Wahoo has now formally announced their KICKR ROLLR smart trainer…err…smart roller. I’m not super sure how you classify it (Wahoo themselves officially calls it a “smart trainer” in their media release), but whatever it is – it’s here and now properly announced. That’s following it being non-announced last fall at UCI’s Road World Championships, where riders used them in the warm-up tents over the course of numerous days, in the time-trial areas.
The KICKR ROLLR however is a bit different than either other smart rollers we’ve seen on the market, or Wahoo’s own smart trainers. The front-end has a stability frame that holds the bike in place, while the rear is able to move around freely. However, unlike all of Wahoo’s existing smart trainers, the KICKR ROLLR requires your bike have a power meter for use with most apps. That’s because no roller company to date has mastered getting even vaguely accurate power on a roller (due to lack of constant pressure on the wheel), and in this case, Wahoo decided against offering power altogether. Instead, it links up to your bike’s existing power meter, and then broadcasts all that together to 3rd party apps. The primary appeal of ROLLR being that it takes no more than 3-5 seconds to put your bike on it. But more on that later on.
As usual, this trainer is a media loaner, and it’ll go back to Wahoo shortly. This review is not sponsored (nor does any company get to preview anything I review), and I don’t take any advertiser money from any companies I review. And as regular readers know, if something is crap, I’m gonna tell it brutally like it is – no matter the brand. Once this unit goes back, I’ll go out and get my own for any future testing needs. If you found this review useful, you can use the links at the bottom, or consider becoming a DCR Supporter which makes the site ad-free, while also getting access to a mostly weekly video series behind the scenes of the DCR Cave. And of course, it makes you awesome.
The Main Specs:
This section will be quick and to the point. Here’s the top-line specs for this trainer, so, let’s dive right into it:
– Wheel-on Trainer: This means you leave your rear wheel on – Flywheel: It has a flywheel weight of 10.5lbs/4.76kg (same flywheel as KICKR SNAP) – Sound: Not quiet, it’s a full wheel-on system, so your tire makes a bunch of noise (based on speed) – Portability: It’s storable, but not portable to other locations (like a race) – Protocol Compatibility: ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth Smart Trainer Control, Bluetooth Smart Power/Speed/Cadence (no ANT+ Power/Speed/Cadence) – App Compatibility: Every app out there basically (Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, RGT, Wahoo SYSTM, Kinomap, etc…) – Bike Compatibility: Any bike with a tire width of up to 2.1”/53mm on 700c wheels (so road, gravel, and some skinnier MTB tires) – Max Incline: 10% simulated grade – Max Wattage: 1,500 watts at 40KPH – Stated Power Accuracy: N/A (no power meter inside) – Power Meter Required: Yes, for apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, and more – Power Cable Required: Yes, power block compatible with 100-240v – CLIMB Compatibility: No, it is not compatible. – Pricing and Availability: $799USD – Shipping immediately
There’s also a bundled version of the KICKR ROLLR that’s sold with the new Wahoo Speedplay-based power meter pedal, but single-sided version, for $1,399. Meaning, it’s an extra $600USD for the single-sided power pedal (normally $649). The dual-sided POWERLINK ZERO set by itself costs $999. Which makes the bundle an odd proposition, as you’re only saving $50 – and Wahoo doesn’t yet have the upgrade right-sided pedal available (nor the pricing). That’ll come later in the year.
For context, this price is $100 less than the Wahoo KICKR CORE, which sits at $899. The KICKR CORE is a full smart trainer that also calculates and transmits power (accurately), and does not require a secondary power meter. Further, it’s compatible with the Wahoo KICKR CLIMB. However, the CORE does require you purchase a cassette for it (about $50 or so), as well as of course requiring you remove your wheel to mount the bike to the trainer.
With that, let’s dive into the box.
Unboxing & Setup:
The ROLLR comes in a rather large box. Far larger than any normal trainer would. This is largely due to the long strut that connects the front and rear portions, as well as the A-frame of the front wheel holder.
Here’s all the pieces out ready to assemble:
Essentially, you’ve got basically three chunks of the unit:
A) The rear roller piece
B) The front wheel-holder piece
C) The long metal span that connects them
Plus of course, the power cable and setup manual for it, which is also included in the box.
As is a small combo hex-wrench/Phillips-head screwdriver.
Putting things together is fairly straightforward, either via following the included manual (logical), or freestyling it. Realistically, you can’t screw this up. There’s a mere two screws.
You’ll plop the rear of the trainer down, and then unfold the front frame portion. Then, simply connect the two together:
Along the way, you’ll re-insert two small screws that tighten these pieces together (they’re already placed in the beam, you take them out and stick them back in again once the two beam pieces are connected).
Then it’s just a matter of finding the right distance/length for your bike, by placing the bike on the unit, and adjusting the little clamp at the mid-point accordingly:
There’s also adjustability at the front wheel too, to widen that gap. Last but not least, don’t forget to plug it in!
Now, you’re done.
The ROLLR is designed to be simple to use, and Wahoo says the target consumer of this unit is someone that doesn’t want to deal with removing the rear wheel from their bike, or dealing with compatibility of rear skewers on different bikes. It’s also ideal for people that may have multiple bikes (e.g. mountain, road, etc…) that have different axle, cassette, or tire types, since there’s no dependency on a given cassette or axle type.
We’ll start at the back of the unit, and work our way forward. The first thing being that small power supply. It connects via a trip-friendly connector on the trainer side, which is both flexible and quick-release in case you stumble over it (it’ll pull out without snapping a wire).
Then here’s the actual power block itself. I always include this in my reviews, so when you can’t figure out which power block went to which thing in your house, you can come back and find this picture and match up the specs. And by ‘you’, I definitely mean ‘me’.
Ok, up above that, you’ve got the flywheel. The KICKR ROLLR has a flywheel weight of 10.5lbs/4.76kg, which is identical to the KICKR SNAP – both in terms of weight, but also external sizing. In general, the heavier the flywheel, the more realistic the road-like feel is. I’ll talk more about road-feel a bit later, but overall I find that at higher speeds things are pretty good here. But there’s also some caveats in sprints and such. Again, more later.
Next to the flywheel there’s two LED status lights. This is actually a change from other Wahoo KICKR trainers, which also have two LEDs, but one shows ANT+ and the other shows Bluetooth Smart. Here, due to the power meter pairing requirement, they have changed the ANT+ to show that it’s linked to your power meter. Whereas the Bluetooth one remains as-is, showing the status of the trainer.
Next to that we’ve got the two roller drums. These drums are 13.5cm/5.3” wide, and separated about 35.5cm/14” at the mid-point, or 46cm/18” at the tops of the roller. This allows your rear wheel to nestle into it without any manual adjustment. You just place it there.
Wahoo says that the official max-tire width supported is 2.1”/53mm on a 700c wheel. Wahoo says that’s “optimized for road bikes”, and indeed, while my mountain bike tire is close in width, it doesn’t even come close at all in terms of fitting the frame of the trainer. Ironically, neither does my wife’s 650cc triathlon bike (it’s just a tiny bit too small)– so in theory the perfect target consumer (she hates mounting the bike to trainers), can’t use it (it won’t go short enough).
Once spinning, as these rollers rotate, they’ll automatically increase and decrease the resistance on your rear wheel/tire, simulating hills or specific wattages, depending on the exact app that you’re using.
From there we move along the two-part rod that extends out towards the front support system. This metal piece is pretty beefy and feels fairly solid. Of course, it also pretty much kills portability.
Arriving at the front, we’ve got a small tray-like section for your front wheel. Again, this is designed for both smaller and larger wheels, and fits both of mine quite easily:
However, the main ‘magic’ here is actually up above, where you’ve got these two prongs that attach to the top of your wheel, locking it in place. These prongs are controlled by the small grey wheel above it, which you simply rotate to make the prongs tighten in on the wheel (close up)
The support structure that supports the wheel prong also rotates forward and back though, which makes it possible to store the entire kit somewhat-flat. Meaning you could slide this under a bed. At least as long as the underside of the bed has an ~20cm/8” gap, which is the max height of the whole ROLLR rear system when laid flat. Alternatively, potentially up against a wall.
The entire support structure is made of metal, and feels pretty stable in my mind. It’s helped by the extended support feet that splay out to the side.
I can’t overstate how easy this mounting process is. It’s so good, and so easy to use. The main appeal of this particular unit is the fact that you can very very very quickly swap bikes of entirely different types. And indeed – on average it takes me about 3 seconds of work to add/remove a bike. I’m not kidding. It’s literally three seconds, watch the video. And three seconds without any risk of getting a bunch of bike grease on my fingers.
So, with our bike placed atop the ROLLR, let’s get to riding. Nor normally, you’d just pair up your app of choice, and then begin riding. However, the ROLLR has one other thing to do – which is find a nearby power meter. By default it’ll simply pair to the first power meter it finds. For the vast majority of people, that’s perfectly fine. You’ve only got one bike and one power meter on said bike. But, if you have a partner or friend riding in the same room, you need to validate it’s not connected to their bike (or even their smart trainer).
(If you don’t have a power meter, the KICKR ROLLR won’t transmit any power, so apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, and others can’t really do anything with it. They could potentially develop a power curve for it, but the simple act of moving your butt forward/back will shift the power accuracy at least 15-20% in Wahoo’s testing, they say. So yes, you need a power meter with this trainer. If you don’t have one or plan to get one, I’d strongly suggest another trainer and in the Wahoo lineup, I’d recommend the KICKR CORE at the same price point. Heck, yesterday it was actually even cheaper at $749 on sale.)
Anyways, assuming you’re by yourself, it’ll find your power meter automatically and display the link confirmation light in the back:
However, if you have multiple people in the room, you can use the Wahoo app to specify a given power meter, so that it won’t accidentally pair to your friend’s (or friends with benefits) power meter. Or some other bike you have. To do that, crack open the Wahoo app and then go to add a new sensor. You can either do the quick-pairing, or the wizard and choose which type of device to set up.
From there, it’ll walk you through the setup pieces, as well as finding your ROLLR in a few seconds:
It’ll then ask if you’ve got a power meter already, and which type:
After that, you’re good to go! You can see the details on the KICKR ROLLR within the app, as well as check/lock the paired power meters:
It’ll remember/save this power meter selection, and use it again for future use.
So with that all set, now we can start riding. Given the Wahoo ROLLR 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., 190w. In this mode, no matter what gearing you use, the trainer will simply stay at 190w (or whatever you set it to). The KICKR ROLLR has a max wattage of 1,500w. Simulation (SIM) Mode: Simulating a specific outdoor grade – i.e., 8% 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. The KICKR ROLLR has a max simulated gradient of 10%
Starting with simulation mode, the KICKR ROLLR can simulate a gradient from 0% to 10% incline, the same as the KICKR SNAP. In 2022, that’s basically on the low-end of what trainers can simulate, and far below what smart trainers of the same price-range can simulate (for example, Wahoo’s own KICKR CORE at $100 more is up to 16%, and Elite’s Suito at 15% at $799 (with cassette). That said, as I often mention, simulation of crazy gradient is probably one of the most overrated things in the smart trainer realm. Sure, there’s definitely reason to want to accurately simulate 10-12%, though there’s very few people that want to frequently simulate 17% or 20% (some top trainers can do 25% these days). Seriously, if you actually have ridden a 17% grade outside, it’s tremendously difficult. There was an arms race a few years ago for indoor trainer gradients, and then they realized nobody cared, because nobody really wanted to ride a 24% grade.
However, the most interesting thing to remember is that if you use Zwift, by default it halves the intensity of the gradients anyways. A 12% grade hill automatically only feels like a 6% gradient. You need to change the ‘Trainer Difficulty’ level to 100% in order to feel it (and most people don’t bother to). Where all of this gradient stuff can matter though is at low-speed high wattage climbs up those 12% or beyond ascents. This is called the trainer floor, and essentially dictates how much speed you need for a given trainer to produce a given wattage. In any case, here’s the Zwift setting I was referring to (the 3rd slider):
Keep in mind that this trainer difficulty setting isn’t limited to just Zwift. Other platforms do the same thing with similar settings.
Switching topics to ERG mode, this is where the trainer will hold a given wattage, and is typically used in structured workouts. In that case, Wahoo claims 1,500w of resistance at 40KPH. Although again, realistically, you probably won’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 1,500w. The pros would only be just a bit beyond that. Said differently: Peak numbers in this competition likely won’t matter to you.
What will matter, especially with the KICKR ROLLR, is how well it holds and executes ERG mode. And unfortunately the answer here is ‘not well’. One core test I do with all trainers though is responsiveness: How quickly does it respond to ERG mode changes? And then how stable is it within ERG mode at a given level (for example both short and long intervals).
I test this in a variety of ways, usually with some variant of 30×30 type intervals, where the intensity quickly shifts substantially, and I’m looking to see how responsive it is/was. Whereas for longer intervals, I’m looking to ensure that the trainer isn’t floating all over the place – even when I maintain perfectly stable cadence. Here’s a look at things in TrainerRoad:
Now, as you can see – it’s not super stable. I dive into this in way more detail in the ‘Responsiveness’ section down below though.
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 ROLLR ‘feels’ really good. Likely because you’re feeling your tire on the roller and it’s got a tiny little bit of a gritty feel to it, so it feels like the outdoors from a very minor vibrations standpoint, and the acceleration/deceleration is also pretty good. Not as good as the top-end KICKR or KICKR CORE (because the flywheel weight is less), but pretty good. Doing a course with lots of elevation change is one way to test this (like Zwift’s Titans Grove on Watopia), as well as actually riding in a pack (like in a race).
However, one area that the ROLLR suffers significantly is sprints. Or more specifically, finishing a sprint. So as you start to ease off the power and sit back down, I find that your rear tire will bounce on the roller. So it’s sorta like a really bad pilot landing – bouncing their way down the runway for about 5-7 seconds. Once things stabilize, you’re back to normal. You can watch this in the video up above.
The other downside from a physical standpoint is simply that it’s loud, noise-wise. That’s almost entirely due to the fact that your rear tire is on the rollers. Whereas the virtually silent direct drive trainers (e.g. KICKR CORE/KICKR), you have the rear wheel detached. And almost all noise on a wheel-on trainer comes from the contact point of the tire. And simply put – the faster you go, the more noise it makes. There’s no direct relationship between noise and wattage, but rather, it’s noise and speed. And of course, speed is largely controlled by gearing. Though, not exclusively. You can for example do an easy wattage in ERG mode at a high speed and produce just as much noise as a massive sprint.
Inversely, in ERG mode, you can put it in the ‘slowest’ gear (aka the easiest gearing), which will reduce the speed dramatically yet still provide you all the resistance you need (because it’s ERG mode).
Ultimately, there isn’t much Wahoo (or any other) company can do about this. Note that you can tweak the noise slightly with different tires. But even a trainer tire won’t make that noise go away meaningfully. That’s because a trainer tire is more about minimizing all those tiny little specs of tire burning off your tire, from ending up in your living room. It’s not about minimizing noise.
The Wahoo ROLLR is a funny duck in terms of app standards compatibility. Normally, when I write this section, it’s basically just boilerplate ‘Yes, this trainer is fully compatible with all the standards, blah, blah, blah’. But not this time.
That’s because to begin, the ROLLR doesn’t transmit any power at all. At least not by itself. Instead, in order for it to transmit power, it needs to first piggyback off another device. Meaning, you *MUST* have an ANT+ power meter to connect to (every power meter made in the last decade except the oldest Polar ones that you almost certainly don’t have/still use, are ANT+ compatibility). If you do still have that unit, I’m impressed with your fortitude.
Now, assuming you do have a power meter on your bike (and again, you *NEED TO* for ROLLR), then you’ll have a setup that is very close to what most trainers support standards-wise. That’s because once the ROLLR is paired up to your power meter, then it’ll broadcast the full ANT+ FE-C & Bluetooth Smart FTMS trainer control protocols, which all apps today use. These are the industry norms. As you probably know, apps like Zwift, TrainerRoad, Wahoo SYSTM, RGT, Rouvy, Kinomap, Xert, and many more all support most of these industry standards, making it easy to use whatever app you’d like. If trainers or apps don’t support these standards, then it makes it far more difficult for you as the end-user.
The unit supports the following protocols and transmission standards:
ANT+ FE-C (Trainer Control): This is for controlling the ROLLR via ANT+ from apps and head units (with cadence/power data). Read tons about it here. Bluetooth Smart FTMS (Trainer Control): This allows apps to control the ROLLR over Bluetooth Smart (with cadence/power data) Bluetooth Smart Power Meter Profile: This broadcasts as a standard BLE power meter, with cadence and speed data
It however, DOES NOT at present broadcast either of the two:
ANT+ Power Meter Profile: This would be a standard ANT+ power meter, with cadence and speed data ANT+ Speed/Cadence Profile: This would broadcast your speed and cadence as a standard ANT+ Speed/Cadence combo sensor Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence Profile: This broadcasts your speed and cadence as a standard BLE combo Speed/Cadence sensor
So in short, Wahoo elected not to broadcast the power on regular ANT+, but did do it for Bluetooth Smart. They said the reason for this was that they wanted to minimize confusion during the pairing process, so people didn’t pair the trainer back to itself. However, they also noted that since the ROLLR requires a power meter anyways, people would pair to their power meter directly for data (if capturing it on a watch or bike computer, in order to support training load functions).
And all of that is true. Except one minor problem: The target segment for this trainer (typically folks newer to the sport) tend to want to see their speed/distance recorded on their watch/bike computer. Thus, the only way to get that is from the ROLLR directly. And it does transmit it on Bluetooth Smart, but not ANT+. Most newer Garmin’s support Bluetooth Smart signals, but not devices about 3 years or older.
But then that gets us to the second issue. There currently exists a bug where I can’t get any Garmin unit (bike computer or wearable) to pair to the Wahoo ROLLR on the Bluetooth Smart power-only signal. That’s the signal that also contains the speed (for distance) data stream. Thus, no Garmin user can get speed/cadence from any Wahoo ROLLR right now (since ANT+ doesn’t exist, and BLE doesn’t work). Again, that may not matter for more advanced users – but the feedback I’ve seen from less advanced users is that it very much matters.
As for the technical details of the issue. Garmins will pair to it over Bluetooth, but can’t maintain/sustain a connection to the ROLLR for more than a second. I brought it up to Wahoo, and they immediately started doing some digging, and then confirmed the issue actually exists for all their trainers right now. Of course, nobody, including myself, has ever noticed this – because nobody would ever use a Garmin to pair direct power-only over BLE when ANT+ is the default. There’s a long list of reasons you’d pair ANT+ first, namely in that it’s got unlimited channels, but also because Garmin by default knows this and thus shows ANT+ first and requires extra button presses to show the Bluetooth signals. In any case, Wahoo says they’ve reached out to Garmin to figure out why this is happening, and whether the issue is on the Garmin side or the Wahoo side.
With all that behind us, we’ll start with pairing up to Zwift. In this case, we open up the pairing window, and first pair it up as a controllable trainer, power source, and cadence source. In this case, it’s going to basically pull your power through from your power meter. Then, you’ll pair your heart rate sensor like normal.
Now technically speaking, you’ll see about a 1-2 second delay pairing your power meter to ROLLR versus straight to your power meter directly. (as power source). If you’re doing Zwift racing, and reasonably serious about it, you’ll probably pair the power source directly to your power meter to avoid that 1-2 second delay. That said, I’d bet that 99% of people would never notice it. It happens so quicky it’s barely even visible on the data charts below.
At this point, you’ll choose your world/route like normal, and Zwift will automatically change the resistance to match the gradient. I had zero issues with this over Bluetooth Smart on both Apple TV and an iPad:
Meanwhile, TrainerRoad was essentially the same. You can see here I’ve paired it up using the device control-panel, and it pulls through my cadence as well:
Then using it, from a technical standards standpoint, no issues (though see the next section for my thoughts on stability). But here in TrainerRoad, it controlled the trainer through my workout just fine:
Next, as a notable aside, you can use many bike computers to control the trainer directly. Typically speaking, when you pair up a smart trainer to a bike computer (or watch) with the intention to control it, you’ll go into one of the control modes. However, if you don’t, it’ll sit in a passive mode (also called ‘Free Ride’ in Garmin lingo). This mode basically keeps the bike computer from accidentally wrestling or fighting with an app like Zwift or TrainerRoad for control. Whereas, if you take control of it and run the workout directly on the unit, it’ll go into a control mode.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the Wahoo ROLLR does actually have Wahoo Direct Connect compatibility. This allows you to use an Ethernet cable in the event your WiFi is crap. However, frustratingly, you can’t just plug it into the Wahoo ROLLR. Instead, you need to buy their $99 Direct Connect accessory, which in turn plugs into the telephone-cord-style port sitting on the back of the trainer:
Mind you, over a year after announcement, Zwift still doesn’t support the Wahoo Direct Connect adapter (though almost every other app does). Thus, for the one app you actually probably want to use it for, it doesn’t work. That’s on Zwift though, not Wahoo. What’s on Wahoo is that the KICKR ROLLR even needs the Direct Connect accessory to begin with. Just stick the darn ethernet port in the trainer, not a second port to have a dongle hanging out.
Ultimately, for my primary usage and testing on both Zwift and TrainerRoad, I had no issues with day to day technical control or standards – that all worked just fine for me.
Now normally I’d cover power accuracy and power stability in this section. And while there’s no power accuracy to cover here, there is power responsiveness and stability. So let’s dive right into that.
For this category, I’m mainly focused on ERG mode (since that means the trainer is controlling the wattage, rather than responding to your output like in SIM mode). And typically, in ERG mode I’m evaluating two core things:
Responsiveness: When the wattage in your workout changes, how quickly does the trainer do it, and how correctly does it do it. For example, when it goes from 125w to 350w, does it do it quickly (typically 2-4 seconds), and does it ‘stick the landing’, or does it meander?
Stability: This is looking at how stable the trainer is at holding a given wattage – for example on a multi-minute interval where I’ve set it to 270w, will it hold roughly 270w? Or will it be floating all over the place?
The very simple answer to all of these questions is: It’s not great.
First up, is that in order to even stand a chance of reasonable accuracy, you need to put it into the easiest gear you have (e.g. small ring in front, easiest gear in back). Else, it won’t actually go very low wattage-wise. Take a look at the first few minutes of the interval below, and you’ll see it’s well above the target wattage in ERG mode. I kept tweaking my gearing lower and lower, getting it to finally get down low enough to the correct wattage.
Now, putting a bike into an easier gearing for better ERG mode accuracy is nothing new. However, usually that’s to improve responsiveness and stability. In this case, it’s not only to improve those two, but also just even getting it to a lower wattage. That’s officially called the trainer ‘resistance floor’, and in this case, the resistance floor is super high, comparatively speaking.
In any case, setting that aside, I’ve now put it into the easiest possible gearing I have. Which means I’m going about 10MPH/15KPH. The benefit to that, aside from increased responsiveness, is that it’s now super quiet, since I’m going so slow. The downside is that it no longer feels all that natural/great, also because I’m going so slow.
Still, you see that the responsiveness isn’t great either. Look at the start of each interval. Despite maintaining near-perfect cadence, it spikes each time significantly above my target wattage.
And then during each interval, its wattage is all over the map. Note that the ROLLR does have an ‘ERG Mode Smoothing’ option (at the very bottom below), but that’s just smoothing the data you see, it’s not changing the fact that it’s hunting for power stability, meaning your legs are shooting higher/lower than you should be).
Next, with ERG mode stability, I wanted to briefly look at how quickly it passes the power data through to apps. Meaning the two-step process of pairing to your power meter, and then rebroadcasting it to apps. Sometimes we’ve seen in the past that can cause quite a bit of lag. But in this case, it’s remarkably quick. In order to test/demonstrate this, I paired up the power directly from my power meter and then also paired up what is being broadcast by the ROLLR. And looking at the data, the delay is roughly 1-2 seconds.
Thus, for my usage personally, I wouldn’t bother to pair up Zwift directly to my power meter. Wahoo actually says they don’t recommend it, and that’s fine. And from what I’ve seen and how I ‘race’ (which is, not competing for a podium), the extra 1-2 second delay in a race scenario simply is a non-issue.
I’ve added the Wahoo ROLLR 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 Wahoo KICKR CORE, Wahoo KICKR SNAP, and Elite Suito. One could have also added the Tacx Flux S in here, or the JetBlack VOLT in here, or even the Elite Direto XR – but then things kinda get crazy column-wise. Still, 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.
And again, as always don’t forget you can mix and match your own trainer product comparison tables using the database here.
The Wahoo ROLLR is a tricky duck of a product. There are elements of it that are super well done, and pieces that have some obvious compromises. For example, the ability to quickly mount any bike to it in a matter of sub-5 seconds, and be riding – is awesome. Super awesome. No other trainer does it as well as this, as even something like the KICKR SNAP that’s also wheel-on, requires you fiddle with the whole clamp a bit, and may be finicky depending on exactly what type of rear skewer you have. And the front-wheel side of things is super easy to use, and silly simple.
Similarly, the road-feel during steady-state is nice. You get that little bit of left/right swap of the rear tire moving about the roller, and that slight bit of vibration/realism from your rear wheel actually is nice at higher speeds. It feels like you’re more on the road. Sure, the acceleration/responsiveness isn’t as good as the higher flywheel weight KICKR/KICKR CORE, but overall, it feels good.
The challenge I have though is that this just seems vastly overpriced. The KICKR SNAP goes for $499 these days (sometimes less), and that’s got an identical flywheel (so realism and specs are the same), but also broadcasts your power to apps (and reasonably accurate enough for most purposes). Further, it’s compatible with the KICKR CLIMB, whereas the ROLLR isn’t. It’s also far more portable/storable than ROLLR. And again, it’s $300 less and doesn’t require that you own a separate power meter.
I get it though – the idea of a trainer that targets the crowd that doesn’t want to deal with taking off a rear wheel. My wife is solidly in that camp. So for her, this would be the perfect bike trainer. But, she’s lucky in that she has a power meter on her bike. And even for me, if I want to test a mountain bike or some other bike with a different cassette than I have normally on my trainers, this makes it super easy to do so indoors, albeit, without power of its own.
So while this unit undoubtedly has a place in life, I really struggle to understand how that place is $799, when the KICKR SNAP is $499. And then the added requirement for you to have a power meter on your bike, which typically removes most people just getting into the sport. But hey, if you’ve got a power meter on your bike(s), and don’t want to deal with mounting the bike – then this is a great option.
With that – thanks for reading!
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Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!
I swim, bike and run. Then, I come here and write about my adventures. It’s as simple as that. Most of the time. If you’re new around these parts, here’s the long version of my story.
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Want to compare the features of each product, down to the nitty-gritty? No problem, the product comparison data is constantly updated with new products and new features added to old products!
Wanna create comparison chart graphs just like I do for GPS, heart rate, power meters and more? No problem, here's the platform I use - you can too!
Think my written reviews are deep? You should check out my videos. I take things to a whole new level of interactive depth!
Smart Trainers Buyers Guide: Looking at a smart trainer this winter? I cover all the units to buy (and avoid) for indoor training. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
You probably stumbled upon here looking for a review of a sports gadget. If you’re trying to decide which unit to buy – check out my in-depth reviews section. Some reviews are over 60 pages long when printed out, with hundreds of photos! I aim to leave no stone unturned.
I travel a fair bit, both for work and for fun. Here’s a bunch of random trip reports and daily trip-logs that I’ve put together and posted. I’ve sorted it all by world geography, in an attempt to make it easy to figure out where I’ve been.
The most common question I receive outside of the “what’s the best GPS watch for me” variant, are photography-esq based. So in efforts to combat the amount of emails I need to sort through on a daily basis, I’ve complied this “My Photography Gear” post for your curious minds! It’s a nice break from the day to day sports-tech talk, and I hope you get something out of it!
Many readers stumble into my website in search of information on the latest and greatest sports tech products. But at the end of the day, you might just be wondering “What does Ray use when not testing new products?”. So here is the most up to date list of products I like and fit the bill for me and my training needs best! DC Rainmaker 2023 swim, bike, run, and general gear list. But wait, are you a female and feel like these things might not apply to you? If that’s the case (but certainly not saying my choices aren’t good for women), and you just want to see a different gear junkies “picks”, check out The Girl’s Gear Guide too.