not an issue for long intervals/long rests but a killer for rapid on/off intervals. Maybe the few intervals than end ‘on time’ were programmed when GvA was sneaking out for a Couchlandrian donut fix…

    • Hmm, maybe I’ll ask. It was definitely noticeable, but it’s not something I remember in the past occurring.

  29. Kelly Lee

    If you were choosing between the Neo 2T, H3, or Wahoo mainly for Zwift use, do you have a clear cut favorite? Looking to pick something up and can’t seem to come up with a clear winner.

  30. Mike S.

    FYI.

    I’m still seeing ads on the blog posts between the end of the article and the Discussion area. Screenshot attached.

  31. Steve

    Great review, Ray. I’m glad to see Wahoo is working on incremental improvements to KICKR vs. major overhauls. I love my 2017, but I like the automatic calibration and direct connect capabilities, plus the improved accuracy. And the cushioned feet seem like a nice addition to improve comfort and reduce fatigue during long sessions as my 2017 is pretty rigid and I worry about the effect on my frame over time. This should lessen the load. Don’t really see them as a competitor to rocker plates, which struggle to replicate outdoor movement, especially out of the saddle.

  32. Middleageman1993

    Ray,
    In watching the video you indicated how little side-to-side movement the unit provides. Do you think that having the front connected to the kickr climb may have reduced the movement? Does it move more with the wheel on and set in a riser block?

  33. Changren Y.

    In ERG mode, does this new KICKR hold power the same across different gear combinations? Or does it behave like the Tacx NEO, in which how well the trainer holds true to the targeted power depends greatly on the gear selection?

  34. Tom Perry

    Please say more about this: “Peak numbers in this competition 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).”
    May I suggest this isn’t just about heavier cyclists… it’s also about anyone whose power output is limited, e.g., aging cyclists, new cyclists, cyclists recovering from injury or illness. My personal example: I’m a reasonably fit 75-year-old who has alpine passes to climb in the Rouvy app. My Saris M2 stops controlling resistance when my W/kg drops below 2.0 on grades over 10%. This is followed by virtual speed dropping to 2 mph or less and if I raise my cadence high enough, the resistance returns with a bang, spiking to an unsustainable value as the virtual speed spikes.
    I plan to upgrade to a direct drive trainer soon. Is any trainer on the market better at handling high grades at lower speeds, for example: a 15% grade at a steady virtual 3 mph at an actual cadence of 80-85 rpm?

  35. Graeme B

    Thanks for pointing out they’ve kept the pricing the same, except they haven’t.
    In Australia it’s now another $100 dollars more, and that’s an increase from the 2016 of $400.
    Clearly Wahoo doesn’t want Australia’s business, but in this era of Covid, where demand is high, this is blatant profiteering.

    • Yeah, I generally base things on USD (or occasionally EUR). There’s too many currencies to try and track them all.

      Also, for what it’s worth, the AUD dollar has gone down against the USD since the KICKR18 was announced, not quite $100 worth, but about $75 worth. Though, given how far the AUD fell this past spring before recovering…one might consider themselves lucky it wasn’t launched just a few months ago.

    • Dave Lusty

      It always confuses me that US companies fix the USD price of goods and set global pricing from there. The Kickr is made in Taiwan, so surely the dollar value should also fluctuate based on conversion from TWD. If anything Australia should see lower pricing considering the lower shipping costs 🙂
      The software world is even crazier, something with effectively zero manufacturing cost has no reason to cost the same in all regions, just pick a local price!

    • Ihsan

      Oh don’t get us started on software pricing! I finally said “enough is enough” and cut all ties to autodesk in my personal business.

      The name of the game seems to be “shaft the consumer every which way we can” as clearly demonstrated by the latest phone jack/Ethernet jack on the Kickr.

      Why not wait to get the certification done and release afterwards with the modest price increase justifies the licensing and manufacturing costs? Oh no, we need to get the product on the market, then we will get the dongle certified, and we will sell them a whole extra thingamajig for added price.

    • Graeme B

      Good to look at exchange rates, important marker. Importantly, the exchange rate has been around 1.40 on average since late 2018, only the covid blip increased in for a short time.
      But the question posed then is, why is it only this product that has had an increase, and not any other product from Wahoo?

    • Could be numerous factors. Things to consider:

      A) Perhaps the KICKR was sold at a lower margin back-when, and this pulls it to their normal margins for the rest of their products
      B) Perhaps some minor tariff/etc type thing changed for that category of products
      C) Perhaps their shipping cost shifted to Australia
      D) Perhaps internal distribution costs increased in Australia (did they change partners in the last few years – I believe it used to be FE Sports, and perhaps a new relationship has expanded support/etc…

      It’s easy to assume Wahoo is screwing over Australians, mostly because every other company does. And, perhaps they are – perhaps they just said ‘Exchange rate increase on paper justifies a $75 increase, we’ll round it up to $100). But there’s usually way more factors involved as to why a company changes prices. After all, they still have to compete with Tacx/Elite in the segment. And while Australia is always special pricing-wise (kinda like Brazil, but that pricing makes sense due to extremely heavy part import fees that drive up support costs), I generally find most companies don’t just increase prices for the fun of it.

      After all, Wahoo (like every other company) selling out every single trainer they make right now, no matter how good or bad. They could charge hundreds more and they’d still sell out (as sleezy as that might be).

  36. Eric W

    Valuable post, thanks.

    But the real gem is putting the sticker on the power block. Pro tip of the week!

    • Haha…I started doing it after an ‘incident’ a few years back.

      When a company doesn’t include a sticker I usually just cut-out the logo from their thin paper manual, and tape it atop the power block.

    • giorgitd

      I have one of those Brother tape label machine devices. I label all of the power bricks that come through the house – computers, phones, tablets, etc. Super helpful to keep things organized, especially when everyone in the house co-mingles their devices/chargers together near convenient outlets. I like to think that the small $ spent on labeler and labels has been paid back in avoiding the oops of connecting devices and chargers that are not intended for each other. Not a super issue for modern stuff, but when you mix in family band radios and Nintendo game machines with chargers that look like they might fit your phone…but don’t…

  37. Jürg1

    Do you think that the removal of spindown will be added to kickr 18 or older units?
    Is it a algoritm/firmware feature or a HW-feature?

    • \\\wes

      Ray, any comment on possibility of auto-calibration coming to the older KICKR units? Thanks as always for great info!

  38. thomas tyberghein

    Hi DCR,

    Why do you prefer a true electromagnetic design? is road feel not better on this one?

    Thomas

    • Generally speaking true electromagnetic designs don’t require any calibration by the end user. For example both the KICKR Bike & Tacx NEO series don’t even have the option. Same goes for new Wattbike design.

      There’s also interesting things you can do with such a design, like the road feel on the Tacx series.

      Some people might prefer the existing KICKR road feel over Tacx NEO (and others, the opposite), however, that’s more about modeling the roadfeel than underlying tech. The KICKR Bike for example ‘feels’ very good in that respect, it’s well modeled.

    • Dan

      Is the Stages Bike Electromagnetic?

    • No, it’s got the gigantic flywheel up front. Only the NEO Bike, KICKR Bike, Wattbike ATOM 2020 (and ATOM X), and then all existing NEO Series trainers.

    • Dan

      Thanks DC. Guess I was confused… so you’re talking about electromagnetic simulated flywheel? Guess that makes sense why the stages can’t simulate shift effect…. because the flywheel would “absorb” the quick braking effect? The resistance on the bike is electromagnetic though right?

  39. Lazlo

    Is the new Tacx (Garmin) Neo review in the pipeline??? The Garmin website currently has it’s availability as 5-8 weeks. This is a common occurrence when Garmin is launching a replacement product.

    • Nah, I wouldn’t expect another new NEO less than a year after the first. Any stockage issues right now are simply COVID-19 related stockage issues, which is pretty much the case for all trainer companies. Inventory is super tight.

  40. Sam

    Does the Axis feet change the level of the bike, enough to require a front wheel riser?

  41. Just as a minor heads up for folks, Clever Training received their first allocation of stock last night, and has units that ship out immediately (usually same day, if ordered in morning). So, if you were looking for an in-stock trainer…there ya go: link to clevertraining.com

    (As always, link via CT helps support the site, and gets you 10% back in CT VIP points, or about $120 worth of points via the VIP program link to dcrainmaker.com):

  42. Nil

    Thanks for the review Ray. For us Polar/Suunto folks, would it be possible to add a field in your comparison chart for multiple-channel bluetooth support?

  43. So, just to understand:
    clever training we get 10% off, while with Wiggle we get 10GBP off?
    I remember buying the previous KICKR using a clever training link but from UK. Now it’s only in US?
    What’s the advantage then?

  44. Juan

    Do I need adapter to use my 2 bikes. (9 gears and 10 gears)?

  45. Graham

    It would be really interesting to pop the cover off and see if the design still incorporates an aluminium pulley on a steel axle, a washer that distorts and a 6mm bolt. The keyway changes didn;t make much sense and certainly didn’t work for me.

    I don;t suppose many of us who were scarred with our experience of the 2018 kickr (aka clickr!) would go back to Wahoo but if I had some confidence the issue has been resolved, I would at least give Wahoo some consideration if/when my Tacx fails.

  46. Nuno Pinto

    Ethernet Port..my home network is predominantly WIFI…even the ZWIFT computer I use…having a wired Ethernet at my pain cave would be a Painfull process …no way, I am running away from cables except for the media box running plex

  47. Benedikt

    I am profoundly disturbed by the decision of wahoo to implement a RJ11 port instead of a normal ethernet port.

    Firstly, I don not fully understand how implementing a RJ11 port takes less time than for a standard port which is ostensibly the networking standard port since basically forever.

    And, ok even if that’s the case. The whole reason why adapters exist is in order to EXTEND the compatibility through Interface 1 to also allow it through Interface 2. In the kickr’s case, the RJ11 port is entirely useless in and of itself – you HAVE TO buy the adapter in order to actually use the feature.

    It’s basically like buying a power bank that has an old serial port that you first need to buy a Serial2USB adapter for.

    I find it frankly quite shocking.

    • Luis

      far from shocking… they want to add the ft without absorbing the cost so they created this crappy interface and adapter so people need to pay extra for the ft therefore indirectly paying for “dev/implementation/testing” cost.

      I will wait until v6 or v7 when they “magically” add the Ethernet port as a standard ft.

  48. James E

    I have to admit how disappointed that after the debacle if the Tacx Home and low power rangers that your testing regimen hasn’t been adapted to be relevant for a lower power rider.

    I’m glad it’s accurate for a 300 FTP rider. To bad were only guessing how it might perform for a 150 FTP rider.

    • What’s a Tacx Home?

      In any case, one can simply look at my 30×30 tests, which are done at 150w on the lower baseline, to see accuracy there. And there’s plenty of other portions of tests above, shown at under 200w.

      I’ll be honest, outside of that one thread you were on with the Tacx NEO Bike and sub-130w ranges, I’ve *never* had anyone else ask for low-power testing (100w and below). I’m not saying there isn’t value there, but just putting it into perspective.

  49. MiLK_MaN

    I’m currently 130kgs and I think these things have a max weight limit of 113kgs according to the tech specs. Are they undershooting the max weight for warranty purposes? I think the Kickr looks better than the Tacx but don’t want it falling apart while I get into some training.

  50. Allen

    I have two bikes, a 1993 Merlin Road with Campy Record 10 sp, and a 2018 Colnago C64 with Campy Super Record 12 sp. Which, if any, of the Wahoo smart trainers can accommodate either of the cassettes? My preference would be to dedicate the Merlin to the trainer.

    Really very helpful review–my LBS (Free-Flite Bicycles) highly recommended your work. Many thanks!

  51. Florin

    Still happy with my Elite Suito.
    For me this product would be more attractive to buy for 600-650 Euros.

  52. Jared

    Have you heard anything on the axis feet coming to the kickr bike?

  53. MJ

    “Wahoo says that they formed an internal dedicated quality team in Atlanta (HQ) and each of their factories”
    Wow, is this standard industry practice?

    In the manufacturing industries I know, ISO 9001 (quality management system) certification is a minimum requirement along the whole supply chain. And that usually means there is a dedicated quality department with board representation and multiple quality teams (customer q, supplier q, process/production q). Now I’m not surprised anymore by the number of complaints I’m reading here.
    On the other hand, not too surprised, because engineers usually don’t think about quality efforts when developing new features and products.
    First steps in the right direction, I guess?
    lol

  54. JTC

    I find it worrisome that the headline with the new Kickr is “improved accuracy to 1%” – but testing by DC Rainmaker suggests it is less accurate than version 2018. I am one of the people that went all in with Wahoo… Kickr 2018, climb, table, wahoo Roam (two of them – one for son) and tickrs. Everything except the table has had issues. I am on my 2nd kickr 2018 and this one feels like it needs 350 watts of effort to achieve a displayed 275 watts. I have a spider mounted power meter on my bike – one of them is very wrong when comparing efforts.
    I believed the Wahoo CEO when he said “the hardest thing about your workout shouldn’t be your computer – turns out that it is.
    If anyone can recommend a trainer that is reliable and provides outside bike like watts and feel – I am all ears.

  55. Justin Goodliffe

    Hello new to the wahoo world …

    So a kidd with my trainer wheels on….

    Ive been following your Youtube page, congrats on this i like how you deliver your information etc.

    Can you tell me, I tried to do a FTP test on my new wahoo zwift set up..

    on the big cog on the front and the small on the back, though out the fitness test i was spinning that fast i could not get the watts up, it was like i was free wheeling down a steep hill.. ( pleas excuse my bike talk it will improve )

    Is that correct ?

    Or is there a problem with the FTP test on zwift ?

  56. Peter

    Are the AXIS feet significantly different from using high-density foam pads under the current feet?
    I know of several people who do this, and the foam provides enough give to take the sting out of being on hard-surface flooring. Not up to rocker plate standards, but enough to take some stress off of the body & bike frame.

    • Chad McNeese

      I have not tested either, but looking at videos from the Axis debut reviews, and the “hack” foam solutions indicates they are pretty similar to me. There is a level of motion and freedom added, that seems far better than rigid to my eyes. I think the foam block solution is great and far less expensive for those that already have Kickr’s vs getting the Axis upgrade.

      Saying that, I think it’s still great that new Kickr buyers get some potential benefit (depending on which setting they choose) that comes with more motion vs the fully rigid setups before (assuming a hard floor without a thick & cushy mat).

  57. Philip Johnson

    Looks like Wahoo still have quality issues. I just received the new KICKR 2020 and it broke first go out the box.
    I’m waiting to get through to Wahoo customer services

  58. Edouard

    Will it be ok to use this trainer in a cold environment (say 0 C or even less)? Our apartment is rather small and I don’t think I’ll be allowed to put the trainer and my bike in the living room, so I’ll need to do my winter training in our glassed-in balcony. Thanks!

    • Chad McNeese

      I can’t find any temperature range info via Wahoo resources. You may need to email them directly to ask, unless Ray has them stashed away (couldn’t find them on the trainer comparison or text search on this page).

  59. Heinrich Hurtz

    I got one of those Honeywell HT900 fans you mentioned. Surprisingly tiny and relatively quiet, but on high it puts out good stream of air that’s enough for me on the trainer if aimed and positioned optimally. I have it on the floor about a foot in front of the front edge of my front wheel and angle upward. It gets from about my knees to my head.

    • Haha…glad you enjoy. Undoubtedly I use a lot of expensive training toys, but I also use a lot of basic stuff too. I have the HT900’s here in the studio (along with a HEADWIND, depending on which spot I’m in), and then at home just HT900’s. For the price, they’re awesome.

      Same with the trainer mat, they’re just cheap $20 mats. Enjoy!

  60. Richard

    Looks like all the problems are not sorted out. Mine showed up making a grinding noise and vibrating. Sent the video to Wahoo on Friday and they responded on Sunday asking for confirmation of my shipping address to initiate a replacement. Good response, but bummed that the problems still exist in their quality control. You can hear the noise in this video.
    link to youtu.be

  61. Marcelo Carvalho

    Wahoo says they have QC teams in Atlanta, but if you look at the label that is stuck to the trainer it says “Made in Vietnam”. I don’t understand … So the Wahoo trainers don’t come from the USA but from Asia !!

    • Nobody said they came from USA?

      Here’s the sentence above:

      “Wahoo says that they formed an internal dedicated quality team in Atlanta (HQ) and each of their factories, and then added additional processing/engineering checks as a result.”

      They’ve made units in Vietnam and China for a while, as well as Taiwan previously.

    • Chad McNeese

      Yes, from memory, I think the change to off-shore production took place around Sept 2018, coinciding with the release of the Kickr V4 (2018 model) and the Kickr Core. It’s possible and likely that they have some level of inspection at production and maybe again once stateside, but the related statement was not very specific about what took place where.

    • All Wahoo units have always been made in Asia. Previously within the Giant factory in Taiwan (for everything), then to China for the CORE, and Vietnam for KICKR. I think some KICKR is also made in China now too, or maybe it’s CORE in China+Vietnam. There was an increase in production shortly after KICKR/CORE that added more capacity.

      There was talks of Singapore and Thailand, but I’m not sure what happened with those (if anything).

      Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. Anyone who thinks that production quality is related to location need only look at the iPhone to prove that wrong. Production quality is related to what you put in place from a controls standpoint. The expense of doing so increases the further from HQ, so one ultimately has to weigh those control costs, versus potentially doing it locally (EU, North America, etc…).

    • Chad McNeese

      I figured I was off at least in part. Thanks for the clarification, Ray. 😀

      Totally agree that the location of MFG is a red herring and one that has nothing to do with any of the issues here. This is a design, manufacturing and quality issue.

  62. Bud Seitzinger

    I emailed wahoo support on the temperature range as I ride in a cold garage in winter. Here’s the response:

    Andy Baker (Wahoo Fitness Support)

    Aug 27, 2020, 4:20 PM EDT

    Bud,

    So the V5 kickr can be ridden in below freezing temperatures, and can be store up to 120 degrees.

    I would refrain from riding it outdoors in excessive heat, and although you can use the kickr in below freezing temperatures, it may take awhile for it to warm up/be accurate in those cases.

    If you have any other questions for me, please let me know and I will be more than happy to assist.

    Best,

    Andy Baker

  63. Dave W

    Hi Ray,

    Great review as normal.

    Have wahoo issued any fixes for the problems you mentioned in your review?

    Thanks

    • Not yet. I understand they’ve determined the issue with the spikes on surges is specifically related to a high flywheel speed condition, which isn’t unique to me or my unit. It sounds like they’re still working on it.

    • Luis

      are you posting or updating the blog when the issue is fixed? pretty pleaseeee 🙂

    • Yup, I’ll post an update in the comments at the same time I update the accuracy section (once fixed). I probably won’t post again till it’s fixed, meaning if they try multiple firmware updates till they get the right one (since the state would remain the same).

  64. Nick

    Hi, which one would you buy between the new KICKR and the Tacx NEO 2T? Thanks

  65. Carter

    When do you expect Tacx to update their product offering and release next gen of Tacx NEO 2T?

  66. Ashes

    Nice review as always Ray.

    A couple of questions from a first time home trainer buyer:

    Will it work with classic v brake bikes? It only mentions disc brakes in the specs.

    And what if my bike is a 10 speed cassette? Will I need to change the 1 speed cassette on the kickr?

    • Yes, works with non-disc brakes. My road bike I used with it in this review is non-disc.

      For a 10-speed you’ll want to change out the cassette on the KICKR to a 10-speed one. It’s pretty quick and easy to do so. Technically you can ride the 10-speed on the 11-speed cassette (for example, my older tri bike is a 10-speed cassette). It works 100% fine for ERG mode where you never shift, but is messy in SIM mode (apps like Zwift where you shift), as it won’t be perfectly aligned at the upper/lower ends.

    • Ashes

      Great, thanks Ray!

      Just ordered the Kickr V5, the Kickr Climb and a 10-speed Shimano cassette.

      Pretty much double of my budget but it got me really excited. 😊

  67. Craig

    Now that this is out, and the production quality issues of the 2018 seem to have been resolved:
    I have a Neo 2T working perfectly, but it is awkward and I use it in its most basic format, ERG mode, most of the time, and cannot leave it set up. Given it sounds like the bearings on the 2T need an unavailable proprietary tool, and seem to fail pretty consistently, I’m wondering if anyone would sell the Neo and pickup a Kickr V5?

    • Ihsan

      Nope. Not me.

      I have mine since early November 2019 that gets regular use. Haven’t had any issues with it since I’ve got it.

    • Craig

      Have you seen the video/thread on the FB Owners group about the bearing removal?

    • I’m still confused – are there widespread (or even small-spread, or even two-person spread) issues with bearings on a NEO 2T?

      I only see a single individual that wants to swap out their bearings and can’t, because Tacx hasn’t finished the Tacx tool for it yet (but, they even replied in the video saying it’s coming).

      What am I missing here?

    • Craig

      Hello Ray, the owner’s group in FB is rife with bearing issues, among other issues with fans/overheating/freezing, etc, and Drew the guy who runs TacxFacx posted a video recently about how Garmin said they aren’t planning to release a bearing extraction tool for the 2T, its a different spec than the 1/2.
      Admittedly It may just be a very skewed sampling, but it feels at least a bit concerning.

    • Craig

      Ray, sorry now that I reread your comment, I may have missed a more recent response from Garmin saying the tool is coming. If it is then great, I’ll stick with what I have and fingers crossed the fans don’t die and overheat my unit.

      Thanks!

    • Yeah, I’m sure there’s issues – but I just don’t hear a lot of them. Which is a pretty good proxy for whether or not something is an echo chamber. The NEO 2T review has 263 comments on it – and I skimming the last few months – nobody has mentioned bearing or overheating issues.

      I get it, those might occur. Just like the KICKR V5 weedwhacker sound linked above. But it doesn’t sound like anything (no pun intended) more than a few one-offs here and there, that support is handling normally.

    • Craig

      This is why I keep coming back here Ray, perspective!
      Thanks for that and I think I’ll stick to my 2T and stop worrying about what could happen down the pike.
      Have a great day.

    • Marcin

      My Neo bearing works fine if I use it … not using my trainer couse connectivity issues with Edge (Ant+ disco, auto going from ERG mode and over heated cadence sensor) drive me crazy…if I only could swap to wahoo kicker

  68. Dave

    Ray, where’d you get that shark riding a bike shirt? I really like it! Cheers!

  69. Rob

    Thanks Ray for complex review. I know that choice Kickr 2020 or Neo 2T is rather personal choice but got some questions. Do you think magnets are better than belts? Is it significant difference between Neo and Neo 2T? T means better torques and does it mean anything for light people (60 kg) in Zwift? Saris H3 power accuracy and responsivness is very good. How about difference with neo that can move from one side to another (like new neo) Saris is rather stiff. Can it be felt changing neo to Saris? One one knows how future develop. The only one thing that force me to thing about change my 3 yo Neo is uncertain future. Now availability for Kickr and Saris is very good, Neo 2T is worse. I would like to avoid situation as my neo is dead, autumn-winter season is in full and stocks are empty or prices are +20%. I am 100% Zwift and wattage is relatively small 180-300 mostly

  70. OisTK

    Any update on when the wired ethernet adapter will be available? I’d love one.

    I am enjoying my Kickr v5 – I upgraded from an original Kickr (purchased January 2014) which is still working fine after helping me cover so many kilometres! 🙂
    Thanks for the review.

  71. ms

    I set up a new Kickr V5 on a perfectly level floor with the Axis feet retracted all the way into the support arms. In that position the left & right legs are slightly above the center support. The result is that the center support carries the weight and the unit rocks some from side to side. I left the blue lock nuts on the foot assembly. Removing them would allow the feet to retract a bit more into the legs and accentuate the rocking.

    The net effect is an effective utilitarian rocker plate. Again, I checked the floor with a spirit level and it is level so try it and see.

  72. Dan Lichtenberger

    Has anyone had issues with the trainer not putting out adequate resistance until you are in a huge gear? While riding zwift in sim mode, I need to be in the 53/16 before I can get 150 watts of resistance. This means I’m always in a huge gear making a ton of noise. My old kickr was not like this. If i use the wahoo app I need to use a “level”. of 4 before the small ring is useable. Is there something wrong with my kickr or is this normal? On my prior version kickr I did most of my workouts in standard mode and could ride in the little ring up to 300+ watts.

    I’ve gone through with wahoo support, spindown, factory spindown, firmware upgrade etc. No luck

    • Peter

      Do not get it – You have to be at least on 52/16 to achieve 150w ? You can not achieve more than 150W on larger sprocekets on Your cassette i.e. 17,18,19,20 etc (depending on Your ratios)?

      Today I received my kickr v5 so gonna check this

    • Chad McNeese

      Dan, what is your Trainer Difficulty setting in Zwift?

      Might not be different from your old Kickr, but worth a check at least.

  73. David

    Any idea when the KICKR Core would get an update? The two features in the new KICKR that I’m interested in are the auto-calibration and the flexible feet. Both of these would also seem applicable to the KICKR CORE.

    • Chad McNeese

      Based on Ray’s prior comments (no new trainer stuff from Wahoo coming this season)… my uneducated guess would be no sooner than about a 1 year from now. AKA, next training season of Fall 2021.

  74. aaron

    You confirm release date for the kikr core? I stay patient for this! Thanks

    • I don’t expect any new KICKR CORE this year.

    • Jeremy

      And considering that we’re 3 months away till the end of the year, it sounds right 🙂

      Ray, save from a pure “I’m a geek and I like new stuff” justification, do you see any good reason going from a Core to a Kickr V5?

    • Not really.

      Sure, there’s higher power levels and such, but the reality is that matters for very few people. There’s also bike/height adjustment type bits, but again, that probably doesn’t apply here.

      Sorry!

    • Jeremy

      The geek in me feels sorry not to read any justification for a change.
      My brain says “Told you so, not a good idea. But other useless stuf instead!”

      Thanks!